Welcome back to the 2023-24 Underdog Fantasy Pick ‘Em article series, your spot for finding the best-value weekly spots for which players will go higher or lower than their projections. As usual, if you want weekly audio content for pick ‘ems, including getting in early on some lines that will move during the week, check out the Pick ‘Em Power Hour every Wednesday and Friday with us hosts, Ahaan S. Rungta (@AhaanRungta) and Trevor Tipton (@FFCULater).
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If you would like to tail our plays or create your own, join Underdog today with promo code UNDERWORLD for a 100% deposit match up to $100 USD upon entry. Here are our picks for Week 12.
Ahaan’s Week 12 Picks
James Cook (BUF) – LOWER than 46.5 rushing yards
The Buffalo Bills sophomore running back James Cook has cleared this line in seven of his 11 games, but the hit rate alone tells far from the real story. Three of the games where Cook went higher on this projection were Bills blowout victories where they allowed their young back to grind clock and run wild. Another one of those was against a Broncos defense that ranks bottom-three in Run Stop Win Rate and Rush EPA per play allowed this season. None of that lines up in Week 12.
Cook will be facing an Eagles defense that ranks No. 2 in the NFL in Run Stop Win Rate in a game script that is uncertain but likely not super-favorable from the get-go. The Bills are three-point underdogs on the road against the Eagles. There are several routes to Cook failing to meet this projection, including a lack of carries and a lack of efficiency.
Trey McBride (ARI) – HIGHER than 51.5 receiving yards
This play is the ultimate buy-low; we are attacking a Rams vs. Cardinals game that has one of the closest spreads on the NFL slate (2.5 points) coupled with one of the highest Vegas totals on the slate (45.5). Expect a competitive divisional contest that promotes a passing environment, especially with Kyler Murray back under center for Arizona.
Over the last four games, the sophomore tight end Trey McBride has become the primary tight end for Arizona, running at least 80-percent of the routes in four straight. He has averaged 8.75 targets per game in that span, and cleared this projection twice. McBride’s athletic profile reads as one of an Alpha and he should once again be a top priority through the air against a Rams defense that ranks No. 24 in Dropback EPA Per Play Allowed.
Recommended: 0.50u on the two-pick entry
Trevor’s Week 12 Picks
Adam Thielen (CAR) – HIGHER than 6.5 receptions
The Carolina Panthers’ veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen is gearing up for what promises to be an intriguing confrontation with the Tennessee Titans. Known for his precision route-running and reliable hands, Thielen’s role in the Panthers’ offense has been increasingly pivotal. As the team prepares for this crucial game, all eyes are on Thielen, with predictions leaning towards him achieving more than 6.5 receptions.
One of the key factors contributing to Thielen’s potential success this week is the favorable matchup against the Tennessee Titans’ defense. The Titans have struggled to contain top-tier wide receivers, and Thielen is undoubtedly one of the best in the league this season after moving to the slot. The Titans’ secondary will have a tough time keeping up with Thielen’s route-running and agility, which will lead to an increased number of targets for him. Thielen has reached this number in seven out of his last nine games. He is averaging 7.6 receptions a game and 9.7 targets. The Panthers will most likely be in a negative Game Script once again. This has caused them to average 41.7 passing plays per game.
The Panthers’ offense this season has shown a tendency to rely on quick, efficient passing plays, a strategy that plays to Thielen’s strengths. His chemistry with the Panthers’ quarterback Bryce Young has been improving, evident in their timing and synchronization on the field. Given the Panthers’ recent offensive patterns, Thielen will be a primary target in their game plan against the Titans’ terrible pass defense. Add in the Titans moving Kevin Byard to the Eagles earlier in the season and we love Thielen’s receptions to be higher than this projection.
Michael Pittman (IND) HIGHER than 6.0 receptions
Michael Pittman stands on the brink of what could be another breakout game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a reputation for being a reliable target, Pittman’s role in the Colts’ offense has become increasingly crucial. As they face the Buccaneers, our models and projections suggest Pittman will achieve more than 6.0 receptions, a testament to his growing influence in the team’s offensive scheme and growing relationship with Gardner Minshew.
Throughout the current NFL season, Pittman has emerged as a standout performer for the Colts. His statistics speak volumes about his role as a primary receiver. He currently has five games with eight receptions and two games with nine. Pittman is averaging 9.7 targets a game this season and will see double digits again this week vs Tampa Bay. Last week, the 49ers showed how to penetrate the Bucs secondary while adjusting to their pressure. We will see the Colts use a similar game plan with Pittman as the 49ers did with Brandon Aiyuk.
Indianapolis is averaging 36.2 pass plays per game and, while they are 2.5 point favorites in this game, the Bucs should be able to push the score and get the Colts into a passing Game Script. Pittman has been steadily establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. His upcoming matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers presents a prime opportunity for him to shine. With a consistent Target Share, recent impressive performances, and the potential for increased passing volume, Pittman is well-positioned to have more than 6.0 receptions in this critical game. Colts fans and fantasy football enthusiasts alike will be eagerly watching to see Pittman continue his impressive season against a challenging opponent.
Recommended: 0.50u on the two-pick entry