NFL Week 17 Underdog Pick ‘Ems

by Ahaan Rungta · Betting & Props

This is NFL Week 17 Underdog Pick ‘Ems! This is your spot for finding the best-value weekly spots to pick whether players will go higher or lower than their projection. As usual, if you want weekly audio content for pick ‘ems, including getting in early on some lines that will move early in the week, check out the Pick ‘Em Power Hour every Wednesday and Friday with us hosts, Ahaan S. Rungta (@AhaanRungta) and Trevor Tipton (@FFCULater).

The team is coming off another winner last week as Trevor’s two-pick entry spanning Saturday and Sunday turned green with very few sweats involved.

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 16.

Ahaan’s Week 17 Picks

Will Levis (TEN) HIGHER than 215.5 passing yards
DeAndre Hopkins (TEN) HIGHER than 60.5 receiving yards

We will start off our card for Week 17 with an offensive stack in an indoors game. Will Levis is back at quarterback for the Titans. He has cleared the listed passing yards projection in four of his eight starts but now gets a phenomenal matchup. Since coming off their bye, the Texans’ pass defense ranks No. 23 in dropback EPA per play allowed and now seven of their starters are questionable.

What makes DeAndre Hopkins the ultimate buy-low in this spot is that Houston ranks No. 8 in zone coverage rate. That’s how Hopkins has racked up the most production so far this season. With Levis under center, Hopkins has only cleared this receiving yards projection in three games. However, this is not due to lack of opportunity. Hopkins is averaging 141.5 air yards per game in Levis’ starts.

To cap it all off, Hopkins needs 61 receiving yards for a $500,000 bonus in contract incentives. With Tennessee eliminated from playoff contention, it has to be on their minds to get their alpha to clear that monetary milestone against his former team.

Houston just got demolished by the connection of Joe Flacco and Amari Cooper last week. It is time for Levis and Hopkins to do similar deeds in Week 17.

James Cook (BUF) LOWER than 65.5 rushing yards

Fading one of the biggest fantasy league-winners of the season may seem like a scary proposition, but this projection is too high. Yes, the Bills might implement a run-heavy game script early in this one, but this line is an overreaction. Cook ranks No. 32 among all running backs in yards created per touch and is heavily reliant on Buffalo’s elite offensive line play. In fact, six of the eight games in which he cleared this projection came against defenses that rank bottom-10 in run stop win rate.

Recommended: 0.50u on the three-pick entry (standard payout)

In Week 17, the Bills match up against a Patriots defense that ranks No. 5 in run stop win rate on the season and No. 2 in rush EPA per play allowed since they came off their Bye. Overall, we may need north of 17 carries for Cook to challenge this number. However, there are plenty of routes to this not happening. They could be in the form of designed runs for Josh Allen, New England playing better and keeping the game competitive, and the availability of Latavius Murray and Leonard Fournette. Bo0th Murray and Fournette have stolen important touches from Cook this season.

Trevor’s Week 17 Picks

Bailey Zappe (NE) LOWER than 205.5 passing yards

We have put together a five pick this week. For the past 20 years, we have come to expect the Patriots to be rolling come this time of year. However, since Tom Brady‘s departure things in New England have not been the same. Buffalo has its playoff hopes on the line, and we expect the Bills to force pressure on Zappe all game this week. 

This is not the same Bills defense that let Mac Jones torch them for 272 yards and two touchdowns. The offense for the Patriots is now running through Elliot. In the last 3 games with Stevenson out, Elliott has had over 20 touches per game. New England and Zappe will not be throwing this week even in a negative game script against the Bills. 

Buffalo has given up the No. 4 fewest air yards this season (3,160 – an NFL leading 0.18 targets per route run and the No. 8 fewest yards a game through the air at 219.6). We expect this number to get closer to 200 come game time so take advantage at Underdog this week.

Ezekiel Elliott (NE) HIGHER than 46.5 rushing yards 

It is December of the year 2023, and Ezekiel Elliott is a bell cow running back once again. However, this time it is with the dysfunctional New England Patriots. As we discussed above with Bailey Zappe, Elliott is seeing over 20 touches per week with Stevenson down. Now Belichick and the Patriots will lean on Elliott once again as they try to upset the Bills and spoil their playoff hopes. 

This is not the same defense as stated above that allowed Mac Jones to torch them for 272 yards earlier this year. This Bills team will have the Patriots team locked up in the passing game. New England will be looking to keep the ball out of Josh Allen’s hands. Since Joe Brady has taken over as offensive coordinator, the Bills offense has looked much better. As a result, the Patriots will look to run the ball and play keep away from a potent Bills offense. This line is too low at 46.5 rushing yards as PlayerProfiler projections have him over 70 yards on the ground this week.

CJ Beathard (JAX) LOWER than 32.5 pass attempts

The Jaguars face off against division opponent Carolina this week and will be without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Stepping into his role will be career backup C.J. Beathard. This is a must win game for the Jaguars, and we expect them to lean heavy on the run game and Travis Etienne this week. Jacksonville has lost four straight games, and they need to right the ship. Doing it through the air against the best pass defense in the NFL will not be how that is done this week. 

The last time the Panthers allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 205 yards against them was back in mid-October against the Dolphins. In the last eight games, the only QB to break 200 yards passing was Baker Mayfield and he threw for 202 yards through the air. Carolina leads the league in pass yards allowed per game at (186.3) and is the only team to not have more than 400 targets against them this season. 

Doug Pederson and the Jaguars will lean heavily this week on Travis Etienne and the run game this week. On the opposite sideline, the Panthers are one of the worst run stopping defenses in football. Aaron Jones just went for 127 yards against Carolina last week. 

This number started at 33.5 and is now down to 32.5 when we placed this pick’em. We expect this to get even lower closer to game time. 

Zamir White (LV) HIGHER than 70.5 rushing yards

Antonio Pierce leads the Raiders into a game this week against the Colts. Pierce is trying to show why he should be the head coach of the Raiders moving forward. Josh Jacobs was already going to have a diminished role after White rushed for 125 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas. 

The Colts give up one of the highest rates of adjusted yards before contact at (1.76), 4.22 yards per carry, and rank bottom 10 in the league surrendering 1,049 yards after contact. Even with weapons like Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers, the Raiders still have Aiden O’Connell at QB. Pierce and the Raiders will continue to use White as the bell cow this week, and we expect him to get well over 20 rushing attempts again in this matchup. 

Michael Pittman Jr. (IND) HIGHER than 6.5 receptions

I hope my wife loves me the way Gardner Minshew loves throwing the ball to Michael Pittman Jr. The former USC standout has been a star for the Colts again this season in spite losing Anthony Richardson early. Now in this Week 17 matchup, we expect Pittman back after taking a dirty hit and suffering a concussion against the Steelers. The Colts are currently -3.5 point favorites. In order to cover, they will be relying on Pittman this week. 

Recommended: 0.50u on the five-pick entry with insurance (cash won even if one pick loses)

Over the last five games, even with leaving early in the Steelers game, Pittman is averaging 11.4 targets and 8.4 receptions on a 30-percent target share. The Colts other wide receivers have continued to be hit or miss each week all while Pittman continues to deliver over and over. 

The Raiders run zone at one of the highest rates in the league, and Pittman has been a monster against zone this year. At the outside position, the Raiders continue to give up receptions. Even the forgotten about Kendrick Bourne of the lowly Patriots had 10 receptions against the Raiders this season. Now with Jonathan Taylor back, the Colts will be able to open up play action for Minshew and Pittman. As a result, we expect a big day from him.