NFL Week 18 Underdog Pick ‘Ems

by Ahaan Rungta · Betting & Props

This is NFL Week 18 Underdog Pick ‘Ems! Welcome back to the 2023-24 Underdog Fantasy Pick ‘Em article series. This 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).

Although an injury to Will Levis is what lost us a three-pick entry last week, we get one last shot in the regular season to bounce back. 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 18.

Ahaan’s Week 18 Picks

Tyreek Hill (MIA) HIGHER than 0.5 Rush+Rec TDs

We will make a two-pick entry for the most meaningful and anticipated game of the Week 18 slate. The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins will take on the big stage of Sunday Night Football with eyes on a division title. Franchise players show up in big-time games and that is the task at hand for one of the NFL’s best receivers, Tyreek Hill.

Although Hill has not found the end zone in three straight games, the volume is not the issue. He is one of only two wide receivers in the league with at least five red zone targets but no touchdowns in that span. On the season, he ranks No. 4 among wideouts in red zone targets and now faces a Buffalo Bills defense that has been elite on the ground this season. Since Week 10, only one team has allowed fewer rushing touchdowns to running backs than the Bills.

With both of Miami’s top two running backs not completely healthy and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle already ruled out, that just increases the motivation for the Dolphins to feed their best player. It is time to put our money in the hands of regression to the man. Hill’s touchdown prop is juiced heavily on most sportsbooks. Therefore, it is great value to snag it as a pick ‘em piece.

Dawson Knox (BUF) HIGHER than 12.5 Receiving Yards

While the rookie Dalton Kincaid has been one of the centers of attention of the fantasy football world this season, the veteran Dawson Knox has very much been in the mix for the Buffalo Bills. Specifically, Knox has shown up on the statsheet in close games and been mostly absent otherwise. By backing Knox in Week 18, we are essentially asking for this game to require a pass-heavy, competitive setting.

Recommended: 0.50u on the two-pick entry

Knox has cleared this projection in five of the seven games he has played where Buffalo has not been involved in a blowout. He also gets a friendly matchup against the Dolphins. The Dolphins have allowed the No. 11-most receptions to tight ends this season. This is partially thanks to their No. 15-ranked zone coverage rate. Miami’s defense is dealing with more injuries than usual this week. As a result, Allen should be able to get Knox to clear this projection on just a couple of targets.

Trevor’s Week 18 Picks

Rachaad White (TB) HIGHER than 97.5 rush+rec yards

The man of the season for the Pick ‘Em Power Hour has been Rachaad White. In a win and they are in a matchup against the Carolina Panthers this week, expect a heavy dose of White against one of the worst run defenses in the league.

The Carolina Panthers have struggled to contain opposing offenses this season. This is especially true when it comes to stopping the run. They rank last in the league in defensive rush EPA. This means that they’ve been consistently allowing big plays on the ground. Additionally, this bodes well for White who has proven to be a dynamic and explosive runner. They also allow 4.11 yards per carry and a 28.8-percent explosive run rate.  

In his last six games, White has surpassed 97.5 rushing plus receiving yards four times. This impressive season showcases his ability to consistently produce at a high level. With the Buccaneers needing a win to secure the NFC South title, it’s a safe bet that they’ll lean on White’s hot hand to carry them to victory.

The Impact of Mike Evans

Tampa Bay’s star wide receiver, Mike Evans, has been a thorn in the side of the Carolina Panthers throughout his career. In his last seven games against the Panthers, he’s averaged an astounding 118.7 receiving yards per game. The Panthers’ secondary will likely be focused on containing Evans. This should open up more opportunities for White to exploit the defense on the ground and through short passes.

Tampa Bay has been employing a run-run-pass sequence at a league-high rate this season. This strategy has allowed White to establish a rhythm and find success on the ground. With the Buccaneers likely to continue this approach against the Panthers, it’s reasonable to expect White to have ample opportunities to rack up rushing yards.

Not only is White a talented runner, but he’s also a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield. He ranks No. 1 in routes run, No. 3 in receiving yards, No. 7 in targets, and No. 4 in receptions among running backs this season. This versatility makes him a dangerous weapon for the Buccaneers and a nightmare for opposing defenses.

C.J. Stroud (HOU) HIGHER than 17.75 Fantasy Points 

In a must win game for the Texans against the Colts, they will be relying on star rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. Many will remember the first time they met this season where Stroud led the Texans back from down 28-10 while throwing for 384 yards in his second NFL game. Now the Texans are in a spot to win the division if they can take down the Colts and the Jaguars lose. 

First, the Colts’ defense primarily employs a Cover 3 scheme. This has been Stroud’s bread and butter this season. He ranks No. 1 in the NFL in yards per drop back and No. 2 in QBR when facing this defensive strategy. This bodes well for his performance and potential fantasy points against the Colts. Additionally, the Texans have a high-stakes win-and-in game on their hands. The team has a strong incentive to perform at their best. A victory would secure a playoff spot. This added motivation could propel Stroud to a stellar performance.

Recent Slump

Furthermore, the Texans’ offense is expected to bounce back after a recent slump. With a favorable matchup against the Colts’ defense, a healthy Stroud should see the potential game script for a high-scoring game. This would allow Stroud to rack up passing yards, touchdowns, and ultimately, fantasy points.

Recommended: 0.50u on the two-pick entry

While Rookie of the Year odds favor Stroud, this game presents an opportunity for him to solidify his case. A standout performance against the Colts would not only help his team secure a playoff spot, but also bolster his chances of winning the coveted award.