Underdog Best Player Pick ‘Ems | NFL Week 2

by Ahaan Rungta · Underdog Pick Ems

Welcome back to the 2023-24 Underdog Fantasy Pick ‘Em article series, 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).

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.

Check out Underdog’s NFL Pick ‘Ems ➔ https://play.underdogfantasy.com/p-rotounderworld and use Code UNDERWORLD for a $100 instant deposit match.

Ahaan’s Week 2 Picks

Justin Herbert (LAC) HIGHER than 282.5 passing yards

In Week 1, the Chargers were involved in a home shootout against the Dolphins, but Justin Herbert only posted a 23-for-33 passing line with 229 passing yards. A lot of that was due to the domination of Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, and company against the Dolphins defense. In Week 2, with the Chargers only favored by a field goal on most sportsbooks, expect another close game and this time. Expect Herbert to take control, especially with Austin Ekeler nursing an ankle injury.

Last season, Herbert cleared this projection in eight of his 17 games despite his receiving core being severely compromised due to injuries. This weekend, his top three pass-catchers are all healthy and he will face a Titans defense that continues to be great against the run but allowed Derek Carr to go for 305 passing yards on exactly the same line Herbert did in Week 1 (23-for-33). The Titans also applied a below-average 21.1-percent pressure rate on the quarterback last week. This is good news for Herbert who ranked No. 9 in the NFL in completion percentage in a clean pocket last year.

Mike Williams (LAC) HIGHER than 59.5 receiving yards

This is our first same-team stack of the 2023-24 pick ‘em season. Stacking positively-correlated players in the same offense is an efficient strategy to find value since the price of the entry will not fully account for how related these two picks are. If Justin Herbert is to have a big game, he’ll likely need one of his top weapons to soar over their projection as well.

Although Keenan Allen led the way for the Chargers in the air last week with six receptions on nine targets, the veteran Mike Williams was no slouch either. He posted 45 yards on just four catches and five targets. He is our target of choice in this matchup since he is the team’s top deep ball threat. In Week 1, the Titans allowed 202 air yards, the third-most in the NFL, and allowed Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed to combine for 201 receiving yards by themselves.

Last season, Williams cleared this projection in all four of his games where both he and Allen played over 50-percent of the snaps. This means this number is far too low in this matchup.

Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) HIGHER than 14.95 fantasy points

In Week 1, the Bengals were completely stymied by an elite defensive core in Cleveland. Despite Joe Burrow force-feeding nine targets to his top wideout Ja’Marr Chase, only five were completed for receptions. This is a good bounce back spot for Chase to be more efficient, especially since the Ravens have now ruled out many key players, including cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Marcus Williams. Cincinnati is favored in this divisional matchup. If they are to avoid starting the season 0-2, they must rely on their best pass-catcher.

Recommended: 0.50u on the three-pick entry

This projection uses half-PPR scoring, and Chase cleared the number in nine of his 15 games last season. The beauty of this market is that his “higher than 6.5 receptions” line has been progressively getting juiced on sportsbooks. Therefore, he could get this via volume and efficiency, but he could also get this via finding the end zone. Chase’s 26 red zone targets last season ranked No. 3 among all wide receivers. This makes him one of the league’s biggest threats to find paydirt.

If the market on Chase moves over the course of the weekend as you build your pick ‘em entries, Chase higher than 0.5 rush+rec TDs and Chase higher than 6.5 receptions (or up to 7.0) are viable pivots as well. However, the official pick locked in on stream was on the fantasy points.

Trevor’s Week 2 Picks

Calvin Ridley (JAX) HIGHER than 69.5 receiving yards

Calvin Ridley had a strong season debut for the Jaguars, catching eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. He showed good chemistry with Trevor Lawrence and should be a major target in the passing game again against the Chiefs. The Chiefs have a good defense, but they are also susceptible to giving up big plays to wide receivers. Ridley is a big-play threat, and I love the matchup he gets this week after posting 11 targets, a 48-percent air yard share, and 34-percent target share in Week 1.

In Week 1, the Chiefs ranked No. 28 in the NFL in pass DVOA as a defense. Last season, they allowed 284 passing yards per game (No. 17th-most). The explosive play threat of Ridley has averaged 14.9 yards per reception in his career. In his comeback to league in Week 1, he averaged 12.6 yards per route run.

I would be comfortable playing this higher, up to a projection of 71.5 receiving yards.

Christian McCaffrey (SF) HIGHER than 67.5 rushing yards

The veteran running back Christian McCaffrey is versatile and a perennial threat to break off an explosive play on the ground. He is coming off a strong season in 2022 in which he rushed for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns. In the 49ers’ season-opening win over the Steelers, McCaffrey rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown.

I believe that McCaffrey will have a big game against the Rams. He is the focal point of the 49ers’ run-first offense and he will get plenty of opportunities to clear this projection. As a team, San Francisco averaged 146.8 rushing yards per game last season (No. 3-most in the NFL) while the Rams had porous defense on the ground, allowing 115.2 rushing yards per game. Additionally, the Rams are now missing starters like All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Recommended: 0.50u on the two-pick entry

In Week 1, McCaffrey logged 22 rushing attempts, accounted for 65-percent of the 49ers’ carries, recorded 6.9 yards per carry, and posted an elite 121 yards after contact. He is healthy and motivated in 2023 after missing 13 games in 2020 and 2021 due to injuries and PlayerProfiler has him projected for 78 rushing yards in this game. This makes the higher on this projection a downright steal.

I would be comfortable playing this higher up to a projection of 70.5 rushing yards or pivoting to higher than on rushing+receiving yards up to 101.5.