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 myself, Ahaan S. Rungta (@AhaanRungta), and Trevor Tipton (@FFCULater). These are the Underdog Best Player Pick ‘Ems – NFL Week 3!
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Collaboration Week 3 Pick for $100k Sunday
This season, Underdog Fantasy is giving away $100,000 per week to those who submit a pick ‘em entry with a designated player. There will be one pick on the board for each NFL slate. All you have to do is place an entry using that pick to enter the sweepstakes, and Underdog will dish out cash randomly to some players who enter. This week’s special on the board is on Tyreek Hill‘s total yards. Your entry does not have to win to be eligible for the giveaway. Terms and conditions apply.
Week 2 of $100k Sundays is here!
Another 10 entrants will win $10,000 🙌
This week's pick: Tyreek Hill Total Yards 👀 pic.twitter.com/VQEwEDftBG
— Underdog Pick'em (@UnderdogPicks) September 19, 2023
To enter this week’s special, we collaborated on this week’s Friday show for a two-piece entry since we both like the Higher on Hill in Week 3.
In Week 2, Hill drew nine targets but only accumulated 40 yards against a deep Bill Belichick defense. Consider that an outlier. Before that matchup, Hill had cleared this total yard projection in seven of his 13 games quarterbacked by Tua Tagovailoa going back to last year. With Tagovailoa looking better than ever, and the Broncos ranking as one of the league’s best rushing defenses since last year, expect the Dolphins to control the tempo of the offense through the passing game.
Jaylen Waddle remains out of practice dealing with a concussion. However, regardless of his status, Miami will look to get Hill feasting again. The superstar wideout should be able to clear this projection as long as the game remains fairly competitive.
To pair with the Hill pick, we are headed to another top option in Florida. The results of Calvin Ridley this season have been a tale of two matchups. In Week 1, he faced a weak Colts secondary and went off for eight receptions and 101 receiving yards. In Week 2, Jacksonville’s offense was humbled by the reigning champions, and Ridley only caught two passes for 32 receiving yards.
What remained steady through both games was elite opportunity coupled with a heavy load through the air. Ridley has combined for 19 targets and 173 air yards through these two games. However, he has been hurt by a 63.2-percent catchable target rate from his quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Week 3 is a get-right spot for the duo against a Texans defense that has looked feeble against top-option receivers so far this year. In Week 1, rookie Zay Flowers posted nine receptions for 78 yards. In Week 2, Michael Pittman posted eight receptions for 56 yards. This week might be the last we see of Ridley’s projection being below 70 yards.
Ahaan’s Week 3 Picks
Adam Trautman (DEN) HIGHER than 18.5 receiving yards
Not many want to admit it, but Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has been playing well to open the season. He ranks top-10 among all quarterbacks in success rate and top-3 in completion percentage over expectation. To keep up with the dynamic Dolphins in Week 3, Denver must pass the ball. The athletic profile of Adam Trautman is the sole healthy pass-catching tight end on this team with Greg Dulcich on the injured reserve. In Week 1, Trautman recorded a 61-percent route participation, five receptions on five targets, and 34 receiving yards. In Week 2, with Dulcich out, even though Trautman didn’t haul in a catch, his route participation was increased to 74-percent.
Now, he gets a matchup against an undersized Dolphins defense that hasn’t been stopping any tight end. In Week 1, they allowed the tandem of Gerald Everett and Donald Parham to each clear this number. In Week 2, they allowed Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki to record 52 and 33 yards, respectively. Trautman should be able to clear this number with ease. The line is already starting to get juiced to the “over” some books. I would be comfortable taking the higher on this pick up to 20.5.
Frankie Luvu (CAR) HIGHER than 6.0 tackles+assists
When you’re looking for winners, you can’t discriminate finding value. Let’s root for a defensive player. The Carolina Panthers are short-handed in their starting linebacker core. Shaq Thompson went on the injured reserve in Week 2, and Justin Houston is questionable for Week 3. That means Frankie Luvu should be in line to record 100-percent of the defensive snaps for the third straight week.
Last season, Luvu recorded at least seven combined tackles in seven of his 11 games playing over 85-percent of the snaps. This year, he started off the season slowly with five combined tackles against the Falcons. However, that was in a game where Atlanta only ran 48 offensive plays and showed off their bottom-10 pace of play. In Week 2, Luvu dominated with nine combined tackles, including a pair of sacks. In Week 3, he faces a Seahawks offense that ranks about middle-of-the-pack in pace of play and have already been allowing opposing linebackers to clear this number. Rams starter Ernest Jones recorded nine combined tackles in Week 1. In Week 2, Lions starts Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes recorded seven combined tackles each.
Luvu’s line on sportsbooks for combined tackles is set at 6.5, giving this higher pick extreme value at pick ‘em.
Trevor’s Week 3 Picks
Zay Flowers (BAL) HIGHER than 53.5 receiving yards
The rookie Zay Flowers has been impressive in his first two games, posting 140 receiving yards on 13 receptions. This is good for 10.8 yards per catch. In Week 1 against single high coverage, he has eight targets and now has a 10.77 yards per route along with a 27.3-percent target share in his first two games of the season. This includes 80 yards after the catch and 48 yards after contact on receptions.
In Week 3, he faces a Colts defense that ranks No. 29 against the pass, allowing 287 passing yards per game. Odell Beckham Jr. is out, and this should add to an already high-ceiling role for Flowers.
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) HIGHER than 4.5 rushing yards
Tua Tagovailoa is a mobile quarterback who is not afraid to scramble. He has nine rushing attempts through two games this season. Now, he faces a Broncos defense that have ranked No. 29 in DVOA against the run. In addition, Miami has the best offensive line matchup per run blocking this week. Tagovailoa has posted two scrambles for 11 yards on the season already, and Denver will be bringing pressure against him to take him out of the pocket.
This projection reads as too low, just two weeks after the Dolphins quarterback recorded five rushes against the Chargers. With Tagovailoa healthy, and willing to make plays out of the pocket when necessary, this pick should hit with ease.