In this weekly series, I’ll outline my five favorite picks for the Sunday slate and provide a sample slip. As always, mix up the combinations and sacrifice a lamb or two.
Week 12 Underdog Pick’em Plays
Robby Anderson OVER 3.5 Receptions
Confidence Level: Higher than high
Cam Newton and Robby Anderson are BACK. Anderson has averaged 6 targets and 4.5 receptions on a 20-percent Target Share in his last two games without Sam Darnold. Also, the matchup is prime for Anderson because Miami ranks last in receiving yards and receptions allowed. The probability of Anderson hitting the OVER is strong when considering his current trajectory in the Carolina offense in conjunction with the leaky Miami defense.
Dontrell Hilliard OVER 51.5 Rush + Rec Yds
Confidence Level: High
A conglomerate of factors contribute to my strong conviction on Dontrell Hilliard hitting the OVER against New England this weekend.
First, the injury riddled Titans have no choice but to provide Hilliard with plenty of opportunity to see the field. Julio Jones and A.J. Brown are both on IR, Adrian Peterson was waived and Jeremy McNichols is OUT with a concussion. A rag tag group of wide receivers and D’Onta Foreman are Hilliard’s only competition for relevance this weekend.
Second, if last week was any indication on how this week will shake out, then Hilliard will be the running back to see work on passing downs and Foreman will get work on early downs. Foreman saw 1 target on 7 routes, opposed to Hilliard’s 10 targets on 39 routes. It should be noted that this is a small sample size. However, it is still valuable for predicting usage for Tennessee’s week 12 matchup against New England.
Finally, New England’s defense funnels receiving yards to opposing running backs.
This chart shows the number of receiving yards each team has allowed to each position, the percentage that represents, the number of targets allowed (and percentages), and the total receiving touchdowns allowed. (By positional designation, not where they lined up on the field.) pic.twitter.com/YMAnh2vlIt
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) November 23, 2021
New England allows the most receiving yards and the second-most targets to opposing running backs. Thus, it’s a safe bet that the passing down back Hilliard will produce this weekend against the Patriots.
Trevor Lawrence OVER 219.5 Pass Yds
Confidence Level: Medium
Take the OVER on Trevor Lawrence in a bounce back game against Atlanta. Lawrence hit the UNDER on this line in his past three games against Buffalo, Indianapolis and San Francisco, but Atlanta’s defense is one of the friendliest to opposing quarterbacks, ranking dead last in quarterback pressures and No. 30 in opponent completion percentage. As a result, Lawrence will not be hamstrung by his dreadful 29.4-percent (No. 34 among qualified quarterbacks) Pressured Completion Percentage. Rather, his 35.6 (No. 9) Pass Attempts Per Game will yield more than 219.5 passing yards this weekend.
This line is too low for a pass happy QB in a cake matchup, so Team OVER rolls on, much to the presumed chagrin of Josh Larky.
Jaylen Waddle OVER 55.5 Rec Yds
Confidence Level: High
Carolina’s stiff passing defense will not be able to suppress the connection between Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle. Tua has played five full games this season and Waddle has hit the OVER on this line in four out of five of those games. Keep it simple and enjoy the OVER once again.
Myles Gaskin UNDER 81.5 Rush + Rec Yds
Confidence Level: Medium
Myles Gaskin, a mediocre rusher, has hit the OVER on this line twice in 2021 and he’s not going to do it this weekend against a Carolina defense who is stout against pass catching running backs. His 3.5 (No. 65 among qualified running backs) True Yards Per Carry and 2.03 (No. 53) Yards Created Per Touch are low marks for a player with a 74.8-percent (No. 7) Light Front Carry Rate. And Carolina won’t make it easy for him as a receiver because they rank No. 3 in receiving yards allowed to running backs.
I’m dabbling in the UNDER this week because the odds and data are stacked against Gaskin hitting the OVER.
Week 11 Recap (5 for 5)
I will recap my achievements and shortcomings for last week’s slip at the end of each article.
Adam Trautman OVER 26.5 Rec Yds
Adam Trautman continued to see heavy target volume with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. He had 5 receptions for 58 yards, crushing the OVER on my highest confidence play for Week 11.
Michael Pittman UNDER 65.5 Rec Yds
Jonathan Taylor smashing the Bills resulted in a quiet game for Michael Pittman. He ran a season low 18 routes, which makes it difficult for any receiver to compile more than 65.5 receiving yards.
Dak Prescott UNDER 300.5 Pass Yds
Dak Prescott truly struggled without both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. He finished the game with a season low 5.0 yards per attempt and well under 300.5 passing yards.
Justin Fields UNDER 248.5 Pass Yds
An improvised rushing play from Justin Fields early in the third quarter lead to a rib injury, knocking him out from the game. It’s almost impossible for a QB passing yards line to hit the OVER if they can’t make it to the fourth quarter.
Jeff Wilson UNDER 77.5 Rush Yds
My prediction for Jeff Wilson hitting the UNDER was predicated on his below average athletic measurables. And so, it wasn’t a surprise to see that he managed 3.1 yards per carry on 19 carries. The UNDER wins again, completing my first five for five slip of the year.