Underdog Best Player Pick ‘Ems | NFL Week 1

by Ahaan Rungta · Underdog Pick Ems

The NFL season is under way and that means it is time to put our bankroll where our predictions are. At PlayerProfiler, we have you covered with projections and takes year-round but during the season, Underdog Fantasy allows you to pick whether a player will go higher or lower than their projection.

Welcome to the first article in our pick ‘em written series for the 2023-24 season. Going forward, 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).

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Ahaan’s Week 1 Picks

Jordan Love (GB) HIGHER Than 12.5 Rushing Yards

In a game that Vegas projects to be close, the former first-round draft pick Jordan Love will likely have to drop back to pass often in this one. As a result, this projection for a quarterback with solid mobility reads as way too low.

Last year, here is how mobile quarterbacks fared on the ground against the Chicago Bears defense:

  • Josh Allen: 6 carries, 41 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Jalen Hurts: 17 carries, 61 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Tua Tagovailoa: 5 carries, 0 yards
  • Dak Prescott: 5 carries, 34 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Daniel Jones: 6 carries, 68 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Trey Lance: 13 carries, 54 yards, 0 touchdowns

This offseason, Chicago was aggressive adding to their defense, signing linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, as well as adding several interior defenders. They also used three of their top four draft picks on defensive players.

With top Green Bay wideout Christian Watson now ruled out for the contest, Love is going to have some trouble being efficient down the field working with the only known non-rookie starting pass catcher being Romeo Doubs, who is not much of a separator himself. Expect Love, who averaged nearly 14 yards per carry in his final college season, and ranks in the 73rd percentile in forty-yard dash time and 87th percentile in burst score, to utilize his athleticism to move the chains. In Love’s only career NFL start two years ago, he rushed for 23 yards on 5 carries. I would not be surprised if we get a similar performance this Sunday. I would play this “higher” pick up to 14.5 if the projection moves.

Chase Claypool (CHI) HIGHER Than 15.5 Receiving Yards

Let’s stay in the Chicago game. The athletic wideout Chase Claypool was traded mid-season in 2022. In his last three games with over a 50-percent snap share with the Bears, he established his presence with volume, drawing at least five targets in all three games and averaged 36.0 receiving yards per game in that span. The addition of D.J. Moore makes Claypool less of a priority in the Bears offense. However, the close spread (near-pick-’em) suggests Chicago will have to keep their foot on the pedal and pass the ball for four quarters.

Recommended: 0.50u on the two-pick entry

With elite cornerback Jaire Alexander leading the duties of shadowing Moore, the field should be opened up for Claypool who is an athletic beast with the ability to clear this line in just one catch. I would play this “higher” pick up to 19.5 if the projection moves.

Trevor’s Week 1 Picks

Elijah Moore (CLE) HIGHER Than 32.5 Receiving Yards

Elijah Moore is a talented young receiver with a promising rookie season in 2022 despite dealing with injuries. If Watson returns to his former self, he is also a very accurate passer, which should help Moore get open and make plays. In addition, the Bengals have a suspect secondary. They ranked No. 25 in the NFL in passing yards allowed last season. Moore should be able to take advantage of this matchup and have a big game.

More on Moore:

  • Moore will be a significant target for Watson. Watson loves to throw to his receivers in space, and Moore is a speedy and elusive player.
  • Moore has a good matchup against the Bengals secondary and should draw a fair amount of Mike Hilton. The Bengals have a lot of young players in their secondary, and they could struggle to cover Moore.
  • He is coming off a strong preseason. Moore had ten receptions for 118 yards in the preseason and looked confident and productive.
  • Moore and this line will not be this low for the rest of the season. We expect him to go over 32.5 receiving yards in this week’s game, as we project him with 5.5 targets for 45 yards. 

Treylon Burks (TEN) HIGHER Than 36.5 Receiving Yards

Treylon Burks is a big, physical receiver, and his knee appears to have recovered. He has the potential to have a very productive second year even with Hopkins joining the Titans. I believe he will have a big game against the Saints.

The Saints have a weak pass defense. They ranked No. 27 in the league last season. The Saints also allowed the most receiving yards to opposing tight ends (846). Burks is a versatile receiver who can play outside or in the slot and is also a good blocker. Burks is a matchup nightmare for the Saints’ defense.

Recommended: 0.50u on the two-pick entry

I believe Burks will have at least four catches for 60 yards against the Saints. He can potentially go even higher, but I am being conservative with my prediction.

More on Burks:

  • Burks averaged 40.4 receiving yards per game last season.
  • He had five games with over 50 receiving yards while only playing 11 games.
  • Treylon averaged 13.5 yards per reception.
  • The Titans are expected to be a more pass-happy team this season, with Ryan Tannehill throwing the ball over 30 times per game.
  • The Saints have a young and inexperienced secondary, and he draws Paulson Adebo, who is a favorable matchup for Burks.

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