Underdog Fantasy NFL Picks: Week 3

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Do you feel like a sharp football fan? Does winning money sound appealing to you? Of course!

Thankfully, Underdog Fantasy offers sports fans many gaming options such as best ball fantasy drafts and pick ’em prop challenges. As for the initial question posed, I’m here to help sharpen your football acumen by utilizing several helpful resources such as BetPrep projections to topple the over/under and rivals picks.

It’s easy to get started. Here’s how it works:

  • Create an account on Underdog Fantasy.
  • Use the promo code PROPS to claim an extra $10 on your first deposit.
  • Go to the Pick’em Games.
  • Make two or more selections to receive a correlated payout of 3x, 6x, 10x, or 20x.
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It’s pretty fun, and Underdog Fantasy is available in most states except for the following: Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Louisiana, Montana, Washington, Delaware, and Iowa.

Now, let’s take a look at my five favorite Underdog Fantasy NFL picks for the Sunday main slate of Week 3.

Marvin Jones OVER 66.5 Receiving Yards

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There’s no question which has been rookie Trevor Lawrence’s preferred passing-game option through two weeks. Marvin Jones leads the Jaguars in targets (20), receptions (11), and receiving yards (132). Further, according to Pro Football Focus, he paces the team in passing snaps played (89) and routes (81).

Unfortunately, he’s averaging only 66.0 receiving yards per game, leaving him a pinch short of his yardage total. I have no worries, though. He uncharacteristically already has a drop on his ledger per Pro Football Focus, and there’s room for growth in chemistry between Jones and Lawrence bumping up his catchable ball rate (only 78.6% this year, per Sports Info Solutions).

There’s also a possibility his target volume climbs this week in an up-tempo game. According to Football Outsiders, the Jaguars are playing at the fourth-fastest situation neutral pace. Comparatively, the Cardinals rank only 14th. However, they played at the fastest pace in 2020 and the fourth-fastest pace in 2019, with head coach Kliff Kingsbury at the helm then as well.

But what does BetPrep think? Well, I’m glad you asked. They’re in alignment with my expectations of Jones going over his yardage total, projecting 73.28 receiving yards for Jacksonville’s No. 1 receiver.

Logan Thomas OVER 44.5 Receiving Yards

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Logan Thomas recorded five receptions on seven targets for 45 receiving yards in Taylor Heinicke’s first start of the year in Week 2. Not a bad showing, but surpassing his yardage prop for this week by a mere half-yard is hardly a slam-dunk case for hopping on the over.

Thankfully, the case doesn’t end with a single data point. Thomas is a playing time machine, playing 100% of Washington’s offensive snaps this year per Pro-Football-Reference. He’s also second on the Football Team with 70 routes, and calling him a tight end might be slightly disingenuous when 56 of his snaps have come from the slot, and another six have been lined up wide, leaving only 16 inline snaps. He’s a jumbo slot.

His opponent this week, the Bills, haven’t been thoroughly challenged by quarterbacks and tight ends this year, facing only a diminished Ben Roethlisberger and mostly Jacoby Brissett last week. So maybe Heinicke isn’t an upgrade over those two, but I believe he is, which means he might be capable of testing their susceptibility after they struggled to guard tight ends in 2020.

Finally, toss in that Washington’s a 7.5-point underdog and facing the NFL’s fastest-paced offense. You have a recipe for a negative game script and tempo boost jacking up Thomas’s opportunities. I love this over and am willing to stay on it if Underdog Fantasy bumps it up a few more yards before you’re able to lock in the over.

Alvin Kamara UNDER 101.5 Rushing + Receiving Yards

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We’ve already seen the injury bug bite do-it-all back Christian McCaffrey on Thursday night, providing a reminder that’s an avenue to hitting an under — especially a triple-digit yardage one. Further, even missing a few plays can put the fork in a player going over triple-digit yardage. Still, I’m not hanging my hat on an injury keeping Kamara short of his yardage prop.

Instead, I think the offense will do the trick. Sure, Kamara’s the focal point of New Orleans’ offense. However, don’t you think Bill Belichick is aware of that and game planning to take him away from the Saints? Yet, I’m not even going to cite Belichick’s reputation for taking away the opposition’s best weapon and making them beat the Patriots with their ancillary options as the primary motivation for loving this under.

Nope, I’ll revisit the offense. It’s the offense responsible for the fewest plays run (103) this year. Unlike some low-play offenses, this one comically blends a lack of plays with a lack of efficiency, sporting the third-lowest yards per play (4.4).

If a team can’t move the chains and pile up plays, it can’t produce yardage. The Saints seem content running a plodding offense and mucking things up, ranking 31st in situation neutral pace. Unsurprisingly, BetPrep projects only 54.48 rushing yards and 22,81 receiving yards, a total of 77.29 rushing-plus receiving yards that’s more than 24 yards shy of his yardage prop. I advise taking the under.

Jonathan Taylor UNDER 91.5 Rush + Receiving Yards

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Guess which team ranks behind the Saints in situation-neutral pace of play. Bingo, it’s the Colts. Further, the Colts’ offense might come entirely off the rails this week.

Starting quarterback Carson Wentz is battling two ankle sprains. No, stop laughing. Apparently, it is possible to sprain both ankles in the same game. If he can suit up, he won’t be at 100%, and a healthy Wentz has performed underwhelmingly this year.

And if he’s out, second-year quarterback Jacob Eason will get the nod. Eason’s an immobile pocket passer who lasted until the fourth round of the 2020 draft. Hardly a ringing endorsement when teams are always quarterback-hungry and pushing them up the draft boards.

Now, looking at Taylor’s usage — or lack thereof — doesn’t help his cause for going over his yardage prop, either. After playing 55% of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 1, Marlon Mack was active and used in Week 2, causing Taylor’s snap share to dip to 45%. Not coincidentally, his touches cratered, too. He carried the ball 17 times and caught six of seven targets in Week 1 but toted the rock only 15 times with one reception on his only target in Week 2. Unsurprisingly, his passing snaps and routes slid from 24 and 18, respectively, to 15 and 15 in Week 2.

There’s also the presence of Nyheim Hines, who I’ve failed to mention to this point. He’s the team’s top pass-catching back and Taylor’s most significant threat to playing time if the 5.5-point road underdog Colts dig themselves a hole quickly.

There are many threats to Taylor having a productive day. Thus, I’m expecting him to fall short of a reasonably sizable yardage total. I’m not alone. BetPrep projects 71.65 rushing yards and 17.58 receiving yards, leaving him a few yards shy of his total.

Sterling Shepard OVER 5.5 Receptions

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We’ve reached my final pick, and I’m going back to the well with Sterling Shepard. Betting his receptions has been kind to me before, and I don’t see a reason to hop off Big Blue’s No. 1 receiver’s over in a soft matchup.

Shepard leads the team in passing snaps (86), routes (78), targets (19), receptions (16), and receiving yards (207). He hasn’t reached his gaudy reception total through a boom and bust week, either. He hauled in seven receptions in the opener and nine more last week.

Shepard operates as the team’s slot, running 74.4% of his passing snaps from that spot, netting high-percentage looks with a modest average depth of target of only 8.9 yards downfield. Meanwhile, Kenny Golladay and Darrius Slayton clear out Shepard’s underneath looks with their average depth of target marks of 15.4 yards and 15.1 yards.

This week, he faces a porous Falcons’ pass defense that Football Outsiders ranks 27th in pass defense Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). They should serve as a speed bump for Shepard, and I expect him to hit his over, and so does BetPrep, projecting 7.86 receptions.