Underdog Picks For Today: Texans Vs. Colts, Steelers Vs. Ravens NFL Saturday Draft Sleepers
NFL Week 18 odds at the best betting sites and Pick Em numbers on the Underdog fantasy app have arrived for Saturday. This new column will walk you through my favorite Underdog picks for today and the two-game Saturday NFL slate. Let’s dive into the options for Steelers at Ravens and Texans at Colts on Saturday, two games with massive playoff implications.
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Jonathan Taylor Lower Than 72.5 Rushing Yards
For starters, the Texans’ run defense has been a pass funnel this season, as they allow the second-fewest yards per carry in the league at 3.3. If that’s not proof enough, they also rank first in rushing defense success rate. They’re particularly stout against the run-on first down, ranking 3rd in rush defense success rate there.
Their stiff run defense was evident on the box score in Week 15 when they limited Derrick Henry to 16 carries for a measly nine yards, his lowest mark since 2017. Of course, expecting the Texans’ defense to replicate that performance here is ludicrous. Henry is a power back, whereas Taylor is faster and much more elusive. That said, Taylor has a history of struggling against stout run defenses. Against the Titans, Jaguars, and Patriots, he was limited to 3.0 YPC or less in each contest.
In two of those games, he failed to reach 10 carries, though.
Gardner Minshew Higher Than 236.5 Passing Yards
The Texans’ 240 passing yards surrendered per game (seventh most) make me believe Shane Steichen will let Gardner Minshew sling the ball around Saturday evening. The Colts offense, although primarily reliant on the ground attack, passes quite often against defenses that surrender passing yards.
Minshew accumulated at least 240 passing yards in games against the Bucs, Bengals, and Jaguars, all of whom are in the top six in terms of passing yards allowed per game.
George Pickens 2x On Higher Than 0.5 Rush + Rec TDs
Pickens has been the focal point of the offense the last four games, tallying at least six targets in each. Since Mason Rudolph has been named the starter, the young receiver has gone scorched earth and tallied 195 and 131 receiving yards in consecutive weeks.
Now enter the Ravens defense, who will be resting key players since they have clinched the No. 1 seed. Should the Ravens rest their starters, Pickens won’t be matched up against Marlon Humphrey, who boasts a 67.4 passer rating (9th best) when targeted this season. Instead of taking higher on Pickens receiving yards, let’s boost the odds for 3-leg Pick Em by taking him to score a touchdown.
Best of luck with your Underdog picks in Week 18!
Underdog Saturday draft Sleepers
Steelers TE Pat Freirmuth
Although the Ravens’ defense has been stout against tight ends this season, they’ve recently sprung a leak there. In the last four weeks, they’ve surrendered at least 50 receiving yards to the position.
The three receptions for 44 yards last week were a welcome sight after Muth was goose-egged the week prior. It’s high risk and high reward with Freirmuth this week, but without Roquan Smith navigating the middle of the Ravens’ defense, yardage should be plentiful for the Penn State product.
Ravens QB Tyler Huntley
Huntley is a bit of a sneaky pick because the projections currently have Lamar getting the points, even though he’ll be sitting this one out. In his final three games last year, Huntley threw for four total touchdowns and averaged just under 35 rushing yards per contest. He’s a viable option if you want to steer clear from the rookie Stroud in his biggest game as a professional.
Consider taking Huntley if you’re doing any Saturday-only drafts. If you enter a four-person draft, perhaps an interesting strategy would be to stack your lineup elsewhere in the early rounds and select Huntley with a later pick.
Ravens RB Melvin Gordon
The same concept applies to Melvin Gordon. His projections are low right now, even though the Ravens will be sitting their starters. Just make sure he’s still on the active roster when inactives come out, as he’s spent some time on the practice squad this season.
Last week, when the Ravens were up 49-19 against the Dolphins, Gordon entered the game and got six carries. That makes me believe the veteran will get the workload in Week 18; he just needs to produce. He only got 10 yards on the six carries last week, so drafting him does come with some risk.
However, if you stack your other positions early in drafts, you can find some hidden points if Gordon can cross the pylon for six on Saturday afternoon. Even if he doesn’t score, the Steelers defense allows 98.2 rushing yards to running backs, the 11th-most in the league.
Best of luck with all your Underdog picks for today.
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