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Underdog’s Fantasy Pick ‘Em is a fun way to test our predictive abilities against the market. The two keys to success are selecting the best players to target and leveraging correlations to improve our odds. You play Pick 'Em by simply choosing 'Higher' or 'Lower' on at least two player props. If you make the right selection, here's the payout structure:
- Two picks = 3X
- Three picks = 6X
- Four picks = 10X
- Five picks = 20X
In this weekly article, we will list our favorite plays of the week and the reasoning behind them.
Week 21 Review
- Overall Picks (2-4, 126-105-2 on the season)
- Overall Units (-2, +25.5 Units on the season)
(0-3, -1 Unit) Chiefs-Ravens 12X This Pick ‘Em was based upon a game script in which the Ravens offense was able to put up points early and play with the lead. Instead, the Chiefs jumped out early and the Ravens abandoned the run. Lamar Jackson (64.5 rushing yards) ran for 54 on only eight carries. Mark Andrews did not catch a touchdown, and Patrick Mahomes II (5.0) had six carries, making his under a loser.
(2-1, -1 Unit) Lions-49ers 6X This one lost due to George Kittle (6.5 targets) being much less involved in the game plan than expected. He was targeted just three times. The other two picks hit. Christian McCaffrey (4.5 receptions) had four catches, and Jahmyr Gibbs (11.95 fantasy points) had 13.1 with 56 yards, a touchdown, and three receptions.
Super Bowl Picks
Let's finish up a strong season on a positive note. This week's picks will run the gamut from solid 6X correlation plays (like the first Pick 'Em), that we have used to build our bankroll, to extreme long shots (like the 37.5X Unsung Heroes trio of picks) that just make watching the big game with friends more fun.
Chiefs Fast Start 6X
This is a correlation play based upon a belief that the Chiefs once again dominate the first quarter. Few coaches script the opening drives better than Andy Reid. The 49ers have started slowly in each of their playoff games this postseason. We are banking on the Chiefs having one long drive with more than 76 yards worth of offense split between Patrick Mahomes II passing and Isiah Pacheco rushing. A long Chiefs drive would make it less likely that Purdy has the ball multiple times and racks up a bunch of first-quarter passing yardage.
The game script we are hoping for is one like the AFC Championship game. Kansas City ran 26 plays and put together a pair of long (86 and 75 yards) touchdown drives in the first quarter, while holding Lamar Jackson to a single pass completion.
Kyle Shanahan always defers to receive the ball to start the second half when the 49ers win the coin toss. He reiterated his preference last month. Shanahan explained that the goal of deferring is to try to score both at the end of the first half and to start the second. "You’ve got a chance to get an extra possession," he said. "I didn't used to know this or think it, but just listening to people for the last 15 years. I didn't think about it all growing up or when I first got into the league, but watching it all now and really studying it since I was in Atlanta, I just feel pretty strong about it.” Andy Reid typically defers as well, but has occasionally chosen to take the ball first.
Higher than 58.5 1Q Passing Yards
- In his career, Mahomes has averaged 74.0 first-quarter passing yards per game.
- Nerves should be less of an issue for Mahomes, who is appearing in his fourth Super Bowl, than for Brock Purdy.
- The Chiefs have emphasized the importance of getting off to fast starts in the playoffs this year and have mostly been able to do so.
Lower than 54.5 1Q Passing Yards
- Purdy has struggled early in each of the playoff games this postseason.
- In his career, only 20.8% of Purdy’s passing yards have come in the first quarter. There has been a tendency to lean on the run early and allow Purdy to get his feet wet before kicking the passing offense into full gear.
Higher than 17.5 1Q Rushing Yards
- Last week, Pacheco had six carries and two targets in the opening quarter.
- He handled 96% of the Chiefs' backfield rushing attempts against Baltimore and is a key cog of the offense. Expect Kansas City to make a concerted effort to establish Pacheco early in the game.
Chiefs OC Matt Nagy tells @kpatra what's changed for Isiah Pacheco: "Just more experienced, understanding technique, fundamentals. ... Things happen slower for him, so he can play faster."https://t.co/c3R39DPD2O— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) February 8, 2024
- Teams have been getting after the 49ers on the ground in the playoffs. San Francisco gave up 182 rushing yards to the Lions last week and 136 rushing yards to the Packers in their playoff opener.
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