Week 13 Staff Picks: Is Chris Olave Best Bet for OROY?
NFL Week 13 - Compiled by Vincent Verhei
Sometimes, gambling advice is objective—like in the NFL picks you get with FO+, for instance. But sometimes gambling advice is subjective. We're trying something new this week, with staff picks from the FO writers. We'll do this every week if it gets a good response: picks against the spread, straight-up upsets, and player prop bets the FO staff likes in Week 13 plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks about rookie of the year prospects.
Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.
Favorite Pick Against the Spread
Cale Clinton: Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) at Los Angeles Rams. The Los Angeles Rams are a shell of their Super Bowl selves. No Aaron Donald, no Cooper Kupp, no Matthew Stafford, no A'Shawn Robinson, and Allen Robinson was just shut down for the year. The Rams just had their worst offensive game by DVOA against the Kansas City Chiefs. Even if John Wolford takes over for Bryce Perkins, I question whether the Rams have the personnel to keep up.
Bryan Knowles: Los Angeles Rams (+7.5) over Seattle Seahawks. This is not a Rams upset pick. This is a "this line has shot dramatically towards Seattle" pick. You could have gotten Seattle (-5.5) on Monday morning; the Aaron Donald injury news swung it two points. I don't think any one defensive player, even one as great as Donald, is worth two points. I think this game is going to be a feisty divisional matchup, as Seahawks-Rams games always end up being, with Seattle pulling away in the fourth quarter.
Jackson Roberts: Green Bay Packers (opened at -2.5, now -5.5) at Chicago Bears. I don't care that Green Bay is 4-8. I don't care that Aaron Rodgers has gone 17 games without throwing for 300 yards. The Packers have won 22 of 25 against Chicago and this is the lowest spread you're ever going to get in this so-called "rivalry." Furthermore, the Bears' defense has seen all its talent either traded away or lost to injury. I see the Christian Watson breakout continuing, Aaron Jones running hog-wild, and AJ Dillon using the momentum from his best effort of the season to finally become the second half of the one-two backfield punch.
Aaron Schatz: New York Jets (+3) at Minnesota Vikings. I'm riding with our numbers on this one. The Vikings just haven't really been that good. They've essentially been an average team except for two big losses to Philadelphia and Dallas. The Jets are better on offense with a competent quarterback in Mike White and their defense is very good. There's some discussion around the site about whether we have the Jets overrated because they've played so many backup quarterbacks. The main game where that matters is Miami, we're definitely giving them too much positive adjustment for beating the Dolphins. But the other team that got to play a Miami team without Tua Tagovailoa was... Minnesota! Which means the Vikings defense is overrated for the same reasons! J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets!
Tom Strachan: Baltimore Ravens (-8.5) over Denver Broncos. The Ravens haven't been burying bad teams like they should have been, but that doesn't mean they can't against a woeful Broncos side whose offense ranks 29th on the road in DVOA. The Broncos passing defense is faltering and Lamar Jackson is running the ball really well. I don't expect the Broncos to keep it close.
Vincent Verhei: Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) at Los Angeles Rams. No Cooper Kupp. No Allen Robinson. No Joe Noteboom. No A'Shawn Robinson. Probably no Matthew Stafford. Maybe no Troy Hill, Ernest Jones, or Cam Akers. And more important than any of that, no Aaron Donald. The Rams could have the worst roster in the NFL right now.
Carl Yedor: Buffalo Bills (-4) at New England Patriots. This line has moved towards the Patriots since it opened, and I wonder whether that's a function of Buffalo stumbling around a little bit in recent weeks. Regardless, Buffalo is the No. 1 team in DVOA overall against a solid Patriots team that relies on its defense to win games. I don't think the Patriots have the firepower to hang with Buffalo in this one on Thursday night.
Upset of the Week
Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.
Cale Clinton: Miami Dolphins (+3.5) at San Francisco 49ers. While this is one of the better defenses Miami has faced this season, the Dolphins can win this one with the same recipe that has helped them win all season. Tua Tagovailoa is the best quarterback by DVOA throwing deep this season. San Francisco's secondary ranks 29th by DVOA against the deep pass.
Bryan Knowles: New York Jets (+3) at Minnesota Vikings. At some point, at some point, the Vikings are going to lose a game playing like they're playing. It's going to happen. It has to happen. We have never seen a team with this good of a record do this poorly in DVOA, and most of the other advanced stats out there back us up. The Jets offense looked more functional with Mike White than it has all season long, and while we're not going to get a string of 300-yard games from him, simply making the easy stuff easy will go a long way to keeping the Jets competitive in this one.
Jackson Roberts: Tennessee Titans (+4.5) at Philadelphia Eagles. I initially had this game circled as Philly's first loss before the Washington debacle on Monday Night Football. Teams continue to be able to run the ball on the Eagles—and the Titans are one of the only teams who may be able to slow the potent Jalen Hurts/Miles Sanders attack going the other way. Plus, I think that one great read resulting in an interception is tricking people into thinking Reed Blankenship can be a suitable replacement for C.J. Gardner-Johnson, but I instead believe he's more often the guy who was smoked by Christian Watson on the way to the end zone.
Aaron Schatz: New York Jets (+3) at Minnesota Vikings. See above.
Tom Strachan: Tennessee Titans (+4.5) at Philadelphia Eagles. I think I'm just tired of doubting Mike Vrabel and his Titans at this point. Much will be made of A.J. Brown facing his former team, but Vrabel has this Titans defense playing at such a strong level I like their chances of keeping the game close. Eagles might sneak it, but I think this is a field goal kind of game.
Vincent Verhei: New York Jets (+3) at Minnesota Vikings. I'm sure this will be a popular pick this week, and for good reason. DVOA tells us that the Jets have been better than the Vikings almost across the board, and the gap should be even greater now that Mike White has been named New York's starting quarterback.
Carl Yedor: New York Jets (+3) at Minnesota Vikings. Yes, I'm seriously taking the Jets. No, I'm not going crazy. The Jets are ahead of the Vikings in both offensive and defensive DVOA this season (even with the Zach Wilson starts included in New York's numbers), and they appear to have at least found some level of competence with Mike White at quarterback. Despite their record being worse, DVOA sees the Jets as the better team, so I like the upset pick here.
Do You Have a Particular Player You Like to Put Up Really Strong Fantasy Points or Go Over His Betting Props This Week?
Jackson Roberts: George Kittle, TE, SF. I know what you're all going to say. Kittle hasn't exactly shown out in the fantasy realm this season. But the matchup against the explosive Dolphins seems to indicate the Niners will need to open up the playbook to keep up on the scoreboard. And Miami has allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, including a season-high five catches and a touchdown to Houston's Jordan Akins last week. I beg of you, Kyle Shanahan, let your immensely talented tight end off the leash!
Tom Strachan: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA. Lockett ranks eighth in DYAR and 10th in catch rate amongst receivers, averaging 15.5 PPR points over his last four games. The Rams don't always use Jalen Ramsey in shadow coverage, but Ramsey often wants to line up against top receivers, and it's likely that DK Metcalf will see more coverage from Ramsey than Lockett will. The Rams ranks 29th in pass defense DVOA over the last four weeks and has allowed the most receptions in the NFL in that spell. Lots of sites have Lockett's over/under set at 64.5; I'd take the over there.
Vincent Verhei: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE. My last three picks here have been "running back facing the Houston Texans," and the trio of Miles Sanders, Saquon Barkley, and Antonio Gibson have rewarded me with 356 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns. Now, let's see, who gets to play Houston this week … NICK CHUBB?! OH, BOY! Chubb has rushed for at least 100 yards six times this year, and he could get lucky number seven by halftime.
Carl Yedor: A.J. Brown, WR, PHI. Brown did not have a great game in prime time against the Packers, but as he faces his former team for the first time, the Eagles are likely going to have to rely more on their passing game to take on the Titans. Tennessee has a dominant run defense that makes attacking them on the ground next to impossible, so Philadelphia is going to need to throw the ball effectively this week. Sounds like music to A.J. Brown's ears as he looks to show the Titans what they chose not to pay for.
Right now, Kenneth Walker is the prohibitive favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year with -170 odds. Do you like the value on any of the other top candidates?
Chris Olave: 7/2
Dameon Pierce: 8/1
Garrett Wilson: 10/1
Christian Watson: 16/1
George Pickens: 28/1
Isiah Pacheco: 33/1
Kenny Pickett: 33/1
Cale Clinton: Chris Olave, WR, NO. This is a three-dog race in my eyes. As good as Isiah Pacheco and Christian Watson have been recently, they're a little too late to the dance to make up ground. Dameon Pierce doesn't have the same juice on a bottom-of-the-league Houston Texans team; despite the output, he won't have staying power to take him to the end of the year. I'm personally a big Garrett Wilson fan, but Chris Olave has just been better. Olave is better by DVOA, DYAR, and yards per target. Unless Wilson starts making a Ja'Marr Chase-esque back-half leap and starts putting up elite numbers with Mike White, Olave's outsized impact in New Orleans will push him over the top.
Bryan Knowles: Chris Olave, WR, NO. What, no Bailey Zappe? I like Chris Olave's odds quite a bit; I think he's being forgotten about a bit at the moment because of the Saints' struggles, but Olave is holding steady in the top 25 in both receiving DYAR and DVOA, and is in the top 10 in yards for wide receivers. He's on the borders of the top 10 in yards per reception, and he has been a threat at every level for New Orleans. Considering he has been forced into a larger role due to the vanishing Michael Thomas and the oft-inactive Jarvis Landry, and considering Andy Dalton is his quarterback, Olave's numbers are downright miraculous. I'd vote for him above Walker right now, and I'd of course take better odds on him.
Jackson Roberts: Garrett Wilson, WR, NYJ. I picked Wilson when we tackled the OROY question way back at the beginning of October, so why get off the bandwagon now? The two-touchdown effort with Mike White under center on Sunday felt far from a fluke. Wilson has looked like the most talented rookie receiver all season, but now he finally may have a quarterback capable of helping him inflict maximum damage.
Aaron Schatz: Christian Watson, WR, GB. I think there's a good possibility that Watson has a strong connection with Jordan Love as well as Aaron Rodgers, and I can see him making a couple more big touchdown grabs that get a lot of attention. Olave's had the better year but Watson is an interesting longshot at 16-to-1.
Vincent Verhei: Chris Olave, WR, NO. Olave leads all rookies in receiving yards, with nearly 200 more yards than anyone else. He's also first in PPR fantasy scoring, with a narrow lead over Walker. Walker, by the way, is fading—since Week 8, he's averaging barely 50 rushing yards per game and less than 3 yards per carry. At this point, with his odds, he's a sucker's bet.
Carl Yedor: Garrett Wilson, WR, NYJ. You may sense a theme here, but watch out for Garrett Wilson at 10/1. With New York's quarterback change, Wilson could be poised to explode late in the year. If he's the best offensive player on the Jets team that returns to the playoffs after years in the wilderness, he could catch some serious narrative helium. And with the Jets currently holding a playoff spot, the stars may align.