Week 15 Staff Picks: OPOY Tyreek Hill vs. Justin Jefferson

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 15 - 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 15 plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks about the projected league-leader in receiving yards.

Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.

Favorite Pick Against the Spread

Cale Clinton: New York Giants (+4.5) at Washington Commanders. We just saw these two teams play two weeks ago, and they played to a tie. I don't like the board all that much this week, so I'll just lean my hat on the fact that these are two evenly matched squads and we're getting the four, so New York can cover.

Bryan Knowles: Kansas City Chiefs (-14) at Houston Texans. Because the Chiefs never play down to their opponents, and the Texans never have any fight in them, right? I just see Patrick Mahomes and company picking apart soft zones all day long, not making nearly as many errors in execution as Dallas did. Mahomes just doesn't have those sorts of bad days.

Jackson Roberts: Minnesota Vikings (-4) vs. Indianapolis Colts. The DVOA numbers supported a Lions win over Minnesota last week, in spite of the disparity in records, but that is decidedly not the case this week. Indy is 31st in total team DVOA, dead last in offense, and every time Matt Ryan drops back, anyone with financial stakes in a positive outcome rightly feels pure, unfiltered dread. I don't think the Fightin' Jeff Saturdays can compete with anyone left on their schedule besides the Texans.

Aaron Schatz: Atlanta Falcons (+4) at New Orleans Saints. I'm going to have faith that Arthur Smith knows what he's doing when he replaces Marcus Mariota with Desmond Ridder, and that Ridder can run the offense about as well as Mariota has. (Remember, he was Derrik Klassen's favorite quarterback in this year's class.) The scheme and talent—honestly, mostly the scheme—have helped the Falcons climb up to 12th in offensive DVOA this season. Yes, the Saints defense has been much better than the Falcons defense, but take into account that thing we always say about offense being more predictive than defense. Plus, the weakness of the Saints defense (run) matches the strength of the Atlanta offense. Plus it's a division game, and these teams tend to play each other close. (New Orleans won 27-26 way back in Week 1.)

Vincent Verhei: New England Patriots (+1) at Las Vegas Raiders. For the life of me, I can't think of one reason the Raiders should be favored in this game. Looking over the head-to-head matchup page, it seems like Josh Jacobs and the rushing offense have a slight edge on New England's defense, and the Raiders are better at kicking and punting, and … that's about it. Yes, I will take the Patriots and the point, please.

Upset of the Week

Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.

Cale Clinton: Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers. Brock Purdy's recent success has been partly possible because he has such a great infrastructure around him. Now, that weakens a bit. Deebo Samuel, out with an MCL sprain, has had a down season, but he still leads the team in targets and averages 3.4 rushing attempts per game. With Purdy dealing with his own rib/oblique injury on a short week, I think this all may be too much for San Francisco's offense to keep Mr. Irrelevant's streak up.

Bryan Knowles: Tennessee Titans (+3) at Los Angeles Chargers. Honestly, I wouldn't pick any upset this week, but I think the Titans have the best chance of pulling one off. I can imagine worlds where Derrick Henry runs all over the Chargers' 25th-ranked run defense, and the Titans control the ball for long enough to prevent Justin Herbert from being on the field enough to strike back. I could also see Herbert throwing for 500 yards against the shoddy Titans D, but hey, that's why it's an upset.

Jackson Roberts: Atlanta Falcons (+4) at New Orleans Saints. I'll fully admit I'm not a college film grinder, so I have no idea what to expect from Desmond Ridder this week. But it's hard to imagine he'll limit the capabilities this offense had under Marcus Mariota, who never completed more than 20 passes in a game this season. I also find it hard to imagine Ridder will be worse than Andy Dalton, whom Dennis Allen has stubbornly stuck with after the bye for reasons unknown. I see one team coming in motivated and trying something new, the other downtrodden and growing weary of the status quo.

Aaron Schatz: Atlanta Falcons (+4) at New Orleans Saints. See above.

Mike Tanier: Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers. Old handicappers will tell you to pick the backup quarterback in his first start. They will also tell you to hop off the bandwagon for the second start, especially on short rest on the road. The house has been pricing Brock Purdy as if he is interchangeable with Jimmy Garoppolo, and that's fine for the "make the playoffs" market, but not for individual games. The Seahawks are also getting a +160 early-week moneyline, but I'll take insulation against a 24-21 Niners win instead.

Vincent Verhei: Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) over Dallas Cowboys. Recency bias, sure, but the Cowboys had their hands full last week against an AFC South team much worse than Jacksonville. Trevor Lawrence has been on fire lately. And at the fringes of the AFC playoff race, the Jaguars have a lot more to play for than the Cowboys, who will very likely finish as the NFC's top wild-card team no matter what happens down the stretch.

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: Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN. I am guessing you can find some rushing props for Cook this week a good bit lower than his career standard, and it makes sense–he has been pretty subpar of late. But he has also seen a murderer's row of opposing fantasy matchups, including all three stellar AFC East run defenses. By contrast, the Colts are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs, and given the ineptitude of their offense, the game script should work out in Cook's favor. I like his chances to go over 100 rushing yards for just the third time this season.

Aaron Schatz: Mike Williams, WR, LAC. The Titans are No. 1 in DVOA against the run but 28th against the pass. They're very weak against opposing wide receivers and last in the league against deep passes. If ever there was a week for the Chargers to air it out, this is it.

Vincent Verhei: Isiah Pacheco, RB, KC. "Running back facing the Houston Texans" is now up to a five-week total of 517 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. So we'll stick with it for a sixth week. Jerick McKinnon was Kansas City's best fantasy back against Denver, but for the past month or so Pacheco has been the Chiefs' workhorse.

Bonus Question

Right now, Justin Jefferson leads the league with 1,500 receiving yards. Tyreek Hill is second at 1,460 receiving yards. DraftKings has both players with even odds to win the receiving title. Who do you got? Jefferson, Hill, or do you think there's better value in Davante Adams or Stefon Diggs at +1400 each, both currently around 1,250 yards?

Cale Clinton: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN. Jefferson has completely taken over this Vikings offense. He has double-digit targets in five of his last six games, and he went for over 100 yards in four of them. Minnesota doesn't have the defense necessary to take the ball out of Kirk Cousins' hands. The only reason for betting Tyreek Hill, who's on an offense that has been defensively stymied two weeks in a row, is that he constantly manages to get breakaway touchdowns.

Bryan Knowles: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN. I don't see any reason to jump below Jefferson or Hill; a 250-yard margin is a lot to make up in just a month of football. Between the two, I'll take Jefferson. He has the lead at the moment and he has a couple of dome games coming up against less-than-stellar opposition over the next two weeks. Hill's banged up and might be freezing his tailbone off in Buffalo this week, so I think Jefferson ends up pipping him to the line.

Jackson Roberts: Tyreek Hill, WR, MIA. Don't waste your money elsewhere–these two have been the best receivers all year and they're not going to slow down unless injury strikes. I would pick Jefferson, but I'm thinking the Vikings will rest in Week 18 while Miami might actually need a win. So with one extra week to accumulate the yards, I'll narrowly take the Cheetah.

Aaron Schatz: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN. Jackson has a really good point about Week 18, but the gap in schedule strength is really big here. Minnesota's final four opponents have an average pass defense DVOA of +10.5%. Miami's final four opponents have an average pass defense DVOA of -8.9%. I'll take the chance of Minnesota sitting starters in Week 18—and the current 40-yard lead—and go with Justin Jefferson.

Mike Tanier: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN. So, I thought I was sitting on Tyreek Hill at +350 from a few weeks ago, watching in frustration as Tua Tagovailoa turned into Tua Chumpzilla. Turns out I never placed the bet. Hooray for forgetting to click the little "Confirm" button! Jefferson is a +140 play at my book, and there's still meat on that bone. Jefferson is Cousins-proof, IMO: no matter how bad the Vikings get or their quarterback plays, Cousins will still give Jefferson enough useful targets to keep him atop the race. It's everyone else who will suffer.

Vincent Verhei: Davante Adams, WR, LV. Aside from a Christmas Eve game against Pittsburgh, the Raiders' schedule is full of playoff contenders in the Patriots, 49ers, and Chiefs. Las Vegas is likely to be behind in most of those games, throwing the ball all over the place playing catch-up. So I'll take Davante Adams, hoping for a big payoff at those odds.


10 comments, Last at 23 Dec 2022, 11:33pm

#1 by Sixknots // Dec 15, 2022 - 2:00pm

With Purdy dealing with his own rib/oblique injury on a short week, I think this all may be too much for San Francisco's offense to keep Mr. Irrelevant's streak up.

All Purdy has to do to beat the Seattle defense is hand the ball off.


Points: 0

#2 by KnotMe // Dec 15, 2022 - 4:20pm

New England Patriots (+1) at Las Vegas Raiders

Probably because Belichick always seems to lose to his own coordinators. 

Points: 0

#6 by DorothyGuy // Dec 16, 2022 - 3:53pm

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Points: 0

#3 by LionInAZ // Dec 15, 2022 - 11:16pm

These handicapping stories are a bore except to males without serious financial obligations.

Points: -1

#5 by KnotMe // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:11pm

As someone who does't do betting or fantasy, I find this better than the fantasy stuff. The discussions are interesting at least. 

Points: 1

#7 by vikingflagship // Dec 16, 2022 - 8:22pm

Betting pays the bills…..so we put up with gambling based ‘analysis’. I quite like it despite never wagering on NFL

Points: 1

#8 by Jackson Roberts // Dec 16, 2022 - 9:02pm

I’ve never placed a bet either in my life! But I think it’s fun doing picks this way instead of just picking winners, cause then we’d all just take the Eagles and Chiefs every week and think we’re geniuses… trying to find the best value is a great guessing game every week even if I’m wrong almost all the time 😂

Points: 0

#9 by naosu6 // Dec 23, 2022 - 11:01pm

Do you plan to have a week 16 staff picks column?

Points: 0

#10 by Vincent Verhei // Dec 23, 2022 - 11:33pm

We took the week off for the holidays but should be back next week.

Points: 0

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