Week 4 FO Staff Picks: Garrett Wilson, Rookie of the Year?
NFL Week 4 - 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 4, plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks about the Rookie of the Year award.
Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.
Favorite Pick Against the Spread
Cale Clinton: Detroit Lions (-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks. Not a lot to love on this board. But I'm sticking with Detroit. Seventh-best offense by DVOA against third-worst defense by DVOA is an easy general mismatch. Detroit has been better than their record, and this might be the one time their offense can outpace what their defense gives up. Even with D'Andre Swift out, I'm still high on the Lions.
Bryan Knowles: Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) vs. New York Jets. Love taking teams off the mini-bye, as the Steelers haven't played since last Thursday. Love betting against the worst defense by VOA, as the Jets are currently sitting at 22.0% through three weeks thanks to a porous pass defense. Do not love backing Mitch Trubisky, but hey, you can't have it all, right? I just don't see the Jets being able to move the ball much at all, whether it's Joe Flacco or Zach Wilson under center. I don't imagine this is the week the Jets' offense is going to suddenly figure things out.
Ian O’Connor: Cleveland Browns (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons. This one has dropped a point since opening at 2.5, but I’m going with Cleveland. We’ve seen the Browns dominate on the ground, leading the league in rushing, but Jacoby Brissett has also been good, sitting top 10 in DYAR and DVOA among quarterbacks. Myles Garrett missing the game after his early-week car accident would hurt, and the Falcons have been feisty this year. But I like the Browns to take care of business on the road, having had 9 days to prepare.
Jackson Roberts: Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5) at Philadelphia Eagles. This is the Jags' chance to prove that their No. 2 overall DVOA ranking is no fluke. I couldn't be more impressed with the improvement from Trevor Lawrence in Year 2 and I also love the narrative of Doug Pederson returning to the place where he won a Super Bowl—and was then unceremoniously fired three years later. I don't know for sure if Jacksonville wins this game, but there are lots of ways to cover a 6.5-point spread.
Aaron Schatz: Denver Broncos (+2) at Las Vegas Raiders. I feel like this line is a little bit affected by the thinking of "well, the Raiders have to win at some point, what, are they going to start 0-4?" I mean, maybe? We thought the Broncos were better than the Raiders in the preseason and while the offense has struggled at times (mainly when broadcast on national television) their defense has been much better than expected. Well, better than FO expected, anyway. Patrick Surtain may be able to shut down Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow may be out again with the concussion that kept him out a week ago.
Tom Strachan: Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) vs. New Orleans Saints. The Saints look in plenty of trouble at the minute with Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry and Alvin Kamara all banged up. The Week 3 game against the Panthers was a very poor showing and the Vikings have enough on offense to deal with the Saints defense. I’m expecting the Vikings to give the London crowd an entertaining day.
Vincent Verhei: Denver Broncos (+2.5) at Las Vegas Raiders. I don't really like any of these games, and would suggest saving your money and making more or bigger bets next week. But if I must pick one winner, let it be Denver. The Raiders defense is next to last in both adjusted sack rate and receiving yards allowed to running backs. Russell Wilson is throwing more to his running backs than he ever has before—Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon rank second and third on the Broncos in receptions—and if he can't get right against Las Vegas, he may not all year.
Carl Yedor: Detroit Lions (-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks. This game has sneaky shootout potential given the relative strengths of each team (i.e. not the defenses), so I will go with the quarterback who has demonstrated a longer track record of success. Jeff Okudah has been impressive early on this year, which will be crucial against DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and if he can limit Seattle’s passing game by shutting down one of those two, I don’t think Seattle’s offense will be able to keep up.
Upset of the Week
Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.
Cale Clinton: Houston Texans (+5) vs. Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers are extremely banged up right now, especially at receiver and offensive line. Houston currently ranks ninth in pass defense DVOA and fifth with a 9.6% adjusted sack rate. A hobbled Justin Herbert was still able to throw some impressive strikes against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their Week 3 matchup, but it won't be easy to pull off the same performance without his starting left tackle, starting center, and two of his top three wideouts.
Bryan Knowles: Houston Texans (+5) at Los Angeles Chargers. Oh, things are not going well for the Chargers, healthwise. Justin Herbert's still reeling from his fractured rib cartilage. Rashawn Slater tore his biceps and Corey Linsley may not be back. Joey Bosa's out indefinitely with a groin injury. Jalen Guyton is out for the year, and Keenan Allen may not be at full speed even if he plays. J.C. Jackson is still dealing with inflammation from his ankle surgery. That's a lot of banged-up big names to deal with, and while Houston is no world-beater, I like the healthier team here.
Ian O’Connor: Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5) at Philadelphia Eagles. I’m a little surprised more of the staff didn’t pick this one. For me, it’s more about Jacksonville playing well than it is not believing in Philadelphia. The Jaguars are higher in DVOA through three games (without opponent adjustments), sitting second overall and top 5 in both offense and defense. They just took down the Chargers, albeit a banged up Chargers team, but they won handily. Doug Pederson has them prepared and has carried forward his fourth-down aggressiveness. You’ve gotta believe he’s got an extra chip on his shoulder going back into Philly, and I think Jacksonville has a great shot to pull the upset.
Jackson Roberts: Baltimore Ravens (+3) vs. the Buffalo Bills. I'm going to be the one bold enough to go against the Bills, if only this once, because I truly believe this is the year of Lamar. He's first in passing DVOA, second in DYAR, and on a mission to one-up Aaron Judge for the largest dollar increase in a contract extension earned through play on the field. Also, I think this game stays close, and the Bills have lost their last seven one-possession games dating back to the start of last season.
Aaron Schatz: Chicago Bears (+3.5) at New York Giants. I think this game should be a toss-up, both based on our preseason projections and based on how well the teams have played so far this year. Yes, the Bears' run-heavy offense is weird, but the Giants' offense isn't particularly good, and the Bears have the better defense. I'm surprised this line is more than a field goal.
Tom Strachan: Baltimore Ravens (+3) vs. the Buffalo Bills. You can call me a homer all you like, but giving the Bills three points on the road against Lamar Jackson, in scintillating form, is just too much. The Ravens secondary has players getting healthier whilst the Bills troubles continue. Ravens win this one, and quickly become a super bowl favorite.
Vincent Verhei: Miami Dolphins (+4) at Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have a lot of problems giving up sacks, and Joe Burrow's tendency to hold the ball for too long is one of them. The Dolphins may be the most blitz-happy defense in the league, and that could make them a bad matchup for him, even if Teddy Bridgewater ends up quarterbacking Miami.
Carl Yedor: Chicago Bears (+3.5) at New York Giants. The Giants may have won their first two games, but they are not a good football team by any stretch. Their run defense ranks 28th in DVOA, and running the ball is Chicago’s only real offensive strength. This game should be ugly, but I like the Bears’ superior rushing attack here.
Do You Have a Particular Player You Like to Put Up Really Strong Fantasy Points or Go Over His Betting Props This Week?
Bryan Knowles: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN. Jefferson has been relatively quiet over the last two weeks, at least compared to his nine-catch, 184-yard day from Week 1. He's too good for that to be an ongoing thing, and the Saints have been middling, at best, against top receivers (16th in DVOA at -3.9%). I'm not sure about yardage (game's in London; shouldn't that be meterage?) but I do like taking the over on the 6.5-catch line you can get right now. I think this will be a bounce-back week for him.
Ian O’Connor: Joe Mixon, RB, CIN. I like a couple Thursday Night Football picks, but I’m gonna go with Mixon over 20.5 receiving yards. I fell short on this same pick at 19.5 from last week’s Fantasy/Betting show, but Mixon had 14.5 receiving yards before exiting the game early in the fourth quarter. Miami is only 27th in DVOA defending passes to running backs and just gave up 78 receiving yards to Devin Singletary last week. Now, Mixon likely won’t have nine catches this week, but I think he hits 21 receiving yards fairly easily.
Jackson Roberts: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, IND. I like Pittman this week because I strongly dislike the Tennessee secondary in any given week. Not only are they 31st in DVOA against WR1s, they're also dead last against WR2s. That's what you call impressive consistency! And Pittman is averaging 8.5 catches on 11 targets through two games this year, so you know the opportunity will be there.
Aaron Schatz: Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN. I'm going with a Thursday night pick and leaning towards Tyler Boyd of the Bengals thanks to the "avoid Xavien Howard" theory. That might lean Tee Higgins, but Nik Needham was fantastic covering Gabriel Davis last week, and he's better than people think—I mean, people don't think about Nik Needham, honestly. The slot is a bit of a bigger issue for the Miami defense so I think that Boyd can put up some numbers in those snazzy new all-white Bengals alternate uniforms. So far, the Dolphins have allowed an above-average 63 yards per game to "other wide receivers."
Tom Strachan: CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL. He's been targeted 11 or more times in every game as the focal point of the Cowboys passing game and now faces a Commanders defense that ranks 25th against WR1’s and has given up the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Lamb leads the Cowboys in routes from the slot, which is an area the Commanders have struggled to cover, giving up big days to Christian Kirk and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Vincent Verhei: Jamaal Williams, RB, DET. "Running back facing Seattle defense" might be my regular pick here. Seattle has given up 563 yards from scrimmage to running backs, second-most in the NFL. Williams is top-20 in both rushing DYAR and DVOA this season, and with D'Andre Swift likely out with a shoulder injury, he could be in store for a big day.
Carl Yedor: Khalil Herbert, RB, CHI. Consistent with my pick from above, the Bears are going to be attacking the Giants on the ground all day, and even if the banged up David Montgomery plays, you have to imagine that Herbert will be able to take advantage of a weak Giants run defense. Herbert has flashed impressively in the early stages of his second season, and he has a great opportunity in front of him this weekend.
How has your opinion on Rookie of the Year changed since the season began? Using these odds, where do you think there's currently value in the Rookie of the Year market (offense or defense)?
Cale Clinton: Kenny Pickett, QB, PIT (+1200). Given the state of the quarterback class and their starting positions coming into the year, I would have guessed the money was all in this wide receiver class during preseason. Judging by the current favorites, it has checked out so far. But my favorite was James Cook, and the success of the running backs in Buffalo has proven me wrong early. That being said, I'm really starting to like Kenny Pickett (although the longer we wait for him to start, that number might get even better). You're betting on all potential, sure, but the Steelers look like they are a quarterback away from competence. It wouldn't take much of a mid- to late-season performance out of Pickett to secure himself the award.
Bryan Knowles: Garrett Wilson, WR, NYJ (+900). If I had to pick an offensive rookie of the year at the moment, it'd be Drake London. But at +500, he's the favorite, and there's no value there. Instead, I might be interested in Garrett Wilson. He leads the class in targets at the moment with 29, and I expect his volume to continue to be high, as the Jets are going to continue to fall far behind teams and have to throw like crazy. Until one of the rookie quarterbacks takes over the starting role or one of the running backs starts impressing, it feels like the receiving class has the best chance to take home this award and, well, Wilson's volume shouts out loud.
Jackson Roberts: Garrett Wilson, WR, NYJ (+900). I think there's real value for Wilson. As impressive as this crop of rookie receivers has been so far, Wilson is the only one with a signature moment, having caught a game-clinching touchdown to steal a win for the Jets in Cleveland. The value and usage stats would have to see upticks as the season goes on, but I don't see a shoo-in candidate elsewhere and I like the "it" factor with Wilson.
Aaron Schatz: Treylon Burks, WR, TEN (+1600). On offense, I'm feeling better about Burks. His usage in the Tennessee offense looks more like what we expected after the draft, before all that drama at Titans camp regarding his asthma and whether he was getting too much playing time in the preseason to be considered a real starter. Burks is still behind Robert Woods in target share, but I think he can surpass him in the second half. However, the Titans' overall passing game is going to need to improve if Burks is going to put up the numbers to win the award. Still a good value at +1600, though.
Tom Strachan: Kenneth Walker, RB, SEA (+5000). The picture still looks very murky, and I’m a big believer that rookies make their case for this award in the second half of the season. Right now Walker stands out as someone who could become a huge part of his team's offense and light things up.
Vincent Verhei: Isiah Pacheco, RB, KC (+5000). I didn't have a strong feeling about this coming into the year, and I still don't, so I'm picking a long shot that will pay off big if I'm right. Pacheco has only played 26 offensive snaps this year, but he's still fourth among rookies in both carries (17) and rushing yards (77). Pacheco and Houston's Dameon Pierce are the only rookies with rushing touchdowns this year. Pacheco is already getting more handoffs than Jerick McKinnon, if not more playing time, and a larger role in Kansas City's powerful offense would give him a legit shot at a late-season surge.
Carl Yedor: Drake London, WR, ATL (+500). At the start of the season, I figured that London would have the best shot of all the rookies given his clear path to production in Atlanta. He’s the favorite right now even though Chris Olave (+550) just took home Offensive Rookie of the Month for September, but I would also be interested in Garrett Wilson (+900) and Dameon Pierce (+900) given positive trends in performance from both of them.