Week 8 Staff Picks: Who's Winning OPOY?
NFL Week 8 - 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 8 plus a bonus question each week. This week's bonus question asks about favorite bets for the Offensive Player of the Year award.
Lines are taken from the consensus at Vegas Insider.
Favorite Pick Against the Spread
Cale Clinton: Chicago Bears (+9.5) at Dallas Cowboys. The Bears offense may have been rejuvenated by the introduction of designed run plays for their quarterback who's good at running the ball. The Cowboys have faced off against a good number of rushing quarterbacks this year, giving up decent games to Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones, and even Joe Burrow. Plus, sometimes the most obvious answer is easiest. 9.5 points is a lot. Chicago has only lost one game by more than nine points this season.
Bryan Knowles: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) over Baltimore Ravens. Always a dumb move to pick the team that's been in Any Given Sunday twice in a row, but the next game that sees the Ravens finish strong will be the first. Tom Brady is playing better than the Buccaneers' record would indicate, and he's going to throw the ball all over the field against a Ravens defense that may be missing Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Marcus Williams. A thin secondary and the possibility that Tampa Bay may just abandon the run game entirely leads me to the Bucs covering.
Ian O'Connor: Buffalo Bills (-10.5) over Green Bay Packers. It pains me to say this, but I don't think Green Bay stands a chance against Buffalo. The Bills have the league's top overall DVOA. They're second in offensive DVOA and first in defensive DVOA. The Packers, meanwhile, are 10th in offense for the season but only 28th over their current three-game losing streak, and they look even worse than that. The defense has been slightly better than their season rank at 18th over the last three weeks, but it still won't be enough to slow down the Bills. Sean McDermott is 5-0 coming off a bye since arriving in Buffalo, winning the last four (since Josh Allen became quarterback) by three, 10, 10, and 15 points. I'll take Buffalo even with a double-digit spread.
Jackson Roberts: Dallas Cowboys (-9.5) over Chicago Bears. Oh, Dak Prescott didn't look great in his return last week? The Bears played their best game of the Justin Fields era and are drawing rave reviews for Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy? Absolutely love it. Dallas, unlike New England, has the speed up front to keep Fields from escaping the pocket, plus they're headed into a bye week so there's less danger of looking past this matchup.
Aaron Schatz: Cincinnati Bengals (-3) at Cleveland Browns. The Bengals have the highest average DVOA in the league over the last five weeks, putting those disappointing first couple of games behind them. Their defense is playing surprisingly well, currently ranked sixth. The offense is much better recently, with its two best games of the year in the last two weeks. Cleveland currently ranks 28th in DVOA, and I don't think their No. 8 ranking in offense is really sustainable with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, given what we know about Brissett's career performance. Rule the Jungle!
Vincent Verhei: Washington Commanders (+3) at Indianapolis Colts. I hate myself for having faith in Washington. I repeat: I hate myself for having faith in Washington. But the Commanders are getting three points, they have been the better team this year, and I think Taylor Heinicke is a better quarterback than Sam Ehlinger. And the matchup between Indy's league-worst rushing offense and the Commanders' fourth-ranked run defense will make things even harder on the youngster, likely putting him in third-and-forever all day.
Carl Yedor: Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Detroit Lions. The Lions defense is B-A-D, currently coming in at 31st in defensive DVOA. Tua Tagovailoa's timing looked a little off at times against the Steelers in prime time, but the Steelers defense presented a much tougher test than Detroit should this weekend. I expect Miami's pass offense to get back in gear at Ford Field this weekend against a Lions team that has been struggling as of late, even as Detroit gets a bit healthier.
Upset of the Week
Limited to teams that are underdogs by three points or more.
Cale Clinton: Carolina Panthers (+4.5) at Atlanta Falcons. Let's ride the hot hand! P.J. Walker looked pretty exceptional on Sunday, willing to take deep hole shots downfield. Now he gets to do it against the worst passing defense in the league, which is likely missing A.J. Terrell. Brian Burns and Shaq Thompson get to let loose against an offensive line with the second-worst adjusted sack rate in the league. Atlanta's offense has one of the worst run-pass ratios in the league. Who knows how much longer this Carolina team can feed off the high of firing Matt Rhule, but I'll bet it runs at least one more week.
Bryan Knowles: Cleveland Browns (+3.5) versus Cincinnati Bengals. This is very much a win-or-done situation for Cleveland. Falling to 2-6 on national television against a division rival would effectively end the competitive portion of their season; only the 2020 Washington Football Team in one of the weakest divisions in history made the postseason after starting 2-6. But I think Cleveland can keep pace with Cincinnati. While they have played better in recent weeks, the Bengals offensive line is still a target, and the Browns do have an above-average adjusted sack rate. Denzel Ward is coming back from concussion, and he gives Cleveland's defense a fighting chance against Ja'Marr Chase. And Cincinnati's run defense is nothing special, while Nick Chubb very much is.
Ian O'Connor: Washington Commanders (+3) at Indianapolis Colts. Washington was a 4.5-point underdog on Sunday night, but the line has dropped to +3 since news broke of Sam Ehlinger taking over at quarterback for Indianapolis. It'll be tough for Ehlinger to be worse than Matt Ryan, who is 33rd in DYAR and DVOA among 35 qualifying quarterbacks, but I'm not sure what to expect from the 2021 sixth-round pick. He goes up against a Commanders defense that's 11th in DVOA over the last three weeks and is tough to run on, so Ehlinger may have to get it done through the air. On the Washington side, the offense wasn't spectacular last week with Taylor Heinicke taking over, but it was their best offensive DVOA since Week 1. The Commanders have a good shot to pull the upset on the road.
Jackson Roberts: Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) at Minnesota Vikings. This is more of a "Vikings bad" pick than a "Cardinals actually good now," but I do think the return of DeAndre Hopkins will continue to push this offense above the profoundly low standards it set in Weeks 1 to 6. And I can't get over Minnesota being 5-1 yet 18th in team DVOA, below New England and Cleveland. Water has to find its level eventually, right?
Aaron Schatz: Washington Commanders (+3) at Indianapolis Colts. I don't understand how a team with Sam Ehlinger at quarterback can be favored. This has been the worst offense in the league and it's not getting any better this week.
Vincent Verhei: Washington Commanders (+3) at Indianapolis Colts. See above. But I still hate myself for this.
Carl Yedor: Carolina Panthers (+4.5) at Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons refuse to throw the ball, even when losing by multiple touchdowns (as evidenced by their confounding approach to a comeback attempt against the Bengals this past Sunday), and the Panthers' defense has been quietly solid against the run (13th in rush defense DVOA). If A.J. Terrell plays this week, it will likely be in a somewhat hampered state given his hamstring injury, which would hurt Atlanta's defense significantly. There's some upset potential 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: Marcus Mariota, QB, ATL. On DraftKings at the moment, Mariota's over/under is 162.5 passing yards, which he hasn't gone over since Week 3. But against a Panthers team that ranks 22nd in pass defense, openings are going to be there, and I think all the criticism about Drake London and Kyle Pitts not getting involved in the passing game will lead Atlanta to looking deep a little more often this week.
Ian O'Connor: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN. Henry is averaging over 23 PPR points over the Titans' last four games. He has gone over 132 total yards in each of those four, averaging 140 yards per game, and has caught at least two passes in each. He didn't score in Week 7, but that was his first time held out of the end zone since Week 1. Now he faces a Texans team that just gave up 155 yards and three touchdowns on 23 touches to Josh Jacobs and is allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. Henry is set up for a MONSTER day.
Jackson Roberts: DJ Moore, WR, CAR. Still don't trust him after last week's seven-catch, 10-target performance? Allow me to introduce the opposition: the Atlanta Falcons, who are ranked DEAD LAST in both defensive pass DVOA AND fantasy points allowed to wide receivers AND who may well be without top corner A.J. Terrell. They have to allow those points to somebody this week, and Moore is pretty much the only receiver the Panthers have left.
Vincent Verhei: Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS. Screw it, let's just go all in on the Commanders this week. What could go wrong? The Colts are middle-of-the-pack in most defensive stats, but they're 29th in DVOA against WR1s, and even in Washington's mess of a season McLaurin has been a bone fide WR1, ranking in the top 10 in both DYAR and DVOA. Betting on Washington to win and McLaurin to shine could make a fun same-game parlay.
Carl Yedor: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG. Picking one of the best running backs in the league to excel may feel cheap, but the Seahawks have been the second-worst defense in the league at defending running backs in the passing game. Barkley can break off a long touchdown at a moment's notice, but even if the Seahawks get out to a lead, his role in the receiving game gives him a strong floor to rely on. Austin Ekeler just had 127 combined rushing and receiving yards and two touchdowns against this Seattle defense.
Who do you see as the best value right now on the board for Offensive Player of the Year?
Current top odds:
Jalen Hurts, QB, PHI (+400)
Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN (+600)
Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF (+800)
Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR (+900)
Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL (+1000)
Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG (+1200)
Josh Allen, QB, BUF (+1200)
Tyreek Hill, WR, MIA (+1400)
Nick Chubb, RB, CLE (+1600)
Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC (+1600)
Ja'Marr Chase, WR, CIN (+1600)
Everyone Else (+4000 or higher)
Cale Clinton: Tyreek Hill, WR, MIA. I'm not sure if we're going to see any more "one quarterback wins MVP, another wins OPOY" years like we saw a decade ago with Brett Favre and Drew Brees. If we did, I'd go Jalen Hurts. However, I like Stefon Diggs here. Leads the league in DYAR, top-five in DVOA, second in receiving yards, and tied for second in touchdowns. Tyreek Hill has better value and the added benefit of offseason narrative, but Diggs has been one of the best singular receivers in the league helping prop up the best pass offense by DVOA.
Bryan Knowles: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE. Honestly, I don't like any of these values, but Chubb's currently leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, averaging nearly 6 yards per carry and being the one bright spot on Cleveland's offense. Since team success isn't supposed to be an issue with OPOY, I'll take a big-numbers season from Chubb in a lost year in Cleveland.
Jackson Roberts: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG. I suggested this question to the group this week because I couldn't figure out where the value is … and I still can't. Barkley is my pick because in the last decade, no quarterback has won the award who didn't also win MVP, and I don't see a quarterback having such a dominant season that he'll win both. Betting on Barkley is hoping for him to stay healthy while maintaining his current statistical pace and for the Giants to comfortably make the playoffs, all of which feel within reach.
Aaron Schatz: Tyreek Hill, WR, MIA. I think that OPOY has become the "best non-quarterback" award so I wouldn't go with any of the quarterbacks on this list. Tyreek Hill leads the NFL in receiving yards and, if the Dolphins make the playoffs, there's an easy narrative there where he's the guy who turned around the Miami offense.
Vincent Verhei: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC. In 2011, Aaron Rodgers won MVP because he was a great quarterback on a 15-1 Packers team, but Drew Brees won offensive player of the year on a 13-3 Saints team because he led the NFL in yards and touchdowns. I can see a similar outcome this year: the Bills win the AFC's top seed and Josh Allen wins MVP, but the Chiefs still win a bunch of games and Mahomes wins OPOY for his superior statistics. Definitely worth a shot at +1600.
Carl Yedor: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC. Mahomes currently has the second-best odds for MVP (+400) behind Josh Allen (+125) but is only tied for ninth here. There could be some interesting value as a result because none of the non-quarterbacks are having a truly transcendent individual season that would help them separate from the pack significantly enough to win. Saquon Barkley is also interesting because he has a bit of a redemption narrative working for him on a Giants team that is overachieving relative to preseason expectations.
6 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2022, 3:30am
#3 by Paul R // Oct 27, 2022 - 1:59pm
Considering the vitriol expressed by Jim Irsay (and Colts fans) towards Carson Wentz, I was hoping for some interesting drama on Sunday. Since Wentz isn't playing, all the fun has gone out of the matchup. It's poetic in a way for Wentz to let the Colts down again. I'll bet Irsay suspects he broke that finger on purpose.
Still picking the Colts to win, though. It's pretty common for a moribund offense to show some zip when the new kid gets in the huddle. The rejuvenation only lasts until the opposing defense figures out that the new kid can only run about six different plays. I don't think the Washington defense can figure it out in time to win.