My player picks have been on fire to end the season as I finished the year 25-13 over the last five weeks of the regular season. In total, I went 100-82-2 for the regular season. Hopefully, we can continue this great momentum into the playoffs. As always, I have included a confidence rating out of five on all my picks and where I would play the lines if they move.
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Kittle Higher than 43.5 Receiving Yards
The Seahawks are one of the best matchups for tight ends. They gave up the most receiving yards and the most receptions of 20-plus receiving yards to tight ends. George Kittle also had 93 receiving yards against the Seahawks in Week 15. While I don’t think Kittle will repeat that type of performance, he should see enough usage to go higher than this line.
I do have a few worries about this line because the 49ers have stopped passing when up big a few times during the last few weeks. Also, Deebo Samuel did not play in Week 15 when Kittle had 93 receiving yards. I still like this matchup enough to play it, so I give it a confidence rating of 3/5 and would not play it any higher.
Smith Over 32.5 Pass Attempts, Walker Under 16.5 Rush Attempts
I am putting these together because these lines are correlated and if one hits, so should the other. In losses this season, Geno Smith has averaged 36.1 pass attempts per game. In losses where Kenneth Walker started, he averaged 15.5 rush attempts per game. That includes his game against Kansas City when the Seahawks doubled down on the run game in the second half, and he had 17 of his 24 rush attempts after halftime.
I don’t think the Seahawks can afford to do that this weekend against the elite 49ers run defense. San Francisco has given up the second-fewest rush yards this season and the second-fewest rush attempts. With the 49ers winning both regular-season matchups and being favored by more than a touchdown in almost all sportsbooks, Seattle will likely abandon the run to keep up. I rate these plays for 4/5 for confidence and would play Smith’s line up to 34.0 pass attempts and Walker’s down to 16.0 rush attempts.
James Higher Than 4.5 Receptions
Richie James had a fairly quiet late-season breakout. Putting aside Week 18 when the Giants rested most of their starters, James has averaged seven targets and 5.8 receptions per game since Week 13. There is a surprising amount of pass volume in the Giants’ offense. Using the same week range from earlier, the Giants rank 13th in pass attempts since Week 13.
Also, the Vikings’ defense has not scared anyone this season. The Giants will want to feed Saquon Barkley, but I expect them to continue passing more against the Vikings’ pass defense. I rate this as a 4/5 for confidence and would play it at 5.0 with less confidence and would not play it if it gets to 5.5 receptions.
Elliott Lower Than 7.5 Receiving Yards
Ezekiel Elliott has gone under this line in 13/17 games this season and went well under in his matchup with the Buccaneers in Week 1. In that game, he had -3 receiving yards on two targets and one reception. He did not see much more receiving work the rest of the season. He only had two games with more than two receptions.
Additionally, the Buccaneers’ defense has given up the second-fewest receiving yards to running backs. Elliot’s lack of usage in the passing game this season combined with the Buccaneers’ ability to limit running back receiving production makes this a 5/5 confidence pick. However, I wouldn’t play the line any lower since it’s already so low.
Jefferson Higher Than 7.0 Receptions
I think we are lucky and are getting a discount on this line because of Justin Jefferson’s lack of production during the last two weeks of the regular season. Jefferson averaged 7.5 receptions per game in the last two weeks. This line is already above his average, which is surprising, so there is a strong chance this line moves to 7.5 before game time.
The Giants played man coverage 40.5% of the time this season, which is the most of any NFL defense. Jefferson had a team-leading 30.2% target share against man coverage this season. This is my most confident pick of the week. I rate it 5/5 for confidence and would play it up to 7.5 receptions.