Fantasy football is more than just the weekly head-to-head game we’ve all grown to love. On Underdog Fantasy, managers can put their player-projection skills to the test by predicting player stat lines. Here are my top Underdog Pick’em plays for the Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts Thursday Night Football Pick’em contest.
Top Underdog Pick’ems for Thursday Night Football
Underdog Pick’ems allows fantasy managers to predict stat lines and fantasy point totals for almost all fantasy-relevant players. You can make two picks that pay out 3x your entry fee or add more selections to your entry for higher payouts. The levels are 3x, 6x, 10x, and 20x, progressing with each additional pick’em you add to your entry. Let’s take a look at this week’s Underdog Pick’ems.
Matt Ryan Higher Than 0.5 Interceptions
Things have not gone according to plan for Matt Ryan to open the 2022 season. The historically reliable Ryan has been a turnover machine. Through four games, Ryan has fumbled the ball a whopping nine times, losing three of them.
He’s also been reckless through the air. Ryan has thrown five interceptions this season, including at least one in three of his four starts.
The Broncos have only rerecorded one interception this season, but they have a very stingy pass defense. They’re allowing just 170.75 passing yards per game.
Ryan has not looked good this season. Despite the Broncos’ inability to force picks through the first four weeks, the defensive backfield has some talented playmakers. The interceptions will come soon enough. I think Ryan throws at least one this week.
Russell Wilson Lower Than 0.5 Interceptions
Russell Wilson has likewise not looked quite right this season. Despite last week’s quality outing, I still maintain that Wilson is cooked.
I also think the Broncos secretly know this. As a result, we’re seeing an offense that doesn’t want to throw the ball unless it has to. Ironically, Pete Carroll is “letting Geno cook,” while Wilson is once again being handcuffed. Perhaps the problem was Wilson all along?
Wilson’s struggles notwithstanding, he’s still careful with the football. He’s thrown just one interception this season.
The Broncos rank 16th in neutral game script pass rate. Wilson attempted just 25 passes last week. That is the type of offense the team wants to run.
The Colts can certainly win this game, but they are not going to blow the Broncos out. This matchup should be competitive and not require the Broncos to abandon the run. As a result, Wilson’s pass attempts should be few enough to the point where throwing a pick is less likely than normal. Combine that with Wilson’s general protectiveness of the football, and I don’t think he throws the ball into the hands of a Colts defender on Thursday night.
Melvin Gordon III Higher Than 2 Receptions
In the wake of Javonte Williams’ awful season-ending knee injury, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding how the Broncos’ backfield will play out. I’m hoping to take advantage of that uncertainty.
Denver’s offensive coordinator, Justin Outten, recently said that Melvin Gordon III would “carry the load, obviously.” While I don’t expect Gordon to be a 75% snap-share guy, I do largely believe Outten. Gordon should be the lead back.
This season, Gordon has been Williams’ backup. In that role, he’s still managed at least two receptions in half of his games.
Last season, Gordon was the 1A to Williams’ 1B for the first 12 weeks of the season (before Williams’ breakout performance with Gordon absent in Week 13). In those 12 games, Gordon caught at least two passes eight times. If Gordon is on the field for even half the snaps, I like his chances of catching at least two passes tonight.
Gordon Lower Than 83.5 Rush + Receiving Yards
When I first saw this number, my immediate reaction was, “This is really high.” Gordon will be the lead back, but this projection is acting as if he’s going to see a higher opportunity share than Williams did while healthy. Sorry, I just don’t buy it.
While I do believe Gordon will operate as the primary back, I don’t think his split with Boone will be that much different than the split was between Williams and Gordon.
Gordon hasn’t come close to 84 combined rushing and receiving yards yet this season. And it’s not like the volume hasn’t been there. He’s had games of 14, 11, and 17 touches, and never amassed more than 72 total yards.
Even if Gordon touches the ball 20 times tonight, he can still easily stay below 83.5 total yards against a Colts defense allowing just 3.1 yards per carry.
Michael Pittman Jr. Lower Than 11.15 Fantasy Points
I know I don’t need to remind anyone playing on Underdog how their scoring works, but it is still half-PPR. Pittman’s receptions projection is 5.5. His yardage projection is 65.5. If he catches six passes for 80 yards tonight, he still will only be at 11 fantasy points.
This projection essentially requires Pittman to score a touchdown. Pittman is almost certainly going to average less than one touchdown per game this season. He can have a nice performance without scoring more than 11.15 fantasy points.
The Broncos are a blitz-heavy team, which will force Ryan to get rid of the ball early. That means more checkdowns to Hines and the tight ends. He may not be able to find Pittman downfield. Even if Ryan is able to get the ball to Pittman, it’s likely going to be closer to the line of scrimmage. That’s how Pittman’s been used anyway, evidenced by his 6.5 average depth of target.
Pittman will need significant volume, a splash play, or a touchdown to exceed 11.15 fantasy points. I’m willing to bank on that not happening.