Underdog Fantasy Picks
Football is back! It’s been 7 long months since the Superbowl and now we look forward to a tasty opener as the defending champions Kansas City host the Detroit Lions at Arrowhead, in what looks to be a high-scoring affair for both teams. Once again, this season I’ll be looking at the best player props for each Thursday Night Football game using the Underdog Fantasy app.
Jahmyr Gibbs Over 38.5 rushing yards
The Lions took Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, which is a huge price to pay for a running back. More so, the Lions nervously traded back from the 6th position when they were ready to pull the trigger on him. If you’ve not seen the clip, the Lions’ war room erupted after they were able to land Gibbs at 12 after trading picks with the Arizona Cardinals. As he’s yet to take a snap, we look to the previous first-round running backs to see their week 1 usage, and there’s absolutely a trend. Between 2015 and 2022, were 12 backs taken in the first round, with half of those taken in the first 15 picks. Of those 12, 9 had at least 13 carries, and all 9 topped at least 45 yards. Of the other 3, 2 of those missed the first game with an injury (Etienne & Michel) and then Rashaad Penny had Chris Carson ahead of him who had rushed for 1151 yards the previous season. In his final season, Gibbs averaged 6.1 yards per carry for Alabama and finished the season with 926 yards in just 12 games. Although he’s sharing the backfield with David Montgomery, the Lions in 2022 averaged 28.2 carries per game and they’re playing a Chiefs team that averaged 107.7 rushing yards against per game last season. If Travis Kelce misses the game, which looks like it could go either way, this game gets a lot closer which could lead to the Lions giving both of their backs plenty of touches of the ball. All Gibbs needs to do is have the equal lowest touches of any round 1 running back since 2015 and have half of his last season’s yards per carry, to top this total. I don’t believe he’s going to blow this total out of the water, but I can see him finishing the night with 45-50 yards on the ground.
Patrick Mahomes Over 2.5 touchdowns
The current Superbowl MVP is back at Arrowhead to try and fire the Chiefs to their 4th Superbowl since 2019. If there is somebody that loves the opening day, it’s Patrick Mahomes. Since his debut in 2018, Mahomes has thrown 3+ touchdowns in every single week 1 matchup and they’ve won all 5 by scoring at least 33 points. Even though Travis Kelce is questionable with what we now know is a bone bruise, he’s not the type of guy to miss a game unless if he can help it. Whether he plays or not, Mahomes threw a touchdown pass to 11 different players last season, if anyone is good enough to spread the ball around when needed, it’s him. In 2022 the Lions averaged 245.8 passing yards against them per game (30th) and Patrick Mahomes averaged 308 passing yards per game, you can see where I’m going with this. The Lions added Jack Campbell (18) and Brian Branch (34) early in the draft, and they’ll definitely help their struggling defense, but I can’t see them being enough to slow down the best quarterback in the league, not this early in their careers anyways. Look for Mahomes to make it 6 straight years with 3+ touchdowns in the Chiefs opening game.
Sam Laporta 3+ receptions
Rookie tight-ends don’t usually make a huge impact in their debut season, but hear me out quickly. Detroit spent the earliest of 2nd round picks on Sam Laporta out of Iowa to replace their former star man TJ Hockenson, and with Jameson Williams missing for the first 6 games, Laporta may see some early receiving work in a pass heavy Lions offense. His style was definitely more of somebody that will move the chains, rather than an endzone threat as he only scored 1 receiving touchdown in his senior year. However, he did finish the year with 657 yards and will look to pick up where Hockenson left off. In his last 7 games before the trade, Hockenson had 3+ receptions in 6 of those matchups, the 1 outlier was a 0-29 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots. Laporta is a big, athletic guy who ran a 4.59 40, faster than the likes of Kelce, Andrews and Gronk. With Jared Goff, who ranked 6th in passing yards last season (4438) and averaged 22.4 receptions per game, the Chiefs defense will have their work cut out for them as they ranked 20th in passing yards allowed (225.1) and they’ve conceded at least 20 points in their last 5 opening games. I expect Laporta to help keep the Lions in this matchup and help them get some important first downs.
David Montgomery Over 0.5 rushing + receiving touchdowns
It’s not often I will lean more towards the team playing against the Chiefs this season, but once again, history is pushing me towards a high-scoring game. Since Mahomes started for the Chiefs in 2018, they’ve allowed at least 20 points in each game and at least 2 touchdowns in all of them. The Lions averaged 28.2 carries per game last season and scored 23 rushing touchdowns, which was 3rd in the NFL. David Montgomery was brought in to replace the out-going Jamaal Williams, which most would view as a definite upgrade. We generally expect for Gibbs and Monty to split carries, but Gibbs to see more passing work and Monty to be on 3rd down and goalline situations, similar to how Swift and Williams worked last year. As the now -4.5 line suggests, this is going to be a close game, and likely a high scoring one. The lowest points total of any Chiefs opener since 2018 was 54 (34-20) in 2020, so expect the Lions to continue that trend and look to end the Chiefs week 1 winning streak, which stretches back to 2014.
I’m David, 28, originally from England but now married and living in Texas. Originally studied English Literature at Liverpool Hope University, alongside Sport & Education. Having been an avid sports fan my entire life, I had a season ticket at Everton FC in the EPL for 17 years. Since moving here I’ve become a Kansas City Chiefs fan after Kelce won me my Fantasy League on my first-ever try. Love watching the games whether it be college on Saturdays or the NFL throughout the week. You’ll always find me with a bet or two on as well. 1 leg losses are my Kryptonite.