The house always wins. Regular gamblers, moviegoers, and most people recognize this phrase. When it comes to gambling, over the long run, the casino/house will always win out. They have been doing it long enough to know all the tricks and all the ways to separate you from your money. What if we could work together with the house? Could we use sportsbooks’ years of knowledge and data into game lines? What if we could harness this power to help win our dynasty fantasy football league? We can use this information for our start-em/sit-em decisions. This concept, my friend, is winning WITH Vegas.
If you are a returning reader, you can skip down to the games and players we picked this week. If you are new to the series, please check out the explanation in the following two paragraphs. All lines are courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook.
The premise of this series is to look at weekly over/under and implied team totals to answer fringe start-em/sit-em decisions in our deeper fantasy football leagues. If these terms confuse you, don’t worry; here is your crash course on the sportsbook betting terminology we will use. Every NFL game has three basic things to bet on: spread, Moneyline, and totals. The spread is the margin of victory or defeat for each team. A team favored by -7 will win by a touchdown or more. The reverse would be a team as +7 underdogs will lose by a touchdown or less. Moneyline is just the straight-up winner and over/under is the projected combined total of both teams’ scores.
We will be concerned with over/under and spreads in this series to figure out implied team totals. The implied team total would be the final projected score for a team based on Vegas lines. To figure this out, we must determine the final score Vegas is projecting. Let us set up a scenario where a game has an over/under of 42. In this game, the favorite should win by eight points. We must use math to come up with a final score that will meet both of these criteria. In this example, a final score of 25 – 17 will match both projections. By going through every game in a week, we can quickly see which teams Vegas has scored big, and that will give us a clue as to what players have the best touchdown upside for start-em/sit-em decisions.
Miami Dolphins at Detroit Lions (+3.5)
Implied Team Total: Dolphins (28) Lions (24)
Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami
Before the season started, I was one of many fantasy analysts fading Mike Gesicki. He didn’t seem like a good fit for this offense, where he would be asked to block so much. He is doing everything to prove us wrong. He is currently third on the team in targets and is tied for the team lead in touchdowns. Gesicki can be safely started as TE1 this week.
Kalif Raymond, WR, Detroit
The Detroit Lions are coming off a bye week, so most fans may not remember what happened the last time we saw them on the field. In that game, Kalif Raymond had six targets in a 24 to 6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He also added two rush attempts, showing how versatile he could be in this offense. Those rushes and targets added up to 95 yards. Raymond can be started as a WR3 who has touchdown upside in what should be a high-scoring game.
Las Vegas Raiders at New Orleans Saints (+1.5)
Implied Team Total: Raiders (26) Saints (24)
Mack Hollins, WR, Las Vegas
To everyone’s surprise, Mack Hollins is the second-most-targetted wide receiver on the Las Vegas Raiders. The sixth-year player out of North Carolina is taking advantage of the lack of Darren Waller the past few weeks. He has also run more routes than Hunter Renfrow in the past two weeks. In a high-scoring affair, Hollins can be started as a WR3 with WR2 upside.
Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans
Johnson now has two straight games with at least five targets. For the tight-end position, that makes a player fantasy viable. The New Orleans Saints have scored at least 25 points in three straight games, and expect that trend to continue. With injuries to the receiving group continuing, expect Juwan Johnson to be a part of this game plan. Start him as a TE2 with TE1 touchdown upside.
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)
Implied Team Total: Cardinals (23) Vikings (26)
Robbie Anderson, WR, Arizona
Last Thursday Night football seems like forever ago, and so does the Robbie Anderson trade. Many may have forgotten about him, considering he was only on the field for a dozen snaps. That should have come as no surprise, given that he had minimal time to learn the playbook. Expect Anderson to be a big part of this offense with ten days to work him in. Start Anderson as a WR2 in what should be a high-passing volume game.
Irv Smith Jr, TE, Minnesota
This offense runs through Justin Jefferson and doesn’t leave much for the other pass catchers. Jefferson is almost at a 30% target share on the season. Thankfully, it does not take many targets to make a starting tight-end this year. Smith can be started as a TE2 with a potential TE1 upside.
Deep dynasty leagues are always tricky for start/sit decisions. Hopefully, by leveraging the power of Vegas, we can gain a slight edge over our opponents. As the season wears on and we have more data to work with, these decisions become more manageable. Start your studs and get those Monday Night players into your flex! Check back weekly as we review the numbers to ensure we are Winning With Vegas!
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I hope you enjoyed this piece in our Winning With Vegas series. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for any questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!