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.
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (+3)
Implied Team Totals: Buffalo (27) Baltimore (24)
Isaiah McKenzie, WR BUF
Sunday’s Baltimore/Buffalo matchup is projected to be the highest-scoring game of Week Four. Most players will be fantasy viable, but some better than others. Gabe Davis and Jake Kumerow have missed practice all week, and their statuses are in question for Sunday. McKenzie would be in for a nice target share if they were to miss time or be limited. This is against a Baltimore defense currently giving up the most points in the league to the wide-receiver position.
Devin Duvernay, WR BAL
This Baltimore passing offense is consolidated with only three players with double-digit targets through three weeks. Duvernay is not one of them, but what he lacks in the volume he makes up for in production. On only eight targets this year, Duvernay has three touchdowns. He is an extreme boom-or-bust start, but for an underdog going up against the league juggernaut, that might be the type of swing you need to take.
Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-4.5)
Implied Team Totals: Seattle (22) Detroit (27)
Craig Reynolds, RB DET
D’Andre Swift has been trending toward missing Week Four. In his place, Jamaal Williams will serve as the starting running back, and Reynolds will serve as his backup. Through the first three weeks, Swift and Williams were splitting the workload. Despite this, both are currently top-ten fantasy running backs. If this trend continues, Reynolds could be in for an excellent week against a defense giving up the sixth most points to the running back position.
Geno Smith, QB SEA
This one applies to Superflex and two Quarterback leagues, but Smith has become a must-start in your second quarterback slot. The Detroit Lions allow the third most points to the quarterback position through three weeks. The other positive is the Detroit offense has been potent enough to fuel shootout environments. Smith is currently QB19 on the year but still has that icky feeling around him for fantasy managers. Start him with confidence as your QB2 this week.
Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons (+1.5)
Implied Team Totals: Cleveland (25) Atlanta (23)
David Njoku, TE CLE
This take should be obvious, but dynasty managers still doubt Njoku. As luck would have it, he faces the defense currently allowing the second most points to the position through three weeks. He is now second on the Browns as far as targets go as should be a smash top-five option this week — start Njoku with confidence.
Kyle Pitts, TE ATL
Before this season, Pitts finding his way into a start/sit article would be sacrilegious. However, Pitts currently sits as the TE19 on the year with only nine receptions for 125 yards. That will change on Sunday in a high-scoring matchup with the Cleveland Browns. Drake London should see coverage from Denzel Ward, one of the better corners in the league, which should leave Pitts open for plenty of targets.
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!