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 set up
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.
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
Implied Team Total: Lions (21) Cowboys (28)
Josh Reynolds, WR, Detroit
The last time we saw the Detroit Lions on the field, Josh Reynolds was a target magnet. We might have forgotten because of the bye week, but Reynolds had ten targets in the Lions loss to the Patriots. DJ Chark is questionable for this game and Amon-Ra St Brown is still working his way back from a high ankle sprain. Expect Reynolds to give you WR3 production with some serious WR2 upside.
Jake Ferguson, TE, Dallas
Dalton Schultz has been missing time with a knee injury, and it looks like he will be playing this week against Detroit. However, we know players may be limited in their first game returning from injury. This may be an extreme desperation play, but tight end is a desperation position these days. Hopefully, Schultz has a limited snap count, and Ferguson can find the endzone. Hold your nose and start him as a TE2 this week.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers (-5)
Implied Team Total: Seahawks (23) Chargers (28)
Noah Fant, TE, Seattle
Believe it or not, Noah Fant is third on the Seattle Seahawks in targets. He trails only D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, which should be no surprise. What is a surprise is how potent this Seattle offense is with Geno Smith under center. No one predicted this team to be so good, but we must dismiss our priors and adapt to the data. Fant is currently TE21 on the season, but start him with confidence and enjoy some low-end TE1 numbers.
DeAndre Carter, WR, Los Angeles
Keenan Allen is not guaranteed to play this week as he might take one final week off before the Chargers’ bye in Week Eight. Without Allen on the field, it will be Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, and DeAndre Carter on the field in three wide receiver sets. Carter has ten targets in the last three games and will look to add to that total this week. He won’t supply much fantasy value, but in super deep leagues, you can get WR4 production out of him.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers (+2.5)
Implied Team Total: Chiefs (26) 49ers (23)
Jerrick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City
Jerrick McKinnon has been matching Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the snap count all season despite Helaire being the starter. Not only that, but he has flat-out looked better on the field with the ball in his hands. It won’t be much longer before McKinnon is the one winning the snap battle. You can play McKinnon in deeper leagues this week and get RB3 production with RB2 touchdown upside.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco
This advice is for 2QB/SF leagues specifically. Jimmy Garoppolo is not a fancy name, but in this high-scoring matchup, he can be safely started as a QB2. He is currently QB21 on the year, but the high volume this game environment will produce will push him closer to QB12-14 on the week. Quarterbacks playing the Chiefs this year are averaging 25.8 points per week. That is the fourth-highest mark in the league.
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!