The house always wins. Regular gamblers, moviegoers, and most people can recognize what this phrase means. 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 Miami Dolphins (+5.5)
Implied Team Totals: Bills (29) Dolphins (24)
Mike Gesicki, TE MIA
Gesicki was one of my biggest fades this summer, so, ironically, I am recommending him as a start in Week Three. This Dolphins offense is highly concentrated between Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The two of them combine for an almost 60% target share! Despite having only four targets last week, Gesicki could find the endzone. He may not produce weekly, but you could do worse with a TE2 with touchdown upside, especially in a high-scoring matchup like this.
Zach Moss, RB BUF
Devin Singletary appears to be the lead back in Buffalo, but those margins are closer than they are on other teams across the league. Through three weeks, Moss is only five caries behind Singletary and has the lead in targets for the running back position. Moss can be started as an RB3 with an RB2 upside with a score. It is not much-guaranteed work, but endzone variance could fall in our favor.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (+5.5)
Implied Team Totals: Chiefs (28) Colts (23)
Ashton Dulin, WR IND
Dulin was an All-Pro last season as a special teamer and with the Pittmann injury, last week saw significant work as a receiver. Since Michael Pittmann missed the previous week, Dulin is the leading receiver on the Colts. The third-year undrafted player is making a case to have him as the WR2 in this Colts offense, which is an offense that will be passing a ton on Sunday to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Jerick McKinnon, RB KCC
It would not take much for us to walk away from Sunday’s game against the Colts and see McKinnon as the top-producing back in this offense. Don’t look now, but McKinnon has out-snapped Clyde Edwards-Helaire through three weeks. It is a small margin, 54 to 52, but tells more of the story than the production does. Both backs have found the endzone in the passing game, but neither has scored on the ground.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)
Implied Team Totals: Lions (24) Vikings(29)
Jamaal Williams, RB DET
Williams has been the 1B to D’Andre Swift’s 1A for two weeks. Swift does carry an injury designation at the time of this publication. It is his ankle, but he appears ready to suit up on Sunday for a critical NFC North showdown. If Swift is limited or misses time, Williams is set up for a smash spot. Even with Swift on the field, Williams can be played as an RB3. However, if Swift were out, Williams would turn into a top-five back on the week.
Irv Smith Jr, TE MIN
Anyone who watched the Vikings’ Monday night loss to the Eagles has to be cringing at this suggestion. Smith had some pretty notable drops in the primetime matchup, which has most likely left a sour taste in many peoples’ mouths. However, we cannot ignore that Smith is near the top of the roster for targets behind Jefferson, Theilen, and Cook. In a game script that will have Kirk Cousins pass at least 40 times, Smith is a lock for a TE1 finish this week. We hope he spent a little extra time on the jugs machine this week.
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!
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