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.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (+14)
- Over/Under: 49.5
- Implied Team Totals: Chiefs (31) Texans (19)
Isiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Last week Jerick McKinnon was the star of the show for the Kansas City Chiefs in their 34 – 28 win over division rival Denver. Despite McKinnon’s impressive performance, it was Pacheco who saw the majority of the carries. He doubled McKinnon’s carries but only saw a half of the targets as McKinnon. The Texans’ defense is currently being gashed on the ground, and Pacheco should easily have a career day this Sunday. Start him with confidence as an RB2.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Just because Pacheco is a start of the week doesn’t mean we have to bench McKinnon. These two running backs should be able to east against this Houston Texans defense, and I would not be surprised to see both of them end up as top 25 at the position. We can expect them to split the ground and air work enough that both are easily startable.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (+9)
- Over/Under: 48.5
- Implied Team Totals: Eagles (29) Bears (20)
Quez Watkins, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Believe it or not, Quez Watkins has three straight weeks with five targets or more. He also has two touchdowns in the past four weeks. He can put those two stat lines together this week for one performance against an indigent Chicago Bears defense. Based on the spread, Philadelphia is favored by more than a touchdown. There is also the added benefit that Watkins can see a lot of garbage time work. For those rolling into the first week of the playoffs with injuries, you could do worse than Quez Watkins.
Chase Claypool, WR, Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears sent a second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Chase Claypool. You would think he would be in their plans, having been traded for such a high pick. Despite a slow start with the Bears, Claypool now has back-to-back games with five or more targets. The Eagles’ secondary is a very tough unit, but Justin Fields doesn’t have many weapons outside of Cole Kmet and Chase Claypool. Claypool can be played as a WR4 based on volume alone, with an upside for more.
Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars (+4.5)
- Over/Under: 47.5
- Implied Team Totals: Cowboys (27) Jaguars (21)
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Gallup started the season on the injured reserve, and the Cowboys have been slowly working him into the offense all season. However, he has been coming along for the past few weeks. In three straight weeks, Gallup has six or more targets. This includes an impressive two-touchdown performance two weeks ago against the Indianapolis Colts. The Jaguars allow 24 points per game to the wide receiver position; Michael Gallup is good enough to secure some of those.
Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a sanity check because I know those out there have had Evan Engram since his rookie year. You must be saying to yourself; there is no way he can be producing like this. Well, I am here to tell you it is acceptable to start Evan Engram weekly. He is coming off a heater of a game, but more importantly, he now has at least seven targets in back-to-back weeks. Start him with confidence as a locked-in TE1 in this game.
The playoffs are here! Every start/sit decision is critical from here on our during our title runs. By leveraging the power of Vegas, we can gain a slight edge over our opponents. 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 questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!