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Winning With Vegas – Week Four Essential Starts

@DanT_NFL is back with the Week Four edition of Winning With Vegas. Use the power of the sportsbooks to set your lineups!

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? 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 and are accurate as of September 28th.  Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) are via FantasyPros.

The Breakdown

The premise of this series is to look at weekly over/under and implied team totals to find fringe starters 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 determine implied team totals. The implied team total would be the final projected score 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 8 points. We must use math to come up with a final score that will meet both of these criteria. In this example, a 25-17 final 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. 

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-3)

Over/Under: 53.5

Implied Team Totals: Dolphins (26) Bills (29)

Gabe Davis, Buffalo Bills, ECR: WR36

This Dolphins/Bills game is shaping up to be one of the biggest shootouts of the season. You have a Dolphins team who just dropped 70 and a Bills team that put up 37 on a better-than-advertised Commanders defense. This game is a start-every-player situation, but we must explicitly mention Gabe Davis. Davis is second on the team in targets and currently touts an Average Depth of Target of 17.3 yards. That ADoT is good enough for top ten in the league amongst receivers with a minimum of eight targets on the season. 

Durham Smythe, Miami Dolphins, ECR: TE28

Tight end has been more of a wasteland than ever in 2023. Everyone needs help getting production from the position, and many managers are desperate to figure out a starting spot. When in doubt, we must lean into the high-scoring matchups week-to-week. Durham Smythe has quietly assembled an 11-target season, good enough for top-thirty amongst tight ends. Combine that with the touchdown upside of this game, and you could do worse than Smythe this weekend. 

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5)

Over/Under: 48.5

Implied Team Total: Raiders (21) Chargers (28)

Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers, ECR: TE18

Mike Williams has been lost for the season due to an ACL injury, which has opened up a significant target share in this Chargers offense. Williams had 26 targets on the season before his injury. Those will be divided up among Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, and Gerald Everett. Johnston is a rookie still getting settled into the league, and Gerald Everett is a better player than Palmer. Everett will be a great start this week and for the rest of the season. 

Jakobi Meyers, Las Vegas Raiders, ECR: WR28

The Los Angeles Chargers defense currently ranks dead last in passing yards allowed and bottom five in both receptions and touchdowns allowed. Until Brandon Staley makes significant changes, we can safely start all wide receivers against them. Meyers has quietly returned a top-36 target share in the league and is waiting for a huge game. That game could be this week in what should be a very fast-paced matchup. 

Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants (-1.5)

Over/Under: 47.5

Implied Team Total: Seahawks (23) Giants (25)

Darius Slayton, New York Giants, ECR: WR62

Through three weeks of the 2023 NFL season, the New York Giants passing attack ranks as one of the league’s worst. They rank in the bottom five in total passing yards, passing touchdowns, and even yards per attempt. The perfect get-right game might be this Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks allow the second most passing yards in the league and are tied for the third most passing touchdowns allowed. The team target leader at the wide receiver position, Darius Slayton, could be the principal benefactor of this ideal matchup.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks, ECR: WR56

Jaxon Smith-Njigba was the WR1 in this past year’s draft class by many scouts and industry experts. The Seattle landing spot seemed less than ideal at the time, with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf still on the roster. As with most rookies, it takes some time for JSN to catch up with the league’s speed. However, he leads the team in Yards After Catch, and a primetime breakout could be on the script for the former Buckeye this week. Smith-Njigba makes for a decent Flex option this week. 

The first month is always tricky for dynasty fantasy football start/sit decisions. 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!

The 2023 season is finally here! Want exclusive access to my rankings and those of over twenty fellow analysts? Subscribe to the #NerdHerd, where you get exclusive content, dynasty/rookie rankings, and DynastyGM! If you want 15% off  ANY SUBSCRIPTION, USE PROMO CODE ‘LUNA’ or CLICK HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Winning With Vegas. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!

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