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.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-1.5)
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Implied Team Totals: Vikings (25) Lions (27)
Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions
Was Jameson Williams on the field last week? No, not much. Is he an electric wide receiver with the speed to blow the top off a defense? Yes, most definitely. We are still determining how much of a ramping-up period the Detroit Lions intend for Jameson this season. However, we are sure his speed will make him a difference-maker on the field. Keep a close eye on any reports from Lions beat writers, and if it looks like Jameson is going to play meaningful snaps, you have to shove him into your lineup somehow.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Believe it or not, the last time the Vikings faced the Lions, Adam Thielen out-targeted Justin Jefferson. His final stat line for that Week Three matchup was eight targets with six receptions, 61 yards, and a touchdown. That early season matchup was a high-scoring affair; we can expect the same this week. The Detroit Lions allow the fourth most points to the wide receiver position, so everyone in the Vikings’ offense will eat. You can comfortably start Thielen as a WR 3 this weekend with a potential WR1 upside.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5)
- Over/Under: 46.5
- Implied Team Totals: Browns (21) Bengals (26)
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cleveland Browns
Donovan Peoples-Jones has quietly been having an end-of-season breakout. That breakout will only get amplified with the addition of Deshaun Watson to the team. Watson looked highly rusty in his first game in over 700 days. With a complete game under his belt, he should look much better this week against Cincinnati. Despite any misfortunes, the Browns may be going through, they always play their in-state rival well. I expect big things from Donovan Peoples-Jones this week and would comfortably start him as a WR3 with upside for much more. Amari Cooper was also a late addition to the injury report this week. If Cooper misses any time, Peoples-Jones becomes one of my favorite plays of the week.
Samaje Perine, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Samaje Perine took full advantage of Joe Mixon’s absence, finishing as a top-ten running back each of the last three weeks. Mixon is slated to return this week after recovering from a concussion. However, Perine has looked so good that there is no way Mixon will handle the entire workload in his first game back. Expect a committee approach this Sunday. Despite your thinking, both can be comfortably started in a high-scoring matchup against the Browns. The main reasoning is that the Cleveland Browns defense allows the third most fantasy points per game to the running back position, averaging 23 points per game.
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5)
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Implied Team Totals: Dolphins(28) Chargers(24)
Trent Sherfield, WR, Miami Dolphins
Jaylen Waddle left last week’s game against the 49ers with a leg injury. As of this writing, he has been a full participant in practice, but this is something to keep an eye on. If Waddle were to miss any time or be limited in any way, Trent Sherfield would assume the WR2 role opposite of Tyreek Hill.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Injuries throughout the 2022 season have significantly hampered the Los Angeles Chargers. The team is trending towards having all of its pass catchers back, but things can change quickly for the Chargers. The good news is that Gerald Everett has a matchup with a defense allowing the third most points to the tight end position. Start Everett with confidence as a sold TE1 option.
We are down to the season’s crunch time, and the last few weeks are critical. Start/sit decisions will be vital as our squads make their playoff pushes. 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!