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.
How It Works
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 eight 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 Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
Implied Team Totals: Dolphins (24) Chargers (27)
Raheem Mostert, RB, MIA
The carousel of Dolphins’ running backs has started quite early this season. Rookie Devon Achane is still recovering from a shoulder injury, and Jeff Wilson is out on the IR, which means he will miss at least the season’s first four games. However, early reports indicate it could be much longer. That leaves 31-year-old Mostert as the Week One starter who should see the most snaps.
Luckily for Mostert, he has a matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, who ranked amongst the bottom of the league in run defense. The 2022 Chargers allowed a dreadful 5.4 yards per attempt throughout the season. There weren’t any notable moves that should vastly improve this defensive unit; we can expect much of the same. This game is a plus matchup for what might be Mostert’s last season of fantasy relevance.
Gerald Everett, TE, LAC
Many fans are excited to see the new Kellen Moore offense in Los Angeles in Week One. Moore spent four seasons as the Cowboys offensive coordinator before taking the same position in Los Angeles this offseason. In his time in Dallas, Moore featured his tight ends extensively. So much so that Dalton Schultz has been a top-twelve fantasy option at the position the last two seasons; Everett should be in for a very productive season.
Everett starts the season with a favorable matchup against the Miami Dolphins. The 2022 Dolphins gave up the fourth most points to the TE position last year. The defense will also be without newly acquired superstar Jalen Ramsey and rely on Eli Apple as their second starting cornerback. Gerald Everett could break out in 2023, and that road starts with a great Week One performance.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (+2.5)
Implied Team Totals: Bengals (26) Browns (23)
Elijah Moore, WR, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland has had an entire offseason to work with Deshaun Watson to get the quarterback to a level that can justify their trade. Part of the process to improve the offense around him was trading for New York Jets wide receiver Moore. He played on an Ole Miss team with AJ Brown and D.K. Metcalf but hasn’t been able to match the success of his old teammates.
A fresh start in a new city might be precisely what Moore needs. All the reports from training camp are that Moore is being used all over the offense in various roles. This includes both a wide receiver and even out of the backfield. The team didn’t replace Kareem Hunt this offseason, and it seems like Moore may be part of the plan to replace that production. This is a crucial early-season divisional game, and I fully expect Stefanski to pull out all the tricks to try to beat the Bengals.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cleveland Browns have spent most of their offseason improving their defense. However, there is still a glaring hole at the linebacker position. Joe Burrow will try to take advantage of this all day on Sunday. The TE position is one of the messiest in fantasy football, and Irv Smith is a decent option for dynasty managers lacking talent in their TE room.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (+3.5)
Implied Team Totals: Cowboys (26) Giants (22)
Brandin Cooks, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Cooks is now on his fifth team despite being only 30 years old. Despite moving around the league so much, Cooks has been able to put up a thousand-yard season at each of his previous four destinations. Paired with Dak Prescott and playing in the super-charged NFC East, I don’t see 2023 playing out differently for the veteran.
Dallas currently has 186 vacated targets from the 2022 season, and you have to imagine that Cooks will see the majority of those. The ride to a thousand yards will start early for Cooks, as he should see plenty of targets in this high-scoring NFC East matchup. Start him with confidence in your FLEX.
Parris Campbell, WR, New York Giants
Over the last five weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys defense allowed the second most fantasy points to the wide receiver position in the league. Daniel Jones is entering his second season in the Brian Daboll offense and should be able to take advantage of this fact fully. Campbell is entering his fifth year in the league and first one outside Indianapolis.
Reports out of training camp were that Campbell was establishing a role for himself in this offense. Given the dearth of ‘average’ wide receivers that the Giants have, Campbell has a chance to make a name for himself. Week One can start a special 2023 season for Parris Campbell and the New York Giants.
Week One 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!
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