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.
Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Implied Team Total: Chiefs (30) Cardinals (24)
AJ Green, WR, Arizona Cardinals
DeAndre Hopkins is starting the season with an eight-game suspension. Add to that, Zach Ertz is currently questionable as of this writing. If those two things weren’t enough, second-year player Rondale Moore is going for an MRI and looking to miss the season opener. It may not feel great, but we can rely on the 34-year-old AJ Green as a WR3 option this weekend. A high game total combined with a lack of pass catchers can lead to Green’s last helpful fantasy start.
Marquez-Valdes Scantling, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Many question marks surround this Chiefs offense and how the ball will be distributed. The one thing that isn’t in question is the talent at the quarterback position. Many have JuJu Smith-Schuster as the top target in this offense behind Travis Kelce. However, we do not know that for a fact. What we do know is that Valdes-Scantling is taller and fast than Smith-Schuster. Scantling ran a 4.37 compared to Schuster’s 4.54. We have seen speed kill in this offense before and can see it again. Scantling would make a good upside Flex play on any dynasty roster.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
Implied Team Total: Raiders (25) Chargers (29)
Zamir White, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
Is Josh Jacobs the locked-in primary ball carrier in Las Vegas? I think not. The Raiders have a new coaching staff and front office with no ties to the fourth-year running back from Alabama. We saw this thought manifest when Jacobs was on the field to start the Hall Of Fame game. In addition, new head coach Josh McDaniels comes from New England, where running back committees are king. White is faster and more explosive than Jacobs, and I would not be surprised if the two split work. White is in as a Flex with some touchdown upside.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Everett was signed this past offseason to take over Jared Cook’s role last year. Cook finished top-15 in the league last season for targets amongst tight-ends. We want to chase volume for a position with a ton of variance past the top five. This game is the highest-scoring matchup of the week, and each team should be attempting 40-plus passes. Everett is also a big body that will rack up red zone looks. For tight-end needy teams, you could do much worse for a TE2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Implied Team Total: Buccaneers (27) Cowboys (24)
Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers released their Week One depth chart earlier this week, and rookie Rachaad White was listed as the backup behind Leonard Fournette. White was a dominant runner at Arizona State and athletically profiles similar to David Johnson via PlayerProfiler. The Tampa coaching staff has discussed taking some workload off Fournette and redistributing Gronkowski’s target share to the running back room. This is sure to be a high-scoring Sunday Night Football matchup, and White is a Flex option who should see ten to twelve touches.
Jalen Tolbert, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Michael Gallup has returned to practice earlier than expected but is not looking ready for Week One. Offseason free agent James Washington is currently on the IR with an injury suffered during training camp. That leaves rookie wide receiver Tolbert as the starter opposite of CeeDee Lamb. Quite the debut for the rookie going up against Tom Brady on Sunday Night Football. Tolbert was an exceptional receiver coming out of the University of South Alabama, and reports have been glowing about him all summer. As a player you got in the second round of your rookie draft, he can easily be started as a WR3/Flex this weekend.
Week One is always tricky for dynasty fantasy football 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!