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.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)
- Over/Under: 47.5
- Implied Team Total: Giants (22) Vikings (26)
K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Osborn has been on a tear lately, with 157 receiving yards in Minnesota’s historic comeback win last week against Detroit. Now is not the time to fade that production because the New York Giants are coming to town. This Giants’ defense is allowing the third most fantasy points to the wide receiver position over the past three weeks. Osborn has also been on pace with Adam Theilen as far as targets go over the past few weeks. Start up Osborn to get yourself into your title game.
Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants
The Vikings and Giants are due for a high-scoring matchup with plenty of fantasy points. As poor as this Giants’ passing game has been the past few weeks, the Vikings’ secondary is the perfect remedy to get back on track. The Vikings are giving up the third most points to the wide receiver position on the season. After beginning the season injured, Darius Slayton now has six or more targets in four of the last five games. Expect Daniel Jones to look his way often and give you a WR2 finish to get to your fantasy championship game.
Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)
- Over/Under: 48.5
- Implied Team Total: Seahawks (20) Chiefs (30)
Isiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Last week was supposed to be a smash spot against the Houston Texans for Pacheo. One of the worst run defenses in the league combined with a double-digit spread would mean a heavy dose of rush attempts for the rookie. However, things did not go according to plan, as the Chiefs found themselves at a deficit from the game’s onset. The Seattle Seahawks will present round two of those options as the Chiefs are once again a double-digit favorite against a bad run defense. Pacheco didn’t wholly disappoint last week, but let’s hope for a better finish this week.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Leave it to Andy Reid to transform a thirty-year-old veteran into a fantasy league-winning option. In the past two weeks, McKinnon has finished the RB1 overall and has been a wonderful late-season surprise to managers who still have him on the bench. This week we will ride the hot hand and recommend both Chiefs’ running backs. Seattle is allowing the most fantasy points to the running back position over the past five weeks, and we can expect that trend to continue this weekend. Start McKinnon with confidence.
Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
- Over/Under: 49.5
- Implied Team Total: Packers (23) Dolphins (27)
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers
The tight end position has been a headscratcher all season long. Unless you have Travis Kelce, you have been riding an emotional roller coaster of start/sit decisions. The good news? Only two more decisions to make. The bad news? Everyone outside of Kelce is questionable to produce at best. The Miami Dolphins allow the third-most fantasy points to the tight end position. Hopefully, Tonyan can find some touchdown magic he used to have and finish as a TE1 this week.
Raheem Mostert, RB, Miami Dolphins
Jeff Wilson is carrying a questionable tag, and the Green Bay Packers have a terrible run defense. The perfect formula for firing up Raheem Mostert in a juicy Christmas weekend matchup. He joins Jerrick McKinnon in the tier of 30-plus-year-old running backs winning us titles. It shows you need more veteran depth on your dynasty teams.
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!