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.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions (-1)
Implied Team Total: Jaguars (26) Lions (27)
Zay Jones, WR JAX
You may have been sleeping on Jones, but he has been averaging almost ten targets a game, including a monstrous 14-target performance against the Baltimore Ravens last week. This surge has him at WR34 on the season, but many still need to give him the recognition he deserves. Detroit gives up the third-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position. Start Zay Jones with confidence as a WR2 with a real WR1 upside.
D.J. Chark, WR DET
Chark has been on the IR since Week Three and returned to action two weeks ago. The Lions limited him to a 16% snap share in Week 11, so Week 12 was his official return to action. On Thanksgiving last week, he commanded five targets in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. He was able to haul in two catches and find the endzone. He almost had a second touchdown, but Jared Goff missed him on a deep pass. For a player on a one-year deal, the end of the season is pivotal to securing that next contract. Start Chark as a WR3 in this high-scoring matchup with Jacksonville.
Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders (+1)
Implied Team Total: Chargers (26) Raiders (25)
DeAndre Carter, WR LAC
-DeAndre Carter has a TD in his last 3️⃣ games— Joe Beldner (@JoeBeldner) November 27, 2021
-His SNP% during this span of time is 70.7% (📈from earlier in the season, seems to have carved out a full-time role in Washington)
-He has the talent and utilization to be interesting in deeper leagues
-Curtis Samuel is back 📉 ❓ pic.twitter.com/UH8FieyVF5
Carter is becoming a regular feature in this series as we enter week seven of the Mike Williams injury experience. Williams was last active in Week Eleven but only played six snaps before exiting with another injury. Carter took advantage of the absence last week, hauling seven catches on ten targets. He finished with 73 yards and a touchdown and finished as WR11 on the week. He looks to repeat this performance against the Raiders, a team he scored a touchdown against back in Week One.
Foster Moreau, TE LVR
Darren Waller continues to miss time for the Raiders, and Moreau is the next man up at the tight end position. Despite Josh Jacobs handling most of the offensive work, to the tune of 303 yards and two touchdowns, Moreau was able to find the endzone. The Chargers and Raiders met in Week One, where Waller saw six targets and hauled in four receptions and 79 yards. If Moreau can come close to that, he is a worthwhile TE start.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5)
Implied Team Total: Chiefs (28) Bengals (25)
Hayden Hurst, TE CIN
Since Ja’Marr Chase last played in Week Seven, Hurst has averaged six targets a game. This includes an impressive nine last week against the Tennesse Titans. You can comfortably start Hurst as a TE1. Hurst is running a route on 76% of his snaps. To put that into perspective, Travis Kelve only runs a route on 71% of his snaps. These two tight ends should combine for an elite-level fantasy performance this week.
Skyy Moore, WR KCC
Rookie wide receivers typically make their most significant impact in the second half of the season. This is when we have seen players like Amon-Ra S. Brown and Ja’Marr Chase take over their offenses. Moore now has back-to-back weeks with six targets. What is impressive is that the rookie was able to compile these targets in both a shoot-out with the Chargers and last week against the Rams, where the Chiefs were two touchdown favorites. I expect Moore to light up the scoreboard this week in a supercharged matchup against the Bengals. Start him as a WR3 with upside for much more.
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 any questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!