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? And we could use the years of knowledge and data that sportsbooks pour into game lines? What if we could harness this power to help win our dynasty fantasy football league?. This, my friends, is winning WITH Vegas.
If you are new to the series, please check out the explanation in the following two paragraphs. If you are a returning reader, you can skip down to the games and players we picked this week. All lines are courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook.
The premise of this series is to look at weekly over/unders 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 sportsbook betting terminology we will be using. Every NFL game has three basic things to bet on; spread, money line, and over/unders. The spread is the number of points a team is projected to win or lose by. A team favored by -7 is projected to win by a touchdown or more. The reverse would be a team as +7 underdogs are projected to 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.
In this series, we will be concerned with over/unders and spreads 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, and the favorite is projected to win by 8 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 scoring big, and that will give us a clue as to what players have the best touchdown upside.
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Implied Final Score: Seahawks (28) Vikings (27)
KJ Osborn, WR, MIN
Through two weeks of football, KJ Osborn has demanded a 19% target share in this Minnesota offense. What was a two-wide receiver system in 2020, has turned into a three-wide receiver system in 2021. This is largely in part due to the injuries and lack of talent at the tight end position. Minnesota is running personnel groupings of three wide receivers 75% of the time, which is much higher than the 60% in 2020. Osborn will be on the field plenty in this high-scoring affair. He can easily be started as a WR3 with WR2 upside.
Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN
In Week Two, we saw Dalvin Cook go down with a lower-body injury. He was able to recover and finish out the game, but this is something to keep an eye on heading into week three. Mattison serves as his direct backup and could be in the RB1 considerations if Cook were to miss time. Even if Cook plays in Week Three, Minnesota may limit his workload a bit and split snaps between the two. If that is the case, Mattison turns into a desperation RB3 with serious RB1 upside if Cook were to go down mid-game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) at Los Angeles Rams
Implied Final Score: Buccaneers (27) Rams (28)
Van Jefferson, WR, LAR
Through two weeks of the season, it is clear that Van Jefferson has secured the WR3 role in this Rams offense. His target share is hovering around 11%, which bodes well in what is expected to be quite the shootout with Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon. His catch rate is a measly 50% on the season, which is brought up can only help his emergence in Week Three. He can be started as a WR4 in deeper leagues with some WR3 upside, given he finds the endzone.
Sony Michel, RB, LAR
Darrel Henderson suffered what is believed to be a bruised rib injury in LA’s Week Two game. It remains unclear his status for Sunday’s game against the reigning world champs, but we can expect his workload to be cut back if he suits up. That would put former Patriots running back Sony Michel as the next man up for carries. Michel has shown flashes of excellence throughout this early career. Could those flashes re-emerge this Sunday? Michel can be started as an RB3 with RB2 upside if Henderson misses time. We still have to temper expectations as this Buccaneer front seven is loaded with talent.
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
Implied Final Score: Chargers (24) Chiefs (31)
Jared Cook, TE, LAC
Through two weeks, Jared Cook has secured a 15% target share on what is projected to be one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league. As the season progresses, he is a big-bodied tight end who could become Justin Herbert’s favorite red-zone target. He currently trails Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in red-zone targets, but only two targets separate all three of them. Cook can safely be considered a TE1 in this week’s matchup.
Mecole Hardman, WR, KC
Mecole Hardman has quietly carved out a 17% target share in this extremely high-powered and usually very concentrated Chiefs offense. When your quarterback is Patrick Mahomes, you take any targets you can. Hardman’s usage has been trending in the up direction over the first two weeks, and if we see that continue, he can be in for a big day on Sunday. He can be comfortably started as a WR3 with serious WR2 upside.
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I hope you enjoyed this dive into Vegas implied team totals, over/unders, and how math can help us in fantasy football. For more content like this, be sure to give me a follow on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for any questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!
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