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.
Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals (+3)
Implied Team Total: Chargers (26) Cardinals (23)
DeAndre Carter, WR LAC
The Los Angeles Chargers have been dealing with injuries to the wide receiver position all season long. There is no escape from this predicament, as Mike Williams aggravated an ankle injury in last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. With Williams out and Keenan Allen potentially injured, that leaves James Palmer and Carter lined up as starters. In what should be a high-scoring affair, start Carter as WR3 in PPR leagues.
Keaontay Ingram, RB ARI
Despite being the “backup” running back, Ingram commanded a 25% carry share last week in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Luckily enough for him, he now faces one of the worst run defenses in the league this week. Conner and Ingram will be able to feast, and if you are in a running back crunch, Ingram can be started as a FLEX play this week with touchdown upside.
Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
Implied Team Total: Raiders (22) Seahawks (26)
Mack Hollins, WR LVR
Darren Waller is approaching the lost season category with his constant injury, and Hunter Renfrow hasn’t broken five targets since Week Two. Davante Adams is a true target hog, but with a high-scoring potential in this matchup, Hollins will also be seeing a decent amount of work. Hollins can be started in a pinch with WR3 upside in PPR leagues.
Noah Fant, TE SEA
The Geno Smith Seattle offense is extremely efficient, and finding deeper start decisions is challenging. Geno Smith, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Kenneth Walker start every week in all formats. Fant may give managers hesitation, but with the high total in the game, he is a must-start as a low-end TE1 this week.
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (-14)
Implied Team Total: Texans (17) Dolphins (31)
Mike Gesicki, TE MIA
Like the Seattle offense, the Miami offense is very efficient, with most of the production concentrated on a few players. Most of the auxiliary pieces must rely on touchdown upside from high-scoring matchups. Thankfully, that is precisely what this Sunday’s game provides. Start Gesicki as a low-end TE1, and cross your fingers that he finds the endzone.
Trent Sherfield, WR MIA
Usually, we highlight one player from each team in this series. However, there are a few cases where despite a high total, all of the scorings are expected to come from one side. That is the case this week in the Dolphins – Texans matchup. In what is most likely a blowout, Sherfield could find the endzone and will be soaking up targets in garbage time. Start him as a WR4 with WR3 upside.
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!