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.
Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5)
Implied Team Total: Cardinals (23) Raiders (29)
Greg Dortch, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Greg Dortch is a UDFA who entered the league in 2019 when he was signed by the New York Jets. This past Sunday, he had a semi-coming-out party in Arizona’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He had nine targets in Week 1, which triples the amount he saw in the 2021 season. DeAndre Hopkins will be out for the first eight weeks of the season, and it looks like Rondale Moore will be missing a second straight game. Especially in tight-end-premium leagues, Dortch is an excellent start as a TE2 with a touchdown upside.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
It is hard to pick players on this Vegas squad once you get past Adams and Waller. Even last year’s fan favorite, Hunter Renfrow, has seen a severe dip in production. That happens when the new alpha receiver gobbles up 17 targets in one week. To find some starts deeper on this roster, we must look to the running back room. Last week Brandon Bolden saw some receiving work, most notably in the red zone. Bolden is slated to miss Week 2, and Ameer Abdullah will be next in line for pass-catching work. For dynasty managers desperate for a running back starter, Abdullah is a decent option as an RB3 in full PPR leagues.
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5)
Implied Team Total: Vikings (25), Eagles (27)
K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings
A new Vikings offense has them using three wide receiver sets more than ever. K.J. Osborn is the primary beneficiary of this new scheme. Last Sunday, he ran only five fewer routes than Adam Theilen/Justin Jefferson. He only saw three targets on those routes, but the Vikings were ahead the entire game against the Green Bay Packers. We can expect those target numbers to rise with a closer and higher-scoring matchup in Week 2. If Osborn were to find the end zone, he would be able to provide WR3 production for your dynasty team.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Who would have thought we would be at Week 2 and DeVonta Smith is already in the deep start tier? However, after receiving two targets in a game where the Eagles dropped 38 points, that is where he stands. Despite his lack of production, Smith led the team in routes ran in Week 1. The variance will swing the other way in Week 2, and Smith will be sure to produce in what will be a high-scoring NFC matchup. Start him with confidence as a WR3 this weekend.
Washington Commanders at Detroit Lions (-1.5)
Implied Team Total: Commanders (24) Lions (26)
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Commanders
The last time Logan Thomas played an entire season, he finished as the TE3 in full PPR leagues. In the past, we have seen Carson Wentz support up to two top-twelve tight-ends in both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. And those two were on the field at the same time! He led the Commander tight ends in routes ran in Week 1, and it is only a matter of time before he finds the end zone again. He can comfortably be started as a low-end TE1 in this Week 2 matchup.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Detroit Lions
#RestoreTheRoar is in full effect in 2022, and Dan Campbell has this Lions’ offense producing at an elite level. The Philadelphia Eagles were touted as one of the best defenses in the league this offseason, and the Lions were able to hang 35 points on them in Week 1. Josh Reynolds was on the field just as much as D.J. Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown and only ran two fewer routes. The top two wide-receivers gobbled up twenty targets between them, but any slip in production would go to Josh Reynolds. If he were to find the end zone, he could be started as a WR4 with WR2 upside.
Deep dynasty leagues are always tricky for 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!