A ton of money changes hands in Las Vegas sportsbooks on NFL Sundays.
They have crack teams of number crunchers who are way better than me and you when it comes to guessing likely scores of NFL games.
Many sports fans have joked about a team kicking a late field goal to finish just under or over the betting line, as if the game was fixed or something. And, well, the game bettors play is kind of fixed, because those aforementioned number crunchers are so darn good at what they do.
It would be foolish for the fantasy football community to ignore these experts. We are better when we take the sums of many parts to form our opinions about players and situations, and Las Vegas betting odds need to be one of the primary parts of the equation.
Here are the projected scores using the current (early) over/under and betting odds for Week 8 of the 2015 NFL season.
Week 8 projected scores based on Las Vegas odds
|Thu Oct 29||Miami Dolphins||21.5||New England Patriots||29.5||8:25 PM||51|
|Sun Nov 1||Detroit Lions||20||Kansas City Chiefs||25.5||9:30 AM||45.5|
|Arizona Cardinals||25.25||Cleveland Browns||20.75||1:00 PM||46|
|Cincinnati Bengals||23.75||Pittsburgh Steelers||24.75||1:00 PM||48.5|
|Minnesota Vikings||21.75||Chicago Bears||20.75||1:00 PM||42.5|
|New York Giants||23||New Orleans Saints||26||1:00 PM||49|
|San Diego Chargers||23.75||Baltimore Ravens||26.75||1:00 PM||50.5|
|San Francisco 49ers||15.5||St. Louis Rams||24||1:00 PM||39.5|
|T.B. Buccaneers||20.75||Atlanta Falcons||27.75||1:00 PM||48.5|
|Tennessee Titans||21.05||Houston Texans||25.05||1:00 PM||46.1|
|New York Jets||23.5||Oakland Raiders||21||4:05 PM||44.5|
|Seattle Seahawks||23.5||Dallas Cowboys||17.5||4:25 PM||41|
|Green Bay Packers||24.25||Denver Broncos||21.25||8:30 PM||45.5|
|Mon Nov 2||Indianapolis Colts||19.5||Carolina Panthers||26.5||8:30 PM||46|
Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington
We have another London game this week, 9:30 a.m. kick off Sunday for Lions vs. Chiefs. KC is favored by 5.5. Weird, I know. I called last week’s London game the final one. This time it’s definitely the last one. [UPDATE: The line has dropped to 3.5 in favor of the Chiefs. That sometimes indicates the sharp bettors are picking Detroit. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson make excellent tournament plays in DFS tournaments this week.]
We have another line that’s slow to materialize this week. The Texans are favored by four against the Titans, but there’s no total so far. I through this week’s average in there, but I suspect it’ll be lower once it’s finally posted.
That average is 46.1, higher than last week which was our highest total in four weeks. There were a ton of points scored in daily fantasy last week, so based on this climbing over/under average we could see the same again this week. The average odds are -1.9, which is very close to our -1.7 from last week and still middle of the road compared to our highest and lowest totals in recent weeks.
So those rising over/unders paired with close games means good things for our fantasy teams.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (-8.5) — This is our largest projected scoring difference of the week. Home team expected to win by a blowout against a struggling team? We should all start Todd Gurley and the Rams defense again this week. The 49ers are the fifth-worst team against the run according to DVOA and the worst against the pass and their crossing a couple time zones to make a 1 p.m. start. I don’t trust too many parts of the passing game, but the 49ers have allowed 98.8 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers, the most in the NFL. That makes Kenny Britt someone to consider as a what-the-heck play this week. But the passing stat is just more of a reason to start Gurley because this game should be well in hand by halftime.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-8) — Angry Tom Brady at home against the Dolphins on Thursday night. The Dolphins have been mediocre on defense, but they seem to be a different team right now with their new coaching regime. I’ll probably stay away from this game in cash, but I’ll have a couple low-end tournament teams with some of the key players in this one — Brady, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller. The game has the highest over/under of the week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-7) — Another home team with a big number according to Las Vegas and another star running back to consider. Devonta Freeman had me sweating early last week, but he finished right about where we needed him to in cash games. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ninth-best against the run, according to DVOA and 29th against the pass. That means Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and friends could have a field day. Tampa is most susceptible to other wide receivers (WR3, slot, bench receivers, etc.). That means it could be a big day for Roddy White or Leonard Hankerson or some other player we might not usually consider. Keep that in mind when filling your daily fantasy tournament lineups. The matchup isn’t spectacular but the game script points to a lot of action for Freeman. My initial reaction is to not go all-in on him this week in daily fantasy cash lineups, but I won’t be avoiding him completely either. On the other side, the Falcons defense hasn’t exactly been able to shut down opponents. They’ve allowed the third-most yards (87.6 per game) to WR1s — hello, Mike Evans — and the fifth-most to tight ends (67.8) — isn’t Austin Seferian-Jenkins supposed to be back this week? And if we like two of his receivers, Jameis Winston — coming off an impressive performance last week — has to be a consideration at least in daily fantasy tournaments.
Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers (-7) — The projected score has the Colts at less than 20 points, which seems too low even against a defense like the Panthers. I wonder if the bookmakers are trying to force some action on the Colts. It’ll be interesting if this total moves. As it stands, it might be best to avoid all Colts except in wild tournament lineups. Considering Andrew Luck‘s penchant for throwing early interceptions and Josh Norman‘s exceptionalness, I’m predicting at least one Panthers defensive touchdown this week. Of course, Cam Newton will Cam Newton so you’re starting him. The Colts “pass defense” has been a delight for opposing offenses, allowing big games to No. 1 and 2 wide receivers and tight ends. Newton’s favorite target is TE Greg Olsen and his second favorite is WR1 Ted Ginn Jr. I’m not sure we can put Ginn in a cash game lineup yet, but he’s inching closer to that territory. Corey Brown is the No. 2 wide receiver, if you want an off-the-radar GPP matchup to target.
Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Chicago Bears — We have six games in close-game territory (a field goal or less) this week. In close games, the scripts should resemble what the teams have done so far this season up until the final whistle. In that case we can expect the Bears defense to be gracious hosts to Adrian Peterson, Stefon Diggs and Teddy Bridgewater this week. The Bears are 26th against the pass and 29th against the run, according to DVOA. However, they haven’t been particularly susceptible to any one receiver type so far this season. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad for Diggs, but he’s getting too much volume to ignore right now. The Vikings have been a fantasy wonderland to No. 1 wide receivers and tight ends this season. Bears QB Jay Cutler‘s two favorite targets are No. 1 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and TE Martellus Bennett, so you’ll want them in your lineup this week. Matt Forte is matchup proof, but he also faces a Vikings defense that is 27th in the NFL against the run. Lots of fantasy goodness in this one. Don’t be surprised when a lot of them end up high in our rankings.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1) — T
here’s a good chance Ben Roethlisberger won’t play again this week, which means more Landry Jones and a road favorite line for the Bengals. The Steelers have been bad against the pass but stout against the run. So it may be tough sledding for Jeremy Hill. If you happen to have both him and Giovani Bernard, you may want to consider Bernard this week because he can be more involved in the passing offense. Andy Dalton, of course, must be played in season-long and should be considered strongly in daily leagues. Pittsburgh has given up big totals to No. 2 wide receivers and tight ends, making Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert the top matchup plays here. The Bengals have been susceptible to tight ends and receiving running backs this season, making Heath Miller a sneaky tight end play. Le’Veon Bell is a must-play every week, but knowing he’s going up against a team that allows an average of 57 yards a game through the air to RBs is drool-inducing for his owners. [UPDATE: Ben Roethlisberger is expected to play, so we have to boost our Steelers receivers. It automatically makes Antonio Brown a top-3 receiver and I wouldn’t be surprised if Martavis Bryant finishes in the top-10. Sportsbooks also moved the line to -1 in favor of the Steelers from -2.5 in favor of the Bengals.]
New York Jets (-2.5) at Oakland Raiders — Another road favorite on this list. It seems to be a trend this week. Just like with Cutler above, home QB dogs get a bit of a boost because they aren’t playing in front of a hostile crowd, so we can consider Derek Carr a sneaky tournament play in daily fantasy. The Jets are making a cross-country trek from about the furthest east you can go (Foxboro last week) to Oakland. That’s usually tough on teams. However, the New York defense has pulverized opposing passing and running games this season. The only real flaw they’ve shown is against No. 3 and bench receivers, who they’ve allowed 83.7 yards to, most in the NFL. If you’re hurting at wide receiver in season-long or you want a sneaky sleeper in daily fantasy, Seth Roberts is probably the guy. Oakland has been generous to No. 2 wide receivers and tight ends, making Eric Decker a great play and Jeff Cumberland an interesting sleeper. This game has the fourth-lowest over/under of the week so limit expectations.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-3) — Our first of three games predicted to be decided by a field goal. The Giants have allowed the second-most points this season to opposing tight ends, so Ben Watson is a TE streamer start or a daily fantasy consideration. They’ve also been susceptible to slot and bench receivers. I’m not sure if that’s Marques Colston or Willie Snead or Brandin Cooks, but I’ll probably have some Willie Snead in my daily fantasy lineups. While the overall passing matchup isn’t great, there is enough here for me to consider Drew Brees in daily fantasy this week. The Saints are 30th against the pass and 25th against the run. Eli Manning has kept interceptions to a minimum this season and has popped some big games. New Orleans has allowed 80.7 yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers, so if Odell Beckham Jr.‘s hamstring is right this could be a big bounce back for him. The matchups also point to potential big games for Larry Donnell and Dwayne Harris. I wish the Giants running game wasn’t such a mess — Orleans Darkwa?! — because there is potential for a big game on the ground here.
San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-3) — The Chargers defense has been one of the worst in the NFL this season, according to DVOA, ranking 23rd against the pass and 31st against the run. It should be a big game for Justin Forsett. There’s no real strong matchup for the Ravens receivers, but in a favorable overall matchup Steve Smith Sr. probably gets some extra juice in our rankings this week. Joe Flacco is a tournament-only play in DFS and a desperation start in season-long despite the excellent matchup. On the Chargers side, we’re starting Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen no matter what, but the matchups indicate they could be even better than usual. It’s also a good spot for the No. 2 wide receiver. Steve Johnson got eight targets last week, if he gets that this week I suspect he’ll put up a performance that could win a couple fantasy weeks. The Ravens have also allowed 50.2 yards receiving per game to opposing runnings, making Danny Woodhead, once again, a player we must consider starting. This game has the second-highest over/under of the week, so there should be extra fantasy points to go around.
Green Bay Packers (-3) at Denver Broncos — The Packers are favored on the road against the best defense (first against the pass, sixth against the run, according to DVOA) in the NFL so far this season. You’re not going to bench Aaron Rodgers or Randall Cobb, but you may want to consider looking for upside from your flex spot or WR3 this week. DVOA says the Packers have been fifth-most effective in the NFL against the pass, however they’ve given up massive numbers to opposing WR1s (85.2 yards per game) and TEs (64.1). One of those numbers will break this week. Although Peyton Manning has been less than spectacular this season, it may be a good spot for Demaryius Thomas and Owen Daniels, but they’ll probably only be tournament plays for me in daily fantasy.
Teams with a higher projected score should also have higher projected fantasy points, so it doesn’t hurt to see which teams are expected to go bananas and which ones are supposed to drop an egg. The full chart is below.
Only one team is over the 28-point mark — New England — and another — Atlanta — is close. Which means Las Vegas doesn’t expect a ton of 4-touchdown games. San Francisco’s total, 15.5 points, means I’ll have to be desperate to roster a 49er this week.
Above we covered all of the teams on the highest-scoring list down to the eighth spot, where the Arizona Cardinals sit with 25.25 points. The big matchup against the Browns is the run game, where Cleveland is the worst in the NFL. They’re also bad at stopping receiving running backs, so all three of the Arizona backs could be in play. I feel like Chris Johnson is the safest bet of the three. David Johnson probably has the most upside. Andre Ellington feels too risky.
The next team on the list is the Houston Texans who, without Arian Foster, should throw even more than they already have been this season. But that might not work too well against a Titans defense that has been excellent against the pass and all receiver types, according to Football Outsiders.They are the third-worst team against the run which means Alfred Blue and Chris Polk could be nice sleepers this week. They’ll pair nicely with the Texans defense. The Titans have allowed the most points to opposing fantasy defenses this season.
|New England Patriots||29.5|
|Kansas City Chiefs||26.25|
|New Orleans Saints||26|
|Green Bay Packers||24.25|
|St. Louis Rams||24|
|San Diego Chargers||23.75|
|New York Jets||23.5|
|New York Giants||23|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||20.75|
|San Francisco 49ers||15.5|