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 9 of the 2015 NFL season.
Week 9 projected scores based on Las Vegas odds
|Sun Nov 8||Washington Redskins||19||New England Patriots||33||1:00 PM||52|
|Mon Nov 9||Chicago Bears||22.5||San Diego Chargers||26.5||8:30 PM||49|
|Sun Nov 8||Oakland Raiders||21.75||Pittsburgh Steelers||26.25||1:00 PM||48|
|Sun Nov 8||New York Giants||25.25||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22.75||4:05 PM||48|
|Sun Nov 8||Tennessee Titans||19.75||New Orleans Saints||27.75||1:00 PM||47.5|
|Sun Nov 8||Green Bay Packers||24.5||Carolina Panthers||22||1:00 PM||46.5|
|Thu Nov 5||Cleveland Browns||17.25||Cincinnati Bengals||28.25||8:25 PM||45.5|
|Sun Nov 8||Atlanta Falcons||26||San Francisco 49ers||19||4:05 PM||45|
|Sun Nov 8||Denver Broncos||25||Indianapolis Colts||20||4:25 PM||45|
|Sun Nov 8||Philadelphia Eagles||23.5||Dallas Cowboys||21||8:30 PM||44.5|
|Sun Nov 8||Miami Dolphins||20.5||Buffalo Bills||23.5||1:00 PM||44|
|Sun Nov 8||Jacksonville Jaguars||18.75||New York Jets||21.25||1:00 PM||40|
|Sun Nov 8||St. Louis Rams||18.5||Minnesota Vikings||21||1:00 PM||39.5|
Teams on bye: Cardinals, Ravens, Lions, Texans, Chiefs, Seahawks
As I said in the waiver wire post. There are a pile of injuries to overcome and six teams are on bye this week. This week’s projected scores, and the best matchups in the best games can rescue you from despair.
The Washington-New England game has the highest over/under of the week at 52 and the biggest point spread, Patriots favored by 14. It’s no surprise the Patriots also have the top score this week, playing at home. The St. Louis Rams-Minnesota Vikings matchups has the lowest over/under of the week. The Vikings are favored by 2.5 at home, tied with four other teams with those 2.5 odds as the lowest of the week.
Let’s get into the blowouts and close games.
As always, remember a team expected to have a big lead, especially playing at home, usually represents a great matchup for its running back and defense. Quarterbacks and receivers on the losing end of a blowout are prime candidates for garbage time. Meanwhile, games that are expected to be close means we shouldn’t need to worry about the game script as much. Talents and matchups should be in full effect.
Washington Redskins at New England Patriots (-14) — Giving two touchdowns in an NFL game is almost absurd, but it’s warranted here. The Redskins are 22nd against the pass and 23rd against the run. Yowza. Tom Brady and company should have a field day. New England is a top-10 defense against the pass, but a Kirk Cousins–Jordan Reed stack in daily fantasy tournaments isn’t out of the question. Reed puts up monster numbers, especially with Cousins at QB. The Patriots, despite their overall performance have given up some big yards to No. 2 and slot/bench receivers this year. The Redskins have given up the fourth-most yards to No. 2 WRs this season. If Brandon LaFell continues to get fed targets he could have a monster game this week.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-11) — Tonight’s game is also projected to be a substantial blowout. The Bengals are projected to score the second-most points in the league this week (28.25) and the Browns are projected to score the least (17.25). The Browns poor play against running backs should be in the spotlight tonight. They are 29th in the NFL against the run and are one of the worst teams at defending receiving running backs. Playing both Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill seems like poor value. But considering how much they are expected to score and how much they are expected to be ahead by, Hill has to be considered. And considering how involved Bernard is in the passing game, we also have to consider him too. The Browns are least effective against slot/bench wide receivers but have been decent against No. 1 receivers and tight ends. Mohamed Sanu has the most targets, receptions and yards out of that corps, so it could be a Sanu game. I would argue Johnny Manziel is a daily fantasy tournament play this week. Just hear me out. He’s going to be low-owned. He had serviceable games when he started the season, turning Travis Benjamin into one of early-2015’s stars. That was before Gary Barnidge emerged as the No. 2 tight end in fantasy football and before Duke Johnson Jr. put up five consecutive weeks of 8.6 or more PPR fantasy points. Meanwhile, the Bengals have allowed 67.3 yards per game to tight ends, fifth-most in the NFL, and 56 receiving yards per game to running backs, also fifth-most. It’s a risky play, sure, but there are several compelling reasons to at least consider a Manziel lineup this week beyond his backup-level price across the industry.
Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints (-8) — After last week, everyone and their brother is going to have Drew Brees in a lineup, especially with the third-highest projected score of the week. Count me in. He was just too good and his weapons were too good. I realize the Giants aren’t great and the game script went completely off the rails, but there is a lot of talent in New Orleans. Here are some of the top matchups to consider. Tennessee is fifth-most effective against the pass but 30th against the run. Considering Khiry Robinson broke his leg and this is one of those RBs-with-a-big-lead-at-home situations, Mark Ingram might end up being a must-play in cash games this week. While the Titans have stifled most receiver types, they’ve been mediocre against slot/bench receivers and tight ends. Ben Watson, of course, has had quite a resurgence this season. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get a pile of targets. It’s also worth noting that Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks, New Orleans top receivers, are slot types — small, quick and fast — which means either or both could find room to break free. The Titans get to face the worst team in the NFL against the pass who also happens to be 22nd against the run. It’ll be interesting to see if Marcus Mariota can take advantage of the spot. That Week 1 performance is a distant memory. The Saints have given up 89.2 yards to No. 1 wide receivers, fifth-most in the NFL, and 70.1 yards to tight ends, third-most — hello,
Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker. They’ve slowed down No. 2 receivers but their 63.8 yards allowed to slot/bench receivers is sixth-most in the NFL, which means we might see that Dorial Green-Beckham breakout we’ve been anticipating. [Just got a tweet from Rotoworld, Wright is OUT this week. IF DGB is going to pop, this is probably the week. Justin Hunter‘s there too, but there’s no way I’m going to start him.]
Atlanta Falcons (-7) at San Francisco 49ers — Our last blowout game has the Falcons favored by seven and projected to score the sixth-most points this week. San Francisco is the second-worst team in the NFL against the pass and fourth-worst against the run. That means all Falcons are in play here. Devonta Freeman should close out the game running down the clock. The 49ers have also allowed 48.8 yards receiving per game to running backs, another plus for Freeman. They’ve also allowed 100.2 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers, the most in the NFL and the only total over 100. That means we do what we must to get Julio Jones in our cash game lineups this week. Atlanta’s defense is middle-of-the-pack and San Francisco is a mess, but with Colin Kaepernick‘s benching we get a once highly touted prospect, Blaine Gabbert, getting at least a spot start. That’s one of those situations we always need to consider in daily fantasy. Unfortunately, Gabbert’s weapons are depleted and the only positions that have broken through agains the Falcons this season are at tight end — it would have been interesting to consider a sneaky Gabbert-Vernon Davis stack this week, but Davis is probably going to catch 10 TDs with the Broncos the rest of the way — and the receiving running back. Reggie Bush suffered a serious injury last week, Carlos Hyde is a game-time decision and the team cut Jerred Hayne. Mike Davis might get the start. He has 24 yards on 25 carries this season. This 49ers team is no train wreck, it’s a mass extinction event.
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers — Both Green Bay and Carolina have been stout against the pass this season, but the Packers have been susceptible on the ground. I think Jonathan Stewart is a bad play typically, but he might provide decent value in this matchup. Despite their overall ranking, the Packers have given up the second-most receiving yards to wide receivers are tied for the most allowed to tight ends. That could mean great things for Greg Olsen, Cam Newton‘s favorite target, and Ted Ginn Jr. Considering the running defense deficit, we also need to expect a Newton rushing touchdown this week, so he should be one of our top options at QB. The Packers had a tough matchup last week, but it’s pretty apparent this offense just isn’t quite as good without Jordy Nelson. They face a shut-down corner in Josh Norman. The Panthers have been beaten by slot/bench receivers and receiving running backs. An Aaron Rodgers–Ty Montgomery (if he plays) stack could be a sneaky play in a tournament. Eddie Lacy is below his career pace in receptions through seven games. Remember, he caught 42 passes and had four receiving touchdowns last season.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-2.5) — Ryan Fitzpatrick (thumb) is expected to start and Chris Ivory‘s hamstring is healthy, so this could be a surprising spot for the Jets offense. This game does have the second-lowest over/under of the week. The Jaguars haven’t given up much in the running game, but they are fourth-worst against the pass this season, according to DVOA. They’ve been burned by No. 1 wide receivers, tight ends and receiving running backs. That means big things for Brandon Marshall, especially if Fitzpatrick plays. Jeff Cumberland isn’t recommended, but we were saying that about Barnidge against the Raiders a few weeks ago.
St. Louis Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) — As we said above, this game has the lowest over/under of the week. The Rams defense has been beastly this season. About the only matchup worth noting in the Vikings favor is running back receiving yards. You weren’t going to bench Adrian Peterson despite the tough rushing matchup, but he should be able to even out some of the bad carries with a few nice catches. On the Rams side, this looks like another stellar matchup for Todd Gurley. The Vikings are seventh-worst in the NFL against the run, according to DVOA. They’ve also been ineffective against No. 1 wide receivers and tight ends. Tavon Austin is probably the only other piece of this St. Louis offense I would consider. Considering the WR1 and rushing matchups, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got in the end zone on the ground or through the air or both, again, this week.
New York Giants (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Tampa Bay is third-worst in the NFL against the pass, according to DVOA, and this week they have to face a quarterback who scored like he was playing NFL Blitz against Brees last week. Eli Manning is in play. Tampa Bay has been trashed by No. 1 wide receivers and slot and bench receivers. “Yeah, you can go Dwayne Harris if you want. I want all the Eli-Odell Beckham Jr.,” says everyone this week. Meanwhile, the Giants haven’t been particularly effective against the pass either. Jameis Winston has shown flashes. He could be an interesting daily fantasy play this week. The Giants have not been able to shut down any receiver type this season, but they are becoming notoriously bad for their inability to cover tight ends. I hate to type his name against because he just can’t get on the field, but here it is: Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Bucs receiving crew is licking its wounds, but considering the Giants can’t stop anything, this could be a great spot for Mike Evans. This game is tied for the third-highest over/under of the week, so Las Vegas expects both sides to put up some points.
Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) at Dallas Cowboys — This game has our fourth-lowest over/under of the week. DVOA says the Eagles defense has been effective against both the pass and the run. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have been mediocre against both. The receiving matchups reveal a bit more. The Eagles have allowed the third-most receiving yards to No. 1 wide receivers and they face one of the best in the game, Dez Bryant, this week. They’ve also allowed well above average to WR2s, which means Terrence Williams might find room to run. If we like both of them, maybe we have to consider (cringe) Matt Cassel in a DFS tournament? Dallas represents a good opportunity for receiving running backs. Both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews fit that description.
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.
We’ve covered most of the big spots on this list already, but there are a couple we need to discuss.
The San Diego Chargers are expected to score the fourth-most points this week. They have no running game to speak of — even last week as pieces of the passing offense dropped like flies, Philip Rivers kept chucking. This week he gets to play at home against the Chicago Bears. The Bears defense has been bad, especially against the run, but they also rank 22nd against the pass. That means we should expect another potential whopper for Rivers. Despite the ranking, the Bears have been good against all receiver types except No. 2s, which means Malcom Floyd or Steve Johnson — in Keenan Allen‘s (IR) absence — could have monster games, but maybe not both of them. Of course, regardless of matchup, Antonio Gates has to be in play. He’s used too much around the goal line.
Another notable omission from the above discussion is the Pittsburgh Steelers coming in with the fifth-highest total. Ben Roethlisberger is back and as expected Antonio Brown returned to his All-Pro ways. This week Roethlisberger, Brown, Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller get to face the Raiders who are green across the board on my receiver matchup chart. That means they haven’t been able to stop anything. If you have a Steeler, get them in your lineup. The Raiders are fifth-most effective against the run, according to DVOA, so maybe we shouldn’t expect an epic game from DeAngelo Williams, but he should be able to make up for any poor carries with some receptions for those of you who picked him up as a Le’Veon Bell injury replacement.
Finally, let’s talk about the Denver Broncos. I don’t know what to think about that backfield. C.J. Anderson, apparently, looked great. Ronnie Hillman is now the starter. The Colts are worse against the run than the pass, but don’t offer a great overall advantage either way according to DVOA. However, a closer look at the receiving chart reveals that Indy is being torched by WR1s, WR2s and tight ends. That means Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Vernon Davis, in his Broncos debut, are all in play. And if we’re going to put them on the table, we have to dig Peyton Manning out of our deck and put him in play too.
|New England Patriots||33|
|New Orleans Saints||27.75|
|San Diego Chargers||26.5|
|New York Giants||25.25|
|Green Bay Packers||24.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22.75|
|New York Jets||21.25|
|San Francisco 49ers||19|
|St. Louis Rams||18.5|