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 15 of the 2015 NFL season.
Projected scores/matchups/Las Vegas | Game day weather | Waiver wire
Daily fantasy: Draft Kings values | FanDuel values
Projected scores for Week 15
|Mon Dec 21||Detroit Lions||24||New Orleans Saints||27||8:30 PM||51|
|Sun Dec 20||Arizona Cardinals||27||Philadelphia Eagles||23.5||1:00 PM||50.5|
|Sun Dec 20||Atlanta Falcons||23||Jacksonville Jaguars||26||1:00 PM||49|
|Sun Dec 20||Carolina Panthers||26.75||New York Giants||21.25||1:00 PM||48|
|Sun Dec 20||Tennessee Titans||16.5||New England Patriots||30.5||1:00 PM||47|
|Sun Dec 20||Green Bay Packers||24.75||Oakland Raiders||21.75||4:05 PM||46.5|
|Sun Dec 20||Miami Dolphins||22||San Diego Chargers||23.5||4:25 PM||45.5|
|Sun Dec 20||Denver Broncos||19.25||Pittsburgh Steelers||25.25||4:25 PM||44.5|
|Sun Dec 20||Buffalo Bills||22.5||Washington Redskins||21.5||1:00 PM||44|
|Sun Dec 20||Chicago Bears||18.75||Minnesota Vikings||24.25||1:00 PM||43|
|Sun Dec 20||Cleveland Browns||14.25||Seattle Seahawks||28.75||4:05 PM||43|
|Sat Dec 19||New York Jets||22.5||Dallas Cowboys||19.5||8:25 PM||42|
|Sun Dec 20||Kansas City Chiefs||24.5||Baltimore Ravens||17||1:00 PM||41.5|
|Thu Dec 17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19.75||St. Louis Rams||21.25||8:25 PM||41|
|Sun Dec 20||Cincinnati Bengals||22.5||San Francisco 49ers||18||8:30 PM||40.5|
|Sun Dec 20||Houston Texans||0||Indianapolis Colts||0||1:00 PM|
Games are listed from Las Vegas-implied highest- to lowest-scoring based on over/unders. No teams on bye.
The one glaring thing on this list is the zeroes across the board for the Texans at Colts game. Forgive the statisticians. Brian Hoyer and Andrew Luck are doubtful, T.J. Yates and Matt Hasselbeck are probable. Until there’s more clarity in those situations it’s a bad idea to try to figure out what’s going to happen. Both teams are among the fastest-paced in the NFL, so if Luck and/or Hoyer improve enough to be questionable or better, this could come in with a pretty big total.
We have three games with a projected combined total of 49 points or more. That’s seven+ touchdowns expected in three games. We’ll want to focus on them for our daily fantasy lineups. We also have three games with totals under 42 points, which means less than six touchdowns. We’ll want to void many players in these games, especially in daily fantasy tournaments, because the upside might not be there.
We have two teams that are massive favorites — the Patriots at home against the Titans and the Seahawks at home against the Browns. Stack running backs and team defenses — and in the case of the Seahawks, receiver/returner Tyler Lockett from teams with that kind of an expected lead. We also should consider the garbage time factor from both opposing offenses.
There’s only one game with a 1-point spread, the Bills favored on the road in Washington.
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, again, especially at home. Meanwhile, in games that are expected to be close means we can expect the game script to follow suit. Top talents and matchups should be in full effect.
We use composite odds and over/unders from Vegas Insider to generate the projected scores. I will reference Defense-adjusted Value Over Average a lot, it is a Football Outsiders’ metric which can be a better predictor of future success than fantasy points allowed. All team rankings and yards allowed to receivers are referenced from Football Outsiders’ Defense Efficiency page. This is one of our first features of the week, so keep an eye out for late injuries and lineup changes.
Blowouts (7 points or more)
Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks (-14.5) — Seattle is most susceptible to tight ends, which bodes well for a potential connection between quarterback Johnny Manziel and tight end Gary Barnidge in garbage time. Other than that, you don’t want to mess with too many Browns against the Seahawks in Seattle. On the other sideline, all Seahawks are on deck against a Browns defense that ranks 28th in pass DVOA and 29th in run DVOA. Thomas Rawls is on injured reserve, the Seahawks released DuJuan Harris after his disappointment last week. Bryce Brown is the likely starter. He has shown flashes of brilliance and fumblitis in the past. At this point we can’t bench Russell Wilson or Doug Baldwin, even though they could be wearing baseball caps by halftime.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-14) — The Patriots have one of the five highest paces in the NFL, which means they and their opponents get through a few more plays than the average team. Even though the Titans have one of the slowest paces in the NFL, NE’s pace and the potential blowout bode well for Titans QB Marcus Mariota, who we expect to get plenty of garbage opportunities late. The once concern is the Patriots defense and Bill Belichick, who has proven capable of taking away a teams best weapon. Is that Mariota’s running ability or Delanie Walker‘s catching ability? The Patriots have given up more than 67 yards per game to slot/bench receivers, the second-highest average in the NFL. I’d like to think that means a garbage-time TD for Dorial Green-Beckham. The Titans are middle-of-the-road against the pass, but far more susceptible to the run. That said, there’s no way Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola stop passing and hand it over to Brandon Bolden until the game is well in hand.
Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) at Baltimore Ravens — Road favorites are usually targets for upsets. However, in this case, the Chiefs would probably be 14+ favorites at home agains the same Ravens. While Baltimore hasn’t given up many fantasy points to running backs or receivers over the last six weeks, they got tore up last week by Seattle. DVOA has the Ravens in the middle against the run, but 26th against the pass, which may mean a little extra work for Alex Smith and his favorite targets, Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett made it pretty obvious last week, that Maclin is the top choice if you’re splitting hairs. The Chiefs have a stout defense against both the run and the pass, however, they are the only team in the NFL to allow an average of more than 100 yards (101.8) to No. 1 wide receivers. That means we could see Kamar Aiken — who has been a target machine — find some extra room to make plays, potentially in a garbage-time situation. I’m also going to point out Jeremy Butler as a potential daily fantasy sleeper this week. With Jimmy Clausen at quarterback last week, Butler had 10 targets to Aiken’s 7, and finished with seven catches for 72 yards. Sometimes quarterbacks have favorite receivers.
Close games (3 points or less)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams (-1.5) — Tampa Bay has the second best run defense in the NFL, according to DVOA. That means it may be a tough road for Todd Gurley and we may see more Benny Cunningham than we might like. The Rams, meanwhile, are not a huge threat to pass, so their best bet is to keep the game close, meaning they need to hand off to Gurley a lot and rely on their defense, which ranks sixth and 8th against the pass and run respectively. The one really big matchup in this one is St. Louis’ 62.8 yards allowed per game to tight ends. Jameis Winston throws a lot of targets at his tight ends, and after last week’s disappointment from Austin Seferian-Jenkins, he should be owned by nobody but might provide a huge profit on his price in tournaments.
New York Jets (-3) at Dallas Cowboys — The Jets and Cowboys each rank in the bottom half of the NFL in pace, which means we might see a plodding game featuring steady doses of Chris Ivory and Darren McFadden. Of course, it’s going to be a little easier for Ivory against the No. 26 Cowboys run defense than it is for McFadden against the No. 1 Jets run D. Dallas has been stubborn against wide receivers, but they’ve allowed an average of 80+ yards to No. 1 wide receivers, which means Brandon Marshall, who’s been scorching hot of late, might keep soaring. I had Ryan Fitzpatrick as my QB in daily fantasy cash games last week. I’m not sure I can trust him with that role this week, but with his elite receivers he’ll be a tournament option.
Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) — The Jaguars are one of the fastest paced teams in the NFL, if they can put the pressure on, I could see this one into a turnout that changes fantasy championship fortunes this week. The Jaguars have the 31st-ranked pass defense and the Falcons have the 22nd ranked. The usual suspects are all in play here — Matt Ryan, Blake Bortles, Julio Jones, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns. Neither team is particularly good at stopping tight ends, which means Jacob Tamme and Julius Thomas both could provide some fantasy goodness. The Falcons also allow 62.1 receiving yards per game to running backs, the most in the NFL, that’s and the Falcons 21st-ranked run defense should make Denard Robinson one of the top cash game plays of the week in daily fantasy football.
Buffalo Bills (-1) at Washington Redskins — Buffalo and Washington rank 24th and 30th respectively in pace, so this one could be a plodder like that Jets game. Buffalo ranks 30th in run defense DVOA, which means it may be a great spot for Alfred Morris and/or Matt Jones. Hopefully it’s Jones. I’d like to see him get a chance to open it up as the lead back. The Redskins, meanwhile, are considerably worse against the pass, which means that Tyrod Taylor to Sammy Watkins thing is back on the table. Washington is one of only six teams in the NFL allowing 60+ yards to No. 2 wide receivers. Check out our waiver wire article to find out why we should consider Robert Woods a pivot play off Watkins in tournaments, especially with this matchup.
Green Bay Packers (-3) at Oakland Raiders — Oakland is notoriously bad against No. 1 receives and tight ends, making Randall Cobb and Richard Rodgers interesting plays this week. We haven’t had much reason to trust Cobb this season, which means almost nobody is going to start him, however he’s worth daily fantasy lottery ticket against a defense that allows 95.6 yards per game to the oppositions top WR. It’s bit of a road trip for the Pack, but I’ll still have a quarter arcade with Aaron Rodgers and those two stacked together. Oakland also has a 22nd-ranked rush defense, which should give a rejuvenated Eddie Lacy some extra juice this week. Green Bay allows 67.2 yards per game to opposing tight ends, fourth-most in the NFL, which could mean extra work for Clive Walford and/or Mychal Rivera. We can’t trust Amari Cooper and Derek Carr in daily fantasy cash games at this point, but both of these teams rank relatively high in pace, so this could score a little higher than anticipated, which makes them tournament plays.
Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers (-1.5) — I’m putting together a formula that will determine the games with the fastest pace each week in an attempt to better predict high-scoring games and shootouts. This game would score best this week by a large margin. The Dolphins rank 12th in pace and the Chargers rank seventh. Neither team can stop the pass. So, I like Philip Rivers and Ryan Tannehill this week. Jarvis Landry is always in play in PPR. Jordan Cameron provides and interesting play. He’s been invisible and, therefore, won’t be owned by many players, but gets a San Diego defense that allows the fifth-most (66.2) yards per game to tight ends in the NFL. San Diego ranks second to last in the NFL at defending the run, which also means Lamar Miller could be in for a big game. A Dolphins stack may be in my future. Of course, I also like Rivers and company against a Dolphins team that has allowed four 100-yard games with two touchdowns to opposing receivers since week 7. That sounds like a Malcom Floyd line, doesn’t it? He had nine targets last week, but he’s pretty hobbled. Maybe Vincent Brown? Our hope is that Steve Johnson is healthy in time for the game.
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-3) — The Saints have the worst defense in the NFL, particularly against No. 1 receivers and tight ends in the pass game. Calvin Johnson had just one catch for 16 yards last week. That’s going to scare some people away. Take advantage. Matthew Stafford, obviously is in play, and despite not having as great a matchup, we should consider Golden Tate. Eric Ebron is the top Lions tight end — especially with Brandon Pettigrew‘s season over — but he’s been so bad even in great matchups, I can’t recommend him. The Saints and the Drew Brees-led passing attack are much better at home. Detroit allows 63.1 yards per game to tight ends, one of the higher totals in the NFL, which means it could be a Ben Watson game. The Lions haven’t allowed a 100-yard game to a wide receiver since Week 7, but they gave up 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to Todd Gurley last week on just 16 carries. Tim Hightower‘s fresh legs should get plenty of work
Highest projected team totals
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 Arizona Cardinals are the first team that stands out. They are tied with the Saints for the third-highest total of the week. They continue to prove they are matchup proof. This week, that’s not a problem against an Eagles secondary that should pose almost no threat to their success. The Cardinals have on of the slowest paces in the NFL, but the Eagles have the fastest by almost 10 second over the slowest. That should mean extra work for the Arizona offense. The Eagles allow 91.7 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers and have the 20th-ranked run defense. I would put Carson Palmer all of the Cardinals’ big three receivers in play — Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd — and that rushing line also makes me think it’ll be a decent game for David Johnson.
Carolina Panthers — I’m a little surprised this number isn’t bigger for the Panthers. The Giants can’t stop the tight end. TE Greg Olsen is Cam Newton‘s favorite target. They also aren’t particularly good against No. 1 wide receivers and gave up a combined 20 catches, 232 yards and a touchdown on 25 targets to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker two weeks ago. Let’s call Ted Ginn Jr. in play. The Giants will try to get Odell Beckham Jr. opportunities, but his ceiling may be limited by Josh Norman. This will be one of the top matchups of the week.
Pittsburgh Steelers — Last week’s 33 points all went to DeAngelo Williams and the Steelers defense. That less-than-stellar performance could push a lot of people off one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL. It’s a tough spot against Denver, but Antonio Brown is usually matchup proof and Martavis Bryant is a huge mismatch for most defensive backs. Meanwhile, Heath Miller — a potential PPR monster — should run open against a defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in the last three weeks.
|New England Patriots||30.5|
|New Orleans Saints||27|
|Green Bay Packers||24.75|
|Kansas City Chiefs||24.5|
|San Diego Chargers||23.5|
|New York Jets||22.5|
|New York Giants||21.25|
|St. Louis Rams||21.25|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19.75|
|San Francisco 49ers||18|