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 7 of the 2015 NFL season.
Week 7 projected scores based on Las Vegas odds
|Thu Oct 22||Seattle Seahawks||24.25||San Francisco 49ers||17.75||8:25 PM||42|
|Sun Oct 25||Buffalo Bills||23.75||Jacksonville Jaguars||18.25||9:30 AM||42|
|Atlanta Falcons||26.25||Tennessee Titans||21.75||1:00 PM||48|
|Cleveland Browns||18.25||St. Louis Rams||23.75||1:00 PM||42|
|Houston Texans||20||Miami Dolphins||24.5||1:00 PM||44.5|
|Minnesota Vikings||23.5||Detroit Lions||21||1:00 PM||44.5|
|New Orleans Saints||23.75||Indianapolis Colts||28.25||1:00 PM||52|
|New York Jets||19.5||New England Patriots||28.5||1:00 PM||48|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||23.75||Kansas City Chiefs||21.75||1:00 PM||45.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||20||Washington Redskins||23||1:00 PM||43|
|Oakland Raiders||21.5||San Diego Chargers||25.5||4:05 PM||47|
|Dallas Cowboys||21||New York Giants||24.5||4:25 PM||45.5|
|Philadelphia Eagles||21.75||Carolina Panthers||24.75||8:30 PM||46.5|
|Mon Oct 26||Baltimore Ravens||20.5||Arizona Cardinals||28||8:30 PM||48.5|
Teams on bye: Bears, Bengals, Broncos, Packers
It’s important to remember we have our second and final London game this week. The Bills face the Jaguars in Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. eastern, so make your decisions on those players early and tweak the rest of your lineup closer to the start of the full slate.
It’s also important for me to point out that the Steelers-Chiefs numbers are inaccurate, rather they’re my best guess. The current odds are the Steelers favored by two with no over/under. I used the average (45.6 rounded to 45.5) from this week. The sportsbooks are probably waiting for some clarity on Ben Roethlisberger‘s and Jeremy Maclin‘s statuses. Both of those players could have a huge impact on the odds.
As I mentioned a few words ago, the average over/under is 45.6, which is our highest average in four weeks. Our average odds, -1.7, are sandwiched between our most recent numbers — .8 last week week and 2.4 the week before.
So we can expect relatively close games and slightly more scoring this week if the early odds are any indication.
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-9) — New England, at home, favored by almost 10 with the third-highest over/under of the week. The really interesting part of this though is that the Jets defense has been the most effective in the NFL against the pass and second-most effective against the run. The one weakness is they’ve allowed 83 yards per game to No. 3/bench wide receivers. The Patriots will scheme to take advantage of that weakness. I wouldn’t be surprised if Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola or Dion Lewis has a massive game for the Patriots. Bill Belichick keeps opposing defenses and fantasy owners guessing. Of course, you are going to start angry Tom Brady. We’ll dig a little deeper into this as the week moves along. New England has been fourth-least effective against the run this season, which makes Chris Ivory, fresh off a nearly 200-yard game, an interesting consideration even if he could be limited by the game script.
Baltimore Ravens at Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) — The Ravens are a sieve against WR1s, WR2s and receiving RBs. They’re also not particularly effective against WR3/bench receivers. The Cardinals, of course, have a high-octane passing offense averageing 284.2 yards per game with 14 TDs. They are led by Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown. Meanwhile, Arizona’s defense is third-best against the run and seventh-best against the pass, which means Baltimore may have a tough time keeping up. The fate of your fantasy team could be in the hands of a three-headed RB committee as the Cardinals run out the clock late in front of the home crowd.
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) at San Francisco 49ers — Only two teams are favored to win by more than a touchdown this week. The Seahawks-49ers game is next in line. If this game was in Seattle it would probably be above the 7-point threshold. However, the Seahawks are 2-4 this season. Their defense has been middle-of-the-pack, according to DVOA. They have been pretty shut-down on WR1s and Wr2s. Their big weakness is facing tight ends. San Francisco’s Garrett Celek is third on the team in targets (21) and yards (131), tied for second in receptions (14) and has caught one of Colin Kaepernick‘s six TD passes. The 49ers have one of the weakest defenses in the NFL so the Seahawks will likely be able to win in many ways. They are, of course, most likely to lean on Marshawn Lynch and maybe Jimmy Graham continues to get opportunities. A running quarterback like Russell Wilson also has to be a strong consideration against a defense this weak. San Francisco has given up 113.4 yards per game to No. 1 WRs, the most in the NFL. Your guess is as good as mine about which SEA WR to start though.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) at Kansas City Chiefs — Like I said in the intro, this line is incomplete. If Roethlisberger or Maclin play it changes quite a bit. In the meantime, let’s discuss what we can. Landry Jones will start if Roethlisberger can’t. He was Pittsburgh’s hero last week, but I’m not sure that’s sustainable. Martavis Bryant, however, is sustainable. His presence may also open up the field and make Antonio Brown relevant again even if Roethlisberger doesn’t play. The Chiefs are a top-10 defense against the run but an absolute disaster against the pass — giving up chunks of yards to No. 2 and No. 3 receivers while being mediocre against No. 1s. If we have any sort of hope for those two guys, we have to consider Jones as a what-the-heck play in two-QB leagues and in daily fantasy tournaments. As we saw last week, we need to lower expectations for Le’Veon Bell until Big Ben’s return. The Steelers have been tough against the run — not that you’re going to start Charcandrick West or Knile Davis after last week anyway — but have been susceptible to opposing tight ends in the passing game. Travis Kelce is the one piece of the Chiefs offense I’d consider starting this week, especially if Maclin doesn’t play.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Detroit Lions — Neither of these teams is particularly good at stopping the run, but the Detroit Lions have been fourth-worst in the NFL against the pass. So, it’s definitely an Adrian Peterson day and might also be a sneaky week to play Teddy Bridgewater if you have Aaron Rodgers or Andy Dalton on bye. Stefon Diggs should also be in play, especially if Charles Johnson‘s ribs keep him out another week. The Vikings have been middle-of-the-road against the pass, but the receiving chart indicates we should expect another big game from Calvin Johnson and maybe from Eric Ebron. Minnesota has allowed 82 yards per game to No. 1 receivers and 61 yards per game to tight ends.
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.
It should be no surprise to see the Patriots and Cardinals at the top after our blowouts discussion above, however, the Colts score is one worth noting. The sportsbooks expect the Andrew Luck-led Colts to beat the Drew Brees-led Saints in the highest-scoring game of the week (52-point over/under).
The scores say the Colts will score four touchdowns and the Saints will score three touchdowns. Both teams give up a lot through the air, which likely means big games for Brees, Luck, Willie Snead, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Brandin Cooks. The Saints have allowed 77.7 yards per game to opposing tight ends, third-most in the NFL, so this could also be a week to ponder the Coby Fleener–Dwayne Allen situation.
Tennessee hasn’t really been tested by No. 1 wide receivers this season, likely because they’ve been gashed by opposing running games. But DVOA suggests the Titans are ineffective against WR1s. So, that makes Devonta Freeman a must-play and Julio Jones a sneaky great start this week in daily fantasy where his ownership will probably be low. He’s combined for just nine catches, 105 yards and no touchdowns in the last two weeks despite 16 targets.
Oakland is allowing 299.2 passing yards per game and Philip Rivers‘ San Diego Chargers are throwing for 346.3 yards per game. Talk about a perfect storm. No wonder Las Vegas thinks SD will be the fifth-highest scoring team this week. On top of that, the Raiders have allowed 79.1 yards per game to the tight end, most in the NFL. They face the unenhanced but rejuvenated Antonio Gates this week. Derek Carr-to-Amari Cooper may go overlooked this week too. The Chargers have been very effective against opposing passing games, but the Raiders could get a garbage time bonus this week.
|New England Patriots||28.5|
|San Diego Chargers||25.5|
|New York Giants||24.5|
|New Orleans Saints||23.75|
|St. Louis Rams||23.75|
|Kansas City Chiefs||21.75|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||20|
|New York Jets||19.5|
|San Francisco 49ers||17.75|