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Week 1: Vegas vs. Fantasy

Using Vegas' odds, lines and spreads, Fantasy Football Expert Armando Marsal gets a feel for how Week 1 matchups might pan out. It's not a perfect science; however, it illustrates trends generated by some of the world's best handicappers.

It was not until I began playing DFS that I started using Vegas lines as part of my research and determining factor when setting up my lineups. These lines can provide so much information each week. It gives you an idea of the potential game flow we could expect. High totals and close spreads, usually indicates a potential shootout. Whereas, a low total with a low spread is a game that is not expected to have a lot of fantasy goodness aside from the defenses. These lines are set by math wizards and some of the best handicappers in the world. They spend countless hours studying patterns, teams, and situations. For those who are not familiar, spreads are the amount of points a team is expected to win or lose by. The point total is the amount of points both teams combined are projected to score.

My goal each week is to look through the lines and point out which offenses you should be targeting and which defenses are in good situations. The chart below shows the three games this week with the highest point totals. I included where it opened and the current live line. This can give you an idea of where the public is putting their money on. Generally if the total opens at one number and it begins to rise, the public is betting the over and vice versa.

Game  Open O/U Live O/U Movement
Colts vs. Lions 49 51.5 2.5
Saints vs. Raiders 50 51 1
Steelers vs. Redskins 50.5 50 -.5

The Detroit Lions head to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in what should be a high-scoring affair. The Colts are currently favored by 3.5 points. This is not a significant spread as the home team usually has a three-point advantage in the spread. What does stand out to me is that the implied total line has moved +2.5 points. This high total should not come as a surprise to anyone as neither of these teams have strong defenses, and both have explosive offenses. This is a game where both of the quarterbacks should flourish. The Lions surrendered 17 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks last season, while the Colts surrendered 17.1 fantasy points per game. Their top targets should all be in your lineups: Donte Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton, and Golden Tate. Even players such as Marvin Jones and Dwayne Allen make solid options. Also, both Frank Gore and Theo Riddick are in interesting spots. Both of the backs catch passes out of the backfield, so the potential up-tempo contest does not affect their role. The Lions were one of the worst defenses against tight ends last year. They allowed 12 touchdowns to tight ends which were tied for most in the league. Vegas suggest that both of the teams should score a little over three touchdowns, so make sure to get these players in your lineups. It is worth noting that Moncrief scored a touchdown in five of the seven games that Andrew Luck played in last year.  

The next game with the highest implied total is the Oakland Raiders versus the New Orleans Saints. This contest has a 51 point over/under and just a one point spread. The Saints have a projected team total of 26, and the Raiders have a projected team total of 25. This points to a potential shootout in the making. Both of these defenses were in the top seven as far as most passing yards per game is concerned. The Saints surrendered a league-high 45 passing touchdowns last season. The Saints defense also struggled against the run and tight ends. This is a great spot for everyone with a decent role on the Raider offense. Although the Raiders defense is expected to be better this season, this is not the week I want to test that theory out. The Saints are loaded with weapons on offense and have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. They also play better in the dome. Both of these teams offer plenty of Fantasy goodness. Each team is projected to score over three touchdowns, so all of the relevant players are in play.

The last game with at least a 50 point over/under is the Monday Night matchup between the Redskins and Steelers. Once again, Vegas thinks these teams are pretty even as the spread is only three points for the Steelers (home team). Both teams are projected to score over three touchdowns, making all of the relevant players reliable options. For the Steelers, you want to focus on Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams. We saw the offense filter through these two players a good amount last season. There is no Martavis Bryant (suspended), Le’Veon Bell (suspended), and Heath Miller (retired) around in this game, which gives me even more reason to think that both Brown and Williams will receive a heavy workload. For the Redskins, the primary target has to be Jordan Reed. He averaged 8.1 targets per game last season and accounted for nearly 25 percent of the Redskins red zone targets. The Steelers did struggle against opposing tight ends.

The next thing I want to focus on are the games with the lowest point total. This week we have two games with exactly 41 projected total points.

Game Open O/U Live O/U Movement
Titans vs. Vikings 42 41 -1
Eagles vs. Browns 45 41 -4

Although these four teams are in the games with the lowest point total, it is important to know each team’s implied point total. In this instance, two teams (Vikings and Eagles) are projected to score over three touchdowns, while the other two teams (Titans and Browns) are both projected to score fewer than three touchdowns. This would be a good situation to target a defense. The Browns have the second fewest implied point total of the slate at 18.5. They were also a team that turned the ball over 30 times last season. The only concern I have with the Eagles defense here is that they went from a seven-point favorite to a four-point favorite and that they have a rookie quarterback listed as the starter. If he struggles, as rookie quarterbacks tend to do, he can put this defense in tough spots. That being said, the Browns are still not expected to post up a high score according to Vegas.

The last thing I want to cover is the game with the biggest spread.

Game Spread
Seattle -10.5
Miami 10.5

The Seahawks are by far the biggest favorites of Week 1. They host the Dolphins in what is expected to be a very lopsided game. The Dolphins have the fewest implied point total of the week at 16.75.The Seahawks are projected to score a tad under four touchdowns. This is a good spot to target the Seahawks defense and their running backs. Once they build a lead, they can chew up the clock by feeding their back. Thomas Rawls is dealing with an ankle injury and in a game where they get a big lead, they may not force feed him. In this case, Christine Michael is poised to receive a heavy workload. On the Dolphins side of things, it's hard to have an interest in any players, but if you take the fact that they should be chasing points here, Jarvis Landry makes a lot of sense. He averaged 10.4 targets per game last season. He also played out of the slot in 70 percent of the snaps, which is where the Seahawks defense is most vulnerable.

Vegas lines are very helpful, and prop bets can be as well. You can see yardage totals, projected touchdowns, and all sorts of different lines that can help you project what a player is expected to do. Best of luck to all in Week 1.


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