Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5: Vegas Vs. Fantasy

Using Vegas' odds, lines and spreads, Fantasy Football Expert Armando Marsal gets a feel for how this week's matchups will 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 indicate a potential shootout. Whereas, a low total with a low spread is a game that is not projected 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. Let’s dive right into it.

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

Raiders vs. Chargers

52.5

50.5

-2

Steelers vs. Jets

48.5

48.5

0

Colts vs. Bears

47.5

47.5

0

For the first week this season, the Saints are not on the chart, but that is because they are on bye. Unlike in the first four weeks of the season, there is just one game with a projected total of 50 or more points this week. We have a West Coast battle with two members of the AFC West as the Raiders host the Chargers. The Raiders have an implied team total of 27 points, and the Chargers have an implied team total of 23.5 points. Both teams are projected to score more than three touchdowns. This line and projected totals make sense as neither defense has played particularly well this season.  The Raiders have allowed the most passing yards to quarterbacks and have yielded eight touchdowns. The Chargers are surrendering over 300 passing yards per game and have given up seven touchdowns. Both teams have also struggled against opposing running backs. If you look back at last season, both times these teams faced each other, no team scored fewer than 20 points. Normally a running back that is on the road, and an underdog is one that I would suggest staying away from, but Melvin Gordon remains a very solid play. This Oakland Raiders defense gives up over 100 rushing yards per game. This is a game you want exposure to in DFS. You also want to load up on players from this game in your season long leagues. There should be plenty of Fantasy goodness in this matchup. It is worth noting that the projected total has moved down two points so this is something to monitor. If it continues to move down, I will not be as bullish on this game as I initially was.

The Steelers and Jets game has the second highest projected total of the slate. However, unlike the previous game I spoke about, this one is a tad more lopsided. The Steelers have an implied point total of 27.75 points, and the Jets have an implied point total of 20.75, meaning that the Steelers are favored by a touchdown. Last week, the Steelers put on a clinic on the Chiefs. Big Ben exploded for 300 yards and five touchdowns. He now has tossed three or more touchdowns in three of his four games this season. The Steelers have the second highest implied point total of the slate, so this is an offense you want exposure to regardless of what you are playing, especially in the passing game. The Jets have been far more vulnerable against the pass this year than in years past. They are allowing over 300 passing yards per game and have given up eight touchdowns. The Jets have been tough to run on, but Le’Veon Bell is matchup proof. He plays a high percentage of the offensive snaps and is very involved in the offense. Not to mention, he is an elite running back and should be considered a lock in your lineups every week. Essentially, everyone on the Steelers offense is in play. From the Jets side of the ball, it is a little different. You see, Vegas is projecting them to be trailing in this game which means that they will likely be passing more than running the ball as they will be chasing points. With that said, you want to target receivers in this contest. Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa are both in play in this contest as they are the two most targeted receivers on this offense (assuming Eric Decker remains sidelined). Each of them should see a boost in targets due to the projected game flow. There is also merit to playing Bilal Powell as he has seen 16 targets in the last two games.

JetsInsider.com Photo

The Bears and Colts game currently has the third highest projected total of the slate at 47.5 points, and there is only a four point spread. This means that this could be a close game with a decent amount of scoring. Both teams are projected to score more than three touchdowns. The Colts have allowed opposing teams 30 or more points in three of their four games and have yet allowed fewer than 22 points in a game. Their defense has struggled to stop both the run and the pass. The Bears offense is appealing in this contest. Although they are on the road and underdogs, Jordan Howard is still under consideration in this matchup. The Colts are surrendering 157.5 total yards per game to running backs and have given up six touchdowns. Howard has been targeted ten times in the last two games. Brian Hoyer should also find success against the Colts pass defense which is allowing 284.8 passing yards per game. Hoyer has topped 300 passing yards in each of his two starts and has thrown four touchdowns passes. The receivers and tight end for the Bears are also in play. As far as the Colts side of the ball, fire them up. Although their defense has struggled, the offense has produced points all season. They are averaging 27 points per game. The Bears have allowed over 21 points in three of their four games. This game should have a lot of Fantasy production from both teams, and it is one to have a piece of.  

The next thing I want to focus on is the game with the lowest point total.

Game

Open O/U

Live O/U

Move

Vikings Vs. Texans

40

40

0

Rams vs. Bills

40

40

0

There are two games with the lowest projected point total. The Texans head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings who are playing lights out defense this season. After what I saw on Monday night, it's hard to pick an offense against the Vikings defense. Not to mention, the Texans have the lowest implied point total of the slate (17). This is a big red flag for me. Granted, it is difficult to bench players such as Lamar Miller or DeAndre Hopkins in season-long leagues, but as a Fantasy owner if you are forced to play them, temper those expectations. The Vikings offense has some Fantasy appeal to it as they are projected to score 23 points. It may sound insane, but due to them being home favorites, I think Jerick McKinnon is an excellent play. Typically you do not want a running back going up against the Texans defense, but if you look at what running backs have done against them this season, you may have a change of heart. The Texans have given up over 100 rushing yards in each of the last three games and have surrendered five rushing touchdowns this season. They will be without their top defensive player, J.J. Watt. McKinnon was able to rush for 85 yards and a touchdown last week against a stingy Giants run defense. The Rams and Bills game is one I will possibly be fading entirely. Granted, Todd Gurley and LeSean McCoy are tough to bench in season-long leagues, so I would not fault you for playing them. However, from a DFS standpoint, there is limited upside to using players from this game. The Rams are expected to score a smidge over three touchdowns, and the Bills are projected to score fewer than three touchdowns. There are far better matchups to choose from this week.

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

Game

Spread

New England Patriots

-10.5

Cleveland Browns

+10.5

Tom Brady returns from his four-game suspension and heads to Cleveland in what Vegas is expecting to be a blowout. I mean, do you blame them. This is a Patriots team that went 3-1 with no Brady and will play against the only team in the league that has yet to win a game. The Patriots have the highest projected total of the slate at 28.5 points. Everyone on their offense is in play. We could see some LeGarrette Blount action late in the game while they run the clock out with a big lead. Brady should be able to pick apart this defense as they have allowed ten passing touchdowns this season. His return should be a big one this week and those who have held onto him since draft day in season-long leagues will likely be rewarded this week. On the Browns side, there is nobody that is interesting aside from maybe Terrelle Pryor only because they should be chasing points here and he will receive the bulk of the targets. At the end of the day, you want to target the Patriots offense and fade the Browns.

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 this week.


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