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Week 6: 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.

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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 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 indicate which offenses you should be targeting and which defenses are in good situations. Let’s dive right into it.

Usually, the chart below shows the three games this week with the highest projected point totals. However, since there are no games with an implied total over 47.5, I have decided to switch it up and note the three teams with the highest projected totals. This provides us with an idea of what teams are expected to score the most points.

Team

Open Total

Live Total

Movement

Patriots

27.5

27.75

0.25

Steelers

27.75

27.25

-0.5

Cardinals

27

27

0

For the second straight week, the Patriots have the highest implied point total. They are currently projected to score a smidge under four touchdowns. They are at home against the Cincinnati Bengals who on the road this season are yielding 225 passing yards and have given up six passing touchdowns. Also, they are allowing 136 rushing yards per game to running backs and 139.3 receiving yards per game to receivers. The Patriots are going to spread the ball here, but the usual suspects are going to get theirs. In Tom Brady’s first game back the Patriots ran 40 passing plays compared to 35 running plays. The ball was spread out as Julian Edelman received ten targets, Martellus Bennett got eight targets, Rob Gronkowski was targeted seven times, James White had six targets, and Chris Hogan saw five targets. Bennett was the recipient of Brady’s three touchdown passes. The distribution in passes gives us an idea of where we can expect the fantasy production. Blount received the majority of the carries in this contest (18) and scored a rushing touchdown. Touchdowns are unpredictable, so just because Bennett scored three touchdowns last week does not mean he will do it again this week. Now, it is worth noting that Blount receives 82.6 percent of the red zone rushes for New England, so in an instance where they run the ball in the red zone it will likely be with Blount, which increases his chances of scoring given the opportunity he is getting. This offense is expected to score some touchdowns; it is wise to have exposure to them and target the players who are most involved.  

The Steelers are currently projected to score a tad under four touchdowns, and their production is much easier to pinpoint. Antonio Brown accounts for 29.2 percent of the Steelers target share and has played in 96.7 percent of the offensive snaps. He also receives 20 percent of the red zone targets. Brown averages 11.2 targets per game and has seen double-digit targets in all but one game this season. Le’Veon Bell is also a high volume player on this offense. He returned from a three-game suspension in Week 4 and played 88 percent of the offensive snaps in that game, then played in 96 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 5 against the Jets. He has received 17 targets and 38 carries since returning and has already gained 332 total yards. Game flow does not affect Bell, and he will continue to have a prominent role in this offense. Ben Roethlisberger has been on fire this season, averaging 299.2 passing yards per game and throwing 15 touchdowns. He has thrown three or more touchdowns in a single game in all but one game this season. These are the three main players you want to target in this game. You can also look at some other player such as, Sammie Coates who has seen an uptick in targets in the last two games and has the big play ability like he displayed last week, as well as, Jesse James who is averaging 5.2 targets per game and has scored three touchdowns. The Dolphins defense has been bad this season, so it is very likely that the Steelers offense will put a beating on them.  

The Cardinals are much like the Steelers where it is a bit easier to predict production because most of their offense is ran through a couple of players. Larry Fitzgerald averages 9.4 targets per game and accounts for 24.4 percent of the Cardinals target share, as well as, 29.2 percent of the red zone targets. He has a favorable matchup against a Jets defense that has given up 65 receptions for 1,033 yards and seven touchdowns to receivers this season. Fitzgerald has five touchdowns this season and averages 72.2 receiving yards per game. He should have a productive evening on Monday night. David Johnson has topped 100 yards from scrimmage in each game this season, averaging 139 total yards per game and has scored five touchdowns. Johnson accounts for 14 percent of the Cardinals target share, with an average of 5.4 targets per game. He receives 69 percent of the red zone rushes and 20.8 percent of the red zone targets. He is as consistent as they come and also provides plenty of upside. The Jets have been stingy against the run, but we saw Le’Veon Bell had his way against them last week. Johnson is just as talented as Bell and should be able to find ways to be efficient. Carson Palmer is expected to return this week after missing the last game due to a concussion. He has struggled this season, but this is a good spot for him to snap out of the funk. The Jets are giving up 319.8 passing yards per game and have surrendered 12 passing touchdowns. We have seen several quarterbacks shred this secondary. Michael Floyd and John Brown are in good spots, but the targets have been so inconsistent for these two on a week-to-week basis that it's hard to pinpoint who could have the big game.

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

Game

Open O/U

Live O/U

Move

Giants vs. Ravens

43.5

43.5

0

I am not going to lie; I was surprised that this was the lowest projected total of the slate. The Giants have an implied team total of 23.25, while the Ravens have a projected team total of 20.25. Despite the low game total, I have some interest in the Giants receivers. Since Week 2, the Ravens are allowing 146.75 receiving yards per game to receivers and have yielded nine touchdowns. The Ravens have been able to stop the run this season allowing just 71 rushing yards per game to running backs and two touchdowns. Therefore, if the Giants are going to score points here, it will likely be through the air. If you want to play a running back for the Giants, it would be Bobby Rainey who has 15 targets and 13 receptions in the last two games, so his involvement in the passing games provides a safe floor. I do not have much interest in the Ravens offense as they are projected to score fewer than three touchdowns, are on the road, and there is not a reliable indicator of where the production will come from with Steve Smith hurt.

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

Team

Spread

New England Patriots

-8.5

Cincinnati Bengals

+8.5

Once again the Patriots are the biggest favorites of the week. Since they also have the highest projected total, you already know where I stand with this offense. Therefore, I will talk a little about the Bengals offense. The Patriots usually do an excellent job at disabling the best weapon against their opponents and in this case that would be A.J. Green. While I would never suggest sitting A.J. Green, I will say that this is not an ideal matchup and temper your expectations. However, there is a piece of good news here, as the Bengals are likely going to be chasing points, so Green should be peppered with targets. Jeremy Hill is not a running back I would want in my lineups. He is not entirely healthy, and the Bengals will possibly lean more on Gio Bernard because of the potential game script. To sum it up, I would much rather be taking players from New England’s offense in this contest.

(Please note: There was one game that did not have any lines out at the time of this article was written.)


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