Vegas vs Fantasy NFL Playoffs Round 2 2017

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal It was not until I began playing DFS that I started using Vegas lines as part of my research and a 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.

The second round of playoffs kicks off on Saturday and with four games on the slate I will do things a little differently than I did during the regular season for this series. Instead of focusing on the highest totals, biggest spread, and lowest total, I will breakdown each game this week. So let’s jump right into it.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons

This contest has the lowest over/under of the week at 40.5 points, which is a three point decrease from where it opened. At this time, 60 percent of the bets are on the over. This game also has the smallest spread as the Falcons are the only road favorites this week, being favored 2.5 points. They are receiving 59 percent of the bets against the spread, so it appears that more than half of the bettors believe Atlanta will win this game. The Falcons have an implied team total of 21.5 points, but it is worth noting that it has dropped two points since it opened. It is tough to love this Falcons offense on the road against a very good Eagles defense. Philadelphia allowed the fourth fewest yards to opposing offenses this season and the fourth fewest points per game. They were stout against the run, but did struggle against receivers which is why the top play from the Falcons offense for me is Julio Jones. He had a nice game in the Wild Card Round and has another opportunity for a nice performance. Aside from him,
I do not have much interest in the Falcons. From the Eagles side, Jay Ajayi is someone that really stands out to me. The Falcons struggled against running backs this season and with Nick Foles under center, I would not be surprised if Ajayi received a couple more touches than normal. In addition, he is just way too cheap on sites like DraftKings. He also received at least 14 touches in each of his last three games. In addition to him, Zach Ertz is interesting. Prior to the final week of the regular season, he was peppered with 23 targets in his previous two games. Foles will likely look his way often this week and Ertz may go a tad overlooked. I am also interested in the Eagles defense as they are way underpriced. The lack of interest for me is that I trust Vegas in that this will be the lowest scoring game of the weekend, but I do think the Eagles come out as winners because of their defense which is why I am not too keen on this Falcons offense.

New England Patriots

According to the numbers, this should be a lopsided game and I have to agree. The Patriots are favored by 13.5 points and are receiving 72 percent of the bets against the spread. This matchup also has the highest over/under of the slate and 53 percent of the bets are on the over. The majority of the scoring is expected to come from the New England side as they have the highest implied team total this week at 30.75 points. This is certainly an offense that I want exposure to. Tom Brady is the first person I am looking at. This is the playoffs where Brady elevates his game and he gets a nice matchup against a Titans defense that ranked ninth worst in DVOA against the pass. They surrendered 27 passing touchdowns this season and a couple of four passing touchdown games to opposing signal callers. Brady should be able to pick this secondary apart and rank up points this weekend, making him my top QB play of the week. In addition, Dion Lewis is also someone I have a ton of interest in. Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee are both listed as questionable for this game, but are not expected to play. James White is expected back and he makes for an interesting tournament flier, but Lewis is all but a lock to receive the bulk of the carries. He had a strong second half of the season and should carry it over to the post season. The potential game script also plays into his favor. All of the pass catchers for the Patriots are firmly in play, but Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks are the two I have most interest in. Cooks gets a nice matchup and should be the less popular of the two, offering tremendous upside. While Gronkowski offers tons of upside and had a strong run at the end of the season, but will also likely be the most popular tight end of the slate. This is an offense I want exposure to this weekend, as will everyone else. The Patriots defense is also in play as they played much better after a rough first month of the season and they should be playing with a lead, making the Titans offense very one dimensional. From the Titans side, there is not much to be excited about. While Derrick Henry had a strong performance in the Wild Card Round and is a very talented running back, one I like a ton, this potential game script does not play into his favor. If this game stays close, he has a shot for a big game, but I do not expect this game to stay close. Corey Davis and Delanie Walker are two interesting plays this week as this offense should be passing a lot. Walker is the safer play of the two and continues to be Marcus Mariota’s go-to pass catcher, but Davis saw a fair amount of targets last week and offers upside at a very low price. I am far more bullish on the Patriots, but would not mind taking a shot at some of the Titans pass catchers.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

This is a game where I want to have more interest in because the Steelers offense is filled with talent, but they have a really tough matchup against Jacksonville. The Jaguars allowed the second fewest yards and the second fewest points per game this season. These two teams met in Week 5 and the Jaguars won 30-9. In that game, Big Ben threw for 312 yards and five interceptions, Le’Veon Bell rushed for just 47 yards, but did catch 10 passes, and Antonio Brown finished with 10 catches for 157 yards, but did receive 19 targets. All of these are interesting plays because they are so talented, but we should be tempering our expectations because of this matchup. Of the three “Killer B’s,” Bell is my favorite one because he offers both the safest floor and highest ceiling in this matchup. In addition, the potential game script does play into his favor. JuJu Smith-Schuster is also an enticing option as he has displayed his ability to be consistent and has also showcased nice upside. The Steelers are favored by seven points in this contest and are receiving 62 percent of the bets against the spread. This matchup has the second lowest implied total of the slate and 56 percent of the bets are on the under. The Jaguars have the lowest implied team total of the week at just 17 points. This is an offense that I have little interest in. Leonard Fournette had a big game against the Steelers in Week 5 rushing for 181 yards and two touchdowns, but he appears to be gassed at this point in the season. The rookie is clearly not used to long seasons like this. He struggled vastly in a smash spot last week and has now averaged fewer than three yards per carry in four of his last six games. He is always capable of a big game because he is a good back, but the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. The one player I have interest in from this offense and it is because of his price mainly is Dede Westbrook. He is very affordable and receives a decent amount of volume on a consistent basis. I am also expecting the Jaguars to trail in this game, which should force them to pass a bit more than they would like to and that could potentially lead to some extra targets for Westbrook. Both defenses are firmly in play in this contest, but I side with the Steelers a bit more.

Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints

The Saints and Vikings game has the second highest implied total at 46.5 points and 54 percent of the bets are currently on the over. The Vikings are favored by five points, but the Saints are receiving 64 percent of the bets against the spread. The Vikings have the second highest implied team total at 25.75 points and the Saints are also projected to score over 20 points. This is a tough game to gauge as the Vikings and Saints both played good defense this season. In fact, the Vikings allowed the fewest yards to opponents, as well as the fewest points per game. The Saints were not as stout, but they were solid. That said, I do have some interest in the Vikings offense, starting off with Stephon Diggs who ended the season scoring a touchdown in each of his last three games. The Saints also became a bit more vulnerable against receivers towards the end of the season, allowing over 190 receiving yards in five of their last seven games and six touchdowns to wide outs during that stretch. Diggs could go somewhat overlooked at that price point, making him very appealing. Adam Thielen trended in the wrong direction in the second half of the season, but there is no denying his talent and he has the better one-on-one coverage of the two. In addition, Kyle Rudolph is just too cheap on a site like DraftKings and he draws a nice matchup. I also like the running backs for the Vikings, but lean more on Jerick McKinnon as he can catch passes out of the backfield and I do anticipate the Saints will be able to find success against this defense. On the other side, the Saints are appealing as well despite the tough matchup, starting out by Drew Brees who is one of those quarterbacks that tends to be matchup proof. This is the post season and elite quarterbacks like himself manage to get it done. This game will be played indoors where Brees strives. Alvin Kamara is firmly in play here because of how dynamic he is and although the matchup is not a good one, he is some involved in this offense that the upside is there. Michael Thomas has a really tough matchup as well, but his volume and talent cannot be denied and if he comes in at a lower ownership than receivers such as Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, he makes for a very good tournament play. I expect the Saints to score more points than they are projected to and I think this game does go over the implied total. To me this is a contest where game stacking makes sense. I will have my fair amount of exposure to both of these offenses.

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.

If you have any questions, you can always find me on Twitter: @Armando_Marsal