Vegas vs Fantasy Week 16 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.

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 two 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 Total Live Total Movement
Saints vs. Falcons 52.5 52.5 0
Titans vs. Rams 49 47 -2

The Saints and Falcons game is the only one with an over/under of 50+ points this week and at this time 58 percent of the bets are on the over. Both teams have healthy implied team totals of over 23 points. The Saints are six point favorites in this matchup and are receiving 51 percent of the bets against the spread. This should be a close game with plenty of scoring based on the Vegas numbers. Atlanta really struggles against pass catching backs, which is not a good thing for them in this matchup as the Saints have one of the best pass catching backs in the league in Alvin Kamara and another really good pass catching back in Mark Ingram. Both of these backs make for strong plays this weekend, but Kamara gets the slight nod over Ingram because of how good he has been catching passes out of the backfield all season. Michael Thomas is also in a solid matchup against Robert Alford, who Thomas has a 30 percent advantage rating against according to Pro Football Focus. Being that the Saints have a 29.25, this offense should produce plenty of fantasy goodness and taking their star players in favorable matchups is the way to go. On the Atlanta side, Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Matt Ryan are all viable options considering the potential game script. The issue with this group is that New Orleans has actually been good defensively this season and have been able to contain the damage through the air. Freeman might be the most appealing of the bunch, but with the Falcons likely trailing in this game, his ceiling could be capped. This is a game where I am far more bullish on the Saints side than I am on the Falcons side, but in order for the Saints players to reach their ceilings, this game needs to remain close.

There are multiple games with a 47 point over/under, but I went with the one I that opened at the highest total. The Titans host the Rams this week in a game that opened at a 49 point over/under and has dropped two points since, with 51 percent of the bets on the over at this time. The Rams are 6.5 point road favorites and are receiving 66 percent of the bets against the spread. They have a healthy 26.75 implied team total in this contest, so we should see some nice production out of this offense. The Titans are one of the worst pass defenses in the league, so the passing attack for the Rams is where I am looking towards. Jared Goff and Robert Woods are in great matchups, while Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins make for solid secondary plays. The Titans have done a great job stuffing the run, but they are far from good against pass catching backs, putting Todd Gurley in a smash spot this week. In addition, the fact that the Rams are road favorites, really puts this potential game script in Gurley’s favorite. This is an offense that I have high expectations for this week. After all, they average the most points and 10th most yards per game. From the Titans side, there really is not much to love. This unit has been inconsistent for the majority of the year and production has been sporadic for most of their players. If I were to target anyone on this offense it would be Delanie Walker who has been fairly consistent as of late and maybe Rishard Matthews who sees a decent amount of targets on a weekly basis. Aside from that, this is an offense that I do not see myself having a ton of exposure to in DFS this weekend.

The next thing I want to focus on is the game with the lowest point total.
Game Open O/U Live O/U Move
Bears vs. Browns 38 38 0

These are two bad offenses facing each other this weekend. The Bears average the fifth fewest points and third fewest yards per game, while the Browns average the seventh fewest yards and the fewest points per game. The Bears are at home and 6.5 point favorites, while currently receiving just 36 percent of the bets against the spread which seems a bit odd to me. Both the Browns and Bears have an implied team totals over under 23 points. At this time, 53 percent of the bets are on the under, so more than half of the bettors do not expect this game to exceed the 38 points. Based on Vegas, this is a game that should not produce a ton of fantasy goodness, but there are some players who can be considered this weekend. Duke Johnson in PPR formats can be considered as he offers a safe floor even in games where the Browns are not expected to do much. Josh Gordon is a high-upside play, but he draws a matchup against Kyle Fuller who grades out above average on Pro Football Focus. From the Bears side, Jordan Howard can be considered a safe floor option, while Kendall Wright draws a very nice matchup but is a volatile play. The one play on this game I really like is the Bears defense who have been solid all year and draw a great matchup against a turnover happy Browns offense.

The last thing I want to cover is the game with the biggest spread.
Teams Spread
Patriots -11.5
Bills 11.5

The Ravens are the heaviest favorites of the week, but being that they play on Saturday, I will break down the Patriots and Bills game a bit more since they are on the Sunday main slate in DFS. To no surprise the Patriots are the heavy favorites again this week as they are one of the better team in the league. They opened up as 12.5 point favorites, but have dropped a point since and are receiving just 49 percent of the bets against the spread. They faced off against the Bills several weeks ago and won 23-3, so the 11.5 points can be covered. This potential game script favors the Patriots backfield, which is what you want to focus your attention on as the Bills have been atrocious against the run. While this backfield is tough to predict on a weekly basis, Dion Lewis is the favorite to receive the majority of the carries and makes for a strong play. Tom Brady, Brandin Cooks, and Rob Gronkowski are also fine this week as they can go off at any moment. The Patriots have slacked defensively in the last two games, but they were on a three-game road trip, so I will notch it up as being tired. They should be back to playing sound defense which hampers any upside the Bills have. LeSean McCoy who is their best offensive players has typically played better at home than versus on the road, so even he could struggle in this contest.

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