Vegas vs Fantasy Week 17 2017

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal Vegas vs. Fantasy Week 17 By: 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
Buccaneers vs. Saints 50.5 48 -2.5
Falcons vs. Panthers 47 45 -2

The Saints and Bucs game has the highest implied total of the week and the under is currently being slammed by 63 percent of the bets. This line has decreased 2.5 points since it opened and with the betting like this, we could see another drop before kickoff. The Saints have a healthy implied team total of 26.5 points, but it is worth noting that it opened at 29 points. They are five point favorites in this matchup and are receiving 64 percent of the bets against the spread. The Saints locked up a the No. 3 seed with a win this week, but could fall into a wild card team with a loss and a Panthers win, so this game is important to the Saints. The Bucs are out of the playoff hunt and have nothing to play for, but they are not expecting to sit any of their starters. The Saints side is far more appealing from a fantasy standpoint as they draw a very nice matchup all around. The Bucs are one of the worst pass defenses in the league and also struggle against the run. In their last meeting earlier this season, Alvin Kamara went bonkers and scored over 30 fantasy points in PPR formats. He is a good position to do so again this week, which is why he would be my top option from this offense. Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, and Michael Thomas are all viable options as well. From the Bucs side, there is really not a player I am going out of my way to target, but Mike Evans has had to consecutive productive games and has elite upside at a fair price on a site like DraftKings. He could be considering an interesting tournament option. I expect this to be a game where the Saints win easily because they are the superior team, which favors their run game, but being that they are on the road this game could stay a tad closer. The Falcons and Panthers both have something to play for this week as the Falcons lock up a playoff spot with a win and the Panthers could finish as high as the No. 2 seed with a first round bye or as low as the No. 5 seed. Therefore, a win is very important for both teams. This game has the second over/under of the slate and 57 percent of the bets are on the under. The Falcons are 3.5 point favorites, but the Panthers are receiving 61 percent of the bets against the spread. Both teams have solid implied team totals of over 20 points. From the Falcons side, Julio Jones can be considered an elite play like he is just about every week. He draws a nice matchup against James Bradberry who grades out below average on Pro Football Focus and a matchup that Jones has a 75 percent advantage rating in. Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman are also in play, but I have them penciled in as secondary plays. From the Panthers side, Christian McCaffrey is in a very good spot as the Falcons really struggle against pass catching backs. They are the only team that has allowed over 100 receptions to running backs this season and have also surrendered the seventh most receiving yards, as well as four receiving touchdowns which is tied for third most in the league. The potential game script also favors McCaffrey as the Panthers are expecting to be trailing, which would force them to pass and McCaffrey is second amongst running backs in targets this season. He is one of my top plays of the week when taking everything into consideration. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen are both in play also, but they too are secondary plays for me. This should be a close matchup and one that provides us with plenty of fantasy goodness.

Game Open O/U Live O/U Move
Steelers vs. Browns 41 36.5 -4.5

Once the Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell news broke out, the total of this game dipped and the spread also decreased. If they indeed miss this game as expected, this game is one with little fantasy appeal. The Steelers receivers are in great spots, but with Landry Jones potentially under center, they lose a lot of their upside. They can still be considered in tournaments as most will be fading them because of the QB situation, but the issue is that they are priced up as if Big Ben was starting. If you want a dart throw in this offense, Justin Hunter at minimum price is interesting as JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant could see limited playing time if the Steelers elect to rest players as they are indicating they will. That said, he is a high-risk play with a very low floor. From the Browns side, Duke Johnson and Josh Gordon are viable options, but not considered primary plays. The over/under of this game dipped 4.5 points and 56 percent of the bets are on the over. The Steelers opened up as 14.5 point favorites, but are now favored by just six points and are still receiving 71 percent of the bets against the spread. The potential game script here favors the Pittsburgh backfield, but if Bell is out, it is uncertain if any of the backs for the Steelers will see a ton of volume and the matchup is not all that great. News will really impact this game, but at this point I am treating it like if Bell and Big Ben are out. The Steelers defense might be the best play of this game if that is the case.

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

Teams Spread
Patriots -16.5
Jets 16.5

The Patriots are once again the heaviest favorites of week as they are favored by 16.5 points against the Jets and are receiving 63 percent of the bets against the spread. Tom Brady and his pass catchers are in a great spot as the Jets are one of the worst defenses in defending the pass. Rob Gronkowski has to be considered an elite option even at the high price tag as the Jets have been generous to tight end and he torched them in their last meeting. Dion Lewis is also a viable option as he is expected to receive the bulk of the carries and the potential game script plays in his favor. The Patriots defense is also in a great spot this week and should find success against this poor Jets offense. From the New York Jets side, the only player I am considering is Robby Anderson as he is still receiving high volume targets and since the Jets are all but guaranteed to be chasing points, they will be forced to pass. Even with the lack of QB talent for this offense, the volume alone makes Anderson a somewhat strong option in a week where there is a lot of uncertainty. 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