Vegas vs Fantasy Week 5 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
Cowboys vs. Packers 52.5 53 0.5
Rams vs. Seahawks 46 48 2

Aside from the Thursday night game which had a 54.5 over/under, the only other game with a 50+ over/under this week is the Dallas vs. Green Bay game. This comes to no surprise as neither of these defenses are all that great and both offenses are filled with weapons. The Cowboys are giving up 24.3 points and 339.3 yards per game to opposing teams, while the Packers are giving up 20.3 points and 300 yards per game. The Packers are also giving up over 20 fantasy point per game to running backs and have allowed three consecutive 100+ rushing yard games, making this a smash spot for Ezekiel Elliott. While on the other hand, the Cowboys have been generous to both quarterbacks and receivers this season, yielding over 30 fantasy points per game to opposing wide outs and surrendering eight passing touchdowns in their last three games to opposing signal callers. The spread of this contest is just 2.5 points and both teams have a healthy implied team total of over 24 points, meaning that we could see some fireworks in this one. Both offenses are worth investing in this weekend and most of the players from these teams make for strong plays.

At first when I saw this projected total for the Seahawks and Rams game I was a bit surprised, however, after looking at some numbers it makes some sense. The Rams currently lead the league in points per game, averaging 35.5 and are fourth in the NFL with 383.8 yards per game. The Seahawks are not that far behind as they are tenth in the league, averaging 361.8 yards per game, as well as averaging 23.5 points per game. Then I took a look at what they do on defense and the Rams are yielding the sixth most yards per game (367.8) and fifth most points per game (26.3). The Seahawks have posted better numbers defensively than the Rams, giving up 318.8 yards and 19.3 points per game, but they have also played the 49ers and Colts, neither of which are all that great. The Rams are giving up the most fantasy points per game to running backs, so that is the way to target them. The Seahawks have also been a bit more lenient to opposing backs than they have been in the past, giving up over 100 rushing yards per game and three rushing touchdowns thus far, making this a very favorable situation for Todd Gurley. I am still a bit skeptical about the over/under in this game, but I can see why Vegas thinks this game has potential to be high scoring. It is worth noting that this contest has a 1.5 points spread and both teams have implied totals of more than 22 points. I will have some exposure to this game, but not as much as I probably should considering the Vegas numbers.

Game Open O/U Live O/U Move
Raiders vs. Ravens 40 39 -1

With Derek Carr’s status up in the air for this weekend, this over/under is not surprising. The Ravens are a respectable defense and aside from their meltdown in London where they gave up 44 points to the Jaguars, they have been solid otherwise. If Carr sits this one out, they get a juicy matchup against E.J. Manuel who has proven to be a below average quarterback in the NFL. On the other hand, Baltimore’s offense is not that good. They average the third fewest yards (269.8) and second fewest points (15) per game. The Raiders offense is one that features several weapons, but their value will ultimately depend on whether Carr plays or not. If he does, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Jared Cook are all viable options, but due to the tough matchup, fantasy owners should temper expectations. If Carr does not play, it becomes much tougher to have high hopes for either of these players. The one I think makes the most sense regardless of who is under center is Jared Cook, as the Ravens have shown some vulnerability in the middle of the field. That said, if Manuel is under center, the Baltimore defense makes for a very strong play. The Raiders defense can also be considered if you are streaming defenses in your leagues. Neither of these teams are expected to score 21 points, making this an unappealing game to target. Please note, that once Carr’s status is official we could see this line move.

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

Teams Spread
Steelers -7.5

Unlike in previous weeks, there are no games that feature a double-digit spread in Week 5. The Steelers and Jaguars game has the biggest spread at a smidge over a touchdown. The Jaguars come into this game as the best pass defense in the league, allowing just 667 passing yards and three passing touchdowns through their first four games. Granted, they have had some easy matchups along the way, but they have still played well. This will be a true test to the defense as the get a Steelers offense filled with weapons. Despite being the biggest dogs on the board this week, this is not a unit I am ecstatic to pick on. In fact, this game opened at an over/under of 44.5 points and is currently at 42.5 points which is something I have been keeping a close eye on, as I was interested in the Steelers implied team total. In fact, each team has also seen a dip in their implied team totals. I will never bench players such as Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell regardless of who they play against, so despite this being a tough matchup on paper, these two are must plays. A sneaky option for me from the Pittsburgh side is Martavis Bryant, but he is also a high-variance play. The Steelers defense is firmly in play here as well. From the Jags side, I do like Leonard Fournette quite a bit as a high-volume running back play and the Steelers have allowed at least 80 rushing yards in each of their last three games to go along with three touchdowns.

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