Analyzing Vegas Odds: Week 2
How can I analyze Vegas odds to create lineups and gain an edge in daily fantasy sports? That, in essence, is what this weekly column is about. The manner in which you use the information Vegas puts in circulation is a foundational aspect of many prominent DFS players. The lines provide us a line of sight of what Vegas believes in going to happen in every single NFL game. It is critical to pick up on everything that Vegas discloses and to interpret what the movement in lines mean from a fantasy football perspective. They have millions of dollars at stake. If Vegas posts a terrible line, it will get abused. They do not want to get arbitraged and as a result, Vegas is incentivized to create accurate lines.
Do not stop reading now because we will discuss three games that offer the most upside from a DFS perspective.
Kansas City Chiefs (24) at Pittsburgh Steelers (29) – Total 53
The Chiefs entered the 2018 season as a three-point underdog against the Chargers. Once the dust settled the Chiefs were victorious after outscoring the Chargers 38-28 and showed the fantasy football world how lethal their offense could be with second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes under center. The Chiefs enter Week 2 matched up against the Steelers as five-point underdogs. Did you know the Steelers are 0-5 against the spread in their last five home games? Let’s analyze the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers of each team.
Ben Roethlisberger should bounce back at home against a Chiefs defense that gave up 424 passing yards and three touchdowns to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Roethlisberger has averaged 299 passing yards per game since 2014 and has positive passing fantasy points over expectation per attempt (0.07) over that time frame. Patrick Mahomes threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns and will find himself in another shootout against a Steelers defense who allowed the fourth fewest passing yards per game (201.8) last season. Both quarterbacks are worth investing in this week, but I give Roethlisberger the edge because of the matchup and home field advantage.
Kareem Hunt is an excellent bounce-back candidate after a lackluster Week 1 performance. He only rushed for 49 yards on 16 attempts. Hunt average 20.3 touches and 111.3 total yards per game last season with positive rushing and receiving fantasy points over expectation. I anticipate his production against the Steelers will be more in line with his 2017 season averages. James Conner turned 36 touches into 192 total yards with positive rushing fantasy points over expectation per attempt (0.1) and receiving fantasy points over expectation per target (0.28). He has a favorable matchup against the Chiefs. Both running backs are worth investing in based on their salaries.
Antonio Brown has averaged 11.4 targets, 7.8 receptions, and 104 receiving yards with positive receiving fantasy points over expectation per target (0.35) over his last 62 games. He belongs in DFS lineups if you are willing to absorb his salary. Tyreek Hill has averaged seven targets, five receptions, and 78.9 receiving yards with positive receiving fantasy points over expectation per target (0.68) last season. He took his production to another stratosphere last week. Hill had seven receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers in addition to a 91-yard punt return score. He is worth the investment in DFS lineups.
Finally figured out what I'm doing with Tyreek Hill in DFS.
I'm just going to set aside $50 for Patrick Mahomes/Tyreek stacks every single week and never look back. It's that simple.
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 12, 2018
The Chiefs have so many offensive weapons that tight end Travis Kelce will have games where he is not a focal point of the offensive plan, but his statistical body of work is worth noting. He has averaged 7.7 targets, 5.4 receptions, and 69.8 receiving yards per game with positive receiving fantasy points over expectation per target (0.29). JuJu Smith-Schuster is another excellent receiving option this week if you would rather not pay Brown’s salary but want exposure to the Steelers offense.
Cleveland Browns (20.5) at New Orleans Saints (29.5) – Total 50
The Saints suffered a humiliating loss to the Buccaneers in Week 1 after being touted as 10 point favorites by Vegas. The defense allowed 529 total yards and five touchdowns. The Saints now find themselves at home in Week 2 as eight-point favorites against an improved Cleveland Browns team. Did you know that the total has gone over in five of the Saints last six home games with an average combined score of 58? Let’s analyze the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers of each team.
Drew Brees is an elite quarterback option in Week 2 and worth every penny of his salary. He had an 82 percent completion percentage which resulted in 439 passing yards and three touchdowns against the Buccaneers in Week 1. Brees had positive passing fantasy points over expectation per pass attempt (0.25). Tyrod Taylor had a flat stat line as a passer given the weather conditions in Cleveland last week, but his 77 rushing yards and rushing touchdown provided a gentle reminder of his high floor. Both quarterbacks are worth investing in this week.
Alvin Kamara had eight rushing attempts and 12 targets in Week 1 against the Buccaneers. He finished with positive rushing (0.97) and receiving (0.68) fantasy points over expectation per rushing attempt and per target. There is no need to complicate things. If you are going to allocate a high percentage of your lineup salary to a running back then Kamara is someone to target. Carlos Hyde finished Week 1 with 22 touches. He played 52.8 percent of the offensive snaps and touched the football or was targeted on 51.1 percent of them. Hyde will have volume and red-zone opportunities on his side in what is projected to be a high-scoring game.
Michael Thomas was targeted 19 times against the Buccaneers in Week 1. He accumulated the ninth most Air Yards (153) amongst wide receivers and converted it into 190 receiving yards. Thomas is projected for another monster game against the Browns secondary. Jarvis Landry is also an excellent wide receiver to deploy in DFS lineups this week. The only wide receiver who had more Air Yards than him (223) last week was Julio Jones (282). Landry was targeted 15 times in Week 1 and has averaged nine targets per game since 2014. He will be a popular DFS option this week. It is difficult to trust Saints No. 2 wide receiver Ted Ginn, but Josh Gordon could go boom in the comfy confines of the Superdome. He played 77.5 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 1 but could see more targets in a shootout.
Detroit Lions (21) at San Francisco 49ers (27) – Total 48
The Lions were humiliated on a national stage by the Jets on Monday Night Football. Did you know that the total has gone under in the six of the Lions last eight games against the 49ers with an average combined score of 39.5? Let’s analyze the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers of each team.
Jimmy Garoppolo missed numerous throws against a stout Vikings defense that could have positively impacted his Week 1 production. He is in a great position to bounce back in the 49ers home opener against a Lions defense that gave up 349 total yards to a Jets offense led by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. I recommend fading Matthew Stafford this week. The Lions offensive line struggled mightily and that combined with Stafford’s poor decision making produced disastrous results. Another trend going against him and the Lions are their road game record against the 49ers. The Lions are 0-12 against the 49ers on the road with an average losing margin of 13.9 points.
It is difficult to get excited about any of the 49ers or Lions running backs. The Lions are using a running back by committee. Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, and Theo Riddick cannibalize each others upside. The 49ers, on the other hand, are splitting carries fairly evenly between Matt Breida and Alfred Morris. The takeaway that I have from observing game flow is that Morris is likely to handle a high percentage of touches in positive game flow situations and Breida will be more involved in negative game flow scenarios.
Golden Tate has averaged 8.4 targets, 5.8 receptions, and 66.2 receiving yards per game in 65 career games with the Lions. He is the Lions receiver that has the least volatility. Tight end George Kittle is the receiving option to target in DFS. Garoppolo missed him on what would have been a four-yard touchdown and two other deep targets. Kittle led all tight ends in Air Yards with 118 but was only able to convert them into 90 receiving yards.
George Kittle might just be a league-winner.
Coming off a shoulder injury, Kittle played on 80% of #49ers snaps, led team in targets (9), and his 13.1 average depth of target in Week 1 nearly matched Gronk's (13.4). Look at the vertical element on his routes, per #NextGenStats: pic.twitter.com/dPFBDD4GVa
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) September 10, 2018
Do you agree or disagree? What did you find most useful? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out via Twitter @EricNMoody. Until next time!