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Analyzing Vegas Odds: Week 16

by Eric Moody | @EricNMoody | Featured Writer
Dec 19, 2018

Ben Roethlisberger has been terrific all season and squares up against a Saints team that will force him to throw often

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 with a line of sight into what Vegas believes is 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 and highlight players at each position that will provide you the most upside for your DFS lineups in Week 16.

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Favorite Spread Underdog Total Away Money Line Home Money Line
at Saints -5.5 Steelers 53.5 +211 -236

The Saints have won five of six homes game this season. The team has struggled over its last three games producing only 50 total points. The Steelers, on the other hand, ended a three-game losing streak against the Patriots. Did you know that the total has gone over in four of the Steelers last five games against the Saints? The average combined scored has been 55.6.

The game script in this matchup is projected to be neutral. It should be a close game with both teams sticking to their strengths, and not abandoning the running game. Let me break down one player at each position you should target in DFS.

  • Ben Roethlisberger is currently the fantasy QB4 averaging 21.2 points per game. The Steelers lead the NFL in pass attempts per game with 42.4, but average 45.1 on the road. The most effective way to attack the Saints defense is through the air. This unit has allowed 294 passing yards per at home and a QBR of 98.7 on the season. The Saints defense also struggles to force turnovers accumulating only 12 interceptions entering Week 16. The projected point total, the matchup, and the spread suggest the Steelers could lean heavily on the passing game.
  • Alvin Kamara finished last week’s game against the Panthers with 21 touches while Mark Ingram had 14. He has averaged 20.4 opportunities per game this season with 5.28 of them coming from the red zone. Kamara will continue to see opportunities (rushing attempts and targets) as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He should be heavily involved in this high scoring matchup.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster is likely to be matched up against Saints cornerback Eli Apple which is a matchup he could exploit. He is averaging 10 targets per game this season. Julio Jones (152), Davante Adams (151), Antonio Brown (149), and Adam Thielen (145) are the only wide receivers with more targets than Smith-Schuster on the season entering Week 16.
  • There are few tight ends you can trust in fantasy lineups on a weekly basis this season. The only one from this matchup I would plug into lineups if you find yourself in a pinch is Vance McDonald. Brown and Smith-Schuster command such a high target volume it will be difficult for him to see any more than four targets based on McDonald’s season averages.
Favorite Spread Underdog Total Away Money Line Home Money Line
Chiefs -2.5 at Seahawks 53.0 -125 +113

The Chiefs are 2.5 favorites against the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. It is worth noting that the Seahawks are 24-6-4 against the spread in their last 34 night games and are a difficult team to face at home. The expectation is that we will also see a neutral game script in this matchup. Let me break down one player at each position you should target in DFS.

  • Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs find themselves in a must-win game to lock up a first-round bye in the NFL Playoffs. Despite the loss of wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Spencer Ware he still has enough weapons to finish as the No. 1 fantasy quarterback in Week 16. Mahomes is averaging a ridiculous 26.5 fantasy points per game.
  • Our very own Andrew Gould provided our readers with an excellent breakdown for Chris Carson entering this matchup:
    • Only six running backs have recorded more fantasy points over the last five weeks than Carson, who has compiled 492 yards and four touchdowns on 101 touches during that window. He has handled 22 carries in consecutive weeks for the NFL’s most run-heavy offense. Given the heavy usage, only injuries have slowed him down this season. The Chiefs, who have allowed 5.0 yards per carry and the third-most fantasy points to running backs, aren’t likely to change that. The Seahawks have yet to lose a game by more than eight points this season, but they’re not likely to abandon the run under any circumstances. Carson is a viable top-12 RB with a high floor and ceiling.
  • Tyreek Hill’s fantasy production has been up and down over the last three games. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 11 against the Rams. The 10 days of rest should allow Hill to feel rejuvenated against the Seahawks and it would not be surprising for him to see a heavy dose of targets in this game. He can score a touchdown anytime Hill touches the football.
  • The only tight end with more targets than Travis Kelce (132) is Zach Ertz (136). Kelce is averaging 19.5 fantasy points per game in PPR formats. He and Ertz also lead the position in red zone targets with 23, but Kelce is leveraged more on third down. The only tight end with more PPR fantasy points on third down this season than Kelce (59.6) is Eric Ebron (68.1).
Favorite Spread Underdog Total Away Money Line Home Money Line
at Panthers -2.5 Falcons 47.0 +115 -139

The Falcons are 11-4 straight up and 9-6 against the spread in their last 15 games against NFC South opponents. Both of these teams are playing for pride at this point of the season, but this is an intriguing matchup to exploit from a DFS perspective. The game script in this matchup is projected to be neutral according to the spread. I believe the Falcons could build a sizeable lead in this matchup. Cam Newton’s shoulder injury is more serious than what the Panthers have disclosed publicly. He was struggling to put velocity on his throws on Monday Night Football against the Saints. This will have a significant influence on the Panthers offense Sunday against the Falcons. Let me break down one player at each position you should target in DFS.

  • Matt Ryan is averaging the third most passing yards per game in the NFL with 307.6. He’s thrown 30 touchdown passes, but only six interceptions. Ryan has been inconsistent on the road this season. The Panthers secondary is not one to be intimidated by. Did you know this unit has allowed opposing quarterbacks a rating of 99.3?
  • Newton’s shoulder injury should position Christian McCaffrey to see a high percentage of opportunities in Week 16. He has averaged 21.7 opportunities per game this season. The only running back with more targets than McCaffrey (110) is James White (114). One concern I do have is that the Falcons defense could stack the box and go all out to contain McCaffrey given Newton’s shoulder.
  • Julio Jones is the wide receiver to target in this matchup. He has caught three touchdowns in the last two games. Jones is averaging an insane 108 receiving yards and 155.6 air yards per game. He leads the position in both of those statistical areas.
  • Austin Hooper’s fantasy production has been up and down like the S&P 500. He does have a plus matchup against the Panthers secondary. Hooper accumulated five receptions, 59 receiving yards, and a touchdown against the Panthers back in Week 2.

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!

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Eric Moody is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Eric, check out his archive and follow him @EricNMoody.

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