Analyzing Vegas Odds: Conference Championships
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 stats and trends for both teams in the AFC and NFC Championship games.
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This is the matchup everyone wanted in the AFC Championship. The Chiefs finished the regular season as the top offense in the NFL averaging 426.1 offensive yards per game. The Patriots finished the regular season ranked fifth with just under 400 offensive yards per game. Both offenses also averaged 28 or more points per game.
The Patriots and Chiefs met back in Week 6 and combined for 946 total yards of offense and 83 points. The Chiefs covered as a 3.5-point underdog, but now find themselves as a three-point favorite at home. The total opened at 55.5. Did you know that this is the first time in 12 postseason games that the Patriots enter a game as underdogs?
Here are a few and trends you should know about heading into this game:
- As underdogs, the Patriots are 7-1 straight up and against the spread in their last eight games
- The Chiefs are 5-1 straight up and 2-4 against the spread in its last six games at home against the Patriots
- The Patriots were 3-5 on the road during the regular season with all five losses to non-playoff teams
- The Patriots are scoring 12.2 fewer points per game on the road
- The Chiefs defense is more stout at home only allowing 17.4 points
- The Patriots offense will have to deal with a home crowd that is recognized as the loudest ever recorded at a sports stadium according to Guinness
- The Patriots haven’t won a road playoff game since 2006
- The Chiefs have hosted five games at Arrowhead where the temperature was 10 degrees or lower.
- The Chiefs defense accumulated 26 sacks (tied for second), 14 interceptions (tied for fifth), and 15 forced fumbles (third) from Week 10 to the end of the regular season. The team’s pass rush could be the key to slowing down Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
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Can the Rams redeem themselves in the Superdome after losing to the Saints back in Week 9? The Chiefs were the only offense averaging more total yards per game during the regular season than the Rams (423.4). The Saints ranked seventh averaging 381.6 per game. Both of these teams averaging 31 or more points per game. The Rams and Saints scored 80 points during their regular season matchup.
The Saints opened as 3.5-point home favorites with the total opening at 57. The team is 15-2 straight up in their last 17 games at home. The Rams, on the other hand, are 2-4 straight up in its last six games on the road against the Saints.
Here are a few trends you should know about heading into this game:
- The Saints defense is only allowing 17 points per game since Week 7 accumulating 28 sacks.
- The favorites have gone 8-2 in the last 10 conference championship games
- The total has gone over in five out of the Rams’ last six games against the Saints on the road
- This will be the third NFC Championship game since 1990 that will feature a point total of 55 or more.
- The Saints are 62-25 at home over the last decade, but two of their losses during the regular season were at home.
- The Saints converted 81.3 percent of their 16 fourth-down attempts during the regular season.
- The Rams are 0-8 with Bill Vinovich as referee
- Jared Goff has averaged 247 passing yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game indoors
- The Rams offensive line led the NFL in adjusted line yards during the regular season according to Football Outsiders.
- Aaron Donalds leads the NFL in pressures (74), sacks (20.5), and sack percentage (3.7) according to Next Gen Stats.
Todd Gurley is embracing the presence of C.J. Anderson. That doesn’t happen by accident. It’s part of the culture Sean McVay and the #Rams have built the last two years. And it’s got them on the cusp of the Super Bowl. My story for @TheAthleticLA https://t.co/xi2gNAGwaK
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) January 18, 2019
- All five of Goff’s passing touchdowns since Week 14 have come on play-action passes according to Pro Football Focus. It will be important for the Rams to establish the running game.
Bringing It All Together
It will be challenging to set a unique DFS lineup with only four teams to build a roster from, but here are some players I like heading into Championship Weekend.
Drew Brees is the top quarterback play against the Rams because he will not be negatively impacted by weather and has a solid statistical body of work in the postseason. Alvin Kamara exploited the linebackers and safeties of the Rams back in Week 9 as a receiver out of the backfield. He should see opportunities for a repeat performance.
Damien Williams could see some additional touches due to the weather in Kansas City. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has always been creative as a play caller and will place Williams in a position to be successful.
Julian Edelman has been targeted 10 or more times in each of the last four games and has a plus matchup against Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller. Tyreek Hill has the potential to go boom on any given play. Did you know he has 14 receptions, 275 receiving yards, and four touchdowns in two career games against the Patriots?
Ted Ginn is a great sleeper given the matchup and the projected point total. He was targeted seven times last week against the Eagles.
It is rare to see Rob Gronkowski priced this cheaply on DraftKings. The Chiefs defense allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Robert Woods will run a high percentage of routes from the slot which will allow him to avoid Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. He averaged eight targets per game during the regular season.
Saints D has allowed just 5 points in the 4th quarter of the last 6 games combined, and one of those games we weren't playing our starters (3 points-Week 17). The other 2 points were the Pick 6 on the 2 point conversion fail. So the real defense has given up 0. That's insane.
— Eric Ray (@EricRayweather) January 14, 2019
The Saints defense stepped up the second half of the season. This unit and the rowdy crowd of the Superdome could give Goff fits this weekend.