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Vegas Odds: Your Biggest Daily Fantasy Football Asset (Fantasy Football)

May 28, 2019

Selecting an RB from a big home favorite is a recipe for success in DFS

If the Vegas odds aren’t a regular part of your daily fantasy football research, then you are denying yourself a quick and easy screening tool to help you navigate the winding roads of selecting a cash-worthy DFS squad. In the following sections, you will learn how to gain valuable daily fantasy insight within seconds of glancing at the Vegas odds. Each assigned point spread and game total tells a story about how the oddsmakers expect the matchup to turn out. We can use those numbers to guide our daily fantasy selection process.

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The Over/Under Tells a Story

A higher over/under usually suggests a better game environment for daily fantasy purposes. Of course, there are exceptions to that statement, and we will cover those specifics in the next section. As a general rule of thumb, 45-46 total points is considered to be an average over/under. When totals elevate significantly above that range (into the 50s), the fantasy potential for quarterbacks and skill players typically grows alongside it. Conversely, totals that dip into the low 40s or even high 30s are usually avoidable when looking through a full daily fantasy slate.

No matter what the over/under turns out to be, it represents an easy shortcut for daily fantasy enthusiasts. The Vegas oddsmakers consider matchups, pace, tendencies, weather, injuries, and a myriad of other factors when setting the lines; then they attempt to quantify that with a number. We can quickly glance at this over/under to get a sense of the scoring expectations for any given game. After all, the over/under (otherwise known as game total) has a direct correlation with fantasy potential.

Understanding Game Flow

We’ve established what the over/under represents and how that translates to predictability in daily fantasy football. Now let’s add a wrinkle and talk about something called “game flow.”

Simply put, game flow combines the point spread and over/under to gain a sense of how each team will approach this matchup. More specifically, it examines the potential play calling of each team if the matchup evolves how the Vegas oddsmakers predicted.

For example, let’s say the Patriots are favored by 10 points over the Bills. If that line holds true to how the game plays out, one would assume that the Patriots would be running the ball while protecting a seven-to-10 point lead in the second half. Because of this, we are looking at a potentially favorable spot for the Patriots’ running backs (more volume), at least from a game flow point of view. You’ll need to further examine how the opposing defense handles the run, but using the Vegas odds to pinpoint game flow can be a valuable screening tool in daily fantasy.

Game Flow #1: Home Favorites = Select an RB/DEF

Let’s dive into certain game flow situations and analyze exactly what it means for daily fantasy football. The previous example of New England standing in as 10-point home favorites over Buffalo is the perfect time to look towards the Patriots’ running attack and defense. Those two positions often have a direct correlation, as holding an opponent to minimal points helps secure a substantial lead to emphasize a second-half running game. It also helps with field position, and a healthy lead means more predictable passing situations for the opponent (Buffalo). The New England defense will have their pass rush going at full speed while increasing their chances of sacks and interceptions.

Remember this rule: Home favorites of five or more points lend favorably to running backs and the defense of that team.

Honestly, as the point spread moves above five, this screening tool gains more strength. Five is somewhat of an arbitrary number, but it advocates more security in a team holding a lead than your typical (pick’em) spread of a field goal, which is common in the NFL.

Also, we prefer teams playing at home, as they are more likely to live up to the billing as a substantial favorite. Wacky things can happen on the road, while there’s a better chance an away favorite could lose the momentum and expected game flow.

Game Flow #2: When to Select a QB/WR

There are a few game flow situations where it makes sense to select a quarterback combined with his wide receivers or tight end. The first one we’ll highlight is the “catch-up” strategy. This is basically the opposite side of the home favorite scenario explained in the previous section. If a team falls behind by a substantial amount, there’s a good chance they’ll enable a pass-heavy approach while trying to come back in the final quarter.

Remember this rule: Teams who check in as underdogs of five or more points typically find themselves with more passing attempts while trying to make a comeback. This provides a boost in opportunities to quarterbacks and all pass catchers. 

Of course, you’ll need to examine the overall ability of the quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end along with the quality of the pass defense they are playing. This simply provides more room for volume in the passing game.

Game Flow #3: Shootout Potential

There’s usually shootout potential in a matchup with a relatively high over/under and low point spread. This suggests that these teams could trade scores down the stretch, possibly enabling both passing offenses to rack up stats in the process.

Remember this rule: If the over/under is 50 points or more with a spread of three points or less, there could be shootout potential.

An over/under that caters on the higher side of 50 points with a reasonably tight point spread makes for better shootout potential. This inspires a tournament strategy of looking towards key players from both sides.

For example, the Chiefs-Rams game in 2018 had an insane over/under of 64 with Los Angeles favored by one point. This is an extreme illustration of the rule, and the teams ended up scoring a combined 105 points with both quarterbacks throwing 10 collective passing touchdowns.

This is mentioned as a risk/reward tournament strategy in daily fantasy football, as you are essentially putting all your eggs in one (game) basket, hoping a high-scoring showdown lives up to the billing. If it does, you’ll likely reap the rewards. If it doesn’t, your lineup is toast.

The Bottom Line

None of these rules are written in stone, but they represent easy screening tools to help your lineup building process in daily fantasy football. Other important factors like general matchups, player ability, team tendencies, and respective salaries all play a vital role when assembling cash-inducing DFS squads. However, understanding Vegas odds with the aforementioned key points will help your daily fantasy research ability. As a refresher, here are the rules one more time:

  • Home favorites of five or more points lend favorably to running backs and the defense of that team.
  • Teams who check in as underdogs of five or more points typically find themselves with more passing attempts while trying to make a comeback. This provides a boost in opportunities to quarterbacks and all pass catchers.
  • If the over/under is 50 points or more with a spread of three points or less, there could be shootout potential.

Best of luck and happy cashing!

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Spencer Limbach is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Spencer, check out his archive and follow him @spencer_jl.

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