Analyzing Vegas Odds: Week 1 (2019)
Analyzing Vegas’ odds is a sharp way to identify potential DFS plays and pivots. For this column, we will be focusing on the high over/under totals for the Week 1 main slate. We will discuss three matchups with the highest over/under totals and take a look at the key players involved. We will attempt to identify if the players involved have salary rank-based upside. Finding values is just as important as knowing whether or not a player will have a good or great game.
The over/under totals Vegas sets on contests provides a snapshot at what the expert line setters believe will happen in these contests. A higher total means an increased opportunity for potential fantasy points. The spreads on these contests can also clue us into potential gameflow. Gameflow can affect gameplans and can alter the run vs. pass play call ratio. Let’s take a look at the contests most likely to provide some of the top producing DFS options for this weekend’s main slate.
|Date||Favorite||Spread||Underdog||Total||Away Moneyline||Home Moneyline|
|Sunday, September 8th, 2019||Kansas City||-3.5||at Jacksonville||52||-186||+154|
Kansas City vs. Jacksonville features the second-highest over/under total of the week. Targeting games with high over/unders will be a theme of this weekly column. Accounting for line shading, the total Vegas expects from this contest sits between 49-51. The 51 points with a shaded 4 or 3.5 points spread means that Vegas may believe this contest will run at 27-24 for the Kansas City Chiefs. Week 1 is historically sloppy on both sides of the ball, so it is hard to take a stance on this matchup. Kansas City is an over team. Jacksonville, on the other hand, is an under team.
Even if this game stays under, there will be an opportunity for the skill players of both teams to rack up fantasy points. With that said, Patrick Mahomes had his worst fantasy game of the 2018 season against Jacksonville while playing at home. The Chiefs still won the matchup last time, as Mahomes threw for 313 yards and found the end zone on the ground. However, he tossed two picks and had his worst fantasy point total of the season. Mahomes is an easy fade for Week 1 DFS contests. Even worse for Mahomes, this contest will be played in Jacksonville.
Tyreek Hill is expected to be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey. This sounds concerning on the surface, but one should be aware of the fact that the Chiefs will manufacture touches for Hill at or behind the line of scrimmage. Hill can also win on slants and on deeper routes where Mahomes can buy extra time for him to shake loose of the star cornerback. While Hill is someone to target due to his ability to rack up fantasy points, adding him to your roster necessitates that you find some values elsewhere. While he is a sharp contrarian play due to the scores of players who will shy away from a matchup with Ramsey, he is a risky cost per projected point value.
Sammy Watkins is the most intriguing play of the Chiefs receivers. A fantastic value at DraftKings and Yahoo DFS, he had six receptions for 78 yards in last years contest against the Jaguars. With Ramsey glued to Tyreek Hill all day, Watkins could be in for another high-volume afternoon.
Travis Kelce is both the safest and the most expensive DFS play at the tight end position. Expected to be the Chiefs top target with Tyreek Hill being served a steady dose of Jalen Ramsey, Travis Kelce could have a monster fantasy game in store. Kelce had 10 top-five fantasy performances in 2018 and seems to be a lock to open the 2019 season with one. The TE4 with five receptions for 100 yards in the Chiefs’ meeting with the Jaguars last season, Kelce is someone to target with both single and multiple entries.
Any time a total is posted over 50 points, the running backs involved in the contest take on particular intrigue. Damien Williams is set to get the start for the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 and should be a popular play. LeSean McCoy just joined the Chiefs and may not be ready for a full complement of snaps in his co-starter role. Williams should receive the lion’s share of the touches in Week 1.
Despite the high spread, there are only a couple players on the Jaguars who are fantasy relevant. Nick Foles has some value due to the high total, but he is more of a multiple lineup option.
At running back, Leonard Fournette has some strong potential value. He could run into some gamescript based trouble as both Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo are superior as receivers out of the backfield. However, if Jacksonville can keep it close or play with a lead, Fournette could be in store for a monster fantasy day that includes multiple trips to the end zone.
While Chris Conley and D.J. Chark are interesting big-play threats who will appeal to the multiple lineup crowd, it is Dede Westbrook who has the most potential value in Week 1. He is expected to play heavily from the slot this season, and he should pace the Jaguars in targets in Week 1 and beyond. Westbrook is a solid value this week at all three major DFS sites who has a high probability of outperforming his salary rank.
|Date||Favorite||Spread||Underdog||Total||Away Moneyline||Home Moneyline|
|Sunday, September 8th, 2019||at Tampa Bay||-0.5||San Francisco||50||-110||-110|
Tied for the second-highest total of the main Sunday slate, this matchup should provide some fantasy fireworks. This contest has experienced some line movement and is now a pick ’em at some sportsbooks. Tampa Bay won the last game between these two 27-9, but a season later, the two teams are very different.
Jameis Winston is expected to have a monster Week 1. The proof of this lies in his QB3 salary rank at DraftKings. He is expected to thrive in Bruce Arians’ system, and he could prove to be a tremendous value at Yahoo and FanDuel where he is the QB9 and QB8 based on salary rank. Jimmy Garoppolo, a quarterback with a positional ADP below 20 at all major redraft sites, is ranked as high as Yahoo’s QB8 based on salary rank. A potential solid value at both DraftKings and FanDuel, Jimmy G in a high total contest may very well prove to be a shrewd play at the cost of less than 12 percent of the cap.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both look to be in line for good to great fantasy contests. With no number three receiver of note, both receivers could see a target share over 25 percent this season. Mike Evans is a Jameis Winston favorite and is no lower than the WR4 based on salary rank at the three major sites. In my opinion, 100 yards and a trip to the end zone look to be in the cards. Evans is a solid play if you have the remaining salary, but he is not someone you should prioritize for single entries. He is likely to be featured in a very high percentage of lineups.
Chris Godwin also got some serious love from the DFS salary makers. No lower than the WR14 based on salary rank, Godwin is not a sleeper to those setting the salaries. With that said, he has a very good chance to outperform his salary rank in Week 1. The total for this contest suggests a shootout that should all but guarantee Godwin a steady stream of targets.
OJ Howard is a rock-solid play for those looking to differentiate their lineups. He is no lower than the TE5 based on salary rank, but will still have every opportunity to provide value. Arguably one of the top two talents at the tight end position, Howard could be unleashed in Week 1. A high-total home game raises his floor and makes him one of the lowest risk plays at the position.
Tampa Bay’s backfield is a bit of a mess right now and is a situation to avoid in both redraft and DFS. Peyton Barber is the starter and could see some volume-based upside. However, there is too much uncertainty regarding how involved Ronald Jones and third-down back Dare Ogunbowale will be. Avoid these backs unless you are reaching deep into the multiple entries well.
The San Francisco 49ers wide receivers could provide excellent returns on investment. Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are slated to be the starters and could both outperform their salary ranks. Goodwin showed excellent chemistry with Jimmy G when the two played together in 2017 and is ranked as high as the WR19 based on Yahoo salary rank. His salary falls more in line with what one would expect at FanDuel and DraftKings where he is the salary rank based WR42 and WR43 respectively. A strong, but possibly quite popular DFS dart, Goodwin deserves some consideration for this weekend’s DraftKings and FanDuel contests.
A value at Yahoo as the WR28 based on salary rank, Pettis is the WR21 and WR19 at DraftKings and FanDuel respectively. Pettis was excellent down the stretch of last season but now has to contend with the return of Marquise Goodwin and the addition of talented rookie Deebo Samuel. With that said, Samuel played in the fourth preseason game and is not yet a threat to steal snaps in two-wide sets. Pettis could provide a solid return on investment in Week 1.
George Kittle is the top play on the 49ers. The total for this contest suggests he should be peppered with targets through the game. No lower than the TE2 at the three major sites, Kittle should produce at a level commensurate with his salary rank. Despite now having a formidable trio at wide receiver, Kittle will see one of the highest target shares at his position this season. He saw 12 targets when the 49ers and Buccaneers faced off last season. He hauled in six of them for 48 receiving yards.
The 49ers’ backfield may prove to be a tricky one to project. Tevin Coleman is expected to function as the teams lead back, but Matt Breida has looked like the more explosive runner during the offseason. Breida is listed as the starter on the team’s website and is a substantial value at all three DFS sites. No higher than the RB27, Breida looks like a strong bet to provide a solid return on investment this weekend. The RB20 at DraftKings and FanDuel based on salary rank, Coleman has a semblance of volume-based upside. One of the 49ers backs is likely to find the end zone this weekend.
|Date||Favorite||Spread||Underdog||Total||Away Moneyline||Home Moneyline|
|Sunday, September 8th, 2019||Los Angeles Rams||-2.5||at Carolina||50||-146||+121|
The Los Angeles Rams vs. the Carolina Panthers has the second-highest total of this weekend’s main slate. It is an intriguing line because both teams are fielding good defenses this season. The early bettors and sharps agree and have already moved the line down from the 51 at which it opened. It sits at as low as 49.5 at some offshore books. There are no recent head to head trends as these two teams have not faced off since November of 2016.
The high total for this contest is a recipe for fantasy goodness. Jared Goff should be in for a big week at the quarterback position and is expected to throw at least two touchdowns. No lower than the QB8 at the major DFS sites, Goff is a shaky bet to provide a return on investment. He was a night and day quarterback on the road last season. He put up 342.1 passing yards and 2.75 touchdowns last season at home compared to a paltry 243.9 passing yards and 1.25 touchdowns on the road. Nine of his 12 interceptions on the season came away from the friendly confines of L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
The Rams’ wide receiver trio, as they will for most of their games this season, provide some intrigue. Cooper Kupp has been reported to be looking as good as ever and will likely pace the Rams in targets and receptions. Goff built his chemistry with Brandin Cooks late in the season while Kupp was sidelined. How Cooks performs with the target-hog back in the middle of the field will be an interesting storyline to monitor. As 2.5 point road favorites, the Rams are expected to throw early and often in this contest. The WR11 based on salary rank at DraftKings and FanDuel, Cooks may be priced too high relative to his floor. Of course, he possesses monster weekly upside, but he finished better than the WR11 just four times last season.
Robert Woods may be the receiver who sees a slight reduction in target share versus what we saw when all three receivers were healthy last season. A talented, sure-handed wideout, Woods is no lower than the WR12 based on salary rank. Woods had just four top-12 finishes in 2018. One of these receivers is more than likely to go off. However, the risk involved with predicting which one saps some of the value from these three exciting wideouts.
Todd Gurley is the only running back to target from the Los Angeles Rams. Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson are likely to cannibalize each other’s value this weekend, which leaves both as strong fades despite their low salaries. Gurley will be fed touches in a contest that is expected to be closely contested. Despite the casual money coming in on the Rams, the spread for this contest has dropped. This suggests this contest might be even tighter than expected. Gurley should be good for over 100 yards from scrimmage and a score in Week 1. He has an interesting array of salary ranks as he is the RB6 at DraftKings, the RB8 at FanDuel, and the RB4 at Yahoo. A high risk, high reward investment relative to his salary cost, Gurley could prove to be a must-have for GPP tournaments.
Cam Newton appears to be healthy and should be in line for a monster night. While the Panthers are expected to be playing from behind, they will keep the contest close enough that they will be able to play their style of game. Expected to take the next step in his development as a passer, Newton has an enviable stable of skill position players to throw to. With a salary rank no lower than the QB5 at the three major sites, Newton may have a tough time providing a solid return on investment. He is a low-risk plug-and-play option that should produce at the level his salary ranks suggests.
D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are both in for expanded, high volume roles this season. The release of Torrey Smith ensures that the two young wideouts will start in two-wide sets. There seems to be some salary-based value on Curtis Samuel at DraftKings and FanDuel where he is the WR38 and WR31 respectively. At Yahoo, where the Week 1 lines were posted later than the other two sites, he is tied with D.J. Moore as the WR24. Based on his projected role, Samuel is an excellent play at DraftKings. Moore is a superb playmaker who is ranked no lower than the WR25. A home run threat, he needs the ball in his hands just once to take it to the house. He has yet to show real consistency and is ranked as a boom or bust option. In a high total contest at home, Moore is someone who could prove to be a tremendous return on investment. He will need to find the end zone to realize his upside.
Greg Olsen is a Cam Newton favorite and should see a steady stream of targets in a contest the Carolina Panthers are expected to be forced to throw in. The TE14 at DraftKings and FanDuel, Olsen is a good bet to outperform both salary ranks. In fact, he finished as the TE16 or better in six of his seven 2018 matchups. He finished as the TE14 or better in four of his seven contests. Olsen will be one of the featured targets in the middle of the field.
Christian McCaffrey is in line for a massive contest. A WR2 and a low-end RB1 rolled together in one elite package, McCaffrey could pace the field in fantasy points this weekend. He was much more impressive at home last season where he averaged 141.3 yards from scrimmage and 0.875 touchdowns compared to just 104.4 and 0.75 scores on the road. Positioned no lower than the RB3 based on salary rank, McCaffrey is someone to consider if you have the leftover salary when you have finished entering the rest of your lineup.