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Analyzing Vegas Odds: Week 2 (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Sep 16, 2020

Analyzing Vegas’ odds is a helpful strategy all DFS players should look to take advantage of. It can help when weighing competing lineup options for any given week. A high over/under total can clue us into contests Vegas projects to have a high combined score. More opportunities for scoring can lead to increased opportunities for fantasy points.

Small point spreads show us which games Vegas projects to be competitive. Competitive contests suggest that the game script will not force either team to abandon the run or the pass. Large point spreads, on the other hand, suggest that the team with a large lead may look to run out the clock in the second half, or in some cases rest their starters as the game winds down. For the team that is behind it means that they may be forced to abandon the run in favor of being more aggressive through the air in an effort to put points on the board quicker.

High total contests can also alert us to potential chalky plays. While analyzing Vegas odds should not be the only tool you use to decide on roster options, it should, along with a host of other variables, play a correlative factor in your decision making.

This week we will take a look at one of each type. Tampa Bay hosts Carolina and are currently large -9.5 favorites. Green Bay versus Detroit features one of the highest totals of the week at a surprising 49.5 points.

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The quarterbacks in this contest offer some intrigue. While neither would likely be the first choice for single entry DFS players, there does appear to be some value. Tom Brady likely gets one of his best matchups of the season against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2. If there was any team to ask for after an uneven debut that saw him throw two interceptions and average a pitiful 6.6 yards per attempt, the Panthers are it. 

Teddy Bridgewater also disappointed in Week 1. Blessed with a strong matchup versus an inexperienced secondary, Teddy managed just one passing touchdown. His 7.9 yards per attempt and 270 passing yards were promising, but DFS gamers were likely hoping for a more fantasy-friendly line. The Buccaneers feature one of the most inexperienced secondaries in the league as well, so this is the time for Teddy to pop off. He could prove to be an excellent value if he can toss the multiple scores he was expected to last week. 

At running back it’s pretty much Christian McCaffrey or bust from this matchup. We all know about McCaffrey, the single most expensive player on most slates, but also the most consistent. Fitting him in your lineup requires major sacrifices elsewhere. He often proves to be worth the investment, but hitting on the dart throws you have to fit in your lineup becomes the deciding factor as to whether or not you finish in the money. CMC is always worth considering if you can make the lineup math work. 

The Buccaneers are a bit of a mess at the running back position. No longer is it just a Ronald Jones vs. Ke’Shawn Vaughn debate, it is now a Ronald Jones vs. Leonard Fournette vs. LeSean McCoy discussion. Jones led the backfield in touches in Week 1, recording 17 carries for 66 rushing yards (3.9 yards per attempt), and two receptions for 16 yards. However, Jones played just 47 percent of the snaps. McCoy was held without a carry but dominated passing game work when protecting Tom Brady was a priority. McCoy played 36 percent of the snaps. Leonard Fournette, who joined the team just days before the season opener, managed six touches on just nine snaps. 

It is obvious that Fournette’s role is going to grow at the expense of Ronald Jones sooner than later, especially given that Jones did not impress in Week 1. Jones is the best bet of the bunch if you want to attack the Panthers defense in a matchup with a large spread, but the suggestion here is to look elsewhere until such a time that the actual workload split reveals itself.

Wide receiver is where the fun is. Both teams offer three options that present varying degrees of appeal. We will start with the most talented player of the bunch in Mike Evans. Evans is an All-Pro level talent, but is dealing with a hamstring injury and was used as more of a decoy until his late score. If he can open it up in practice and get in a full session by Friday, he will be worth inserting into lineups as a contrarian play. 

Most DFS players who plug in Buccaneers receivers this week will be tapping either Chris Godwin or Scott Miller. Godwin could have a monster game if Evans is still acting as a decoy. The Panthers secondary is a complete 180 from the Saints secondary, giving Godwin a chance to go well over 100 yards receiving. Scott Miller has a similar opportunity. He caught five of his six Week 1 targets, with his 37-yard reception being Brady’s longest hookup of the afternoon. He may become a chalky play based on opponent and his DFS price tag. 

The Panthers receivers offer some serious appeal. First, we have the gamebreaker, D.J. Moore. D.J. was a major disappointment given the plus matchup against the Raiders secondary, but it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Teddy struggled to connect with his top target in a matchup that the opponent was clearly trying to take him away in. Moore had four receptions for 54 receiving yards but left a lot of yards on the field with the five targets he failed to haul in. 

Curtis Samuel somehow managed eight targets in Week 1 and managed to haul in five. However, he averaged just 7.4 air yards per reception, suggesting that he will be used in a high efficiency, low output role for the Panthers. 

Robby Anderson had himself a day, and frankly, it should have come as no surprise. He has reunited with his college coach Matt Rhule and was good enough in camp to soundly pass Curtis Samuel on the depth chart. Anderson finished his Panthers debut with five receptions off of eight targets for 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. His 75-yard catch and run was a thing of beauty, and it was more than encouraging that Bridgwater was able to find him more than 25 yards downfield. Anderson will be dealing with single coverage and number two corners all season and could have some fun after leaving a division that required him to play Stephon Gilmore, Tre’Davious White, and Xavien Howard two times a year, each.

At tight end, we have another mess. Ian Thomas saw just two targets in Week 1, potentially confirming fears that the tight end simply is not a priority in Joe Brady’s scheme. Sure a tight end is a great safety valve, but if you had a choice of dumping off to Christian McCaffrey, or even Curtis Samuel versus Ian Thomas, who would you choose? 

In Tampa Bay, Rob Gronkowski led the team with 77 percent of the snaps. O.J. Howard saw just 53 percent of the snaps. Cameron Brate saw 10 percent. Howard hauled in four of his six targets for 36 receiving yards and a score and appears to be the preferred receiving target out of the bunch, for now. Gronkowski’s usage and the Bucs use of 12 personnel was certainly encouraging, but if we are talking about options four, five, or potentially even six if a running back is heavily involved, it is obvious that both tight ends are more multi-entry dart throws than players to trust in Week 2.

The fun for this game starts at the quarterback positions. The 49.5 over/under suggests that the oddsmakers expect a shootout in this contest. Aaron Rodgers had a fire lit under him this offseason when the Green Bay Packers traded up in the first round, passed completely on a historic wide receiver class, and selected the raw but impressive Jordan Love

The Packers went on to double and even triple down on planning for the post-Rodgers future by drafting A.J. Dillon in the second round, and Josiah Deguara in the third round. Rodgers responded with 364 passing yards and four touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, Minnesota’s secondary is in flux, but so is the Lions secondary, especially if Jeffrey Okudah is forced to miss another contest. Rodgers is highly intriguing against a Lions defense that just allowed Mitch Trubisky to throw three touchdowns in one quarter. 

Matthew Stafford was solid in his season debut but managed just one touchdown despite 297 passing yards. He is a fade unless Kenny Golladay can return from the sprained AC joint that kept him sidelined for Week 1. This is a plus matchup from a gameflow and projected total perspective, but until Quintez Cephus breaks out, Stafford will be hard to trust when Kenny G is not in the lineup.

At wide receiver, we will start with Golladay. A top-15 option when Stafford is healthy, Golladay is a fade despite the plus matchup. The shoulder injury could keep him at less than 100 percent if he is able to suit up, and facing Jaire Alexander in coverage in his first game back will do him no favors. If Golladay does manage to suit up Marvin Jones Jr. becomes intriguing. He flopped as the Lions top option and even failed to lead the team in targets. He posted a paltry four receptions for 55 receiving yards and reminded us all that he is clearly overmatched when asked to operate as a number one receiver. 

Jones was out targeted 10 to eight by rookie receiver Quintez Cephus in Week 1. Cephus becomes an interesting play if Golladay cannot go, but if he can, Cephus is a multi-entry dart with whom it may be more prudent to take a wait-and-see approach. Danny Amendola, much like Cephus, is only in play if Golladay cannot suit up. He led the team with five receptions and 81 receiving yards in Week 1 and could be a solid play in a high scoring affair.

On Green Bay, the conversation of course starts with all world receiver Davante Adams. The Rodgers-Adams connection is truly a treat that all football fans should enjoy while they can. 17 targets, 14 receptions, 156 receiving yards, two touchdowns. Adams balled out in Week 1, once again operating as Rodgers’ number one and number two receivers. With Michael Thomas expected to be sidelined, and the total for this contest currently pegged at 49.5, Adams may very well be the chalk receiver play of the week. He is hard to fade based on his 41.4 percent target share and deserves strong consideration for at least one of your lineups. 

Allen Lazard played a near everydown role in Week 1 and is clearly the Packers number two receiver. However, a number two role does not always make for number two production. He managed just 63 receiving yards off four receptions but salvaged his day with a trip to paydirt. Lazard is an enticing option on a weekly basis but comes with consistency and floor risks that need to be considered. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling was the big play slot weapon the Packers had hoped he’d be after a strong camp, hauling four of his six targets for 96 receiving yards and a touchdown. If MVS can be a consistent threat in the slot, he is quickly going to become a weekly DFS lineup fixture. He is worth a gamble against the Lions. 

At running back Aaron Jones is the only back to trust from this contest. He disappointed in Week 1 (76 total yards), but did have 20 touches. He will remain the clear lead back for the foreseeable future, as when and if Dillon first earns an expanded role, it will come at the expense of Jamaal Williams. Jones is worth a look against a Lions defense that allowed 149 rushing yards at 5.3 yards per carry in Week 1. Williams and Dillon are blindfolded darts at best. 

In Detroit, we have another mess. There is a ton of talent in the Lions backfield. And therein lies the problem. One of the greatest pure runners of all time. Arguably the most talented running back from the 2020 NFL Draft class. Oh, and some guy named Kerryon Johnson who would be a 1,000 yard rusher if he could make it through a season healthy as a starter. Adrian Peterson went 14 for 93 in Week 1 while D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson combined for just 10 ineffective carries. However, if there is one thing certain about this backfield, it is that Swift’s role is going to grow week to week. With the Lions projected to be trailing in this contest there may not be enough carries for three running backs not to cannibalize each other’s upsides. The entire backfield is a fade until a clear pecking order is established.

At tight end, T.J. Hockenson offers some serious intrigue. One of the most talented tight ends in the league the moment he stepped onto the field as a rookie in 2019, Hockenson faded hard after his breakout in his NFL debut. Now healthy after dealing with multiple injuries, Hock hauled in all five of his targets for 56 receiving yards and a touchdown. He could be a top target if Golladay cannot go, so keep his name handy in case Golladay is ruled out. He is worth considering even if Hock does play, though expectations regarding his ceiling and floor would need to be adjusted. 

The Green Bay Packers are a bit of a mess at tight end. Jace Sternberger is expected to emerge as the starter eventually, but missing weeks of camp have put him behind Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, and Deguara in snaps. The tight end position saw three targets total in a 43 point outburst that featured Aaron Rodgers attempting 44 passes. This entire group should be avoided until further notice.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyContext.

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