Analyzing Vegas Odds: Week 4 (2020 Fantasy Football)
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 the contests with some of the highest over/under totals on the slate. These two battles are sure to have some chalky plays, but need to be dissected nonetheless.
Any Week 4 DFS decisions should start with deciding whether or not you want to find a way to get Russell Wilson in your lineup. Wilson tied an NFL record with 14 passing touchdowns through his first three games and is too hot not to be a strong option, chalk be damned. His salary has skyrocketed, so there is little in the way of salary based value, but his cost per projected point value remains one of the tops at the position.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is hard to trust despite the plus matchup and the high total. He should be forced to throw and now has some reliable pass catching options to lean on, but he remains more of a multi-entry dart than someone anyone but the biggest gamblers would want to trot out there if just setting a single lineup.
Third in the league with 297 receiving yards, D.K. Metcalf is one half of the Seahawks wide receiver duo that is setting the world on fire. His yardage is even more impressive when one considers that he has just 12 receptions on the season, which means he has averaged an insane 24.8 yards per catch. He has three touchdowns and could have had four if not for a DeSean Jackson level boneheaded play prior to passing the chalk. You are doing your lineup a disservice if you do not at least attempt to find a way to get Metcalf rostered this week.
Tyler Lockett has been just as impressive as Metcalf this season. He went off for three touchdowns in Week 3 and is now tied for the league lead with four scores. His 24 receptions (eight per game) ties him for fourth in the league, and his 259 receiving yards (86.3 per game) has him tied for 10th in the league. Lockett and Metcalf account for 50 percent or more of Rusell Wilson’s targets every week and are going to be worth a stack until Wilson slows down. Even if you don’t trust the stack or Metcalf’s catch rate, Lockett deserves a long hard look this weekend.
DeVante Parker has posted a 14-169-1 line through three games. He has been an obvious disappointment for anyone who thought he could repeat his 2019 numbers in 2020, but he has been solid for the Dolphins. 4.3 receptions per game for 56.3 receiving yards and 0.33 touchdowns is not going to get anyone excited, but the plus matchup against the Seahawks should. The Seahawks have relinquished the most fantasy points to enemy wideouts, making Parker worth a multi-entry stab.
It is painfully obvious that Preston Williams is not yet back to his 2019 form. He has managed to haul in just five of his 14 targets and has just 74 total receiving yards all season. He did manage to find the end zone last week but was otherwise ineffective. Despite the highly attractive matchup, he should be faded until he proves he is back to the dominant receiver that relegated Parker to the number two role in this offense just last season.
Chris Carson has averaged just 52.3 rushing yards per game this season, thanks in large part to Russell Wilson showing the world that he should at least be in the conversation as the best quarterback in the NFL. He had his ankle double rolled in a dirty play this past weekend so there is no word yet on if he will be able to be cleared for Sunday. The backfield was shaping up as one to avoid, but if Carson cannot go and Hyde gets the start, he could get enough of a workload to be a multi-entry flier. He should have volume, especially if talented receiving back (and former wide receiver) DeeJay Dallas does not suit up to steal targets.
Myles Gaskin has taken over the Dolphins backfield. He was always a talented runner, and his extra year in the system, along with his versatility have made him the lead back in Miami. Gaskin leads the Dolphins with 16 receptions, a number that ties him for fourth in the league among running backs. He should be kept busy again against the Seahawks and makes for an interesting option on full PPR platforms. He has also rushed the ball 38 times this season for 152 rushing yards (four yards per carry).
Jordan Howard remains a low volume vulture who can be ignored outside of strategies that employ double-digit lineups. He has three scores on the season and is who the Dolphins turn to when they draw closer to paydirt. Matt Breida has 16 touches through three games with 15 of them being carries. Gaskin has pilfered his expected third-down role, leaving Breida as a mere breather back behind the Dolphins lead back.
17.4 percent of Wilson’s targets have gone to the tight end position. However, now that the Seahawks have three tight ends they trust, they are all cannibalizing each other. Case in point, Jacob Hollister scoring a short touchdown last weekend. Greg Olsen is the number one, but that has only translated to a 10.6 percent target share, nine receptions, 85 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Over three games that is three receptions, 28.3 receiving yards, and 0.33 touchdowns. Suffice it to say that Olsen, Will Dissly, and Hollister do not deserve consideration despite their quarterback’s scorching play.
Mike Gesicki seems to be finally making good on his immense potential. The third year is often when the light turns on for tight ends and it appears that Gesicki is no different. He has 175 receiving yards through three games (58.3 per game), putting him sixth among tight ends in receiving yards. Seattle will be a tough matchup with Bobby Wagner being one of the best cover linebackers in the NFL. The Seahawks have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to the tight end position on the season. Gesicki is still worth a multi lineup sniff, but expectations should be tempered despite the high total for this contest.
The marquee matchup of the slate features two former league MVP’s with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Cam Newton led Patriots. Mahomes has an on switch that remains second to none in the NFL. After playing down to the level of his opponent in Week 2, Mahomes went bonkers in a statement game against Lamar Jackson and one of the best defenses in the NFL in the Baltimore Ravens.
Mahomes has averaged 299.3 passing yards and three touchdowns per game so far this season and still looks like he can score at will. He may prove to be somewhat of a contrarian play against what the average DFS player may be concerned about as a tough defense. He has looked more willing to take off downfield this year and now has 80 rushing yards and touchdown on the season. If you are fading Wilson and are still comfortable with a high priced option under center, Mahomes just may be your guy.
Cam looked like he was going to be a weekly DFS option until his gameplan affected 27 rushing yard performance in Week 3. Newton has recorded 287 passing yards per game but has just two passing touchdowns in three contests. However, as we well know, for most of his career the bulk of his fantasy value has come from his legs. Newton has put up 149 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns through three weeks of the season (he was at 122 and four touchdowns through two), and may be back to looking to impose his will in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. His four rushing touchdowns ties him for the NFL lead, while his 149 rushing yards place him higher than David Johnson or Mark Ingram. Cam is worth a long hard look for his Week 4 rushing upside.
Tyreek Hill has a tough matchup against Stephon Gilmore. Hill has averaged five receptions, 74 receiving yards, and a touchdown per game on the season, and is worth a look despite the tough matchup. Kansas City should look to score enough to keep the Patriots rushing attack at bay (similar to what they did to Lamar Jackson in Week 3), so Hill should not be left wanting for targets. The Chiefs will get creative in trying to create mismatches for Hill with pre-snap motion, screen, rubs, and option routes so Hill has a chance to surprise against Gilmore. Gilmore is in the midst of a minim slump and is currently allowing a 66.6 percent catch rate, the worst mark of his career. His 90.9 percent deserved catch rate is also the worst mark of his career.
Sammy Watkins had seven receptions, 82 receiving yards, and a touchdown in Week 1, but predictably came back to earth in Week 2. He showed back up in Week 3 with a seven reception, 62 receiving yard effort suggesting that he may only be a DFS option in games with a potential positive gamescript. Despite the seven point spread, the total here is high enough to suggest that the gamescript may call for Mahomes to air it out to build up a lead to keep Cam from being Cam. Watkins is worth a multi-entry look against a Patriots defense relinquishing the seventh most fantasy points to the wide receiver position.
Julian Edelman has been strong this season numbers wise, but more than half of his production came in one game. He has a 15-259-0 line on the season but blew up for an eight reception, 179 receiving yard (a career-high) performance against the Seahawks in Week 2. The Chiefs have been stingy against the pass, but Edelman should be force-fed targets in a game the Patriots are expected to be playing catch up in. He is an intriguing play for Week 4.
N’Keal Harry has had a good connection with Cam Newton and has put up a solid five receptions per game. The yardage numbers are not where many might hope, but with no preseason or traditional offseason, 145 receiving yards over three games is rock solid. He is worth a multi-entry look due to the high total and projected gamescript.
Damiere Byrd has some appeal in this matchup, but should only be considered for those looking for a potential high upside dart play. Byrd has just nine receptions for 99 receiving yards on the season but is worth a look for those who are looking for a low-cost play, as he could be the recipient of more than a few deep targets.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been excellent through the first three games of his career. He proved to the world that NFL Combine numbers are vastly overrated, and that game speed, versatility, talent, and hard work win out every time. Edwards-Helaire has averaged 80 rushing yards per game at 4.4 yards per carry. He has been a chain mover despite playing in an explosive passing offense and has 10 rushing first downs on the season. CEH has proved to be a reliable receiving threat as well with 11 receptions for 102 receiving yards to date.
Sony Michel has had an up and down season. He has posted a solid 26-173-1 rushing line, however, that line is heavily reliant on a blowup Week 3 that saw him go off for 117 rushing yards on just nine carries. He entered Week 3 with a replacement-level 56 rushing yards on 17 carries. Michel has seen less than 40 percent of the snaps each week, and should not be trusted in a contest New England is expected to be trailing in.
Rex Burkhead looks like he could be a solid DFS play once again this week after shining with a 13 touch, 98 yards from scrimmage, three touchdown performance against the Las Vegas Raiders. James White expected to be absent once again which should put Burkhead in a valuable role. He saw just 46 percent of the snaps in Week 3 after 71 percent in Week 2, thanks largely due to an expanded role for J.J. Taylor. Taylor has a 16-70-0 line on the season but surprised with 11 carries in Week 3. He saw 22 percent of the snaps against the Raiders, but the concern is that his touches and snaps were gameflow related after a one carry Week 2 loss. Fade him for Week 4.
Travis Kelce leads all tight ends with seven receptions, 75.7 receiving yards per game, and 0.67 touchdowns per game. New England is likely to spend the week scheming to stop him, but Mahomes and Kelce are playing at another level right now. If the Ravens could not stop Kelce, the depleted Patriots defense is going to have a tough time doing so. Of course, the decision here is not whether or not Kelce is a good play, but whether or not he is worth the sacrifices elsewhere in your lineup needed to fit a high priced option like Kelce in.
New England’s tight end room is safe to ignore. Devin Asiasi or Dalton Keene should emerge with DFS value one day, but with Ryan Izzo running as the starter and generating all of five targets all season, it is abundantly clear that this is no longer the Patriots offense you grew up with.
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