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Analyzing Vegas Odds: Week 11 (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Nov 21, 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 a contest with one of the highest totals of the week, as well as one with one of the larger spreads. These two battles are sure to have some chalky plays, but need to be dissected nonetheless.

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If you haven’t been paying attention over the last 24 hours or so, you may have missed the reports that Taysom Hill may actually get the start over Jameis Winston. We won’t waste your time debating the merits of Hill vs. Winston, smokescreen vs. reality, or how much the Saints stunningly paid him this offseason and will instead point out that Hill qualifies as a tight end at FanDuel, at just $4,500 at that. He is only $4,800 at DraftKings but is quarterback eligible only. He is a must-start at FanDuel, and is worth a long look at DraftKings, as long as you believe the reports. If he starts, he should run enough to have top 12 QB upside. 

Taysom Hill potentially starting lowers the floor of everyone on the Saints not named Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Hill has not proven to be much of a quarterback at all, but he is an incredible athlete. Probably more H-back with an arm than a quarterback, Sean Payton deserves the benefit of the doubt for whatever he has seen in him over the years. 

Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are probably better left on the fade pile for this week despite the extremely enticing matchup. Atlanta has surrendered the third most fantasy points to the wide receiver position, but Hill was a six yards per attempt quarterback in college, so he may not exactly be able to coax big numbers out of his receivers if he indeed plays every snap. 

Kamara and Murray are both worth looks in what could turn into an RPO heavy offense for the Saints. Kamara will get numerous checkdowns, and is of course the prized play, but he may be almost as chalky as Taysom will be. New Orleans will need to lean on the run to protect Hill and maximize his strengths. That means there should also be a high enough touch count for Murray to feign relevance for Week 11. 

Finally, Jared Cook makes for an interesting play as he is sure to have a solid off-field rapport with Hill, but there is some concern as the tight end position was an afterthought for Hill in his two seasons as a full-time starter for BYU in 2013 and 2016. The matchup is fantastic as the Falcons allow the most fantasy points to the position but he would be much more attractive if a proven quarterback like Jameis was getting the nod. 

Matt Ryan makes for a less attractive option than Hill obviously but may be forced to air it out against a Saints team that is strong against the pass. He is a solid option thanks to his talent at receiver, especially with Calvin Ridley coming back. Ryan has had his fair share of struggles against New Orleans, but Julio remains in play as he has averaged 5.9 receptions for 92.6 receiving yards per game over his 16 career games against the division rivals. 

Ridley is the number four receiver in fantasy points per game and is worth a look despite having to go up against one of the tougher cornerback duos the Falcons will see all year. Hayden Hurst is an enticing option this week as New Orleans has surrendered the sixth most fantasy points to the tight end position. Hurst and Ryan have seen more success as a connection over the last few weeks with Hurst seeing 5.5 receptions per game and seeing no fewer than 54 receiving yards. 

Finally, Mr. Todd Gurley. Gurley may be in for a rough week unless the Falcons can keep this game competitive. He will be contrarian and can propel you into the money if he hits, but if he flops, he may dig you a hole too deep for you to climb out of. He is a boom or bust proposition with a negative projected gamescript. He is more of a multi-entry consideration than someone single lineup setters should concern themselves with. 

Andy Dalton will be back under center for the Dallas Cowboys. And if you believe Ezekiel Elliott, that should be seen as a good thing. The running back suggested that Dalton knows more of the playbook, which in turn will help open up the offense. With that being said, this is the same quarterback who was benched for Ryan Finley last season, so bear that in mind before touching any Cowboys player this week. 

Elliott may be the safest play as he saw 10 targets from Dalton is his lone full game, hauling in eight of them. He was bottled up on the ground against Arizona but should have more success against Minnesota unless the Cowboys dig themselves a hole. He is worth a look for Week 11 DFS contests. Tony Pollard should see some touches as well but is more of a dart than someone you want to build multiple lineups around. 

As for the receivers and Dalton Schultz, as long as the Cowboys fall behind in this contest, both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb could be sneaky plays. Both receivers saw over 10 targets against Arizona, with Lamb hauling in seven of his 11 targets for 64 receiving yards, while Cooper snared seven of his 10 targets for 79 receiving yards and a touchdown. If you believe Vegas’ odds, the Vikings are seven point home favorites, the Cowboys should be forced to go pass-heavy in this contest, making both receivers worth a look individually or in a little-used stack (especially if you join a single entry contest).

Michael Gallup saw just six targets against the Cardinals, hauling in two. Dalton Schutz saw a solid five targets but managed just 35 receiving yards. Both are strong fades unless you are trying to run a permutation stack. 

Ok, so we all know not to start Kirk Cousins right? Yes, Dallas has allowed the 12th most fantasy points to the quarterback position, but as we have all seen, Cousins is at his best when he is simply handing the ball off to Dalvin Cook. The gameflow projected by being seven point favorites suggests that this will be the Cook show yet again. Alexander Mattison should see some touches, but Cook will receive the lion’s share. 

Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are extremely attractive options on a weekly basis. However, as we have seen over the past few weeks, when Cook is cooking and the Vikings are playing with a comfortable lead, the Vikings often have no reason to utilize both of their receivers. Jefferson has four games with over 100 yards receiving in his last seven contests. Unfortunately, in the other three games, he managed just three receptions (was held to three in each contest) and crossed the 24 receiving yard barrier just once (64 receiving yards versus the Lions in Week 9).

Thielen has propped himself up by finding the end zone three times in the last four weeks but has otherwise been a disappointment. With Minnesota riding Dalvin Cook to three victories in those contests, Thielen has managed just 39.75 receiving yards per game and has been held under 51 receiving yards in each contest. Both receivers are risky plays despite the extremely enticing matchup against a porous Cowboys secondary surrendering the second most fantasy points to the wide receiver position. They are too talented not to consider, especially for multiple lineup managers, but DFS strategies should be cognizant of their ‘don’t you dare start them’ floors. 

Irv Smith Jr. is set to return this week which will cut into Kyle Rudolph‘s workload. The two time Pro Bowl tight end had his best game of the drain with Smith sidelined, but lost a fumble and was not overly impressive otherwise. Irv Smith Jr. is a future Pro Bowl tight end himself, but generally speaking, as long as both of these tight ends are active, they will actively cannibalize each other’s fantasy upsides. This week is no different. You can find better options outside of permutation stacks, perhaps someone we discussed above.

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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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