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Analyzing Vegas Odds: Week 13 (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Dec 5, 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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At quarterback, Deshaun Watson is the player you want to target. The QB7 in fantasy points per game on the season has the salary to match, but as a +3.5 home underdog, Watson is projected to be playing from behind, but to keep the game competitive enough that Houston does not mail it in during garbage time. Watson was excellent in Week 12 but will need to adjust on the fly to life without Will Fuller. Philip Rivers is worth a tire kick if you are setting multiple lineups or are looking for a low priced option that will allow you to roster one extra stud elsewhere. 

Nyheim Hines has seen over 50 percent of the snaps just twice all season. That means we are chasing receptions, and chasing them hard. Hines has three or fewer receptions in three of his last five games. Look elsewhere for a more reliable and consistent running back option. 

Jonathan Taylor had 26 touches in Week 12, his highest count of the season, and could be leaned on again as the Colts look to milk some clock and keep Watson off the field. Taylor is worth a sniff as long as you can stomach his perilous floor. 

David Johnson is expected to play this weekend and will step right back into his starter’s role after Duke Johnson wasted away the opportunity so many have been clamoring for him to get for years. Perhaps NFL coaches know more than us about players they see every day, maybe. David should get relative volume, meaning percentage of his team’s touches, but may not see competitive volume vis a vis the other options you may be weighing him against. 

Michael Pittman has an extremely interesting matchup against Phillip Gaines. Gaines has been picked on all season and will now be starting in place of the suspended Bradley Roby. Gaines has allowed a 60 percent completion percentage against and an exploitable 11.1 yards per target. Pittman is worth a long hard look. Since Week 7, Pittman leads the Colts receivers in all categories despite seeing just a 15 percent target share. He is the only receiver worth a look from the Colts due to 48 percent of Rivers’ targets over that time going to the tight ends and running backs. 

Brandin Cooks deserves a long look in his new role as the Texans number one receiver. He has an exploitable matchup against struggling, but talented sophomore corner Rock Ya-Sin, and is poised to have a monster game against the Colts. Cooks should lead the team in targets, receptions, and yards in Week 13, but Randall Cobb may also be worth a sniff for multiple lineup setters. Fuller’s targets will be divided up with Fuller, Watson, and tight end Jordan Akins the most likely recipients. 

As mentioned, the tight end position has accounted for 25 percent of Rivers’ targets since Week 7. This makes Trey Burton, who leads the position with a 12 percent target share over that time worth a look. However, 12 percent is nothing to get excited about, making Burton more of a squeezed budget option than someone to set out intending to roster. 

The good news is that the tight end position is targeted heavily in Houston since Week 9. The bad news is that four different tight ends have seen targets. Jordan Akins is the only one worth a look, but has seen just 12 percent of Watson’s targets and has been much too inconsistent to trust. His role should expand but with only a few weeks of meaningful DFS play remaining, wasting a lineup or lineups on Akins upside should be eschewed due to his low floor.

While the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans game has a higher total, it would almost be a waste of time to reiterate what you already know. Baker is a pass, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and of course, Derrick Henry should all be strong considerations. A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, Jarvis Landry all have potential against weak secondaries. 

This contest between the Jaguars and the Vikings also has some obvious plays, but may not be as chalky. Kirk Cousins and whoever starts for the Jaguars, are hard passes. Kirk Cousins is not going to need to pass despite the high total, giving him a QB3 floor. Mike Glennon is expected to get the start over a healthy Gardner Minshew. I am sure I do not have to sell you on passing on Glennon, so I won’t.

Outside of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and D.J. Chark, no receiver is truly worth considering for Week 13. As mentioned, Kirk Cousins is likely not going to throw the ball much despite the 51 point total. Minnesota is favored by 10 points meaning that Week 13 will likely be the Dalvin Cook show. 

Thielen and Jefferson are both excellent when games are competitive. However, when the Vikings steamroll opponents, both receivers see their floors significantly lowered, all the way to a WR4 level. 

Since Week 3, 66 percent of Jefferson’s down games have come in wins. Thielen has more upside than his rookie teammate this week due to his skill in the red zone. He has great hands and body control and has put both to use en route to a career high 11 receiving touchdowns. Thielen is the receiver to target. 

Laviska Shenault Jr. is going to be a stud receiver one day, unfortunately, that day is likely not coming this week. His star was ascending with Gardner Minshew but has predictably faltered with the horrendous Mike Glennon and Jake Luton experiments. If the Jaguars carousel of forgotten QB’s has taught us anything, it is that D.J. Chark will always get his looks in this offense. 

However, he had much higher upside with Minshew and even Luton. He is worth a contrarian play for multiple lineup setters. As 10 point dogs, the Jaguars are expected to be down big, giving Chark the potential target opportunity to have a big day. On the other hand, he will be catching passes from Mike Glennon, in 2020. 

The running backs are where the fun starts and ends for this contest. Dalvin Cook and James Robinson have both been excellent this season. Dalvin Cook has been on fire and has been the number one fantasy back this season. With Minnesota heavily favored in this contest, the gamescript could, and should, favor a heavy dose of Dalvin for at least three and a half quarters. Cook was on a multi-week tear before being forced from Week 12 with an ankle issue but is fully expected to play and see his full complement of snaps against Jacksonville. 

Robinson has been a godsend for the Jacksonville Jaguars. By now everyone can clearly see why they were so high on him, and why his play enticed them to cut bait with the maligned former first round pick Leonard Fournette

Robinson has been cooking in his own right and has done so despite playing for a 1-10 Jaguars team. He is going to eat regardless of gameflow but does have higher upside in contests the Jaguars manage to stay competitive in. This does not appear to be one of those weeks. That makes him a risk as the sixth most expensive active back on the slate. There are much better values to be had, but his upside makes him worth consideration if you so choose. 

At tight end, there is not much to see, or discuss. Irv Smith Jr. has been ruled out, giving Kyle Rudolph sneaky upside. However, he would be a much more attractive play if the Jaguars were expected to be competitive. 

In Week 10, with Smith sidelined Rudolph managed four receptions for 63 yards in an easy win over Chicago. In last week’s competitive contest against Carolina, Rudolph amassed eight targets, seven receptions, and 68 receiving yards. Both receptions marks were his highest counts of the season. He is worth a multi lineup look but has an extremely low floor due to gamescript. 

The tight end position as a whole is a pass as far as Jacksonville is concerned. Tyler Eifert still leads the position group and even found the end zone last week, but has just two scores on the season. He has topped 22 receiving yards just three times all season. Fade.

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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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