How Vegas Will Help You Dominate Your Fantasy Football League

Whether you have an angry bookie hunting you down, never placed a bet in your life, or fall somewhere in between, you should be paying attention to what’s going on in Sin City.

If you truly want to dominate your fantasy football league, that is.

Don’t live in Vegas?  No worries. I’m not talking about Cirque Du Soleil, David Copperfield, or Jennifer Lopez… Though all three sound highly entertaining at the moment. But, the Las Vegas sportsbooks – which often go overlooked when determining who to draft, who to start, and which match-ups to target (or avoid).

You see, there are people in the world who are exponentially more intelligent than I’ll ever be. The type of people who’ve forgotten more information than I’ll ever know (and I fancy myself to be a pretty intelligent fellow). These folks have one job; to analyze sports, and provide the odds for each match-up.

AND, a multi-billion dollar industry depends on their findings.

Casinos don’t take losing money lightly, and as the old adage goes, “The house always wins”. So, when it comes to the sportsbooks, accuracy is of paramount importance.

Each week, a point spread (a forecast of the number of points by which a team is expected to win) is released for each game, as well as the anticipated points scored individually by team and collectively for both teams (over/under).

There are several sites which consolidate the game odds – my favorite being Sports Insights – or you can just do a quick Google search, and you’ll have more information than you’ll need for two lifetimes.

Use this information for your fantasy football leagues, and you’re playing with house money…

Over/Under

It’s been proven that high scoring offenses lead to more fantasy production, so a game that’s projected to finish in the 40/50 point range will give your players a better chance to produce than a game projected to finish in the 20 point range.

On the flip side, targeting defense/special teams units in games which are projected to be low scoring can also yield positive results – especially when playing daily fantasy football (DraftKings, FanDuel, etc.) where you can often catch a defense in a game projected to be low scoring for the low.

Seems elementary, because it is.

In addition to each game’s total projected points, you can view each team’s individual projected point total; all of which will improve your chances of identifying your optimal weekly fantasy football lineup.

Point Spread

*Disclaimer: I have no hard data to back up these observations*

I’ve noticed that a wider projected winning margin (larger point spread) usually means that an offense is likely to have success in a given week, their defense has a considerable advantage, or a combination of the two. Making players on these teams more desirable for fantasy purposes.

A close point spread (four points or less) with a high over/under point total indicates a high scoring, back and forth affair in which players from both sides tend to be safe plays. Lastly, if the spread is close, and the o/u total is also low, there’s likely less fantasy production to be had.

More to come here in the future.

Projected Win Total

Since 2012, 87% of the receivers who finished as a top-25 target recipient, also finished as a top-25 fantasy receiver. But, just 38% of them played for teams with a losing record. More on receivers playing for losing teams here.

Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros recently studied the impact of high-scoring offenses, and found that “nearly 56 percent of top-18 running backs are on top-12 scoring NFL offenses”. Of those top-12 scoring offenses a season ago, eight finished with a record at/above .500. He also found that, “88.3 percent of top-12 quarterbacks come from top-18 scoring teams”. Of last season’s top-18 scoring teams, thirteen finished with a winning record.

See a trend?

Vegas can help us to identify which teams are likely to finish with a winning record; as the sports books release the projected win totals for all 32 teams heading into the season.

Here’s what they look like for 2017 (via BetUS):

Team O/U Win Total
New England 12.5
Pittsburgh 10.5
Green Bay 10.5
Seattle 10.5
Oakland 9.5
Dallas 9.5
Kansas City 9.5
Atlanta 9.5
Baltimore 9
Carolina 9
NY Giants 8.5
Houston 8.5
Tennessee 8.5
Denver 8.5
Minnesota 8.5
Indianapolis 8.5
Cincinnati 8.5
Arizona 8.5
Tampa Bay 8
New Orleans 8
Philadelphia 8
Detroit 7.5
Washington 7.5
LA Chargers 7.5
Miami 7
Buffalo 6.5
Jacksonville 6.5
LA Rams 5.5
Chicago 4.5
San Francisco 4.5
Cleveland 4.5
NY Jets 4

Based on my preseason gambler’s power rankings (and offenses which could potentially struggle to put up points in 2017) I’ve come up with the teams it’d probably be best to avoid in your drafts: Bengals, Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Bills, Bears, and Jets.

That said, proven fantasy studs like A.J. Green, and Andrew Luck (if healthy) can be taken with confidence. Remember, a losing record doesn’t necessarily equate to a poor fantasy performer (Calvin Johnson was the 3rd best fantasy receiver in 2008 – his Lions went 0-16). But, when taking fliers, looking to find “sleepers”, or just unsure on who to draft, it’s usually a good idea to favor the players on winning teams.

Good luck this season, and as always, thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe, and check me out on Twitter: @maxingyourodds to stay up to date with the latest fantasy advice.

 

 

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