Week 1 Vegas Fantasy Preview
September 12, 2015 | Chet
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Welcome to the first Vegas-inspired fantasy preview of the season. I will look into Vegas’ sides and totals, line movements, public perception, and potential game flow while translating that into fantasy goodness. Also, I live less than 3 miles from the strip and spend way too much time in the sportsbooks… so if you ever need me to place a bet for you, we can make arrangements
The opening game of week 1 is in the books and so begins the chaos that is sports betting. That garbage touchdown Big Ben threw to Antonio Brown with seconds left caused an $8 million swing here in Vegas and over $100 million (illegally) worldwide. Books got killed by the sharps taking the Patriots -2.5 and -3 (when Brady was suspended) and those same people taking the Steelers +7.5 for the middle after the suspension was overturned and the line got, well, inflated.
Green Bay @ Chicago (Packers -7, over/under 49)
Knowing how to bet is equally as important as knowing who to bet, as evidenced by the Steelers/Pats game. Same story here. This game opened Packers -4 (good value) and has steamed up to Packers -7 everywhere here in Vegas. The sharp online books refuse to steam to the key number of 7, which is a tell. In a hated rivalry like this one, there is usually value in taking the home dog, especially if you can get a full touchdown. Throw in the Jordy Nelson injury and the much-improved Bears coaching staff and we have a potential upset on our hands. I’m not bold enough to take the Bears +270 on the moneyline, but that +7 is looking pretty sweet. Adam Gase is a genius and that Packers defense is still run by Dom Capers, so all Bears position players should have success in fantasy. Obviously follow the Jeffery situation closely, but Royal is a nice PPR and DFS play either way.
My bet: Bears +7
Kansas City @ Houston (Texans -1, over/under 41)
The closest spread of the week is a true coin flip. I have also gone back and forth in picking this game so a coin might literally be your best bet here. Watt, Clowney, Wilfork, Cushing, and Joseph sound a Pro Bowl squad, but on-paper greatness rarely ever translates to on-field greatness. In the end Brian Hoyer just might be game-managery enough to actually pull this off. The Chiefs have made strides this offseason and should be in the thick of the playoff race all year. Hey, Alex Smith might even throw a touchdown to a wide receiver this year, so that’s a start!
No bet (slight lean to Houston)
Cleveland @ NY Jets (Jets -3.5, over/under 40)
The NFL has a sense of humor putting the two most dysfunctional franchises against each other in week 1. Jets MVP IK Enemkpali did the city and franchise a favor forcing Fitzmagic into action. Ryan Fitzpatrick is (and has been) a nice fit in Chan Gailey’s offense. Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall, and Eric Decker all got a nice boost for their season outlook. I expect this game to be a slow paced, boring grind with Ivory benefiting the most. The Todd Bowles era should begin with W.
My bet: under 40 (lean Jets -3.5)
Indianapolis @ Buffalo (Colts -2.5, over/under 45)
This is a textbook sharps vs public matchup. Your casual bettor will see Andrew Luck giving less than a field goal against Tyrod Taylor and mark this as free money. Rex Ryan has already called out the Bills fans. Expect an extremely hostile environment for Andrew luck to go along with those exotic blitz packages. This is not a good situation for any Colts player, really, but guys who can benefit are the short-to-intermediate route possession receivers like Dwayne Allen and Andre Johnson. Expect the public to push this line to -3 (and possibly -3.5) on Sunday, with extreme sharp buyback right before kickoff. This line movement could fluctuate quite a bit. Bills moneyline +130 is absolutely the best bet right now, and it’s only gonna get better from here.
My bet: Bills +3
Miami @ Washington (Dolphins -3.5, over/under 43)
This line opened Dolphins -2.5 and has settled to -3.5 (-4 in some places). Books have exposed themselves to a possible middle (again), which would be great. The switch to Kirk Cousins is definitely an upgrade in Jay Gruden’s system. The Redskins will be able to move the ball and extend drives fairly consistently because of it. Here’s another situation of a home underdog that the public will write off, inflating this spread for the trendy Dolphins. You still gotta start your Dolphins in fantasy, but keep expectations in check. The Redskins pulling off an upset would not be surprising at all.
My bet: Redskins +3.5
Carolina @ Jacksonville (Panthers -3.5, over/under 41)
My love for the Jags is well documented, so take this blatant homerism with a grain of salt. The loss of Kelvin Benjamin was a disaster for Carolina, which leaves the Panthers with the worst receiver depth chart in the league. Cam Newton is in for a long year, but at least he got paid so good for him. The Jaguars made much-needed improvements to their offensive line this offseason, which will greatly aid the natural progression of their first and second year position players. The defensive-minded Jaguars are a bettor’s dream; an underrated, up-and-coming team with a good coaching staff but an aura/perception of, well, being the Jaguars. I will be extremely surprised if the Jaguars are not one of the best teams in the NFL at covering the spread this year.
My best bet of the week: Jags +3.5
Seattle @ St. Louis (Hawks -4, over/under 41)
The NFL schedule makers made sure the theme of week 1 will be road favorites vs live home underdogs. It’s a great recipe for must-see TV, upsets, and games being decided late in the 4th quarter. This game is no exception. Games are won and lost in the trenches and here you have one of, if not the best defensive line units in the league (Rams) facing a shaky Seahawks offensive line. Tom Cable might be the best offensive line coach in the league but he has his hands full in this one. It’s hard to trust any Seattle position player in fantasy because of this. I wouldn’t trust anybody in this game in DFS besides possibly Wilson and his running ability. The Rams offense also might be stagnant with game manager Foles at QB and both Tre Mason and Todd Gurley sitting out.
My bets: Rams +4, under 41
New Orleans @ Arizona (Cards -2.5, over/under 48.5)
In the past few days this total has steamed from 47 to 48.5, which I believe to be smart, sharp money so this looks like a shootout waiting to happen. With Brandin Cooks on one side and John Brown on the other, points can be scored very quickly. I recommend starting as many players in this game as possible. John Brown will be in all my DFS lineups with an extra boost in tournaments due to his upside. Some sites are setting this line at Arizona -1 as a classic teaser protection move. It’s smart, as teasing the Saints to +8 or 9 is as sure of a bet as you can make this weekend. This game is shaping up to be a complete coin flip, so getting the Saints moneyline at +125 or +130 is clear value. Remember, Sean Payton is one of the best minds in football, you can do far worse than betting on that guy.
My bets: Saints +2.5, teased to +8.5, and +125 moneyline. Go Saints
Detroit @ San Diego (Chargers -3, over/under 45.5)
Here’s a standard 3 point home favorite, as both teams are about equal in the NFL power rankings. This line did open as the Chargers a 1.5 point favorite and smart bettors quickly pushed that to the key number of 3. Now there’s no clear value here with equal money likely being bet on both sides. Philip Rivers is likely more trustworthy than Matt Stafford but this should be a close one either way. I’m as interested as any to see what Ameer Abdullah can do when the games count.
No bet here, the side and total are both solid
Cincinnati @ Oakland (Bengals +3, over/under 43)
The Coliseum has long been a scary place to go to as a fan. Finally, opposing teams will start thinking this way too! With Khalil Mack (and Aldon Smith?) giving opposing quarterbacks fits, an underrated secondary, and defensive-minded Jack Del Rio from the East Bay, this is an up and coming squad. Even though this isn’t a prime time game, the Bengals will still find a way to choke. As is the theme for most games this week, take the home underdog.
My bet: Raiders +3
Baltimore @ Denver (Broncos -4, over/under 48)
The big line movement here is the total crashing from 53 to 48. Denvers switch to a run-oriented/ball control offense and improved defense, Baltimore’s defense, and the Ravens lack of weapons on offense are all valid reasons to expect the under. Old man Steve Smith seems like a man on a mission so expect him to get his.
No bet, all value is gone (bravo to those who bet under 52 and 53)
New York Giants @ Dallas (Cowboys -6, over/under 51.5)
This game has a public-on-the-underdog feel to it, which is strange because it doesn’t get more public than the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have big issues on defense and are starting rookie Ereck Flowers at left tackle (who is a natural right tackle). Expect the Cowboys to come out strong and make a statement against their hated rivals. In fantasy you’re obviously starting all your Cowboys. Shane Vereen might get more work than expected with the Giants likely trailing throughout the game, he has a chance to put together a nice PPR performance.
My bet: Cowboys -6
Eagles @ Falcons (Philly -3, over/under 55)
For once, Monday Night Football has the most exciting game of the week (on paper, of course). Money is coming in on the Eagles and the over, which is also a popular parlay because one is synonymous with the other. Fantasy bonanza for all! This game has all the right ingredients: 2 elite offenses, on turf, possible shaky defenses, home 3 point underdog not getting respected. This could be one of those Chip Kelly games that, no matter how high Vegas puts the total, it goes over. Enjoy the ride, and start as many players as possible.
My Bet: over 55
Vikings @ 49ers (Minnesota -2.5, over/under 41.5)
This game has ESPN ratings disaster written all over it, with the East Coast being fatigued from the Eagles/Falcons awesomeness. A seven(!) point swing has happened toward the Vikings, for obvious reasons. The perception for the 49ers could not be lower and it’s probably deserved. Still, this swing is an overreaction. The 49ers are a home underdog with a lot to prove in front of a (small) national audience. If the SF can contain Adrian Peterson, they will win this game. NaVorro Bowman looks great and the Niners actually had the quality depth to take on a lot of their losses. It might not be pretty, but the 49ers should find a way to win.
My bet: 49ers +2.5
Any DFS, fantasy, or Vegas questions? Feel free to comment below or follow me on Twitter @jeffd119 … I’m here to win you money.