Week 3 Vegas Fantasy Preview
September 26, 2015 | Chet
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Pittsburgh @ St. Louis (pick ‘em, over/under 48)
With 85% of the bets coming in on the Steelers, this is the biggest public bet of the week. The line movement suggests the big fish are on the Rams, actually pushing the Steelers from -1.5 favorites to pick ‘em. The sharpest books even have St. Louis as 1 point favorites, making this the biggest public vs sharps game of the week. Temper your expectations if you think the Steelers are the lock of the week, and consider following the money here. LeVeon Bell’s return will help, but will he be any better than DeAngelo Williams? The Rams have the 3rd worst run defense through 2 weeks and perhaps people are looking into this, but it’s an anomaly. The Rams still have one of the most talented defenses in the league and will look to lean on the unit to pull off another impressive home victory.
My bet: Rams pick’em
San Diego @ Minnesota (Vikings -2.5, over/under 44.5)
For the second straight week the Vikings are getting no love at home with 85% of moneyline bets coming in on the Chargers. San Diego is clearly a better team than last week’s opponent (Detroit) but the line is again at Vikings -2.5. The roller coaster ride that is the NFL has changed both these teams perception to the public from weeks 1 to 2. Look for this to continue, as both teams are just rotating wins and losses. Parity at its finest. The total hasn’t moved off the 44.5 or 45, suggesting the line is solid and settled in. The veteran savvy of Philip Rivers will likely be the difference maker, with Stevie Johnson and Keenan Allen looking to benefit from the probable absence of Ladarius Green.
My bet: Chargers +2.5
Tampa @ Houston (Texans -6.5, over/under 40.5)
It looks like books are hesitant to lay the full 7 with Ryan Mallett here, with some sporadically showing the 7 with a lot of juice to Tampa. Mallett’s game tape looked very bad in week 1, and the fact that he gives the team a better chance to win than Brian Hoyer is just depressing. Jameis Winston looked very good last week in a game manager role in a run-based offense. He obviously has what it takes to win games with his arms but his leash will only slowly get longer. Like most heisman trophy winning quarterbacks, ball securing will be his biggest issue. Facing an elite defense on the road is a gigantic task and if Tampa goes down big early, it will be incredibly hard to make the comeback with the pressure he will face from Watt and company. I believe the better bet is to fade the bad quarterback play. A combination of Mallett and Hoyer should never be 7 point favorites in the NFL
My bet: Bucs +6.5
Philly @ New York Jets (Jets -2, over/under 45.5)
With the Jets just beating Andrew Luck on the road on Monday Night Football it’s not surprising that ⅔ of the bets are coming in on the team from New Jersey. Also, most the country saw the Eagles absolutely melt down at home vs the Cowboys to fall 0-2 straight up and against-the-spread. A regression to the mean is in order for both of these teams, as the Eagles would have likely been 3 point favorites if this game happened just 2 weeks ago. It’s very possible all the Eagles have to do is change up their terminology and be a bit more exotic with their offensive play-calling because the talent is there at every level of this roster. With Eric Decker likely out and Chris Ivory a legit 50/50 to play, the Jets will likely have a tough time moving the ball as well as they did the first two weeks. If the Eagles even get just halfway back on track offensively, they should easily pull off the “upset.”
My bet: Eagles +2
Saints @ Panthers (Carolina -10, over/under 42.5)
Drew Brees’ injury caused an incredible 7 point swing, which is a testament to how important he is to the franchise. It could also mean the beginning to the end of an era. Enter Luke McCown, backup no longer. Generally starting quarterbacks are worth around 3 points in Vegas, but Brees is a different animal. CJ Spiller couldn’t get healthy soon enough, as the potential for creative ways to get him the ball is there. I expect the Saints to control the ball and extend drives as much as they possibly can. Because of this gameflow, a Saints cover likely means the under 42.5 also hitting. For what it’s worth, the Brees injury only accounted for a 2.5 point decrease for the total, which I believe is Vegas saying the Panthers are likely to score a defensive touchdown, or at least cause plenty of turnovers.
My bet: Saints +10 and the under parlay (+260 payout)
Jacksonville @ New England (Patriots -13.5, over/under 49)
This line opened Pats -13.5 and has stayed there all week. The total has risen 1.5 points from 47.5, likely due to the Patriots giving up 32 points last week to the Bills. So far the Patriots have given up 147 rushing yards per game, good for 5th worst in the NFL. TJ Yeldon looks like a sneaky good play in all leagues as a high-volume, every down back that is ready to break out. Of course, after Spygate in 2007, the Patriots covered the spread in their first 8 games (with 7 of the 8 going over) so betting against the Patriots is very risky, no matter the perceived value. No way I’m betting against the Pats but if I had to take a side, it would be the Jags +13.5. A Gronk/Brady stack in DFS is a popular play, as it should be. While I would look elsewhere for more value, getting guaranteed points for a top dollar amount is refreshing after last week’s big-name busts.
Oakland @ Cleveland (Browns -3.5, over/under 42.5)
Another McCown brother gets an unexpected start after the head-scratching benching of Johnny Manziel coming off last week’s impressive victory over the Titans. Josh McCown is probably better suited to win games that the Browns are favored to win like this one and this will almost certainly be the last time Cleveland will be favored all year. The travel for Oakland could be an issue. Could both McCowns actually cover the spread?
My bet: Browns -3.5 (+100 payout)
Indianapolis @ Tennessee (Colts -3, over/under 46)
81% of spread bets are coming in on the Colts even after the Monday night flop, so people are buying into a rebound game for Andrew Luck and looking past the Mariota hype. It’s a bit concerning that only a few books are moving to the Colts -3.5, which suggests Tennessee will put up a fight in a divisional game as a home underdog. Because of the magnitude of this game and importance for a win this early in the season for both sides, this game looks to be high scoring with both teams trading blows. I expect veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson to get back on track this week and for Marcus Mariota to have even more success in his home opener. The Titans are victims of strange schedule-making with this being the first of 4 straight home games, and a bye coming up next week. Tennessee should give the Colts everything they got in a game the Colts desperately need. This should make for a very interesting game.
My bet: Titans +3, over 46
Atlanta @ Dallas (Falcons -1.5, over/under 44)
Not surprisingly, 81% of spread bets have been on the Falcons. Probably just as much a fade of Brandon Weeden as Atlanta’s impressive 2-0 start. However, the Falcons are in a bad spot, traveling for the 2nd week in a row and coming off two tough, tightly contested matchups. Dallas brings the NFLs best run defense in this young season and with rookie RB Tevin Coleman out for Atlanta, the Falcons offense could be easy to predict. Brandon Weeden can be a successful quarterback in the right situations and the Cowboys have very good offensive coaches that will make it easy for him. This is not a lame duck QB prone to turnovers that many are predicting. Look for the Cowboys to use that talented offensive line and run the ball as much as possible while mixing in high percentage, low risk passing plays for Weeden. I especially like Joseph Randle to have a high-volume, high-upside game where he can showcase his talent. If there is ever a game for him to live up to his potential, it’s this one. I’ll take the Cowboys at home in a good spot as my pick of the week.
My bet: Dallas moneyline (+110)
Chicago @ Seattle (Seahawks -15, over/under 43)
Generally an early season underdog of over 2 touchdowns is a great bet, but this is a unique situation. Jimmy Clausen simply looked like a backup quarterback (if that… a 3.2 QBR last week!). 0-2 Seattle in its home opener with Cam Chancellor ending his holdout is about as bad of a situation as you can get. I’m avoiding all Bears in DFS this week (I’m sure a lot of people are) and buying into Lynch, Jimmy Graham, and Russell Wilson. Of course, beware of Lynch for a surprise inactive but I would bet he suits up and has a real nice game. Wilson and Graham are one of my favorite stack plays of the week. Graham is 2.1k cheaper (fanduel) than Gronk and I will go out on a limb and say he will even outscore him.
My bet: Seahawks -15
Denver @ Detroit (Broncos -3, over/under 44.5)
Just last year this same matchup would have had an over/under of around 10 points higher than the current 44.5. The Broncos have transformed to a defensive, run based team under Kubiak; which is what they needed to do if they want to win a Super Bowl this year. The Broncos might have the fastest and most talented defense in the league and are a great play against turnover-prone Matthew Stafford. Glorified game-manager Peyton Manning will look to get the run game going here, as 2.8 yards per carry just isn’t cutting it.
My bet: under 44.5
Kansas City @ Green Bay (Packers -6.5, over/under 49)
So far, all 3 Monday Night underdogs have won outright with the under also hitting. With extra time off, the Chiefs have been bet off the key number of 7 to +6.5 so this game could very well be yet another underdog play. Throw in KC likely having the better defense and running game and an upset could be in the works if the Chiefs can get a lead early. Coming off the most important game of the year, the Packers are in a bit of a tough spot with a trip to SF on deck. If any quarterback can avoid the trap, it is early MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers but with Eddie Lacy banged up I see the Packers escaping with a win in ugly fashion, not covering.
My bet: Chiefs +6.5
YTD against-the-spread record: 11-12 (48%)
Any DFS, fantasy, or Vegas questions? Feel free to comment below or follow me on Twitter @jeffd119