Vegas Meets Fantasy Football: How To Use Week 2 Betting Odds To Set Your Fantasy Lineup

Could the Vegas betting lines really help you set a fantasy lineup?

Quick, without thinking: what are the two best things about football? Easy: fantasy football and gambling. Well, and having something to do on Sundays. And chicken wings. And cheerleaders. And — ok, I’m getting carried away. Fantasy and gambling, that’s what we settled on, right? Cool. Well much like peanut butter & jelly or Tom Brady & Gisele, your friend/fellow gambling degenerate Keegs is on a mission to combine two of the greatest things on planet Earth. How? Glad you asked.

Every week, we see the odds of NFL games all over the place. Seattle is 3-point favorites against Green Bay, the over/under for Pittsburgh/Cincinnati is set at 49.5, etc. Sure, you can use those to try and make a few bucks, but what about for fantasy? Believe it or not, gambling lines can tell you A LOT about who you should be trotting out there in your fantasy or even DFS lineup. So each week, I’m here to give you a handful of tips, based on the lines set by our buddies over in Nevada, that’ll hopefully help you towards your ultimate goal of a fantasy football championship. Simple enough? Cool, let’s get started.

Odds via www.bovada.com

Team to Love: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Line: Seattle Seahawks -14; Over/Under 43

Coming off a tough loss in Green Bay in which the offense really never got going, the Seahawks will return to CenturyLink this week to take on the Niners. Despite their abysmal showing in Week 1, Seattle still boasts the most lopsided spread in the league this week, as San Fran was even less impressive in their 23-3 home shellacking at the hands of the Panthers. Nothing really went right for the Niners: the team only rushed for 51 yards as a unit, and Brian Hoyer finished with a pretty Hoyer-esque stat line: 193 yards passing, 1 INT, and a whopping QBR of 13.2. Meanwhile, San Fran’s defense let Jonathan StewartChristian McCaffrey and company #KeepPounding the ball right down their throats to the tune of 116 rushing yards, and this Sunday in Northwest Washington, I expect more of the same from the Niners D.

Now, don’t get me wrong: nothing from Seattle’s rushing performance last week gets me all that hot and bothered about what’s to come. I mean, Russell Wilson led the team in rushing with just 40 yards, and C.J. Prosise and Eddie Lacy combined for just 14 yards on 9 rushes. But that leaves nowhere to go but up, right? Right? Especially with Thomas Rawls, who didn’t see the field at all against the Packers, set to return this week. Now, you’re probably looking at this 3-headed (4-headed? Chris Carson actually led the team with 6 carries on Sunday) backfield by committee and thinking: why the hell would I love this team from a fantasy perspective? Well, if we’re only talking about the backfield, maybe you don’t. I mean, I think this week is a big step in figuring out where this backfield is at and eventually pushing one guy (cough cough Rawls) into the forefront as the lead back, but for this week? It isn’t ideal. But with a decent running game in place, we can finally see Russell Wilson do Russell Wilson things. And that, my friends, is definitely ideal.

There was a lot of excitement about Russ Wilson heading into this season, especially now that he finally seems to be healthy for the first time in about a year. He’s one of the most dangeRUSS (lol sorry) duel-threat QBs in the league when he’s got 2 working legs, and Seattle has built their franchise around putting him in situations to show off his mobility and arm strength. So if the Hawks can finally establish a running game to open up play-action against a team that’ll be determined to actually stop the run this week, it could mean a big showing from Russ. And not just him — after all, he’s gotta throw to someone, right? Doug Baldwin will be put in a prime position to bounce back from a disappointing Week 1, and Paul Richardson, who played 41 of the team’s 49 offensive snaps against GB, should reap the benefits as well. As should Tyler Lockett, who was only targeted 3 times in the passing game but showed through his special teams work that he’s recovered from the leg injury that kept him out of the team’s playoff run last year. So while the running game still clearly needs another week or two of ironing out, Seattle’s pass game is ripe and ready for some fantasy production.

And, of course, we can’t ignore one of the league’s best defensive units, which really didn’t put forth a bad showing last week. Any time you can hold an Aaron Rodgers offense to 17 points at home is a step in the right direction, and they sacked him 4 times while also forcing 2 turnovers. If you’ve got Seattle’s D you should be starting them every week regardless, but especially against the lowly Niners, expect a solid showing.

Team to Hate: Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Line: Bears +7; Over/Under 43

To the surprise of many (read: pretty much everybody), the Bears looked pretty solid last week against the defending NFC champions. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard both performed well out of the backfield, and the defense played decent; well enough to keep them in the game until the final possession. And while the wheels predictably fell off the offense in crunch time, eliminating any chance for an upset victory, a lot of Bears fans presumably walked away from Sunday’s game feeling decent about the team’s 2017 prospects. But don’t expect that feeling to linger, Chicago.

Whether or not you watched Hard Knocks on HBO this year (I did; you’re missing out if you didn’t), you must know the talent that the Tampa Bay Bucs have been able to accumulate heading into this season. On top of this being yet another year in the development of both Jameis Winston and Mike Evans (the latter having already led all WRs in fantasy scoring last season), the team went out and got DeSean Jackson in free agency to take some attention off of Evans. Cameron Brate is set to take off as the team’s starting TE, and although Doug Martin will miss the team’s first 3 games, they’ve managed in the past off a duel-threat backfield consisting of mostly Jacquizz Rodgers with a hint of Charles Sims. Mix this all together with head coach Dirk Koetter, an extremely savvy offensive gameplanner, and you’ve got a recipe for an explosive offense that can sure make a lot of noise in the NFC. Some are even predicting a Super Bowl run out of Tampa Bay, so it’s no shock that they could come out and put up a crooked number at home against the Bears this week. Especially with, y’know, all that extra rest.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Hurricane Irma’s path through Florida this past weekend made it impossible for a football game to be played there. So, with the Bucs and Dolphins set to square off in Miami on Sunday, the NFL had a decision to make. All logic pointed to moving the game to a neutral site, so naturally the league went a different route and postponed the game altogether, scheduling it to instead be played Week 11, when both teams had bye weeks scheduled. This decision will I’m sure be the subject of some scrutiny at some point late in the season when Evans or DeVante Parker or some big name goes down with an injury that can typically be attributed to tired legs, but this week, all it does is give the Bucs a little extra edge. They’ve been itching to get back on the field for a meaningful game, and that opportunity was taken from them a week ago by a combination of gale-force winds and pea-brained executives. Expect them to come out firing this week, on both sides of the ball.

So obviously, with Tampa’s prospects looking so good, this means the opposite for Daaaa Bears. Don’t expect a repeat performance from the backfield, and although I’m sure you don’t have Mike Glennon or Dion Sims anywhere near your lineup (especially not if you’re a dedicated RSJ reader; we’re better than that), I wouldn’t go near ’em, or any Bears WRs for that matter. And the defense is basically hopeless, just sitting around all week waiting to be torn up by a youthful and far superior offense. Avoid the Bears like the plague.

Game of the Week:

New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

Line: New England -7; Over/Under 54.5

Wooohoooo, now this should be fun. Here’s one for you: what do you get when you cross Tom BradyDrew BreesBrandin CooksMichael ThomasRob GronkowskiMark IngramMike GillisleeAdrian Peterson, and a game in a dome stadium after both teams put forth disappointing offensive performances the previous week? POINTS.

Honestly, I probably don’t even have to tell you this. You’re not dumb; when you see these two teams and an over/under that looks like it could be from a late-season USC/UCLA game, you know it’s gonna reap some big benefits for your fantasy team. But at the same time, there are probably some idiots who are looking at last week’s scores and feeling unsure about this matchup. From New England’s perspective, you’ve got a 40-year old quarterback who completed 44% of his passes last week. Now, anyone with a brain knows TB12 is much, much more than that, but some people are stupid, and I gotta cater to the lowest hanging fruit sometimes. Comes with the territory. Staying with the Pats, you’ll also notice that last week’s leading receiver, Danny Amendola, is in the league’s concussion protocol and is questionable to play in week 2. Factor in the team losing Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell to long-term injuries over the past few weeks and you may be unsure about the team as a whole. Don’t be. Tom will bounce back as surely as the sun will rise, and guys like Cooks (who’ll definitely want to beat up his former team), Gronk, and Chris Hogan will be the beneficiaries. And if you’ve got either Gillislee or James White, stick with them, too: you’ve seen what this New Orleans defense has been over the past decade or so, and they haven’t exactly retooled their roster to this point.

Now, while we’re talking defenses, let’s be fair: New England’s defense was a shell of its former self a week ago. The unit yielded 246 total yards and 3 TDs to Kareem Hunt, and they made Alex Smith look like the the spawn of Jesus and Johnny Unitas. Wanna know how many times Alex Smith had thrown for 300 yards and 4 TDs in a regular-season game before last week? The same amount of times Eddie Lacy has passed up a Thin Mint for a carrot stick: zero. Zilch. Hadn’t been done, and he did it against the defending champs on their home turf (which has since been replaced). As great as KC’s offense looked, a great deal of their success can be attributed to a lack of execution for New England’s D, and that’s not an easy fix. After losing the likes of Derek Rivers (torn ACL), Kony Ealy (cut), and Rob Ninkovich (retirement) between day 1 of camp and Opening Night, the front 7 looked outmatched on Thursday night. And that’s more than enough to get the Saints going, who boast a league-average offensive line but two dynamic RBs in Ingram and AP. Add in Brees, one of the most prolific passers of his generation, with weapons like Thomas and Ted Ginn, Jr. around him, and we could be in for an old fashioned shootout in the Bayou on Sunday. Get your popcorn — and fantasy lineups — ready.

Honorable Mentions:

New York Jets at Oakland Raiders

Line: Raiders -14; Over/Under 43.5

For the second week in a row, I’m coming in pretty high on the Raiders. Expect that to be a trend; this is one of the most talented teams in football, and I find it strange how quickly people seem to be forgetting Derek Carr‘s MVP-caliber 2016 season. And now the Raiders will head home for the first time this year to face off against the 0-1, bottom of the barrel New York Jets. The Jets are coming off an ugly loss in Buffalo where they were outrushed 190-38 and failed to reach the end zone until the 2-minute mark of the 3rd quarter. Nobody expected fireworks out of the Jets coming into the season, and those opinions were reinforced last week; they looked old, slow, and, for lack of a better word, just plain bad. They’re a team that’s virtually devoid of talent, making them the polar opposite of the Raiders and setting up for what could be an absolute blowout in Oakland.

Although Michael Crabtree led the team with 6 receptions for 83 yards, Amari Cooper looked like a grown man who’s definitely ready to assume the team’s WR1 role. He was targeted 13 times to Crabtree’s 7, and he turned those targets into 5 catches, 62 yards, and this insane TD:

https://twitter.com/RaiderNationBOS/status/906928219038896128

Now although I certainly don’t condone using the term “Beast Mode” for anyone other than Marshawn Lynch, I’ll let it slide just this once for that ridiculous display of strength. Expect Amari Cooper to continue leading this team in targets, and continue his progression towards the top tier of NFL wideouts. And on the ground, the original Beast Mode looked just fine in his first regular season game since November 2015. He ammassed 76 yards and he did it on just 18 carries, which is right around the number we should expect to see him get week in and week out as the team tries to balance sufficient usage with keeping his 31 year old legs fresh for the postseason. So whether it’s Carr, Lynch, Crabtree, Cooper, or Oakland’s defense that held the Titans to just 16 points at home last week, you can’t go wrong with the Raiders this week.

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

Falcons -3; Over/Under 54

See: Patriots vs. Saints. We’ve got two high-powered offenses, both coming off relatively disappointing weeks, both in perfect position to bounce back, both facing less-than-stellar defenses, and an over/under north of 50. Yes, please.

Both teams squeaked out wins last week, but neither was pretty. Green Bay was shut out before halftime, and although they ended up dropping 17 in the 2nd half and managing some decent individual days, it wasn’t the Packer offense we’re used to seeing. That can probably be mainly attributed to Seattle’s stout defense, and the opposition gets a lot easier this week with the Falcons, who managed to make Mike Glennon look like a respectable NFL quarterback last week. Aaron Rodgers should return to MVP form, and with a healthy WR corps of Randall CobbJordy Nelson, and Devante Adams surrounding him along with Martellus Bennett and Ty Montgomery, Green Bay’s offense carries some breakout potential this week. As does Atlanta’s, with reigning MVP Matt Ryan and freak of nature Julio Jones out wide, who caught 4 balls on 5 targets for 66 yards last week. Austin Hooper also emerged as an option in the passing game for Atlanta, racking up 128 yards receiving on the day — even though 88 were on 1 really, reaaalllyy long TD catch and run. At the very least, Hooper showed that if you forget about him, he’ll make you pay. And when you factor in Mohamed Sanu and the two-headed monster backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and the Falcons are just as liable to throw up a real crooked digit as they open up their new stadium on Sunday Night Football. Expect a shootout for sure, and a whole bunch of fantasy points.

Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams

Line: Rams -3; Over/Under 46

It’s pretty strange to look at the Jared Goff-led LA Rams and genuinely like them from a fantasy perspective, but after a 46-9 BEATDOWN of the Colts last weekend, and the Skins looking pretty out of whack in a loss to the Eagles at home, it’s honestly pretty plausible. Goff looked like a completely new QB last week in his first game under new head coach Sean McVay, and he ended up completing 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a TD on the day. Now, Indy’s defense isn’t exactly the gold standard, but after going 0-7 last year with a completion percentage under 55% and a 5-7 TD-INT ratio, any progress is welcome from last year’s #1 overall pick. And he’ll go up against a Redskins defense that surrendered similar stats to the Eagles last week, with Carson Wentz throwing for over 300 yards and 2 scores on Washington’s secondary. The Rams established themselves as an offense with a multitude of weapons for their quarterback, with Cooper KuppSammy WatkinsTodd Gurley, and Robert Woods all topping 50 receiving yards in week 1. I expect to see similar production of out Kupp and Watkins, and Gurley should certainly be able to improve upon his 40 rushing yards in a closer game where the offense sees more balance. And the Rams defense should be a solid play as well, with DT Aaron Donald returning from his 44-day holdout to join a defense that absolutely shut down the Colts a week ago. It’s primarily due to incompetence on the part of Washington, but this week in LA, I like the Rams from a fantasy perspective.

Any other odds we should be keeping an eye on? Let me know on Twitter, and make sure to consult the Roto Street Journal for all your fantasy football needs. 

Author

  • Fan of Boston sports, hazy IPAs, and chicken pot pie. Frequent user of obscure movie quotes that nobody else finds funny.

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