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 Bovada.com
Team to Love: Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs (-11) @ New York Giants; Over/Under 44
- As is becoming customary for me, this section gives us the week’s most lopsided spread. And it obviously makes sense with a matchup pinning one of the AFC’s best against possibly the one team that could unseat Cleveland for next year’s #1 overall pick.
- The Chiefs are coming off a much-needed bye after losing 3 of their last 4 following their blistering 5-0 start. Despite their recent woes, however, the Chiefs still employ fantasy’s QB3 (Alex Smith), RB2 (Kareem Hunt), WR10 (Tyreek Hill), and TE1 (Travis Kelce). All is not lost in KC by any means.
- The same cannot be said for New York; after falling last week to the previously-winless 49ers, the Giants are now 1-8 with a legitimate QB controversy and one of the worst statistical defenses in football. They’re 29th in the league in total yardage allowed and boast the 3rd worst scoring differential in the league, topping only Indianapolis and Cleveland.
Coming into the season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, the Giants have absolutely sputtered. Some was uncontrollable, like season-ending injuries to Odell Beckham, Jr. and Brandon Marshall, but since then the defense has only gotten worse and many have begun to speculate the team is quitting on head coach Ben McAdoo. Which just makes them that much easier to pick against, really. They’re 30th in the league against the run, giving me a whole bunch of optimism that we’ll see the return of Weeks 1-5 Kareem Hunt, when he was topping 100 all-purpose yards at will and averaging over 25 fantasy points per game. He’s still managed to put up decent fantasy numbers in recent games despite a lack of rushing success due to his prevalence in the passing game, but when he’s churning up yards and finding the end zone on the ground he’s just so much more effective. I’m also 10000% all-in on Travis Kelce this week — he’s obviously a must-start every week, but he’s a must-draft for DFS against a defense that legitimately doesn’t seem to know what stopping an opposing tight end entails. Check this out:
Updated NYG vs. TEs this season:
Jason Witten 7-59-1
Eric Ebron 5-42-1
Zach Ertz 8-55-1
Cam Brate 4-80-1
Hunter Henry 3-42-1
Jeff Heuerman 2-24-1
Jimmy Graham 3-51-1
Tyler Higbee 1-8-1
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) November 10, 2017
They’re predictably allowing the most points to TEs in the league, and they’re matched up against the top fantasy TE in football who also leads his team in targets. A match made in heaven.
Team to Hate: Houston Texans
Arizona Cardinals @ Houston Texans [No Line Yet]
- What a god damn shame, man. This was Deshaun Watson‘s world, and we were all content just living in it. He was not only one of the most exciting players to watch in recent memory, but he significantly boosted the value of everybody around him. Tragic.
- His replacement, Tom Savage — how do I put this delicately — sucks. In 2 starts since Watson went down, Savage has 2 TDs compared to 5 turnovers, and he’s combined for just 14.8 fantasy points in those 2 games. Obviously not a guy you want to be starting, if you somehow didn’t know that already. But it doesn’t stop at just him.
- DeAndre Hopkins‘ status as the teams #1 WR has helped retain a good deal of his fantasy value, but the same can’t be said for Will Fuller V, who was averaging over 20 fantasy points per game in 4 games with Watson but has just 8.7 total points in 2 games without him. Lamar Miller‘s stock has also dropped a bit as teams can now hone in on Houston’s rushing attack without a dynamic option at QB.
Now, you might be a bit confused by this designation because even though Houston’s offense is sharply declining, Arizona’s defense isn’t exactly among the league’s best. Well, no they aren’t, but check out this bit from PFF:
After totaling just 12 sacks through their first seven games Arizona has racked up five sacks in each of the past two weeks. Led by outside linebacker Chandler Jones and rookie defensive end Olsen Pierre, the Cardinals have been credited with 28 quarterback hurries as well as nine hits in the last two games.
Arizona is getting after the quarterback, and it’s showing in the box scores. After allowing 33+ points for three straight weeks heading into their Week 8 bye, the Cards have conceded just 10 and 22 in the games since, and they’re PFF’s #1 defense to stream in fantasy this week. Which obviously reflects poorly on the offense they’re squaring up against. Like I said, Hopkins still retains a WR2 floor and high WR1 ceiling due to his heavy target share — he has THIRTY targets in the past 2 games, 14 more than any other Texan — but other than that, steer clear of the Texans. Oh, and if you’re thinking you’ll stream Houston’s defense going against a struggling offense that lost both Carson Palmer and David Johnson this season, well… don’t.
Since their bye, Houston has allowed the WR4 (Paul Richardson – 28.5 pts), the WR1 (TY Hilton – 34.5 pts) and the WR1 (Robert Woods – 37.1 pts).
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) November 13, 2017
Game of the Week:
Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota Vikings (-2); Over/Under 46
- Just as we all suspected, the key matchup of Week 11 pins Jared Goff against Case Keenum. The two teams that combined for a 12-20 record last season now both sit at 7-2 on the year, looking up at only the Eagles in the NFC.
- Both are coming off of big Week 10 performances — the Rams smacked Houston 33-7 while putting up 443 yards of total offense, 339 through the air, while the Vikings beat Washington 38-30 while also topping 400 yards of total offense.
- But before you pencil this game in as a guaranteed shootout, keep in mind that both of these teams are in the top 5 in scoring defense this season. These are arguably the two most complete teams in football, and watching them square off for NFC supremacy should be an absolute delight.
In case you missed it, I was spot on last week in predicting Robert Woods would take the reigns of LA’s receiving core and torch Houston’s swiss cheese of a secondary. Not that I’m bragging or anything, I’d never do that. But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and last week for Minnesota that came in the form of an 8-166-1 day from Adam Thielen. Thielen has been a great asset for Minnesota through their many QB tribulations (a situation that likely isn’t finished quite yet with Teddy Bridgewater now on the active roster) and trails only Hopkins and Antonio Brown in receiving yards this season. And it doesn’t stop there for Minnesota, as PFF’s 9th ranked WR Stefon Diggs joins Thielen (PFF’s #4) as the only teammates in their top 10 this season. Both are in the top 10 in yards per route run and deep passing yards as well, and Thielen has 2.24 yards per route run from the slot this season, 2nd only to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has just over half as many receptions as Thielen. If I’m nitpicking I like Thielen out of the two, but both are obviously potent fantasy weapons in any matchup. And while I still like Woods to reign supreme for LA, Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins are both very startable in this matchup, especially with Woods likely garnering the attention of Pro Bowl CB Xavier Rhodes on the outside. Keenum and Goff are both respectable QB options, and mentioning fantasy RB1 Todd Gurley as a must-start almost isn’t even necessary. And finally, although Jerick McKinnon has paced Minnesota’s backfield this season, Latavius Murray has topped him in carries the past 3 games and ran for 68 yards and a TD against Washington, causing me to lean just a hair in his direction over McKinnon.
Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints (-8); Over/Under 51
The Saints are absolutely cruising right now, winners of 7 in a row since their 0-2 start, and I’m looking for that trend to continue this week as they return home to face Washington. In win #7 against Buffalo last week, the Saints offense was unstoppable — they finished the game with 482 yards of total offense, and almost 300 yards on the ground. But this isn’t the same high-powered Saints offense that we’re used to seeing. They managed to put up 47 points with Drew Brees completing 18 of 25 passes and not throwing any touchdowns, a statement that would’ve been unheard of in previous seasons. This Saints team is all about the run, and they’ve got 2 bona fide STUDS in their backfield in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Since the trade that sent Adrian Peterson to Arizona before Week 6, Ingram has rushed for at least 75 yards in every game and has scored 7 times in those 5 games, resulting in an average of 21.8 fantasy points per game in that span. And Kamara has been just as impressive. After rushing for 106 yards and a TD against the Bills to go along with 5 catches for 32 yards, Kamara is now averaging 17.2 fantasy points per game for the whole season, and he’s in the top 5 among NFL RBs in both receptions and receiving yards as well. The duo dominated enough against Buffalo to come in at PFF’s #1 and #2 graded RBs for Week 10, with Ingram narrowly topping Kamara, and they should continue to pace one of the hottest teams in the league. Guys like Brees and Michael Thomas remain must-starts due to sheer talent, but as far as who’s getting the scoring opportunities on this first place Saints team, it all starts in the backfield.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) @ Dallas Cowboys; Over/Under 48
Coming off their bye week, the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles will head to JerryWorld this week to face the Cowboys. Philly will certainly hope this break doesn’t destroy the momentum they’d created prior to Week 10, when they’d won 7 straight games and won their last 2 by a combined 51 points, including a 51-23 slaughter of the Broncos. Newly acquired Jay Ajayi made an immediate impact in his first game as an Eagle, converting just 8 carries into 77 yards and a TD. That should certainly lead to an increased role in the offense, especially with a few weeks now to learn the playbook a bit more, and it could spell jackpot for fantasy owners against Dallas’ hobbled defense.
Believe Jay Ajayi pummels DAL this week. 'Boys gave up 215 tyds to Gurley, 134 tyds to Aaron Jones without Sean Lee (hammy). Ajayi in fantastic spot to eclipse 100 yds with a TD.
— Brad Evans (@NoisyHuevos) November 14, 2017
Combined with Philly’s center Jason Kelce, who holds PFF’s highest run-blocking grade among centers at 96.7 — over 11 points ahead of the next highest graded center — and teams’ increasing need to worry about Carson Wentz and Philly’s sharp vertical passing game, Ajayi could be in position to handsomely reward the fantasy owners who stuck with him through his frustrating start to the season. And speaking of Wentz, he now trails only Russell Wilson in fantasy scoring this year, and his 23 passing TDs are 4 ahead of Wilson, Tom Brady, and DeShaun Watson for the league lead. He’s turned Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Zach Ertz into fantasy commodities in his 2nd year, and he’s turned Philly into legitimate contenders in the NFC. Against Dallas’ 17th-ranked scoring D, I’m expected a big performance out of the Eagles offense.
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.