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: Los Angeles Chargers
Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers (-14); Over/Under 42.5
- Week 13’s most one-sided spread comes from this matchup pinning the surprisingly hot Chargers, winners of 5 of their last 7, against the winless Browns. LA’s offense has looked phenomenal as of late, and they’re outscoring their opponents 103-30 in their last 3 victories.
- Cleveland may be getting Josh Gordon back this week, but he can’t help on defense, where they’re currently tied with Miami for the 2nd-worst scoring defense in football, allowing 26.3 points per game.
- Bolts WR Travis Benjamin has been targeted 40 times this season, and 18 of those have come on deep routes (45%, the highest rate in football). To shut down his deep-play ability, Cleveland will have to rely on their safety play, certainly not the strong suit of the defense. Rookie Jabrill Peppers has allowed just 0.37 yards per cover snap — 19th in the league — but is still an inexperienced player prone to mental lapses, and Derrick Kindred is 79th in the same statistic (out of 85 qualified CBs) at 1.07 yards per cover snap.
While I think both Benjamin and Phillip Rivers could be in for big games in this one, I’m most excited about Hunter Henry. The Giants have been historically bad against TEs this year, but the Browns are right behind them, allowing 16.7 FPPG to the position. With Henry coming off a great performance against Dallas where he caught 5 balls for 76 yards and a score, I’m expecting more of the same against Cleveland. And while Melvin Gordon is tasked with a matchup against the league’s 8th-ranked run defense, his workhorse role and prevalence in the passing game (currently 11th among RBs in receptions) should still prop him up to, at the very least, a low-level RB1 performance.
Team to Hate: Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-9.5); Over/Under 41
- If I told you before this season that through 12 weeks one defense would be tops in the NFL in yards/game, passing yards/game, and scoring, you’d have probably said Seattle or Denver. But that’s exactly where the Sacksonville Jaguars find themselves heading into this AFC South matchup with 3-8 Indy.
- The Colts, meanwhile, are near the bottom of the league in every offensive statistic, including 27th in yards/game and scoring. Jacoby Brissett has performed respectably as a last-second filler for Andrew Luck, but his play has greatly diminished the fantasy role of every member of Indy’s offensive unit.
- Nobody is feeling this effect more than T.Y Hilton, who went from leading the league in receiving yards a season ago to The Wolf’s WR51 for Week 13. Quite the downward trajectory.
The Colts possess the talent to string together a decent offensive performance here and there, but that’s much easier said than done against the Jags D. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue are two of the best edge pass rushers in football, and have helped Jacksonville accumulate 41 sacks through 11 games, the highest mark in the league. And with Jalen Ramsey, PFF’s 3rd-highest graded CB, along with A.J Bouye around to lock up Hilton and Donte Moncrief, it could be a very long day for the Colts trying to move the ball on this defense. The Jags haven’t been as stellar against the run this year, leaving hope that Frank Gore or Marlon Mack could pump out a flex-worthy day, but I’m playing it safe and avoiding the Colts altogether this week.
Game of the Week:
Philadelphia Eagles (-6) @ Seattle Seahawks; Over/Under 47.5
- No ifs, ands, or buts: the Eagles are the best team in football. Offensively they’re in the top 3 in yards, rushing yards, and scoring, and on D they’re tops in the league against the run and 3rd in scoring defense allowing just over 17 points per game.
- Carson Wentz hasn’t fallen off his MVP pace one bit, still leading the league in passing TDs and currently sitting in 2nd in fantasy scoring among QBs. He’s also a big part of the reason for the great seasons we’ve seen from Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Zach Ertz.
- And who’s the one QB ahead of Wentz in fantasy scoring? That’d be Russell Wilson, who’s leading the entire league in fantasy scoring at any position. He’s 4th in passing yards, 3rd in passing TDs, and 2nd in rushing yards among QBs, quietly having yet another All-Pro worthy season.
I’m expecting a real high scoring affair in this one, which would mean great things from a fantasy perspective. It’ll obviously be a big test for this young Eagles team to go into Seattle for a primetime matchup, but nothing about this season indicates to me that they’re not up for the challenge. And while Seattle historically has brought the thunder on D, that thunder’s a good deal quieter now with both Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor out for the year, and Earl Thomas still coming back from a hamstring injury that kept him out of Seattle’s Week 10 game. A ton of backups in the secondary could mean big things for Agholor and Jeffery, and with Seattle allowing 12 fantasy points per game to the tight end position, Zach Ertz’s TE2 ranking from The Wolf is certainly justified. For Seattle, while their backfield has been a carousel all year long, they’ll be able to exploit the Eagles one existing weakness — the passing game. Philly’s been able to generate turnovers in this phase of the game, as they’re 2nd in the league with 16 team INTs, but they’re 16th overall in passing yards allowed and may struggle to keep up with the likes of Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham. They’ve also allowed the 7th most rushing yards to opposing QBs, opening up opportunities for Wilson to make plays with his legs and help Seattle try to tack a 2nd loss onto Philly’s incredible season.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals; Over/Under 43.5
The Bengals are 28th in football against the run, and All-World RB Le’Veon Bell has the potential to make their life hell coming off a performance where he put up 28.3 PPR points without a touchdown. Bell has forced 42 missed tackles this season, 2nd to only Kareem Hunt, and he’s on pace for a ridiculous 455 touches this season which would be the most in the league since Larry Johnson recorded the same number in 2006. He’s undoubtedly the focal point of the offense, even if he may not be the best player on it. That title might need to go to Antonio Brown, who leads the league in targets, receptions, and yards this season. He also has a perfect passer rating when targeted in the last 2 weeks, and he’s PFF’s highest graded receiver for 2017. He’ll go up against a Cincy secondary that’s put up decent numbers this year, but could very well have some trouble containing AB. In their previous matchup, William Jackson held Brown catchless on 4 targets, but the rest of his teammates allowed 4 catches on 6 targets for 65 yards and a score in that one. And while Martavis Bryant found the end zone last week for the first time since Week 2, he did so in the absence of JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu is back this week, and I’m expecting him to fall right back into the #2 role on this high powered offense, surpassing the whiney Martavis.
New England Patriots (-9) @ Buffalo Bills; Over/Under 48.5
It seems like the Patriots are becoming a bit of a recurring theme in this section. And yeah, it may be partially because I’m a Pats fan, but it’s also not biased in the least to say that right now, Tom Brady is the MVP of the league and the Pats are the Super Bowl favorites out of the AFC. So when they’ve got a good matchup — which is seemingly every week — I gotta include them. Especially against a division rival that they’ve OWNED in Brady’s career. I mean, look at this.
Tom Brady has more wins than any Bills QB has in games played in Buffalo in last 12 years. He can tie Drew Bledsoe this week for most wins all-time in Buffalo:
59 Jim Kelly
46 Joe Ferguson
14 Drew Bledsoe
13 Tom Brady
13 Doug Flutie
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) November 29, 2017
In the past 12 seasons, the Buffalo Bills have played roughly 93 games at their home stadium, and in that span none of them have won as many games there as TB12 — an OPPOSING QB. That’s wild. Brady and Ben Roethlisberger are the only QBs this year to throw for over 200 yards in every game, and I definitely see that trend continuing in Buffalo this weekend. And with Rob Gronkowski returning home to the site of his 69th career TD and a place he always seems to play well, his TE1 designation from The Wolf this week is certainly fitting. And finally, with Chris Hogan slated to miss yet another game, look for Brandin Cooks to continue picking up the slack in the form of another WR1 performance.
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.