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Vegas Meets Fantasy Football: How To Use Week 9 Betting Odds To Set Your 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: Bonus Pick Section

Let me explain. My team to love this week was the Texans, for a whole multitude of reasons but primarily because of the recent growth of Deshaun Watson. But as you obviously know by now, Watson tore his ACL in practice this week. And I think if you look at this week’s slate of games, aside from the selections I have below already, there’s nothing that jumps out at you for this section. Love the Eagles offense, but Denver’s got a great D. Same with Atlanta going up against the Panthers. Raiders/Dolphins? Lions/Packers? Titans/Ravens? Nothing to like there.

So in this time of need, I find it imperative that I return to my roots, and give you guys a few gambling picks for this week. It’s the least I could do. It’s been a while, and I may be a bit rusty, but I made my picks at a 63% clip last year, so I think I can bang out a few winners in place of a team here. Here we go.

  • LA Rams (-4) @ New York Giants: See: Honorable Mentions. The Giants are winless at home in 2017, and absolutely reeling on defense. LA has one of the most explosive offenses in football, and should be able to run up the score easily in this one. The 4-point spread should be insulting and I’m taking it for sure.
  • Arizona Cardinals @ SF 49ers; Over/Under 39.5: I understand setting this over/under so low, seeing as neither of these offenses are particularly the cream of the crop, but I like the over here. Drew Stanton is certainly no Carson Palmer, and his offensive teammates may not carry the same weight from a fantasy perspective as they typically would, but Stanton has been in this system for 3.5 seasons now and he’s had a full week of practicing with the first team. Meanwhile, the Niners just pulled off a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, and while head coach Kyle Shanahan said he “can’t promise” Jimmy G will play this year, current starter C.J. Beathard has to hear the footsteps behind him. The best way to shut those up will be to get a win, and while I wouldn’t guarantee that, I think he’ll do everything in his power to make it possible.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (-7)I like the Saints as touchdown favorites here. This is my Game of the Week below, because I think both offenses carry breakout potential into the matchup, but the Saints definitely have the upper hand. They’re on a 5-game winning streak and returning home, and I think they’ll make it 6 by a convincing margin.

Team To Hate: Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-5); Over/Under 39

Key points:

  • This isn’t necessarily a knock on the Bengals entirely. Andy Dalton had a slow start to the year but is 11th in fantasy points per game among QBs since Week 3, and the rest of the offense has begun to sort itself out around him. A.J. Green is 10th in the NFL in targets, 12th in receptions, 4th in receiving yards, and 4th in fantasy scoring. And while the backfield was a huge question mark heading into the season, Joe Mixon has seemed to distance himself from his competition, and logged 35 snaps in Week 8 compared to 14 for Giovani Bernard and 7 for Jeremy Hill.
  • This designation for Cincy this week is more based on the matchup against Jacksonville’s stout defense. While they’ve struggled a bit against the run, the Jags have made up for it by holding opposing offenses to under 162 passing yards per game, while also racking up 33 sacks through 7 games, 6 more than any other team. This shouldn’t change against Cincinnati’s offensive line that has no starters above #29 in their PFF positional rankings, and 3 of 5 starters in the 60s for their respective position.
  • While Jacksonville hasn’t excelled against the run by any means, Mixon has topped 60 rushing yards just once this season, doing a decent amount of damage through the air. The Jags have allowed the 5th-lowest amount of receiving yards to RBs this year, and no running back has caught a TD against them.

Again, Cincinnati isn’t really a lost cause overall. A.J. Green is startable in virtually any matchup due to his key role in the team’s offense, although I’d be wary due to Jacksonville’s talented secondary. And Dalton and Tyler Kroft have been decent options in recent weeks, especially as bye weeks have begun to decimate fantasy rosters. But aside from possibly Green and Joe Mixon, who may be able to buck his personal trends and churn out flex production against one of the league’s worst run defenses, I’m not particularly in love with any Bengals this week.

Game of the Week:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (-7); Over/Under 51

Key points:

  • On paper, the Bucs should be one of the better offensive units in football. With names like Jameis WinstonMike EvansDeSean Jackson, and Doug Martin topping the depth chart, sitting at 18th in points per game just doesn’t make much sense, and showings like last week’s 17-3 loss to Carolina are just illogical. Nonetheless, the team is still 4th in football in yards per game and 2nd in passing yards per game. And against the Saints’ league-average defense, I think a bounce back is in order.
  • For New Orleans, their current 5-game winning streak has been mainly due to increased offensive production. Drew Brees is 8th in the league in passing, while Mark Ingram has become a force since the team traded Adrian Peterson to the Cardinals. In 3 games since the deal, Ingram has 364 all-purpose yards, 4 TDs, and is averaging 23 PPR points per game. He’s still splitting time pretty evenly with Alvin Kamara, but out-carried the rookie 18-8 last week and still remains the undisputed top dog in the backfield.
  • This matchup ties Houston/Indy for the highest over/under for the week at 51, with both teams in the league’s top 5 offenses and the league’s bottom 13 defenses in terms of yards per game. Especially under the closed roof in the Bayou, this should be an offensive showcase.

Michael Thomas started to worry some owners (myself included) with a 3 catch, 11 yard performance in Week 6 while his team dropped 52 on the Lions, but he’s rebounded to combine for 14 catches and 159 yards in the past 2 contests. And he’s gotten some help from Ted Ginn, Jr., who’s 2nd on the team in targets, receptions, and yards, and has given defenses another weapon to worry about in recent weeks during Willie Snead‘s injury troubles and Brandon Coleman‘s inconsistencies. Brees, Thomas, Ingram, and Ginn are all solid starts for NO this week, while I like Winston, Evans, Jackson, Martin, and Cameron Brate for Tampa Bay.

Honorable Mentions:

Kansas City Chiefs @ Dallas Cowboys [No Line Yet]

Key points:

  • Kansas City is 19th in football in scoring defense, allowing 22.5 points per game in 2017. Dallas is right behind them at 20th, giving up 23 per game. Neither defensive unit has been able to consistently keep opponents out of their end zones, and with each facing an explosive offensive unit, that shouldn’t change.
  • The Chiefs have had one of the best offenses in football this season, finding themselves near the top of the league in yards/game, rush yards/game, and scoring. They also have the 2 top scorers in fantasy this season — QB Alex Smith, who’s having a career year at age 33 and currently has 16 TDs, 0 INTs, and over 2,100 passing yards at the halfway mark of the season; and rookie RB Kareem Hunt, who’s up over 1,000 all-purpose yards with 6 total TDs on the year. Smith is PFF’s #3 ranked QB this season, while Hunt is their top-ranked RB.
  • Dallas’ offense will undoubtedly be impacted by the absence of Ezekiel Elliott (if he misses time — I still have no clue what’s going on there and if you say you do, you’re lying), but they’re not hopeless by any means. Dak Prescott is 6th among QBs in fantasy scoring and has continued to lead an offense that’s 5th in the NFL in scoring. Even when Zeke is off the field, this offense is in good hands.

Despite failing to find the end zone last week for the first time in 3 games, Dez Bryant has managed WR1 fantasy production for the first half of 2017. If he’s unable to shake the shadowing of Marcus Peters this week, however — which wouldn’t be surprising, as he’s far and away Dallas’ #1 option — he could be in for a tough week, despite the fact that KC has allowed the most fantasy points to WRs this season. If Dez gets shut down by the All-Pro, look for secondary options like Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams to pick up the slack and exploit one of the league’s shakiest secondaries. And with Zeke likely missing time, this week will be very telling of whether the Cowboys plan to lean on Darren McFaddenAlfred Morris, or go with a true, dreaded RB by committee. And for KC, I’m definitely liking Smith (The Wolf’s QB6), Hunt (RB1), Tyreek Hill (WR5), and Travis Kelce (TE2).

Los Angeles Rams (-4) @ New York Giants; Over/Under 42

Key points:

  • The Rams find themselves just behind Houston for the league’s top scoring offense, putting up just over 30 points per game in 2017. With a revamped offense under new head coach Sean McVay, both Jared Goff and Todd Gurley have put ugly 2016 seasons behind them to lead a surprising team to a 5-2 start to the season.
  • LA starting tackles Rob Havenstein and Andrew Whitworth are 4th and 5th, respectively, in PFF’s run block rankings among tackles. LG Roger Saffold is 5th in the same category among guards. Bottom line, the Giants fit their team name with big boys up front like Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison, but they’ll likely have a tough time getting to Gurley and slowing down what could be a huge day for The Wolf’s Week 9 RB2.
  • Overall, the Giants are 23rd in football at stopping the run and 27th against the pass. As a team they have just 3 interceptions and 7 total takeaways on the season. The Rams should move the ball at will against them.

As a whole, LA’s receiving core has been tough to gauge from a fantasy perspective this season. The perfect example is Sammy Watkins, who exploded for 106 yards and 2 TDs in Week 3 but has just 5 catches for 70 yards and no TDs in 4 games since. Robert Woods‘ fantasy production has been a bit limited due to his inability to find the end zone, but he leads the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, with Cooper Kupp right behind him in every category and leading the team with 3 TDs. The Wolf has Watkins as his WR26 this week, followed by Kupp at 28 and Woods at 31, but it’s really anyone’s best guess who their guy will be on any given week. Nonetheless, if you’ve got any of them, along with Goff, Gurley, or the defense that’s 3rd in fantasy scoring itself, I like them against a Giants team that’s 0-3 at home in 2017.

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.

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