Using Vegas lines to determine who starts and who sits this week
Vegas spends millions of dollars getting experts to set betting lines to be as accurate as possible. This series uses Vegas opening betting lines to identify the teams with high point projections to help find sleepers and busts. Obviously don’t sit your Odell Beckham Jr. for Terrance Williams just because the Vegas projection for the Cowboys is higher than the projection for the Giants, instead, use it as a tiebreaker. The obvious must-starts like Antonio Brown and the obvious irrelevant players with 0.1% ownership won’t be mentioned.
Line of the Week:
Houston Texans @ Los Angeles Rams (-11). Over/Under 47.
Last week the Rams destroyed the hapless Giants, and with a -11 line, the Rams are projected to score the most points this week. You are starting the number 1 RB Todd Gurley without question. Jared Goff gets a fantastic matchup and is a great start this week. Robert Woods led the Rams WRs in receptions and yards for the 4th straight game and scored his first 2 touchdowns of the year. Expect Woods to turn in another solid performance at worst against the Texans. Cooper Kupp does not get a lot of yardage but receives a lot of red zone looks, and with the Rams projected to be in scoring positions a lot, he is a solid start. Sammy Watkins has the most talent but has turned into a boom-or-bust option, resulting in him being risky and a sit despite the matchup. Neither of the Tight Ends are worth starting.
Expect the Texans to rely on Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman as the Rams are vulnerable against the run, however, the negative game-script combined with them splitting carries hurts their upside. Miller is nevertheless a good option as the starter and the pass-catching back. DeAndre Hopkins was peppered with 17 targets last week, but they were 17 Tom Savage–thrown targets. You’re not sitting Hopkins and the target totals are encouraging, but expectations should be tempered. Will Fuller’s value is destroyed without Deshaun Watson, keep him on your bench.
Lines of Exploit
New England Patriots (-7) @ Denver Broncos. Over/Under 46.5.
Yes, the New England Patriots are the favorites but Denver has a great defense. You are starting the Patriots studs but do not be surprised if this game is closer than anticipated. Chris Hogan’s injury could also mean extended opportunity for Rex Burkhead to turn in a good outing, although he is an extremely risky play. The potential is on Denver’s side of the ball. The Patriots defense has allowed fewer points recently but that is mostly due to good fortunes, and the defense still has a lot of holes. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are good starts in a game where Denver would need to pass a lot to catch up. Historically Thomas has done better with Osweiler than Sanders has, but both are good options against this defense. The RB situation is a mess so they are hard to trust but C.J. Anderson should still get the start and if he’s effective there is the potential of snowballing into more work. Devontae Booker’s workload has been on the rise and last week played only 1 less snap than Anderson, he is worth starting for desperate owners. The Denver TEs are too inconsistent to start.
Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons (-3). Over/Under 53.
The highest line of the week in what appears to be a shootout between the Cowboys and the Falcons. There should be some reservations due to Atlanta not impressing and Dallas potentially being without Dez and Zeke, nevertheless this should be a high-scoring affair. Dak Prescott is a start with or without Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott and the other two should both be started if they are playing. Things get interesting if Dez is out, Terrance Williams accumulated 141 yards last time out but is dealing with injury problems of his own. Cole Beasley is starting to heat up as Prescott looks his way in the red zone, he would probably be the biggest benefactor without the players mentioned above. Jason Witten gets a tough matchup but with injuries, he becomes a decent start. Brice Butler has flashed potential early on but would take both Bryant and Williams being out to be a start-worthy player.
Matt Ryan played well last time out (and would have had a great game if Julio didn’t drop an easy touchdown), he is a great option against the poor Dallas pass defense. Tevin Coleman can potentially see more touches with Devonta Freeman banged up, making Coleman a great play, but you should not bench either of these players. Mohamed Sanu has been good when he plays and in this shootout, he is a solid option. Austin Hooper carries more risk as the Cowboys has have been decent against Tight Ends. Don’t bother with Taylor Gabriel until he actually produces fantasy points.
Lines of Avoid
Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-5). Over/Under 41.5
The Los Angeles Chargers comes off their bye to face an awesome Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Expect LA to lean heavily on Melvin Gordon as Jacksonville is more susceptible against the run. Philip Rivers is hard to trust against this team, and so are his receivers. Keenan Allen’s involvement has decreased, making him harder and harder to trust but none of the Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, or Travis Benjamin has stepped up to being a start-able asset, and against this defense, you’re wise to bench all of them. Hunter Henry would probably be Rivers’ top pass-catching option, but against this defense he might have to spend the night blocking, making him a sit.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans (-6). Over/Under 41.
After being shut down by Jacksonville, the Bengals are underdogs against Tennessee in a low scoring game. Fortunately for them, A.J. Green is not suspended, making him a start. None of Cincinnati’s other WRs are worth starting. Joe Mixon has picked up his production but against a good Tennessee run defense, he can be sat if a better options exist. Tyler Kroft has emerged as Andy Dalton’s second-best target, and despite the matchup being mediocre, he is worth a start. Speaking of Andy Dalton, he is a fine start with the decent matchup.
Cleveland Browns @ Detroit Lions (-9.5). Over/Under 41.
Oh, the Cleveland Browns are back again, this week with the second lowest line of the week. Detroit’s defense has been inconsistent but Matthew Stafford and the offense (minus Ameer Abdullah) has been great. At home against the Browns, there is a good chance Detroit go up big and have extended garbage time. Isaiah Crowell should be benched as he hardly plays in garbage time, but Duke Johnson has the potential for a great week. Garbage time should also mean good things for DeShone Kizer but Detroit’s defense has been great at intercepting passes and it would not be surprising to see Kizer benched mid-game. Duke is the only Brown worth starting.
Miami Dolphins @ Carolina Panthers (-10). Over/Under 39.5
Lowest over/under and 10 point underdogs? This is not going to be a fun Monday Night game. Jay Cutler returned with a fantastic game against the Raiders but the Panthers defense is a different story. Jarvis Landry had a mediocre game that was saved by a touchdown last week, but you should not expect that to continue. None of Miami’s wide receivers are worth starting due to the matchup, and their running backs should only cannibalize each other’s value.