5 Betting Trends to Help Set Your Week 5 Daily Fantasy Football Lineup
It's no secret that Vegas totals and spreads can be helpful when making fantasy football decisions -- especially in daily fantasy contests.
Unfortunately, as professional NFL handicapper Warren Sharp has pointed out, oddsmakers' primary goal is not to set the most accurate lines; its goal is to make money, and they do that by encouraging public action on a particular side. What does that mean?
Let's say a sportsbook opens the line on a game with Team X favored to beat Team Y by seven points. If 80% of the public money coming in is in favor of Team X against the spread but the book still does not adjust the line, that demonstrates that either there is sharp money on Team Y, or that they feel confident about Team Y against the spread. Either way, by examining how the oddsmakers are moving lines in comparison to where the public is betting, we can potentially gain an edge when making lineup decisions.
Baltimore Ravens (-3.0) at Cleveland Browns (O/U 45.5)
Betting Trends: After defeating their biggest rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football, the Baltimore Ravens travel to Ohio to take on the Cleveland Browns, who are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders. Nearly 80% of bets in this one are on Baltimore, but the spread has not budged from Ravens -3.0, indicating that sharp money is coming in on Cleveland.
Takeaways: Getting back stud cornerback Jimmy Smith, the Ravens have allowed the fewest yards per attempt this year. The Ravens have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards to opposing backfields. Jarvis Landry, a 72% slot player this season, has the best matchup in this Cleveland receiving corps against Baltimore's Tavon Young. Landry has feasted as an underdog in his career.
After Landry, David Njoku has Cleveland's best matchup, as the Ravens have allowed the tenth-most receptions to the tight end position this season, and the return of Jimmy Smith could serve to funnel targets inside even more. Njoku ranks top-10 in Air Yards among tight ends and is among Josh Hermsmeyer's primary buy-lows at the position.
Still, Cleveland has allowed the most red zone trips per game to opposing offenses, so you're not getting away from Baltimore in this matchup. John Brown leads the NFL in deep (15-plus yards downfield) targets, giving him the upside that makes him a terrific play in GPPs. He even leads the team in end-zone targets.
Still, this game could ultimately be a classic AFC North defensive slugfest. Baltimore and Cleveland rank 1st and 2nd respectively in Adjusted Defensive Net Expected points (NEP) per Play.
Miami Dolphins (+6.0) at Cincinnati Bengals (O/U 48.5)
Betting Trends: Coming off a stunning victory in the waning seconds of the game in Atlanta, the Cincinnati Bengals return home, where they face a Miami Dolphins team that was pummeled so badly against the New England Patriots that Brock Osweiler threw the team's only touchdown pass. Predictably, public bettors are fading the team that was just blown out, as over 60% of bets are on Cincinnati. Yet the line hasn't budged from Bengals -6.0, indicating that sharps are on the team from Florida in this one.
Takeaways: The sharp action on Miami bodes well for Kenyan Drake, who figures to be extremely contrarian this week after some dreadful performances. Still, much was made of Frank Gore earning additional snaps last week, but it's dangerous to assume usage from a game that was a blowout early will carry forward. If the sharps are right, Drake could explode at minimal ownership.
Still, Cincinnati is in a prime spot themselves. The Dolphins rank bottom-5 in rushing and receiving fantasy points allowed to opposing backfields this season. With Giovani Bernard banged up, Joe Mixon could feast.
#Bengals RB Joe Mixon (knee) looks all systems go against #Dolphins D that got shredded by Sony Michel last week, cut 1 of its top-3 DTs this week & is in danger of being without 3 of its top 4 DEs. And Gio Bernard (knee) looks unlikely to play.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 4, 2018
Plus, with Giovani Bernard and the majority of the Cincinnati Bengals receiving corps banged up or in bad spots, Tyler Boyd could see elevated usage. And if you're looking for a punt play at tight end, use C.J. Uzomah over Tyler Kroft. Uzomah has run 65 routes this year compared to just 21 for Kroft, and Tyler Eifert is done for the year.
#Bengals Pass Catchers Update:
Tyler Eifert -- Out for year
John Ross -- Groin, questionable at best
A.J. Green -- Xavien Howard treatment
Gio Bernard -- Knee, questionable at best
Tyler Boyd -- Yahtzee
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 4, 2018
Oakland Raiders (+5.0) at Los Angeles Chargers (O/U 53.0)
Betting Trends: With Jon Gruden getting his first win as a Head Coach in over a decade last week, the Oakland Raiders will try to keep the good times rolling as they square off against their AFC West rival in a soccer stadium. The Los Angeles Chargers have been inconsistent to say the least this year, which may explain why even as the public is split on this matchup, the spread has dropped from Los Angeles -7.5 at the open to the current line of Chargers -5.0. This is obviously a massive line move, which indicates that sharp bettors are all-in on Oakland.
Takeaways: The biggest beneficiary of the spread move is Marshawn Lynch. He gets a plum matchup against a Joey Bosa-less Chargers defense that has surrendered a 4.58 YPC since Week 2. For Oakland's passing game, Amari Cooper is getting open; he leads 30-target wide receivers with a 3.8 yards of separation at the target mark, and the Chargers pass defense isn't what it was last year.
Had a lot of respect for the Chargers CB group of Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams and Desmond King but LA has allowed to WRs:
- 3rd highest yards/target (9.8)
- 7th highest catch rate (69.4%)
- 3rd most TDs (8)
All three CBs allow a passer rating in the triple digits, per PFF.
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) October 4, 2018
Both teams in this matchup are bottom-5 in yards per play surrendered, which explains the high total. Transitioning to the Los Angeles side of the ball, Melvin Gordon has been targeted on 32.6% of his routes, highest among all running backs, and Oakland has allowed 5.69 yards per catch. Keenan Allen is Josh Hersmeyer's number-5 buy-low ride receiver, and the Raiders have been burned by slot receivers all season.
Against a team that has allowed the fourth-most completions of at least 20+ yards, Mike Williams and his team-leading 301 Air Yards are in play in GPPs. The Raiders have allowed the most points and generated the fewest sacks and quarterback hits this season, putting Philip Rivers firmly in play in all formats.
Los Angeles Rams (-7.0) at Seattle Seahawks (O/U 50.0)
Betting Trends: Coming off a big win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football, the Los Angeles Rams will try to vanquish their division rival Seattle Seahawks on the road. Predictably, public bettors are backing the undefeated Rams, as over 70% of tickets against the spread are on the Rams. Despite this, the spread hasn't budged from the opening line of Los Angeles -7.0, indicating that sharps are on Seattle.
Takeaways: The Seattle running back committee is a mess after the inclusion of Mike Davis in the rotation, so the lack of line movement is more significant for this Seattle passing game for DFS purposes. Doug Baldwin received 26.9% of Russell Wilson's targets last week, so there was no easing him back in after his multi-week absence due to a knee injury.
C.J. Uzomah isn't the only tight end punt option this week. With Will Dissly done for the year, Nick Vannett posted a season-high 26 routes run on an 82% snap rate, as he will face a Rams team that has yielded top-5 marks in receptions and yards to the position.
Still, sharp action on Seattle isn't changing how you play your Rams. They're the best offense in football on first down and reaching the red zone. For DFS purposes the fact that the touches are highly concentrated between Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp make things easy. It helps that the Seahawks defense is night and day depending on the presence of Earl Thomas in the lineup.
Seahawks yards per pass attempt allowed with and without Earl Thomas
(per @TheQuantEdge )
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 3, 2018
So yeah, play any of the 4 aforementioned Rams, and their field general Jared Goff should be in lineups as well.
Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) at Houston Texans (O/U 45.5)
Betting Trends: Sunday Night Football this week will feature a battle for the state of Texas. The Dallas Cowboys rode their stud running back Ezekiel Elliott to a win last week, while the Houston Texans earned their first victory of the season in an overtime thriller in Indianapolis. The public is split on this one, yet the line has moved from Houston -3.0 at the opener to the current line of Texans -3.5. That's a significant half-point line move because it moves the spread through the key number of 3.
Takeaways: If it felt like Ezekiel Elliott carried the load for Dallas last week even more so than usual, you weren't wrong. "Zeke" is the only player in the NFL with over half of his team's touches. Houston ranks 30th in passing points allowed per attempt, and only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are worse in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per Play.
Also, both team's rank bottom-3 in sack rate allowed, so either defense is in play.
Will Fuller is battling a hamstring injury, but he is expected to play, which completely transforms the nature of this Houston passing offense, putting Deshaun Watson in play in all formats. The movement in the spread would seem to demonstrate that Houston will be able to put up points in this one as well.
On the other hand, Fuller benefits from Watson as much as the other way around. Anytime these two are on the field together, they make magic, and you should have stacks of them in tournaments.
#Texans WR Will Fuller now has a TD catch in all 7 games he’s played with Deshaun Watson.
Fuller is up to 10 TDs through 6 games and a quarter with Watson ... and counting.
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) September 30, 2018
Akash Bhatia is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Akash Bhatia also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tenswimrun1. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.