4 Betting Trends to Help Set Your Week 9 Daily Fantasy Football Lineup
When making tough decisions in daily fantasy football, Vegas lines can be predictive of fantasy scoring.
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, and edge can be gained when making lineup decisions.
Green Bay Packers (+5.0) at New England Patriots (O/U 56.5)
Betting Trends: Coming off a brutal loss to the Los Angeles Rams, after a late fumble cost them a chance at a comeback victory, the Green Bay Packers will travel to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots for Sunday Night Football, fresh off a dismantling of the Buffalo Bills. This week, 57% of bets on the spread are on the Patriots' side, but the line has moved in the opposite direction. Opening as 7.0-point favorites, the Patriots are now only favored by 5.5, indicating either sharp money or that bookmakers like the Green Bay side.
Takeaways: The sharp action on the Green Bay side could have to do with the Packers offense matching up against a poor New England pass defense. The Patriots pass defense ranks 16th based on our schedule-adjusted metrics and Football Outsiders' Pass Defense DVOA metric. This is partly due to the Patriots' inability to pressure opposing quarterbacks, ranking 30th in adjusted sack rate.
Aaron Rodgers will look to exploit the Patriots' weak pass rush and build on a successful start to 2018. Rodgers currently has 2,283 passing yards (seventh-most), 13 scores, and only 1 interception to date. New England's defense has allowed the fifth-most passing yards this season (2,312) and the third-most rushing yards to quarterbacks (181). Further removed from an early-season knee injury, Rodgers ranks 12th with 116 rushing yards on the year.
This line movement would normally bode well for Aaron Jones but he remains stuck in a timeshare with Jamaal Williams, despite the Ty Montgomery trade. New England has defended opposing rushers well for the most part, allowing only 675 yards on the season. However, they have been susceptible to pass catching backs, after allowing the second-most receiving yards to the position this year (520). Unfortunately, Jones has never seen more than three targets in a game, and his 8 targets finish well behind Jamaal Williams' 17 targets.
With the Packers potentially scoring more than initially thought, all Patriot's skill position players could be in line for more volume. Still 5.5-point favorites, game script bodes well for Sony Michel and his potential return. Michel saw at least 19 touches in his last 3 healthy games, including a massive 16 red zone opportunities in those outings. The Packers have allowed 4.65 YPC to backs, which Michel should be able to take advantage of.
In the pass game, it's wheels up for Julian Edelman. Edelman has at least seven targets in each of his games this season, and he projects to face 35-year old slot man Tramon Williams. Williams has allowed a team-high four touchdowns and Edelman leads the Patriots in red zone targets (eight) over their last four games.
Houston Texans (+1.0) at Denver Broncos (O/U 46.0)
Betting Trends: Creating the ultimate revenge game, the Denver Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans just in time for the Texans to travel to Mile High. Denver enters the game after losing to Kansas City 30-23, while the Texans racked up 42 in a win over the Miami Dolphins. Despite Houston taking 72% of the bets, the line has not changed since open, showing some sharp money toward the Denver side.
Takeaways: The 3-5 Broncos appear to be the weaker team on paper, with the Texans sitting at 5-3. However, the Texans are facing key injuries in their secondary. Kevin Johnson and Kayvon Webster sit on injured reserve, while Johnathan Joseph, Aaron Colvin, and Andre Hal remain questionable after limited practice sessions on Thursday. To make matters worse, the Texans will also be without key linebacker Zach Cunningham.
Injuries on the back end and the activity with the line in favor of the Broncos bode well for Denver pass catchers. Last week Houston allowed the ghost of DeVante Parker to eclipse 100 yards. This bodes well for Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton, who should see an increase in targets without Demaryius in the picture.
Houston has played solid run defense of late, but with Royce Freeman not practicing with a high-ankle sprain, Phillip Lindsay should be in line for a heavy workload. Lindsay has a crisp 531 yards on 93 carries this season (5.71 YPC) and leads the team with 18 red zone carries. Despite the tough matchup, Lindsay's projected volume cannot be faded.
On the Houston side, the Texans will likely continue with a DeAndre Hopkins-centric game plan. Hopkins ranks seventh in targets (79) and third in air yards (1,093) this season. Weak on the boundaries, Hopkins' matchup should be sweetened by the potential absence of Bradley Roby, who sprained an ankle last week and has not practiced since.
The line's reluctance to move could bode well for Lamar Miller. Miller has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games and faces a Broncos defense that has allowed the third-most rushing yards this season (1,007). Ranked 26th in rush defense, per our metrics, Miller remains in play.
Detroit Lions (+5.0) at Minnesota Vikings (O/U 49.0)
Betting Trends: Traveling to Minnesota for a divisional clash, the Detroit Lions will attempt to shake off a 28-14 loss to Seattle Seahawks. The Minnesota Vikings will look to do the same after a brutal 30-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings have taken 73% of bets, but the line has decreased from -5.5 to -5 in favor of the Vikings, indicating some sharp money or sportsbooks' lean toward the Detroit side.
Takeaways: This is a spot where injuries could put bettors on Detroit. Minnesota has been dealing with injuries to Andrew Sendejo, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr, Mike Hughes, and Linval Joseph on the defensive side of the ball, and Riley Reiff and Tom Compton on the offensive line.
Despite trading Golden Tate, this bodes well for Detroit pass catchers. Minnesota has played the fourth-best run defense this season, per our metrics, creating a natural pass-funnel to receivers. Likewise, Tate leaves behind 27% of the Lions' targets and 22% of the air yards, for Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones to absorb.
This line movement would normally benefit Kerryon Johnson and the Detroit run game, but Theo Riddick muddles those waters. Minnesota has played stout run defense but have allowed the eighth-most receiving yards to backs (445), further playing to Riddick's favor.
The line movement against the Vikings looks primarily worrisome for their run game. Not only does the game project to be more competitive, but the offensive line injuries noted above remain a concern for Latavius Murray. It is anyone's guess if Dalvin Cook will return (or what his usage will be), but either way Detroit remedied some of their struggles against the run by adding Damon Harrison at the trade deadline. With Harrison on the field, the Lions allowed a mere 3.2 yards per carry.
Cousins and the pass catchers shouldn't be affected too much, but the backfield situation could be one to avoid.
Kansas City Chiefs (-8.0) at Cleveland Browns (O/U 52.5)
Betting Trends: Fresh off a two-game win streak, the Kansas City Chiefs will travel to face the Cleveland Browns, reeling from an embarrassing 33-18 divisional loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. To date, the Chiefs have taken a massive 84% of the tickets coming in on this game, yet the line has dropped from its -9 at open to -8 currently.
Takeaways: The first thing that should be noted here is the turmoil in Cleveland, with the Browns firing their head coach and offensive coordinator this week. However, that may bode well for the Browns after they proved to be one of the least efficient teams in the NFL. Top-notch handicapper Warren Sharp outlines a few of those inefficiencies here. The Browns have a talented roster and maybe the coaching change allows the Browns to record a few more points than bookmakers initially expected.
This looks promising primarily for Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson. Johnson in particular was underutilized with six or less touches per game under former offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The Chiefs have allowed the seventh-most rushing yards (882) and the most receiving yards to backs this season (551). However, it may be wise to watch how the split works out under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens before jumping all in on the Browns run game.
It's also worth noting that the Chiefs have given up the seventh-most yards to receivers (1,444) and second-most yards to tight ends, putting Jarvis Landry and David Njoku on the map as Baker Mayfield's preferred targets in the inevitable second-half garbage time.
With Gregg Williams taking over as interim head coach, the Browns defense should remain the same. The Browns have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards this season (947) and the fifth-most passing yards (2,319). Patrick Mahomes has seven consecutive games with over 300 yards passing. Don't overthink this one. All Chiefs skill position players are in play.
Matthew Gajewski is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matthew Gajewski also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mgajewski. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.