4 Betting Trends to Help Set Your Week 15 Daily Fantasy Football Lineup
When making tough decisions in daily fantasy football, Vegas lines can be predictive of fantasy scoring, while providing an edge on the competition.
Unfortunately, as professional NFL handicapper Warren Sharp has pointed out, oddsmakers' primary goal is not to set the most accurate lines; their 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, an edge can be gained when making lineup decisions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7.5) at Baltimore Ravens (O/U 46.5)
Betting Trends: Slowly falling out of contention, the 5-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to take on the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens. Last week the Bucs fell 28-14 to the New Orleans Saints, while the Ravens suffered their first loss with Lamar Jackson at the helm by a score of 27-24 to the Kansas City Chiefs. To start the week, Baltimore has taken 62% of the public betting tickets, but the line has dropped from 8.0 points down to 7.5 points. This shows some interest from sharp bettors or bookmakers on the Baltimore side of the line.
Takeaways: With an over at 46.5 this shift likely has to do with the Ravens' pace of play. Currently, Baltimore ranks second in time of possession and seconds per play. The Ravens have accomplished this by running more than any other team in the NFL over the last four weeks (64%). This bodes well for Jackson again, after recording at least 16.5 points in each of his starts. The rookie quarterback has averaged 22.3 pass attempts and 16.8 rush attempts per game as the starter, creating a floor that is tough to match for DFS. Jackson also draws a sweet matchup against a Bucs' secondary that has allowed the fifth-most passing yards this season (3,708)
On the other side, this could be tough sledding for the entire Tampa Bay offense playing on the road. Baltimore ranks second in overall defense and pass defense, according to our schedule-adjusted metrics. Playing with the 26th-ranked run offense, per our metrics, Tampa relies almost solely on the pass. In a tough matchup and with a projected decrease in volume, Jameis Winston and all of his pass catchers could under-perform this week.
Dallas Cowboys (+3) at Indianapolis Colts (O/U 47.5)
Betting Trends: In a game with playoff implications, the 8-5 Dallas Cowboys travel to take on the 7-6 Indianapolis Colts. Perhaps the hottest team in the NFL, the Cowboys are winners of five-straight, including a 29-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week. On the other side, the Colts halted the Houston Texans win streak with a 24-21 victory. To this point 55% of bets have come in on the Dallas side of the line, but the Colts have actually jumped from 2.5-point favorites up to 3.0-point favorites. With potential sharp interest on the Colts' side, their skill position players could provide sneaky value in DFS.
Takeaways: Playing as 3-point road underdog doesn't typically bode well for running backs, but Ezekiel Elliott looks primed to exploit the Colts' main defensive weakness. Indy has allowed the second-most catches (93) and the fifth-most receiving yards (717) to running backs this season. Elliott's 79 targets rank fifth in the NFL among running backs, while he has touched the ball at least 29 times in each of his last four games. Elliott is almost a lock-button play on this slate.
On the other side, bookmakers and sharps alike seem to believe the Colts will score points in this contest, with an implied team total of 25.25. With Jack Doyle on injured reserve, this game sets up particularly well for Eric Ebron. Averaging 10.4 targets per game in Doyle's absence, Ebron should take advantage of this Dallas secondary that has allowed the second-most catches to tight ends in the NFL (81). With T.Y. Hilton not practicing all week, Ebron could be in line for an expanded role this Sunday.
Green Bay Packers (+5.5) at Chicago Bears (O/U 45.0)
Betting Trends: In an NFC North divisional showdown, the 5-7-1 Green Bay Packers take on the 9-4 Chicago Bears. The Packers won their first game post-Mike McCarthy 34-20 over the Atlanta Falcons, while the Bears defeated the Los Angeles Rams 15-6. Opening with the Bears favored by 6.5 points, 56% of the bets have targeted Chicago, but the line has actually dropped to 5.5 points. This indicates some favor from bookmakers or sharp bettors on the Green Bay side of the action.
Takeaways: The Bears come into this contest with the top ranked defense overall and second-best pass defense, according to our metrics. However, the Bears lost their slot corner Bryce Callahan, which could explain this line movement. This creates a potential hole for Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb to exploit. While Cobb has disappointed almost every season of his career, he plays in the slot on just over 85% of his snaps and should theoretically benefit from this matchup. On the outside, Davante Adams has recorded the fourth-most targets in the NFL (137) and has shown matchup-proof ability throughout the 2018 campaign.
On a week-to-week basis, Chicago's offense is as hard to predict as they come. With Mitchell Trubisky recovering from a shoulder injury and the Bears favored by 5.5 points, this game sets up well for Jordan Howard. Howard handled 20 touches in the Chicago victory last week and Green Bay ranks 28th in run defense, per our metrics. However, Howard remains risky after playing a mere 55% of the snaps in Week 14 and seeing almost no passing-game work.
Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers (O/U 44.0)
Betting Trends: In another divisional showdown, the 8-5 Seattle Seahawks will show down against the 3-10 San Francisco 49ers. Winners of four-straight games, the Seahawks dismantled the Minnesota Vikings 21-7 last week and the 49ers surprisingly upset the Denver Broncos 20-14. The public has overwhelmingly backed the Seahawks with 71% of bets favoring their side to start the week, but the line has actually dropped from 6.5 to 3.5. This shows some particularly strong action on the San Francisco side of this line.
Takeaways: When these teams played two weeks ago, Seattle won 43-16, but that did not stop Nick Mullens from throwing for 414 yards and 2 scores. Seattle has allowed the sixth-most passing yards over the last four weeks (739), creating a path for Mullens and his pass catchers to succeed. While George Kittle has dominated targets in this offense, Dante Pettis stands to benefit from Seattle's questionable wide receiver coverage. Pierre Garcon hit injured reserve this week and Marquise Goodwin played only 33% of the 49ers' snaps last week. Pettis has seven targets in each of his last three games, behind only Kittle in that span.
On the other side, Seattle should exploit a 49ers team that ranks 26th against the pass in our metrics, but that directly conflicts with their run-centric approach. When these teams met in Week 13, the Seahawks passed 20 times and ran 29 times. Likely to continue with a similar game plan, Chris Carson stands to benefit. Carson has averaged 18.3 touches per game in Seattle's last four contests, and Rashaad Penny looks doubtful for this weekend. Potentially seeing more work, Carson deserves consideration in all formats.
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.