4 Betting Trends to Help Set Your Wild Card Round 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.
Indianapolis Colts (+1) at Houston Texans (O/U 48)
Betting Trends: In a rare playoff divisional showdown, the 10-6 Indianapolis Colts travel to take on the 11-5 Houston Texans. Winners of their last four, Indy took care of business by defeating the Tennessee Titans 33-17 in a must-win game. On the other side, the Texans also enter the playoffs on a high note after stomping the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-3. To start the week, the public bets have been split 50/50 between the Colts and the Texans, but the line has actually moved 1.5 points in Indy's direction. This indicates potential sharp action or bookmaker favor on the Indianapolis side of this line.
Takeaways: Like the money suggests, the Colts' offense enters a solid spot this week. In the regular season, Andrew Luck diced up the 22nd-ranked Houston pass defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, for 464 and 399 passing yards. Likewise, T.Y. Hilton recorded yardage totals of 115 and 199, while Eric Ebron scored in each meeting. The Texans' secondary has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to wideouts (746) and the second-most to tight ends (309) over the last four weeks. In the highest totaled game of the week, all Indy pass catchers look viable.
As for Houston, they remain a home favorite, boding well for Lamar Miller's fantasy outlook. Miller has averaged 19.3 touches in his last three healthy contests but faces an Indianapolis defense that ranks 10th in rush defense, per our metrics. However, they have allowed the second-most receptions to backs this season (110) creating an avenue for Miller's success. As for Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, they remain viable stacking partners, with Hopkins ranking second in the league in receiving yards (1,583).
Seattle Seahawks (+3) at Dallas Cowboys (O/U 42.5)
Betting Trends: In Saturday's second game, the 10-6 Seattle Seahawks head down to face the 10-6 Dallas Cowboys. Winners of their last two, the Seahawks narrowly defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-24 in a meaningless Week 17 games. Likewise, the Cowboys edged the New York Giants in a 36-35 victory without playoff implications. To open the week, Dallas has handled 51% of the bets, but the line has popped up to 3.0 points on FanDuel Sportsbook. After the line dropped as low as 1.0 point, it seems that sharp money has targeted Dallas late this week.
Takeaways: Despite the line moving away from Seattle, Chris Carson looks like the Seahawks' top play. Even as a road underdog, Seattle runs at a higher rate than any other team in the league, rendering Carson game script independent. As the Seahawks' top dog, Carson has averaged 24.25 touches per game in his last four contests. Even with Dallas ranking third in run defense, per our metrics, Carson's volume remains too high to pass on. As for Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin, Dallas ranks 15th in pass defense in our models, but each will need to rely on efficiency over volume in this run-centric attack.
On the other side, Dallas should follow a similar plan with Ezekiel Elliott. Seattle ranks seventh in run defense, per our metrics, but Elliott has averaged 29.25 touches per game in his last four contests. Zeke has also improved as a receiver, handling 33 targets in that same span. Seattle has allowed the seventh-most receptions (25) to backs over their last four games, opening doors for Elliott in the passing game. Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper may also need to rely on efficiency in this spot with Dallas predicated on the run.
Los Angeles Chargers (+3) at Baltimore Ravens (O/U 42)
Betting Trends: In a Week 16 rematch, the 12-4 Los Angeles Chargers head east to face the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens. Last week, the Chargers rebounded by defeating the Denver Broncos 23-9, while the Ravens narrowly knocked off the Cleveland Browns 26-24. Despite playing in the Sunday early game across the country, 71% of tickets have backed the Chargers to start the week. However, the line has remained a steady 3.0 points, showing bookmaker/sharp favor on the Baltimore side.
Takeaways: Despite handling most of the public tickets, the Chargers remain 3.0-point underdogs, which looks ominous for their skill players. Philip Rivers recorded a mere 181 passing yards in this spot in Week 16, contributing to Keenan Allen's 58-yard dud. However, Allen remains a bet on volume situation, seeing 10.75 targets per game in his last four contests. In the run game, Melvin Gordon remains difficult to trust coming off an MCL and ankle injury. Last week, he only played 54% of the Chargers' snaps, giving his fantasy outlook real concern against Baltimore's number five run defense, according to our metrics.
On the other hand, the Ravens remain steady home favorites, boding well for their multi-faceted run attack. With Lamar Jackson under center, no team has rushed the ball at a higher rate. Averaging 16 rushing attempts per game in his last four, Jackson himself remains the most bankable option in the Baltimore offense, followed by Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon. With Baltimore barely throwing, options like Michael Crabtree and John Brown remains mere dart throws.
Philadelphia Eagles (+6.5) at Chicago Bears (O/U 41)
Betting Trends: In Wild Card Weekend's final match, the 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles head to the Windy City to battle the 12-4 Chicago Bears. Needing a win and help to secure a playoff berth, the Eagles shutout the Washington Redskins 24-0 in Week 17. On the other side, the Bears knocked off the Minnesota Vikings 24-10, paving the way for the Eagles' playoff appearance. In perhaps the weekend's most lopsided contest, the Bears have taken 53% of betting tickets, but the line has risen two full points since opening. It appears bookmakers, sharps, and the public all agree on this one and project a Bears' victory.
Takeaways: The line movement here does not bode well for Philly as a whole. Moving up to 6.5-point underdogs, Nick Foles will likely have to air it out. This puts Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Nelson Agholor into consideration. The Bears rank as the second-best run defense and third-best pass defense per our metrics, but have showed cracks through the air. They've allowed the 14th most yards to receivers this season, boding well for Jeffery and company.
The line and home field advantage suggest a big game for Jordan Howard. However, the Eagles have shown major vulnerability in their secondary due to injury. This unit allowed the second-most yards to receivers over the last four weeks (778) and the third-most on the entire year (3,082). This puts Allen Robinson in play after leading the Bears in receiving yards (741). Tarik Cohen could also provide sneaky value in the pass game, with the Eagles allowing the most running back receptions in the past four weeks (35).
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.