2 Betting Trends to Help Set Your Conference Championship 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.
Los Angeles Rams (+3.5) at New Orleans Saints (O/U 56.5)
Betting Trends: Finishing the regular season 13-3, Los Angeles Rams head across the country to face the 13-3 New Orleans Saints. Last week, the Rams edged the Dallas Cowboys 30-22, while the Saints routed the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14. To open the week, the Rams have received 55% of the betting tickets, but the line has held at 3.5 points. This suggests that the opening line has been fairly efficient, but it's worth monitoring in case it moves towards the Rams in the coming days.
Takeaways: Coming in as steady three-point underdogs, the Rams project to throw more often than last week's run-heavy approach, boding well for Jared Goff and all of his pass catchers. Despite a disappointing 186-yard performance in the divisional round, Goff showed growth as a passer in 2018. In the regular season, he finished with the fourth-most passing yards (4,688) and a 32:12 touchdown to interception ratio. An increase in pass attempts bodes particularly well for Robert Woods. After Cooper Kupp was placed on injured reserve, Woods led the Rams in targets (52), receptions (31), receiving yards (387), and air yards (553) to end the regular season. Last week proved no different, with Woods handling a team-high 8 targets, 6 catches, and 69 yards. In the backfield, Todd Gurley remains the superior pass catching back, out-targeting C.J. Anderson 2-1 last week and recording 59 receptions on 81 targets in the regular season. With game script projected to work against him, Anderson looks like a strong avoid.
On the Saints' side, it's wheels up for all skill position players. Drew Brees has shown stark home/away splits over the last two seasons, averaging 301.9 passing yards at home but only 239.6 on the road. In the divisional round, Brees targeted Michael Thomas 16 times and Ted Ginn Jr. another 7 times. Aside from that pair, no other player received more than four targets. With such a condensed target share, these two should remain the focus of lineups targeting the Saints' pass catchers. In the run game, Alvin Kamara bested Mark Ingram in snap share (68.83% to 40.26%) and touches (20-11) last week. The Rams rank 24th in run defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, and allowed the sixth-most rushing yards in the last four games of the regular season (461). Seeing superior volume in all game scripts, Kamara should be locked into DFS lineups this weekend.
New England Patriots (+3) at Kansas City Chiefs (O/U 56)
Betting Trends: After an 11-5 regular season, the New England Patriots handled the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 41-28 in the divisional round. This week, they travel to Arrowhead to face a 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs team that demolished the Indianapolis Colts 31-13. To start the week, the Chiefs have taken 55% of bets and the line has stuck at a constant -3.0 points. This line also looks fairly efficient but could change as game time approaches with weather implications in Kansas City.
Takeaways: Playing as three-point, road underdogs, game script should favor the passing game for New England. Last week, Tom Brady absolutely carved up a strong Chargers defense for 343 passing yards in the divisional round. In that game, Brady targeted James White 17 times and Julian Edelman another 13. Below that, no other receiver recorded more than five targets. Notably, Kansas City allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to running backs throughout 2018 (895), playing right into White's skill set. However, the Chiefs also allowed the fifth-most rushing yards throughout 2018 (1,816) and rank dead last in run defense, per our metrics. This should allow Sony Michel to put together a productive game if the Pats can keep the score close. Similar to last week, both backs see enough usage in their particular phase of the game to put together productive box scores against this weak Chiefs run defense.
For Kansas City, the line and home field advantage create a favorable environment for Damien Williams. Williams has taken an absolute stranglehold on this backfield, recording 31 touches in the divisional round, including six targets in the passing game. Notably, he out-snapped Darrel Williams 74.71% to 11.49%. Through the air, Patrick Mahomes, remains dangerous as usual, throwing for 5,097 yards in the regular season and carving up this Patriots defense for 352 passing yards and 4 scores in Week 6. In the receiver unit, Tyreek Hill stands out with at least 133 receiving yards in each of his two career matchups against the Patriots. On a slate with weak tight end options, Travis Kelce looks like the only viable option after ranking second among tight ends in targets (150) and receiving yards (1,336).
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.