NFL Sports Betting Toolkit
One of the unique features we've added to our daily football coverage is a dynamic line movement tool. You can find the tool here. Each Sunday, I'll cruise through the weekly developments and pluck out fantasy implications and tidbits to share.
Annually, the National Football League reshuffles significantly, so the Week 1 lines were set initially to encourage equal spending on each team and both sides of an over/under total.
The point spreads and over/under totals don't represent the expected outcome of each game. They're a reflection of where the books expect bettors to invest equally on each side of the fence.
When we see lines move, it is the book's reaction to the money already placed on a given side, and for the most part, the non-sharps love to back the chalk. The public also prefers the over. Keep those two tidbits in mind.
Looking specifically at Week 1, sharps would gobble up 10-point underdogs in a hurry, which is a simplistic reason why there are no heavy favorites this week. The other reason there aren't huge spreads this week is because seven of 15 favorites are road teams.
Just because no one is receiving significant chalk doesn't mean each game will stay close, though.
This isn't a betting column, nevertheless a few fundamental starting points needed to be established. Where we can utilize Vegas lines and line movements in the daily racket is identifying the key reasons why there is fluctuation and what it means for our fantasy lineups.
Throughout his NFL Week 1 Slate Breakdown, Denny Carter touched on game script and flow, and in-game situations are the biggest determinant of which players should receive the most opportunities to return fantasy points.
Combining each team's personnel with the expected unfolding of every game will highlight the best options to target in your daily lineups. Additionally, the approach will also help identify where there are dark horses and off-the-grid players who present huge upside in GPP tournaments.
And while it appears quite simple, all we need to do is flip the calendar back to Week 1 of 2014 and pluck a 26-10 win for the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium over the Kansas City Chiefs to prove it isn't.
Still, when making lineup decisions, it is perilous to ignore public perception because those are your opponents. Monitoring Vegas line movements is a savvy way to attune yourself to what the majority of people are expecting to unfold in each game.
So onward to the most significant rises and fallers of Week 1, shall we?
These aren't the '85 Bears
The line currently sits at plus-7 for the home team, and while it is a division game in Week 1, this line moving more in favor of Green Bay Sunday shouldn't surprise anyone.
For starters, Jay Cutler enters with a 1-11 record against the Packers for his career with a 14-21 TD/Int ratio. Add a projected horrific Chicago defense to the mix, and Cheesehead Nation are likely already looking ahead to a Week 2 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
All the dots connect for a large showing from Eddie Lacy, especially in clock-management stages, and multiple vertical scores for Aaron Rodgers. The Bears offense is likely to lean on an aerial attack as a means to stay competitive, which at first glance isn't a ripe endorsement for Matt Forte.
Just note, the veteran is a three-down back and could compile sneaky reception points in garbage time. Add a score, and Forte is a potential contrarian play Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers opened as 3.5-point favorites at home over the Minnesota Vikings in their Monday Night Football tilt. The line has flipped, though, and Purple currently owns a 2.5-point spread.
Perhaps no other Week 1 line highlights how quickly a team's fortunes can change, which confirms the suggestion the NFL is the ultimate reshuffle league. San Francisco has been trending in the wrong direction for two seasons, but losing their home opener to the Vikings?
Who saw that coming just a short while ago?
There hasn't been a lot of positives from the west side of the San Francisco Bay, though, and fantasy owners don't have a lot to be excited about Monday, either. Still, this is a game where perceived perception could play a significant role in fading the public and finding a solid GPP play.
Assuming Minnesota is able to carry the play and a lead late, Reggie Bush should receive plenty of snaps in the second half. Bush's $3,900 salary at Draft Kings, for example, provides cap relief with a profit within reach, especially if the Niners turn to the air to keep pace.
However, Carlos Hyde could carry a significant load if the opposite proves to be true and San Fran is aiming to control the clock. Hyde's cap hit is much higher, albeit.
Bird calls: The MNF showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons is expected to be a high-scoring shootout, and the over/under line has moved up to 55. It is the highest of the week, and for good reason. Expect the skill players in this bout to carry high ownership percentages, which isn't always ideal for GPP contests.
Second Place: The Dallas Cowboys are the second largest favorite (-6) and their game with the New York Giants holds the second highest over/under total (51.5). Neither defense projects to have the chops to slow the opposing offense, and the secondary offensive options are ripe for profitable returns in daily contests.
Trench warfare: The Cleveland Browns are 3.5-point dogs at the New York Jets with the week's lowest over/under total (39.5). This line has moved significantly in favor of New York, as they opened as 1-point favorites. Don't bank on players from this tilt as your offensive building blocks in the fake game, though.
Moonwalking: The Jacksonville Jaguars are down from 4-point underdogs to just 3-points entering their Week 1 battle with the Carolina Panthers. This is the only significant example of reverse line movement this week. There are a few plays from each team, but overexposure to this game could prove fatal.