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It was discussed many times in the Daily Fantasy Cafe NFL Academy lessons that Vegas betting lines are excellent tools for fantasy football. Game totals, teams totals, lines and player props can all be very useful tools if applied correctly to the players you are considering. Out of all the positions in daily fantasy, quarterback is where we can use these tools most effectively. Due to the fact that quarterbacks generally play every offensive play in a game, no matter the score, they have the least variability in their opportunity and thus become much easier to project that guys coming on and off the field and sharing their opportunities to exploit a weak defense with others. When attacking a weak passing defense with receivers, you have to worry about fourth and fifth options stealing the big play you've been waiting for your choice to make all game. With quarterbacks, you get all of those points and one of the many reasons why a lot of expert DFS players treat quarterback much more like we do a pitcher in baseball than we do as a point guard in basketball, as it's own unique position compared to the others.
The biggest advantage Vegas statistics can give you is an insight into game flow. By knowing the spread and the total, we can glean valuable information about how that game might go and how coaches will be calling plays due to that.
New England @ Green Bay
Spread: Green Bay -7.5
There are two obvious things we can gather here right away. The first, is that this will be a high scoring game one way or another. The second, is that this game should be fairly competitive, with basically just one score separating the two throughout most of the game. These may seem a little silly to analyze, because maybe we could have speculated that without the lines based on generic knowledge of the teams, but knowing these sportsbooks are taking bets on these numbers should make us feel a lot more confident in them than speculation. What we need to do now though, is dig into these numbers a bit deeper. Let's find out what each team is projected for.
The easiest formula to do this is (Total-Spread)/2 then add the spread back to the favored team, but not the underdog.
New England: (50.5-7.5)/2 = 21.5 Projected Points
Green Bay: (50.5-7.5)/2 + 7.5= 29 Projected Points
Now we have a team projection for each of these squads. The way I like the break it down is by touchdowns. We're looking at three touchdowns for New England and four touchdowns for Green Bay. Of course, this is a high scoring game, so we're expecting touchdowns here, there is a lot more expectation of field goals in low scoring game, so as the score gets lower, it gets a bit trickier.
Now we can start doing game flow analysis and determine this game is likely to be more of a shootout, where teams are trading blows, which speeds up the pace of the game and, more importantly, creates more plays for each team. In any game with a total over 50 like this, both quarterbacks are good plays in most cases. However, the one you really want to target is the quarterback on the underdog team. Let's take a look at how some passing statistical categories have correlated with winning over a 20 year sample from 1990 to 2011 done by Football Perspective:
While many of the “efficiency” stats lean heavily toward the winning quarterback, a lot of the volume stats that we look for in fantasy football are hovering much closer to the zero mark and even a couple in the negative. Look at the two biggest volume factors, passing yards and attempts. Both of these are very close to zero, meaning there isn't a huge disparity in these stats between the winning and losing quarterbacks, with the losers throwing even more actually due to the game flow leading to winning teams running more often than they do normally and losing teams throwing more often than they would normally. Let's take a look at an example box score.
A perfect example above, was one of the highest scoring games from 2014, in which the Green Bay Packers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 43-37 for a total of 80 points. While both quarterbacks were great in this one, as is to be expected with that kind of total, if was actually Matt Ryan, the quarterback of the losing Falcons squad, that outperformed the Packers Aaron Rodgers by throwing for an additional 50 yards and a touchdown due to the Falcons only running 24 total running plays in the entire game because they were trailing.