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Fantasy Football Cheat Code: How Sports Betting Can Inform Your Lineup Decisions

Sportsbooks are incredibly accurate with their projections, so you can use that to your advantage in fantasy.

Every week of the fantasy football season, Michael Fabiano publishes his top start/sits for each position. It’s a must read, and it will help you make a lot of tough decisions. But, of course, the article can’t always take into account your specific team. What if you have four receivers that are all on the must-start list? What if all your running backs are on this week’s sit list?

Sometimes I flip a coin and sometimes I just go with my gut, but most of the time I use this hack:

Vegas, baby!!

That’s right. With the popularity of sports betting, there is no shortage of places to find information. It’s incredible how accurate sportsbooks are with their projections. I mean, if you think about it, they have to be, or they’re out of business. They don’t just have a loss to their brother-in-law in the family league on the line; they have real skin in the game.

Last week, SI Sportsbook had a prop for Javonte Williams OVER 48.5 rushing yards. Do you know how many rushing yards Javonte Williams had? 48. Melvin Gordon had the exact same rushing prop (48.5). Do you know how many yards he rushed for? 45. However, Gordon also had a touchdown -- and guess what? A Melvin Gordon anytime TD paid +130 while a Javonte Williams TD paid +165. SI Sportsbook odds showed that Gordon was more likely to find the end zone. If you were deciding between Gordon and Williams in your fantasy lineup, the sportsbook told you to start Gordon.

So, let’s take a look at what the sportsbook has for us this week, and see what we may be able to surmise.

I always start with checking the highest game total of the week...

Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) @ KC Chiefs (-2.5) GAME TOTAL: 56

This one is no big surprise. We have expected both offenses to put up a lot of points all season, and we likely drafted many of these players in early rounds. What’s interesting to me here is that the spread is only -2.5 in Kansas City’s favor. Usually when a team is at home, they get a 3-point home “credit.” Vegas thinks if these teams met on a neutral field, Dallas ekes this one out.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Of course you are starting Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Amari Cooper, Zeke Elliott and CeeDee Lamb, but what this game total says to me is that players like Michael Gallup and Tony Pollard should be in the flex conversation. Further, when I look at the passing TD props for Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes, both QBs are plus money for over 2.5 passing TDs.

Passing Touchdowns:

  • Patrick Mahomes OVER 2.5 (+135)
  • Dak Prescott OVER 2.5 (+145)

The sportsbook says to confidently start both QBs, but don’t expect another 5 TD game from Mahomes this week. It also has more juice on a Mahomes interception at -120, meaning Mahomes is more likely to throw a pick and cost you a few points. Dak should have a good game, but the run game for Dallas could be more involved. I like Tony Pollard as a flex play this week.

Next up, I like to check the lowest game total of the week...

New Orleans Saints (+1.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5) GAME TOTAL: 43

SI Recommends

Well, hmmmmm... The Saints are expected to score fewer than three touchdowns (assuming the extra points are good). If I am looking for a streamer for Matt Stafford this week, Trevor Siemien probably is not the guy. Here’s a prop that could help us:

Devonta Smith receiving yards 56.5 (-110)

The -110 indicates the sportsbook believes strongly in that receiving yards prop. It is exactly even odds whether Smith goes over or under that mark. As a fantasy manager, you can expect Smith to give you a decent floor, but he has a low ceiling this week vs. New Orleans.

Speaking of streaming QBs, let’s see what the sportsbook can tell us about three QBs that are on most waiver wires.

Justin Fields:

  • Over 1.5 passing TD +165
  • Over 214.5 passing yards -110
  • Over 34.5 rushing yards -115

Fields is expected to get you about 250 total yards and a passing TD. The rushing yards prop suggests you could get a bonus rushing TD.

Jimmy Garoppolo:

  • Over 1.5 passing TD -110
  • Over 245.5 passing yards -115
  • No rushing yards prop

Jimmy G is expected to get you two passing touchdowns and 245 yards.

Mac Jones:

  • Over 1.5 passing TDs -135
  • Over 251.5 passing yards -115
  • Over 5.5 rushing yards -110

Jones is expected to easily throw for more than two touchdowns as there is a lot of juice on that -135, with about 255 total yards.

Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) reacts before a game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium.

Survey says: Jones is your safest bet for a streamer this week. If you are in a league with only four points per passing TD, you can start Fields with hopes he runs one in.

Check back Sunday

The closer we get to game time, the more accurate these props become. Sunday morning is a great time to go check what the sportsbook is predicting. Maybe a last-minute injury came up, maybe the weather will affect some games, or maybe the sportsbook heard that Carson Wentz decided he will leave the game if his wife goes into labor.

I hope this introductory piece has shown you how to be a little more resourceful than your league-mates. Of course, Vegas can be wrong. When we are betting, we are looking for flaws in the lines, and we will always point those out as opportunities to grow your bankroll. But, there’s a reason sports betting is a multi-billion dollar industry. Most of the time, the sportsbooks are pretty accurate with their predictions. Remember, they HAVE to be, and you can use that to your advantage!

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