For the 2017 NFL regular season, Ben Gretch of RotoViz contributed his Deconstructing the Vegas Betting Lines piece to FantasyLabs. In this piece I apply his methodology to the Super Bowl Vegas lines.
To get a sense of how the Super Bowl teams might score their points, I’ve looked at the year-to-date ‘market share’ of offensive and defensive production for each team’s passing, rushing, and kicking attacks. For instance, this year the Patriots have scored 43.7, 22.1, and 32.3 percent of their points through the passing, rushing, and kicking games, and they’ve allowed 49.7, 12.7, and 32.1 percent of the points scored against them to come via the pass, run, and kick. (For this exercise I’m setting aside defensive scores, which are largely random.)
Once we know the proportional production tendencies of offenses and defenses, we can apply those rates to the Vegas lines to create market-based and phase-specific point projections.
For the people who want all of the separate point projections for each team in one table, here it is.
For the people who also want phase-specific market share data (“Pass MS%,” “Rush MS%,” and “Kick MS%”), I’ve averaged the offensive and defensive production ratios for each matchup and provided those in the three tables below.
Passing Point Projections
Tom Brady had success in the AFC Championship throwing downfield to Brandin Cooks, who caught six receptions for 100 yards and drew 68 yards of defensive pass interference penalties, but Brady was even better when throwing to the middle of the field. Even though he was without tight end Rob Gronkowski for more than half of the game, Brady connected with wide receiver Danny Amendola and running backs Dion Lewis and James White for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-22 passing. The Pats will likely attack the middle of the field against the Eagles, since that’s what the Pats tend to do anyway and that’s where the Eagles pass defense is weakest. Philadelphia entered the playoffs seventh against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), ranking seventh against No. 1 and first against No. 2 receivers, but they (like the Jags) are more vulnerable in the middle of the field, ranking 10th, 17th, and 22nd in pass DVOA against running backs, tight ends, and supplementary (slot) receivers. If you use our Lineup Builder to stack Pats pass catchers with quarterback Tom Brady, consider Lewis, White, Gronk, and Amendola.
For the past two weeks backup quarterback Nick Foles has been priced at a Blake Bortles-esque level, and he’s responded with 598 yards and three touchdowns (to no interceptions) on 49-of-63 passing. He’s not Carson Wentz, but the Eagles can win with Foles, and he’s a viable fantasy alternative to Brady. The Eagles have scored the league’s fifth-highest percentage of points via the passing game, and the Pats have allowed the third-highest percentage via the pass. That combination provides the Eagles with a great opportunity. Although they are implied for fewer total passing points, the Eagles have the market share edge over the Pats and one of the highest matchup-specific passing market share rates of the season. If the Eagles are able to outperform their Vegas expectations — as they did in the NFC Championship against the Vikings — then Foles could once again have a big aerial outing: The Eagles have the edge when they have the ball.
Rushing Point Projections
Neither team has scored a high percentage of its points via the rushing game, and on defense they have both held opposing teams to a league-low seven rushing touchdowns. Eagles running back Jay Ajayi has averaged 17.3 touches and 89.8 yards per game with Foles as the starter (and the Pats defense entered the playoffs 30th in rush DVOA), and Lewis has averaged 17.4 touches and 90.5 yards per game since becoming the lead back in Week 6 (and he has some double-dip potential as a kick returner), but neither back has great touchdown equity, especially since LeGarrette Blount for the Eagles and White and Rex Burkhead for the Pats can always steal goal-line opportunities.
Kicking Point Projections
In the flex-focused FanDuel contests currently available, it’s not necessary to roster kickers, which means that they could have relatively low ownership in the Super Bowl because no one wants to own kickers. Plus, it’s not as if Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski and Eagles kicker Jake Elliott have high projections: I expect I’ll be eyeing the under for their props. While we don’t highlight kickers in our Player Props Dashboard, the projections in this table — when properly adjusted for any line movement — will likely provide actionable guidance on which way to lean.
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