The Vegas Report provides a quick snapshot of year-to-date Vegas trends and their daily fantasy implications for the week’s slate of NFL games. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL homepage.
We have reached the midway point of the NFL season. By now we (as well as Vegas) should have a solid sense of all 32 teams. As I write this sentence the fourth quarter of the Sunday Night Football game has just started. For the first 11 games of the week, the 22 teams were implied for an average of 18.81 points. Although the games went 7-4 on the over/under, the teams averaged exactly 18.81 points. Even amid volatility, Vegas can be still be frighteningly accurate.
We now have eight weeks of data (minus the Broncos-Chiefs game on Monday night). To understand more fully how teams have performed, I’ve collected all the point spreads and game totals for Weeks 1-8 and put them next to the production data so we can see how teams have done vis-à-vis Vegas.
I’ve created a Vegas Plus/Minus metric — similar to our proprietary daily fantasy Plus/Minus metric — that compares actual production with expected (or implied) production. For instance, the Arizona Cardinals (based on the over/unders and point spreads) were implied for an average of 22.89 points per game (PPG) in Weeks 1-8, but they scored only 17 PPG, resulting in a Vegas Plus/Minus of -5.89. Additionally, they failed to hit their Vegas-implied expectations in six of seven games, giving them a league-worst ‘implied’ record of 1-6 on the year.
Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus
When thinking about game script, spreads, and over/unders, we should take defensive performance into account. This is where Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus adds value. Example: The Cardinals were implied to allow 22.68 PPG in Weeks 1-8, but their opponents scored 27.29 PPG, giving them a Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus of -4.61. (A negative number means that a team allows more points than its opponent’s implied total; a positive number, fewer points.)
Offensive production within an NFL contest is often correlated across teams. As a result, many sharp DFS players stack games (instead of just teams) in guaranteed prize pools. To highlight teams that tend to play in games that fall short of or surpass the Vegas total, I’ve created an Over/Under Differential metric: The actual total of games minus their over/unders. Example: The Cardinals had an average Vegas total of 45.57 PPG in Weeks 1-8, but their games actually totaled 44.29 PPG. Thus, they have an Over/Under Differential of -1.29.
The point spread is the go-to number for Vegas and DFS, as it is predictive of game script and outcome. As a result I’ve created a Spread Differential metric so we can see how teams have done on a PPG basis relative to the spread. Example: The Cardinals in Weeks 1-8 were -0.21 favorites on average, but their opponents have outscored them by 10.29 PPG. As a result, they have a league-worst -10.5 Spread Differential.
Week 9 Preliminary Miscellany
As was the case in Week 8, six teams are on bye in Week 9.
- Chicago Bears: They are 5-3 against the spread (ATS) despite having a near-neutral Spread Differential of +1.19.
- Cleveland Browns: They have the third-worst ATS record at 2-6.
- Minnesota Vikings: They have a top-five defense with 16.88 PPG allowed and a +3.38 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus.
- New England Patriots: They have negative marks in all four Vegas metrics.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: They have a league-low over/under record of 1-7, primarily because they’ve held opponents to 16.38 PPG, the NFL’s second-lowest mark.
- San Diego Chargers: They are top-four with a +4.91 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus and 6-2 opponent implied record.
For Thursday Night Football, the Bills (-3.5) visit the Jets, who have lost three straight games. The Jets are a tough 5-2-1 ATS with a +2.31 Spread Differential — but they’re facing one of the few teams to outperform them, as the Bills are 5-1-1 ATS with a +6.64 mark. The game has an over/under of 42.0 points, and it’s worth noting that Jets games have averaged 42.88 PPG (+0.25 Over/Under Differential); Bills games, 38.29 (-5.36). There could be value on the under. The Bills lead the league with their +6.00 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus. The Jets could struggle to put up points.
The Saints (-7.0) host the Buccaneers at the Coors Field of fantasy football. The game leads the slate with an over/under of 50.0 points, the Saints are 5-2 ATS (+5.57 Spread Differential), and the Bucs are 1-5-1 (-3.86). In a word: Delicious.
Yet to play their Week 8 MNF game, the Broncos visit the Eagles (-7.5), who lead the league with a 6-2 ATS record (+6.69 Spread Differential). The Broncos are one of only six teams to cover less than three times (2-3-1, -5.33).
The Cardinals (-2.5) visit the 49ers in a contest with a slate-low 39.0-point over/under. The Cardinals have been the worst ATS team of the season — and backup quarterback Drew Stanton is about to make his first start of the year.
The Jaguars (-3.5) host the Bengals in a game with an over/under of only 39.5 points. The Jags have held opponents to a league-low 15.71 PPG and have the second-highest Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus (+4.96). Meanwhile, the Bengals have a bottom-five Vegas Plus/Minus (-4.39). Although the Jags are just one game ahead of the Bengals in the ATS standings, the Jags lead the league with their Spread Differential (+11.71) while the Bengals are in the bottom 10 (-3.86).
The Texans (-11.5) host the Colts. The Texans are first in the NFL with 30.71 PPG scored and a +10.54 Vegas Plus/Minus. The Colts are last with 30.75 PPG allowed and a -6.5 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus. The spread could easily get wider as the week progresses: The Texans have a top-five Spread Differential (+6.21); the Colts have a bottom-two mark (-7.5). The game is second on the slate with a 48.0-point over/under. The Texans are 5-2 on the over with a league-high +14.86 Over/Under Differential; the Colts, 6-2 with a +5.5. As high as the over is, it might be too low. The Texans lead the slate with an implied total of 30.5 points: Quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller will be popular.