In the weekly Fantasy Trends, we leverage the Trends tool to find quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs with notable data points for the upcoming main slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL homepage.
Vegas sportsbooks have proven their handicapping acumen time and time again. Assuredly, they have a meaningful edge in predicting NFL game flow. So how can we best exploit their effort for our fantasy gain?
Even the fantasy layman understands that you shouldn’t expect a four-plus touchdown performance from a quarterback in a low Vegas total game as a double-digit road underdog. While that scenario may be intuitive enough, most other game scripts are not as cut and dry. So, how do we optimize Vegas spreads, over/unders, implied team totals, moneylines and public betting percentages (among other metrics) to identify fantasy value plays?
Luckily for you, we have built these metrics into our Trends tool and developed our own proprietary metric to evaluate all Vegas-based factors: Vegas Score.
Vegas Score is a percentile-based metric that combines point totals, moneyline, line movement, etc. into a single score representing a player’s intrinsic fantasy value based on Vegas lines for an individual game. Accordingly, I’ve filtered each fantasy position into categories based on their Vegas Score percentile to demonstrate how Vegas Score affects fantasy performance at each position.
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The quarterback position shows the strongest correlation between Vegas Score and fantasy performance among the four position groups. There exists almost a perfect statistical correlation between Vegas Score and Avg Actual Pts, Plus/Minus, Consistency and ownership — all of which boast correlational coefficients in excess of 0.80.
Quarterbacks with Vegas Scores above the 70th percentile feature positive Plus/Minus splits and nice Consistency percentages. However, these quarterbacks also tend to have higher ownership, as you might expect. Similarly but conversely, quarterbacks with low Vegas Scores feature negative Plus/Minus splits. At the very bottom of the sample, quarterbacks with a Vegas Score below the 9th percentile have a Plus/Minus of -2.23.
Players Who Fit Our Trend This Week
Week 5 features a bevy of quarterbacks with Vegas Scores above the 80th percentile:
- Ben Roethlisberger ($6,900 DraftKings), Pittsburgh Steelers
- Philip Rivers ($6,700 DraftKings), Los Angeles Chargers
- Matt Ryan ($6,600 DraftKings), Atlanta Falcons
- Jared Goff ($6,500 DraftKings), Los Angeles Rams
- Drew Brees ($6,400 DraftKings), New Orleans Saints
- Tom Brady ($6,300 DraftKings), New England Patriots
- Aaron Rodgers ($6,300 DraftKings), Green Bay Packers
- Patrick Mahomes ($6,200 DraftKings), Kansas City Chiefs
- Andy Dalton ($5,900 DraftKings), Cincinnati Bengals
There are also three quarterbacks with Vegas Scores below the 29th percentile:
- Eli Manning ($4,900 DraftKings), New York Giants
- Josh Allen ($4,800 DraftKings), Buffalo Bills
- Josh Rosen ($4,700 DraftKings), Arizona Cardinals
The results for running backs are incredibly noisy. Vegas Score has a strong correlation to Average Actual Points, but Plus/Minus results seem to be all over the place. In general, running backs with a Vegas Score below the 29th percentile do not boast positive Expected Value. However, it isn’t until the 90th percentile of Vegas Score that we witness a definitive boost to running back value.
This statistical ambivalence makes some intuitive sense, of course. Running back, more so than any other position, operates outside the flow of the rest of the offense. Whereas there is a natural correlation between quarterbacks and tight ends or wide receivers, running back production is more isolated. Considering the propagation of pass-heavy NFL offenses, the running back position is affected far less by Vegas metrics. Take these results with a grain of salt, but maybe throw out a flier on a top 90th percentile Vegas Score running back to gain exposure to his +0.87 historical Plus/Minus.
Players Who Fit Our Trend This Week
Week 5 features running backs across the salary spectrum with Vegas Scores above the 90th percentile:
- Alvin Kamara ($9,600 DraftKings), New Orleans Saints
- Todd Gurley ($9,400 DraftKings), Los Angeles Rams
- Melvin Gordon ($8,600 DraftKings), Los Angeles Chargers
- James Conner ($7,500 DraftKings), Pittsburgh Steelers
- Joe Mixon ($6,900 DraftKings), Cincinnati Bengals
- Giovani Bernard ($6,800 DraftKings), Cincinnati Bengals
- Devonta Freeman ($6,500 DraftKings), Atlanta Falcons
- Tevin Coleman ($6,400 DraftKings), Atlanta Falcons
- James White ($6,100 DraftKings), New England Patriots
- Sony Michel ($5,400 DraftKings), New England Patriots
- Mark Ingram ($5,100 DraftKings), New Orleans Saints
- Austin Ekeler ($4,200 DraftKings), Los Angeles Chargers
- Ito Smith ($3,000 DraftKings), Atlanta Falcons
There are also four running backs with Vegas Scores below the 29th percentile:
- Saquon Barkley ($7,700 DraftKings), New York Giants
- David Johnson ($6,300 DraftKings), Arizona Cardinals
- LeSean McCoy ($4,900 DraftKings), Buffalo Bills
- Chris Ivory ($3,900 DraftKings), Buffalo Bills
Similar to the running back position, our wide receiver results carry substantial statistical noise. The one result we can point to with confidence is the -1.02 Plus/Minus result for wide receivers with a Vegas Score below the 9th percentile of NFL games. These wide receivers should be avoided in most fantasy lineups.
Players Who Fit Our Trend This Week
There are also no wide receivers who fit our trend this week.
The distribution for tight end is also all over the place. Tight end is a low-volume, high-volatility position to begin with, and Vegas Score does not seem to have a systematic effect on player production. In general, tight ends average more points with higher Vegas Scores, but this tier inconsistently compared to its Average Expected Points. Meanwhile, Consistency and Plus/Minus seem mostly random, perhaps with a subtle positive correlation with Vegas Score. For our purposes, it’s safe to search for tight end fantasy edge by using other metrics besides Vegas Score.
Much like quarterbacks, fantasy defenses have very clean Plus/Minus splits related to Vegas Score. Defenses with Vegas Scores below the 29th percentile feature negative Plus/Minus splits and low Actual Fantasy Points production. Meanwhile, defenses with Vegas Scores above the 70th percentile boast a high Average Actual Points and Plus/Minus scores in excess of +1.00.
When it comes to Vegas Score, quarterbacks and defenses are by far the most predictable fantasy positions with almost perfectly inverse correlations to each other. Target quarterbacks against low Vegas Score defenses, and conversely, target defenses against low Vegas Score quarterbacks.
Defenses That Fit Our Trend This Week
Week 5 features three fantasy defenses with Vegas Scores above the 70th percentile:
- Tennessee D/ST ($4,000 DraftKings)
- Carolina D/ST ($3,300 DraftKings)
- San Francisco D/ST ($3,000 DraftKings)
There are also five defenses with Vegas Scores below the 9th percentile:
- Pittsburgh D/ST ($2,400 DraftKings)
- Miami D/ST ($2,200 DraftKings)
- Seattle D/ST ($2,100 DraftKings
- Washington D/ST ($2,000 DraftKings)
- Oakland D/ST ($2,000 DraftKings)
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NFL news feed.
Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured Above: Alvin Kamara