Welcome to the Week 15 Vegas lines deconstruction. If you’re unfamiliar with what we do in this piece, here’s the gist:
- We’re breaking the implied team total into three scoring types — passing, rushing, and kicking points.
- To do this, we’re leveraging the rates at which teams score their points and opposing defenses concede them in each phase of the game.
In the below tables you’ll see a column labeled “Matchup %.” That number takes the percentage of total points an offense has scored in a specific way, such as through passing touchdowns, and averages it with the percentage of total points the opposing defense has allowed for that same scoring type.
Highlighting matchups that feature offenses and defenses that score and allow points in similar ways presents an opportunity to exploit the implied team totals. To do that, we apply the “Matchup %” to the implied team total to break it down into projections for passing, rushing, and kicking points. These projections are not fantasy points; rather, they are expected in-game points derived from the implied team totals.
As always, consult the NFL homepage for more information on individual matchups that stand out. Also, visit the Vegas page for any line movement. At the time of this writing, there is no line for the Miami-Buffalo game, so I’ve included the matchup rates without an implied total or projection. Let’s jump into the Week 15 deconstructions.
Passing Scoring and Notes
2017 League Average Passing Touchdown Points Rate: 40.6 percent
Note: Lines pulled from Sports Insights on December 12.
To Brees or Not To Brees
New Orleans has scored the second-highest percentage of points via rushing touchdowns, and yet Drew Brees and the passing attack lead the passing projections this week, as the Jets allow 25 passing touchdowns this season, one off the league lead. With the Saints as 16-point favorites, the question is whether the matchup will enable Brees to throw enough and in high-leverage situations. The Models love him at only $6,500 on DraftKings, where he carries a 95 percent Bargain Rating. Quarterbacks in similar spots have tended to perform well with a +1.36 DraftKings Plus/Minus.
The High-Totaled AFC Showdown
New England travels to Pittsburgh for a game that currently holds an over/under of 53, five points clear of any other in Week 15. The Patriots have allowed the highest rate of points through the air in the NFL, while Pittsburgh’s scoring has also leaned to the pass, particularly in the last four games, in which Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 12 touchdowns. These tendencies give Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense a slightly higher passing projection as home underdogs, and he comes in as a significant discount to Tom Brady.
Rushing Scoring and Notes
2017 League Average Rushing Touchdown Points Rate: 20.2 percent
Home Favorites in Minnesota
Minnesota has not scored a rushing touchdown in its last two games, but Latavius Murray had four scores in the three-game stretch immediately preceding that. He has at least one carry inside the 10-yard line in each of the Vikings’ past six games, and his nine carries in negative game script in Week 14 were his lowest total since Dalvin Cook‘s injury. The Vikings have a solid team total as home favorites against a Bengals team that just got shredded by Jordan Howard. Expect Murray’s workload to tick back up, but with Jerick McKinnon handling more of the passing game work the Models like Murray a lot more on FanDuel than DraftKings.
Where is Mike Davis’ Health?
Seattle has been among the league’s lowest rates for rushing points all year, a hilarious fact when you consider Russell Wilson has himself rushed for three scores. The running backs have combined for one rushing touchdown all year. But since taking over the backfield, Mike Davis has been significantly more efficient than his predecessors. The Seahawks are also getting a better line play with Duane Brown in the fold. As home favorites against a Rams team giving up the fourth-highest rate of points on the ground, there’s some underrated appeal for a subpar rushing projection negatively influenced by the Seahawks’ prior trends. Davis is a bargain at $4,000 on DraftKings and a strong option if he looks healthy enough to play.
Kicking Scoring and Notes
2017 League Average Kicking Points Rate: 32.8 percent
In two games since Jimmy Garoppolo has taken over the San Francisco offense, Robbie Gould has hit nine field goals. The offense is performing better overall, averaging 3.5 more points per game despite converting just two touchdowns, and that’s reflected in both their status as favorites at home against Tennessee and their 23-point team total. The Titans, for their part, have allowed kicking points at the league’s third-highest rate. Min-priced on FanDuel, Gould is a great option.
Ben Gretch is the Senior Fantasy Analyst at RotoViz, where he authors the weekly column Stealing Signals.