Week 1 Vegas Fantasy Preview
Football’s back! More importantly, the excitement of gambling on football is back. Throughout the year, I’ll do do my best to win TwoQBs readers cash. … And lots of it. I accept tips (or thank you’s) if you win, and feel free to trash me on Twitter (@jeffd119) if you lose. Actually, troll me on Twitter for any reason, it’ll make my day more interesting.
Panthers @ Broncos (Carolina -3, over/under 41.5)
The Super Bowl line closed at Carolina -4.5 on neutral turf, so the -3 makes sense at Mile High. Public money will assuredly be on Cam to get revenge. Kelvin Benjamin is back! Peyton Manning is gone! Trevor Siemian Who? Super Bowl hangover? Joe Gambler’s flawed logic on highly-bet primetime games like this one opens up excellent value for contrarians like me.
Line Movements: The over/under opened at 43.5, and the sharps bet it down to 41.5 — standard procedure on high magnitude openers like this one, especially considering two talented defenses with Siemian and his game-manager-oh-god-don’t-screw-it-up-channel-my-inner-Alex-Smith ways. The side moved from Denver -2 to Carolina -3 (and it will jump to -3.5 in several places today), and the flawed logic mentioned above drives much of that. Was cutting Mark Sanchez really worth the five-point swing? The value is now gone from betting both the under and Carolina. The smart bets after all this movement are Denver, the over, or no bet. Betting NFL is just like the stock market: Buy Low and Sell High.
Fantasy Upgrades: Devin Funchess (Benjamin’s snap count will thrust him into a larger role), Emmanuel Sanders (dude just got $27 mil guaranteed yesterday. Ride that high, Manny), Demaryius Thomas (gonna make fantasy owners some serious cash this year, DT still has a floor of a top 10 WR. Also, the Panthers will be starting two rookie CBs.).
Fantasy Downgrades: Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin.
My play: Denver +3
Patriots @ Cardinals (Arizona -6, over/under 47)
The lines for Week 1 open up in early April, and back then the Patriots were -1. Then Tom Brady’s suspension came, and the Cardinals jumped to -6. Is Brady really worth a full touchdown? Generally a good starting QB missing a game is worth roughly three points, and elite guys will swing a line up to seven points, as seen here. The most extreme example of a QB affecting a point spread was Aaron Rodgers’ injury three years ago causing a nine point swing from Packers -10.5 to -1.5. Of course, when Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien are the answers, this sort of thing happens (the Packers lost that game to Philly 27-13, by the way). The difference between these games is that Aaron Rodgers is the system while Tom Brady runs the system. Jimmy Garoppolo is a high draft pick with a lot of talent, and he has been groomed to be Brady’s heir apparent for the past two seasons. He’s ready.
Fantasy upgrades: James White (short passes will be key for Garoppolo against an elite defense), Martellus Bennett (will create mismatches, rapport with Garoppolo).
Fantasy downgrades: LeGarrette Blount (volume could be there but is touchdown dependent, Cardinals will look to take away the run and force Garoppolo to beat them downfield).
My pick: New England +6
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (pick ‘em, over/under 46)
The oddsmakers say Tony Romo’s injury is worth 4 points. Is Romo really that much better than Dak Prescott? There is obviously a lot of unknown with Prescott. How will he handle defenses that gameplan against him specifically? Is the spotlight too bright for a 4th-round rookie thrust into a starring role for America’s Team? Prescott seemed to be fearless in the preseason, scanning through his progressions and throwing accurately downfield into coverage. His tape is impressive, and the recipe for success is absolutely there. Recent history reminds me of a mixture of Russell Wilson’s rookie year and Tebowmania. It’ll be a fun ride
Fantasy upgrades: Prescott (his rushing yards give him QB1 upside, and he is a Fantasy Aces autostart at his minimum price), Ezekiel Elliott (volume is his only question mark, but the Cowboys will need the run game to really come through with a rookie under center), Jason Witten (good matchup, will be able to bail Prescott out with his catch radius), Odell Beckham (third-highest priced Aces WR should still outperform his dollar value. Dallas’ corners are average at best).
My pick: Dallas
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (Chiefs -6.5, over/under 44)
Upset alert! The Chiefs are banged up with Justin Houston on the PUP, Jamaal Charles doubtful, and Tamba Hali on a snap count. Eric Berry was a holdout throughout camp and just reported last week. Jeremy Maclin will have a tough time against Jason Verrett. In two games against the Chargers last year, Maclin totaled only 9 catches, 97 yards, and 0 TDs. Why are the Chiefs almost a touchdown favorite again? Andy Reid’s quick wits and clock management skills? This game will go down to the wire, and that Chargers moneyline of +250 is juicy.
Fantasy upgrades: Travis Kelce (not a wide receiver so Alex Smith is allowed to throw to him in the end zone), Keenan Allen (savvy veteran should take Marcus Peters to school), Spencer Ware (at $4k, an Aces autostart with the situation/volume).
Fantasy downgrades: Jeremy Maclin (as mentioned above).
My pick: Chargers +6.5
Browns @ Eagles (Philadelphia -4, over/under 41)
I’m sure Carson Wentz will go on to have an excellent NFL career, but how can a rookie quarterback coming off broken ribs and very little preseason action be giving four points? In Wentz’s only preseason game, Week 1 against 2nd and 3rd stringers, he performed poorly. It’s likely the coaches look at this matchup as the “safest” on the schedule, which it is, hoping to give Wentz some confidence. For Cleveland, RG3 gets a chance to resurrect his career and Hue Jackson, one of the best offensive minds in the business, seems like a great fit. This line is pure perception that the Browns are still the Browns. Cleveland won’t be great this year, but their arrow is definitely pointing up. The +175 moneyline is an excellent value.
Fantasy upgrades: Corey Coleman (will be targeted heavily during Josh Gordon’s suspension), Duke Johnson, Ryan Mathews (healthy and will be relied on heavily to carry the Eagles offense).
Fantasy downgrades: Entire Eagles passing game.
My pick: Cleveland +4
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