Against The Spread: Week 9

What is up DFF Army? After a week off due to a Nor’Easter shutting down the power in Massachusetts for most of the week, we are back to provide some insightful Week 9 suggestions. Although new information always causes us to reconsider things, we now have enough information to drive decision-making. As we discover trends through the season we will be able to make more determined analyses on specific picks. To go along with matchups and trends, we will look at key fantasy players who have the most beneficial or detrimental matchups.

TERMS TO KNOW – SEE WEEK 2

WEEK 8 REVIEW

Week 8 was fun! We had an even split with seven games hitting the Over and seven games hitting the Under. Also, favorites covered the spread in seven games, the underdog covered the spread in six games.

THE SUNDAY SLATE

Without further ado, here is the slate for this weekend’s matchups.

HIGH-LEVEL TRENDS

Here is how each team is performing so far this season. The teams are sorted in decreasing order by how many points they have scored against the spread so far this season.

As you can see, a number that sticks out is that the Rams and Cowboys have managed to hit the Over in combined points scored in all but two of their games. On the other hand, the Packers, Panthers, Broncos,  Bears, Jaguars, Steelers, and Seahawks have hit the Over in just two of their respective games. This is something we may see bookmakers adjust to their opening points totals respectfully for each team.

Interestingly, certain cohorts of combined points totals set by the bookmakers have some hot and cold spots. Take a look at the below chart that shows the combined points totals expected by bookmakers and how frequently they hit the over.

From this graphic, we can see that below 43 combined points have a stronger chance of hitting with 55% Overs so far this year. Then we have a cold spot from 43-47 point lines. These two cohorts are hitting the Over at a combined rate of just 36%. As we make our way up we find a very hot spot from 47.5 to 49.5 combined points lines which hit at 61%. We run into another cold zone from 50-52 expected combined points, and then anything above 52 we see hitting the Over at the strongest rate. We will apply these trends to our Under/Over suggestions for Week 9.

With six weeks in the books, we have enough data to start building out more intricate data models. In Week 6 I rolled out NFL Power Rankings based on Adjusted Win. Adjusted wins count a team’s wins plus the number of wins that the teams they beat have. What this does is it gives more credence to a team that beats a four-win team compared to a zero-win team. This week we also made a minor change to how we calculate adjusted wins. It is now counted as 1/4th of the opponent wins adjusted, this is to not give too much credit to a team having better or worse than expected weeks.

The surging Los Angeles Rams come in first place this week. They are followed up by the Packers, Titans, Cardinals, Cowboys, and Buccaneers rounding out the top-six teams in the NFL. The outlier here is the Buffalo Bills, whose current victories we still expect to yield more adjusted wins down the line. The Bills have an insane 120 point differential on the season, by far the best in the NFL. The Adjusted Wins model rose from a correlation of an R-Squared value of 0.90! That means that it is nearly a perfect predictor for Moneyline bets.

Points Differential also has a strong correlation with wins given its 0.86 R-squared value. Points For is a bit less strong, because it only takes one side of the field in play. Still, it has an R-squared value of 0.79. Finally, Simple Rating is a combination of average margin of victory and strength of schedule, and it also has a strong correlation to wins with an R-squared value of 0.84.

We have developed a few new metrics to help us navigate through the data as well. First, see Pythagorean Wins. This is a metric that uses points differential to look at what teams are likely to regress season over season. We made a slight adjustment to the formula to look at how many games we expect a team to win in this new 17-game season. This metric has a very strong correlation to team wins with an R-Squared value of 0.86.

Also, we have included the number of offensive touchdown points per drive, removing field goals from the equation. Pressure Rate is the number of quarterback pressures a defense is getting, divided by the number of pass attempts the defense has faced. Missed Tackle Rate is the number of missed tackles a defense has allowed divided by the total number of plays defended. 

MONEYLINE PICKS

Here is how the model using Adjusted Wins says that you should bet the Moneyline for Week 9. Moneyline parlays are a great way to boost your potential winnings on wagers. Use this chart to pick and choose which games you would like to include on your Moneyline parlay for Week 9.

Take this with a grain of salt as it is based on a single metric. So, a game that sticks out that may be a bad bet is the Green Bay Packers to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The same logic applies to the potentially Kyler Murray-less Arizona Cardinals to defeat the San Francisco 49ers for the second time this season.

HIGH CONFIDENCE PLAYS

These are the games that our model likes in projecting points differential in these games, and smoothing by our Adjusted Wins metric. These are the games with the highest level of confidence in our suggestions, but our suggestions will be based on current events along with what our model indicates. These will likely be marquee matchups, with heightened levels of information on the matchups. We want to focus the majority of our bankroll on these games.

TEN (7.5) @ LAR 8:20 PM

The Rams are rolling behind the strong play of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. This will be the Titans’ first game without star running back Derrick Henry. Expect the Rams to get an early lead while the Titans find their offensive footing, and queue up that Sean McVay is 43-0 in games that he leads at halftime. Then watch for Aaron Donald and newly acquired Von Miller to get after Ryan Tannehill and continue to build upon their lead. The Titans could come back in garbage time and get a backdoor cover, which means we want to take them over 54 combined points which fall in the cohort that hits the over at 53%. I would tease the spread down below seven if the sharp money doesn’t bet it down below that Sunday morning.

NE (-3.5) @ CAR 1:00 PM

The Patriots and Mac Jones seem to be gelling where the Panthers have gone 1-4 since their hot start to the season. Sam Darnold famously was “seeing ghosts” last season against coach Bill Belichick. The Under/Over of 41 is in the low cohort that hits over half of the time. The Carolina Panthers’ offense has been anemic without star running back Christian McCaffrey, and though he may be active this week, the Panthers should ease him back into action. Lay the points, or tease it below that hard three to better your odds and game the market.

ATL (6) @ NO 1:00 PM

Jameis Winston tore his ACL last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Trevor Siemian came in and led the Saints to a victory. Coming in and playing well, and having the opponent game-plan for a backup quarterback are two completely different beasts. I am not only taking the Falcons and the points but considering adding the Falcons’ Moneyline to boost potential earnings on a Moneyline parlay.

BUF (-14.5) @ JAX 1:00 PM

The Bills continue to be the best team in the NFL despite their two losses. The Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence-led Jaguars have still not won on American soil. The Bills are laying a lot of points for an away game, but it is still less than their average margin of victory of over 17 points per game. I am laying the points and taking the Over, expecting the Jaguars to score some garbage points to help push the game above 48.5 combined points scored.

MIN (6) @ BAL 1:00 PM

The Ravens are coming off their bye week, where the Vikings are coming off a loss to the Cooper Rush-led Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings have only scored two rushing touchdowns on the season compared to the Raven’s 10. Lamar Jackson will be able to attack this Mike Zimmer defense and should play well enough to get back into position as an MVP front-runner as he is the perfect counter for the Viking’s 29% pressure rate.

LAC (-2) @ PHI 4:25 PM

The Charger’s defense invites teams to run the ball against their light fronts while creating an umbrella coverage that limits explosive plays. The loss to the Patriots last week should have the Chargers doing some more efficient self-scouting of their play-calling tendencies. I am not second-guessing this one and laying the points against an Eagles team that will be looking to better their draft position to make a push for one of the elite quarterbacks who may become available this offseason amongst Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson.

MIDDLE CONFIDENCE PLAYS

These are the games that we feel strongly about, but would not be surprised if the script flipped on us. These are the games that we may be working into teasers and parlays with bigger payouts if we hit.

CLE (2.5) @ CIN 1:00 PM

The #FreeOBJ movement stole all of the headlines for this week’s NFL action, and Odell Beckham was released. Therefore, he will not be active for the Browns this week as they attempt to take down the second-place Bengals. The chess match within this game will be between the Browns’ defensive line that is pressuring opposing quarterbacks 28% of the time versus Joe Burrow who leads his Bengals’ offense into the endzone on 29% of drives. Burrow has been sacked only six times less than the NFL-leading Justin Fields and I expect Myles Garrett to get home early and often against the sun-par Bengals’ offensive line. The Bengals though have been the better team, so I’m laying the 2.5 points and expecting Burrow to get his receivers in space before the rush can get home.

DEN (10) @ DAL 1:00 PM

The Broncos traded Von Miller this week and appear to be headed into a 2021 tank for a better draft pick. However, this line is indicating that the Cowboys will certainly have Dak Prescott active. I am not as confident as Jerry Jones that Prescott will play in a game in which they can steal a win with Cooper Rush as the starter. I am taking the Broncos and the points for now. However, if Prescott is confirmed active on Sunday morning, I will hedge by making another wager on the Cowboys to cover or take advantage of the in-game odds.

HOU (5.5) @ MIA 1:00 PM

The Pythagorean Wins formula does not like either the Dolphins or the Texans to win a second game during their 2021 campaigns. A team has to win this game though, right? Tyrod Taylor is set to return against the Dolphins, so he may offer some more explosive plays for the Texans’ offense. I find it hard to believe that this will be a competitive game, so I am taking the Under combined points score of 46.

CHI (6.5) @ PIT 8:20 PM

The Under/Over for this game is set at 39. Justin Fields has been getting sacked and turning the ball over, which would put the Steelers in good field position. I like the Over in this game, though I am not excited for this game to be on national television.

LOW CONFIDENCE PLAYS

These are games that we are staying away from or putting less than 5% of our bankroll on. These games we have low confidence in picking and will provide as suggestions if you are looking to add them into a parlay for huge payouts.

LV (-3) @ NYG 1:00 PM

The Raiders are coming off yet another travesty with the Henry Ruggs situation and it makes you wonder how much a team can emotionally handle in one season. The Giants are coming off a game where they played the Kansas City Chiefs well for at least one half. Yet, we can’t be sure how much that means against this version of the Chiefs. 

GB (7.5) @ KC 4:25 PM

This will be Jordan Love’s first start in the NFL, and his play will dictate the Packers’ leverage with Aaron Rodgers this upcoming offseason. If you want to bet this one, I’d either stick with the Chiefs Moneyline if your sportsbook has a line through the hard seven number.

ARI (-1.5) @ SF 4:25 PM

Kyler Murray is a true game-time decision, and Trey Lance will be active for this game. There are too many question marks around a pick-em line of fewer than three points. With this game being in the late window, be sure to have a replacement for Murray if he ends up being inactive.

You can make these plays, and others like them, online at BetMGM.  Be sure to check out the latest BetMGM sportsbook promotions

Thank you for reading my article! If you enjoyed it, keep an eye out for my future articles. You can also follow me on Twitter @DynastyDiagnos1 and reach out with any questions, comments, or ideas you’d like me to explore for a new article.

You can read previous articles in this series here:  Against the Spread:  Week 1, Against the Spread:  Week 2, Against the Spread:  Week 3, Against the Spread:  Week 4, Against the Spread:  Week 5, Against the Spread:  Week 6, Against the Spread:  Week 7

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