We take football seriously. You do, I do. That’s why you subscribe to Fantasy Alarm. And that’s why we are constantly updating our free NFL draft guide and our fantasy football rankings. We’re looking for any edge we can get. But there is another group out there that also takes football VERY seriously. People whose entire livelihood relies on them having the best information possible so they can be accurate down the decimal. And they are the folks over in Las Vegas.
You used to have to drive out there to place a bet but, with the laws changing and sites like Underdog and Prize Picks giving you access to certain wagers as simply and easily as using promo code ALARM, the fantasy games and betting worlds are overlapping more than ever. And now that Vegas has fully embraced ideas like season-long prop bets, we can actually use data from both to give ourselves an advantage and make some money. So let’s take a look at some examples of how to do that. In this article, we’ll take a look at season-long wide receiver over/under to see what we can glean.
Conveniently enough, we actually started looking at this last year. Here are some over/unders from last year that I tweeted out along with ADP (sorted by ADP). The Over/Unders are from Fan Duel’s sports book while the ADP is from Fantasy Alarm’s composite ADP.
Now, this obviously applies just to yards so it’s ignoring a couple of key elements of fantasy football (like receptions and touchdowns) that are going to factor into ADP in some cases. But obviously looking at this can give us some key sentiments for both Vegas and for fantasy gamers. Here are some observations based on what we saw at the time vs. the results.
- In the top tier, of the seven players with Over/Unders above 1,300, only two hit the over: Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson.
- In the next tier, Keenan Allen, CeeDee Lamb, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin’s ADP suggested their lines might be low while the lines for Terry McLaurin, Amari Cooper, and DJ Moore were high compared to ADP. Allen, Lamb, Evans, and Godwin all hit the over for yardage while Cooper and Moore did not.
- Vegas was clearly higher on Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins than the fantasy community. Both Chase and Higgins hit the over and were worth their pick at ADP (Chase obviously by quite a bit).
- As usual, Brandin Cooks was being under-drafted by fantasy gamers though Vegas reflected a high yardage total. He hit the over and was worth ADP.
- Vegas was high on Mike Williams compared to ADP. He finished 11th in yards so he both hit the over and was well worth his ADP.
- Vegas was conservative on rookies DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Both players hit the over for yards.
- Rondale Moore and Kadarius Toney were popular breakout candidates but Vegas was not convinced, assigning them two of the lowest totals. Even with the low lines, they both finished under.
Now, in hindsight, it’s easy to say that some of these were obvious. And some things were fairly noticeable at the time, like the dichotomy between 49ers wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
Vegas was right on this one as Deebo Samuel was far better than Aiyuk, finishing as the WR3 overall and 5th in yards. They were also surprisingly accurate on Aiyuk - his over/under was set at 825 yards and he played all 17 games, finishing with 826. Fantasy gamers were drafting Aiyuk ahead of Samuel at this time last year.
But the problem with hindsight and using this in our analysis is that there was a MIX between who got it right and who didn’t. Sometimes Vegas was right, sometimes it was fantasy gamers. Furthermore, the receptions and touchdowns factor can convolute things - guys like Adam Thielen and Mike Evans, who are touchdown savants, could get an ADP boost compared to guys like DJ Moore or Brandin Cooks. Same with low aDot guys that get a lot of receptions like Jaylen Waddle or Amon-Ra St. Brown who might score a lot of points in PPR despite middling yardage totals. So we need to be careful in how we view this data and how we use it both for fantasy and for gambling.
After careful consideration, I’ve found the best way to utilize these odds is to look for inconsistencies between the two and then lean into your own personal projections to take advantage of the disparity. For instance, last year Tyreek Hill had one of the highest over/unders and was an early pick - there is no disconnect there. No were really to take advantage on either side. But Vegas had Ja’Marr Chase tied for the 13th highest over/under while he was going off the board at WR36 in ADP. That leaves room for arbitrage. Whether you want to draft him at ADP if you like him or bet the under with Vegas if you don’t, the sentiment by one community is off compared to the other. So let’s look at some lines from this year and see what we can figure out!
Here is the same chart for this year based on Fan Duel lines and the current composite ADP. Keep in mind, not every player is going to be on here because some have too much uncertainty for Vegas to set lines (Chris Godwin with the injury, Amari Cooper with the Watson situation, etc.)
One quick note jumps out right up front - after most of the top players went under last year, Fan Duel seems to have lowered their projections for the top dogs. Last year they had seven players all over 1,300 yards including three over 1,375. This year they only have two players over 1,300 with the highest at 1,350.5. So, if your plan was to just go under on all the top guys, that’s going to be a little more difficult this year.
Here are some other takeaways on key players and how we might be able to use this info either in fantasy drafts or by making some bets.
Deebo Samuel, San Fransico 49ers
This one is obviously the most eye-catching. Last year he was set at 875 receiving yards and he had over 1,400. This year though he’s only set at 925. The first instinct is to bet the over but there are two factors likely at play here.
- Early in the season, he had multiple MONSTER receiving games - four 100+ yard games with three over 150 yards over the first half of the season. But, once he started to playing as more of a hybrid running back, he only had one game with 100+ yards receiving yards.
- The shift from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance could hurt receiving production. Most sites have the passing yards for Lance set at 3,500 while the team last year threw for 4,221.
PLAY: I’m willing to bet the over on Samuel’s receiving yard total. Last year they lost both Raheem Mostert and Elijah Mitchell so I believe some of the running done by Deebo Samuel was out of necessity. I think he has a pretty good chance to clear that 925-yard mark, barring an injury. It’s not like he’s no longer capable of monster receiving games and he still had 159 receiving yards in week 15 despite getting seven carries. It’s worth noting that they also have his rushing yards total set at 350 while he had 365 rushing yards last year. So it’s not like they are also predicting him to do significantly more rushing this year than last year.
DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers
We know the story with DJ Moore - he pretty consistently cracks 1,000 yards but he doesn’t find the end zone often. He’s had a lot of fluctuation in terms of coaching changes, quarterback changes, etc. which makes his consistent yardage production all the more impressive. But, the team could once again be bad so perhaps he doesn’t find pay dirt often for the fourth season in a row. he has never had more than four touchdowns.
PLAY: With this player, I think we can take advantage of this in fantasy football by drafting DJ Moore. We hate to use this term but he’s shown that he is “quarterback proof” to a certain degree. And, regardless of how you feel about Baker Mayfield, he’s reportedly winning the QB competition pretty easily and will likely be the best quarterback DJ Moore has ever played with. Last year Moore was WR23 in ADP and Vegas was right as he finished 10th in receiving yards and finished as WR18 despite only scoring four touchdowns. If he just does what he normally does and scores a couple more TDs then he will easily be worth where he’s going in drafts.
Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins
Waddle was a breakout last year, and he actually broke the rookie record for receptions in a season. In doing so he smashed the over/under yardage total line set for him by Vegas - they have him around 750 yards and he went over 1,000. This year he is going off the board at WR16 and his over/under is set at 925.5 yards.
PLAY: With Jaylen Waddle, I believe the safest play this year is to fade him at his current ADP. He had a fairly low average depth of target last year was only 7 yards which was outside the top 100 for wide receivers, per Pro Football Focus. That works when you are getting peppered with targets but we have to remember that Will Fuller missed the entire season and DeVante Parker missed almost half of it. This year they brought in Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson to go with Mike Gesicki so I’m not quite sure he’s going to be targeted the way he was last year. He needed 140 targets to just barely crack 1,000 yards with 1,015 so I think Vegas may be on to something there. Waddle could still be valuable in full PPR formats but, in half PPR especially, I think Waddle’s upside is a bit capped based on the type of player he is. When I draft a guy at WR16, I’m doing so believing he will be a WR1. If both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are WR1s, the guy we should have been drafting is Tua Tagovailoa at QB16.
Denver Broncos Wide Receivers
This is oddly similar to what we saw last year with the 49ers. Vegas had Deebo Samuel ahead of Brandon Aiyuk in terms of yardage total while Aiyuk was going ahead in drafts. This year, Vegas has Courtland Sutton set at 925.5 yards with Jeudy set at 950.5, despite Sutton going earlier. Making things even wilder here, most sportsbooks have Sutton at 5.5 touchdowns with Jeudy at 5.5 or 6.5. So it’s not even touchdown sentiment creating the difference, it seems.
PLAY: With these guys, that makes me want to draft Jerry Jeudy at his ADP while potentially betting the over on Sutton’s yardage total. We have to remember, even with some bumps in the road, Aiyuk technically did go over. Fan Duel might honestly still be low on both of these players. But given that Vegas seems to be higher on Jeudy both for yards and touchdowns, I’m not sure he should be going as far behind Sutton as he does.
Other Plays I Like:
Brandin Cooks - Perrenially under-drafted in fantasy while Vegas continues to be more optimistic on him. I’m drafting Cooks.
Terry McLaurin - Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin, and Courtland Sutton are all drafted within a couple of picks of each other. Waddle and Sutton both have lines of 925.5 with 5.5 touchdowns. McLaurin is at 1000.5 with 6.5 touchdowns. There are two ways to take advantage of this - either you think McLaurin is a steal at that ADP or you think Vegas is a little too high with their lines. With a new quarterback who isn’t exactly a stud, the addition of Jahan Dotson, the return of Curtis Samuel, and the possibility of injury (which is a big reason why unders hit on props well over half the time), I’m willing to bet the under on McLaurin’s yardage total.
Gabriel Davis - Gabriel Davis is going as high as WR20 on Underdog. That’s too rich for my blood. We are hoping he can be the second target on his team and catch a lot of touchdowns, like Adam Thielen. Fan Duel has both Davis and Thielen’s over/under for touchdowns at 7.5. So my play with these guys is to fade Davis at his ADP, wait, and draft Adam Thielen at his. I’m also willing to bet the over on the yardage total for Thielen. That said, I know a lot of folks like Gabriel Davis. If you do, you might want to bet some of the overs on these lines. Because 850 yards and 7-8 touchdowns are basically the fantasy production you got out of Tyler Boyd or Amari Cooper last year which would be a disappointment at his current ADP.
Darnell Mooney - Vegas was pretty good in this range last year of hitting on some of the outliers, like Mike Williams. They have Mooney at 950.5 yards which is well ahead of a bunch of guys going in that range like DK Metcalf, Marquise Brown, Allen Robinson, Gabriel Davis, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Rashod Bateman who all go before him or right around there. That makes me feel a bit better about drafting Darnell Mooney at his ADP.
Julio Jones - Last year Vegas had AJ Green set at a super low 550 yards. But he went to a good offense where he got an opportunity with a good QB and he smashed that with 848. Julio Jones is now going to a good offense with a good QB and an opportunity while Chris Godwin recovers from a knee injury. If he can stay healthy, I think betting the over on Julio Jones is a fairly safe play. Antonio Brown had more yards than that last year with Tom Brady and he only played seven games.
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