By John Kaufman & Chandler Adams NFL Betting & DFS Analysts @ClevelandSpyder & @ChandlerAdamss
Week three of the NFL season began this past Thursday night with the Dolphins whipping the Jaguars by a score of 31-13. Ryan Fitzmagic looked, well, magical against a porous Jacksonville defense, while Gardner Minshew really struggled vs a Miami defensive unit that really hadn’t stopped anyone in either of their first two games this year. That’s the NFL though, isn’t it? Two weeks of data might as well be zero weeks of data. Just when we think we know something about an NFL team, they prove that we just don’t know anything yet.
Before we dive into the rest of week three I need to address the fact that this article isn’t accompanied by our usual podcast/YouTube video this week. Due to some technical issues, Chandler and I couldn’t record anything this week. Our apologies for that. We will get that sorted out and be back next week as usual. Moving forward, we’ll be recording each Thursday evening so you’ll be able to listen to/watch us each Friday morning at the latest.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s quickly recap our week two plays and then rip into week three. Because there is no podcast/video this week, this article will include our analysis to go along with each play. Let’s get to it.
WEEK 2 RECAP:
John’s Plays: 1. IND -3 (-110) vs MIN: WIN – IND 28-MIN 11
2. NYG +5.5 (-110) at CHI: WIN – CHI 17-NYG 13
3. NO -5.5 at LV: LOSE – LV 34-NO 24
Chandler’s Plays: 1. JAX at TEN OVER 43.5 (-115): WIN – 63 (TEN 33-JAX 30)
2. NYG +5.5 (-110) at CHI: WIN – CHI 17-NYG 13
3. SF -6.5 (-110) at NYJ: WIN – SF 31-NYJ 13
Week two was a solid bounce-back week for me, as I went 1-2 in week one but then flipped it in week 2.
To say that Chandler is on fire to start the 2020 season is a colossal understatement. He went 2-1 in week one and then followed that up with a perfect week two. That is remarkably impressive. Betting on the NFL is the hardest sport to bet on BY FAR for a multitude of reasons: small sample sizes give us little information to go on, sportsbooks have a whole week to adjust their lines and react to new information, and sportsbooks also have their best people (and the most people) working on the NFL. The lines and totals in the NFL are just so incredibly sharp. You really have to know what you’re doing to consistently win betting on the NFL. For Chandler to have only posted one loss – even in the small sample size that is two weeks – is tremendous. Let’s hope he can keep that up and that I can continue to improve.
WEEK 3 PLAYS:
Before we reveal our week three plays there are a few stats and trends that we need to glance at. Already several times in this article I have mentioned how the NFL is rife with small sample sizes. And while that is very true, it’s important that we don’t ignore the data we’ve collected simply because there isn’t a ton of it. Information of any type is valuable. We just have to know what to do with it.
I collected the following stats and trends while doing online research this week on various websites (Pro Football Focus and the Action Network, among others), and also by listening to the “You Better You Bet” and “Sharp Angles” podcasts. (If you’re betting on the NFL, after you subscribe to our podcast and YouTube channel, I highly recommend that you subscribe to both of those podcasts as well. Just like our Across the Board Best Bets/DFS Advice show, they are an excellent source of betting information.) All of these stats and trends played a factor in our week three plays:
- In the past ten years, there have been 13 games with totals that closed at 54 or higher. There are four games this week with totals either at 54 or higher, or just shy of 54:
1. Dallas at Seattle – 57
2. Detroit at Arizona – 55.5
3. Kansas City at Baltimore – 54.5
4. Green Bay at New Orleans – 53
- In the first two weeks of the 2020 season, NFL games are averaging a total of 50.3 points per game, which is up from 45.7 points per game in 2019.
- Home teams in 2020 have scored 2.78 points per game more than the away team. This is also up from the 1.73 points per game that home teams have scored over away teams throughout the past five seasons.
- Throughout the first two weeks of 2020, overs are 20-12. They were 9-7 in week one and improved to an astounding 11-5 in week two.
- In the past ten years, September games with totals of 50 or higher have gone over 60.7% of the time (37-24).
- In the past decade, 0-2 teams that go up against 1-1 or 2-0 teams have covered an impressive 66.7% (40-19-1) of the time in week three. Incredibly, there are nine games this week in which 0-2 teams are facing a non-0-2 team:
1. Miami (0-2) at Jacksonville (1-1) – obviously Miami covered the +3 spread & won outright
2. Atlanta (0-2) at Chicago (2-0)
3. Minnesota (0-2) vs Tennessee (2-0)
4. New York Giants (0-2) vs San Francisco (1-1)
5. Houston (0-2) at Pittsburgh (2-0)
6. New York Jets (0-2) at Indianapolis (1-1)
7. Carolina (0-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
8. Denver (0-2) vs Tampa Bay (1-1)
9. Detroit (0-2) at Arizona (2-0)
- Similarly, since the start of the 2003 season, when 0-2 teams – both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) – play against 2-0 SU and ATS teams, the underdogs have covered just under 65% of the time.
That’s a ton of incredibly intriguing data, some of which will prove to be descriptive of what has occurred, while other bits of info will prove to be predictive. Again, data points such as these are important to know, but what we do with the data is what truly matters. It’s the classic question of signal vs noise. Chandler and I are confident that we are tuned in to the signal while doing our best to shut out the noise. With that in mind, let’s take a look at our week three plays.
JOHN'S WEEK 3 PLAYS:
1. ATL -3 (-115) vs CHI
2. DET 1st half +3.5 (-115) at ARZ
3. Two team teaser (+6; -120):
- LAR +8.5 at BUF
- KC +9.5 at BAL
Atlanta falls into the category of an 0-2 team facing a non-0-2 team. Not only that, but Chicago has to be the most shocking and overrated 2-0 team in the NFL this year. They should have lost in week one against Detroit. If Detroit’s rookie RB, D’Andre Swift, doesn’t drop the wide open, game-winning touchdown in the final minute, Chicago would be 1-1. Likewise, in week two they barely held on to defeat a Giants team that lost Saquon Barkley to a torn ACL in the first half. I simply don’t believe that the Bears are a good team, so if I get to lay only three points with the much better quarterback in this matchup, I’ll take that all day long.
Detroit is also in the same situation that Atlanta is in. They are 0-2 themselves and are taking on the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Lions are a dropped touchdown away from being 1-1, and their star WR – Kenny Golladay – has yet to see the field in 2020, although he is expected to play this weekend. The line for this game is Detroit +6, yet I’ve chosen to bet on the Lions in the first half. There is a good reason for that, and it has to do with this stat which I have not yet shared with you:
Detroit’s head coach, Matt Patricia, has been with the Lions for a total of 34 games. In that time frame, the Lions have blown 11 fourth quarter leads. Yikes.
Here we have an example of a situation in which two trends/stats fly in the face of one another. Detroit being 0-2 puts them in a great bounce-back spot. But they can’t seem to close games out in the Matt Patricia era. Blowing fourth quarter leads in 33% of your games is ridiculously alarming, so I’m not taking any chances in this contest. I took the Lions +3.5 in the first half in order to maximize both trends I mentioned above, while also minimizing my risk. I do think the Lions will play better this Sunday than they have in weeks one and two, but there’s no reason to risk getting Patricia’d. (Hmmm, I like the sound of that. Patricia'd. That needs to be a saying. Let’s make that happen, folks.)
Mathematically speaking, teasers – specifically Wong teasers – are the best bets you can make in the NFL. Wong teasers are teasers that involve moving the spread through the key numbers of three and seven. Either you can take a favorite of 7.5 to 8.5 down to 1.5 to 2.5, or you can move a short underdog up to 7.5 or 8.5. Moving the line through three and seven is very advantageous to the bettor. I won’t bog you down with all the math right now, but suffice it to say that Wong teasers are bets with a positive expectation (also known as a +EV bet), something you can’t find with any individual bet. (If you are interested in the math behind Wong teasers and you want to learn what makes them +EV bets, check out this article which explains them very thoroughly, yet simply.)
The Rams portion of my teaser falls into the Wong teaser category. I am taking an underdog of 2.5 points and moving them up to 8.5. Besides being advantageous in and of itself, I like backing a Rams team that has looked very solid so far this year. Sean McVay is one of the few coaches whose team has played very well in the 1:00 PM timeslot, even though they are a west coast team. And while Josh Allen has definitely improved his play in his third season, he has gone against the Jets and Dolphins’ defenses. The Rams defense will easily be the toughest that Allen has faced this year. If Allen comes back down to earth just a little bit, and LA continues to play sound football, the Rams can easily cover this spread and perhaps even win the game outright.
The second bet in my teaser technically isn’t of the Wong variety because the Chiefs are underdogs of more than three points. But I still love this leg of the teaser because of this reason: Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. In their short time together in Kansas City, they have been an underdog six times. They are 5-0-1 ATS in those six games and have won four of them outright. Getting 9.5 points with Mahomes and Reid almost seems unfair, doesn’t it?
CHANDLER'S WEEK 3 PLAYS:
1. TEN -2.5 (-110) at MIN
2. GB +3 (-110) at NO
3. KC at BAL OVER 54.5 (-110)
Chandler’s selection of Tennessee -2.5 at Minnesota goes against the 0-2 team trend, but I completely agree with his assessment here. Minnesota is an unmitigated disaster this year, both on offense and on defense. Kirk Cousins is struggling mightily. They haven’t really had any success on the ground either, and if you know Mike Zimmer’s coaching style, you know that their inability to run the ball is absolutely killing him. And while their issues on offense are significant, their defensive woes are atrocious. They can’t generate any pass rush. Their secondary has more holes than the plot of a Michael Bay movie. And they are just getting blasted trying to stop the run. Things are ugly up in the Twin Cities, and with Derrick Henry coming to town, it’s gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
The Aaron Rodgers revenge tour is in full effect. Back in April, Green Bay traded up into the first round of the NFL Draft to select Utah State quarterback, Jordan Love. I think it’s safe to say that Rodgers took offense to that, eh? He came out guns blazin’ this year, and in week one he absolutely annihilated that laughable excuse for a secondary that the Vikings are trotting onto the field. He continued the onslaught last weekend against the poor Lions. Next up, the New Orleans Saints.
Now, the Saints defense is about a billion times better than either the Vikings or the Lions, so this won’t be a leisurely stroll through the park. However, as unbelievable as this stat is, I assure you it is true:
New Orleans hasn’t given up a 100-yard rusher in their last 45 games, a streak that dates back to November of 2017. The next closest active streak is a measly 12 games. I don’t know whether to laugh or be impressed, so I’m just going to do both. Yep, I am hilarimpressed.
Should that phenomenal streak continue – and we have no evidence that it won’t – then it won’t be an Aaron Jones day. And if that’s the case, the game will rest solely on Rodgers’ more-than-capable arm. He will be missing his favorite target in this game, as Davante Adams has already been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Being forced to play without Adams will be a challenge indeed, but remember, we don’t need the Pack to win this game. We just need them to cover.
Coincidentally, Chandler’s last play in week three is the over in the final game of week three: the Monday Night Football game between the Chiefs and the Ravens. The total in this game is up to 54.5 after opening at 52. It has been bet up two points already and for good reason. It’s basically impossible to even come up with scenarios as to how this game could stay under the total. The Chiefs defense isn’t very good at stopping the run which is going to be a massive headache against Baltimore. So if Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are able to move the ball at will all night long, does anyone really expect Mahomes and the Chiefs offense to get shut down for the entire game? It’s almost too unfathomable to even consider. Perhaps a run-heavy attack from both offenses keeps the clock running and thus, shortens the game. That could be the recipe for an under here. But Chandler isn’t buying that, and he and I are in lockstep there.
FANDUEL DFS ADVICE:
Typically, Chandler and I each submit a FanDuel lineup for you to consider. But this week we are giving you one consensus lineup because after we compared notes, we had built almost the same exact teams. Great minds, eh?
Remember, this lineup would be good for cash games or for small contests, not larger tournaments with 5,000+ entries. In those kinds of contests, you should be paying up at RB, stacking your lineup (as we did below), and taking a shot on low-owned, very cheap WRs who, if they explode, can win you the whole tournament.
John & Chandler’s Consensus Week 3 FanDuel Lineup:
Just a couple of quick thoughts about our selections:
- The Seattle-Dallas game has a total of 57 so we want all the pieces we can get out of this game. We’re stacking Russell Wilson with his WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and we’re going with Ezekiel Elliott and CeeDee Lamb from the Cowboys. Zeke’s volume is consistent whether Dallas is winning or losing, so paying up for him always makes sense. And mark my words on this: Lamb is going to SMASH in this game. Seattle has been awful this year vs slot receiver. They have given up the most targets, yards and touchdowns in the NFL to slot receivers. As it just so happens, Lamb has played 91% of his snaps from the slot this year. He is my favorite play at any position this week. Get him in EVERY lineup you create.
- Miles Sanders made his 2020 debut last week against the Rams, and although Philly lost the game, Sanders looked every bit of the bell cow back we hoped he would be. This week he gets to face the Bengals who are 24th in success rate allowed, and have given up the most rushing yards in the NFL. Giddy-up, baby.
- Austin Ekeler is also in a great spot this week versus Carolina’s defense which is ranked in the bottom four in rush yards against. LA will be starting rookie QB Justin Herbert this week, so we can expect to see a ton of running as Chargers head coach, Anthony Lynn, won’t want to put the game in the hands of a rookie QB. Not when he can just pound the ball against one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL.
- Per J.J. Zachariason of NumberFire, Logan Thomas is one of three TEs to have a 20%+ target share in each of the first two weeks of the season. (Incidentally, Hunter Henry and Darren Waller are the other two.) So we know he’s gonna see some volume, and we love that. But we love the matchup vs Cleveland even more. The Browns have seen 25% of all passing targets against them go to the TE. Thomas is going to have a big game this weekend, and at $4900 he is a screaming steal.
- On last week’s episode of our Best Bets/DFS Advice show, Chandler mentioned that one of our fellow Across the Board fantasy analysts (Nate - @nastynateff) gave him the idea of selecting one of the cheapest defenses in DFS regardless of how bad the matchup looks on paper. This strategy allows you to spend up at vastly more important positions. And, defensive scoring is incredibly difficult to predict, so it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay up in a position that can vary wildly. Thus, we’re taking the second-cheapest defense this week in the Atlanta Falcons. They are at home and facing a poor QB in Mitch Trubisky, so we’ll have plenty of chances for sacks and turnovers. And we saved enough money to spend money on three high-priced RBs and Russell Wilson, this week’s most expensive QB. If you’re spending up for defense every week, try this strategy out instead and see if your results improve. We here at ATB happen to think they will.
Good luck to you all this weekend!! Here’s to cashing tickets and smashing the field in your DFS tourneys and cash games!!
(TEASER BET EXPLANATION: In case you’re not familiar with a teaser, it’s a bet in which you get six points to manipulate the point spread and/or game total in a favorable direction. For example, in John’s teaser bet from week one, he selected the Colts and the Rams. Bet by themselves, the Colts would be -8 at Jacksonville, and the Rams would be +3 at home against the Cowboys. However, in a teaser you get to add six points to the side of each bet you selected. Therefore, John moved the Colts down from -8 to -2, and the Rams up from +3 to +9. Teasers are great ways to manipulate lines so that they’re more favorable to you. Last, just like a parlay, teasers must include two bets or more, and you must win all the legs in the teaser to win the bet. If you lose one leg of the teaser your whole bet is busted.)
John Kaufman & Chandler Adams
Across the Board Sports