Last Week: 3-2
Season: 28-16-1 (.636)
Using Fantasy Numbers to Enhance Your Handicapping
One of the by-products of the Fantasy Football craze is easy access to statistics that can be a great help in handicapping football winners against the Las Vegas point spread. The staff here at Chuck’s Choices uses fantasy stats many times to get an idea of how a game is going to unfold, and that is a major advantage in trying to decide which team will come out on top. It’s easy to do. Simply go to a fantasy website (my league uses ESPN Fantasy) and look up players for the week. Across the line it will give you a number (OPRK) that corresponds to the ranking of each players’ opponent for that week.
Let’s take the Dallas at Miami game this week for example. Much of the conversation has centered around the return of Tony Romo at QB for the Cowboys. To be truthful, no one knows how good–or bad–Romo will be when he steps back on the field. Will he give the team a lift, or will he be rusty and look like a player who has taken six weeks off? One thing that is evident, however, is on the other side of the ball, where the Cowboy defense ranks 31st in the NFL against running backs, and Lamar Miller has been on quite a roll for the Dolphins.
Now, I can’t guarantee that a good game by Lamar Miller is going to mean a victory for Miami. I can assume, however, that there is a good chance the Dallas defense holds true to form. Tony Romo has no control over that side of the ball. It’s not about knowing what will happen, because no one knows that for sure. It is about knowing what has a good chance of happening. In this particular case, a strong game for the RBs on Miami isn’t enough to persuade me to pick the Dolphins this week, but you get an idea of how fantasy statistics can help you in making intelligent choices in ATS winners. On to the main event…
Chuck’s Choices for Week 11
(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)
Redskins (+7) over PANTHERS I swear to goodness that if I lose again picking against the Panthers, I will never, ever pick against them again. Let’s dive in and hold our breath. Yes, Carolina is 9-0. They are a very, very good team and deserve every accolade they have received this year. There are indications this week, however, that the Redskins have a good chance of playing this one very close. 1)Believe it or not, the 9-0 Panthers have not been as impressive at home as they have been on the road. Away from Carolina, the Cats have won four games by an average of 11.5 points. On their home field, that margin is cut to 6.8 points. 2) The Redskins defense is 6th in the league against tight ends. Cam Newton’s biggest receiving threat is TE Greg Olsen. 3) The Panthers goal is to win the game and stay unbeaten. They can stay unbeaten with a 3-point win as well as a 10-point win. 4) The Redskins are in the hunt for first in the NFC East (but, isn’t everybody?). 5) You like that! Panthers 29, Redskins 27
Jets (-3) over TEXANS There was a time when picking the Jets as a road favorite was a sure way to a long, painful death. Then again, there was a time when you could never find the Jets as a road favorite. I have to believe, however, that if the Texans had been beaten by the Bengals last week, this line would be at least a few points higher. Therefore there is value in taking New York. As it is, the Texans come home to Houston as heroes, having ruined the Bengals perfect record. That was last week, this is now. New York Coach Todd Bowles is intent on making sure his defense gets back on track this week, and the Lone Star State is a good place to get well. The Texans, according to R.J. Bell at Pregame.com, have the lowest averages in the NFL in yards per rush and yards per pass, and they have not faced a defense like the Jets this year. The Green and White won’t need a lot of offense this week. Jets 17, Texans 3
BEARS (+1.5) over Broncos This line started out with Denver installed as a 3.5-point favorite on Sunday. It was announced that Peyton Manning was injured and the line dropped to -1 on Monday. When I did my ATS spot on the Dynasty Pulse Podcast on Wednesday, the game was at pick’em. At that time, hosts Josh Johnson, Nick Wagner and I all took the Bears. I’ll admit it is dangerous, picking against a team who is starting a brand new quarterback. Any of you who read this column or listen to the podcast know that I think it is usually a good strategy to go with a team in a first start by a new quarterback. In this case I am making an exception. Chicago Coach John Fox knows new Broncos QB Brock Osweiler well, having coached him in Denver from 2011-2014. There will probably be nothing Osweiler or the Broncos do that will surprise the Bears defense in this game. Here are a few more things to consider: The Denver defense, as good as they may be, has given up 25 points per game in the last two, while Chicago’s offense has averaged 27 points per game in their last three–and two of those games were against some pretty good defenses in the Vikings and Rams. The Bears are the hot team here. Bears 27, Broncos 14
Chiefs (-3) over SAN DIEGO Like the Chicago Bears, the Kansas City Chiefs are on a roll. After losing six games in a row, and with the “demise” of Broncos QB Peyton Manning, the Chiefs think they can catch Denver in the race for the AFC West title. They may be right. They have now won three in a row, capped by a humiliation of the Broncos last Sunday in Denver. On the Chargers’ side, they have been destroyed by injuries. The only wide receiver of any consequence who will be playing this Sunday is Stevie Johnson. Another favorite target of QB Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and his backup Ladarius Green are both probable, but less than 100 per cent. The offensive line looks like a patchwork quilt. Kansas City is 31st against wide receivers and that would be their downfall this week if San Diego had any wide receivers remaining. The Chiefs “D” is in the Top-7 in all of the other important categories. Chiefs 35, Chargers 27
PATRIOTS (-7) over Bills Perhaps the most important number to remember here is 7, which is a one-digit number. That is important because, as a single-digit favorite, New England is 28-8 in the regular season at home against the spread. If the Pats are double-digit favorites, that record goes down to 6-12 during that same period. Much has been made of the Patriots loss of WR Julian Edelman, but how many times has Bill Belichick overcome losses like that? The Bills put a scare into New England when these two teams played in Buffalo earlier in the season, coming back from a 24-point deficit, only to lose by eight. That was enough to get the Patriots attention–especially on defense. Here are a few more numbers: New England is 11-2 straight up on Monday Night Football, and 9-4 against the spread. In fantasy numbers, the Bills are 25th in the league against wide receivers. On the big stage, the Patriots impress. Patriots 42, Bills 10
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