Fantasy Football Bookmaker - Week 1
By Jeff Tefertiller
September 7th, 2011

This article will serve to package a familiar concept in a new way. The money line odds below are a function of the players' expected chance to score more fantasy points this coming week.

The money line represents a percent chance of winning. It is basically the odds to win expressed in terms of money. For the purpose of this article during the football season, "winning" is having the better fantasy production for the week. With money odds, whenever there is a minus (-) you put up that amount to win a hundred dollars, where there is a plus (+) you get that amount for every hundred dollars wagered. Obviously there is no wagering involved in this article, but just another way to represent the differing values for players.

So, for the players below, we will be comparing the their values. We are not advocating gambling, but if you were to wager an imaginary $100 on which player you think will have the better fantasy production - given the odds - which player would you "bet" on?

  • Drew Brees (+200) vs Aaron Rodgers - A Thursday night battle of two elite teams is a GREAT way to start the season. The Packers host the Saints in great game for fans. The Saints play much better at home in the dome so the trip to The unFrozen Tundra should give the Packers an edge. Rodgers has all of his weapons healthy and ready for the game. He gets Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant back in the lineup, as well as the addition of Randall Cobb via the NFL Draft. Brees still has plenty of ammunition of his own. This could be a shootout. The location of the game, paired with the addition of a Saint running game anchored by rookie Mark Ingram should lead to Rodgers winning this battle ... but you never can underestimate Brees and coach Payton.
  • Kerry Collins (+300) vs Matt Schaub - Collins steps into the starting gig for at least this game, possibly a lot longer. He still has Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark so he is able to put up big fantasy points any given week. We will soon figure out the impact Peyton Manning had on his receivers. The Texan secondary has long been the soft spot in the defense but the additions of Joseph and Manning should help new coordinator Wade Phillips make a big difference. The Colt defense is a weakness, too, so look for Schaub to have a monster game. This game could be a high-scoring affair.
  • Chris Johnson (+200) vs Maurice Jones-Drew - Two of the best backs in the NFL face off in a game that could determine the AFC South. With the Peyton Manning injury, the Titans and Jaguars have hope for the division title. The Tennessee coaches have promised a full workload for Johnson so expect 20-25 touches. Jones-Drew is back to full strength after playing on an injured knee last season. This will be a low-scoring game with plenty of rush attempts by both backs. Jones-Drew has played this preseason and should be the favorite to win the battle. For a player with his resume`, Jones-Drew has flown under the radar this preseason.
  • Rashard Mendenhall (+200) vs Ray Rice - The Steelers-Ravens battle is one of the best matchups of the year. The schedule makers have loaded week one up with great division games. Pittsburgh will look to take control of the game early, making Baltimore and Joe Flacco pass to catch up. Rice's receiving ability give him the edge in this rivalry. Neither back is an especially good bet to score a touchdown with both defenses having stellar defensive fronts.
  • Chris Wells (even) vs DeAngelo Williams - It is now time for Wells to take the reins of the Arizona running game. Rookie Ryan Williams was lost for the season and the team only has LaRod Stephens-Howling and newly-signed Chester Taylor in which to share carries. The Panther defense will be improved with new coach Ron Rivera coming over from San Diego. Williams signed a monster contract this offseason. It is reasonable to infer that the team wants him to be the primary ball carrier. If they had so much faith in Jonathan Stewart, why give Williams so much money? But, the running lanes will be few for Carolina with opposing defenses stacking the box daring Cam Newton to beat them through the air.
  • Reggie Wayne (+300) vs Andre Johnson - Two of the better wide receivers in the game facing off. Wayne and the other Colt pass catchers will need Collins to fully understand the Indianapolis playbook. Manning was so good at manipulating the defense and taking advantage of the deficiencies. Wayne has torn up the Houston defense in the past but will get plenty of attention this week. Johnson is arguably the top receiver in football facing a weak pass defense. He would be favored any week with such a soft matchup. The Texans are starved for a playoff berth and know it starts in week one against a Manning-less Indianapolis team. Look for Johnson to top 100 receiving yards while Wayne works hard for every reception.
  • Dwayne Bowe (+150) vs Steve Johnson - Bowe will need Matt Cassel to play, and play well, with his cracked rib. The Chiefs need to win games, like this one against the Bills, in order to seriously content for the AFC West title. Buffalo is soft against the run and Jamaal Charles will have a field day. Kansas City does not want their passer to take many hits so expect a bunch of short passes. Bowe will still see plenty of short targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have his way with the porous Chief secondary. He runs Chan Gailey offense well, but is occasionally inconsistent. Steve Johnson is coming off a breakout season and will be looking to prove he is not a one-year wonder. Johnson could have a big game against a weak defensive backfield.
  • Marques Colston (+175) vs Greg Jennings - The top pass receiver for each team in the Thursday night tilt. Colston is still trying to show the world he is recovered from the multiple knee surgeries, but still lacks explosion. Brees still loves to target the big wide receiver in the middle of the field and end zone. Jennings is a big play receiver in a shootout of a game. What's not to like? The question will be the effect of Jermichael Finley on Jennings' targets. He could have a few big plays this week as Gregg Williams' aggressive New Orleans defense will take chances, leaving the cornerbacks in on-on-one coverage.
  • Jimmy Graham (+200) vs Jermichael Finley - Graham has emerged as a young sleeper at the tight end position following the departure of Jeremy Shockey. The Saints like to move the ex-basketball player around the formation just to create matchup problems. He still needs to work on catching the ball consistently but could be in store for a big game. Finley is finally healthy enough to be back on the field. He is very athletic and can also be flexed out to get a linebacker or safety in space. Finley should have a big game.
  • Zach Miller (+400) vs Vernon Davis - The Seattle Seahawks made a big splash signing Sidney Rice and Zach Miller this offseason. The only flaw in the plan was the acquisition of scatter-throwing Tarvaris Jackson. Miller will be LUCKY to approach his numbers while in Oakland. Davis is as physically gifted as any player in the NFL. He has the size and speed to be elite. With Alex Smith under center for San Francisco, expect plenty of targets for Davis. Smith locks on to Davis like offensive linemen to a buffet table. He is the one receiver to own in San Francisco.
  • Please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any questions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there.

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