This week we discuss the following:
Which Vegas line do you trust the most this week? Which one do you trust the least?
Chad Parsons: In terms of being accurate, I think the Green Bay-Washington line as the second-highest total is spot on. I do not expect Washington to struggle moving the ball through the air and Green Bay will throw more than they want. On a side note, I have an unsupported gut feeling the Kansas City-Houston game goes well over the 40 Vegas total.
Maurile Tremblay: I trust all Vegas lines the same amount, pretty much always. If I see a line that looks off, I realize it's probably because I'm missing something, not because the odds-makers are. I'm not saying that the Vegas lines are generally close to reality. They're usually off by quite a bit. But I'm saying that I can't tell before the games are played which direction a line is going to be off in.
So for cash games, I pretty much take the lines as given. In GPPs, I will expect the lines to be off, and I will make lineups based on the expectation that they will be off, but I don't try to guess which direction a line will be off in. I make lineups expecting that it's equally likely to be off in one direction as in the other (and often make multiple lineups based on different assumptions to cover multiple bases).
Andrew Garda: More often than not, you should just assume Vegas knows what it's doing and plan accordingly. I probably like the GB-WAS the most from the standpoint of it really could go either way and will not be a blowout. I don't think any of them look out of place to me.
Like Maurile said, if I see something is off I would assume it's on my end, not Vegas'.
Alex Miglio: As others have mentioned, Vegas knows. But there are plenty of examples of things going awry.
The lines are relatively conservative this week. I agree with Maurile and Andrew that the GB-WAS and PIT-CIN games are probably going to be high-scoring, as Vegas expects. One game that is going to be tough to call, though, is Seattle against Minnesota.
The Seahawks throttled the Vikings earlier this season, so it's easy to expect something similar. But with temperatures being so low this weekend, could we see a frigid defensive battle? I could see something along the lines of 17-13 being the final score with fantasy numbers depressed all around. Vegas already has the over-under set at just 40.5, so it's not as if the game is set to be a barn-burner. But it could be way under that total, even.
Some of the higher-priced running backs this week have injury concerns (DeAngelo Williams, Marshawn Lynch). That makes it a good week to pay up at other positions while finding some bargains at running back. Who are your favorite bargains?
Maurile Tremblay: I like both of the Bengals running backs against the Steelers. Bernard is cheaper and I like him a bit better based on price, but Hill has been getting heavier use with Dalton out. I actually wouldn't mind playing both of them together in a cash game. (I wouldn't do that in a GPP.) In fact, I'll say pretty much the same thing about the Chiefs running backs against the Texans. I could see playing both of them in a cash game as well. With the Packers, on the other hand, I'm taking a stand that Eddie Lacy will be a significantly better value than James Starks. I like Lacy in both GPP and cash-game formats, but I'm staying away from Starks this weekend. (I know there are some smart people who disagree with me about that and have them projected to score similar numbers of fantasy points.)
Andrew Garda: I think Chad has some good ones though I am nervous about Matt Jones as he is still dealing with a hip injury. He was back to partial practice on Wednesday so maybe it's not a big deal but I think it's a bit unpredictable, which is a shame because that's a good matchup.
If Jones is out, Alfred Morris is a good play—even if Jones plays he won't be 100% so Morris is worth a look at $5500.
Here's a longshot—Jerick McKinnon. While the Vikings will lean on Adrian Peterson, McKinnon is getting more and more touches, especially in the passing game. It's likely to continue for a couple of reasons. First, because he seems to be one of the few reliable options for Teddy Bridgewater to throw to. Second because Peterson struggles on third down so McKinnon is usually in. And third, if you're feeling negative, if Seattle gets out in front the Vikings have to play catch up and throw the ball more. That is likely to translate to more McKinnon and less Peterson. At $5500 I think he's worth a look.
Alex Miglio: I really like Charcandrick West ($6,400), though Spencer Ware is going to eat into his value. Eddie Lacy is another good option at just $6,000. I'm intrigued by Alfred Morris ($5,500) given Matt Jones' injury status—if the latter is ruled out, Morris could get 20-plus touches.
Doug Baldwin went off for two touchdowns against the Vikings in Week 13, and that Seahawks offense is rolling. Is he a chalk play? Which Seattle pass-catcher would you pivot to otherwise?
Maurile Tremblay: He's in the same price range (actually $100 more expensive) as Jeremy Maclin, whom I like better this week based on matchup. But if I'm going to play a Seahawks receiver this week, it's clearly Baldwin in cash games. (I could experiment with Lockett in GPPs.)
Andrew Garda: If I'm looking for a Seahawk, he's the guy. Maurile mentioned Maclin and I agree he's a very good play as well for a little less. So if you are off on Baldwin, Maclin is a similarly priced play. I think DeSean Jackson at $7000 is a decent risk as is Martavis Bryant, a guy I think bounces back this week.
Alex Miglio: That weather is scaring me off that game altogether, but Baldwin is still a pretty good value at just $7,300. I just wouldn't expect another multi-touchdown game, as you shouldn't with any particular player.
What do you make of the Bengals offense assuming A.J. McCarron is the starter?
Maurile Tremblay: I like it. The Bengals-Steelers game could be a high-scoring affair. I do expect the offense to remain more ground-oriented than it was for much of the season, so I like the running backs better than the receivers. But A.J. Green, Marvin Jones Jr, and Tyler Eifert are worth a few shots in GPPs.
Andrew Garda: I agree with the guys on the run game, Jones and Eifert, but only with Chad on Green. Let's also remember that McCarron has yet to top 300 since he took over and only got over 200 one time (in his first start). I don't think they put too much on his plate unless they are desperate and I think this game stays close enough to where he won't be. So I am tapering my expectations for overall passing offense down a little.
Alex Miglio: That Steelers defense hasn't been very good this year, but this is the playoffs, baby. A.J. McCarron looked the part for a half against the Broncos, but he has fallen off quite a bit since then. I would expect a lot of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. If the Steelers get a big lead, though, pass-catchers could see a lot of action in the second half.
That said, I really like A.J. Green this week. His touchdown rate is higher with McCarron, and he can eat the Steelers secondary for lunch. Tyler Eifert, on the other hand, goes up against a much-improved Pittsburgh defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown to tight ends since Week 10. That includes a game against Eifert.
That will do it for this edition of the FanDuel Roundtable. Please join us again next week.
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