Betting Against Vegas
As draft season is rapidly approaching, most fantasy managers are diving into tons and tons of data, research, podcasts, etc. to try and find an edge amongst their league mates. One aspect of football that often gets overlooked or ignored when analyzing fantasy football, are the odds makers out in Vegas. We all know Vegas is in the business of making money, so their main goal is to set lines and spreads on games and players so tight, that they typically win whichever side regardless of which side hits. During the season when I put out my weekly streaming articles, I always look at Vegas spread and Over/Under’s on games to get an idea of the expected outcome of certain games. Doing this can help provide some context when choosing players or DSTs to stream on a weekly basis.
Something Vegas does before every season is provide player props people can bet on, regarding a players’ expected statistics. For example, Vegas will give a player prop on someone’s yards, receptions, touchdowns, etc., and you can bet if you think that player will go over or under the expected number. Using this information, we can analyze the player props for each player in the NFL, and convert those expected stats into fantasy points, and rank players that way. For example, Cooper Kupp’s player props in Vegas are as follows – 111 receptions, 1300.5 yards, and 11.5 touchdowns. These are the stats that Vegas is expecting Cooper Kupp to deliver this season.
What if we aggregated every player prop for the top section of players in fantasy? That is exactly what I did in this exercise. For this article, I analyzed the Top 40 WRs in ADP for the 2022 season, and outlined their player props from Vegas, added it all up, and gave each player an expected fantasy point total based on that projection. The purpose of this exercise was to look at the group of players’ expected outcomes compared to each other, and then compare that data to their current ADP to identify players who might be getting over or under valued in drafts.
One caveat with this research was that I only included players that currently have player props. WRs left off this list include Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, Chris Godwin, and Deandre Hopkins. For one reason or another, Vegas has not given player props on these players whether it be uncertainty with the Watson situation, injury to Godwin, etc. So, let us dive into what I found.
There were a few names that stuck out as players I see as undervalued in drafts. These players currently have ADPs significantly lower than where their projected stats would suggest they finish the season. The first player to bring up is Jacksonville WR Christian Kirk. Vegas projects Kirk for 69 receptions, 800.5 yards and 5 TDs in 2022, which would give him 179 fantasy points in a formal PPR league. Those numbers compared to the rest of the WR group would put Kirk finishing as the WR32 this season. The value here is that Kirk currently has an ADP of WR42. He is being drafted 10 spots behind where Vegas expects him to finish. Kirk was given a boat load of money from Jacksonville this off-season and has flashed in a secondary role for the last few years in Arizona. Coming to Jacksonville, he expects to be the primary WR and lead the team in targets. Kirk can provide some tremendous value in the later rounds if he achieves his modest projection of 179 points.
The second name on this list turned out to be Jerry Jeudy. Vegas projects Jeudy for 73 receptions, 950.5 yards, and 6 TDs, giving him 204 fantasy points this year. Those points would put Jeudy finishing as the WR18, but his current ADP is WR27, a nine-spot discount. The Broncos got a massive upgrade this off-season adding Russell Wilson under center and there has been ongoing debate this off-season about which Broncos WR is the guy to own. The community seems split between Jeudy and Sutton, and Vegas is seemingly putting their money on Jeudy. Not only is Jeudy seemingly a great value relative to ADP, but Vegas also expects Jeudy to score more points than Sutton outright. If you are torn between the two Denver WRs, it seems Jeudy is the better value and might ultimately end up the better producer.
Here are the top 10 players that are currently values based on their projection compared to their ADP:
Christian Kirk – Vegas Projection: WR32 – ADP: WR42
Jerry Jeudy – Vegas Projection: WR18 – ADP: WR27
Juju Smith-Schuster – Vegas Projection: WR28 – ADP: WR35
Rashod Bateman – Vegas Projection: WR31 – ADP: WR38
Allen Lazard – Vegas Projection: WR37 – ADP: WR44
Treylon Burks - Vegas Projection: WR38 – ADP: WR 45
DJ Moore - Vegas Projection: WR11 - ADP: WR 17
Darnell Mooney - Vegas Projection: WR20 - ADP: WR26
Gabriel Davis - Vegas Projection: WR26 - ADP: WR 32
Hunter Renfrow - Vegas Projection: WR25 - ADP: WR 30
Now let us look at the other side of the equation. Based on Vegas projections, which players are currently being drafted higher than their expected finish? Before we dive into the list, one player I needed to highlight here is Deebo Samuel. Vegas expects Samuel to finish with 70.5 receptions for 925.5 yards and 6 touchdowns – 199 fantasy points. That production would place him as the WR21, and his current ADP is WR6. So, if Vegas is right, then Deebo is being drafted 15 spots ahead of where he will finish. Of course, this is not an exact science because Deebo is unique in his usage given all the RB carries he received last season. However, I do not expect an exact replica of 2021 given Deebo’s voiced frustrations playing RB. Additionally, I believe Deebo was used so heavily at RB later in the season because of the lack of depth the 49ers had at RB. Trey Sermon has been getting positive reports in camp, plus the returns of Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson and the addition of Tyrion Davis Price make me think San Fran will not need to lean on Deebo too heavily in the run game this season.
Deebo Samuel was by far this biggest discrepancy in this exercise, and here are a few other players with significant differences.
Deebo Samuel – Vegas Projection: WR21 – ADP WR6
AJ Brown – Vegas Projection: WR17 – ADP: WR11
Courtland Sutton – Vegas Projection: WR29 – ADP: WR23
DK Metcalf – Vegas Projection: WR23 – ADP: WR18
I know this is not an exact science. I know there is a million factors at play with every single player in fantasy. I wanted to highlight this idea as another data point to account for when making draft day decisions over the next few weeks. Again, Vegas never loses. And if they are setting lines on players’ statistics, I want to make sure I know what they expect because more often than not, they’re either spot on or pretty darn close. I hope this information helps shed some light on players’ current values and possibly provides a leg up on your drafts.