As avid DFS players, we will take almost any statistic into account when building our lineups. Of course, some have more weight than others. We’ve already discussed how to use the Implied Team Total and Point Spread statistics in your lineup construction process. The final Vegas statistic we’ll examine is line movement and how it relates to building DFS lineups.
What is Line Movement?
Line movement occurs when the spread and/or the value of an over/under changes as a result of people betting on or against the favorite. Thus, the line will adjust to make the other teams’ odds more attractive as money pours in for one team. Predictably, this kind of movement indicates that the public is definitively on a certain team.
There are two groups that people refer to when talking about the amount of money being wagered- public money and smart, or, sharp money. Public money is straightforward; it’s the amount, usually a percent, of money wagered by normal players. So, when there is significant line movement, is it due to public money? The answer depends.
On high profile games, the public is likely to drive line movement. An example of a week 13 high profile game is Detroit vs. New Orleans. Vegas Insider as of Wednesday evening had New Orleans (-6) with 77% of money being bet on Detroit. Thus, the line movement from (-5) to (-6) makes sense. With this in mind, you can logically assume that players on both teams, Detroit specifically, will be highly owned this Sunday.
For example, in week 12, 62% of public money was on the Seattle Seahawks. It should not come as a surprise that Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin were the highest owned players at their position across all FanDuel lineups according to NumberFire. By understanding where the majority of public money is bet, you can get an indication of ownership. There were other teams that accounted for a higher percentage of public money, but this was a high profile game. Most anticipated a strong performance by the Seahawks, but most were wrong.
The “Smart” Money
If you’ve never heard this term before, smart money is used to refer to the money being bet by the expert, or, professional gamblers. It’s not always a straightforward process identifying where the smart money is. Usually, the faster a line changes, the more likely that the smart money is causing the change. So, if a team opens as a two point favorite, then becomes a three point favorite after an hour, and then becomes a 4.5 point favorite by day’s end, the smart money would be with the favorite.
Another example of identifying smart money is when the public is betting big on an underdog. For this example let’s say a team is a seven point dog. The public continually wagers their money on the underdog, but, the line doesn’t move more than half a point. This would mean that the smart money is on the favorite. The same would apply if the scenario was flipped.
Line Movement and Your Lineup
In my opinion, this is the trickiest Vegas statistic to apply to a DFS strategy, especially football. I often don’t include it in my lineup construction. However, there were a few instances in which I did and the result proved to be beneficial.
For example, in week 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers opened as 8.5 point favorites over the Cleveland Browns and closed at 9 point favorites. In this situation, the public and smart money were on the Steelers. Given this information, I decided not to roster any Steelers players in my lineups. Sure, I missed out on a great Le’Veon Bell performance. But, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown scored 8.7 and 11.6 points respectively. That week, Roethlisberger was the sixth highest owned quarterback and Brown the highest owned wide receiver across all FanDuel contests.
I’m not claiming to be a genius. I just saw that the Pittsburgh triplets were going to be highly owned and decided to pivot and not roster any of them. I missed on Bell, but I avoided a catastrophic performance by Roethlisberger and a below average performance from Brown.
Line Movement in Week 13
It’s only Thursday, so the lines are still open. As of Thursday morning, here are the most interesting line movements and money percentages that should impact your DFS lineup.
Kansas City (+3.5) vs. Atlanta
- The line originally opened at Kansas City (+4) and has only moved .5 points when 98% of the money is on Kansas City.
- The smart money is on Atlanta, so don’t doubt the Falcons’ trio of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman this week at home.
Houston (+6.5) vs. Green Bay
- No doubt the result of Monday night’s game, the Packers are now a 6.5 point favorite after only opening as a 3.5 point favorite.
- With 73% of public money on the Packers, expect high ownership on Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Davante Adams, as the smart money is also on Green Bay.
Washington (+2.5) vs. Arizona
- In a matchup that features a great Washington offense against a great Arizona defense, the line has not moved from Washington (+2.5) despite 95% of public money on the Redskins.
- The smart money is on Arizona. Look to avoid the obvious plays like Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, and Jamison Crowder, as the public is high on them.
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