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Applying Vegas Statistics – Point Spread

Last Sunday produced some of the most exciting and memorable games of the year, which is odd. Not because it lacked marquee match ups like Dallas versus Pittsburgh, but because there were multiple games with large point spreads. For example, Arizona was favored by 14 points and New England by 7.5. Thankfully, these games were not as lopsided as Vegas anticipated. But how should a team’s point spread impact your DFS roster?

What The Spread Indicates

While seemingly obvious and trivial, the point spread indicates how much a team is favored by. Last week Arizona was favored by 14 points, the largest spread to date, against San Francisco. The larger the point spread, the more confident Vegas is in the favored team. Therefore, a small point spread indicates that Vegas is uncertain and in some cases a game can be termed a “pick em”. This means that the point spread is zero.

Why does a point spread matter? Because, it is usually a good determination of not just who will win, but how. When a team is favored by more than a touchdown, the outcome could be decided as early as the third quarter. Therefore, the favored team’s Running Back is poised to have a heavier workload. Each week you should note the largest point spreads and consider rostering a Running Back on a favored team.

As previously stated, the most heavily favored teams last week were Arizona and New England. Thus, it’s no surprise that each team produced a Running Back that scored at least 24.6 points. While David Johnson’s performance was expected, many thought LeGarrette Blount would have trouble producing against Seattle. In reality, that should not have been the case. If Blount and the Patriots were expected to struggle moving the football, then they would not have been favored by more than a touchdown.

Legarrette Blount racked up 69 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Sunday's loss to Seattle.

Legarrette Blount racked up 69 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss to Seattle.

According to Vegas Insider, a team has been favored by more than a touchdown 22 times this season. Among those contests, a Running Back on the favored team scored at least 17 points 55% of the time. Of those Running Backs to score at least 17 points, nine of them scored more than 20 points when their team was favored by a touchdown or more.

Week 11 Implications

Looking at week 11, we see a familiar face atop the most heavily favored teams.

  • New England (-13)
  • Pittsburgh (-8)
  • Kansas City (-7.5)
  • New York Giants (-7.5)
  • Dallas (-7)

Here are the best Running Back options available in these games, in order from worst to best match up.

5. Ezekiel Elliot ($8,700)

  • Elliot has been one of the most consistent players at any position thus far, but Sunday’s game versus the top ranked Baltimore run defense could be problematic.
  • Elliot’s volume will be sky high, but his efficiency will drop. He could easily produce anywhere from 15-19 points this Sunday, but at $8,700 there are better options available.

4. Rashad Jennings ($5,600)

  • Overall, it has not been a good season for Jennings, but this match up is incredibly favorable, given the spread.
  • Against Cincinnati, Jennings had 21 total opportunities, 15 rushes, and six targets, and his workload is likely to increase this week.
  • Expect Jennings to have a high floor, but a low ceiling this Sunday against Chicago. Plan on getting at least 13 points, but not more than 20. His incredibly low price tag gives any lineup great roster flexibility.

3. Legarrette Blount ($7,300)

  • Given the spread and the team Blount is playing, he should be the number one option this week right? If he were on any team besides the Patriots I would unequivocally say yes.
  • Dion Lewis’ return and James White’s effectiveness out of the backfield could take away Red Zone opportunities from Blount, thus, limiting his ceiling.
  • The Patriots will no doubt have a multiple score lead at the start of the fourth quarter, so Blount will be getting a large volume of opportunities. The only question is will he be able to find the end zone against an anemic 49ers defense? I think yes, but only once.
  • Expect about 16 to 20 points this week for Blount.

2. Spencer Ware ($7,700)

  • Everything about this game screams play Spencer Ware. The Chiefs are favored by more than a touchdown, at home, and are playing the 25th ranked rush defense.
  • In two of three home games Ware played in, he recorded at least 20 points. Both of the teams he faced, New Orleans and San Diego, were in the bottom half of the NFL in rush defense.
  • Ware’s consistent involvement in the passing game, averaging more than four targets per game when healthy, gives Ware a great ceiling this week against Tampa Bay where he will score between 16 and 25 points.
Spencer Ware is poised to have a spectacular day at home versus the 25th ranked Tampa Bay run defense.

1. Le’Veon Bell ($9,100)

  • I don’t need to say much about Bell this week. He’s playing Cleveland, the 31st ranked run defense in the NFL, and is favored by more than a touchdown.
  • Bell’s volume was incredibly high last week, as he carried the ball 17 times and recorded nine catches on 10 targets. This will no doubt continue as the Steelers will be trying to keep the clock running in the second half versus the Browns.
  • Bell will also be getting all the carries in the fourth quarter when trying to ice the game, as DeAngelo Williams is out after undergoing knee surgery. It’s likely that this Sunday will be a season high for bell in every statistical category.

There are other Running Backs worthy of being rostered this week, but, these five have unique circumstances that set them apart from the rest of the pack.


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