Yep, you heard that right. The Vegas Golden Knights are the first team moving on to the second round after sweeping the Los Angeles Kings in their first-round matchup. Each game was very hard-fought and tight until the end, as every game was decided by only one goal; including a double-overtime game in game two.
Star Of The Series: Marc-Andre Fleury
(Photo By: Sharon Herald)
The star of the series very easily could have been the opposing goaltender Jonathan Quick, but Fleury had to make his fair share of game-saving saves as well.
In round one Fleury put up awe-inspiring numbers. Fleury sported an incredible .65 goals against average along with a .970 save percentage. Both numbers are good for first in the NHL postseason so far.
Fleury’s best performance came in game four when he was able to stop all 31 of the Los Angeles Kings shots to help the Golden Knights secure a one to nothing victory on the way to the teams first ever playoff series win.
Who Is Next?
The Golden Knights will be facing the winner of the Anaheim Ducks versus San Jose Sharks series. Currently, the Sharks hold a three game to none lead over the Ducks and have dominated in each of those games.
San Jose is carrying a goaltender that is playing just as good as Fleury, but the Sharks also have the offense to match.
If these two teams are to meet in the second round, it is undoubtedly going to be an exciting series. The Golden Knights were underdogs versus the Kings as many of the experts across the nation picked them to lose to Los Angeles in the first round.
Vegas has shown that they are not going to back down from a fight. Beating the Kings was no easy task, let alone sweeping them. Riding the back of Marc-Andre Fleury this team has all the tools to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
The Knights proved in this series that they are for real and it is time the hockey world takes note. Their regular season run was not a fluke; it is what they are. It is going to take a lot to stop Vegas, and I am not sure that any team has the tools to take them down in a seven-game series.
Featured image by USA Today
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The Golden Knights have broken all expansion barriers and winning a playoff series is the next obstacle in their way. The Kings will be a very tough opponent for Vegas, and this series is sure to be one of the best ones of the first round. Like all playoff series’ in the NHL, the Knights will have to be a bit lucky this postseason to win.
Vegas Playing As A Team
What has made Vegas work, is their ability to work as one unit. Vegas does not have star power on the offensive or defensive end, but they all work very well together as a unit. The Knights had seven players score more than 40 points during the 2017-18 season which was among the top numbers in the league. For the Golden Knights to win in the postseason, it will be critical for them to stick to this formula.
Vegas plays excellent team defense. Their defensemen have done a great job all season of swarming the puck and forcing bad decisions. The Knights finished the season with the second highest takeaway total in the entire NHL. They also had a great takeaway to giveaway ratio at 1.1.
The Golden Knights were able to keep the goaltender relatively clean this season, and when you have a goalie the caliber of Fleury, it makes it very easy to win games. Because of this Andre-Fleury was able to have one of the best even-strength save percentages in the entire NHL with a ..931. He has this save percentage on the 10th least shot attempts in the whole NHL.
(Photo By: Stephen R. Sylvanie – USA TODAY Sports)
Even though the Knights don’t have a superstar the one player you would pick to be the leader is William Karlsson. Karlsson’s career-high 78 points led the Golden Knights, and his 43 goals had him ranked third in the entire NHL.
Karlsson did have success against the Kings this season in the four games he appeared. Karlsson tallied three goals and one assist, along with a plus/minus rating of +3. The Knights are 2-1-1 in those games. If William Karlsson can continue to play well, the Golden Knights will have a very good chance at beating the Kings this series.
Kings Lockdown Defense
Like many of the Pacific division teams, the Kings play physical defense that results in low scoring battles. Los Angeles finished the season with a 2.43 goals against average which was good for the lowest total in the NHL.
The Kings had an incredibly good penalty kill in the 2017-18 season. They finished first in the NHL with an 85 percent success rate. The Kings are a team that doesn’t take too many penalties, but when they do they kill them very efficiently.
Vegas’ power play ranks ninth in the NHL so the Kings penalty kill will be put to the test, The Kings will have their hands full with Vegas’ power play, but holding them to five on five play will be their best shot.
(Photo By: NHL.com)
Kopitar dominated the offensive side of the ice for the Kings this season. Anze finished the season with 92 points and the next closest player on the Kings had 61. Kopitar was consistently the best player on the ice and he proved it by being a force on the offensive end. In four games against the Knights this season Anze tallied two goals and three assists. If he can play at a high level against the Knights, this series could shift in LA’s favor.
The Golden Knights have a good chance at winning this series, and it is because they match up very well. The Kings have a very good penalty kill, but when they play five on five, they tend to struggle. Vegas has had a balanced attack all season, and it is what will separate them from the Kings in this one.
If the Kings are going to take this one they are going to have to have to steal a win in the first game. I believe the momentum will be too strong to overcome if the Kings allow Vegas to win game one. The Kings have a very strong at home, but the Knights are a good road team that has good chance to neutralize Los Angeles’ strengths.
I like the Knights to win this series, but it will not come easy. This series will take a lot of both teams and will most likely go to seven games.
Vegas wins the series: 4-3
Featured image by USA Today
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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.
Matt Stafford and Drew Brees will score early and often on Sunday in New Orleans.
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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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.
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)
Kansas City (-7.5)
New York Giants (-7.5)
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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There are almost infinite factors that can influence your DFS lineups. Some you should pay attention to, others you should not. For example, when ESPN says that “X” player has scored a touchdown when playing on the road, after a bye, with a wind speed less than 11 mph, you shouldn’t care. However, when a point spread or implied team total changes in Vegas, you should take notice.
Interpreting Implied Team Total
Implied Team Total is the amount of points each team is expected to score. For example, according to Rotogrinders, Arizona has the highest Implied Team Total with 30.75. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as they host San Francisco this Sunday. But how does this impact your DFS lineup?
Take a team’s Implied Team Total into account when selecting Wide Receivers, especially when choosing your second and third pass catcher. Last Thursday, the Falcons had an Implied Team Total of 27 points and Julio Jones did not disappoint. Jones recorded eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown; however, three other Falcons managed to haul in a receiving touchdown. The higher the Implied Team Total, the more likely that second and third Wide Receivers will have a productive fantasy day.
Maybe using Julio Jones isn’t the best way to verify this theory, as the only person who can stop him from producing is Matt Ryan. However, this Vegas category is still a viable determinant for Wide Receivers. In week nine, the teams with the five highest Implied Team Totals were Green Bay (29.75), New Orleans (28.75), Dallas (28.25), San Diego (25.75), and Kansas City (25). The top four teams had at least one pass catcher score at least 16 points. Of those four teams, three of them had two pass catchers record double digit points.
Using Implied team total for Week 10
Here are the top five teams with the highest Implied Team Total on Sunday according to Vegas.
Arizona Cardinals – 30.75
New England Patriots – 28.5
San Diego Chargers – 26
Pittsburgh Steelers – 26
Green Bay Packers – 25.75
Given these numbers, here are the pass catchers to roster on each of these teams.
Larry Fitzgerald ($7,200)
At this price, Fitzgerald is going to be a popular play, but for good reason. Fitzgerald has seen at least seven targets in every game this year and has scored at least 7.9 points in every game. Expect him to deliver against the woeful San Francisco 49ers.
Julian Edelman ($6,000)
Edelman has not had a great showing since Brady’s return, but look for that to change. The last time New England played Seattle was in Super Bowl 49, a game in which Edelman had nine catches on 12 targets for 109 yards and one touchdown. Stay away from Chris Hogan. His production is dependent on long-yardage receptions, which he will not get against Seattle.
Julian Edelman will try to duplicate his performance in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks this Sunday.
Tyrell Williams ($5,900)
Williams had a solid outing against Tennessee, in which he turned seven targets into six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Game logs show that Williams has been feast or famine from week to week, but, his worst games were both against Denver. Against defenses ranked 16th or worse, Williams has scored a minimum of 6.5 points and seen at least five targets. Williams is prime to replace Michael Thomas as the best value at the Wide Receiver position.
Antonio Brown ($8,600)
I don’t have to make much of an argument for Antonio Brown this week. Brown has an ability to produce when Ben Roethlisberger isn’t playing at a high level, or isn’t playing at all. Brown scored 15.4 points versus New England without Ben, and 18 points versus Baltimore with a less than stellar Quarterback performance. What makes Brown a good play this week is that ownership for Julio Jones and Mike Evans will be high. Brown will be a smart pivot from those plays in DFS tournaments.
Jordy Nelson ($7,700)
As Aaron Rodgers’ number one Wide Receiver, Nelson should look to be rostered in every lineup. His price tag makes him the best option for the 1pm EST main slate in the second tier of Wide Receivers. Nelson was targeted at least nine times for the fifth time this year. Wide Receives in his price range like Demaryius Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins only have four games in which they saw at least nine targets. Nelson has been targeted at least 13 times twice compared to zero games and one game respectively for Thomas and Hopkins.
I am in no way saying that you should only roster players on these teams. I have plenty of lineups including Wide Receivers on teams with lower Implied Team Totals. This Vegas statistic is great to use as s starting point for your DFS research. Like most statistics, Implied Team Total is not the end all be all, but it does play an important role in determining what players to stay away from on Sunday.
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