Advice

What We Can Learn About Week 1 From the Betting Lines

Let’s take a look at the betting lines for Week 1, breaking implied scoring into passing points, rushing points, kicking points, and defense/special teams points.

The idea for this article came from A.J. Bessette via Jonathan Bales. My application of the strategy Bessette espoused is fully explained in my first article from last season. I noted this wasn’t a backtested method but started to track the accuracy of each week’s picks in subsequent articles, which ran through the Divisional round of the playoffs. This offseason, I found encouraging results when I graded out all the picks we published against implied team scoring.

The short version is we’re looking at what percentage of total scoring for each offense and defense comes from each phase of the game – passing, rushing, kicking, and defense or special teams touchdowns or safeties. There are two projections provided, one that averages the offense’s and defense’s rates, and the other that uses the properties of calculating standard deviation as a way to emphasize rates that deviate further from the mean, which could be potential targets. The averaging method performed slightly better in 2015, but both were better than using implied points alone for passing, rushing, and kicking, while both performed far worse than implied points for predicting defense/special teams scoring.1

As we work our way into 2016, I’ll weight 2015 splits less each week. For Week 1, it’s all we have, so be careful to make adjustments for coaching and personnel changes as necessary. Next week we’ll do 75 percent 2015 stats and 25 percent Week 1’s results, then 50-50, and so on. The Week 5 article will solely reference the first four weeks of 2016.

By nature, this method will get better throughout the season as we learn about each team’s 2016 tendencies. But until then, there are plenty of useful matchup notes to check out.

Passing Scoring and Notes

League Average Passing Points Rate: 43.2 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg paPtsSD paPts
OAKNOS2556.8%56.7%14.1914.19
SEAMIA27.2548.2%47.8%13.0913.09
HOUCHI2551.3%46.9%12.2712.38
GBPJAX26.7550.5%38.8%11.9512.67
WASPIT23.546.4%54.5%11.8612.11
INDDET2746.8%40.5%11.7912.12
DETIND2455.3%42.6%11.7512.42
ARINEP26.2542.9%45.7%11.6411.81
NOSOAK26.547.3%37.6%11.2510.72
PITWAS26.536.9%47.5%11.1810.57
BALBUF23.7538.4%50.1%10.5211.10
SDCKCC1956.3%52.3%10.3110.34
CINNYJ22.2544.4%47.8%10.2510.36
ATLTBB2537.2%44.6%10.229.76
JAXGBP21.2555.9%37.2%9.8810.85
NYGDAL2351.4%30.5%9.428.35
NEPARI20.2546.5%46.0%9.369.36
PHICLE22.2536.6%47.2%9.338.79
TENMIN1950.2%47.7%9.309.32
NYJCIN19.7551.2%38.7%8.879.45
DALNYG2334.9%42.1%8.858.58
CLEPHI18.7543.2%50.2%8.769.03
BUFBAL20.7536.4%44.9%8.438.00
TBBATL22.538.6%33.0%8.067.95
KCCSDC25.529.6%33.2%8.017.97
SFOLAR20.2540.3%38.2%7.957.92
CHIHOU1937.6%46.0%7.947.56
MINTEN21.523.0%48.2%7.666.32
MIASEA16.7546.5%30.3%6.435.76
LARSFO22.7523.6%32.6%6.386.24

Note: Lines taken from Vegas Insider on September 9th.

  • Derek Carr’s Raiders passing attack stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league in projected passing points, thanks to a league-leading rate of scoring via pass TDs that is somehow a slightly higher rate than the Saints’ league-leading percentage of passing scores conceded.2 The Raiders look poised to score through the air in this game with the slate’s highest projected total and a close line.
  • The Seahawks have this weekend’s highest team total, and scored pass TDs at a rate five percentage points above league average last year. The Dolphins conceded such scores above the league average rate, as well.
  • Brock Osweiler makes for an interesting contrarian DFS play this week, as the Bears conceded a higher-than-league-average rate of points through the air, and have a secondary that’s nursing its way back to health. It doesn’t hurt that the Texans scored the sixth highest rate of points via pass TDs in the league last year.
  • I’m on record as a fan of the Tampa Bay passing offense this week, but this analysis doesn’t like them, given Atlanta’s fourth lowest rate of conceded points via passing TDs in 2015. An interesting data point, and one I interpret to mean their range of outcomes is quite volatile.

Rushing Scoring and Notes

League Average Rushing Points Rate: 18.7 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg ruPtsSD ruPts
LARSFO22.7534.3%31.0%7.437.45
KCCSDC25.528.1%25.6%6.866.88
TBBATL22.521.1%34.8%6.286.80
NOSOAK26.523.6%18.0%5.525.88
PITWAS26.522.7%15.8%5.105.47
INDDET2710.8%27.0%5.105.50
ATLTBB2523.0%17.3%5.035.39
MINTEN21.529.6%15.6%4.865.61
BUFBAL20.7530.1%15.0%4.675.46
SEAMIA27.2514.2%20.1%4.664.27
ARINEP26.2519.6%15.2%4.584.29
GBPJAX26.7513.0%20.1%4.433.97
PHICLE22.2523.9%15.3%4.364.77
DALNYG2317.5%20.4%4.354.47
CHIHOU1923.3%19.2%4.034.17
DETIND2411.7%20.6%3.883.35
NYGDAL237.1%25.7%3.772.80
BALBUF23.7514.6%16.7%3.723.68
CINNYJ22.2525.8%7.6%3.722.82
MIASEA16.7521.3%21.7%3.603.60
NEPARI20.2518.1%17.3%3.583.56
JAXGBP21.258.0%24.1%3.412.58
NYJCIN19.7517.1%17.2%3.383.38
OAKNOS2511.7%15.1%3.353.29
HOUCHI2512.4%13.6%3.253.24
TENMIN1920.1%13.9%3.232.94
SFOLAR20.2517.6%12.7%3.082.92
WASPIT23.513.9%11.3%2.962.93
CLEPHI18.7510.8%14.0%2.322.28
SDCKCC197.5%14.6%2.101.95
  • The Rams scored the highest percentage of points via rush TDs in 2015, while the 49ers conceded the second highest percentage. Fire up Todd Gurley.
  • Kansas City’s offense and San Diego’s defense were both top five in percentage of scoring from rush TDs. Spencer Ware looks to be in a great spot to grab a TD or two.
  • Doug Martin looks like another good bet to score in Week 1 as the Falcons conceded the highest percentage of points via rush TDs in 2015, while the Bucs scored them at an above average rate.
  • Among the potential fade candidates, popular play Latavius Murray goes up against the Saints, who allowed the ninth lowest rate of points against via rush TDs. The Raiders scored rush TDs at the league’s sixth lowest rate.

Kicking and Defense/Special Teams Scoring and Notes

League Average Kicking Points Rate: 31.3 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg kiPtsSD kiPts
DALNYG2341.8%31.7%8.458.91
INDDET2732.1%29.0%8.258.04
PITWAS26.532.4%28.8%8.107.87
KCCSDC25.531.9%31.7%8.108.10
ATLTBB2532.2%32.4%8.078.07
GBPJAX26.7529.3%30.8%8.057.99
SFOLAR20.2538.7%40.6%8.038.04
BALBUF23.7539.0%27.6%7.918.57
NOSOAK26.524.1%34.8%7.817.13
SEAMIA27.2530.0%27.0%7.777.66
ARINEP26.2528.0%30.8%7.727.60
NYGDAL2331.9%33.7%7.547.60
WASPIT23.530.4%33.5%7.517.70
HOUCHI2529.8%29.0%7.357.33
LARSFO22.7532.1%30.7%7.157.23
TBBATL22.534.5%28.7%7.117.35
DETIND2428.5%30.4%7.077.01
MINTEN21.537.0%27.7%6.957.40
CINNYJ22.2527.9%34.4%6.936.77
NYJCIN19.7531.8%37.6%6.857.07
NEPARI20.2532.5%33.5%6.686.70
OAKNOS2528.1%24.8%6.626.54
PHICLE22.2527.9%31.0%6.556.42
JAXGBP21.2529.3%31.9%6.506.36
CLEPHI18.7538.1%29.8%6.376.75
CHIHOU1937.9%29.1%6.366.78
BUFBAL20.7527.2%31.7%6.115.89
TENMIN1923.7%37.1%5.785.30
SDCKCC1933.1%27.5%5.765.50
MIASEA16.7523.2%37.2%5.064.59
  • Dan Bailey is your top projected kicker, with guys like Adam Vinatieri, Cairo Santos, Matt Bryant, and Justin Tucker all grading out well across the two calculation methods.

League Average DST Points Rate: 6.8 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg dstPtsSD dstPts
ARINEP26.259.4%7.6%2.232.29
KCCSDC25.59.4%8.0%2.222.25
NYGDAL239.0%9.6%2.152.15
HOUCHI255.3%10.6%1.992.31
MINTEN21.59.9%8.5%1.982.00
PHICLE22.2511.7%5.6%1.922.25
GBPJAX26.754.9%9.4%1.912.15
INDDET279.6%3.0%1.701.35
SEAMIA27.257.1%5.1%1.671.54
LARSFO22.759.3%4.1%1.531.39
NOSOAK26.54.4%7.0%1.521.36
MIASEA16.757.7%9.4%1.431.46
ATLTBB257.1%4.3%1.421.26
JAXGBP21.256.4%6.2%1.341.33
PITWAS26.54.3%5.8%1.331.29
BUFBAL20.755.3%7.5%1.321.21
BALBUF23.757.3%3.3%1.271.04
DETIND244.5%5.9%1.241.21
CINNYJ22.251.4%9.6%1.220.79
DALNYG235.1%5.4%1.211.21
CLEPHI18.756.5%5.6%1.131.11
SFOLAR20.252.5%7.3%0.990.77
TBBATL22.55.3%3.5%0.980.95
WASPIT23.58.2%0.0%0.970.49
OAKNOS252.8%2.5%0.660.66
NYJCIN19.750.0%6.5%0.640.39
SDCKCC191.9%4.2%0.580.54
CHIHOU190.0%5.8%0.550.37
NEPARI20.253.0%1.9%0.500.49
TENMIN194.0%0.7%0.440.39
  • Keep in mind that the subdivided defense/special teams scoring projections were the only scoring type to perform worse than the betting lines, and it was notably bad. So why am I still including this information? Well, there may be a very actionable takeaway from it. The implication is conceding or scoring D/ST points isn’t predictive of future performance. That said, prior team totals and points conceded naturally do impact future lines. Therefore, it stands to reason that teams who have scored and/or conceded a high rate of defense/special teams points will have their over/unders and/or implied point totals artificially inflated. In other words, we should fade a small degree of the implied totals for teams who grade highly here (which is already baked into the passing, rushing, and kicking projections in this column due to those percentages being relatively lower). That’s probably not actionable for Week 1, but we’ll keep an eye out for teams who score a lot of points via D/ST scores to see whether their future lines appear to be too big relative to their offensive output.

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  1. More on what that means below.  (back)
  2. Man, the Saints pass D was epic last year.  (back)
By Ben Gretch | @YardsPerGretch | Archive

Comments   Add comment

  1. Fantastic stuff. I am so happy for these articles again this season. I will be curious to see the effect of high DST scoring outputs and the implied team total the following week. That could be a profitable betting angle too.

  2. Dennis says:

    WOW! Great stuff....this may still predict Pitt's and Ram's rushing....but home runs for pass catchers, kicker (thx) and Sp. Ware. verrrrry helpful do more do more!

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