After England won only their second of eight major tournament penalty shootouts, and first at a World Cup, the English media are starting to believe that anything is possible. “Football’s coming home” as far as fans of the Three Lions are concerned, but if their team is to lift the trophy for the first time in more than 50 years, there are a few roadblocks still to overcome.
Sweden are, without question, a favorable quarterfinal opponent, but that’s not to say Saturday’s match in Samara will be plain sailing for Gareth Southgate’s men. It never is as far as England are concerned, nor is it when they come to blows with this weekend’s challengers.
England have, after all, won just one of their last eight competitive meetings with the Swedes, who have developed a liking for what has become a familiar underdog status under coach Janne Andersson. Indeed, since exiting Euro 2016 and waving goodbye to their greatest-ever player in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there has been a realization that without a star name to call upon, the players have needed to accept their limitations and, in a roundabout way, turn that into a strength.
The Scandinavians have shown this summer and well beforehand just how difficult they are to break down, simply by sticking to their rigid positions when out of possession and sitting deep. In the past 18 months, they’ve beaten Portugal, France and Italy, so they aren’t to be underestimated, keeping five clean sheets in their last six matches.
It’s relatively clear how the pattern of this match will play out, with Sweden having had a lower possession share (36%) at this World Cup than any of the remaining teams. Plus, they’re well-aware that England are struggling to create meaningful chances from open play.
England have the tournament’s top scorer in their ranks, and Harry Kane will know that if he can add to his six-goal tally, he may well wrap up the Golden Boot. While there are those who will point to his duties as the penalty-kick taker as the main reason for his success this summer, he’s taken the chances that have come his way. Plus, his performance against Colombia was arguably the Tottenham star’s best all-around display of the tournament.
Sweden may have conceded only twice, but they have allowed their opponents the most shots on goal (61) of the quarterfinalists, and Kane doesn’t need a second invitation to shoot or indeed score. With odds over evens on the striker to do so at any time, that’s a bet that’s well worth considering, but I like the winning margin odds for England in this one.
It’s never straightforward when they are involved, after all, and Southgate’s charges are the only side remaining that are yet to keep a clean sheet. While their quality should win out, you can bank on a tight result, so England to win by exactly one goal would be my tip.
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Europe’s domination over the United States during the past two decades at the Ryder Cup has been explained and rationalized and justified in myriad ways over the years.
Maybe it’s because the European players care more about the competition than their counterparts. Maybe they have better team camaraderie or buy into the concept of playing for each other, rather than themselves. Maybe the underdog role suits them.
There are plenty of ways to analyze Europe’s recent grip over this competition — and each of them might own some semblance of veracity.
Very few of those who have been involved in the proceedings, however, have looked at it from the perspective of Patrick Cantlay, who is making his debut for the U.S. team this week.
Employing game theory analysis to explain probability and variance, here’s Cantlay’s response on Wednesday to a question about why the European team continues to win this event.
“So, I’ve read a few gin books,” Cantlay said. “Let’s see if I get it right.
“If you play enough gin hands a one or two percent difference in skill translates to almost an assured win over many, many, many hands of gin.”
(For the record, as many tweeters pointed out after I posted this to social media, Cantlay being a gin shark feels very on-brand — in a good way.)
“You could have a big difference between somebody, maybe a 60 to 40 percent skill-level difference, and gin is still chancy enough to where you could play 10 hands and lose six or seven of the hands than someone that’s much worse than you skill-wise.”
Here’s where he starts using this logic to explain Ryder Cup results.
“These matches are only played every two years, and golf is very chancy,” Cantlay said. “So would it surprise you if the U.S. went on a similar run to what Europe has been on for the next 20 years. Wouldn’t surprise me.
“You go to Vegas and you play roulette and the chances are 50/50 but skewed toward the house a little. It could hit red six times in a row, but that’s not abnormal. You flip a quarter, it would be weird if the quarter flipped tails, heads, tails heads, tails heads. Then you would think something trippy was going on.”
All of this makes you wonder — or it makes me wonder, at least: If Cantlay explained this rationale in the U.S. team room, how would the other 11 players react?
“I try to take a very long-term view on things like that,” Cantlay said. “Who knows? The captains are different every year. The players are different every year. The venues are different every year. The weather is different every year. You’re really going to ask a question like that and think you’re going to get the right answer? I don’t have the answers to that. This is my first one.”
It’s all just so … smart.
Cantlay might not have the influence of a Rory McIlroy or the ebullience of a Phil Mickelson, but the recently crowned FedEx Cup champion is quickly proving himself to be one of the game’s more intelligent personalities — and putting the Ryder Cup results into these terms only helps verify that assessment.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait until Sunday to make your weekly NFL bets.
NFL odds are available all week, though many bettors do like to see how the previous week’s injuries shake out before putting their bankrolls at risk.
However, there is still plenty of value early in the week, especially for those able to get ahead of big line moves that typically occur closer to game day when betting limits are at their highest.
With this in mind, we post our NFL PRO Projections as early as possible to identify a slate’s biggest betting edges for those who are interested in getting ahead of the inevitable late-week market movement.
This doesn’t always mean there are a ton of edges to bet early, but when it comes to the full NFL Week 3 slate, it’s safe to say that there is plenty to like for value-minded bettors.
NFL Week 3 Betting Model Predictions
*Odds and projections as of Wednesday afternoon
Eagles vs. Cowboys Betting Prediction
Current spread: Eagles +4
Projected spread: Eagles +2.5
Week 3’s biggest NFL betting edge comes from its final game: Eagles vs. Cowboys on Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Philly lost to San Francisco in Week 2 while Dallas topped the Los Angeles Chargers, but our model projects this to be a closer game than the market.
By snagging Eagles +4 right now, bettors can lock in a 5.7% edge compared to the projected spread of +2.5.
PRO Projections Pick: Eagles +4
Packers vs. 49ers Betting Prediction
Current spread: Packers +3.5
Projected spread: Packers +1.5
Speaking of San Francisco, it appears that the 49ers are overvalued in Week 3 following their aforementioned victory over the Eagles last weekend.
Our NFL PRO Projections suggest this line should be inside of a field goal, which, combined with the fact that bettors can jump on Green Bay at +3.5, provides a very nice 5.3% edge for Sunday Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).
Tanner McGrath: Chris Sale hasn’t been his elite self since returning from Tommy John, but he’s been more than adequate.
He’s been slightly overperforming, as his 2.40 ERA is about a run better than his expected statistics. But his 3.46 xERA and his 3.57 xFIP are more than acceptable numbers. His strikeout rate is down (9.30 K/9), but so is his walk rate (1.80 BB/9), and his .325 BABIP could regress back to career average .293 as he makes more starts.
However, the Red Sox aren’t complaining, they’re 5-1 in Sale’s six starts this reason, while Sale has gone 4-0 in decisions.
Meanwhile, let’s look at New York starter Taijuan Walker, who’s been a complete and utter disaster since the All-Star break. He’s posted a 6.26 ERA and a 6.67 FIP over his past 10 starts, and the Mets have won just one of those contests. Plus, Walker went 0-7 in decisions during that stretch.
Now, Walker gets to face the Red Sox, who have paced the league in wRC+ vs. RHPs over the past month (130). Boston’s won six straight and have built a 1.5-game lead in the AL wild card, and I don’t see Walker being a stopper today.
The Red Sox have won five straight games against the Mets dating back to last season, and I like them to win big today. I’ll give the run and take the Red Sox -1.5 at anything better than plus-money.
Kenny Ducey: It may sound crazy to take the over here with the Mariners facing a lefty and the A’s coming in ice-cold over the last two games, but hear me out.
Cole Irvin not only owns poor peripherals — a 4.80 xFIP, 4.88 xERA and a 39.2% hard-hit rate — he’s also been downright terrible against the Mariners this year. Despite Seattle’s inability to do damage against left-handed pitching, Irvin has struggled to get outs with an 8.49 ERA in three starts, which lasted just 11 ⅔ innings. He’s registered just five strikeouts in those games and has just fallen victim to an influx of baserunners.
On the other side of the coin, Chris Flexen has a nearly identical profile. His hard hit rate is higher than average and his expected ERA is around a full run higher than his real-life mark. He’s a pitcher who ranks in the bottom-8% of strikeout rate He will run into an A’s side striking out at the second-lowest clip in baseball over the last two weeks.
The A’s may have struggled against Seattle offensively the last two nights, but the larger sample size of this last month tells a very damning story for a pitcher teetering on the brink of regression. I think we should see some runs scored in this one and love this deal.
DJ James: The San Francisco Giants have clobbered right-handed pitchers this month (and frankly all season), and they get to face a newly-acquired right-hander for the San Diego Padres, Vince Velasquez.
The Phillies recently designated him for assignment, and the Padres did not get enough of Jake Arrieta, so they signed a similar pitcher. Velasquez allowed four earned runs in first four innings of work in a Padres uniform last week, so he has not quite yet turned it around. Do not expect that to start in this matchup.
Velasquez features his four-seam fastball 51.1% of the time and throws is around 93 mph. On four-seamers from righties between 92 and 94 mph, the Giants own a .406 xwOBA and an Average Exit Velocity of 94.1 mph in September. They are no slouch, and given Velasquez’s struggles all season, they should be able to get to him in the first inning.
Out of 11 hitters with 20-plus plate appearances against right-handers this month, eight Giants hitters have posted a 100+ wRC+. Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt are both slugging above .800. Six guys have a .350-plus OBP, and they have 19 homers collectively.
Given these variables, the Giants first five over is intriguing. The line currently sits a 2.5 (+105), so take this to 3 (-110) and be ready to watch the San Francisco lineup mash yet another ailing right-handed starting pitcher.
The Blue Jays and Rays have split the first two of their three-game series in Tampa. The Rays won the opener, and Toronto prevailed 4-2 a night ago.
The Blue Jays were led by strong offensive performances from Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr, all of whom drove in runs or had multiple hits in the victory. Bichette’s day also included a solo home run in the fifth inning off starter Drew Rasmussen.
The Rays, meanwhile, managed just five hits on the day, including two from leadoff man Brandon Lowe. Lowe also drove in one of the Rays’ only two runs in the losing effort.
With two starting pitchers that have struggled mightily in 2021 squaring off in this one, should we be looking to target the total this afternoon in this crucial AL East bout?
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Blue Jays’ Bullpen In The Spotlight
Julian Merryweather will take the hill for the Blue Jays for a spot start and his first appearance as a starter at the big-league level this season. To date, Merryweather has served solely as a relief pitcher and has struggled in that role. In 7 1/3 innings, he’s compiled a 6.02 FIP and has allowed an average of 2.45 K/9.
While a small sample size, he’s also allowing an alarming amount of hard contact. Per Statcast, he’s permitted a 42.3% Hard Hit rate and a staggering 21.1% Barrel-rate to opposing hitters thus far. Those numbers will need to be reduced drastically if he wishes to remain at the big-league level for much longer.
He’ll take on a Rays team that has been one of the best teams in baseball against righties this season. They’ve collected a .323 wOBA, good for the ninth-best mark among all teams.
That said, it’s likely we see the Blue Jays bullpen very early in this one. Merryweather has not pitched more than two innings, and he has not reached that mark since April. He did miss most of the season with an injury, but even with the Blue Jays’ minor-league affiliates, was being used exclusively in a relief role.
The Blue Jays’ bullpen has serviceable this season for manager Charlie Montoyo when called upon. Over 529 1/3 innings, it has pitched to a 4.17 FIP, ninth-best in all of baseball.
Luis Patiño will get the nod for the Rays in what will amount to his 15th start of the season. Patiño has struggled so far in 2021, compiling a 4.70 FIP over 70 1/3 innings. He’s also allowed an average of 1.54 HR/9 thus far, which while not among the league’s worst, is still well below average.
Finally, with a 37.5% Hard Hit rate on the year (per Statcast), it’s also evident that he hasn’t been fooling too many batters.
While stretched out and capable of handling a standard starting pitching load, longevity has been an issue for Patiño lately. While he did pitch six innings in his last start, he’s lasted fewer than five innings in three of his last six outings, including two that went three innings or fewer.
Today’s matchup also won’t be an easy one. He’ll take on a Blue Jays team that has been the best in baseball against right-handed pitching so far this season, collectively hitting to a .339 wOBA thus far.
While this afternoon game will be a quick turnaround time for both teams, today’s matchup has all the makings of a high-scoring affair.
Toronto will turn to a struggling Merryweather in what will be his first MLB start of the season, while the Rays will look to a starter in Patiño who has experienced plenty of issues of his own this year. Not only have both hurlers allowed a staggering amount of hard contact thus far, but each will also run into an opposing offense that can score early and often.
As such, I’ll be targeting the over in this one. That said, given the quick turnaround time from last night’s game, be sure to check the starting lineups on each side to make sure the core offensive weapons on each side will be playing. If that holds, I’ll be taking the over here and am comfortable playing it up to 9.5 runs if the total shifts before first pitch.
Mills was a two-year starter at Stanford, making 14 career appearances (5 starts in a COVID-shortened 2020 season). He spent four total seasons in college, redshirting his freshman year and serving as K.J. Costello’s backup during his second season.
In those 14 appearances, Mills threw 18 touchdowns to eight interceptions, completing 65.5% of his passes for 3,468 yards.
Individual highlights include a 504-yard performance against Washington State in 2019. In ’20, he threw for more than one touchdown in a game just once, throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions in the season finale against UCLA. His 428 yards that game were a season high.
Davis Mills NFL Career
The 6-foot-3 quarterback was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft, 67th overall. Mills was the seventh quarterback taken, behind Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Kyle Trask.
After replacing Taylor, who suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2, Mills completed 8-of-18 passes (42%) for 102 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
At least for now, the team has decided not to bring in another quarterback with Taylor out and Watson unlikely to be active. Jeff Driskel will be Mills’ backup with Taylor injured.
Davis Mills Fantasy Football Rankings
Mills doesn’t appear to be a quarterback worthy of consideration in fantasy football leagues this week. According to The Action Network consensus rankings, Mills comes in at No. 32 in Week 3 for quarterbacks.
Emil Ruusuvuori looked solid in his abbreviated first round match with Benjamin Bonzi, but his confidence in this match will be even more sparked by his hard court results, particularly at this event. In 2020, he won 5 matches including qualifiers before burning out against Adrian Mannarino in the semifinals.
At this point in his career, he can still only play on hard courts for this most part, but he does it really well. With a 19-11 record on hard courts this year on the ATP tour and a 3-1 record on indoor hard courts, he’s excelled on the surface in 2021 and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
A harder man to predict what you’re going to get, Aslan Karatsev has had a rollercoaster year with the highest of highs and some harsh lows. He reached the semis of the Australian Open and won a Dubai title, but also had a summer hard court period in which he lost three first rounds in a row. It’s an incredibly accomplished year for the Russian either way, but he’s still prone to let downs.
It’s hard to say what we’re going to get from Karatsev in this matchup. If it’s the Karatsev of the first two rounds at the US Open, this should be a good battle. If it’s the Karatsev of the majority of the summer hardcourt swing, Ruusuvuori should handle the match with ease.
Either way, the value is with Ruusuvuori to get the job done.
Australian Alex de Minaur is in the midst of an incredibly weird season. It’s tough to call a 2-title season a disappointing one, but I’m fairly sure that’s how the 22-year old would describe it.
Two titles in 250-level tournaments are surrounded by first round losses in more meaningful tournaments, including the US Open and Wimbledon. Third round and second round appearances at the Australian Open and French Open won’t cut it for de Minaur either, who had achieved both of those results in prior seasons.
All in all, a 21-18 record isn’t bad, but when compared with his 2019/18/17/16 seasons, in which his worst winning percentage was 57% and his combined record was 181-98, he’ll be looking to improve it in the final stage of the season.
Giron pulled out a quality win in his first round matchup with Arthur Rinderknech, winning 81% of his points behind his first serve and 62% on his second. He was also able to attack Rinderknech’s second serve, getting 52% of those points.
While de Minaur has been slumping in 2021, a return to indoor hard courts could be good for him, as it’s his most historically successful surface. Giron has only played 12 matches on indoor hard courts, with an even 6-6 record to his name. He does have a milestone win on the surface, though, beating Matteo Berrettini at the Paris-Bercy Masters in 2020.
Giron and de Minaur split their previous two matchups, with the American winning in the 2019 edition of Indian Wells and de Minaur thumping him in Antwerp last year. While those two matches don’t offer a massive amount of information given the form of the two players this year, it’s worth noting that de Minaur’s easy win came on an indoor hard court that plays fairly similar to the one in Metz.
With that being said, I think Giron will be far more comfortable in the trilogy than he was in their second matchup. This has been a defining year for Giron and his consistent play should fare well against a player who has been struggling for confidence all year. If de Minaur isn’t able to stand on the baseline and run every ball down and return it with interest, as he’s struggled to do all year, Giron is in very good shape.
I already love Ian Anderson, but I absolutely adore this bet at plus-money.
While he’s dealt with some injury issues this season, he’s hit over 4.5 strikeouts in 14 of 22 starts (64% hit rate). He didn’t make a MLB start between July 11 and August 29, but he recorded 12.27 K/9 in four Triple-A starts during the stretch.
Anderson recorded zero strikeouts in his first two starts back in the majors. But in his most recent two starts, he notched nine punch outs vs. Miami and seven at San Francisco.
Anderson is a great young arm who’s going to blow through this putrid Diamondbacks lineup. Over the past 30 days, the Diamondbacks pair the ninth-highest strikeout rate (24.2%) with the lowest wRC+. I’m expecting Anderson to post a 25% or more strikeout rate in this game, but he should also provide a lengthy start as well — either would give him a good chance to cash this number.
Our Action Labs Player Props tool has Anderson projected at 5.8 Ks tonight, while FanGraphs’ SaberSim projections has him at 5.08. It’s highway robbery that DraftKings is offering the over 4.5 number at plus-money, it should be closer to -150.
It’s pretty cool to see Scott Kazmir back in the Show, especially after he hadn’t pitched an inning of major-league ball since 2016.
It’s been a remarkable comeback effort, that included an Olympics start and 12 minor-league starts. However, I’m not going to get caught up in the optics of it, and instead look closer at the numbers.
Kazmir posted just an 8.20 K/9 over those Triple-A starts, and his three MLB appearances were disastrous. He managed just seven total innings between the three, allowing five runs on eight hits in the process.
His last MLB start was back on June 6, meaning he hasn’t seen a MLB lineup in more than three months. Today, he gets the San Diego Padres, who have been disciplined despite not hitting well — the Padres have posted the league’s sixth-lowest strikeout rate vs. LHPs over the past month (19%).
I can’t see Kazmir bumping up his strikeout rate or giving his team much length today. The projections agree, as the Action Labs Player Props tool has him projected at just 2.2 strikeouts today, while FanGraphs’ SaberSim projections has him at 3.2.
But while DraftKings is offering the under 3.5 number at -140, you can still play that number at -115 on PointsBet. That’s solid value, and I’d play this number at anything better than -120.
The Miami Dolphins will be without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for at least Week 3 due to broken ribs.
Head coach Brian Flores announced Tagovailoa is out this week after further testing revealed the fracture. Initial reaction suggests this could be a short-term injury, with Flores calling it week-to-week. Tagovailoa pushed to play this week.
That means Jacoby Brissett will start for Miami in Week 3 on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders. Brissett threw for 169 yards on 24-of-40 passing with no touchdowns and an interception after replacing Tagovailoa early in a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 2.
The line has moved quite a bit since its look-ahead number in Week 2, which opened the Raiders as 1-point favorites. With Tagovailoa going down against the Bills, the spread moved to Las Vegas -3.5 and even reached -4 at some shops.
After Flores made the official announcement, odds were taken off the board. Keep track of the real-time market here.
The Raiders are dealing with injury concerns of their own heading into this matchup. Quarterback Derek Carr is dealing with an ankle injury and running back Josh Jacobs is questionable after missing last week’s game.
If Carr can’t go, Nathan Peterman would start for the Raiders with regular backup Marcus Mariota injured.
Dolphins Fantasy Football Fallout
Samantha Previte:I don’t think this is a huge downgrade for the Dolphins’ fantasy players. We’ve seen Brissett perform decently when stepping in for Andrew Luck. There was a palpable difference then, but Luck is significantly better than Tagovailoa.
It’s a really nice matchup this week in Las Vegas, but I’m fading most of the Dolphins not named Jaylen Waddle and Myles Gaskin. Waddle should still see a lot of targets out of the slot, and Brissett’s style of play should help the run game.
Tight end Mike Gesicki is borderline droppable at this point and Will Fuller’s return will likely make DeVante Parker less relevant for fantasy. Both Fuller and Parker take a slight downgrade with the switch to Brissett.
After the United States Men’s National Team opened the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a narrow 1-0 win over Haiti this past summer, some American fans took comfort in the postgame expected goals totals.
If you’re unfamiliar, expected goals (xG) is a measure of how many goals a team might be expected to score on average based on the chances they created. And according to Opta, one of the most well-known and widely circulated sports analytic data providers, the Americans had created 1.94 xG, while Haiti had managed only 0.38 in the same category.
Long story short, the data showed the Americans were more unlucky than poor. Or did it?
While Opta’s data showed a relatively dominant U.S. performance, numbers from another analytics firm, Data Sports Group, showed much closer xG totals, with the Americans leading only 1.21 to 0.93 in the metric. According to DSG’s evaluation, the Americans had actually been slightly fortunate to win.
Neither Opta nor DSG’s numbers were errant. Such discrepancies are relatively common. And they highlight the limits of practical uses for xG as a predictive metric — for betting or other purposes — particularly within the small sample size of a single game.
Ryan Anderson, who operates MLS Fantasy Stats and contributes to analytics website American Soccer Analysis, is hardly surprised.
“There is no one xG number for every shot, and anyone can build their own xG model,” Anderson said.
Those common disparities between data keepers informs how — and when — Anderson uses xG for his fantasy projections.
“I would just encourage people that looking at individual games or even a set of three to five games is probably not a great way to use xG,” Anderson added. “I don’t even start publishing projections for fantasy until like Week 8 or so. Just because, I don’t trust the underlying numbers until I get a — I wouldn’t even call it a good sample size, but at least a sample size that isn’t going to be so beholden to variance that it’s basically useless.”
The variance has its roots in the nature of soccer itself, a game of fortune and skill in equal measure. It also stems from how expected goals are often calculated — a messier and often more human process than you might expect.
Conventionally, an analyst for a data company watches a match and records several characteristics about each shot. The data firm then compares those shots with countless others in its database that have the same characteristics, and based on how many of those shots are successful, arrives at a percentage chance the particular shot will result in a goal.
When you add the percentage chance of each shot together over the course of a match together, you get an xG calculation. For example, if a team has 12 shots and 10 have a 10% chance of scoring, and two of them have a 30% chance, a team would have generated 1.6 xG, because the scoring probability of those shots adds to 160 percent.
However, that human element of data collection, particularly in a sport where measurements of difference, pace and height are inexact estimates, can sometimes lead to wide variance in each data point.
“There was a time that, between the data set that we were getting and say the one (another firm) was using, there was a difference in three or four yards of where the (analysts) had placed the location of it, and it changed the xG value just tremendously,” Anderson recalled.
Benjamin Baer was once a part of this process as an Opta analyst. And while he maintains xG is “the gold standard” for predicting how well teams will perform over an extended timeframe, he also knows its limitations.
“I think there’s a lot of qualifiers,” says Baer, a co-host of the Bet MLS podcast who worked as an MLSsoccer.com editor following his role at Opta.
“The main one is if there’s not a shot, it doesn’t get registered,” Baer said. “So there’s a lot of times where if a team has a great buildup, or if a team is playing in transition and the guy whiffs on the ball or the pass was just a little bit off but it was still a great chance, that’s obviously not collected at all. So, that’s a little bit of a blind spot.”
Well known statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight has tried to account for this particular blindspot in its soccer projections by creating a shots independent xG model, in addition to its standard xG model. The shot-independent model estimates how many goals a team is likely to score based on what it calls “shot-independent actions” a team takes in the attacking end, including “passes, interceptions, take-ons and tackles.”
The next step, Baer said, is incorporating tracking of players — both on offense and defense — who aren’t part of on-the-ball actions. That technology exists, but is far from uniformly incorporated, he added.
“I think it’s going to be advanced a lot once every company is able to input where defensive players are, because obviously that is a big hole,” Baer said.
Even with defensive player tracking, there are still other ways xG can be deceiving beyond not accounting for promising play that doesn’t result in an attempt on goal.
“Game states are an issue,” Baer explains. “If you’re looking at a full game, if a team goes up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes, odds are the other team is going to win the xG battle because they’re attacking the whole game.
“Also, the quality of opponents (can be an issue). We talk about this on the podcast all the time. Over the last five games, this team has a great xG differential, but what was the quality of the opponent?”
So, what does this all mean for bettors? Like any other data set, the larger the sample size, the better. That means xG is a better indicator of overall team strength after an extended string of games rather than isolating previous games between two teams.
If you are going to look at xG in terms of a specific matchup, you should try to consider as many different providers’ numbers as possible.
In Major League Soccer, for example, you can access different sets of xG data freely from American Soccer Analysis, MLSsoccer.com, FiveThirtyEight, FBref.com. and understat to name a few sites. FiveThirtyEight and FBref also feature data from most of the other European leagues that are popular with American bettors.
As for when you should believe a team that overperforms or underperforms xG owes to more than random variance? Those circumstances exist, but Anderson says they’re limited.
He cites Atlanta United in 2018, which vastly overperformed its xG totals in part because so many of its chances came when counterattacking at pace, using a style employed by few other league foes.
Atlanta went on to finish second in the Supporters’ Shield race and the 2018 MLS Cup, with league observers agreeing nearly universally that at worst the club was among the top two or three teams in the league that season.
“That would be something to take into account… does a team’s style of play actually differ so much from the league average that it distorts the numbers?” Anderson said. “You’ve got to look for those factors that say this team’s shots are characteristically different from the league in a way that xG doesn’t take into account.”
After a long, three-year wait, the 2021 Ryder Cup has finally arrived.
It’s the United States’ turn to host the event ,as the Europeans welcomed the American side to Le Golf National in France back in 2018. The Europeans capitalized on the home-soil advantage, convincingly defeating their foes by a 17.5-10.5 margin.
That victory was Europe’s seventh in the last nine editions of the premier golfing showcase. However, the U.S. has won two of the past three competitions and entire this latest affair as the heavy favorite.
Whistling Straits is a par-72 course, measuring at 7,790 yards and features Bentgrass greens. The course is a Pete Dye design. The last time Whistling Straits hosted a professional event was the 2015 PGA Championship, where Jason Day went home the winner.
Let’s take a look at several key metrics for Whistling Straits to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
It’s no secret that Whistling Straits in a brutishly long golf course. Lengthy hitters tend to thrive at the layout, with much of the same expected at the Ryder Cup.
Jason Day won the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by gaining 7.4 strokes off the tee, plus he ranked third on TOUR for driving distance during the 2015 season. That said, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee is the most important and predictive statistic at Whistling Straits.
In a Ryder Cup, it’s important to make plenty of birdies during the four-ball portion of the event. With four golfers playing their own ball for the hole and the low scorer winning the hole for their team, it will be difficult to get a victory by making pars.
Golfers who are dialed in with their approach shots for the week will give themselves the most birdie opportunities.
Strokes Gained: Approach Past 24 Rounds
Daniel Berger (+30.1)
Paul Casey (+27.9)
Xander Schauffele (+21.3)
Shane Lowry (+20.5)
Viktor Hovland (+19.8)
Strokes Gained Total: Courses More Than 7,400 Yards
I am sure you will hear this ad nauseam this week, but it needs to be said that Whistling Straits is a very long golf course. I am looking to target golfers who excel at these kinds of golf courses in TOUR play.
Strokes Gained Total: Courses More Than 7,400 yards in Past 24 Rounds
Justin Thomas (+52.6)
Rory McIlroy (+46.4)
Brooks Koepka (+46.1)
Jon Rahm (+45.7)
Xander Schauffele (+45.7)
Strokes Gained Total: Pete Dye Designs
With Whistling Straits being a Pete Dye design, I will be targeting golfers who have a successful track record at playing similar courses.
Strokes Gained Total: Pete Dye Designs in Past 24 Rounds:
Bryson DeChambeau (+50.9)
Paul Casey (+45.3)
Patrick Cantlay (+43.5)
Dustin Johnson (+41.0)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+35.4)
Strokes Gained: Putting Bentgrass
In the 2015 PGA Championship, the top nine golfers on the leaderboard gained more than five strokes putting. That said, Whistling Straits is a course where golfers can certainly catch a hot putter.
We have seen time and time again that clutch putting is crucial in match play, which will most certainly be the case at this week’s event.
Strokes Gained: Putting Bentgrass in Past 24 Rounds:
Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.
These rankings are comprised of SG: OTT (27%), SG: APP (25%), SG; Total 7,400+ (16%), SG: Pete Dye (16%), SG: Putting (bentgrass) (18%).
Ryder Cup Best Bets
Top European Point Scorer: Paul Casey (+1000 via Bet365)
If the European team has any chance at Whistling Straits, it needs certain players to step up. Paul Casey is definitely one of those players. The U.S. has the clear talent edge in this matchup, but Casey is one of the few golfers who can go toe to toe with anyone U.S. captain Steve Stricker throws at him.
Statistically, Casey rates out extremely well at Whistling Straits. The Englishman has played long courses solidly throughout his career, including as the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, where he finished in fourth place.
At 44 years old, Casey is slowly approaching the twilight of his career. However, his game hasn’t been declining much, as he still ranks second in the field in approach over his past 24 rounds. Dye designs have also been kind to Casey, where he trails only DeChambeau in total strokes gained on his tracks.
The only concern I have is whether or not Casey plays enough of the matches to have a chance to be Europe’s top scorer. With the lack of team depth and overall talent, it stands to reason the veteran will be heavily relied upon. I believe he will play in at least four of the five matches, in which case he will have a shot to be the top scorer.
Top European Point Scorer: Sergio Garcia (+1100 via Bet365)
Garcia is the all-time points leader in European Ryder Cup team history with 25.5 total points. Considering he’s 45 years old, in most years we would expect the veteran to play a few matches and be more of a mentor to the young players. However, the European team simply doesn’t have that luxury.
Garcia comes into the week in the midst of one of his best seasons in recent memory. In a super season with 50 events played, the Spaniard outpaced the majority of TOUR players and punched a ticket to East Lake, finishing 28th for the season in the FedEx Cup standings. Earlier in the season, we saw Garcia’s match-play prowess on full display as he made it all the way to the final eight.
In addition to strong solid results, Garcia is also an excellent course fit. He has has always played Dye designs exceptionally well and thrives on long-course setups. Sergio ranks third in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in his past 50 rounds, which is wildly impressive considering how stacked the American team is entering the competition.
Like Casey, my only concern with the older player in Sergio is his ability to keep up with the young players when he has to play up to 36 holes for two days and another 18 in Sunday’s singles matches. The reality for the European team is that Garcia is a top-five player on a 12-man team and riding him throughout the three days is its only choice to compete.
The WNBA playoffs begin Thursday. While the slate of contenders is top-heavy as per usual, there is a wider window than usual this time around.
The Sun have been the best team throughout the season but remain unproven. The Storm are the defending champions, but Breanna Stewart is dealing with an injury. And the Aces are in their usual spot with their usual limitations.
Here’s a guide to the best betting value for the WNBA title as the playoffs tip-off.
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Diamonds In The Rough
Minnesota Lynx (+700)
Let’s start hot right out of the gate!
The Lynx are 7-1 despite having a better half-court offense than the Sun, the best effective field goal percentage in the league and a defense that was ostensibly tied with the Aces. They also snuck into the 3-seed thanks to the Storm’s late struggle without Stewart, which means they avoid the Mercury (assuming they beat the Liberty), the Storm and the Sun. If the Sky show up, they’re dangerous, but not more so than the Storm. The Aces, again, are a weak spot I look to fade every year.
Look at the firepower on this team. Layshia Clarendon is in the 83rd percentile league-wide as a scorer out of pick-and-roll. Sylvia Fowles is in the 94th percentile in the post. Napheesa Collier is having a weird shooting year; she’s at 25% from 3 after shooting 40.8% last year and 36% the season before. The team’s big offseason pickup, Aerial Powers, is looking healthy; she scored 27 to eliminate the Mystics in the season finale.
The Lynx are dangerous in any playoff environment, and they have a favorable fall of the bracket as well. The Lynx went 2-1 vs. the Aces this season, 1-1 vs. the Sky, 1-2 vs. the Sun. They are live for the title.
Phoenix Mercury (+900)
The Mercury went 7-0 in August, playing red-hot after the Olympic break before cooling down as the playoffs approached with their spot in hand.
Phoenix boasts the fourth-best half-court defense and the second-best half-court offense. Diana Taurasi is back from her hip injury (though she is nursing a sore ankle). The Mercury are the hottest (forgive the pun) team headed into the playoffs.
The Mercury’s path is brutal, not going to lie. Their first-round is a cakewalk vs. the Liberty, who are just happy to be there. But after that, it’s the Storm. That’s a classic and legendary matchup between Bird and Taurasi, Griner and Stewart … if Stewart’s healthy. If Stewie isn’t able to go, that’s a series the Mercury can win.
Then it’s the Sun. The Sun boast a better defense, but the Mercury’s offensive advantage in the half-court still grades out higher. My half court-adjusted model puts Mercury-Sun as a pick ‘em. There will be value on the Mercury in that spot … if they can get past the Storm.
A better play might be to take the +190 on the Sun and then bet back on the Mercury in that matchup, as I think the Sun is vulnerable to both.
Then the Mercury would face either the Aces or Lynx in the Finals. The Aces would be a heavy favorite. However … the Mercury are the No. 1 team in defending the rim on non-post-ups this season, per Synergy Sports, and No. 2 in scoring in such situations. Over their final 10 games of the season, the Mercury averaged the second-most made 3’s per 100 possessions in the league, a central key to upsetting the archaic Aces offense.
The Lynx pose a tougher matchup, honestly, but at that point, you’ve already positioned yourself for a hedge. If the Lynx are upset, the Mercury would face the Aces and avoid the Sun until the Finals.
Look, call them old news. Call them washed. Call them over the hill.
The Storm’s best is still better than everyone else’s. It’s been that way the past four seasons. If Breanna Stewart is healthy — and that’s a big if — then there isn’t a team in this thing that can beat them. The Storm went 2-0 vs. the Sun, 2-1 vs. the Lynx, 2-1 vs. the Mercury. They went 1-2 vs. the Aces, who, again, I’m fading.
Not only did they beat the Sun, but they beat them by an average of 13 points per game.
Their regular-season numbers don’t show how good they are; this team coasted. Not only did they win the title last year, but they had the Olympics throwing in a wrench. Every time they’ve gotten up for a game, they’ve rattled the heavens.
Stewart’s injury is, of course, the elephant in the room. It’s an unknown foot injury. Foot injuries are never something to brush off. She’s supposed to be re-evaluated before the playoffs. You cannot bet this without knowing Stewart’s situation. If she’s out, they’re out. If she’s day-to-day, it’s a no-bet. Even if she does play, there must be a decent chance of re-injury.
Jewell Lloyd, Sue Bird, Jordin Canada, Katie Lou Samuelson and Mercedes Russell have a negative plus-minus without Stewart.
Bear in mind that Stewart won Finals MVP the year after she tore her Achilles. She’s tough as nails. But if she can’t go, there’s no chance the Storm win the title.
However, with Stewart available, the Storm have the best lineup in the WNBA, outscoring opponents by 19.3 points per 100 possessions with Bird, Russell, Talbot and Lloyd next to Stewart. They are still a juggernaut.
Still, they’ll likely be underdogs vs. the Sun and Aces if they get past the Mercury (who may be their biggest threat). The better play may be to wait, be sure that Stewart is healthy, and then bet them series by series.
Connecticut Sun (+190)
I know, I know, the favorite, huh? Big shocker. The Sun feature the likely MVP, Jonquel Jones, and the league’s best half-court defense. Jasmine Thomas provides enough shooting to keep up with any team, and they’re not limited by an archaic offense like Las Vegas. They finished the season on a 14-game winning streak.
The Sun went 15-5 vs. playoff teams in the regular season, only losing the season series to the Sky and the Storm. Those two teams and the Lynx are the teams I’m most concerned about toppling the Sun. There’s no chance of the Lynx (as the third seed) meeting the Sun before the Finals, so I’m not worried about them. All three teams would be dogs, allowing for a hedge opportunity depending on A) if the Sky look like they just flipped a switch and B) if Stewart is healthy.
I don’t think the Sun are juggernauts like they were in the regular season; Seattle handled them in their matchups this season and profiles like a sleeping giant. They’re vulnerable to shooting variance. However, the Lynx, Sky and Aces all average fewer made 3’s per 100 possessions than the Sun do per 100 possessions.
The number is why they’re still this high despite my reservations on certain matchups. Their implied odds at +190 are 35%, and the Sun have to win two series. That’s it. They’ll likely face the winner of Mercury-Storm, both of whom have injury concerns.
The Sun will have homecourt advantage, where they had the best record this season. If the Mercury and the Storm beat one another up as expected, I’m only concerned about the Sky or Lynx upsetting the Aces. The Sun went 3-0 vs. the Aces this season, and we’ll get to why I’m fading Las Vegas again in a bit.
The Sky underperformed out of the gate, then stabilized. Then after the Olympic break, they had a nightmarish schedule. They played the Storm thrice, the Aces thrice, the Mercury and the Aces. Nine of their final 12 games were against playoff teams. Allie Quigley missed six games; Candace Parker missed nine.
The Sky’s combo of Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot and Parker hasn’t hit its potential. They remain this sleeping giant, and if you wake them up, they could become the kind of team that makes an improbable run.
The talent is there. The Sky have a better half-court defense than the Storm; Chicago is ranked fifth. Their problem is they’ve struggled with shot creation. Vandersloot is just 35th percentile this season as a scorer out of pick-and-roll. Parker’s numbers don’t look like a star player’s, but the talent is there. Does she suddenly pick it up, and the shooters they have begin to overwhelm teams?
I’m not convinced. I’m nervous, and I feel like I just can’t quit this team after betting them in the preseason at what I thought was a long number then. But I can’t say I have a lot of confidence at this point. If they face a grind-it-out series vs. the Sun, they aren’t quite tough enough. If they face an offensive juggernaut, they’ll likely fall short, too.
I will say my half court-adjusted model has them as only 3.8-point underdogs to the Lynx, who they would face in the second round if they get past the Wings. I don’t want to bet them now, but I’ll be looking for game-by-game spots.
I’m going to be wrong one of these years. They’ve been at the top of the league the past four seasons. They always rack up impressive records and impressive stats. They have a double-digit point differential for the second season in a row. They have all the stars: A’Ja Wilson, Liz Cambage, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum. They have the league’s best half-court offense and the third-best half-court defense. They have to win two best-of-five series. That’s it.
If you want to bet them, I can’t blame you. On paper, they look awesome.
I’m fading them, as I have each of the past three years.
The Aces’ big issue is their offense. In 2019 in their playoff losses, opponents made seven more 3-pointers per 100 possessions. Last season, their opponents averaged three more made 3’s per 100 possessions in their losses. This season, in losses, opponents made eight more 3-pointers per 100 possessions.
In the last three seasons, here are the Aces’ rankings in 3-pointers made per 100 possessions:
2019: 12th (last)
2020: 12th (last)
2021: 12th (last)
Their offense is archaic. It’s simply not able to keep up. It’s surprising because the Aces’ overall offense, per possession, is tremendous. They average a league-best 107.1 points per 100 possessions. They have the most efficient half-court offense.
But they get outpaced in the postseason. It would be one thing if they faced teams with similar rock-fight tendencies. But the Storm, Mercury, and Sun can all bomb if necessary.
In 2019, Cambage finished with a negative on-court net rating in the postseason. In 2020, with Cambage out, Wilson finished with the same in the Wubble. When it’s your best players, the superstars, who provide the backbone of your championship contention, that’s a concern.
It’s not the talent; they have shooters. It’s their style of play. Throw in Cambage’s recent bout with COVID, and it’s enough to make them a team to not only stay away from but bet against.
Kody Malstrom: I grew up a North Carolina football fan for college football and a Detroit Lions fan for professional football. All I know is pain.
Over the past few years, the college football community has grown weary of watching the same powerhouses make it to the College Football Playoff, and I can feel for them.
Excluding LSU in 2019, we have seen either Clemson or Alabama hoist the trophy in five of the past six years.
This year could look a little different. Alabama looked vulnerable against Florida, and in my opinion, should have lost that game, as Florida dominated the stat sheet.
Clemson can’t score. Oklahoma is playing down to the competition, and Ohio State already lost.
I’m still not sold on Oregon, although the opportunity to make it to the playoff gives its number some value.
With all this said, now seems like a better time than ever to start throwing some darts. If you have followed along with this weekly piece, we have already given you Iowa and Oregon — noth looking great so far.
Now, I am here to tell you to add another juicy dart to your portfolio.
Kody Malstrom: Death, taxes, and the Ole Miss Rebels offense steamrolling everyone.
Listen. It won’t be easy. The division is brutal and still would need to most likely face Georgia in the SEC Championship unscathed, but I am now a believer.
Matt Corral is that dude. That’s simple as I can put it. Three games into this season, he is now the Heisman frontrunner. He has thrown for 662 yards, six touchdowns, zero interceptions — all at a 66% completion percentage. He has also added 90 yards on the ground with one touchdown.
If you’re going to beat Alabama and dethrone it for a spot in the SEC Championship game in that division, then Ole Miss will have nothing to fear out of its quarterback.
Corral has been leading an offensive juggernaut. Ole Miss isn’t just beating teams; it’s dominating from an offensive perspective.
Heading into last week’s Tulane game, Ole Miss ranked top-50 in both Pass Success and Finishing Drives. More impressively, it ranked top-10 in Rush Success, Line Yards, big plays, and Havoc.
The Rebels are executing their game plan at will and not making mistakes, which is a recipe for success for a potential showdown with Georgia’s stout defense down the road.
What is more certain than the Ole Miss offense is that Alabama’s defense is not the same as Alabama’s 2020 defense.
Florida steamrolled Alabama in a very eye-popping loss. The Gators led the box score in most categories, only to fall to Bama by two points — a crushing loss.
I believe Ole Miss will have a great opportunity to keep pace with Bama by putting up points and hoping for a prayer or two when it comes to stopping it on defense.
This is a situational spot future, as Ole Miss has a bye this week. The Rebels receive an extra week to prep for Bama. I believe Ole Miss has what it takes to pull the upset and continue on this crazy season.
If it wins, the future will most likely be cut in half. I want the +5000 now, as it gives multiple chances to hedge some pieces out of it later down the road.
Depending on how Ole Miss looks beating Bama, you may not even have to.
Mike McNamara: Many people out there wrote off this North Carolina football team after its disastrous Week 1 loss to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
After scoring only 10 points in that opener, the Carolina offense has responded in a massive way.
The Heels have gone for 59 points in back-to-back weeks against Georgia State and Virginia, and Sam Howell has started to look like the player who was on the Heisman shortlist to begin the year.
Carolina comes in at (+600) on WynnBET to win the ACC, and this number makes it worth an add for two main reasons.
No. 1, I just don’t see a legitimate challenger in the Coastal Divison to the Tar Heels. They just beat Virginia by 20 — that was a team that was supposed to be one of the better groups in that division.
Miami has had a horrendous start, Pitt just lost at home to Western Michigan, and Georgia Tech and Duke are both very flawed teams.
You’re probably wondering right now, “Does this guy realize Virginia Tech is in the Coastal and has the tiebreaker on UNC due to its Week 1 win?”
Indeed I do, but when I watch VT and then take a look at its schedule, I’m willing to take my chances that the Hokies will drop at least two more ACC contests.
I make UNC healthy favorites in all of their remaining ACC games and see no reason why the Tar Heels can’t run the table in conference play and finish with a 7-1 record.
Remember, Notre Dame’s ACC stay was solely for 2020, so if the Heels lose the night game in South Bend on Halloween weekend, that result will have zero impact on the ACC standings.
Secondly, I think at this point, it’s safe to say that this is the worst Clemson team of the last six years.
The Tigers are not the juggernaut they have been of late. They’re still very likely to win the Atlantic Division, but if Clemson and UNC squared off in Charlotte for the ACC title, I don’t think Dabo Swinney’s squad would be anything more than a short favorite.
With a price of +600 at WynnBET, you could definitely hedge a bit in the title game if you so desired, but I would be very comfortable backing the Tar Heels to finally get over the hump in that game.
Mack Brown’s still got a few tricks up his sleeve, and now is the time to hop on the Carolina Express as the Heels chase down an ACC title.
What to Watch in Week 4 and Beyond
The Big 12 Race
Mike McNamara: In terms of other Week 4 matchups that could have an impact on the futures market, I’ve got my eyes on an under-the-radar game in Stillwater between Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
Both teams have started the year 3-0, and while neither team has looked perfect while doing so, they’ve both shown some promise.
With the pedestrian results from the Sooners thus far and the Iowa State disaster in the Cy-Hawk game, I believe the Big 12 is far more open than many believed to start the year.
This is no longer just a two-horse race. I would throw TCU and Texas in with the Wildcats and Cowboys as four teams in that second tier that can absolutely make a charge to JerryWorld for the Big 12 Championship game.
Oklahoma State has been playing some suffocating defense, and if it can get some of its starting wideouts back, this offense can vastly improve as the year goes on.
On the KSU side, the Skylar Thompson injury was a big bummer, but Will Howard stepped in and played well last week against Nevada. Thompson should be back in the coming weeks.
Deuce Vaughn is arguably the most explosive back in the league, and the Wildcats are playing well on the defensive side of the ball.
There’s more to come later in the week, as I will be writing up a full preview for this game, but I expect a tight and hard-fought battle on Saturday night.
The winner will get a huge jolt in the arm to start conference play, and whether that’s the Cowboys or the Wildcats, I will be targeting that team to add a Big 12 future on.
Oklahoma State is currently +2500 to win the league, while Kansas State comes in at +10000 on WynnBET.
I believe both of those numbers are too high as is, but I will wait to see who wins on Saturday and then look to pounce from there.
The Mets’ second-half collapse has pushed them out of the playoff race, and their primary role in the final two weeks of the season will be spoiler.
They have games with the Red Sox, Brewers and Braves remaining in an attempt to upset some teams in the playoff push. Wednesday, they’ll complete a two-game series at Fenway Park against Chris Sale and the Red Sox.
New York turns to All-Star Taijuan Walker, who has been anything but an All-Star since the break in July. Sale has been pretty good based on his surface-level numbers since returning from a long injury absence in August, but both pitchers’ underlying numbers and recent form suggest there will be plenty of runs at Fenway on Wednesday night.
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Walker’s Second-Half Slide Continues For Mets
Looking at his numbers now, it’s hard to believe that Walker was an All-Star in 2021. His stellar first half featured a bit good luck, but his pitching was also really solid. Since the All-Star break, though, he’s been a completely different pitcher. A much worse one. It’s been a slow and steady deterioration of his metrics.
Walker had a 2.66 first half ERA that has risen to 7.04 in the second half. His strikeouts are down from 9.0 per 9 to 7.4, while his walks have risen considerably. Walker held opponents to a .573 OPS against in the first half, but since the break, the Mets’ righty has surrendered a .862 OPS.
Basically, every hitter who has come to the place against Walker in the second half of the season has performed like Carlos Correa.
He’s also been considerably worse away from Citi Field. Walker holds a respectable 3.55 ERA at home, but that balloons to 5.18 on the road. Facing a Red Sox lineup that has destroyed right-handed pitching most of the year and especially of late, this is a terrible spot for Walker as the season comes to a close and the Mets are out of the playoff picture.
The Red Sox couldn’t ask for much more from Sale than his 2.40 ERA since returning from Tommy John surgery. But his elite strikeout numbers from 2019 and before are gone. Sale is striking out just 24.6% of hitters, much lower than the typical mid-30s rate he sat at from 2015-19. He still avoids walks at an elite rate, but his 3.46 xERA is a full run higher than his actual and his FIP sits at 3.39.
Four of Sale’s six starts have come against Baltimore, Texas and Minnesota, all pretty weak lineups in the AL. Against Tampa Bay, a much better lineup, Sale really struggled to produce clean innings on two separate occasions. Some double plays got him out of jams in this two outings, but the bases were packed with Rays hitters in most innings.
Meanwhile, the Boston offense has been elite at Fenway Park all season. The Red Sox rank first in slugging and top five in strikeout rate both at home and against righties. They are mashing the ball of late and have an OPS 0.12 points higher than the entire league when facing righties at home in 2021.
Given the Mets only have one reliable lefty in their bullpen, the Red Sox should produce plenty of offense against Walker and the Mets’ bullpen on Wednesday night.
With two overrated starting pitchers on the hill and the Mets’ offense overdue for some positive regression, I’m backing over 9 runs in this Wednesday matchup. Our Action Network PRO Projection puts this total at 9.37 runs as well, suggesting the total is a touch too low in the current market.
Walker has been really bad in the second half of the season and Sale’s underlying numbers aren’t nearly as good as his surface-level ones. Both pitchers are hittable by the opposing lineup and neither bullpen has been steady or consistent over the course of the entire season.
There is no time for rest this week in La Liga with a full schedule of midweek action, including a match between top-six sides when Sevilla host Valencia on Wednesday.
All eyes will be on the lineup announced for Valencia, which could be making the trip without captain José Luis Gayà and leading scorer Carlos Soler.
Sevilla will be looking to continue its undefeated start to the campaign but even with the potential absentees, Valencia won’t make it easy.
Sevilla Looks to Continue Strong Home Form
Sevilla opened the 2021-22 season with consecutive shutout victories over Rayo Vallecano and Getafe before settling for draws with Elche and Real Sociedad.
Summer-signing Érik Lamela is loving his move to Spain, leading the team with three goals in four matches. With the addition of Lamela upfront with Youssef En-Nesyri (18 league goals in 2020-21), Sevilla should have a potent attack.
The great start for manager Julen Lopetegui’s side also lines up with Sevilla’s advanced stats, ranking in the top five in expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes (1.68), shots per game (14.50), xG against per match (0.7) and xG difference (+3.9), according to fbref.com.
Last season, Sevilla was also very difficult to beat at home, finishing the season with the second-most points at home with 43 and only dropping points in five of 19 matches at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.
Without the injury news, this was set up to be a great match between two teams on solid form early in the season, but you can’t ignore that news for the handicap in this game.
I’ll be taking the home side Sevilla on the moneyline at -165 on BetMGM for this one.
The trip was already going to be a difficult one for Valencia, but when you add in the key injuries and the quick turnaround for this midweek trip, all of the value is with Sevilla.
Another aspect you can’t ignore was how Valencia performed away from home last season, which was not good. With only two away wins in the league in 2020-21, Valencia finished with only 12 points from its 19 away matches, which was tied for last in La Liga.
The history in this series also favors the home team in this one. In the last 17 trips to Sevilla, Valencia has been defeated in 11 of those encounters and only won two.
Sevilla won both fixtures between the two clubs in the league last season and knocked Valencia out of the Copa del Rey in the Round of 16. I’m expecting them to make it a fourth straight win in the series on Wednesday.
The magic number for the White Sox to win the division is down to two and they could clinch the American League Central on Wednesday. They have essentially had the division locked up for months now, which has caused them to throw things in cruise control a bit.
They are just 31-31 since the All-Star break and are 6-9 in the past 15 games, including dropping the first two games of the series against the Tigers.
Detroit will go for the sweep on Wednesday afternoon and has won four straight games against the White Sox.
This is the sixth big league season for right hander Reynaldo Lopez (fifth with the White Sox) and he has not been able to stick in the MLB yet. He has been up and down from the minors throughout his career and has made seven starts and 17 total appearances since getting called up July 16.
In the first three starts for Lopez, he allowed one run over 11 innings and looked really good. Well over the past four starts, he got tagged for 16 runs in 17 innings, including seven runs (six earned) in his most recent start.
Chicago’s offense has been near the top of the league all year. It ranks fifth in wOBA and fourth in wRC+. Even as it has thrown things in cruise control, Chicago still ranks seventh in wOBA and wRC+ in the last 30 days.
This lineup has so many guys capable of carrying the team for stretches, and currently the hot hand is Luis Robert. He is batting .409 with a 1.026 OPS over the last 15 games.
Detroit’s Pitching Will be Strong Early
Former No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize (RHP) is in his first full season in the big leagues, and has gone 7-8 with a 3.64 ERA. He has dealt with rookie struggles, but also has had outings that show why he is seen as the Tigers future ace.
His strikeout numbers have not been there but he has really improved his control as the season has gone on. His best, and most used pitch is his slider, which is allowing just a .186 batting average against this year.
The 24-year old Mize has been placed on a three-innings cap for the rest of the season in order to save his arm so he will turn things over the pen after just three frames.
Detroit’s offense has been below average for much of the season, ranking 24th in wOBA and 22nd in wRC+. The Tigers have been better against right-handed pitchers over the last month than earlier in the season.
The veteran Miguel Cabrera is proving he still has a little bit left in the tank, leading the Tigers with a .333 average over the last two weeks.
Give Detroit a lot of credit, they are continuing to play hard down the stretch. The Tigers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have won four straight.
The Tigers have been good at home this year going 41-36 and are 11-4 in the last 15 day games at Comerica Park.
Chicago has been in autopilot for much of the season, and the underrated Tigers have exceeded expectations and have been the third most profitable team to bet on this year. They have beaten the White Sox in the last two games, so why can’t they beat them again?
I’ll back Detroit at +150 and would play them to +130.
The New York Red Bulls look to build on arguably their best performance of the season when they host New York City FC on Wednesday in the first Hudson River Derby of the season.
The Red Bulls enter the match following a 4-0 win at Inter Miami last Friday that was as dominant as the final score.
Meanwhile, NYCFC responded from an early deficit this past Saturday to complete a 2-1 away victory over FC Cincinnati. Valentin Castellanos’ team-leading 12th goal of the year was the game winner for the Cityzens in their first victory in four games.
The Red Bulls enter this meeting nine points back of seventh place and the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 11 matches to play. The visitors sit tied on points with Orlando for third in the East.
This is a match rescheduled from Aug. 21 after severe weather made the field unplayable. They play a return fixture again Saturday and then complete a three-game series at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 17.
RBNY Reverses Fortune Against Inter Miami
The Red Bulls’ last victory certainly defied recent form.
New York arrived in South Florida winners of one of their previous 11 games. Inter Miami carried a three-game win streak and six-match unbeaten run.
And yet it’s hard to imagine a more dominant performance than what the Red Bulls gave. They finished with a 27-2 edge in total shots, including an 8-1 advantage of those on target. New York held a 2.4-0.1 margin in expected goals as well.
Don’t take this as a potential sign of a greater Red Bulls’ resurgence, though. At least not yet.
Miami was also pretty awful in two games against D.C. United — the MLS team who comes closest to the Red Bulls’ high-press tactics — losing by a combined 4-0 margin over 180 minutes. The club also trailed, 4.4-1.4, in the xG battle over the two games.
Still, it’s promsing that RBNY’s top two scorers found the net in the same game for the first time this season. Patryk Klimala has now scored in back-to-back games for a second time. And Fabio’s brace was his first in the league.
August came to an end with the Cityzens comprehensively beating the New England Revolution in a 2-0 shutout in what felt like a statement victory.
However, as has been the case often this season, that didn’t translate and carry over to their away form on the road.
NYCFC lost their next two fixtures via a 3-1 defeat at Nashville in a game where they didn’t score until the dying stages. Then came a 2-1 setback at New England after holding an early lead.
And they could’t immediately right the ship when they returned home, settling for a 3-3 draw against struggling FC Dallas in a match they entered as roughly -240 moneyline favorites, according to Oddsportal.
New York mercifully bounced back with a 2-1 win at Cincinnati, which failed to win for a 10th time in 11 games at their new TQL Stadium.
And if you believe in xG as the most predictive stat, NYCFC are due for some good fortune.
Their +19.9 xG difference is the highest in the conference and second highest in MLS. And they sit around five goals ahead of their +15 goal difference.
New York City FC is the more talented, better and deeper team, but their 3-6-3 away record (W-L-D) is about league average when the metrics suggest this is an above-average team.
The Red Bulls’ 5-3-3 home record is also close to league average, yet the metrics tell us this is a below-average club.
So, it’s really tempting to back the Red Bulls as a home underdog, either on the moneyline or a +0.5 spread bet. However, I wouldn’t go that route.
A trip to Red Bull Arena midweek — where NYCFC have actually played several home games this season due to scheduling conflicts — doesn’t exactly pose the same travel difficulties as a flight to Ohio or Tennessee.
Three of RBNY’s home wins have come against teams 10th or lower in the current Eastern Confernce standings. And NYCFC hasn’t lost on the road to a team as low as the Red Bulls in the table.
That said, I’m staying away from the three-way line here. Instead, I’m buying a goal and playing the total under 3.5 at -205 odds and an implied 67.2% implied probability.
There have been an average of 2.44 combined xG between teams in NYCFC’s 12 away matches, and an average of 2.33 combined xG between teams in RBNY’s 11 home matches.
On that information, you could play under 2.5 goals at +115 odds, but the total has gone over that number in eight of NYCFC’s 12 away matches.
By comparison, the total has reached four or more goals in just three of the 23 times between NYCFC’s 12 away days and the Red Bulls’ 11 games at home.
The Cincinnati Reds are clinging to their postseason hopes and hope to keep any semblance of hope alive by beating up on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Luis Castillo is one of the more volatile pitchers in the league. He will start for the Reds on Wednesday night and at his peak, he looks like a National League Cy Young Award contender. At his valleys, he will yield eight runs.
Castillo is scheduled to start opposite Pirates right-hander Miguel Yajure, who has been weak the last two months. Expect that to continue against Pittsburgh’s division rival.
Let’s dive into how to bet the Reds here.
Miguel Yajure has to face one of the stronger hitting teams against right-handed pitching on Wednesday night.
Yajure typically throws a cutter around 86 mph and a four-seamer around 91. Against similar pitches since Aug. 1, the Reds have a .357 xwOBA. They even hit changeups well (.331 xwOBA), which happens to be Yajure’s best off-speed option.
The Pirates rank second-last since Aug. 1 in wRC+ against righties, on the other hand. Their lineup is top-heavy, led by Yoshi Tsutsugo, Bryan Reynolds and Anthony Alford. Pittsburgh is missing Jacob Stallings, however, who is their next best hitter lately when a righty is on the hill. This leaves three competent hitters and with Castillo having it together on the mound, the expectation is not encouraging.
The Pirates have a subpar bullpen but have managed a 3.86 ERA collectively this month. Expect some regression, though, because their xFIP is 4.53. Depending on their use, they have a few go-to options after Wil Crowe inevitably struggles. David Bednar, Chris Stratton and Connor Overton are their best relievers.
That said, Stratton has struggled the last two months with a 5.49 ERA and 3.86 xFIP. Enyel De Los Santos has had the opposite experience 3.86 ERA and 7.06 xFIP.
The Pirates bullpen is top-heavy, so Yajure needs to last more than five innings. This is not very likely, considering this is his first outing since May.
Castillo ranks in the 92nd percentile in Barrel Percentage, despite an incredibly weak three-month stretch between April and June.
He has been great as of late, including a six-inning shutout against the Dodgers in his last outing. Castillo did face the Pirates once this season, but that was back in April. Still, he threw seven shutout innings.
Expect that same Castillo on the bump here because the Pirates have struggled since Aug. 1 against right-handed changeups (.276 xwOBA, 82.9 mph exit velocity), which he throws about 30% of the time.
The Reds lineup has not been able to hit lefties over the past month or so, which means they’re grateful to face a right-hander like Yajure. Cincinnati has a 107 wRC+ against righties since Aug. 1, but those numbers have plummeted in September.
Joey Votto, Jonathan India, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Farmer headline this Reds lineup. As long as they receive a bit of production from Mike Moustakas, Tucker Barnhart and Jesse Winker, Cincinnati should have an easy edge over the Pirates at the plate.
Finally, the Reds have had a top-10 bullpen since Sept. 1. Only Brad Brach, Jeff Hoffman and Justin Wilson have an ERA over 4.00 of 11 used relievers this month. This is encouraging, especially when considering a full-game line. Cincinnati has the artillery to back up Castillo, even if he doesn’t really need it like his first start of the season against Pittsburgh.
Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season is in the books and one of our lookahead targets from last week has already hit. Tim Patrick found the end zone for the second straight week, yet is still operating in the shadows of Courtland Sutton.
Just the way we like it.
The fantasy football season heads into Week 3, with waivers coming up on Wednesday. Winning your fantasy title requires more than just week-to-week planning, you need be a visionary. You need to continue to look ahead.
The Steelers suffered a shocking 26-17 loss to the Raiders at home, and Roethlisberger has failed to move the offense consistently. He is the current QB26 and available in over 65% of Yahoo! leagues.
Pittsburgh has a favorable upcoming schedule for Roethlisberger, including home games against Cincinnati and Seattle, with a trip to Green Bay in between to face the porous Packers defense. Pittsburgh always plays better as the weather turns cold, with the Steelers welcoming Chicago, Detroit and Tennessee all after November.
With Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster and a great pass-catching running back in Najee Harris, Roethlisberger has all the weapons necessary to have a great second half of the fantasy season. He may not be mobile, but Roethlisberger definitely has some four-touchdown games left in his tank.
Jeff Wilson, RB, 49ers
Don’t forget about Jeff Wilson. With Raheem Mostert out for the season, JaMycal Hasty dealing with a high-ankle sprain and Trey Sermon concussed, the San Francisco backfield depth chart is as uncertain as ever. The 25-year-old Wilson has 15 touchdowns over the past two years and should return from meniscus surgery mid-season.
With only sixth-round pick Elijah Mitchell and newly-acquired Trenton Cannon in the backfield, Wilson is set up for a major role when he returns. We are not far removed from Wilson being a very productive option in an ideal fantasy RB offense.
Jeff Wilson Jr. with his second TD of the half!@49ers take a 23-3 lead.
Wilson found fantasy relevance competing with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, and the current depth chart provides less competition. Stash Wilson now for a big payoff later in the season.
J.J. Taylor, RB, Patriots
Damien Harris regained his hold on the New England backfield after his untimely fourth-quarter fumble in Week 1 against Miami. The third-year Alabama-product tallied 62 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots 25-6 win over the Jets. But as we know with a Bill Belichick coached team, Harris’ starting role is just another fumble away from being lost.
Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson was a healthy scratch against the Jets, allowing J.J. Taylor to see an opportunity. At 5-foot-6, 185 lbs, Taylor profiles similarly to former New England back Dion Lewis. If Harris struggles again, Taylor could be in line for increased volume. He would also serve as the 1-to-1 replacement for satellite back James White in case of an injury.
Taylor is worth monitoring as it is impossible to predict the New England backfield with any degree of certainty. Harris is clearly the lead back, for now.
K.J. Osborn, WR, Vikings
At some point fantasy owners will recognize what K.J. Osborn is doing. The 2020 fifth-round pick from Miami led Minnesota with 91 receiving yards against Arizona, and currently leads all Vikings pass catchers with 167 yards on the season. The attention on Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen continues to roll favorable coverage (or none at all) to Osborn.
Currently rostered in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues, fantasy owners seem to be oblivious to Osborn’s production. The Year 2 wideout has clearly cut into Jefferson’s production and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. With three consecutive home games against Seattle, Cleveland and Detroit, Osborn could be on the cusp of a breakout season
Byron Pringle, WR, Chiefs
My love for Byron Pringle will never die, especially after this beautiful 40-yard catch and run touchdown against Baltimore.
With 4.46 speed at 6-foot-1, 205 lbs, Pringle can definitely serve as a useful fantasy asset later in the season. If Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman were to miss any time, Pringle would immediately benefit. There is no better spot in fantasy than being tethered to Patrick Mahomes, and Pringle is a great bench stash for wide receiver-needy teams.
Anthony Schwartz, WR, Browns
There is no more ambiguous receiving depth chart than in Cleveland. With Odell Beckham Jr. still struggling to return from ACL surgery, the Browns’ leading receiver in their 31-21 win over Houston was running back Demetric Felton.
Schwartz was a third-round pick out of Auburn with legit 4.32 speed. He impressed with three receptions and 69 yards in the opening game against Kansas City, and could quickly ascend a shallow depth chart with a few big performances. His playing time was cut after a failed passing route led to an interception and subsequent injury to quarterback Baker Mayfield on a tackle.
Schwartz is the perfect buy-low seasonal receiving option in fantasy. If he fails to produce? Cut him. But if he pops, savvy fantasy owners could have a solid WR3 option the rest of the season.
Dyami Brown, WR, Washington
Brown has started to pop as a legitimate receiving option in the Washington passing attack. He saw an increase in targets, receptions and receiving yards in Week 2. Brown has third-round draft capital and above average speed and burst — plus he is competing in a shallow depth chart behind Terry McLaurin as the WR2 for Washington.
Taylor Heinicke is adjusting to the starting quarterback role, and veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is now on the injured reserve with a hip injury. This uncertainty provides an opportunity for Brown to establish himself before Fitzpatrick’s return in six to eight weeks.
One of the keys to a long-term waiver pickup is potential upside. Brown has the talent, opportunity and offense to have a second-half Travis Fulgham-like impact in 2021.
Dan Arnold, TE, Panthers
We are always looking for a solid tight end waiver pickup, and my suggestion is Carolina’s Dan Arnold. After a disappointing Week 1 (two receptions, six receiving yards), Arnold produced three receptions and 55 receiving yards in Carolina’s 26-7 victory over New Orleans.
At 6-foot-5, Arnold brings a 90th percentile or better measurable in Burst, Agility and Catch Radius, per PlayerProfiler. He is lost in the wide receiver trio of D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and rookie Terrace Marshall. However, at a very weak tight end fantasy position, Arnold could be trending in the right direction toward fantasy relevance.
Week 2 brought a slew of injuries throughout the league. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was knocked out early with a rib injury and will miss time. Bears quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a bone bruise and was replaced by Justin Fields. 49ers running backs Trey Sermon, JaMycal Hasty, Kyle Juszczyk and Elijah Mitchell all suffered separate injuries.
Whether you need a replacement for Jarvis Landry, or a Week 3 streamer, make sure to check out The Action Network’s top targets at each position — all of which are available in at least 50% of Yahoo! leagues — that you should prioritize come Tuesday night. The only player on this list that I’d recommend breaking the bank for this week is Rondale Moore, especially after he put on a show in the Cardinals’ 34-33 win over the Vikings.
Note: Yahoo! roster percentages are reflected in parenthesis and as of Monday.
Don’t look now, but Carr finished as QB9 in Week 1 and is currently QB7 this week with one game left to play. This Raiders offense is firing on all cylinders and has tallied the most yards of offense per game. Carr faces the Dolphins in Week 3 and is an intriguing streamer for this week, and perhaps beyond. Carr is banged up with an ankle and foot injury, though head coach Jon Gruden noted in a press conference on Monday morning that he thinks his QB will play in Week 3. Continue to monitor the Raiders’ injury reports heading into this weekend.
Priority: High, if streaming or needy at quarterback.
Jones completed 22 of 32 attempts for 249 yards and a touchdown, but the real story was his ground game. He rushed nine times for 95 yards and a touchdown against a tough Washington front seven. I’m certainly not all-in on Jones as a season-long starter, but he has a pretty nice schedule coming up against the Falcons at home, then on the road in New Orleans and Dallas. He will definitely offer streaming potential in at least two of those matchups.
Priority: Medium to high, if streaming or needy at quarterback.
Bridgewater is QB11 through two weeks of play heading into Monday Night Football. He has looked highly competent against two subpar defenses, even without his favorite target, Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos get another plush matchup in Week 3 against the Jets. Bridgewater should be a borderline top-12 play.
Priority: Medium, if streaming or needy at quarterback.
Heinicke performed well in primetime on Thursday night stepping in for an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. He completed 34 of 46 attempts for 336 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and saw four carries for six yards — good enough for 21 fantasy points. He’s a solid add in two-quarterback or superflex formats and even a streamer in the right matchups (Washington faces the Falcons in Week 4).
Priority: Medium to high in two QB/superflex formats.
Fantasy Waiver RBs To Target
J.D. McKissic, Football Team (29% rostered)
McKissic posted 17.8 fantasy points in half PPR and had a much better game than his counterpart, Antonio Gibson. He ranked first in catches among running backs last season and should continue to see targets with Taylor Heinicke under center.
Priority: Medium in PPR formats, low to medium in standard.
White had an off year in 2020 that was more symptomatic of the offense struggling as a whole. He is currently the Patriots’ top receiver and has averaged 12.3 points in half PPR through two games. He is a valuable add, especially in PPR formats.
Priority: Medium in PPR formats, low to medium in standard.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons (15%)
Patterson has dual eligibility as a running back and wide receiver.
The gadget player has averaged 4.6 yards per carry to Mike Davis’ 3.6 and has been more effective in the receiving game. The Falcons offense has looked fairly anemic through two weeks, and Patterson actually leads the team in touchdowns and fantasy points. He seems to fit into the Falcons’ scheme better than Davis and should be streamable as a flex option in certain matchups.
Priority: Medium in PPR formats, low to medium in standard.
It was a quiet Week 2 against the 49ers for Gainwell and most of the Eagles not named Quez Watkins, who caught a 91-yard pass against the 49ers. Gainwell is still worth adding (but not starting quite yet) as he would have immense value if anything were to happen to Miles Sanders.
Priority: Medium, higher in keeper/dynasty formats.
Dalvin Cook was briefly hurt in the Vikings’ heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals. He suffered an ankle injury, opening up more touches for Mattison, who is one of the league’s most valuable insurance policies. He should be rostered in most formats.
Felton has dual eligibility as a running back and wide receiver.
Felton reeled in two of two targets for 51 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s win over the Texans. He’s someone worth keeping an eye on, especially with more targets to go around with Jarvis Landry sidelined for at least a couple of weeks with an MCL sprain.
Fantasy Waiver WRs To Target
Rondale Moore, Cardinals (34% rostered)
Hopefully you followed Sean Koerner’s advice last week and rostered Moore before his breakout game on Sunday. The rookie caught seven of eight targets for 114 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. He has shockingly been targeted more than DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk so far this season. With Kyler Murray playing phenomenal football, Moore should be rostered in all formats and is startable as a flex play against the Jaguars this week.
Priority: Highest, especially in keeper/dynasty formats.
Tim Patrick, Broncos (22%)
Courtland Sutton stole the show during Sunday’s game against the Jaguars with nine catches for 159 yards. Patrick appeared to be the WR2 in this offense — not K.J. Hamler — and caught three of four targets for 37 yards and a touchdown. He is worth adding while Jerry Jeudy remains sidelined with a high-ankle sprain and has a favorable matchup against the Jets this week.
K.J. Osborn, Vikings (2%)
Osborn caught five of six targets for 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. He leads the Vikings in receiving yards, though both Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have more targets. Minnesota takes on the Seahawks‘ porous defense this week, which will make Osborn an intriguing deep-league streamer.
Priority: Low to medium.
Henry Ruggs III, Raiders (35%)
Ruggs had a massive Week 2 against Pittsburgh and caught five of seven targets for 113 yards and a touchdown. He, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow all saw seven targets in the game. He is an interesting dart throw in deeper leagues against the Dolphins this week.
Pascal is WR16 in half PPR through two weeks with the Packers and Lions yet to play. He scored a touchdown for the second week in a row, but may be limited if Jacob Eason starts. The Colts take on the Titans and Dolphins on the road over the next two weeks, which should be highly exploitable matchups for Pascal if quarterback Carson Wentz is healthy.
With Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined and Jarvis Landry suffering an injury during the game, Hooper saw the most targets among all the Browns’ pass-catchers. He reeled in all five of his targets for 40 yards, and should continue to see additional looks with Landry out with an MCL sprain.
Priority: Low to medium.
Maxx Williams, Cardinals (< 1%)
Williams had a fantastic day against the Vikings defense and caught seven of seven targets for 94 yards. He saw nearly double DeAndre Hopkins’ targets and gets another nice matchup on deck against the Seahawks.
Jack Doyle, Colts (1%)
Doyle saw a whopping eight targets in Sunday’s game against the Rams — second only to Michael Pittman Jr., who had 12. He made five catches for 64 yards and scored a two-point conversion. Doyle will finish at least inside the top seven at the position this week and is a worthwhile streamer against the Titans if Carson Wentz is healthy.
Week 2 of the NFL season brought a lot of our Week 1 overreactions back down to earth.
Jameis Winston and the Saints weren’t able to keep their offensive momentum going against the Panthers. Bill Belichick shut down another rookie quarterback. The Bengals offensive line still stinks. The Chargers lost a close game. And Aaron Rodgers and the Packers bounced back in a big way against the Lions in primetime.
As we approach Week 3, here are the trade targets who saw their value shift after the last two weeks of games.
Buy-Low Week 3 Trade Targets
Below are nine Week 2 underperformers, or players whose value may increase over the next few weeks whom you should target via trades.
This may be your last opportunity to “buy low” on Fields, whose takeover at quarterback for the Bears seems imminent at this point. Fields stepped in after Andy Dalton suffered a knee injury and completed six of 13 attempts for 60 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. It’s not the production you’d like to see in the rookie’s first real shot at playing time, but I believe he will only go up from here.
Fantasy Twitter seemingly lost its collective mind on Thursday night as J.D. McKissic finished with more fantasy points than Gibson, who is still far-and-away the best running back on the depth chart. He has 33 attempts for 159 yards and five catches for seven yards on the season. McKissic has five attempts for 18 yards and five catches for 83 yards. It’s an overreaction that you may be able to capitalize on in your leagues.
Taylor has been fairly quiet over the first two weeks of the season. So far, he has 32 attempts for 107 yards and has caught seven of eight targets for 62 yards. Taylor started slow last year, and Week 3 should be an excellent get-right spot for him against the Titans’ porous defense. His workload may even increase if quarterback Carson Wentz misses time and the team has to turn to Jacob Eason.
Barkley has had a slow start to the year, tallying just 23 attempts for 83 yards and zero touchdowns. It’s not a surprise given the Giants want to ease their star RB back into play after tearing his ACL and meniscus just a year ago. He’s also had two tough matchups against the Broncos and on the road against Washington. This will probably be your last window to buy low on Barkley, as he faces the Falcons defense in Week 3.
Kamara saw an impressive workload in Week 1 and tallied 20 carries for 83 yards and reeled in three of four passes for eight yards and a touchdown. He disappointed managers in Week 2, however, and saw just eight attempts for five yards and caught four of six targets for 25 yards, finishing as RB44 in half PPR.
His usage last week feels more like an artifact of the Saints’ game script: The team trailed for all but three minutes and basically abandoned the run game. Backup Tony Jones Jr. saw just three carries for seven yards, and quarterback Jameis Winston was the team’s top rusher. The matchup was also unfavorable opposite the Panthers, who have allowed the fewest rushing yards per game so far. Kamara should bounce back as he faces the Patriots, Giants and Seahawks in three of the next four games.
Brown has been held to fewer than 50 receiving yards in each of the first two games this season, and was unable to capitalize on a soft matchup against the Seahawks. However, Brown remains Tannehill’s top option and leads the team in targets with 17. He’s an excellent buy-low candidate, since the Titans won’t be able to lean on Derrick Henry for 240 yards and three touchdowns each week.
This is not a traditional buy low since Moore is coming off of a monster game in which he caught seven of eight targets for 114 yards and a touchdown. That said, I think this rookie’s value will only increase from here so if you want to acquire him, now would be the time. Moore currently leads the team in targets with 13, ahead of DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green. The Cardinals also played the most four-wide receiver sets in the NFL last year, which bodes well for his continued usage.
Davis was in my sit column last week, even after he scored a pair of touchdowns in his debut for the Jets. My concern was rooted in Zach Wilson’s brutal matchup against Bill Belichick, who is kryptonite for rookie quarterbacks. Wilson threw four interceptions and zero touchdowns and Davis was held to two catches on five targets for eight yards behind receivers Braxton Berrios and Elijah Moore. Wilson won’t always be facing Belichick and Davis will have better days ahead. The Jets face the Broncos this week in a tough matchup, but face the Titans and Falcons after that. Davis should be a WR3/flex play for the rest of the season.
Kittle has been rather quiet through two weeks and finished as TE26 last week with four catches for 17 yards and a fumble. It was an overall low-scoring affair with just 28 points total. He should be fine season-long, especially against the Packers, who have given up three touchdowns to tight ends so far. Grab him if you can from a panicking manager.
It’s unlikely Bridgewater is your QB1, so this note is more directed at managers in two-quarterback/superflex leagues. The Broncos have the softest first three weeks to start the year. So far, they have faced the Giants and Jaguars and haven’t put up more than 27 points yet. They will take on the Jets in Week 3. Bridgewater will keep them competitive in games but this offense isn’t going to carry the team by any means. Their schedule gets significantly tougher after Week 3 as they face the Ravens, Steelers, Browns and Washington in four of the next five matchups. This is likely the best version of Bridgewater we will see all year. Sell high on him if you can.
Singletary is RB16 through two weeks in half PPR and appeared to have the starting job locked down when Zack Moss was a surprise scratch in Week 1. Moss returned in Week 2, however, and was utilized on the goal line significantly. He saw eight carries for 26 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for eight yards, while Singletary saw 13 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for nine yards. At best, this is a split backfield moving forward, with the looming possibility that Moss could be the top option, which was the assumption going into the season. Singletary is a sell-high candidate right now, especially heading into a tough Week 3 matchup against Washington.
J.D. McKissic, RB, Washington
McKissic shined in primetime, primarily through the air. He caught five of six passes for 83 yards and shockingly scored a rushing touchdown in the Football Team’s close victory over the Giants. McKissic is a valuable PPR asset and worth adding off the waiver wire, but he isn’t a league-winner, and this may have been his best game of the season. Moving forward, he is a low-end flex/RB3 in PPR formats with even less value in standard scoring.
Lindsay finished as RB25 in half PPR after scoring a touchdown on his lone target of the game. He was out-touched by both Mark Ingram II and David Johnson in the game and remains in a messy committee within a low-ceiling offense. Especially with the switch to Davis Mills at quarterback and against the Panthers defense this week, I want nothing to do with this backfield.
Jones was targeted a whopping 11 times in the Jaguars’ Week 2 loss to the Broncos. He caught six passes for 55 yards and a touchdown and finished as WR21 for the week in half PPR. It’s unlikely he sees 11 targets again in a game this year, especially with competition from D.J. Chark — who led the team in targets in Week 1 with 12 — and Laviska Shenault — who suffered an injury during the game, but is expected to play against the Cardinals in Week 3. Offload any of the Jaguars receivers if you can, as none of them are exactly trustworthy for week-to-week production under Urban Meyer.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers
Samuel is Kyle Shanahan’s top receiver, but for how long? If this season has taught us anything so far, it’s that running backs aren’t the only 49ers players we need to worry about. Brandon Aiyuk will be a factor, as will George Kittle. Samuel faces the Packers this week and will likely see a healthy dose of Jaire Alexander. Sell Samuel before he lands on Shanahan’s bad side.
This isn’t going to be a popular sell-high suggestion, but Gronkowski obviously can’t sustain a two-touchdown-per-game pace for the rest of the year. He’s 32 years old and has dealt with injuries due to wear-and-tear. The Buccaneers have also had one of the easier schedules to start the year against the Cowboys and Falcons. If you drafted Gronkowski, congrats! He was clearly a great value at his ADP. There’s no telling when his production will slow down, though, and if you can use him as trade bait and flip him for a top-tier running back or wide receiver, I would seriously consider it.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts
Doyle finished as TE7 in half PPR this week after reeling in five catches for 64 yards and making a two-point conversion. He has the second-most targets on the year behind Michael Pittman Jr. for the Colts, but in a fairly low-volume offense led by Carson Wentz, who might miss time after suffering a double ankle sprain. Eason would be a downgrade for Doyle, who might have a couple more good games this year, but is a far cry from being a reliable top-12 play each week.
The bettor who risked a $25 free bet in a 16-team parlay to win over $726,000 just to lose the final leg on Monday Night gets a happy ending after all.
BetMGM announced that despite the Detroit Lions losing against the Packers, the bettor who hit the first 15 legs of the crazy moneyline parlay was still going to get a cashout win of $133K pre-tax from the sportsbook.
Because it was a free bet, it did not have a cash out option available. Due to the price of the payout and how big of a favorite the Packers were, hedging opportunities were limited and complicated, as laid out below.
One bettor is going to be glued to the Monday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.
That’s because he or she has hit 15 of 16 legs of an NFL Week 2 moneyline parlay and picked the underdog Lions to win as the final leg.
It’s a $25 bet that would be worth $726,959 if the Lions prevailed.
But there’s a big catch.
Sources at BetMGM tell The Action Network that the $25 was a free bet, meaning that a winning bet wouldn’t be eligible for a cash out. A real-money bet would have been eligible for a cash-out, guaranteeing a big pay-day for the bettor. The implied odds of Detroit listed as a +400 underdog mean the Lions have just a 20% chance of winning, according to the market.
But because how big of a favorite the Packers are, and because of the potential payout, hedging this bet becomes complicated.
With the Packers listed as a -580 favorite, it would cost $580,000 to try to lock in a profit of $100,000. How many people using a $25 free bet have access to $580,000 in the hours before kick-off?
Even if the bettor could get access to $20,000 to hedge, the profit would come out to just over $3400 with a Green Bay win. That’s a fine payday for a $25 free bet, but doesn’t come close to the $726,000.
Taking -110 odds to back the Packers against the spread at -11.5, that leaves too much room for the Packers to win by 11 or fewer points. That would result in the bettor losing the parlay, and their ATS play on the Packers.
Use The Action Network betting calculator to put yourself in these shoes to see what you might risk in a hedge situation.
The ticket in play is listed below. The Athletic was first to report the wager was a free bet.
The over/under for this week’s Thursday Night Football game is set at over 44 total points. You’d be smart to bet on either the Panthers or the Texans accounting for at least three of those points — especially when it pays you $300!
Note: You can place a first-time wager of $30+ on any NCAA or NFL game and be rewarded with $300 in additional free bets if your team scores at least three points. This game is being used as an example.
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Thursday Night Football has delivered a pair of memorable games so far this season, and hopefully this week’s matchup between the Panthers and the Texans will continue that trend.
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With no football on Tuesday, the betting world will shifts its eyes to the Major League Baseball slate.
The Action Network’s MLB player props team has shifted its focus to the baseball prop market, where we’ve found plenty of value. Specifically, we’ve targeted two strikeout totals using the Action Labs Player Props tool.
Additionally, we’ve found a juicy PrizePicks parlay that’s widely available across America and has the potential for a huge payout.
I like Cal Quantrill a lot. Since entering the rotation at the end of May, he’s been as consistent as any pitcher in baseball. So far, he’s posted a 3.10 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in those 20 starts while posting a 6-2 record in decisions.
However, he is not a strikeout machine. Since entering the rotation, he’s been striking out just 7.34 batters per nine innings, and he’s cashed over 5.5 strikeouts in just five of those starts.
Now, he faces an uber-disciplined Royals lineup.
The Royals have posted the sixth-highest zone contact rate in MLB (82.2%), and as such have struck out at the fourth-lowest rate in baseball (21.2%).
And over the past six games, the Royals are striking out just 6.2 times per nine innings.
Therefore, our Action Labs Player Props tool has Quantrill recording just 5.0 punchouts tonight, while FanGraphs’ SaberSim projections have him at 4.5. There’s plenty of value in fading Quantrill against this strikeout-averse lineup.
Eduardo Rodriguez has had an up-and-down season. He’s been one of the biggest regression candidates in baseball all year, and he still pairs a 5.00 ERA with a 3.67 ERA and a 3.49 xFIP.
A big reason for his lower advanced statistics is his strikeout rate. Rodriguez has never struck out batters at the rate he is now. He’s striking out 34.6% of batters faced for a total of 10.43 batters per nine innings. Plus, the Whiff rate on his four-seam, cutter and slider have all risen from 2019.
As such, E-Rod has cashed over 5.5 strikeouts in 18 of his 28 outings this season, and he’s averaged 5.9 strikeouts per start over his past 10.
Therefore, it makes sense that both the Action Labs Player Props tool and FanGraphs’ SaberSim projections have Rodriguez notching 6.2 Ks tonight.
The Mets’ offense is average against southpaws. Over the past 30 days and against LHPs, the Mets lineup has struck out at the 14th-highest rate (22.1%) while posting the 16th-highest wRC+ (99).
But Rodriguez has been striking batters out at an above-average league rate, and I like him to catch six or more in tonight’s start.
What is PrizePicks? A daily fantasy operator — meaning they’re available in more states than sports betting is! — PrizePicks offers a unique opportunity for action on player props in which you parlay two or more plays together.
Xander Bogaerts (BOS): Over 1.5 Hits+Walks
Matt Olson (OAK): Over 1.5 Hits+Walks
Corey Seager (LAD): Over 1.5 Total Bases
Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) Over 5.5 Strikeouts
Cal Quantrill (CLE) Under 5 Strikeouts
If you haven’t checked out PrizePicks yet, I absolutely would. It’s an incredibly unique and entertaining way to play each day’s player prop slate. I’ll briefly explain how it works here, but you should check out this article if you want to learn more.
With this five-leg parlay, you need three or more legs to hit to cash a profit. If three legs hit, you’ll profit 0.4x what you wagered; if four legs hit, you’ll profit 2x what you wagered; if all legs hit, you’ll profit a whopping 10x what you wagered.
I decided to play both of my strikeout totals together with three other position player props. Let’s quickly run through the three batters I decided to back today:
Xander Bogaerts (BOS) Over 1.5 Hits+Walks: Through nine September games, Bogaerts has posted a 1.027 OPS with four extra-base hits and five walks. Bogaerts will face Marcus Stroman today, who Bogaerts is 11-for-36 lifetime off of with a .588 xSLG.
Matt Olson (OAK) Over 1.5 Hits+Walks: In Olson’s 18 September games, he’s smacked 18 hits while drawing 11 walks with just 12 strikeouts. Against Marco Gonzales, Olson is 10-for-36 lifetime with five home runs and a .414 wOBA.
Corey Seager (LAD) Over 1.5 Total Bases: Not only has Corey Seager posted a .977 OPS this month, but he’ll also hit at Coors Field tonight. He’s 10-for-21 lifetime against Rockies’ starter Antonio Senzatela, with five of those going for extra bases.
The Ryder Cup is here. Usually, I’d be fired up for this. Growing up, this and the U.S. Open were my two favorite events.
I don’t know if it’s some players on Team USA, who seem like they’d rather not be bothered with the event, or Team Europe, who may not have enough guys firing on all cylinders to take advantage, but this year just doesn’t have me as excited as years past.
Whistling Straits is a fairly well-known commodity. It’s long, measuring at around 7,800 yards, and was designed by Pete Dye. It played host to the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships won by Vijay Singh, Martin Kaymer and Jason Day.
Overall, length appears to be a big edge, but guys like Justin Leonard and Jordan Spieth have come in second here, so it’s not a requirement to hit bombs to be successful.
It’s supposed to play like a coastal links course with little to block the wind coming off the lake, but if weather doesn’t play a factor, the course can be fairly easy. We saw Day shoot 20-under par in his win.
It’s a place where many of the guys have played a major or two, so there won’t be too much extra work needed to get ready for the setup.
The USA, I guess, but I’m not playing -200 to find out.
I think the US does best when the course is a known commodity and they can just show up without putting a lot of extra work in. It’s clear that Europe values this competition much more than the American players do. We only need to look at 2018 to realize these guys aren’t going to put in extra work.
Justin Thomas was the only one to fly over to Europe and play Le Golf National during the European Tour season, and he cruised all week to a 4-1 record. The rest of the guys couldn’t bother and got destroyed by a team of Europeans who knew that course inside and out.
That isn’t the case at Whistling Straits. Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau all finished inside the top 10 in 2015 during the PGA Championship here. It’s not going to take much work to get the rest of the guys up to speed.
Normally, I’d be loving the thought of Europe in the +200 range, but the fact is, many of these guys really haven’t played well this year in the US.
Jon Rahm has been great. Viktor Hovland has been solid, but outside of those two, it’s been a down year for many of the other guys on this team.
Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton have regressed from their form in past season. Bernd Wiesberger is a complete unknown in this spot. So the older crew like Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter may have to carry that weight, and it could be a lot to get four or five solid matches from three guys north of 40.
Viktor Hovland Top European +700
With these bets, we’re looking for guys we think will play all five sessions. Not a shocker, but the older guys resting a session or two can’t get it done without being perfect, and some of the newer crew may not have the captain’s confidence to get the matches necessary to win.
Europe doesn’t have a lot of guys beyond Rahm and McIlroy who you’d count on for five straight matches. Rahm is recovering from illness, so he may get a session fewer than we’d expect. McIlroy will probably play the whole time, but his form has been pretty inconsistent this year, so who knows what we’ll get.
That leads me to Hovland. He had a great season, finishing top 10 in nine of 22 worldwide starts. He’s young enough that five matches won’t be too much to ask if gets on a roll.
He’s fifth on tour off the tee and 15th in approach which makes him a viable candidate in all formats because you know that tee-to-green game will hold up in alternate shot and give him plenty of birdie looks in fourball. When I look past Rahm and Rory, I just don’t see anyone else as like to get five cracks at a point, so I’ll take my chances here.
I think Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay play all the sessions together just like they did in 2019 at the Presidents Cup. Xander has the bigger odds, so I’ll go with him here.
I can see this group and Spieth/Thomas as pairings they ride all of day 1. If either struggles they may break them up, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see this quartet making up half of the US matches for all of Friday.
I think Xander and Cantlay are more consistent right now than Spieth or Thomas, so I think their partnership has less of a chance of getting broken up and resulting in one of them sitting out a session.
Again, it just comes down to opportunity. Of the four guys I think have the most likely shot of playing five times, Xander has the biggest price, so that’s the way we’ll go.
Though the Thundering Herd may not be the Crimson Tide, they’re surely capable of putting up a touchdown week in and week out. This is college football we’re talking about here — generally not a sport that spits out defensive showdowns.
Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm will look to lead each of their teams to Ryder Cup victory as the individual betting favorites heading into the tournament.
Thomas and Rahm enter with +800 odds to be the top individual point scorer in the tournament, the lowest of any golfers at DraftKings. They’re just ahead of Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele, who are +900.
A trio of golfers come in at +1000: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay is the defending FedExCup Playoff champion. Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland are tied at +1200.
Individuals win a point as individuals each time his team earns a point in a match the golfer is a part of. For example, if Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau are paired in a fourball matchup against Matthew Fitzpatrick and Jon Rahm, each individual in the winning group will receive a point. Half-points are awarded for ties.
At the last Ryder Cup in 2018, Francesco Molinari was the leading point-getter, scoring five points for the victorious Europe team. Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood were second with four points.
From a team standpoint, Team USA is the favorite to lift the trophy at -190 over the European underdogs at +160. In the event of a tie, the defending champion retains the title. That means if there’s a tie, Europe will lift the cup.
In a three-way market, USA is -200 to win with Europe set at +200. A tie is +1200.
The Giants and Padres continue to defy the odds in every way. San Francisco has somehow managed to fend off the 96-54 Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West through most of September, while the Padres have slipped to four games out of the wild card despite one of the most talented rosters in the league.
We’ve got a near-pick ’em in San Diego with two solid pitchers on the hill in Joe Musgrove and Kevin Gausman. Do we buy the recent success at the dish for the Giants and sell the ice-cold Padres, or is there more to this one? Let’s have a look at the matchup.
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Giants Trying To Fend Off LA
The aforementioned bats for the Giants have been unstoppable of late. They stand second in the league with a 140 wRC+ over the last two weeks, sporting a superb .238 ISO and walking 11.8% of the time against just a 21.6% strikeout rate. While their .329 BABIP seems to clash with their season-long .294 BABIP, there have been many bigger discrepancies, and the Giants still have a 8.9% barrel rate with 21 homers in the last 14 days.
There’s certainly a lot to believe in with this offense, which is a good thing considering Kevin Gausman’s struggles of late. The righty is still striking out hitters left and right, carrying 32 strikeouts in 23 September innings into this one, but his ERA this month is a lofty 4.70. That’s due to an influx of hits allowed (16 in his last two starts), and three homers in his last three starts.
As it stands so far, San Francisco currently leads the season series 7-6 over San Diego, with the two sides set to play two three-game series to round out the season. Gausman has faced the Padres four times in 2021, going 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 9.4 strikeouts per nine. He’s yielded just two homers in those games.
One player who’s taken no joy in this divisional rivalry is Joe Musgrove, who has seen the Giants three times and has been shelled in all of those outings. He carries a 6.75 ERA against the Giants into this one with a whopping five round-trippers allowed in just 16 innings. While the strikeouts have still been there for the most part, Musgrove has had issues with walks.
That’s essentially been the story of the season for Musgrove, whose 27.1% strikeout rate sparkles but whose 7.1% walk rate sits below average. The righty has really found something since joining the Padres, carrying strong exit velocity and swing-and-miss numbers into this one, but his expected ERA according to Statcast is almost a full run higher than his real-life ERA. He’s also had issues with the long ball lately, giving up four homers in his last three starts including two to San Francisco last week.
Don’t even get me started on this offense, either. San Diego has owned one of the very worst lineups in all of baseball since the All-Star break, and ranks dead-last with a 69 wRC+ in the past week. That’s right, even the likes of the Diamondbacks and Rockies, who just went on a long road trip, have been better.
There’s nothing inspiring about these Padres’ bats at the moment, and even against a pitcher who’s slipped just a bit lately I can’t recommend betting on them. At best, Gausman and Musgrove come into this one evenly-matched, at which point the far strong offense would become the best bet.
I’ll be taking the Giants as road underdogs, and I would continue advising that bet up to -130.
Available states: AZ, PA, IA, MI, IN, NJ, CO, WV, TN, VA, WY, DC*
Who’s it for? New users only
Appalachian State is slightly favored at home by oddsmakers, but don’t worry. You can bet on either team with total peace of mind on Thursday night knowing that you’ll cash in on just a single touchdown!
The Ryder Cup has been delayed one year, but it’s back in 2021 and set to be a thriller.
The Europeans will look to continue their dominance of the competition, having won seven of the last nine cups this century. Despite that, the United States is a -200 favor at DraftKings to retain the cup it last won back in 2016.
The Americans no doubt have the edge in terms of talent, but the Europeans have proven they can thrive in a team environment and under the most pressure-filled circumstances — even without a home-field advantage.
The Ryder Cup is a race to 14.5 points, and Europe retains the Cup if it’s tied.
There will be 28 matches played under differing formats, with the winner of each being awarded one point. If any match ends in a draw, each team will get one-half point.
Here are the match types, which won’t be determined until this weekend — the captains will pick what is played when, other than singles, which is always Sunday.
Four-ball: Two players from both the U.S. and Europe will play their own balls on each hole in groups of four. Each team counts the lowest of its two scores on each hole, and the player with the lowest score gets a point for his team. If the low scores are tied, the hole is halved.
Alternate shot: Each two-man team plays one ball per hole with the players taking turns until each hole is complete. Tee shots are alternated, with one player leading off on odd-numbered holes, and the other hitting first on even-numbered holes. The team with the low score on each hole wins that hole. If their scores are tied, the hole is halved.
Singles: Classic match-play. Each match features one player from each team. The player with the lower score on each hole wins that hole. If their scores are tied, the hole is halved. Singles is always Sunday, with all 12 players from each team competing.
Unlike stroke play, players don’t have to complete each hole in match play. If a player concedes a stroke – almost always a putt – to his opponent, the opponent picks up his ball, takes the score he would have made on the next stroke and moves on to the next hole.
Ryder Cup Rosters
By looking at the Official World Golf Rankings and results over the past year on the PGA TOUR, there’s a clear favorite in this tournament in terms of talent.
Nine of the top 11 players in the world will be playing for the Americans, while just one will be in action for Europe.
Over the last five years, Americans on Stricker’s roster have combined to win 10 of golf’s 20 majors. The Europeans have claimed three in that span.
Here are the rosters, with each players world ranking in parenthesis:
The New York Yankees take on the Texas Rangers in the second game of a three-game set on Tuesday night. The Bronx Bombers come into Tuesday night looking to build momentum following a 4-3 win over the Rangers in New York on Monday.
New York is a mere 0.5 games back of the last Wildcard spot in the American League but were an unimpressive 2-3 over their last five games, including a defeat at the hands of the 102-loss Orioles.
The Rangers are in the basement of the AL West and have lost four of their last five games heading into Tuesday evening, but there is reason to believe Texas can come out on top on Tuesday.
Dane Dunning will be taking the mound for Texas against the Yankees.
The last time Dunning faced off with the Yanks, he pitched 6.0 innings of four-hit ball, allowing one walk and no earned runs while racking up six strikeouts. The Rangers ultimately lost that game 2-0, but recent history says it is unlikely that New York shuts out the Rangers on Tuesday.
The Yankees have allowed their opponents to score at least five runs in five of their last 10 games.
Our latest MLB PRO Report showcases how the Rangers moneyline is providing more value than expected on Tuesday night.
MLB Picks: Rangers vs. Yankees
The line for Rangers vs. Yankees opened up at Rangers +225. The line hit a high of Texas +230 around 5:15 a.m. ET before settling at a consensus of Texas +220 as tracked by two Action Labs Bet Signals.
The Action Network’s MLB power ratings make the moneyline Rangers +182.
One of The Action Network’s top MLB experts is betting on Texas.
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.
The New York Mets will head into Fenway Park to begin a short two-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The Mets (73-77) come into the game in third place in the National League East and seven games out of the NL Wild Card Race, while the Red Sox (86-65) hold the top spot in AL Wild Card race ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.
With one of their top arms on the mound tonight in Marcus Stroman, should we expect the Mets to take care of business on the road, or will the home team prevail in a game with playoff implications for both sides?
Stroman will get the nod for the Mets in what will amount to his 32nd start of the season. Over 169 innings pitched, he’s collected a 9-12 record, 2.88 ERA and an impressive 0.75 HR/9 average. He’s also retiring batters at an 8.04 K/9 clip, the highest of his career thus far.
While his 2.88 ERA is remarkable, there is some reason for concern. His 4.08 xERA is 1.2 runs higher, signifying that there may be some negative regression in the future. In fact, when looking further, Stroman has allowed an alarming 41.3% Hard Hit rate thus far as well, another sign that he’s been quite lucky to have the season-long numbers that he’s earned to-date.
Tonight, those numbers will be put to the test. He’ll take on a Red Sox team that has been one of the best in baseball this season against right-handed pitching, collectively hitting to a .335 wOBA. That ranks as the third-best mark amongst all big-league teams.
Boston Red Sox
Eduardo Rodriguez will take the hill for the Red Sox in a crucial home start for the Red Sox as they attempt to maintain their lead in the AL Wild Card race. On the surface, Rodriguez has struggled so far this year. Over 142 1/3 innings, he’s compiled an 11-8 record to go along with a well-above average 5.00 ERA.
That said, there is some reason for optimism. His 3.46 FIP is more than 1.5 runs lower than his ERA, indicating that he’s been extremely unlucky so far on the mound this season. He’s also allowing a solid 34.6% Hard Hit rate and 7.5% Barrel rate this year, both much better than his peripheral numbers. Finally, his 10.43 K/9 and 1.20 HR/9 averages are also much closer to the league median than his ERA would indicate.
Rodriguez will have an opportunity to put that to the test here tonight. He’ll face off against a Mets team that has struggled against left-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .308 team wOBA, the sixth-worst in all of baseball.
Mets-Red Sox Pick
While Stroman has undoubtedly been the better pitcher this season when compared against Rodriguez, it’s the latter that jumps out as the starter to back in this one.
As highlighted above, Stroman is a prime candidate for negative regression and has the unfortunate task of taking on a Red Sox team that has been one of the best in baseball this season against right-handed pitching. To make matters worse, the Red Sox have also been hot at the plate of-late, averaging 8.2 runs per game over their last five outings.
On the other side, while Rodriguez’s surface numbers – particularly his ERA – are ugly, he’s been extremely unlucky on the season and is due for some positive variance of his own. The Mets poor hitting this year against southpaws should only help to highlight that here tonight.
I think Vegas is overestimating Stroman at the moment and I see value on the Red Sox moneyline at the current number of -145. In fact, I’m comfortable playing this up until around -160 if the line moves between now and the first pitch.
Maryland regulators reaffirmed Tuesday they are targeting a “late fall” sports betting launch but still have no firm timeline for a retail or online go-live date.
State regulators are already working with as many as 17 entities on background check investigations before awarding sports betting licenses, said John Martin, Director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. Martin told the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), the committee tasked with awarding the licenses, that regulators were hoping to continue “positive momentum” toward a launch in the coming months.
The SWARC last month opened the license application process for the 17 entities specifically mentioned in the state’s 2021 sports betting legalization bill. This group of would-be operators, which includes the state’s casinos, major professional sports venues and off-track betting facilities, will likely be the first to open retail and online sportsbooks in the state.
State casino officials told the Action Network earlier this month they believe retail betting will earn regulatory approval before statewide mobile wagering, but were still not sure about a launch timeline for either offering.
Along with the 17 assigned licenses, Maryland’s sports betting bill directs the SWARC to award up to 30 additional retail and 60 online sportsbooks to state businesses. These will likely go live sometime after the aforementioned group.
The 17 entities already allowed to apply for licensure will need final approval from the SWARC before going live, which should come sometime before the end of 2021. These gaming stakeholders are hoping to capture as much as possible of the current football season, perennially sportsbooks’ most lucrative time of the calendar year.
Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved a 2020 ballot measure that allows retail as well as online sports betting and requires regulators to assure small, women and minority-owned business participation in the market.
State lawmakers met this requirement through a multi-tiered licensing process that charges larger, existing gaming entities such as the casinos higher licensing fees than small businesses. Lawmakers also created the SWARC, which is required to consider female and minority ownership stakes, among a myriad of additional criteria, when awarding licenses.
Maryland is the first of the more than two-dozen states to approve legal sports betting with such a regulatory structure. State officials said final sports betting operator rules will not be finalized until November, following a public comment period that ends this month.
It remains to be seen how Maryland’s small businesses will fare in the market. Though few states allow such a wide range of market participation, every state with legal wagering has seen a handful of national brands earn the vast majority of wagering handle. FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM alone take up the majority of national market share, creating a potentially difficult competitive situation in a state that could see dozens of operators.
Market Interest Remains Strong
Though Maryland’s sports betting launch and market structure are largely undetermined, leading operators are still heavily interested in the state.
Maryland has the highest per capita income of any state, some of the nation’s highest education levels and multiple professional sports teams, major factors that correlate positively with sports betting participation. Each of Maryland’s neighbors (Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware) already offer legal sportsbooks.
The plethora of available licenses means that virtually any interested national operator has a market access pathway. Basically any Maryland business can apply for one of the 60 online or 30 retail licenses permitted by the state’s 2021 sports betting law.
Maryland will also be one of the first states with in-stadium sportsbooks, joining Arizona and Washington D.C. Multiple Illinois stadiums are pursuing in-venue sportsbooks and an Ohio bill under consideration would permit sports betting licenses for the state’s major professional sports organizations.
Kyler Murray and Tom Brady now both have the second-best odds to win the NFL MVP after commanding Week 2 performances.
Murray threw for 400 yards with three passing touchdowns and one with his feet in a 34-33 win over the Minnesota Vikings. He did have two picks, though, and the Cardinals only won because Vikings kicker Greg Joseph missed a last-second, game-winning 37-yard field goal.
Brady threw for 276 yards with five touchdowns in a 48-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The greatest player of all-time did have a fumble in that game.
Matthew Stafford was the biggest dropper of Week 2. After he generated well-deserved buzz by leading a dominant, new-look Rams offense to a 34-14 win over the Chicago Bears, he had a far less efficient game against the Colts. His odds fell from second-best at +800 to tied for fourth at +1200.
Sept. 13 Update
Aaron Rodgers’ odds have taken a massive tumble after he threw for just 133 yards with two interceptions in a 38-3 defeat to the New Orleans Saints. His odds to win MVP have fallen from +1000 to +1600.
The reigning NFL MVP now tied for eighth-most likely to win the award after having had the second-best odds before the season.
Matthew Stafford saw his odds shoot up from +1800 to +800 after a dominant performance in which he went 20-for-26 with 321 yards and three touchdowns. The Rams decimated the Bears 34-14.
The former Lion is now the second-best MVP candidate.
Another notable riser is Jameis Winston, who threw five touchdown passes against the Packers on Sunday. His odds shot up from +4000 to +2500.
Sept. 8 Update
Dak Prescott’s line has moved the most since August, with his MVP odds dropping from 16/1 to 18/1 at DraftKings.
Every other player’s odds above has stayed the same since late August.
Overall MVP odds look to stay the same heading into Week 1, which begins tomorrow between the Cowboys and Buccaneers.
August 24 Update
While nothing has changed at the top of the oddsboard — it’s still Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers at the top — some chasers are getting closer as the NFL regular season nears.
According to odds at DraftKings, Rodgers has slipped two notches down from +800 to +1000 while quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert are among those moving.
Wilson was +2000 back in April but is now +1400, behind just Mahomes, Rodgers and Josh Allen. Herbert (+1800) and Murray (+1600) both jumped from +2000 as well.
Other notable adjustments include Carson Wentz falling from +3300 to +5000 and Cam Newton dropping to +6500 from +5000.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is now +3500 after being listed at +5000 in April.
A big preseason push to be the full-time starter in New Orleans has Jameis Winston on the move, as P.J. Walsh covered here.
Past NFL MVP Odds Updates
Samantha Previte: With the bulk of free agency behind us, still leading 2021 NFL MVP odds is Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes at +600 (14.29% implied probability). The 25-year-old has already earned numerous awards in his short career including the NFL MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, first-team All-Pro, three Pro Bowl nominations, Super Bowl LIV MVP and one Super Bowl ring.
Next up is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at +800 (11.11%), who has already won the award three times and is the reigning MVP. The 37-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons to date and led the league in passer rating, passing touchdowns and completion percentage. He is a strong bet, especially if Green Bay (finally) drafts another weapon.
There’s a significant drop-off after Rodgers with Bills QB Josh Allen at third with +1300 odds (7.14%). Expectations are high heading into 2021 for 24-year-old Allen, who is fresh off of his best season in which he earned Pro Bowl honors, second-team All-Pro honors and led the Bills to their first AFC Championship appearance since 1993.
Tied for the fourth-shortest odds are Buccaneers QB Tom Brady and Rams QB Matthew Stafford at +1400 (6.67%). Brady, 43, is the reigning Super Bowl MVP and has won the NFL MVP award three times in his 21-year career. This will be 33-year-old Stafford’s first season in Los Angeles after spending his first 12 seasons with the Lions.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott are next at +1600 (5.88%). Jackson, 24, won the NFL MVP award in 2019 while Prescott, 27, is coming off of a catastrophic ankle injury.
Next up are Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson — who was an early favorite for MVP last season — at +2000 (4.76%) and Chargers QB Justin Herbert and Titans QB Ryan Tannehill at +2500 (3.85%), none of whom have won the award in the past.
The first 11 players listed on DraftKings are quarterbacks. Titans running back Derrick Henry and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey have the highest odds for a non-quarterback player and are tied for 12th at +3300 (2.94%).
A non-quarterback has not won the award since Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012. The past eight consecutive winners have been quarterbacks and 18 of the winners since 2000 have been quarterbacks (four running backs).
Katie Richcreek: It was a two-man race, but it took until Week 16 for Aaron Rodgers to pull ahead of Patrick Mahomes on the oddsboard for 2020 NFL MVP before officially claiming the hardware at the end of the season.
Now, Mahomes and Rodgers find themselves atop the board once again for 2021 — Mahomes’ +500 odds (bet $100 to net a $500 profit) give him a 16.7% implied probability to win the award while Rodgers’ +800 odds give him an 11.1% implied probability (convert more odds with our calculator).
Both led their teams to the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences in 2020 on the heels of phenomenal regular-season performances:
It’s no surprise that, given their MVP odds, the Chiefs and Packers open the 2021 season with the best odds to win Super Bowl 56.
Josh Allen and Russell Wilson, who entered the 2020 race at various points, are tied for the third-best MVP odds at +1300. The next crop of quarterbacks on the board are led by Matthew Stafford, whose MVP odds rose in the wake of being traded from the Lions to the Rams to kickstart the offseason QB carousel.
As for non-QBs, Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey share honors of being the highest running backs on the board, tied at +3300 odds.
More QBs are expected to find new homes in the coming months, either via trade or during free agency. We’ll be tracking how the MVP odds shift as that offseason movement unfolds, so be sure to keep this page bookmarked until Week 1 kicks off.
DJ James: Tyler Mahle heads to the hill after the Cincinnati Reds played a tight one against Pittsburgh on Monday. Mitch Keller goes for the Pirates, and he has been brutal this season with his splits indicating further poor results when facing left-handed hitters.
Joey Votto has kept this Cincinnati team afloat as of late with his .442 wOBA against righties this month. Jonathan India has helped do the same. Everyone else seems to be struggling at the moment. Keller features a fastball right around 94 mph, and he throws it almost 60% of the time.
The Reds should be prepared. On four-seam fastballs between 93 and 95 mph since August 1, Cincinnati has a collective .332 xwOBA against right-handed pitchers. Even when they have struggled the last couple of weeks, that number has remained .323 in September.
Given how Keller ranks in the third percentile in Average Exit Velocity Allowed and second percentile in Hard-Hit Percentage, this could wake up the currently slumping bats of Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas. Having Jesse Winker back in the lineup helps as well.
The Reds should be in good shape in the first five innings with the contributions from Mahle on the bump. Since he has the ability to limit hard contact (87.8 mph Average Exit Velocity), he should be able to handle a weak Pittsburgh team. The Pirates’ 77 collective wRC+ since the beginning of August should not scare the Reds.
Take the Reds -1 (+105) in the first five innings and play to -1 (-130).
Kenny Ducey: It never feels good to fade the Dodgers, particularly with Julio Urías pitching, but this is as good a spot as any.
The last time Urías faced the Rockies in Colorado, he exited in the sixth and allowed four earned runs on seven hits with a walk with just three strikeouts. The last time the Dodgers saw the Rockies, they dropped two of three at home right in the thick of the playoff race.
It may just be that Colorado has LA’s number, and coming off a crazy six-game run (on the road of all places) which saw it win five times, this is a fun team to bet on at the moment.
The Rockies own the league’s fourth-best OPS against lefties this year, and their strong home/road splits have been well-documented. I believe their offense should find some runs against Urías.
Speaking of home/road splits, Antonio Senzatela is sporting a shiny 3.89 ERA in 13 home starts compared to a 4.27 ERA on the road, and he’s been lights-out since the All-Star break with a 3.08 ERA.
He just shut out the Dodgers over seven innings four starts ago, and I think he should be in a great spot here along with Colorado’s offense. Bet this to +170.
Collin Whitchurch: Jesse Chavez is serving as the opener for the Braves tonight after Touki Toussaint was relegated to the bullpen following recent struggles.
Atlanta’s bullpen isn’t in great shape, with a bottom-10 xFIP for the season and having used five arms in Monday night’s win. With just a three-game lead over the Phillies in the NL East, Atlanta still has plenty to play for, but is in a rough spot here with an overburdened bullpen on the road.
We may very well still see Toussaint tonight — in relief — but between him, Chavez, and whichever other relievers are available, it’s a prime spot for Arizona’s offense to have a rare good day at the plate.
The Diamondbacks will send Luke Weaver to the mound. The 28-year-old isn’t the most efficient starting pitcher out there, but should be able to navigate through five innings with minimal damage.
Arizona has arguably the worst bullpen in baseball, so I’ll stay away from the full-game moneyline here and take the Diamondbacks first five innings at +145 and play to +140.
The St. Louis Cardinals have pulled their usual black magic and have found themselves up three games over their division rival, the Cincinnati Reds, for the second Wild Card, as of Monday afternoon.
The Milwaukee Brewers have clinched a playoff berth and are very likely the number-two seed in the National League, thanks to their elite rotation. Brandon Woodruff is one of those key arms, and he will start in this contest. 24-year-old Jake Woodford will counter him for the Cardinals on the mound.
There is a large discrepancy in the talent between these two arms, so are the Brewers the correct play here?
Entering Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals have won eight games in a row. Jake Woodford has transitioned from bullpen arm to the rotation and has a 2.03 ERA in the month of September. He likely won’t go more than four or five innings, so the Cardinals bullpen is crucial in this pairing.
Woodford primarily features a sinker and a four-seamer, but the Brewers do have a .361 xwOBA on sinkers against righties since August 1st. They also hammer four-seamers at a .355 xwOBA and have a 90.5 average exit velocity with those same qualifications.
When limiting the velocity of both of those pitchers to between 91 MPH and 93 MPH (or how hard Woodford throws), they own a .393 xwOBA. Best of luck to Woodford here because Milwaukee seems pretty set on crushing his primary pitches.
The St. Louis lineup has been somehow underwhelming since the beginning of September, even with their slingshot into the second Wild Card spot. They only have a 97 wRC+ as a team against right-handers this month.
Tyler O’Neill, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado have been their best featured bats lately, and all three are above 135 wRC+ when facing righties in September. That said, the Cardinals only have three OBPs over the .320 mark in that same timeframe. This indicates a fairly top-heavy team facing an ace like Woodruff.
Finally, the Cardinals’ bullpen has been phenomenal this month. They are third in fWAR and have a 3.41 ERA, although this is slightly lucky with a 4.04 xFIP accompanying it. Genesis Cabrera and Kodi Whitley have a 0.00 ERA in the bullpen this month. Having this backup to the rotation helps.
Giovanny Gallegos has probably seen the unluckiest of innings with his 5.19 ERA and 0.6 fWAR this month. That said, many of these arms will come back to earth, but this is a main contributor for why the Cardinals find themselves in the playoffs at the moment.
Brandon Woodruff has been about as consistent as any starting pitcher. His peripherals are all encouraging, even with a 5.25 ERA this month. Even though he throws similar primary pitches to Woodford (sinker and four-seamer), he ranks in the 94th percentile in velocity.
On fastballs between 95 and 97 MPH from a righty, the Cardinals only have a .289 xwOBA since August 1. That number is .297 in September, so they basically have not been able to defeat a pitcher of Woodruff’s caliber, even on their hot streak.
The Milwaukee lineup has actually been similar to St. Louis’s against right-handers this month. Avisaíl García has been incredible, and they have five other bats eclipsing the 100 wRC+ mark. They have four batters over .350 OBP. Since Milwaukee does not have to face Brandon Woodruff, they get an automatic edge.
Finally, the Milwaukee bullpen has been subpar in September, but they have an xFIP right around that of the St. Louis bullpen, meaning they have been unlucky. Hunter Strickland and Josh Hader still have not allowed any runs this month, and Aaron Ashby is right with them.
Devin Williams and Jake Cousins have been reliable all season but have faltered as of late, so this is bringing their collective numbers down. That said, this is an edge for St. Louis only if Woodruff does not go deep into this game.
The starting pitcher matchup in this game has too wide of a discrepancy. as Woodruff’s strengths negate any competitive edge the Cardinals would have.
He is not even close to Vince Velasquez and Jake Arrieta, whom the Cardinals got to face last weekend. Give the edge to the Brewers.
Since their hitting has not been elite lately, take their adjusted spread at -1 (-150) and play to -1 (-175).
Pick: Milwaukee Brewers -1 (-150), play to -1 (-175)
A battle of players off of their preferred surface projects to be a phenomenal matchup for Laslo Djere. His first-round opponent — Daniel Elahi Galan — has useful similarities to the game of Lorenzo Musetti, as both like to lengthen points from the baseline, as does Djere.
The Italian has faced off against Djere twice in the past, with the Serbian outlasting Musetti on both occasions. Both matches were played on clay, which is far different to the surface this one will be played on, though Djere will have some confidence stemming from his known ability to grind with Musetti.
Neither player has been in good form coming into Nur-Sultan, combining for just one win on the U.S. summer hardcourt period, that being Musetti’s first round US Open win against Emilio Nava, who doesn’t have a main draw ATP win. The teenage Musetti does have more pedigree on hard courts, doing well on both the ATP tour and challenger tour prior to the summer.
Nonetheless, I’m confident Djere will find similar success to the pair’s prior bouts, as his ability to play with flatter and deeper balls will force Musetti to retreat and give up court space. The heavy spin balls that he’ll want to play won’t have the same impact they would on clay, and Djere will take advantage.
Carreno Busta looked to be in control of his first round US Open match against qualifier Maxime Cressy before losing a two-set lead and completely falling apart in the fifth-set tiebreaker after having match points. A solid break is exactly what the Spaniard needed, but it certainly isn’t enough to take the value away from Ymer’s side.
He’s got all the confidence in the world after putting together the best hard court streak of his career and almost taking down Casper Ruud on clay, and his first round win against Jan-Lennard Struff should have helped him figure out the surface and adjust to its differences from tournaments prior.
All things considered, this match is heavily dependent on the PCB that shows up. If he continues to struggle, Ymer should be able to take the initiative and cause Carreno Busta serious problems.
The report says the offer was submitted “a few days ago” and is a combination of stock and cash. While “largely in stock”, it’s not known or stated in the report what the specific mix is in the deal. DraftKings’ market cap as of Tuesday morning was around $21.27 billion.
“DraftKings can confirm a proposal has been sent to Entain,” the sportsbook said in a statement. “Under the U.K. Takeover Code, we cannot provide any further comment at this time.”
Entain confirmed it had received an earlier offer it rejected. The new offer is under consideration, but there’s no action at this time. The company added in a statement it was very confident in its current position and projects total addressable market to grow more than three times.
It’s a move that would take DraftKings global. Entain is licensed and operates in more than 20 countries in five continents, according to its website. It owns brands like Coral, Ladbrokes, PartyPoker, and Sportingbet. In addition to sports betting, Entain’s platform and parternships offer other gambling products including casino, bingo and poker.
This isn’t the first time Entain has been in talks with an American gaming company. Entain rejected a deal in January from MGM which valued the company at $11 billion. According to CNBC, that was an all-stock deal.
Still, Entain shares a joint venture with MGM to operate the sportsbook BetMGM, which is legal in several states in the United States and a current competitor of DraftKings.
BetMGM released the following statement on Monday:
MGM is Entain’s exclusive partner in the U.S. online sports betting and iGaming market through our highly successful 50/50 joint venture BetMGM LLC (“BetMGM”). As a consequence, any transaction whereby Entain or its affiliates would own a competing business in the U.S. would require MGM’s consent.
MGM’s priority is to ensure that BetMGM continues to capture the growing U.S. online opportunity and realizing MGM’s vision of becoming a premier global gaming entertainment company. MGM believes that having control of the BetMGM joint venture is an important step towards achieving its strategic objectives.
MGM will engage with Entain and DraftKings, as appropriate, to find a solution to the exclusivity arrangements which meets all parties’ objectives.
PJT Partners is serving as an advisor to MGM Resorts.
DraftKings has been successful in the stock market since going public in 2019, but stock was down around 6% in the moments after the report. Meanwhile, Entain saw its stock rise by more than 10%.
True shooting percentage (abbreviated TS%) measures the efficiency with which a player shoots the ball. It is an advanced statistic that looks to more accurately evaluate how well a player shoots rather than looking at individual statistics such as field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage or free throw percentage on their own.
This metric does a nice job of giving you an idea of how well a player is expected to shoot the ball every time he comes down the court, including all the types of shots he can take — even free throws. Rather than looking at pure point totals or numbers that rely on volume, this is purely an efficiency-driven stat.
NBA True Shooting Percentage Statistics
Because volume shooters are often going to stand out in a bigger way than efficient shooters, you may be surprised by the league leaders in TS% at each position from the 2020-2021 season.
While you would expect shooters like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant to thrive in a shooting stat, it’s interesting to see that players that aren’t heralded for their shooting are close behind or ahead of the duo in TS%.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Ivica Zubac is a better shooter than Curry, and it doesn’t mean that Zubac will be a better fantasy piece (more on that later), but it does mean that Zubac is as efficient as it gets when he shoots. This is important both for his team and for you, the NBA fantasy player.
True Shooting Percentage Historical Leaders
Maybe the most surprising stat of all comes by looking at the history of the stat. DeAndre Jordan, a player often chided for his inability to shoot — particularly at the line — leads all NBA players in career TS%.
As evidenced in both the current and historical data, efficient big men dominate true shooting percentage. But in the context of how basketball is played and in fantasy scoring, you typically can’t rely on big men to be your leading players. This is where volume comes into play.
How Can True Shooting Percentage Help With Fantasy Betting
So how can volume and TS% combine to help your fantasy team? Like many stats, there is a balance to be found. TS% on its own isn’t necessarily going to generate a massive fantasy output, but looking at it in the context of volume can give your team a massive boost.
For example, take the TS% leaders from the 2020-2021 regular season and evaluate them next to their usage rate (a good metric to determine how often plays are ran involving certain individuals) and fantasy output.
As always, external factors play a huge impact on the fantasy output of these players, but you can see a positive trend between usage rate and points when placed in the context of TS%.
Additionally, basic field goal and three-point attempts can be useful when trying to balance volume and TS% to get the most out of your roster. You aren’t going to want a 66 TS% player with 10 shots per game over a 64 TS% player with 15 shots per game.
The Blue Jays looked like the playoffs were a distant thought after a slow start but have gone 15-4 in September to take over the final Wild Card spot. They sit a half-game ahead of the Yankees and would face off with Boston if the season ended today.
Tampa Bay is seven games ahead in the AL East and took game one of this series 6-4 yesterday, highlighted by the debut of top pitching prospect Shane Baz and a three-run home run by Yandy Diaz.
One day after the Rays had one of their top pitching prospects debut, the Blue Jays will send one of theirs to the mound in Alek Manoah (RHP). Manoah made his MLB debut on May 27 and has made 17 starts this year. He is 6-2 with a 3.39 ERA and has looked every bit as good as the hype he has received.
The 23-year-old wasted no time getting acclimated, setting an MLB record as the first pitcher in league history to begin his career allowing four hits or fewer in 10 straight starts.
At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Manoah is an intimidating presence on the mound and uses a mix of his fastball, sinker and slider. All have been terrific, especially his slider which is allowing a .146 batting average and generating a 36.5% strikeout rate.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be the clear AL MVP if only he could pitch, as he has been the best hitter all season. He leads the league in WAR and wRC+ and sits second in wOBA. He leads the league with a .320 batting average and with 46 home runs.
Guerrero leads a Toronto offense full of young stars that has been one of the best in the league all season. They lead the league in wOBA and sit second in wRC+. Over the last month they are first in both categories and have been crushing the ball.
Tampa Bay Rays
Drew Rasmussen (RHP) was acquired from the Brewers as part of the deal for Willy Adames on May 21 and has been great since coming to Tampa Bay. He has made 18 appearances, including eight starts, for the Rays and is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA.
His last six appearances have all been starts, and he has a 1.33 ERA and has allowed just four total runs over that span, allowing one run or fewer in each game.
Like most of Tampa Bay’s pitching staff, Rasmussen has an elite fastball that averages 97.2 miles per hour, the eighth highest in the league. He mixes that with a really good slider for the only two pitches he really throws.
Tampa Bay is always going to be known for their pitching, but they have a top 10 offense this year as well. The Rays rank 10th in wOBA and fifth in wRC+. They have scored more runs than any team in the league.
The Rays’ other top prospect Wander Franco remains sidelined with a hamstring injury but instead it has been 41-year old Nelson Cruz carrying the load lately, batting .319 with a 1.002 OPS and four home runs in the last two weeks.
Blue Jays-Rays Pick
Manoah’s most recent start came against Tampa Bay and was the best outing of his young career. He went eight innings, allowed no runs and just one hit, and struck out 10 batters.
One day later, Rasmussen got the start against Toronto and he also tossed a scoreless outing, allowing two hits in five innings against the Blue Jays.
Both of these pitchers have been excellent, but one concern for Rasmussen is he ranks in the bottom 1% of the league in Hard Hit% at 48.9%. He has allowed a 90.9 MPH average exit velocity, and the Blue Jays lead in the league in average exit velocity.
Tampa Bay’s strength is its bullpen, which is also the weakness for Toronto. I think the best play here is to play the Blue Jays ML over the first five innings at +100, and I would play it down to -115.
A heavily favored United States team, loaded with a dozen individual superstars and perhaps a little too much confidence for their own good.
An underdog European squad, plucky and motivated, relishing the perceived role of bonding together and pulling off an upset.
If it seems like the Ryder Cup has endured more sequels than the Fast and the Furious franchise, that’s probably because it’s true, with each edition of the (usually) biennial event taking on a mutated form of the previous one.
The end result has been Europe winning seven of the last nine titles. The other end result has been years of frustration for American players and fans alike, the long-term strategy resembling the definition of insanity – you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
This week, though, the U.S. team would like us to believe the narrative has shifted.
And you’ve gotta hand it to ‘em: They have a valid point.
This is a 12-man roster which includes rookies in half the spots. The average player age is 29.1, more than five years younger than their European counterparts, and only Dustin Johnson is older than 32.
Not only have they competed in fewer than one-third of as many Ryder Cup matches, but the entire team has combined to win 25.5 points in this competition previously – the same number as European veteran Sergio Garcia by himself.
That lack of experience in this type of pressure-cooker is often viewed through a negative prism, but based on all of those previous sequels, maybe it shouldn’t be. After all, if seasoned stalwarts haven’t succeeded in those prior iterations, then new blood could be the preferred recipe this time around.
“I’ve watched many Ryder Cups on TV, and it’s who makes the putts, who flips those matches, who grinds out the halves and who gets it done,” said Justin Thomas, competing in his second Ryder Cup this week.
“I’d go to war with these 11 other guys and our captains like I’m going to do this week, and I have all the faith in the world in all the rookies. I think their experience proves that they are beyond rookies.”
That’s a sentiment echoed throughout the U.S. team room.
“It’s hard to call guys rookies here given the experience they have on the world’s biggest stage in golf, so I don’t really like using that term for these guys,” explained Jordan Spieth, making his fourth appearance.
“I was talking with Justin about it. We’ve known everyone on this team since grade school except for Dustin and Tony. I mean, it’s pretty special. So you have a camaraderie. It’s kind of more like a really light setting. Guys have known each other for a long time.”
Two-thirds of the roster is between the ages of 24 and 29, players who not only compete against each other on the professional level every week, but played together regularly in college, amateur events and even as juniors, dating back to their pre-teen years.
Then there’s the point that the term “rookie” implies some lack of certain achievements, but that, of course, is hardly the case with this bunch.
“Your rookies are a two-time major champion in Collin Morikawa, a FedEx Cup champion in Patrick Cantlay and a gold medalist in Xander Schauffele,” Thomas added. “When you’re looking at guys like that who are your rookies, that says a lot about your team.”
This is the first time since 1993 that Phil Mickelson – now a vice captain – isn’t a competitive member of this team. Gone, too (for now, at least), are the likes of Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler.
None of those players individually was an unwelcome sight on the roster or failed to give full effort, but their presence on the team represented an era that was largely littered with failures.
This week might be another in a long line of those sequels to the franchise, but there are new characters foisted into those main roles.
By Sunday evening, we’ll know whether the U.S. team will suffer a similar fate as so many previous editions of this event, but so much else should be different.
The guys in red, white and blue are still the heavy favorite and still loaded with confidence, but replete with rookies and new, young faces, it’s clear that so much else has already changed.
“Streaming” quarterbacks, defenses and kickers has been a fantasy football strategy I’ve successfully used for years.
I’ve parlayed that success into a series of weekly recommendations of the top streaming options at those three positions as well as tight end — a position I don’t recommend streaming week-to-week, though still offer recommendations for fantasy players who may need a short-term rental.
Note that these players are rostered in fewer than 50% of Yahoo! leagues, but that these recommendations do not mean that they are the best streamer play for your league — be sure to check my up-to-the-minute rankings to see who the best available player is in your league.
The first two weeks were a bit rough for streaming QBs. We have yet to see a QB ranked inside my top 12 available in more than 50% of leagues.
However, Week 3 provides us with a few high-end QB2 options to choose from. Jones has the highest upside of all streaming options and gets my pick this week. He has rushing lines of 6/27/1 and 9/95/1 in the first two games, which has helped fuel his hot start as the QB5 overall.
Jones’s top-five start is even more impressive considering he has faced two quality defenses in Denver and Washington. Week 3 presents a fantasy-friendly matchup against the Falcons. His passing production should see a boost in the future as he develops chemistry with WR Kenny Golladay and gets TE Evan Engram back.
The Panthers are the clear Week 3 streaming option for defense. They rank No. 1 in DVOA after two games and get to face a Davis Mills-led Texans team on a short week. If there were ever a time to bid a few FAAB to rent a defense for a week, it is now.
The Broncos are 10.5-point home favorites against the Jets, which means McManus should see plenty of scoring opportunities. In addition, whenever he plays at home at Empower Field at Mile High, his odds of attempting a 50+ yard field goal are elevated.
I am going back to the well with Cook this week for streaming purposes. He had a go-ahead TD called back on a ticky-tack penalty, and it cost him what could have been a big game. Nevertheless, Cook begins the week as my TE12 and has a high ceiling given the potential shootout environment against the Chiefs.
If Simmons indeed holds true to his statements, then this makes it extremely difficult for Sixers President of Basketball Operation Daryl Morey to continue along the path of patiently waiting for the best trade offer.
The teams that have been most rumored to trade for Simmons so far are the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings—who both have a ton of young talent and draft assets—and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard was heavily rumored to want out of Portland, but those talks have since cooled off as new head coach Chauncey Billups gears up for training camp with a somewhat new group of talent around Lillard.
There are plenty of darkhorse candidates to trade for Simmons, but almost all of these darkhorse candidates are rebuilding teams that wouldn’t seem to fit the mold of what the “win-now” Sixers are looking for.
Whatever deal the Sixers make when they trade Ben Simmons has to conceivably make the team more competitive in the short term, while also convincing Joel Embiid that his best move is to spend his entire career in Philly.
It’s a tough needle to thread for sure, and the creativity of Daryl Morey will be put to test as we inch ever closer to the formal start of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Below are the latest trade odds for Ben Simmons via BetMGM:
Ben Simmons next team odds 👀
The Minnesota Timberwolves are the favorite at +400 followed by the Houston Rockets at +450!
Rosales is a 5-foot-10, 155-pounder who has five finishes with his hands and two via submission over his six-year professional career.
The 26-year-old has spent the better part of the last three years competing in the Legacy Fighting Alliance, where he’s gone 2-1 with a loss in the Contender Series to Jonathan Pearce sandwiched in-between wins.
Pearce has since fought twice in the UFC and is scheduled for a bout in the early preliminary rounds of UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Rosales entered that 2019 Contender Series fight against Pearce as the -160 favorite — not a far-cry from his current -170 mark at DraftKings.
Martinez is a 5-foot-8, 156-pound striker with eight finishes with his fists.
The striker is currently on a six-fight win streak — including three KO/TKOs within 1.5 rounds — that dates back to 2017.
This fight is closer than the odds suggest.
While Rosales undoubtedly has the grappling and size advantage, Martinez has the power to turn the lights off with one punch.
The 32-year-old Martinez has also fought more regularly and for a longer period of time than the 26-year-old Rosales has.
Plus, having a six-fight, four-year win streak on the line doesn’t hurt, either.
Rosales’ last loss came in July 2020 to Bryce Logan, who parlayed the victory into a Bellator contract, a league generally regarded as the second-best MMA organization in the world.
Logan has lost his first two fights with Bellator.
Rosales was — like his fight with Pearce — a slight-favorite at -155 for that July 2020 bout against Logan. Both times, Rosales came away with the L.
While Rosales’ two-inch height advantage and grappling abilities give me some pause, the value is on Martinez to finish this fight within two rounds.
I would’ve liked to parlay Martinez at +160 with the under on rounds, but all the major American sportsbooks don’t offer prop bets for the Contender Series.
Take Martinez at plus-money in a contest that should be closer to even money.
This will be the first professional fight outside of Brazil for the 25-year-old Kleydson Rodriguez, who weighed in at 126 pounds on Monday and is 5-foot-6.
Rodriguez is on a five-fight win streak, with all five fights taking place with Brazilian MMA organizations. He’s had two submissions and two TKO/KOs during that streak, including a knockout that took place within the first 18 seconds of Round 1.
Santo Curatolo is a 5-foot-3, 125.5-pounder who has never heard the judges’ scorecards in his entire professional career — out of his seven career fights, he’s finished six and was finished in the other.
Curatolo has nabbed four knockouts with his fists, one with his feet and won his sixth finish via submission.
All seven of Curatolo’s professional fights have taken place in the Cage Fury Fighting Championships.
With the odds so even on this one, I can’t justify a bet either way. Rodriguez has the height and reach advantage, but Curatolo is a fighter. If this one had an under 1.5-rounds bet, I’d take that down to +120.
Pick: No bet, unless your book has u1.5 rounds.
Steven Nguyen v. Theo Rlayang
Nguyen had been undefeated until the 2019 Contender Series, when he went down from an incredibly brutal flying knee from Aalon Cruz with just 24 seconds remaining in the fight.
The 5-foot-11, 145.5-pounder has won his only fight since, against Jorge Suarez in the Legacy Fighting Alliance. Nguyen won that bout via TKO/KO within the first 30 seconds.
The 28-year-old out of Kansas has had two other finishes via punches and three submissions.
Five of his six wins have come from a finish during the first round.
Theo Ryalang is undefeated over five fights, albeit with the Ultimate Battle Grounds, a less-competitive MMA organization.
The 5-foot-6, 146 pounder has three finishes with his hands, one unanimous decision and one submission.
Nguyen is by far the more experienced fighter and has a five-inch height advantage to go along with a history of quick finishes.
But his odds have far too little value at -250. As with the Rodriguez v. Curatolo fight, I’d roll with an under 1.5-rounds bet up to +120 if your book allows it.
Pick: No bet, unless your book has u1.5 rounds.
Win $50 if the Cowboys and Chargers score a point!
Morales is an undefeated 11-0 fighter out of Ecuador weighing in at 170 pounds.
He’s finished a ridiculous 10 out of 11 fights, including six with his hands, two via submission and three from stoppages.
But, the 6-foot-3, 21-year-old welterweight has never competed in North American circuits.
Nikolay Veretennikov is 9-3 overall but hasn’t lost since 2014, when he dropped three straight fights. All three losses took place when he was fighting with the Russian MMA organization M-1 Global.
Since then, the 6-foot-2, 171 pounder has won eight straight, of which six were finishes.
That winning streak has coincided with his move away from Eastern Europe — each of his victories have happened with American MMA organizations.
Both fighters are coming into Tuesday with impressive win streaks, and it looks like Veretennikov is the more technical striker. He’s able to do it with both punches and kicks, while his grappling chops are solid, too. While Veretennikov hasn’t finished an opponent by submission, he does have two wins via the ground and pound.
Even so, the value on the undefeated Morales at +165 is too much to disregard.
I’d throw fewer than a unit on Morales to keep his undefeated record and finish this fight — like he has with 10 of 11 of his previous opponents.
Pick: Michael Morales +165
Hashem Arkhagha vs A.J. Dobson
Tuesday’s main event features two undefeated fighters that have taken two dissimilar routes to the Contender Series.
Hashem Arkhagha is an undefeated 6-0 fighter from Jordan who has fought primarily in the Middle East. He’s notched each of his victories with no major issues but took a substantial six and a half year break between 2012 to 2019 after a series of suspensions.
Meanwhile, A.J. Dobson is an undefeated 5-0 during his career and has competed only in American circuits.
But that’s taken place over just five years as a professional — a shorter duration of time than even Arkhagha’s MMA sabbatical.
The 29-year-old from Ohio has finished four of his five professional opponents, including three with his hands and one via submission.
An important note about this fight is that Arkhagha weighed in on Monday severely overweight and will forfeit 20% of his purse as a result.
Because Arkhagha came in four pounds overweight — and 4.5 pounds up on Dobson — I’m reticent to bet this contest.
If Dobson takes this, it’s pretty likely he’ll get to sign for a UFC contract at the end of the night.
With Arkhagha’s weigh-in, expect him to go home without one, even with a win.
When you bet a golfer (and even some other sports) at a number of United States sportsbooks, you may see a little box next to his or her name.
“Each Way” or “E/W”, followed by a fraction and some numbers.
This is a popular betting concept in Europe, but hasn’t quite become mainstream in the U.S. yet. It’s used most often in golf, but it also applies to other sports with big fields, like motor sports or horse racing.
Here’s how it looks at Bet365, one of the only United States books to offer each-way betting. Bet Rivers also offers them, but calls it a “Win/Place” bet.
An each-way bet splits your bet into a “win” bet and a “place” bet. It’s actually not all that different from making one bet on a player to win, and another bet on he or she to finish top 5, though this is more seamless. The place payouts can also vary based on a number of factors, including field size.
Let’s use Max Homa’s win at the Fortinet Championship as an example.
If you bet $20 on Homa each-way, you’d really be betting $10 on him at 60-1, and $10 on him to finish inside the top 5 at a quarter of those odds — so the second portion of the bet becomes 15-1 instead of 60-1. And he just needs to finish top 5 to cash it.
Homa pre-tournament odds: 60-1
Each-way payout: 15-1 (1/4 of pre-tournament odds)
Places paid out: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th
Homa won the tournament, so he cashed both bets — an each-way bettor would have won $600 on the win portion, plus $150 on the place portion.
Mito Pereira finished third, so betting $20 on him each-way resulted in a loss of $10 because he didn’t win, but a gain of $100 because he finished top 5.
Mito Pereira pre-tournament odds: 40-1
Each-way payout: 10-1 (1/4 of pre-tournament odds)
Places paid out: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th
Do Each-Way Bets Always Pay Out the Same?
Each-way bets are adjusted algorithmically based on a number of factors, primarily field size and probability to win.
And for golf majors, some books will pay 1/5th the odds for spots 1-8 (so a top 8 finish).
Before most golf tournaments, you’ll get 1/4 of the odds for finishing in spots 2-5 on the place bet. But if you’re betting a 20-man Formula 1 race, the book will only pay out spots 1-2 at one third of the odds.
The same idea applies to a golf tournament that’s already underway. If Jon Rahm has a three-shot lead over second place and a seven-shot lead over sixth place entering Sunday, he’s a near-lock to finish top 5, so the book isn’t going to let you bet him to place 1-5 at a quarter of the odds.
What About Ties?
Dead-heat rules do apply to each-way bets. And you can’t bet golf without knowing about said rules. At most sportsbooks, your bet will be split if a player ties for the final spot on a finishing position bet.
If you bet Dylan Frittelli top 5 at the 2021 Masters at 40-1, your bet would have only paid out 20-1 since he tied for fifth with Rory McIlroy. (Unless you bet it at BetMGM, which pays out all ties in full). If you bet Corey Conners top 10 at 9-1, you only would have been paid out at 3-1 since he tied with two others.
The same rules apply for each-way betting. If a golfer ties for the final spot in the number of places the sportsbook offers, you’ll get paid out partially depending on how many players tied for that spot.
Let’s say you bet $20 on Guido Migliozzi each-way at 200-1 at the 2021 U.S. Open, and your book was paying out spots 1-5 for the place bet. Half your bet ($10) would be on him to win at 200-1, with the other $10 to finish top 5 at 50-1.
Migliozzi tied with Collin Morikawa and Brooks Koepka for fifth, so that 50-1 payout would get chopped three ways to a little less than 17-1.
Where Can I Bet Each-Ways in the United States?
There are several sportsbooks that offer each-way betting in the U.S. FOX Bet generally has good prices on golf outrights, as well.
It depends on the event, your risk tolerance, and more. In large-field events with as much randomness as golf, where it’s tough to price everyone accurately, it can be a good and fun betting option.
Elite players tend to win big golf tournaments, but all four majors this year had at least one player who entered at 150-1 or longer finish top 5. This allows you to bet longshots who realistically can’t win, but could contend if things break right.
If your book doesn’t offer each-way, you can bet half your stake on the golfer winning and half on a top 5 to mimic an each-way.
Available states: AZ, IN, IA, MI, PA, NJ, CO, WV, TN, VA, DC*
Who’s it for? New users only
The over/under for this game is set at a whopping 60.5 points, so you’d be pretty smart to bet on either team putting at least six on the board at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — especially when it pays you $200!
As we quickly approach the start of the new college basketball season on Nov. 9, bettors are seeking the best odds, best opportunities and unique trends for 2022 national championship futures.
At BetMGM — which is live in states like Arizona, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, among others — the highest percentage of the money and percentage of bets is coming in on Villanova (36.2 and 20.5%, respectively).
The Wildcats offer strong value (+1200) with the return of fifth-year seniors Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels. They reached the Sweet 16 last season — despite losing Gillespie to a knee injury before the NCAA tournament — and are consistently one of the best teams in the country with Jay Wright in charge.
Meanwhile, the projected No. 1 team, Gonzaga, is receiving only 3.6% of the money. They’re the current favorites to cut down the nets at +600, thanks to return of Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard and the addition of an elite recruiting class.
Gonzaga does have the second-highest percentage of bets (13.9%) at BetMGM, though, including a notable wager of $15,000 to win $90,000.
Two other teams that are earning the highest handle percentage include UCLA (26.8%) and Kansas (11.9%).
The Bruins are +1200 after returning all five starters from a team that reached the Final Four last year, while the Jayhawks have the same odds as Purdue, Kentucky and Texas at +1600.
Highest Percentage of Money at BetMGM
Highest Ticket Percentage at BetMGM
Despite landing the top high school prospect in the country, Emoni Bates, and another five-star talent Jalen Duren, Memphis is getting just 0.5% of the money and 1.6% of the total bets.
The defending national champs are also not receiving a lot of love, as the Bears are getting 0.4% of the money following the departures of Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler and MaCio Teague.
From the opening kickoff, the game was a monumental mismatch. By halftime, it was a full-blown massacre. In the second half, the starters of the nationally-ranked team were benched as seldom-used reserves saw rare playing time.
Even though the game was no longer in doubt, the “other” game — who would cover the point spread — was still undecided.
On the sideline, a group of “big-time” donors watched intently as the nationally-ranked team drove for a last-gasp touchdown that would cover the massive spread. However, they lost a fumble near the goal line.
“Those [donors] looked like the world had just ended,” a former coach of the school said.
On the next play, the opposing team turned the ball over, miraculously allowing the nationally-ranked team to score — and cover — in the waning moments. Those distraught donors?
“Those guys,” the coach said, “were celebrating on the sideline like we had just won the national championship.”
As the old gambling adage goes: “Good teams win, great teams cover.”
How Does the Spread Impact College Football Coaches?
With the red-hot popularity of legalized sports gambling, now legal in 12 states and growing, the Action Network contacted dozens of current and former coaches about their knowledge of the point spread. Also, had they tried to cover a spread, or was there pressure from high-level donors or boosters to cover?
Every current and former coach contacted would only talk on the condition of anonymity.
Any college football fan doesn’t need Scott Van Pelt and Stanford Steve’s weekly “Bad Beats” SportsCenter segment to know how often the spread is determined in the wildest and wackiest ways.
But what exactly do the coaches know?
“It all boils down to this,” a current head coach said. “Any coach you talk to that says they don’t know what the spread is: they’re lying. How can you not know? It’s on every pre-game show. It’s everywhere.”
Added another coach: “I can 100% guarantee every coach in the country knows the line to their game.”
While playing a road game is never easy, there’s also the added challenge of dodging boosters in the team hotel on Friday night or Saturday morning.
“When you go through the lobby or you’re going to the pregame meal or to the bus, inevitably you’re going to see somebody who will ask: ‘How’s it look today?’ Or they’re wanting injury information on key players,” a former coach said.
“And some just cut to the chase: ‘Coach, you think we’re going to cover?’ There hasn’t been a game I coached in where I haven’t been asked that by somebody.”
Do Coaches Intentionally Try to Cover?
Each coach contacted downplayed the perception they have scored late to cover the spread.
“You think I’m going to risk losing my livelihood and job trying to cover a spread because some booster may give me a few hundred bucks?” a coach said. “I’m not that stupid.”
There are dozens of examples that suggest otherwise. Here are a few:
2020 | Duke vs. Virginia Tech
In 2020, Duke trailed Virginia Tech, 38-28. On the game’s final play, Duke opted for a 39-yard field goal instead of trying to score a touchdown. Duke, which opened as a 9.5-point underdog, only lost, 38-31, and covered.
2017 | Wisconsin vs. Maryland
In 2017, Wisconsin was a 24-point favorite vs. Maryland and led 35-13 with 41 seconds left. Instead of running out the clock on fourth-and-1 from the 15, Wisconsin — after calling a timeout — kicked a 33-yard field goal to win, 38-13, and cover.
2016 | Louisiana Tech vs. UTSA
In 2016, Louisiana Tech was a 22-point favorite vs. UTSA. Leading 56-35 with 3:09 remaining, the Bulldogs took over at UTSA’s 31. Instead of taking a knee to end the game, Louisiana Tech scored on a one-yard run with five seconds left to win, 63-35, and cover.
2008 | Florida vs. Miami
In 2008, Florida was a 22.5-point favorite vs. Miami and led, 23-3. In the final minutes, Florida returned a punt to the Miami 16. UF coach Urban Meyer had Tim Tebow pass on the first two downs instead of running out the clock. With 25 seconds left on fourth down, UF kicked a 29-yard field goal to win 26-3 and cover.
1995 | Penn State vs. Rutgers
One of the most controversial late-game situations occurred in 1995 between Penn State and Rutgers.
Penn State, a 20-point favorite, led 52-34 with more than a minute remaining. Instead of running out the clock, PSU quarterback Mike McQueary threw a 42-yard touchdown with 58 seconds remaining to win, 59-34, and cover.
In their post-game exchange, Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Rutgers’ Doug Graber got into a heated, expletive-laden exchange.
Then in 2014, there was a report that McQueary may have had a gambling problem in college, perhaps explaining Penn State’s late touchdown. When this report surfaced, I spoke with Graber about the ending.
“My question is: why was Penn State throwing the ball?” Graber told me. “I find it hard to believe [they were trying to cover], but I really don’t know.”
Some coaches said they realize what a late score can mean to their donors or boosters.
“You know a booster had money on the game when he comes up to you afterwards and says ‘great win, coach’ and he’s all jacked up because you just beat some team like Texas Southern,” a former coach said. “It’s pretty obvious.”
“When you’re a heavy favorite,” said a current coach, “you always want that extra touchdown at the end because subconsciously, you realize the significance of it to donors and fans and what it might mean to them.”
Added another coach: “The line? Shoot, I’m just trying to win games.”
Which current coaches have the best and worst percentages covering the spread?
The Action Network compiled a list of the current 102 FBS coaches, who have coached at least 10 games at their current school, and their winning percentages against the spread through Sept. 21.
McMurphy’s AP Top 25 Ballot vs. Our Betting Power Ratings
Though the Wolverines may not be the Crimson Tide, they’re surely capable of finding the end zone a few times against an overmatched Scarlet Knights squad. This is college football we’re talking about here — generally not a sport that spits out defensive showdowns.
There is no golf event that can match the levels of energy and intrigue that surround the Ryder Cup. With the 2020 playing of the Cup postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this weekend is carrying more anticipation than any other recent competition.
It has been three years since the Europeans claimed victory on home soil in Paris and a lot has changed in the golf world since that day. Jon Rahm has emerged as the unquestioned top player alive, bolstering an already strong European Team. Team USA is as talented as ever, yet the rifts in relationships among the American ranks have only grown deeper.
Europe has won or retained the Ryder Cup in 12 of the last 17 meetings, including seven of the last nine and four of the last five showcase events. The USA has a more talented team and will set up Whistling Straits to its advantage.
Amidst all of the dramatic wrinkles, there are plenty of opportunities for bettors to find value. The match play format allows sportsbooks to get awfully creative in drawing up prop bets. In those markets, there are a ton of intriguing plays that caught my eye.
Europe (+200) to win Day 1 & Day 2 Fourball at DraftKings
The conventional wisdom surrounding international team golf argues the Americans are less equipped for the team formats, particularly foursomes (alternate shot). Fourball should at least give Team USA members a chance to play their own ball and score individually. In recent Cups, that hasn’t been the case.
Going back a few years, the Americans have more than held their own in foursomes, but four-ball has been much closer. In theory, playing better ball on a course set up by captain Steve Stricker should allow America’s bombers like Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and others a chance to pile up birdies.
Alternatively, Europe’s team is not lacking for players capable of going deep with the driver. In fact, Europe boasts four of the top 10 players in the world (Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Viktok Hovland and Sergio Garcia) in the last three months in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, per DataGolf, compared to just three for the Americans (DeChambeau, Kopeka and Patrick Cantlay).
Birdies or better per round, PGA Tour events since beginning of 2021
Adding in the seeming disinterest and discontent among Koepka and DeChambeau, Europe looks plenty strong in fourball, certainly strong enough to wager on at +200 each day.
Most Points Won — Jon Rahm over Justin Thomas (-110) via DraftKings
This year, Rahm has emerged as the world’s best golfer. In a team event, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll dominate (just peek at Tiger Woods’ career Ryder Cup record).
It does mean European captain Padraig Harrington would be silly to sit Rahm for any of the four sessions on the first two days. Barring a respite to keep Rahm fresh, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be the tentpole of Europe’s strategy in the team sessions.
Thomas could be used in the same way. In his three prior appearances in team play (the 2018 Ryder Cup and the 2017 and 2019 Presidents cups), he has yet to sit on the bench during any team session. He’s played all 12 opportunities in those three events, including four matches together with longtime friend Jordan Spieth at the 2018 Ryder Cup. That team is likely to be trotted out plenty again this weekend.
If both play all or nearly all of the available sessions, Rahm has to be considered a slight favorite to outperform Thomas. He’s outplayed his competition at every turn, while Thomas has been less consistent. Over the last six months, according to Strokes Gained numbers from Data Golf, Thomas has ranked just 107th in the world in putting.
The only reason for hesitation in betting on Rahm’s point total this week? His golf ball. Rahm is the only member of Team Europe to use a Callaway ball. You’d assume one of his teammates would be prepared for the switch in alternate shot, yet that can bring a learning curve.
Most Points Won — Paul Casey over Collin Morikawa (-110) at DraftKings
It’s become clear in recent months that either Collin Morikawa is battling an injury or his game is simply out of sync. He was reported to be fighting a back injury earlier this summer and claims it is no longer an issue. If he is healthy, his play hasn’t rebounded yet.
The analytics at DataGolf show Morikawa has gained more strokes on approach shots per round than any player since 2004. However, in the past three months, he ranked 40th in that statistic and his putter also went cold during that time frame.
Meanwhile, Casey has been as dependable as ever, continuing as one of the world’s best ball-strikers. I’d likely favor many of Europe’s better players in a matchup with Morikawa, but DraftKings choosing Casey to square off with Morikawa made this bet an easy one to choose.
Tony Finau — Top USA Point Scorer (+1000) at DraftKings
Stricker will be setting up the course to favor his long hitting, birdie-making stars. With Koepka fighting an injury (and dropping a few on-brand sound bites about his excitement for the event) and DeChambeau appearing more focused on next week’s World Long Drive Championship than the Ryder Cup, someone like Tony Finau looks well suited for the course and tournament format.
DataGolf pegs Finau as the fifth-best fit for Whistling Straits and he finished in the top 10 when the PGA Championship visited the course during the 2015 season. Finau carries a somewhat strong 3-2-3 record in team events in his two appearances. That said, he’s a good wager to lead his team in scoring.
Lee Westwood to Gain Winning Point/Half point (+3300) at Parx
At a certain point, when betting this event, you need to commit to not only leaning toward a winning side, but a narrative or script to play out throughout the week. Needless to say, dabbling in contradictory sides of the props market is a dangerous game.
If you can’t tell from the four picks above, I’m slightly leaning toward a European win here in the states. Maybe not enough to bet the Euros outright at the range they’re currently being offered, especially not with a rooting interest in the home team, but enough to be intrigued by some of the more exotic props that emerge from a European win.
This bet is an interesting one with quite a few layers. First, you have to be leaning toward one team’s chances to win the Cup. Second, you have to find a player you favor to win or halve his singles match. Lastly, you need a little luck or divine intervention for the timing to work out for that player’s match to be the deciding factor.
So if I’m leaning toward a European win, why not Westwood? He’s cooled off after a hot start to the year, but has made seven cuts in a row. It’s unclear why he’d have the second longest odds in this market. He is just 3-7 in his career in singles, obscuring an overall winning record in Ryder Cup play.
Westwood is the type of veteran Ryder Cup player Europe would love to have in position to earn a big point on Sunday. At these odds, he’s worth a flyer.
That got me thinking: It seems like non pay-per-view UFC cards have been filled with upsets. So would it be profitable to just blindly bet underdogs? What about on PPVs, would the opposite strategy of betting every favorite on the card work?
I went back and looked at every UFC card in 2021 and tracked the hypothetical return on betting one unit on every fight — favorites on PPV cards, underdogs on free cards.
I used the closing line according to Tapology and tossed out any fight where there wasn’t a fighter listed at odds longer than +100. So if the “underdog” was -105, that didn’t count. I applied this to favorite bets too, which essentially meant that all the favorites considered were -125 or better.
I also didn’t count fights that Tapology currently lists as no-contests, even though some of these likely would have paid out despite having the result overturned later.
Finally, as noted above, I evaluated based on flat bets of one unit, you might be able to get different results if betting to win one unit on favorites. Enough preamble, here’s what I found:
For free events, you’d be up precisely 2.5 units betting on every underdog in 2021, for an average of roughly 0.14 units per event. This of course is relying heavily on the last two events, which as Erich noted accounted for around 14.6 units.
Betting every PPV favorite at a flat one-unit bet would’ve netted you around four units of profit since last August, for an average of 0.3 units an event.
(I added a few extra events from 2020 to improve the sample size. In case you’re concerned I arbitrarily ended it to fit what I was looking for, the PPV prior to where I stopped would’ve added a three unit profit to the favorites.)
If I had considered only cards in 2021, the return would be about 0.2 units per event on PPVs.
While the results weren’t shocking, underdogs have been more profitable on free cards, and favorites have been better on PPVs.
We’re generating just over 1% return on investment on free cards and just under 3% on PPVs, assuming a 12-fight average per card (the actual ROIs are somewhat higher considering all the fights I didn’t count due to no-contests, draws or no clear favorite.)
My working theory on what’s happening here is that PPV cards tend to have more established fighters with longer resumes, while the free cards have more unknowns, thus making it harder for books to price the fights accurately, leading to more underdogs winning.
This is especially true when both fighters are making their promotional debut, in which case it’s very difficult to evaluate the relative quality of their competition. Since this almost never happens on paid events, the books are more likely to hang a bad line on free cards.
Additionally, the betting market itself is more liquid and efficient on the bigger cards. Limits tend to be higher, and bettors who are buying a Connor McGregor fight may be more inclined to bet on his undercard than the opener of an event headlined by Sean Strickland vs. Uriah Hall.
Since we looked at closing lines, we’re seeing the result of more money hammering the lines into shape, which should make the market more efficient and lead to more favorites winning.
So how can we use this?
I wouldn’t recommend just blindly betting each and every fight based on the strategy outlined here. The sample size here is still relatively small, and that strategy brings a lot of risk with a limited return. With that being said, we could fairly easily improve on this method without having to know a ton about the fighters involved.
First, it’s extremely important to line shop. Tapology seems to post some version of a consensus line, and for the vast majority of these fights you could’ve gotten a better line by checking prices on our UFC odds page. They also list lines with a wider straddle than most sportsbooks, with toss-up fights being listed as -115 both ways, which is almost a 3% change in the books hold compared to lines at -110.
You should also consider changing your bet timing based on what type of bets you’re making. Underdogs probably lose some of their value throughout the week. As an example, this I recently wrote about a bet I was making on Billy Quarantillo, who was a +180 underdog when I made the bet and dipped to +140 by Friday night.
It’s a lot easier to beat opening lines than closing lines, and my unconfirmed suspicion is that if we applied this methodology to lines as they were on Mondays before the fight, the results would be stronger.
Finally, and most importantly, it’s important to use this information to inform your decisions without fully relying on it. Consider leaning more towards the underdog when you see fighters with limited UFC experience, or less name recognition, and vise-versa.
I somewhat arbitrarily drew the line between PPVs and free cards, but headlining fights on free cards are probably more efficient than the early prelims on PPVs, so by understanding this phenomena you could make better decisions when putting your money down.
College GameDay is heading to Chicago for a Week 4 matchup between Notre Dame and Wisconsin at Soldier Field. The Fightin’ Irish are 3-0, but things won’t be easy for Brian Kelly’s team against a stingy Badgers defense.
You know what will be easy, though? Cashing in on this promo from BetMGM. Bet on this game (or any game, technically) and you’ll get $200 on just one TD:
Midweek European soccer is back this week, with Serie A, La Liga, and Ligue 1 in action across the busy landscape.
There wasn’t much drama or upsets this past weekend in these three leagues, as most of the big clubs took care of business. There aren’t many big games during the week, either, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t excitement from a betting perspective.
With Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League taking place last week, a lot of managers might be rotating their squads because clubs like Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, etc… are playing their fourth matches in less than two weeks.
That said, it might be a good idea to check lineups and injuries before placing a bet.
If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projections, you can check it all out here.
You can use these projections to identify betting value on current lines, plus follow me in The Action Network App to see any bets I make during the week.
Bologna was due for some positive regression this season, which will come out of the 4-2-3-1 formation it played a majority of the time last season. When using that style, they were quite prolific offensively, averaging 1.58 xG per 90 minutes.
So far this season, they were playing well up until this past weekend where they were drubbed, 6-1, on the road at Inter Milan. However, before the match against Inter, Bologna had a non-penalty expected goal differential of +1.3 through their first three matches against Salernitana, Atalanta and Verona.
Now, they’ll be facing a Genoa side that’s quite frankly due for a ton of negative regression after finishing 10th last season. Genoa’s actual goal differential was -11, but their xGDiff was -21.97 in the category.
Dating back to last season, they had the fewest shot-creating actions and touches inside the opponents’ penalty area, while their defense ranks in the bottom five of those same two categories, per fbref.com.
Additionally, Genoa was terrible on the road last season, putting up a -14.98 xGDiff, which was the second worst mark in Serie A outside of the three relegated teams.
I have Bologna projected at -119, so I think there’s some value on them at +105 via DraftKings and would play the club down to +100 odds.
Torino has been much improved this season. They were dangerously close to relegation last season, but should have been closer to the middle of the table because based on expected points, they should have finished 11th — rather than 17th — according to understat.com.
Torino lost their first two matches against Atalanta and Fiorentina, but has won two in a row with wins against Salernitana and Sassuolo. The side has been incredible defensively, allowing only 2.6 xG through their first four matches, which is the best mark in the Italian top flight.
They have a good striker in Andrea Belotti, who scored 13 goals and carried a 0.42 xG scoring rate last season and have brought in attacking help with the likes of Dennis Praet from Leicester City and Josip Brekalo from Wolfsburg.
Sure, Lazio finished just outside the top four last season, but they only accumulated 57.68 xP, which was far below their actual point total of 68. They’re also going through a transition period, with long-time manager Simone Inzaghi leaving for Inter Milan.
Also, Lazio was dreadful on the road last season, picking up 26 of a possible 57 points with a -0.79 xGDiff. Sure, they won their first two matches against bottom-of-the-table sides in Empoli and Spezia by a combined 9-2 score line, but were throughly outplayed by AC Milan two weeks ago and needed a late goal for a 2-2 home draw with Cagliari in Sunday’s fixtures.
I don’t think Lazio should be a road favorite against a well organized side like Torino, as I only have them projected at +168. So, I think we have value on their spread of +0.5 at -130 odds at DraftKings and would play it up to -145 odds.
Sevilla has been fantastic to start the season, even though they’ve drawn their last two games with Elche and Real Sociedad. They’ve only allowed 2.91 xG through their first four matches, which is the best mark in La Liga.
Tactically, Sevilla use a fantastic blend of pressing and defensive structure out of its 4-3-3 formation. Depending on the opponent, they might press high up the field or sit back and take away key passing lanes in the middle.
It has shown in their underlying metrics as well, as Sevilla only allows 0.91 xG per 90 minutes when playing out of that setup. They were also one of the best teams at home dating back to last season against teams below them in the table going 17-1-2 with a +16.06 xGDiff.
Valencia were brought back down to earth this past Sunday, suffered a 2-1 home loss against Real Madrid. Before the match, Valencia didn’t exactly play a murderers’ row en route to accumulating 10 points against Getafe, Granada, Alaves and Osasuna.
If we date back to last season, the club really struggled to find reliable strikers up top in its 4-4-2 formation, as Carlos Soler was its top goal scorer with 11 goals from the midfield position.
Also, Valencia allowed 1.47 xG per match last season. That was the fourth-highest mark in La Liga, which was quite pathetic considering how defensive that formation is in the first place.
In fact, it allowed the most shot-creating actions of any team in Spain during the 2020-21 campaign. Their offense is due for some negative regression too, because they’ve only created 5.00 non-penalty expected goals through their first five matches, but have scored eight non-penalty goals.
Sevilla also swept Valencia in both meetings last season, out creating them 2.85 xG to 1.16 xG.
I have Sevilla projected at -199, so I think there is plenty of value on the club at -140 via DraftKings and would play it up to -170 odds.
Villarreal has had a real suspect start to the season, drawing all of their first four matches. With that being said, Villarreal is still a top-six team in Spain. Last season, they finished with the +14.21 xGDiff.
Villarreal was much better at home than on the road. They had the fifth-best xGDiff (+11.7) in the Spanish top flight, and dominated the bottom nine teams at home. They went 7-2-0, outscoring their opponents by a 15-6 margin.
Offensively, Elche was completely anemic and wound up with the lowest xG per match average (0.80) in the league last season. The club plays a very defensive 4-4-2 formation, much like a lot of Spanish teams do, but struggles to create high-quality chances.
Elche was dead last in shots inside the penalty area; shots inside the six-yard box; shot-creating actions; and, passes leading to a shot. This season, they’ve only created 3.01 xG from open play from their first five matches.
In fact, Elche didn’t have anyone on its roster who averaged more than 0.25 xG per 90 minutes, so I don’t know how they’re going to score against an incredibly well-organized side like Villarreal that allowed only 1.05 xG per match last season at home.
I have Villarreal’s spread projected at -1.25, so I think there is some value on the at -1 at +100 on DraftKings on and would play it up to -105 odds.
Listen, Lille has taken a big down turn since winning the Ligue 1, picking up only five points in their first six matches, but they’ve been really unlucky. Lille has a +2.66 xGDiff so far.
Their offense, which was completely anemic last season has been awesome to start this season, creating 8.78 xG, which is the third most in Ligue 1. Last season, they only averaged 1.27 xG per match.
They are also due for a lot of positive regression defensively because although they’ve allowed 12 goals (second most in the French top flight), they’ve only allowed opponents to create 6.20 xG so far.
Also, might I remind you Lille has the best defense in Europe’s top-five leagues last season, allowing only 0.67 xG per match out of their patented 4-4-2 formation.
Reims is doing exactly what they did last season, putting together a -1.24 xGDiff through their first six matches and have actually lost the xG battle in four of those games.
In case you forgot what they did last season, Reims finished in 14th place with a -8 goal differential, but had the second-fewest xG and the second-most xGA, which generated a -28.56 xGDiff. They also sold their top striker during the summer who created 40% of their xG last season.
They were one of the worst road teams, putting up a -15.69 xGDiff and only averaged 0.95 xG per match, which was the second-lowest mark in Ligue 1.
I have Lille projected at -236, so I think there’s value on them at -140 on DraftKings and would play it up to -200 odds.
Rennes has been really poor to start the season, picking up only five points through six matches. Their offense has done nothing as well, creating only 5.94 xG, which is the fourth lowest mark in Ligue 1.
This is sort of a carry over from last season, because they averaged only 1.23 xG per match, but had one of the best defenses in France in allowing only 0.95 xG per game. That number gets even better at home, where they only conceded 0.85 xG per outing during the 2020-21 campaign.
Clermont Foot has had a very positive start to their first Ligue 1 campaign since promotion, picking up nine points through their first nine matches, and have created 9.69 xG thus far.
However, history is not on Clermont Foot’s side. Since 2005, newly promoted teams coming up to the top flight of France see a 29.7% dip in scoring after getting promoted. So for a club like Clermont Foot that averaged 1.82 xG per match in Ligue 2, is projected to only average 1.28 xG per match.
Rennes is also dealing with some injuries right now, as two of their best attacking players — Jeremy Doku and Martin Terrier — will be sidelined until at least October.
I only have 1.99 goals projected for this match, so I think there’s some value on the total under 2.5 goals at -110 via FanDuel and would play it to -120 odds as my top selection.
Rarely is tennis a team sport, but this weekend it will be. Tennis’ version of the Ryder Cup will be held on the same dates as its golf predecessor, with a similar format.
The tournament is one of the most unique events that the sport has to offer, and while the three biggest stars won’t be attending, there will be plenty of familiar faces in Boston’s TD Garden.
Here’s what to look out for when Team Europe takes on Team World in one of the most underrated stops on the modern tennis calendar.
What is the Laver Cup?
An event introduced in 2017, the Laver Cup is unquestionably molded by the structure of the Ryder Cup. Due to the structure of tennis, though, the teams are different.
Rather than Team Europe versus Team USA, the Laver Cup features Team Europe versus Team World. This makes sense, as Europeans have won the previous 47 men’s singles Grand Slam titles. The last non-European to win one was Juan Martin Del Potro at the 2009 US Open.
Roger Federer and his management team TEAM8 spearheaded the creation of the event, named after Australian legend Rod Laver. The scoring is a bit different than regular ATP events, as players engage in three set matches with a catch: if the match reaches a deciding set, it’s ended with a 10-point tiebreak, creating intense moments.
Additionally, each member of the winning team earns $250,000, nearly $100,000 more than Jannik Sinner earned for his runner-up finish at the Miami Masters in 2021, to put the amount into context.
Federer himself featured in the deciding match of the inaugural event, beating Nick Kyrgios in a thrilling 10-point tiebreak in which he saved a match point. The 2017 iteration of the tournament set the tone for a competition that is to be fiercely competitive and taken very seriously by the players.
The event will be held in Boston at the TD Garden, spanning from September 24 to September 26. In 2022, the Laver Cup will be held at the O2 Arena in London. It has previously been held in Prague (2017), Chicago (2018) and Geneva (2019).
For American viewers, the event can be viewed on the Tennis Channel. Fans from all other countries can be directed here.
Laver Cup History
Team Europe has thoroughly dominated the event, winning all 3 titles since the event’s inception in 2017. There was no Laver Cup in 2020 due to the implications of COVID-19.
Whether it be due to the level of players competing, the 10-point third set tiebreaker or the intensity of the Laver Cup, this event consistently features phenomenal matches.
As noted above, a wild battle between Federer and Kyrgios capped off the tournament in 2017, but the event also featured an equally fascinating match where John Isner beat Rafael Nadal.
In 2018, Team Europe took home the crown 13-8, facing little resistance from Team World. Nevertheless, an incredibly fun Djokovic/Federer doubles pairing competed for the Europeans, and a tight match between Kevin Anderson and Alex Zverev sealed a second title for Team Europe.
The last edition of the Laver Cup saw Team World have its best chance at glory, as Milos Raonic took on Zverev in a winner take all match. Once again, Zverev was able to show his guts and get Europe to the finish line.
One of the more compelling moments of the match and tournament actually occurred off the court, as fans got to hear Federer and Nadal coach Zverev prior to the third set breaker. Hearing players coach each other is a unique aspect we get at the Laver Cup, making it all the more intriguing.
2021 Team Members
Team Europe will have a big edge in talent on paper once more this year despite not having any “Big 3” members, as all 6 regulation players are in the top 10 of the ATP rankings. Bjorn Borg will coach the team as he has in the past.
Feliciano Lopez (Alt.)
Team World will be led by John McEnroe again and will have some massive serving firepower to utilize. However, the highest ranked player on the team is 11th in the world.
Jack Sock (Alt.)
Betting Odds and Format
While most U.S. sportsbooks don’t have the event available for wagering yet, many European books do, with odds following a similar trend in years prior, having Team Europe -400 with Team World +300.
Team Europe -450 / Team World +340
Team Europe -400 / Team World +300
Team Europe -400 / Team World +300
Look for odds to be released in America as the week moves on, but value isn’t present for either squad in this format either way. Instead, you’re much better off evaluating individual matchups and finding opportunities there, as you would in a normal tennis tournament. With the scoring format the way it is, upsets are more possible than regular events due to the lack of a full third set.
If you’re going to watch or bet on any tennis for the rest of the year, this is going to be one of the most fun chances you have to do it.
Two title fights and a long-awaited return highlight a loaded betting card at UFC 266 coming up on September 25 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The main event features Ultimate Fighter coaches Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega in a championship bout for Volkanovski’s featherweight belt.
It will be the first title defense for Volkanovski against someone other than Max Holloway, and he’s opened as the -165 betting favorite. Ortega gets his second chance at the title as the +145 underdog.
Volkanovski is undefeated in nine UFC fights, including an impressive stretch with two wins over Holloway (one in a close split decision), a win over Jose Aldo and a TKO against Chad Mendes.
Ortega earned his first title shot after a KO win over Frankie Edgar in 2018, but was pieced up against Holloway which resulted in a doctor’s stoppage. He bounced back in a big way with a clear unanimous decision win over Chan Sung Jung to pave the way for his next shot.
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Valentina Shevchenko, the biggest favorite on the card, returns to defend her flyweight title against Lauren Murphy.
Shevchenko is in the midst of a seven-fight winning streak since losing to Amanda Nunes in 2017.
Three of those wins are via KO, with the other coming via submission. Murphy is next in line after five consecutive wins, her last coming in a split decision over Joanne Calderwood in June.
Shevchenko is a staunch -1500 favorite, which has shortened from -1375 since the beginning of the month.
Nick Diaz returns to the UFC in what’s been a highly-anticipated return by old-school UFC fans.
The brother of Nate, Nick has not fought in the UFC since his no-contest against Anderson Silva in 2015. That came after back-to-back losses to Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit. His last win in the octagon was against B.J. Penn in 2011.
His comeback fight is a rematch with Robbie Lawler — a rematch from 2004. Diaz won that fight by knockout, but comes in a small underdog this time around. Lawler is known as one of the toughest fighters in the business, but he’s coming off four consecutive losses.
The other pay-per-view fights on the main card are heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes against knockout artist Jairzinho Rozentruik and women’s flyweight contenders Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo.
The Green Bay Packers got walloped by the New Orleans Saints, 38-3, in their season opener. As Green Bay gets set for its home opener against a pesky Detroit Lions team that staged a furious comeback last week against the 49ers that fell short, is it time to hit the panic button, or is it simply time to R.E.L.A.X.?
Should Packers Panic?
To answer the question about whether to overreact to the Packers’ Week 1 blowout loss, we have to ask ourselves exactly how far out of the norm it was given the circumstances. For most, “the circumstances” were the Packers coming off a somewhat tumultuous offseason where Aaron Rodgers wasn’t a sure thing to come back to the team.
But what if we look at the circumstances another way?
What if it was simply that Rodgers was facing an elite defense?
Here are the Saints’ overall defensive DVOA rankings:
Pass Defense: 3rd
Run Defense: 2nd
After the Saints beat down the Packers in Week 1, they rank first in defensive DVOA, which is … one spot off from when they finished last season.
Speaking of last season: Remember the one truly bad game Rodgers had? The one in which he went 16-of-35 for 160 yards with zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and four sacks for 42 yards lost in a 38-10 loss?
That came in Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another defense that ranked in the top five in DVOA.
Was last week’s 38-3 loss disappointing? Sure. Does it warrant an overreaction? Absolutely not. Things like that will happen against good defenses, even in MVP seasons like Rodgers had last year.
The good thing for the Packers offense? Here is how the Lions ranked on defense last season:
Overall Defensive DVOA: 32nd
Pass Defense DVOA: 32nd
Run Defense DVOA: 27th
After one game — a 41-33 loss to the 49ers at home — the Lions are ranked … 30th in defensive DVOA (and 30th against both the pass and run).
So, to recap: Rodgers goes from facing a defense that ranked in the top three overall and against the pass to facing one that ranks bottom three overall and against the pass.
Detroit’s defensive prospects have gotten even worse now that cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, the third overall pick in the 2020 draft, has been lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Rodgers and the offense had one bad game, but he is still a future Hall of Fame quarterback who averages 7.8 yards per attempt and a 103.6 passer rating for his career. He is facing an undermanned secondary that allowed 12.3 YPA and a 136.5 passer rating in Week 1, and an NFL-worst 8.5 YPA and 112.4 passer rating last season.
The Saints laid the blueprint for beating the Packers offense, as the Bucs and 49ers have done before them: Get pressure without blitzing. According to Pro Football Reference advanced data, the Saints blitzed just three times but got eight pressures in Week 1. The Lions, meanwhile, blitzed 14 times and came away with only three pressures last week.
Rodgers and the pass offense are due for some positive reversion to the mean.
The Lions gave up the highest average depth of target in the league last week (11.5), so this could be a good spot for No. 1 receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has a career aDOt of 16.3 and averaged a league-leading 20.9 yards per catch. We know Davante Adams will obviously get his, so nothing much needs to be said about him.
The Packers coaching staff will also look to get the running game going to help get the offense back on track. Aaron Jones should have no issues against a defense that gave up 131 yards on 28 carries (4.7 yard per carry) with two touchdowns to the 49ers last week and allowed the most rushing scores (27) and fifth-most rushing yards per game (134.9) a year ago.
While much was made of the impact of being without tackle David Bahktiari (ACL – PUP), tackles Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner graded out second and 21st, respectively, among 64 qualified tackles in PFF‘s grades for Week 1. Outside of defensive end Trey Flowers, the Lions don’t pose much of a threat to the Packers up front, which should enable a much more dynamic offense than we saw from Green Bay in Week 1.
The Lions offensive prospects improved when the Packers placed Pro Bowl defensive end Za’Darius Smith on the Injured Reserve with a lingering back injury. Last season, Smith finished tied for fourth in the league with 12.5 sacks and tied for 10th with 23 quarterback hits, according to PFR. Rookie left tackle Penei Sewell held up well last week, grading out 11th among 64 tackles at PFF, and now he doesn’t have to worry about Smith wreaking havoc. Preston Smith will be going against Lions right tackle Matt Nelson — who graded out 54th last week — and could still be in trouble, but the Lions can provide help for him with backs and tight ends chipping.
Jared Goff’s average pass traveled only 6.3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage last week. The Packers played a lot of two-deep shell under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, so they will make Goff dink and dunk the ball down the field. Without de-facto No. 1 wide receiver Tyrell Williams (concussion), Goff will have to rely on his backs and tight ends to move the ball, namely running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson. The Packers had issues covering Saints tight end Juwan Johnson last week, who broke free for two scores, but they have the chops to cover Hockenson with talented safeties Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos.
With the Packers relying on more two-deep looks this season, the Lions’ best bet to move the ball will likely come on the ground with Swift and former Packer Jamaal Williams (revenge game alert!). The Lions had a solid ground game last week, posting 116 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries (4.8 YPC). The Packers ranked 18th in run defense DVOA in 2020 and allowed 171 yards on the ground last week, albeit on a whopping 39 carries. So the real quesiton is: How long can the Lions stick with the ground game? The Packers aren’t likely to get into a deep hole and allow Detroit to run it 39 times like the Saints did last week.
I’m not a fan of backing the favorite with huge spreads, but I make this game Packers -12.5, so I lean Packers here.
This is a much better matchup for the Packers, and a lot of trends are also working in their favor.
For what it’s worth in regard to laying the big number, Rodgers has also been money at home as long as the number is -13 or less:
The total is tough to peg because while the Packers should rebound offensively, they may also run it with a lead and force Detroit to dink and dunk. My projected total is 48.5, which is pretty much in line with the market. I’d bet this to -12.
Boxing’s heavyweight division has been in gridlock all year since the two major belt holders, Anthony Joshua (WBA/WBO/IBF champion) and Tyson Fury (WBC champion), were unable to secure a unification fight over the summer.
Fury was ordered to fight Deontay Wilder for a third time while Joshua is set to face former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk Saturday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Usyk (18-0, 13 KO) will contend for the heavyweight title in just his third fight in the weight class — he moved up in late 2019 — while Joshua (24-1, 22 KO) seeks his third win in a row since being upset in 2019.
Here’s a look at the best odds available for each fighter across various sportsbooks:
Betting on Monday Night Football? We have you covered with Lions vs. Packers odds and expert picks below, where our analysts reveal how they’re betting this NFC North showdown, complete with spread and over/under picks as well as a player prop bet.
Raheem Palmer: Aaron Rodgers is coming off one of the worst performances of his career, completing only 30% of his passes for 133 yards with two interceptions.
Although many people will overreact to that loss and the turmoil that this Packers organization faced over the offseason with Rodgers wanting to leave, I see it as an outlier. The offense, which ranked 31st in Expected Points Added in Week 1, should easily bounce against a Lions defense that gave up 41 points and 442 yards to the 49ers in the season opener, including 8 yards per play and a whopping 11.5 yards per pass.
If the Lions didn’t struggle enough in Week 1, things got worse this week as they lost second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah for the season to an Achilles injury. This unit doesn’t have a ton of depth at corner and will be relying on rookies and replacement-level players to deal with an offense featuring Devante Adams.
Overall, the Packers are in a prime bounce-back spot. And based on their history, they should be fine considering they’re 26-13-1 (66.7%) against the spread (ATS) following a loss with Rodgers at QB, a spot in which he’s 26-13-1 ATS:
Sean Koerner: Rodgers had his worst game as a pro against the Saints in a 38-3 beat down in Week 1. Look for him to take out his frustration on the Lions in front of the whole country on Monday Night Football.
Like Raheem said above, Okudah suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, which makes the Lions’ inferior secondary that much worse.
Meanwhile, the Packers defense was also to blame for last week’s embarrassing loss, and the issues on that side of the ball may carry over into Week 2. To make matters worse, Za’Darius Smith was placed on IR due to a back injury. It’s a massive loss for a defense that was already ailing at full strength.
The Lions’ offense thrived in garbage time last week against the 49ers. I can see them doing so again here.
I’m projecting this total closer to 50 points and would bet the over up to 49.
A.J. Dillon Over 8.5 Rush Attempts
Mike Randle: However you profile this game, it should be a comfortable Green Bay win.
The Packers opened as 10-point favorites, which the spread has now ballooned to as high as 12 points at some books. The Packers emphasized the importance of an increased workload for Dillion, to help balance the rushing load with Aaron Jones.
This line is still discounted after Green Bay’s 38-3 loss to New Orleans in Week 1.
In the likelihood of a Packers’ blowout, their offense should skew run-heavy, creating more opportunities for Dillon. The Lions’ rush defense just got blowtorched by San Francisco rookie Elijah Mitchell for 104 yards on 19 carries. Even last season, Green Bay ranked as the 11th-most run heavy team at 43.8%. Dillon equates perfectly to the role former Packer Jamaal Williams held in 2020. Prior to a Week 15 injury, Williams crested 8.5 rushing attempts in four of seven games. Against Tennessee in Week 16, Dillon himself tallied 16 carries in a game that Jones was fully healthy.
This is a 9 out of 10 rated prop by Sean Koerner in our FantasyLabs Player Prop Tool. He is projected for 9.5 carries. I feel comfortable backing this prop up to that 9.5 threshold.
Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, is highlighting his favorite player prop for every slate throughout the 2021 NFL season. He has a 388-288-4 all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action app.
NFL Prop For Packers vs. Lions
Marquez Valdes-Scantling Under 3.5 Receptions
Aaron Rodgers is coming off arguably his worst NFL game as a starter and will be looking to bounce back against the Lions in front of a national audience.
The Lions secondary is a disaster, which means Rodgers should have his way tonight. I’m projecting him to lean heavily on his go-to receiver Davante Adams and spread the ball around to his ancillary pass catchers.
Valdes-Scantling is the vertical threat in this offense and usually has a wide range of outcomes any given week. He could have a massive game with just a few catches.
However, I do like him to go under 3.5 receptions tonight as I’m projecting him closer to 2.9 receptions. Last season, MVS went under this number in 10 of 14 games. I would bet this down to -145.
Pick: Marquez Valdes-Scantling Under 3.5 Receptions (-130) at BetMGM
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden told reporters Monday that quarterback Derek Carr (ankle) and running back Josh Jacobs (toe/ankle) are both questionable for Sunday’s Week 3 tilt against the Miami Dolphins.
Naturally, two key players landing on the injury report prompted the market to take an early stance on the underdog.
Miami opened +5.5 at PointsBet, but dipped as low as +3.5 following the news.
Carr suffered the injury Sunday against the Steelers on a touchdown pass to Foster Moreau. The quarterback’s been vital to the Raiders’ eighth-ranked scoring offense, already posting 812 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Jacobs, meanwhile, went down in Week 1 against the Ravens, but not before scoring two touchdowns in the first of two upset wins for the Raiders so far.
The Dolphins are dealing with injuries under center, too.
Second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a rib injury early in Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills and is day-to-day. Jacoby Brissett filled in for the incumbent, but couldn’t get the offense on the board in a 35-0 rout.
The total for Sunday’s AFC clash is 45.5.
Miami head coach Brian Flores has been terrific in the bounce-back role, cashing six straight spreads following an outright loss. The franchise has also ripped off four consecutive covers as a road underdog, while going 10-1 ATS the last 11 after allowing 30 or more points.
Las Vegas, meanwhile, is riding an 0-4 skid against the number as a favorite.
Another weekend across Europe’s top five leagues is in the books and this past matchweek saw England’s top four actually face some resistance.
Manchester United found a late winner on the road at West Ham United, needing a final-minute penalty save to avoid dropping points. Chelsea faced a difficult first 60 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur before taking over in the second half.
Finally, Manchester City’s attack was stymied by Southampton for a goalless draw that left manager Pep Guardiola whining about the lack of preparation time his team had for the match.
This week’s upcoming games feature two matchups of “big six” teams, including a Champions League final rematch. However, before we get into the schedule, here’s some takeaways and observations from across Europe.
Liverpool Overdue to Concede
Liverpool have conceded one goal in this entire Premier League season, on a set piece corner header by Chelsea’s Kai Havertz. The Blues may be the only team to score on Liverpool’s improved defense, but they are far from the only team to create big scoring chances.
Norwich, Burnley, Leeds and Crystal Palace all created chances and quality shots against the Reds’ goal, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. In total, Liverpool has conceded 5.1 xG in five matches, fourth best in the league. They’ve allowed at least 0.7 xGA in every game but haven’t allowed any goals except a set piece header. It’s pretty rare and unsustainable to allow about an expected goal per match and only concede one actual goal in five matches.
There are always multiple confounding factors that contribute to xG overperformance and underperformance. Goalkeeper quality, quality of the average chance allowed and luck are the three main culprits.
Liverpool can’t really control how well teams shoot against them, and the Reds have been fortunate that teams have turned 5.1 xG into just 3.6 post-shot expected goals. Alisson is one of the best shot stoppers in the world, which must be considered when tracking the Reds overperformance.
Per FBref.com, Alisson has saved 2.6 goals for the Reds through five games, more than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League. The third facet is shot quality, where Liverpool has looked more like 2020-21’s defense than the elite year prior. The Reds allow the fourth-highest shot quality in the PL, which if it continues, will lead to more goals being conceded.
The Reds attack is so dominant and overwhelming thus far that Liverpool will still win a lot of games anyway, but they’re due for some defensive regression and have a tricky away trip to Brentford this weekend.
I grabbed Both Teams to Score Yes at -105 for that match and my projections put it at -120 and I think the Reds will finally concede again this weekend against the pesky Bees.
Brentford is running below its expected goals, has two attackers in Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo that can trouble the Reds on the counter and the Reds’ defense hasn’t been good enough to warrant this line.
Leeds’ Season of Regression Has Arrived
Leeds aren’t the first team to surprise and overperform expectations in their first year after being promoted to the Premier League. The Peacocks were legitimately a midtable team last season based on performances, despite the league’s second worst defense by expected goals.
They’re also not the first team to then regress back to those original PL expectations in year two. The Peacocks have three points and no wins through five matches.
They were a bit lucky last year not to concede more and thus far in 2021, the goals have dried up going forward and the defense is just as bad but conceding more.
The Peacocks were one of my favorite point total under in my Premier League season preview piece — so far so good on them and Southampton, not so much on Liverpool — and Leeds are 14th in xG difference and 17th in actual difference. Only Norwich and Newcastle have conceded more chances and the attack has slipped from fifth to ninth in expected goals for.
A team with Leeds’ performances would be expected to have 3.95 points, so perhaps the Peacocks are running a bit cold in front of goal. But Leeds doesn’t look like a safe midtable team this season. If results don’t go their way in the upcoming games against weaker opponents (after West Ham), relegation might actually be in the picture.
And while the Peacocks probably have enough to remain in the division, it wouldn’t take much bad luck or an injury up front for that to change given how easily they allow goals.
Next up for Leeds is a home game against West Ham without Michail Antonio, the kind of game that has the potential for tons of open, attacking play. I don’t have a play at the current number, but this fixture averaged 3.8 combined expected goals per match last season.
Elsewhere in Europe: The Atalanta Machine Currently Broken
If there were any concerns about if something was wrong with Atalanta following their sluggish start to the 2021-22 campaign, this week’s performances and results suggest those concerns may be warranted.
The results were fine: a road draw at Villarreal in the Champions League and a road win at lowly Salernitana in Serie A will play for Gian Piero Gasperini’s men. The performances weren’t good enough.
La Dea managed to outshoot the worst team in Serie A, 11-10. Not good. 1.4-0.9 xG isn’t particularly good either, given that they also struggled with Torino, Bologna and lost to Fiorentina early in the season. Villarreal outcreated and outshot Atalanta in the Champions League matchup too, winning the shots 14-13 and xG 2.1-1.2.
For a team that has completely dominated Serie A’s weaker teams and consistently finished top three in xG difference and goal difference, the attacking play has slowed down considerably. Atalanta sit seventh in xGD and sixth in xGF despite a pretty weak schedule of opponents.
La Dea led Serie A in attacking third pressures in 2019-20 and 2020-21. This year, they’re just fifth. Their midfield pressures are down from second to fifth. Atalanta dropped from 27 shot-creating actions per 90 (second best) to 22 per 90 (10th best).
All of those metrics are pretty troubling for a team who has a pretty old age profile and features multiple players that had busy summers on international duty. If Remo Freuler and Martin de Roon are slowing down, they’ll need Teun Koopmeiners to replace that production in the midfield engine room.
If Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic slow down, I’m not sure Atalanta have a solution to that issue this season. It could very well be a blip, but La Dea’s numbers are down across the board and it’s concerning for a team I’ve loved to back for the past few years. Sassuolo at home in the league on Wednesday is followed by a road trip to Inter Milan.
Game of the Weekend: Manchester United 2, West Ham 1
Manchester United has played this exact same game script quite frequently in the last calendar year. On the road, a sluggish start for the Red Devils leads to them conceding an early goal. They wake up after conceding, play well and find a deserved equalizer.
The game then enters another period of stalemate before United finds a late winning goal. They’ve recovered more points from losing positions than anyone in the PL the last season and a half. United has been excellent away from home in the league as well.
Jesse Lingard’s game winning goal appeared to be for naught when Luke Shaw conceded a handball penalty deep in stoppage time. But David Moyes’ bizarre decision to sub on Mark Noble just to take the penalty led to a David de Gea game-winning save on a poor kick from Noble. It was de Gea’s first PK save in his last 41 tries.
The Red Devils were marginally better than West Ham and arguably deserved all three points from the performance, but they’ve also been the league’s best team at marginally outplaying the opponent and turning those said performances into wins. Most teams will have more draws given United’s underlying numbers, but they always manage to avoid most of them.
The underlying numbers have them a step below the top three of Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool thus far, but the Red Devils are clearly multiple steps above the rest in the table. United’s 13 goals from 7.6 xG is an unsustainable rate of finishing chances, but that’s actually more down to bad goalkeeper play. No team has benefitted more statistically from poor opposition goalie play than Manchester United.
Their first big test comes Oct. 24 against Liverpool, with some potential stumbling blocks in Leicester City and Everton in the interim.
Last weekend was pretty underwhelming across all of Europe in terms of big matchups. Spurs vs. Chelsea and AC Milan vs. Juventus didn’t really match the hype surrounding them and there was little else in terms of big-name games.
The same cannot be said this week. Chelsea hosts Manchester City on Saturday. Real Madrid hosts Villarreal on the same day, right after Borussia Mönchengladbach hosts Borussia Dortmund in a Marco Rose homecoming, In Serie A action, Inter Milan takes on visiting Atalanta.
On Sunday, Arsenal welcomes Spurs to Emirates Stadium in the North London Derby, plus Lazio faces Roma in the Rome Derby. It’s the best weekend of big soccer matchups since the season returned.
My early play is Manchester City on the Draw No Bet wager (-120 or better), who is facing some disrespect in the market after a sluggish 0-0 draw with Southampton. A pure numbers play here as the Cityzens are still the best team in the world and England in my projections.
Best-case: No Patrick Reed? No problem. American fans wondering about the identity of this team’s cocksure figure who struts, swaggers and fires ‘em up aren’t left wondering for long, as the ultra-confident Berger serves as the squad’s firecracker, winning two team matches before batting leadoff in Sunday singles and immediately whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Worst-case: After so much analysis surrounding the U.S. team’s design to pick players based on course fit, Berger’s disappointing play leaves us collectively wondering how and why a guy who thrives on shorter venues slipped through the cracks.
Best-case: Maybe “Patty Ice” isn’t exactly the coolest nickname (pun intended), but it does seem to fit Cantlay pretty well. After displaying a penchant for clutch shots down the stretch at the final two FedExCup Playoff events, he continues playing high-level golf in high-pressure situations, coming up big in seemingly every pivotal moment.
Worst-case: Golf is a game of ebbs and flows. Sure, it’s only been a few weeks, but it’s difficult to keep playing world-class golf for an extended period of time. Cantlay’s game looks a shell of what it did earlier this month, while his luck runs out and all those putts that were dropping into the cups burn all the wrong edges.
Best-case: A bit of a forgotten man on this U.S. roster, English is the guy who gets along with everyone, never rocks the boat and wins three matches over the first two days with three different partners.
Worst-case: The forgotten man remains forgotten, playing just twice and failing to channel the energy from his two victories this past season. He leaves fans wondering which players sitting at home would have thrived in his spot.
Best-case: Beleaguered and browbeaten by fans for months, the man who’s been serenaded with chants of “BROOKSIE!” turns the American fans around.
Right from the front nine on Friday morning, galleries are rocking with cries of “BRYSIE!” and he’s rocking along with them, putting on an epic display of birdies that continues throughout the weekend, smiling and pumping up the crowds throughout it all.
Worst-case: Despite DeChambeau and Koepka swearing to U.S. captain Steve Stricker that they’ll put their differences aside, the vibe in the team room is instantly awkward. Bryson overhears two vice captains talking about how none of his teammates want to play with him, then he finally gets into a few matches, only to look like he’s just prepping for his upcoming long-drive debut, bombing drives everywhere but in the vicinity of a fairway.
Best-case: Buoyed by his recent Northern Trust victory, Finau looks like a different player than the one who came so close, so often during the last half-decade. Cool, confident and collected, he cruises around this track with all the nonchalance of a Tuesday morning practice round — and it pays off.
Worst-case: Despite that recent victory, Finau once again looks like a player who just doesn’t possess that clutch gene. After his teammates were gushing about his play during practice rounds, he can’t bring it into competition, looking more ordinary than extraordinary.
Best-case: As if Whistling Straits is paying off an 11-year debt, DJ gets every good break and bounce imaginable, the golf gods working in mysterious ways, as his inconsistent swing is repeatedly bailed out by his ball finding perfect lies in the most imperfect places.
Worst-case: There’s something about this track that just doesn’t agree with Johnson. After a lackluster summer that never quite found him playing his best golf, the malaise continues. If there’s a silver lining (sort of), it’s that none of his matches make it to the 18th hole, so he never has to see the bunker that might’ve cost him a major.
Best-case: Asked over and over about the left wrist injury which forced him to WD from the Tour Championship, Koepka only answers, “What wrist injury?” and “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
True to his brand, he follows weeks of “Will he?” or “Won’t he?” conjecture by doing what he’s so often done best over the past few years: swallowing the pain of an injury to play impressive golf on a big stage. When asked how it feels to compete for his country, he only says, “I like proving the doubters wrong.”
Worst-case: The prototypical tough guy, Koepka tries to play through injury as he’s done so many times before, but can’t give it his best effort, essentially leaving the U.S. team handicapped. He later doubles down on comments about the Ryder Cup not allowing for his usual routine.
Oh, and as if all of that isn’t enough, his teammates goad him into an arm wrestling match with DeChambeau, during which he’s soundly beaten three straight times.
Best-case: Others might believe they have an argument, but the analytics show that when Morikawa is striking his irons well — nobody in the world is better. This week, he shows off that approach game once again, while his putter, much like at the Open Championship, catches fire, too — a devilish combo which is near impossible for any opponent to vanquish.
Worst-case: Since winning his second major this summer, Morikawa has struggled with both form and health, as a lingering back injury has led to some uncharacteristic results. The leader on the final U.S. points list, these issues lead to him playing only three matches and ending the week as a veritable non-factor.
Best-case: Peers have suggested that Schauffele owns the tools to one day become the No. 1 player in the world, so it should come as no surprise that he’s shown these tools at some of the biggest events, with a bevy of major championship title contentions in just a few years.
It should similarly come as no surprise that once again he steps up and plays his best golf when it means the most, beating the actual No. 1 player in the world, Jon Rahm, in Sunday singles.
Worst-case: If there’s a criticism of Schauffele, it’s that his close calls have rarely equated to victory in the past three years, outside of this summer’s Olympics. He’s even referred to himself as choking in some of these situations, so when another back-nine Sunday lead turns into a loss, it feels like a case of deja vu for the Ryder rookie.
Best-case: Stricker never outwardly said that Scheffler was the last man on the team, but it’s not difficult for us to make that inference. However, it proves to be one of his shrewdest maneuvers, as Scheffler plays like a seasoned veteran, only getting into three matches, yet hardly breaking a sweat.
Worst-case: As the proceedings start going sideways for the red, white and blue, Scheffler is showered with shouts of, “We want Kevin!” The suggestion is unmistakable, though it’s still unclear whether the home crowd preferred Kisner or Na in this spot.
Best-case: After requesting “good buddy” Justin Thomas as his partner, Spieth thanks his captain for the partnership by putting together a vintage Spieth performance, rolling in 25-footers the same way others tap in gimmes. The signature moment comes Saturday afternoon when he rolls in a 50-footer for birdie, then points at the hole and tells JT: “Go get that.” (Which he does.)
Worst-case: Careful what you wish for. Spieth gets Thomas as a partner, but the friendly pairing only results in four horrific losses. Sitting at home, Reed (or someone with access to his Twitter account) “likes” a total of 583 tweets ripping Spieth for his play.
Best-case: The overarching difference between U.S. players and their European counterparts over the years? Maybe it’s that one faction is more motivated by individual titles and the other lives for the team aspect. All of which explains the headlines when Thomas insists the Ryder Cup means more to him than major championships — a notion which permeates the American team room and helps unify the players toward victory.
Worst-case: Another Ryder Cup, another dismal performance by the U.S — and nobody epitomizes it more than JT, who doesn’t win a single point and actually has American fans removed from the premises for harassing one of their own.
Best-case: Fifteen years after he made a hole-in-one to clinch a full point at The K Club, Casey does it again, this time in a vital Saturday afternoon four-ball match that essentially takes the air out of the U.S. balloon.
Worst-case: With an extra day at this one as opposed to most golf events, the media needs a controversy. Somehow, Casey’s old “anti-American” comments are dredged up. Even though they were misconstrued back then and again this week, it’s all enough to throw him off his game and he never recovers.
Best-case: Once believed to be set up for birdies, tougher conditions make Whistling Straits look like the major championship venue that it is, with pars winning plenty of holes. That’s music to Fitzpatrick’s ears, as he thrives in more difficult scoring.
Worst-case: Even Big 10 country doesn’t usually troll the harmless Northwestern folks, but large fan contingents from Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan are seen together in the galleries, chiding Fitz for attending a golf school instead of a football school.
Best-case: Three years after going undefeated with partner Francesco Molinari — even starring in a social media video where they wake up in bed together with the Ryder Cup trophy — Fleetwood retains a less monogamous role on the team, pairing with four different teammates in each of the first four sessions and winning all of ‘em.
Worst-case: In a team room prank gone horribly wrong, what was supposed to be a fake haircut gets lost in translation, as Fleetwood’s famous locks are shorn to the skull. Like Samson, his strength is sapped. Adding insult to injury, even in chilly weather, he concludes the week with a Stewart Cink-like tan line straight across his forehead.
Best-case: Fleetwood’s loss is Garcia’s gain. Literally.
Claiming it was all natural and crediting a new diet, Sergio shows up at the first tee Friday morning with shoulder-length hair. Eschewing a hat, he throws it into a ponytail, later explaining that it was a paean to Miguel Angel Jimenez, then plays some of his best golf in years.
Worst-case: During a Thursday press conference, Garcia repeatedly discusses the aging process as a golfer and how he’s matured over the years. By the fourth hole on Friday morning, he’s already thrown three clubs, flipped off a spectator and spit directly into one of the cups.
Best-case: One of the more emotional players around, the purveyor of, “When you’re feeling glum, pop your thumb,” takes his social media video persona to a new level, breaking Phil Mickelson’s record for most thumbs-up at a Ryder Cup — so much that he turns the American crowds in his favor and keeps them with his impressive play.
Worst-case: Showing his usual fiery demeanor in his crucial Sunday singles match, Hatton breaks a 7-iron over his knee, only to have vice captain Henrik Stenson come rushing over to offer some sage advice: He’s doing it all wrong. Locked in on the process, the two of them proceed to break every club in the bag, resulting in a match concession to the Americans.
Best-case: Never known for being the steadiest player, Hovland plays the entire week without a single par, piling up a striking amount of eagles and triple bogeys that somehow do enough in the match-play format to earn him the victory.
Worst-case: The player who once punctuated a tournament victory by declaring, “I suck at chipping” is proven right by his own measure, continually failing to get up and down from around the greens, essentially handing over holes to his steadier opponents.
Best-case: A rookie on this team, Lowry quickly establishes a narrative of wanting to win in order to revel in the team room celebration. After it happens, he becomes the first player to ever be named Team MVP on Tuesday morning, two days after the event ends.
Worst-case: In chilly conditions, the Northern Irishman is the only player to eschew an outer layer of clothing, resembling a Packers offensive lineman on a snowy day at Lambeau Field. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but even he admits it’s colder than he thought it’d be — and his game stays cold right along with the weather.
Best-case: A consummate leader, McIlroy takes ownership of the entire week. He wins all five matches, helps Harrington set each session’s lineup, cooks the team dinner every night and even shines his teammates’ shoes. In between, he holds a self-appointed press conference during which he outlines why he’ll never play in the Super Golf League and how the USGA should combat the distance debate, then pens a column for the local paper on Aaron Rodgers, Giannis Antetekounpo and the weight of stardom.
Worst-case: The living embodiment of the back-door top finish, Rory gets off to a predictably sluggish start over the first few sessions. During his Sunday singles match, he closes with six consecutive birdies, but in this format, it’s all too little, too late.
Best-case: Some call it a prance, some call it a strut. Whatever it is, it’s classic Poulter, peacocking his way around Whistling Straits, eyes bulging further out of his head with each holed birdie putt. The momentum continues all weekend, demoralizing both opponents and fans along the way.
Worst-case: Once dominant in this format, Poulter starts looking his age on a course which doesn’t agree with his skill set. His strut turns into a sulk, the home crowds continually overjoyed at the fact that the man who so often looked unbeatable in this event finally looks beaten.
Best-case: In an unprecedented decision, Rahm tells captain Padraig Harrington that he doesn’t need a four-balls partner, then proceeds to singlehandedly beat a pair of America’s top players by a 4-and-3 score. Five different U.K. tabloids use the headline “RAHMPAGE” as the world’s top-ranked player stomps everything — and everyone — in his way.
Worst-case: “I don’t know how this could happen again,” he tweets Friday morning from the isolation of a Motel 6 in Sheboygan. After testing positive for COVID-19 for a third time this year, Rahm is forced to miss the event — and the European team falls apart without its biggest star.
Best-case: The oldest player to compete in a Ryder Cup in over a century, Westwood proves that experience and guile are more important than distance, even on this golf course. While others try to overpower it, the Englishman plods his way around, winning holes when they’re given to him and rarely losing them. That turns out to be a better recipe for success than anything else.
Worst-case: In three matches, Westwood plays the likes of Johnson, Finau and DeChambeau, who are 50, 75 and even 100 yards past him off the tee, respectively. On a lengthy course that is set up toward the U.S. strengths, he’s at a severe disadvantage, even before it begins.
Best-case: The last man to qualify for the European team — and a man whom many didn’t want to qualify, as his presence likely knocked Justin Rose off the roster — Wiesberger is a pleasant surprise for the squad, as he keeps his recent stellar play going for the entire week.
Worst-case: The American fans aren’t known for creative heckling, so the first cries of “Burned Cheeseburger!” are pedantic and predictable. It takes an extra gear, though, to spend $12 on a burger and throw it near him on a few of the greens. Those spectators are kicked out, but Wiesberger is rightfully flustered and never plays to his potential.
This column was originally published ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
When it comes to international competitions, the Ryder Cup will always play big brother to the Presidents Cup.
The competition between the United States and Europe owns more history, induces more pressure and holds more importance than the other biennial competition between the Americans and every non-European country in the world..
You’d be hard-pressed to find any spectators who become more engrossed in the regularly lopsided Presidents Cup than the traditionally dramatic Ryder Cup.
That doesn’t mean little brother isn’t better on a few significant details, though.
That’s right — the powers that be who govern the Ryder Cup (namely, the PGA of America and European Tour) should take a cue from little bro on three things to make it a more compelling competition.
Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy battled each other in an epic Sunday afternoon clash, while Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia did likewise. The captains couldn’t have scripted it any better.
But here’s the thing: Those matches weren’t scripted.
That’s because the Ryder Cup employs a blind draw to set the matches throughout all five sessions.
It’s exactly as it sounds. Each captain will list his players in order — one through four for team sessions, one through 12 for the singles session — and let the matchups fall where they may.
The Presidents Cup, on the other hand, allows the captains to create the matchups they want — or want to avoid. Like a fantasy football draft, the captains go back and forth naming players until they’ve created compelling matches.
If you’d really like to see, say, Tiger Woods against McIlroy at a Ryder Cup, there’s only a 0.69% chance (1-in-144) it will happen, even if both players were on board with the idea.
If the Ryder Cup adopted the Presidents Cup format, though, the captains could assure them — and us — that it would happen.
Honestly, I can’t believe this hasn’t happened already.
The Ryder Cup might be about pride and honor and patriotism, but it’s also about money. Loads and loads of money.
If the event were stretched out to begin Thursday instead of Friday, it would result in 33% more ticket sales and TV revenue.
And it’s not like this would be unproven ground. Every other major golf tournament played during the year is a four-day festivity.
The current three-day format actually makes the Ryder Cup more of an outlier than anything else.
This would be a win-win all around. It gives the organizing bodies an extra day of revenue, it gives the players an extra day of just 18 holes rather than a possible 36, and it gives the fans an extra day of lounging on the couch licking Cheetos dust off their fingers.
But neither of those reasons is the best reason. No, the best reason for expansion is that it could give us this…
Consider this prospect: You’ve spent the past two years grinding to make the Ryder Cup team, you get in all your preparation, you wake up on the first morning of competition raring to go — and you’re told to be nothing but a cheerleader for the first five hours.
This is a very real scenario that will indeed happen this week.
With only four pairings from each team playing in the first four sessions, that means one-third of the field — four players per team — will be holding the pompoms during each session.
At the Presidents Cup, since there’s only one session during each of the first two days, the matches are expanded to include 10 players for each team. I’d argue that expanding the Ryder Cup could — and should — open things up for every player on the roster to compete in both sessions Thursday and Friday.
There was an old notion that the weaker side could better “hide” less talented players in the limited team sessions, but that idea is long outdated.
Everyone who makes the team should play. The more matches, the better — and expanding to a fourth day would ensure this could happen.
For the first time ever in the majors, it’s Shane Baz Day.
The Rays’ top pitching prospect makes his MLB debut on Monday night at home against Toronto as Tampa Bay tries to get him some innings before he presumably appears on the playoff roster. The Blue Jays counter with the Cy Young favorite, Robbie Ray, which makes this the most highly anticipated pitching matchup of Monday evening’s baseball slate.
Baz completely dominated in the minors and it was only a matter of time before he found his way on the big league roster. His first outing will be a difficult test, though, against one of the best lineups in all of MLB and the AL’s best hitter in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Baz’s stuff projects really well at the major-league level and Ray has been very difficult to hit for the second half of the season. Both suggest runs will be hard to come by in this game. The Blue Jays are playing must-win baseball, meaning they’ll be using all of their high leverage relievers as much as possible for the next two weeks, which also helps lower the run scoring potential.
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Ray Is The Cy Young Favorite
After Gerrit Cole’s blowup outing on Sunday against Cleveland, Ray is the favorite to win the AL Cy Young. He’s had an incredible turnaround from his terrible 2020 and mediocre 2019 seasons to post a career high strikeout rate and career low walk rate. He’s striking out 33.1% of batters and walking just 6.1% of hitters. His 166 ERA+ and 1.00 WHIP are among the top five in the entire league.
His xERA and xFIP suggest he could be due for some regression, as both are more than a half run higher than his actual 2.64 ERA. But even a 3.31 xERA is among the best in MLB for regular starters. Ray faced this same Tampa lineup last week and struck out 13 in seven innings.
The Jays have a disadvantage at the plate, having never seen Baz both personally or at all in the majors, because no one has. Toronto’s lineup is among the best in almost every statistical category. But the lack of familiarity that the entire league has on Baz makes his stuff more difficult to hit.
Tampa Bay’s lineup is miles ahead of last season, but the strikeout issues persist. The Rays are third worst in strikeout rate against lefties this season and have actually been a better offense away from home than at the Tropicana. Tampa Bay is seventh in wRC+ at home and fourth on the road.
Playing in one of the best pitchers’ parks can be an advantage for Tampa Bay, though, and there’s perhaps no better park to make your MLB debut than Tropicana Field.
Baz has pitched 78 2/3 innings in the minors this season. He has a 2.06 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A, with 12.9 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9. Baz is keeping the ball in the park, allowing one homer per nine and his WHIP is just 0.80. He’s unlikely to replicate that in the majors, but even an adjusted projection shows him to be among the upper-echelon of pitchers immediately.
He has a fastball with excellent control that can sometimes touch 100 mph. His wipeout slider is his best secondary pitch, but he’s been mixing in a changeup for most of the minor league season.
Our Action Network PRO Projections show value on this line at 8, with the projection at 7.7 runs. Baz isn’t likely to go deep into the game in his MLB debut, but the Rays’ bullpen still projects out as one of the best in baseball.
Toronto’s bullpen is certainly worse than Tampa’s, but it’s been underrated all year and due for some positive regression that has finally come in the last month. The way Ray eats innings, though, the Jays likely won’t need to go deep into the bullpen on Monday night.
As long as it’s -110 or better, there remains value on the under in the series opener. Sit back and enjoy the AL’s best pitcher and one of baseball’s top pitching prospects have a pitcher’s duel.
The White Sox magic number to clinch the AL Central is down to four, with an 11-game lead over the second-place Cleveland Indians.
Detroit is already eliminated from the playoffs, but at 72-78, it has far exceeded expectations and its preseason win total of 68.5. The Tigers were expected to finish last in the division but sit in third and have gone 7-3 over their last 10 games.
Cy Young Contender Rodon Starts For White Sox
The White Sox are likely to have two pitchers finish in the top five of AL Cy Young voting, with one of them being Monday’s starter Carlos Rodon (LHP). The former third overall pick out of NC State is 12-5 with a 2.38 ERA. He has the third lowest ERA among all pitchers with at least 100 innings on the year.
Rodon has made just four starts since the beginning of August, as the White Sox are trying to limit his workload to make sure he is fresh for the playoffs. He is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA over those outings.
Chicago’s offense has been crushing the ball all season. It ranks fifth in wOBA and third in wRC+. Even as it has been playing on cruise control for the last couple months, Chicago still ranks seventh in wOBA and fifth in wRC+ in the last 30 days.
Multiple players in this lineup have taken turns being the hot hand throughout the season, with Yasmani Grandal currently being the big dog. Since returning from an injury on August 27, he is batting .371 with a 1.300 OPS. Luis Robert and Leury Garcia are mashing the ball right now as well.
The Detroit Tigers No. 3 prospect Matt Manning (RHP) made his MLB debut on June 17 and has since gone 4-6 with a 5.75 ERA in 15 starts. He is coming off his best start of his young career, allowing just one run and two hits while striking out six in six innings against Milwaukee.
So far Manning has really struggled to miss bats at the big-league level. He ranks in the bottom 2% in the league in strikeout rate, averaging just three punch outs per start. He is in the bottom 5% of the league in expected batting average against.
Detroit has been much better on offense this season when facing left-handed pitchers. Over the entire year the Tigers rank 24th in wOBA and 22nd in wRC+. However against lefties, they sit 17th in wOBA and 18th in wRC+. They are ninth in batting average against southpaws.
Really lacking star power in the lineup, the Tigers offense is led by good, not great players. Jeimer Candelario, Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Schoop have been Detroit’s best players offensively but none are batting over .275.
White Sox-Tigers Pick
The 23-year-old Manning faced the White Sox on July 4 in his fourth career start. He allowed seven hits and two runs in 2 2/3 innings and had no strikeouts.
Rodon has faced Detroit twice this season and is 2-0 with a pair of one-run outings, racking up 21 strikeouts in 13 innings against the Tigers.
Since the White Sox started limiting Rodon’s workload, he has remained fresh and dominant. The White Sox just have too much firepower in this lineup to expect an experienced rookie to shut them down, and he will likely need to with a Cy Young candidate on the other side.
To get a reasonable number to back Chicago at, I will play them to lead after five innings at -140.
Pick: Chicago White Sox -0.5 First Five Innings (-140 or better)
The team that experienced the most upward mobility was the Las Vegas Raiders, which won in commanding fashion against the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-17. The Raiders took a lead into halftime 9-7 after a last-second field goal then did not relinquish their advantage again.
The Steelers had beaten the Bills in Week 1. Buffalo is tied with the third-best odds to win the Super Bowl at BetMGM.
As a result, the Raiders moved from tied for 24th in the NFL in Super Bowl odds to tied for 15th.
The Cardinals moved from 12th-best to 10th-best after their 34-33 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Arizona was bailed out after Vikings kicker Greg Joseph shanked a last-second, game-winning 37-yard field goal, but the Cardinals played well enough throughout the game to warrant their shortening in odds.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had the fourth-longest odds after Week 1 but became tied for the longest after a flat 23-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence — who some tout as the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck — threw for just 118 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Sept. 13 Update
The biggest upward movers after Week 1 were the New Orleans Saints, who went from +4000 to +2500 after they dismantled the Green Bay Packers 38-3 on Sunday. The Packers, for what it’s worth, have the same Super Bowl odds as they did before the embarrassing loss.
The Los Angeles Rams are now the third-most favored team to win it all this season after they dominated the Chicago Bears 34-14 on Sunday night. The Bills fell to tied for fourth-best after their loss to the Steelers.
The NFC North had a bad weekend. Every team loss — and if not for furious fourth quarter comebacks by the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions — each of them would’ve been a blowout.
The Bears’ odds dropped from +6600 to +8000 while the Vikings are now +5000, down from +4000.
Sept. 8 Super Bowl Odds Update
The two teams that competed in last season’s Super Bowl are still the biggest favorites to rematch.
The Kansas City Chiefs opened in February as +600 favorites to make their third straight Super Bowl appearance, and their odds have since shortened to +450. Those +450 odds have held firm since July.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened tied as third-best favorites at +1200. Their odds then shortened all the way to +650 in July before settling at its current mark at +700.
The Bucs are BetMGM’s largest liability in both money (19.4%) and tickets (13.3%) as of this month. The Chiefs had 10% of the total tickets and 11.1% of the total money.
The New Orleans Saints have regressed the most out of any team in the NFL. Their odds opened at +1800 before dropping to +4000 amid quarterback Drew Brees’ retirement announcement.
Those odds have held firm since then.
Head coach Sean Payton said on Tuesday that the team expects to play away from New Orleans for at least the first quarter of the season due to the effects from Hurricane Ida.
Star wide receiver Michael Thomas is also due to miss at least the first five games of the season after offseason foot surgery.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have also substantially regressed from their opening odds. Their odds were at +3000 in February before moving to +4000 in July and further lengthening to +5000 in August.
The Miami Dolphins, too, have seen their odds drop precipitously. Their odds opened at +2500 and lengthened to +3000 in July, then to +4000 in August.
When is Super Bowl LVI?
Date: February 13, 2022
The NFL’s new 17-game schedule pushed the game back by one week.
Where is Super Bowl LVI?
Stadium: SoFi Stadium
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
The 2022 Super Bowl will be played in SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers’ new home as of September 2020 located near Los Angeles in Inglewood.
This is the last Closer Report of the 2021 fantasy baseball season. It should not be any surprise that in the twilight of the MLB season, closer roles are still in flux. Thank you for your time and eyeballs.
When it comes to NFL player prop projections, there is simply no one better than our own Director of Predictive Analytics Sean Koerner.
Using his projections in our Player Props Tool on FantasyLabs, we can easily identify the biggest advantages to help build our bankroll. Each week, I’ll identify which Monday Night Football props on PrizePicks have the most attractive value when compared with Sean’s projections.
What is PrizePicks? A daily fantasy operator — meaning they’re available in more states than sports betting is! — PrizePicks offers a unique opportunity for action on player props in which you parlay two or more plays together.
Sean projects Rodgers’ rushing total at 11 yards, more than 46% higher than this Prize Picks line.
Rodgers’ mobility is one of his best attributes, and his elite passing ability always opens running lanes on situations such as third-and-long. Last season, Rodgers hit this prop in nine of his 16 games.
Over the last five years, Rodgers averages 12.98 rushing yards per game, and 14.5 yards in home contests. In 2020, no team allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than Detroit. Even with a coaching change, I expect the Packers to have little trouble posting points against the Lions.
In a game with a solid 48.5 point total, I expect the Packers to be firing on all cylinders in their home opener. This includes Rodgers providing his usual rushing production at Lambeau Field.
FantasyLabs’ Props Tool Grade: 7 out of 10
Randall Cobb Over 15.5 Receiving Yards
Green Bay’s offense will want to bounce back in the worst way after that horrific showing against New Orleans in Week 1. I expect the Packers’ passing attack to be clicking on all cylinders, providing plenty of opportunity for Cobb to beat this ridiculously low receiving yardage prop.
Rodgers personally lobbied for management to bring Cobb back to Green Bay, revealing his preference for the 31-year-old veteran. Even with just one reception last week, Cobb tallied 32 receiving yards, more than double this threshold.
Over the course of his Green Bay career, Cobb has averaged 6.7 targets, 4.8 receptions and 58.7 receiving yards per game with Rodgers. Detroit was dominated in Week 1 by San Francisco wideout Deebo Samuel, who torched the Lions secondary for nine receptions and 189 receiving yards.
We project this total at 20.6 yards, almost 33% above the target value. Given the connection between Rodgers and Cobb, this prop could be reached with one reception in the first half.
FantasyLabs’ Props Tool Grade: 8 out of 10
Amon-Ra St. Brown Under 36.5 Receiving Yards
The one offensive player who failed to perform for the Saints in Week 1 was wide receiver Marquez Callaway, who totaled one reception for just 14 yards on two targets. That is a direct result of the Packers’ elite cornerback Jaire Alexander, who should limit St. Brown’s production.
The Lions are so thin at wide receiver, their leading passing game producers in Week 1 were tight end T.J. Hockenson and both running backs (D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams).
St. Brown was a fourth-round pick who produced just two receptions for 23 yards in his NFL debut against the 49ers, a game the Lions substantially trailed throughout. Now they go on the road to a division rival, with an elite shutdown cornerback, coming off an embarrassing loss. If the Lions keep this game close, it will be a direct result of the running backs and Hockenson. I’ll take a chance that the 5-foot-11 rookie wideout with only 4.66 speed beats this number.
We project Brown for 30.1 receiving yards, 17.5% below this total.
Why talk about this hotly contested game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians? Well, Cleveland is not eliminated from playoff contention, but this could be their last game with value regarding the postseason.
It also includes a matchup between to young pitchers trying to establish a stronghold in their team’s rotation heading into 2022. Cleveland has also been dominant against the Royals in 2021.
Heading into Monday’s series-opening doubleheader, Cleveland is 11-1 against the Royals with seven games left between to the two clubs. Their only loss was their home opener on April 5.
That would make the Royals 28-23 against the rest of the A.L. Central and Cleveland 27-25. Can the Royals beat their season odds, and can we find value from either club?
The Royals’ bats have a rare opportunity to stack their lineup with right-handed hitters against a righty pitcher. Cal Quantrill allows a slash line against of .268/.313/.399 against right-handed hitters compared to .158/.231/.263 against lefties.
The Royals have been below average against righties in road games (83 road wRC+, 85 road wRC+ against RHP) but continue to be one of the better contact teams. Their 23% road strikeout rate and 6.6 walk rate against righties plays into their strength with Quantrill being a contact pitcher.
Daniel Lynch’s Strikeouts Per 9 dipped and Flyball Rate increased at each level in the minors leading to his promotion in 2021. One in 10 pitches is barreled and 43.8% of contact made has been deemed Hard Hit, according to Statcast.
Lynch has been playing with fire each outing, and his 3.99 road ERA is fluky. His slash line against on the road is .306/.360/.444. Only his slugging percentage against is lower away from Kauffman Stadium. 31% of Lynch’s starts in 2021 have ended with an equal or higher walk total than strikeouts.
A lot of this is to say Daniel Lynch ain’t it.
Cal Quantrill may not end up being a top-end pitcher for Cleveland, but he has shown that when his command is on he can be a difference-maker.
RotoGraphs focused on Quantrill this week and how strong his pitching has been based on his control. The article mentions that control is not static, meaning it can come and go in the short and long-term.
Quantrill can continue his strong September with another good home start (2.27 home ERA) and not pitching to Salvador Perez. Any pitch close to the zone or in the wrong location and he is launching it.
Cleveland’s hitters have found the formula to being perfectly mediocre at home. Just looking at their .278 BABIP, it would be easy to lean towards a lot of bad luck for their offense, but they rank no higher than 13th or worse than 19th in Hard Hit, Medium Hit, and Soft Hit percentages.
It does not get much better as Cleveland’s home wRC+ against southpaws is 101 which despite being above average overall is only tied for 19th in MLB. What works in their hitters’ favor is Lynch’s inability to miss bats and propensity to miss the strike zone.
The success of the starting pitchers will go a long way in deciding this game, although neither bullpen should be trusted with a small lead.
What can help decide the contest besides a generally good outing is pitching deeper into the game. Quantrill has 11 outings of six-plus innings (21 starts) while Lynch has four (13 outings). That gives an edge to Cleveland, but with their moneyline juiced, it is not a priority.
I mentioned pitching control earlier and it comes into play for me more than some, but taking the over is the bet to make. Games at Progressive Field in Cleveland average nine runs per contest, and that total has hit or gone over in six of 12 games between the two clubs.
Getting that at slightly lower juice than Cleveland to win outright gives leniency to poor pitching but allowing control issues for Quantrill to be part of the run-scoring equation.
The Chicago White Sox are trying to finish the season strong as they prepare for their big postseason push in October.
Chicago is .500 over its last 10 games, including disappointing losses to the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers. The White Sox head into Comerica Park to take on the Detroit Tigers, who have won seven of their last 10 games heading into Monday night.
Detroit’s pitching and defense have been top-notch as of late, with the Tigers holding five opponents to three or fewer runs over their solid 10-game stretch.
Right-hander Matt Manning will be on the mound for the Tigers. Manning has a 4-6 record and a 5.75 ERA. He’s playing a bit better at home but wasn’t extremely efficient in his last outing against the White Sox.
On July 4, Manning gave up seven hits and two earned runs over 2 2/3 innings against Chicago.
The White Sox will be tossing left-hander Carlos Rodón on the mound, who is a stellar 12-6 with a 2.38 ERA on the season. Rodón’s last outing against Detroit was great, as he gave up one hit and one earned run over seven innings in a 4-1 Chicago win.
All signs are pointing to the White Sox taking care of business to get a relatively easy win on Monday evening.
Despite the AL-Central leaders being a heavy favorite, there is still value to be found in backing the White Sox to win, as showcased in our latest PRO Report.
It’s a brand new week with 13 MLB games on the slate tonight. There’s tons of value to be found in the MLB props market, and using the Action Labs Player Props tool, I’ve targeted one strikeout total that I believe provides value.
Plus, there’s a position player prop that also provides value while adding an extra sweat to the card.
The Action Labs Player Props Tool grades each play on a scale from 1-10, and I’ll be sure to include the grade below my explanation.
It’s tough fading Robbie Ray, especially when he’s a top candidate for the AL Cy Young award. However, 8.5 strikeouts juiced to the over is a bit too high for my liking.
Ray’s hit over 8.5 strikeouts in 14 of his 29 starts. While that’s an impressive amount, it’s also just a hit rate 48%, giving us -107 implied odds on the under. Moreover, projections are pointing to the under in this spot as well, with Action Labs projecting him at 7.9 and FanGraphs at 7.63.
But let’s take a look at the Rays’ offense, which has a reputation for striking out.
Tampa’s lineup has multiple hitters that mash southpaws. Guys like Manuel Margot, Randy Arozarena, Yandy Díaz and Mike Zunino all hit better against the left side. Specifically, Zunino, who has a whopping 1.288 OPS and 243 wRC+ against LHPs this season.
Moreover, the Rays are striking out at just a league-average rate vs. LHPs over the past 30 days (21.6 K%, 14th in MLB) while posting sky-high offensive numbers during the stretch (130 wRC+, 5th in MLB).
All-in-all, I think there’s solid value in fading Ray tonight, and I’ll happily do so at plus-money.
The Cardinals have ripped off eight straight victories. Paul Goldschmidt has been a big part of that.
During the win streak, Goldy is 11-for-28 with five doubles and two homers. He’s also walked seven times to just four strikeouts, recorded five RBI and scored 13 runs.
Goldschmidt has done it all for the Cardinals this week, but he’s building on an excellent month. During September, Goldschmidt is batting .322 with a 1.047 OPS, including nine extra-base hits.
As such, Goldschmidt has cashed over 1.5 total bases in 17 of his last 30 games, good for a 57% hit rate during the stretch.
Today, he faces Freddy Peralta. Peralta’s been shaky recently, posting an xFIP over four in the second half with slightly decreased velcoity. After striking out seven or more batters in 12 of his first 13 starts, he’s hit that number just three times in his last nine outings.
However, Peralta’s always struggled against Goldschmidt. In 13 career PAs, Goldschmidt is 6-for-11 with four extra base hits, a 98.3 mph average exit velocity, and a 1.171 xSLG.
With Peralta cooling off and Goldschmidt heating up, I like Goldschmidt to knock around Peralta again in this matchup. And at +130 odds, I think there’s a lot of value there as well.
Full first round slates get underway on Tuesday as qualifying draws wrapped up today, meaning there’s a greater number of matches to dive into. Let’s get right into it.
Match times are subject to change.
Arthur Rinderknech (-145) vs. Marcos Giron (+129)
5:00 a.m. ET, Moselle Open
In the events that followed the Olympics, Marcos Giron found his form on hard courts. The American is 8-5 since leaving Tokyo and has played quality tennis, though he hasn’t been able to breakthrough with high-ranking wins.
Arthur Rinderknech has had an impressive year, though his best results have been on clay. The big-hitting Frenchman has only played six tour level main draw matches on hard courts this year, maintaining a respectable 3-3 record. However, Rinderknech has only played 3 matches on hard courts since March, only appearing in Winston-Salem and at the US Open.
The two have only met once before, in the 2019 Sarasota challenger played on clay. It isn’t the best measuring stick for a comparison of the two players as both have improved significantly since the meeting and it was on a different surface, but Giron’s straight-set win in Florida does give me confidence that he can battle it out with Rinderknech and be comfortable from the baseline.
Getting Giron at plus-money in this situation is an appealing prospect as the match plays as a very tight matchup with a significant amount of uncertainty. If Rinderknech is uncomfortable with the matchup in only his fourth hard court match in six months, Giron should be able to take the initiative and control rallies. If Rinderknech is comfortable and playing at a solid level, Giron is still capable of hitting at a consistent rate and controlling his game to allow errors from Rinderknech. Go with the value here.
Whenever Benoit Paire plays a match, it’s going to be good entertainment. But that entertainment doesn’t always translate into results, and that has been the case at many times this year. Paire is 12-25 on the year, but somehow his form has actually been on the rise.
The Frenchman is 5-4 in his last nine matches, by far his best period of the year, with all results coming on hard courts, not typically his preferred surface.
Gerasimov has also had an uninspiring year, with a 13-18 record and 1-4 summer hard court period. His best results on the year and throughout his career, however, come on indoor hard courts, which play far different than their outdoor counterparts. Indoor courts favor spot servers and power players due to the conditions being consistent and wind not playing a factor. This should suit Gerasimov against a player like Paire who prefers slower clay courts.
Further giving me confidence in the Belarusian is Gerasimov’s 2-0 record against Paire. The first of those two was played on an indoor hardcourt in Moscow, while the second was played on an outdoor hardcourt at the Australian Open.
I’ll go with the history and context and put my trust behind Gerasimov.
An SEC quarterback has emerged as the Heisman favorite, and it’s not Alabama’s Bryce Young or Georgia’s J.T. Daniels — it’s Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, who opened 50-1 at DraftKings a cool eight months ago.
The dual threat entered the weekend with 682 passing yards and seven combined touchdowns. He had no regard for Tulane’s roster, or its family members, en route to a Week 3 demolition.
Corral’s passing stat line alone — 23-of-31 for 335 yards, three scores and zero interceptions — would have turned Heisman voters cross-eyed with ecstasy. The fact he totaled more touchdowns on the ground (four) officially cemented him as the player to beat.
Hello, My Name Is…
Michigan running back Blake Corum and Virginia gunslinger Brennan Armstrong need to fill out name tags as they enter the Heisman conversation.
Corum is averaging 8.5 yards per carry, which is tied for second nationally for players with at least 30 attempts. He’s crossed the century mark on the ground in all three games this season, including a 125-yard, three-score performance over NIU Saturday.
Armstrong, meanwhile, would be the Heisman favorite if Virginia played North Carolina 12 times per year. He’s registered 762 passing yards and seven touchdowns in his last two meetings versus the Heels, fresh off a 554-yard, video game-like performance in a 59-39 loss.
Every week, more fat gets trimmed off the Heisman field. Here are some of the notable regression candidates who need big performances in their next game in order to stay in contention.
Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei (+1400 to +4000)
Arizona State QB Jayden Daniels (+4000 to +10000)
UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (+5000 to +7500)
Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson (+8000 to +10000)
Week 2 Update
A Pair of Ducks Enter the Mix
Oregon’s signature road win over Ohio State warranted big bumps for Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown (+5000) and running back C.J. Verdell (+2500). The former was +8000 entering Saturday, while the latter wasn’t even listed.
Verdell exploded for 195 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns against the Buckeyes. Brown, meanwhile, has completed just 54.2% of his passes in two games this year, but has 408 yards and three scores through the air, alongside zero picks.
Matt Corral Heating Up
Ole Miss gunslinger Matt Corral has quite a few fans in the betting markets now. He went from 25-1 to 15-1 following a banner day against Louisville in Week 1, only to hit +600 after lighting up Austin Peay.
The dual-threat out of Ventura, Calif. has 662 passing yards, 90 on the ground and seven total touchdowns in 2021.
Week 3’s matchup against a shoddy Tulane defense is a good spot for Corral to pad his stats, considering he and the Rebels travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama the following Saturday.
Purdy, Hall Fall
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Breece Hall probably suffered more than any other players in the Heisman field after the Cyclones fell to in-state rival Iowa.
Purdy was already behind the eight ball after failing to post a passing touchdown against Northern Iowa in the opener. Following a dud against the Hawkeyes, Purdy — who has dropped from 40-1 to 100-1 — still has zero passing scores and three picks on his 2021 stat line.
Hall, meanwhile, also fell from 40-1 to 100-1. Last year’s college football rushing leader is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry through a pair of contests so far.
Week 1 Update
A New Favorite Atop the Board
Bryce Young is now the favorite in the Heisman market.
The Alabama quarterback moved from +900 to +400 following a signature, season-opening win over Miami. The star-studded sophomore set school records in his debut with 344 passing yards and four scores through the air.
Look for Young to go berserk on the stat sheet over the next month, with upcoming games against Mercer, Southern Miss and Ole Miss.
ACC Quarterbacks Plummet
It wasn’t a good week to be an ACC quarterback. Three Heisman hopeful signal callers are already behind the eight ball following spotty performances on the national stage.
Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei fell flat against Georgia, going 19-for-37 with 178 yards and one interception. He shifted from +600 to +1200.
Meanwhile, North Carolina’s Sam Howell dipped from +1400 to +2500 following a dud Friday versus Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels standout and potential No. 1 overall pick next spring looked lost amid a raucous Blacksburg crowd, tossing three picks in the loss.
Finally, dual-threat quarterback D’Eriq King‘s odds doubled following the thumping to Alabama. Although he completed roughly 75% of his pass attempts, King was limited to just 178 yards through the air with a couple picks.
The Heisman market’s fluid. It’s no surprise to see a handful of newcomers on the board following brilliant Week 1 performances.
Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker has entered the fray after single-handedly running amok on Northwestern. The Wake Forest transfer racked up a mind-bending 264 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in Sparty’s upset win over Northwestern.
Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller picked up right where he left off in 2020. The First-Team All-SEC back averaged 6.6 yards per carry and crossed the century mark in the Aggies’ rout of Kent State, rising up to +7500.
Taulia Tagovailoa’s gaining steam out of the Big Ten. The Maryland signal caller and brother of Dolphins QB, Tua Tagovailoa, lit up West Virginia to the tune of 332 yards and three passing touchdowns, alongside a gaudy 9.2 yards per attempt.
Aug. 9 Update
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has produced two Heisman winners in the last four years. Quarterback Spencer Rattler could be the third by the end of the 2021 campaign.
According to DraftKings, Rattler — who opened +300 in January — currently leads the Heisman field just three weeks out from the regular season. He’s got company at the top, however.
Clemson and Alabama have combined to nab five of the last six national titles. There’s no surprise Tigers’ DJ Uiagalelei (+750) and Crimson Tide’s Bryce Young (+900) are both priced shorter than 10-1.
Uiagalelei and the Tigers are overwhelming favorites to take the ACC, but the biggest sleeper in the conference is arguably Sam Howell (+1400). The UNC product threw for more than 3,500 yards last season and is currently favored at DraftKings to be selected first overall in the 2022 NFL Draft; he’s a live ‘dog if everything goes right.
Matt Corral is one flier who could shoot up boards sooner than later. Ole Miss finished No. 14 in scoring last season (39.2 PPG) and returns the third-most returning total EPA in the country from 2020, behind only Liberty and Coastal Carolina.
Texas’ Bijan Robinson leads the non-quarterback crop at +2800. He posted 8.2 yards per carry last season and finished his true freshman campaign with loads of momentum, leading the way with 183 yards in the Alamo Bowl win.
DeVonta Smith last year became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard in 1991. His former college teammate, Alabama’s John Metchie III, currently leads the position group at 60-1, while Ohio State’s Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson trail behind at 80-1. All three receivers participated in last year’s national title game.
The most appealing long shot on the defensive side of the ball is cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who’s been a fixture in the LSU secondary since 2019.
The Atlanta Braves are scuffling at the moment with just one win in its last five games. Their offense has almost been nonexistent as they’ve averaged 2.8 runs per game during that stretch. Luckily for them, everyone else in the NL East is struggling as well, so Atlanta’s been able to retain first place in the division.
Ideally, one would think Atlanta should get back to winning ways with a four-game series against an Arizona team that’s the worst in National League. That task will fall to Huascar Ynoa, who will get the start for the Braves. Ynoa got off to a 4-1 start, but he’s lost his last four straight decisions. He’ll be up against Humberto Mejía for the Diamondbacks.
Mejía’s made only two starts this season, and he’s still searching for his first career win since his call-up last season.
It’s hard to get excited about either starter, so we’ll need a deep dive into the numbers to have a chance at getting to the betting window in this matchup.
There’s always a concern for young pitchers hitting the wall as they accumulate more innings. That might be precisely what Ynoa is experiencing at the moment. In 2020, he pitched 21 2/3 innings. This season, he’s almost quadrupled that with 77 1/3 through 15 games.
I don’t think there’s any question there have been some signs of fatigue — particularly in September. This is his first month of the season, where he’s failed to complete at least six innings in a game.
Overall, he’s 4-5 on the year with a 3.26 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. His advanced numbers only point to a slight regression, as evidenced by his 3.55 FIP and 3.29 xFIP. Nonetheless, there are certainly some qualities to like about the 23-year-old right-hander:
He has a 10.01 K/9 ratio.
He’s only allowing 2.44 walks per nine innings.
His Called Plus Swinging Strike rate (CSW) of 30.5% is elite.
He’s done an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground with a 1.53 GB/FB ratio.
I have no problem buying in Ynoa’s stock. I’m just convinced that he’s exhausted at this point in the season. And because the Braves haven’t taken care of business with building a big enough lead in the standings, they’re forced to trot out him out every fifth day.
Offensively, the Braves are slightly below average on the season with a wRC+ value of 98. However, they’re ranked 12th with a .322 wOBA. Those season-long numbers are quite a contrast to how they’ve performed over the last 30 days as they’re 21st with a wRC+ value of 91 and 19th with a .311 wOBA.
They’ll need to pick things up to take some of the pressure off their young right-hander, who looks fatigued at the moment.
What to Expect from Mejia
With 101 losses on the season, the Diamondbacks only have their pride to play for. Thus, they also might as well give their young arms some experience at the major league level.
Mejía joined the Diamondbacks as part of the Caleb Smith and Julio Frias trade for Starling Marte. He’s in the rotation now so that Arizona can evaluate its prospects for the 2022 season.
While it may look like he was fast-tracked to the majors, the truth is that the reason he made his MLB debut last year with Miami was that the Marlins had more than 15 players on the IL with COVID-19. At the time, Mejía had yet to pitch in both Double-A and Triple-A. The last Marlins pitcher to get that kind of treatment was the late Jose Fernandez.
This season, Mejía did pitch in Triple-A, and he went 5-4 with a 5.93 ERA. He’s made five starts in the majors and is 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. In his two starts this season, he’s 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. His 4.52 FIP and 4.10 xFIP does suggest he could be due for some positive regression. However, his sample size isn’t nearly large enough for my liking.
Generally, I’d prefer to use a pitcher’s SIERA numbers as a long-term indicator in these instances. But with three starts last season, that won’t be beneficial either. His scouting report is probably our best tool, and from what I gather, I’m not sure the Diamondbacks see him as a front-end starter. For one, he’s only averaging about 92.3 mph on his fastball (42.9%).
He does throw four other pitches: A sinker (18.8%), a changeup (15.7%), a slider (14.1%), and a curveball (8.4%). Given his mix of five pitches, he could succeed if he pitches backward and features more of his offspeed pitches.
But that’s an entire discussion for another day.
He will have one advantage in the matchup in that Atlanta has never faced him. I’m just not sure if that’s going to be enough.
This game will be the fourth meeting of these teams this season, and not only does Arizona have a 2-1 edge in the series, but it’s also shut out Atlanta 5-0 and 7-0 in the last two meetings. However, that occurred almost five months ago when the Braves got off to a 9-12 start, and the Diamondbacks were actually at .500. Since then, a lot has changed, but that doesn’t mean Arizona should be as high as a +170 home underdog.
My model makes the Diamondbacks’ line closer to +150. Arizona’s coming off a competitive showing on the road against the Astros. Although they lost the series two games to one, both losses were by a one-run margin against the high-powered Astros offense.
If I had to play this game, I’d look to take a shot with the Diamondbacks on the run line. After all, they’ve covered the number in six of their last nine games in this spot.
However, I still feel I need to see more from Mejía before fully committing to backing him. I have a slight lean to Arizona, but this one’s unlikely to make my Monday card.
Brad Cunningham: Yes, the Baltimore Orioles have lost eight of their last nine games, but this is a good matchup for them with their ace John Means on the mound.
Means has been incredibly solid this season, posting a 4.11 expected ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .216 batting average against and a 1.76 BB/9, which is one of the best marks in the American League. His main two secondary pitches of changeup and curveball are a big reason why he’s been so effective, as they are both allowing under a .265 xwOBA to opposing hitters.
He’ll be going up against Ranger Suárez, who has made the move to the starting rotation and has been pitching fantastically, giving up only four earned runs in his last five starts. But Suárez is a lefty who mainly utilizes a sinker and changeup. The Orioles rank 11th in wOBA against left handed pitching and they have a +5.5 run value against sinker and a +7.6 run value over the last 30 days against changeups.
I only have the Phillies projected at -139 for the first five innings, so I think there is some value on Means and the Orioles at +175.
If the Rays win the World Series this season, I suspect that Baz will end up having a very successful postseason. The former No. 12 overall pick — who came over in the Chris Archer trade from Pittsburgh — is one of the most exciting pitching prospects in the minor leagues and is No. 20 overall per MLB Pipeline.
Baz carried a strikeout minus walk rate north of 30% in the high minors this season, accumulating 113 strikeouts against just 13 walks in fewer than 80 innings.
His ERA at the MLB level projects in the 4.00-4.20 range, which would already make him an above-average starter, but I think that number undercuts his significant upside.
Baz can touch triple-digits with his fastball (70-grade) and pairs the heater without a wipeout slider (65-grade) that should dominate same-sided hitters. An average changeup (50-grade) will be his key to handling left-handed bats. The curveball (40-grade) is more of a show-me pitch.
Baz used to walk more than four batters per nine innings in the low minors, but Tampa Bay cleaned up his mechanics at its satellite camp during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and Baz to cut his walk rate in half this year.
Robbie Ray is en route to winning the 2021 Cy Young Award, and I give the Blue Jays the advantage in the starting pitching matchup. Still, the Rays have a far superior bullpen (3.75 to 4.18 Model Weighted ERA) and rate as the much better defensive team (second in Defensive Runs Saved, second in my Model Projection) compared to a below-average unit for Toronto (20th in Defensive Runs Saved).
I rate Tampa Bay’s offense significantly better against left-handed pitching than I do against righties. They have several southpaw killers in their lineup, including Yandy Diaz (career 127 wRC+ vs. LHP), Randy Arozarena (163), Nelson Cruz (152), Jordan Luplow (138), Manuel Margot (108) and Mike Zunino (102 career, 243 in 2021).
As a result, I have these two offenses projected on relative terms for Monday night, making the Rays a 51% favorite (-104 favorite) in this matchup.
I would bet their moneyline down to +105, and though it doesn’t impact my decision to play this game, it’s worth noting that Tampa Bay is the most profitable home underdog in our database, dating back to 2005 (49.1%, +$3.855 for a consistent $100 bettor, 9.9% ROI).
Kenny Ducey: One of the most astounding things to me is that the Mariners rank fourth among all teams in home runs against left-handed pitching, yet all the way down in 26th place in wRC+. That illustrates just how bad Seattle has been at getting runners on base in these situations, as does the fact that the Mariners are striking out in 25% of their plate appearances against lefties.
It’s been a great spot to fade Seattle all year long, and I will continue that trend on Monday with Sean Manaea pitching for the A’s. The southpaw has ratcheted up his strikeout rate back above 26%, and should be feasting his eyes on this Mariners side with so many opportunities to create swings and misses.
Then there’s the A’s, who have ranked eighth in wRC+ against lefties all year with skilled bats up and down the order in handling southpaws. Their 13.1% walk rate over the past week is stupid good, as is their 15.9% strikeout rate.
Oakland has been piecing together expert at-bats, and should have more than enough against Tyler Anderson, who has allowed three homers and five walks in his last two outings and doesn’t strike very many people out. Those types of numbers won’t do him very well against a lethal offense like Oakland’s, which has powered the team to five straight wins.
The Orioles look to quell their current losing streak, which has extended to three games following Baltimore’s 8-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
Philadelphia lost 3-2 to the Mets on Sunday but had won four games straight prior to that, including a 17-8 drubbing of the Chicago Cubs.
Baltimore hasn’t put up a grandiose scoring total like that as of late but was the recipient of such a beatdown when the Blue Jays put up an astonishing 22 runs on them in nine innings.
In September, Bryce Harper is batting .362, with seven home runs and 17 RBI.
Harper is also hitting for power more often at home, with a .677 slugging percentage at Citizens Bank Park, nearly 10 percentage points higher than his away numbers.
With a team like the Orioles, who have arguably the worst pitching staff in the majors, struggling heading into a matchup against Harper and his league-leading 1.052 OPS, is this a no-brainer over play?
Or are oddsmakers anticipating that action, resulting in a contrarian under?
When the Cardinals acquired J.A. Happ and Jon Lester at the deadline, I thought their season was over. The rotation didn’t seem good enough, and the lineup had been slumping all season.
How wrong I was.
Adam Wainwright transformed into a Cy Young candidate following his 40th birthday, while Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have re-ignited the Cardinals’ offense. Since the eight-game winning streak started, the lineup has posted a .839 OPS and a .352 wOBA, both stats that rank among the top five in MLB during the stretch.
The Cardinals send Jake Woodford to the mound, which isn’t the most ideal scenario. Woodford has an xERA around five on the season, with very poor batted ball statistics.
However, he has managed three quality starts in September, posting a 2.03 ERA over 13 1/3 innings. But his xFIP during those innings is still 4.99, and his .243 BABIP indicates he’s been more lucky than good.
Milwaukee Is Cruising
While the Brewers are on cruise control, they’re still playing excellent baseball. Milwaukee has won seven of its last 10, and 19 of its last 30.
The strength of Milwaukee is their starting pitching, as their rotation features three of the best arms in MLB. However, the rest of the team hasn’t played all that great.
Since September started, the Brewers’ lineup ranks 18th in wRC+ (97) while their bullpen ranks 24th in FIP (5.41). But those two units have been excellent throughout the season, and I think the Brewers have taken their foot off the gas.
However, Milwaukee is still 10-6 this month, proving their rotation can win games even when the rest of the team is slacking.
But I’m slightly worried about today’s starter. Freddy Peralta has been an elite starting pitcher all season, but his numbers have lagged in recent weeks.
After striking out seven or more batters in 12 of his first 13 starts, he’s hit that mark just three times in his last nine. During that stretch, he’s posted an xFIP over four and his velocity has slightly dropped.
However, Peralta dominated in Detroit in his last outing, tossing six shutout innings while striking out nine and walking none. Maybe my worries are misplaced.
Given the two team’s current situations, I think it’s worth taking a shot with St. Louis tonight.
Given how well they’ve been playing, the Cardinals shouldn’t be as high as +185 on the moneyline. The starting pitching matchup heavily favors Milwaukee, but Peralta’s recent performances make him fade material at -225.
While Milwaukee has an 11.5-game lead in the division with just 13 games left to play, St. Louis is still battling for that top Wildcard spot. The hungry dog runs faster, and this hungry dog is offering big plus-money odds.
It’s a smaller-sized wager, but the Cardinals are worth a play at this price.
The race for the Heisman Trophy is still in the early stages, but there are some good prices out there on players have gotten off to head-turning starts. So while it is still September, now is a great opportunity to take advantage of some decent odds before they begin to drop as the season progresses.
Let’s jump into five players worth a look in the Heisman market as we head into Week 4:
The state of Michigan currently has two of the top running backs in the country. And wouldn’t you know, both of them are making an appearance on the Heisman Power Ranking list this week.
Michigan is rolling right now. And while the B1G season has yet to begin, it looks like this might be the best opportunity for Michigan to beat their most hated rivals, Ohio State, for the first time since 2011. If Michigan were to become real threats, it would be because of running back Blake Corum.
Corum’s 407 rushing yards rank third in the nation, he’s racking up 8.5 yards per carry and has already scored seven touchdowns. Again, it’s early and Michigan has a lot to prove, but a strong performance against a rising Rutgers team and Corum is not listed on the board at WynnBet yet, but can be found in the 75/1 range at other sportsbooks like DraftKings right now.
4. SMU QB Tanner Mordecai
Next up on the power rankings is an absolute longshot, but let’s give some shine to Tanner Mordecai. It is very unlikely that Mordecai ends up in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy, but a small wager on him right now makes sense.
You may have to do some legwork to find odds on Mordecai as he’s not listed on WynnBet, but he’s absolutely balled out the first three weeks of the season. He currently leads the country in passing touchdowns with 16, has thrown just two interceptions and is sitting at 341.0 passing yards per game.
The Mustangs are 3–0 this season and if they were to run through the American Athletic Conference, you would look like the smartest person in the room by holding this futures ticket.
3. Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III
If there was a running back to put a Heisman future on through Week 3, it would be Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III.
Sparty’s big road victory against Miami came in large part due to the legs of Walker, who ran for 172 yards on 27 carries (6.4 yards per carry). Walker also found the endzone through the air, giving him six touchdowns on the season. It is the second massive rushing output game of the year for Walker, who now sits at 494 yards through his three games, the most in the nation.
The stinker against Youngstown State looks to be an anomaly and moving forward I have no reason to believe Walker III won’t continue putting up impressive stat lines like the one this weekend.
Walker’s name is starting to move up the odds around the market and he can be found at 50/1 at DraftKings right now.
2. Alabama QB Bryce Young
I don’t think Bryce Young necessarily hurt his Heisman stock in Alabama’s 31–29 victory over Florida in The Swamp, but I do not believe he did a whole lot to separate himself from the pack, either.
With 240 yards passing and three touchdowns, Young’s Week 3 stat line is a pretty sight. That said, I have come to the conclusion that Young will do just about anything before he will tuck his head and take off for yards. On the goal line, Young had a walk-in score that he passed up on and threw an incompletion instead. The difference between Young and the competition may come down to how often he will use his legs.
Young currently sits at +200 at WynnBet and while that feels pretty safe, there definitely is reason to be cautious moving forward.
1. Ole Miss QB Matt Corral
There’s a new Heisman Trophy favorite in town.
Matt Corral has been phenomenal through the first three weeks of the season and is coming off of a monster performance against Tulane.
Corral became the first player in NCAA history with three passing and four rushing touchdowns in the same game. That type of stat line is rare, but the previous two weeks have supported the idea that it was not a one-off fluke performance. Corral now has 14 total touchdowns through three games and is averaging 385 total yards per game.
Lane Kiffin never likes to take his foot off the pedal as a play caller, so there will be ample opportunities for Corral to separate himself from the pack.
A newcomer has emerged as the betting favorite to win the WNBA title.
The Connecticut Sun, one of five teams yet to win a WNBA championship, enter the playoffs as the betting favorite at PointsBet ahead of last year’s finalists, the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm.
Connecticut is +181 to win it all, having won 14 consecutive games to earn the top seed and a double-bye to the semifinals. Las Vegas is the No. 2 seed, also receiving a double-bye on the opposite side of the bracket. Seattle, the defending champion, will need to win a single-elimination game to set up a series against the Sun. The Storm come in at +400.
Seattle opened the season as the +175 favorite to repeat, ahead of the Aces at +300. Connecticut was +800 at the start of the year.
The playoffs begin on Thursday with two single-elimination games. No. 6 Chicago meets No. 7 Dallas with the winner advancing to take on Minnesota. The other first-round game is No. 8 New York against No. 5 Phoenix. The winner advances to face Seattle.
After the opening two rounds of single-elimination games, the semifinals and finals are each five-game series.
Connecticut will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and feature MVP candidate Jonquel Jones, who is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Editor’s note: The following Week 3 NFL odds and picks have been updated to reflect the betting market as of Monday morning.
The first two weeks of the NFL season are now in the books, and with a two-game sample size for oddsmakers to analyze, the lines are out for Week 3.
Week 3 has several compelling matchups highlighting the slate, such as Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs visiting the Los Angeles Rams, or Justin Herbert and the Chargers playing the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Our staff has rounded up their favorite bets based on opening lines, including picks for Giants vs. Falcons, Jets vs. Broncos and Bucs vs. Rams.
Chris Raybon: After fading the Falcons as favorites against the Eagles in Week 1 then against the Buccaneers in Week 2 (via tease), it’s finally time to buy low on Atlanta. Arthur Smith showed he was a brilliant offensive mind in Tennessee, and I expect the first-time head coach’s team to improve as the season progresses.
The reason I faded Atlanta in Weeks 1-2 was that it was badly outmatched in the trenches — correctly evaluating the offensive line vs. defensive line battle on both sides is a key to being a profitable long-term NFL bettor. In this matchup, though, the Falcons should be able to hold their own against a Giants front that has brought down the quarterback only three times in two games. And on the defensive side, the Falcons won’t be great, but the matchup against the Giants’ bottom-tier offensive line is substantially better than the top-tier Eagles and Bucs units.
It’s also worth noting that the Falcons out-gained the Bucs (348-341) in Week 2 but had major turnover issues, committing three, including two pick-sixes. In Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, the Falcons will now be facing a more turnover-prone opponent: Jones has 22 interceptions and 30 fumbles in 29 career games.
The Giants covered on the road last week, and now they’re getting a field goal (or more at some books) at home. This has been the formula to betting the Giants: Giants stink at home, go on the road and surprise people, and then come back down to earth just in time to be overrated for what turns out to be an ugly showing in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.
Case in point: According to our Action Labs data, Jones is 10-4 against the spread (ATS) on the road, but just 4-10 ATS at home.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Atlanta wins this game outright. I like the Falcons on the spread at a field goal (+3) or better.
Mike Randle: The Broncos have started 2-0, with both wins coming on the road. Now they return to Denver to host their home opener against an 0-2 Jets team with a rookie quarterback.
New York’s neophyte Zach Wilson struggled against Bill Belichick’s defense in Week 2, tossing four interceptions in a 25-6 loss. Now Wilson gets to face Vic Fangio’s defense, which has held each of its first two opponents to exactly 13 points.
Then there’s Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is an efficiency machine, completing more than 77% of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions. In his career, Bridgewater has also been a cover machine, covering an incredible 73% of the time as a starting quarterback.
Denver brings a pair of running backs in Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams against a Jets defense that has allowed more than 4.1 yards per carry in its first two games. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton looks fully recovered from this ACL surgery with nine receptions (12 targets) and 159 receiving yards against Jacksonville.
Traveling to Denver is never easy, as the high altitude always causes difficulty for opponents. I expect Fangio to baffle Wilson much like Belichick did, and for the Broncos to again win the turnover battle and force the Jets to play from behind.
This is a big number, but I’m laying the points with the undefeated Broncos at home. I bet this at -8.5, but I’m expecting another comfortable double-digit win for Denver, so I would play this number up to Broncos -10.5 (available at BetMGM as of Monday morning).
Brandon Anderson: I literally had to triple check this line to make sure I wasn’t imagining that plus in front of the number.
I’m sorry … you’re giving me Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers … as underdogs? I can bet on the Bucs at plus money? The team that’s won nine straight games with at least 30 points scored in all of them, and that includes six road or neutral-site wins and four postseason victories? That team? I get to bet on that team as an underdog?
So … yes. Tom Brady in the Game of the Week? Yes please. Fade Matthew Stafford in the first genuinely meaningful game of his life? Yes please. All those Bucs weapons against a Rams defense that hasn’t exactly slowed down the Bears or the Colts? Please and thank you.
Maybe this is the trappiest trap that ever trapped, but take my money.
There’s no way the Bucs will still be underdogs when this game kicks off, right? I mean, you can literally tease Tampa Bay to +7.5 if you play right now. Books are giving us a possibly invincible Bucs team as better than a touchdown dog on a tease. They’re really doing that!
The Rams are 2-0 and darling underdogs right now, but L.A. has not been particularly overwhelming. It was lucky to win in Indianapolis, buoyed by terrible red-zone offense by the Colts and a Carson Wentz injury, and the Week 1 victory over the Bears was unconvincing outside of a few bombs, too.
And sure, the Bucs haven’t exactly been blowing teams out. They won on a late field goal in Week 1 and were basically playing the Falcons even before blowing it open in the fourth quarter. But again — we only need a win. Heck, we can lose by a point and still cover.
I have a feeling we might look back in a month or two and feel pretty darn silly that we ever dared to make these Bucs an underdog in the year of our Lord 2021. I want the Bucs, and I want them while I’m still catching that little plus sign in front. Yes please.
Michigan and Cincinnati notably moved up in a weekend low on drama.
Jim Harbaugh’s club went from +7500 to +5000 following a resounding 63-10 win over NIU, in which the offense scored touchdowns on its first nine drives to open the game.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, weathered the storm against Indiana, overcoming a double-digit deficit to ultimately cover against the Hoosiers. Luke Fickell’s bunch is now +6000, up from +8000 last week.
If the Bearcats get by Notre Dame later, things become interesting.
Week 2 Update
Buckeyes Trickle Back
The most significant shift up were the Buckeyes, who fell from +500 to +900 after losing to Oregon as double-digit favorites. It was head coach Ryan Day’s first regular-season loss in two-plus campaigns.
This is the best price bettors will get on Ohio State the entire year. The Buckeyes are four-touchdown favorites Saturday versus Tulsa and still the team to beat in the Big Ten.
Ducks, Trojans Trending Opposite Directions
Oregon and USC were both 60-1 to win the title entering Week 2. Two days later, they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Ducks won their toughest game of the year, skyrocketing up to 25-1. The Trojans, meanwhile, lost by double digits to Stanford as 17.5-point chalk.
The Pac-12’s hope of getting a team to the Playoff for the first time since the 2016 season rests solely on Oregon’s shoulders at this point.
Week 1 Update
Alabama, Georgia Make Leaps
Multiple conferences wavered in Week 1, but the cream of the SEC crop showed out.
Reigning national champion Alabama covered in a romp over Miami. Quarterback and current Heisman favorite Bryce Young made the Hurricanes look silly, posting 344 yards and four scores. Th