Using Vegas in Projections
One of the best resources that is available that is public to everyone is the Vegas lines. There are no experts out there who understand football better than the guys who set the lines. They have millions of dollars of exposure to the games each week, so it’s in their best interest to make sure the spreads and lines they set are as accurate as possible and believe me they are. Over large sample sizes, the point spreads hold up, which is why all of these sports books are still alive and crushing it in Vegas. There is no other resource that can be utilized more than the Vegas lines.
Assumptions with Vegas Lines
Using the line, we can make assumptions regarding how many touchdowns or field goals the sharps in Vegas expect a team to score. If they have the Broncos’ total at 27 points, you’re looking at three touchdowns and two field goals. While field goals are very random and difficult to project, touchdowns aren’t as fluky. If you want to know how many touchdowns you can project a team to score in a given game, there’s no better tool than the Vegas lines. They can really be used as a building block for your projections.
So now that we know that the most likely outcome for the Broncos in their matchup with the Patriots is to score three touchdowns, we can start to make initial projections based on how Denver’s touchdowns are typically dispersed. If Peyton Manning has thrown for 75 percent of their total touchdowns, you can predict that he’ll score 75 percent of the three touchdowns against Denver, or 2.25 touchdowns.
Now, obviously Manning can’t throw 2.25 touchdowns in a game, but that doesn’t matter as it relates to our projections. It’s just an average and it incorporates our uncertainty of the situation, which any good projection should do. I A lot of novice owners make the mistake of predicting whole touchdowns, and that leads to bad projections.
Converting Vegas into Projections
You can use the same general process to create projections for the other offensive players. You know that Brady’s projection is 2.25 touchdowns, so you can then allocate those scores among his offensive weapons based on the percentage they’ve scored in the past. If Demaryius Thomas is the recipient of 30 percent of Denver’s receiving touchdowns, then you can projection him at 2.25 * 0.4, or 0.675 touchdowns.
In the beginning of the season, you can simply use stats from the prior year. Thomas was on the receiving end of 10 of Manning’s 37 touchdown passes in 2012. After you use the Vegas line to calculate Manning’s expected passing touchdowns, that’s the number you’d use to determine how many receiving touchdowns you project from Thomas.
As the season rolls along, you can place more and more emphasis on that year’s data. Since the nature of NFL offenses changes so rapidly, you should be using solely in-season results by around Week 8.