NFL Preseason Betting: Insight on All 5 Friday 8/17 Games

NFL Preseason Betting: Insight on All 5 Friday 8/17 Games article feature image

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes

  • Friday August 17th's preseason slate features five games, including Falcons-Chiefs, Panthers-Cardinals and Browns-Bills.
  • The Chiefs are expected to run their first-team offense for the entire first half, causing a four-point swing in the spread (+3 to -1).
  • Dolphins wide receivers Jakeem "The Dream" Grant and Albert Wilson are expected to start against the Panthers.
  • Fellow top-10 draft picks Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen will square off in Cleveland.

On Friday night, we get a five-game slate of preseason football. In Week 2, many starters will play for up to a half, but offenses and defenses alike will continue to rely on simplified schemes. The good news: It’s football, and you can bet on it.

While the preseason isn’t quite “real” football, the usage and production of players reveal the potential they and their units might have in the regular season. For preseason player projections and daily fantasy analysis, see the FantasyLabs Models as well as our evergreen and slate-specific DFS content.

Let’s take a look at key storylines for each team playing Friday.

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Betting Odds: Kansas City Chiefs (-1) at Atlanta Falcons

  • Kansas City Chiefs Moneyline: -120
  • Atlanta Falcons Moneyline: +100
  • Over/Under: 39.5
  • Kickoff: Aug. 17, 2018 – 7 p.m. ET

Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the starting offense will play the entire first half on Friday night. This news seems to be at least partially responsible for moving the line from +3 to -1, as our live NFL odds page indicates 62% of tickets and 87% of money are currently on the Chiefs. It’s hard to understate just how explosive this offense was in 2017.

  • Kareem Hunt led all running backs with 19 runs of at least 15 yards.
  • Tyreek Hill led all receivers with nine receptions of at least 40 yards.
  • Travis Kelce led all tight ends with nine receptions of at least 20 yards.

The offseason addition of wide receiver Sammy Watkins should only further solidify the supporting cast for the Chiefs’ rocket-armed second-year quarterback.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons’ decision to spend a fourth-round pick on Southern Mississippi running back Ito Smith could indicate the team’s willingness to let Tevin Coleman walk in free agency after this season. Smith’s preseason debut (along with the rest of the offense) left much to be desired, but he’s the only college player with at least 4,400 yards rushing and 1,400 yards receiving since at least 2000. Both backs should benefit from the expected absence of Eric Berry (heel, doubtful) and the Chiefs’ futile road defense.

  • Chiefs defense per game at home (2015-2017): 16.2 points, 223.8 passing yards, 116.3 rushing yards, 27+ points allowed in 8% of games.
  • Away (2015-2017): 22.9 points, 259.8 passing yards, 108.6 rushing yards, 27+ points allowed in 39% of games.

While the Chiefs are putting their first-team offense to work for the entire first half, the Falcons are expected to give only a few snaps to difference-makers Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman.

Betting Odds: New York Giants at Detroit Lions (-3)

  • New York Giants Moneyline: +146
  • Detroit Lions Moneyline: -167
  • Over/Under: 40
  • Kickoff: Aug. 17, 2018 – 7 p.m. ET

New York Giants

The Giants will likely be without each of their two top playmakers, as No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley is dealing with a tweaked hamstring, and all-world wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. won’t be over-worked as he returns from a broken ankle. The over/under has dropped since opening, perhaps because 37-year-old quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt without OBJ on the field over the past few years.

  • Eli with OBJ (47 games): 22.7 PPG, 18.6 DraftKings PPG, 271.9 yards, 7.05 Y/A, 1.9/0.9 TD/INT
  • Eli without OBJ (16 games): 16.9 PPG, 13.6 DK PPG, 222.4 yards, 6.2 Y/A, 1.3/1.1 TD/INT

Detroit Lions

Auburn second-rounder Kerryon Johnson quickly established himself as a preseason fantasy superstar, producing strong rushing (7-34-0) and receiving (4-33-0) lines against the Raiders last week. Still, the Lions didn’t hand LeGarrette Blount a guaranteed $2 million contract to sit on the bench, and Theo Riddick remains one of the league’s best pass-down backs. Preseason excellence alone won’t land Johnson a three-down role, but he’s certainly making a case for additional touches.

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Betting Odds: Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers (-3)

  • Miami Dolphins Moneyline: +144
  • Carolina Panthers Moneyline: -165
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Kickoff: Aug. 17, 2018 – 7:30 p.m. ET

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have moved from +4 underdogs to +3 behind 74% of tickets and 84% of the public’s money. The Jarvis Landry trade leaves plenty of opportunity in the Dolphins wide receiver unit, which is expected to be without DeVante Parker (broken finger) and Kenny Stills (ankle) on Friday. Albert Wilson and Jakeem “The Dream” Grant are expected to start.

  • Wilson: The former Chiefs slot receiver led the league in average yards of separation (Next-Gen Stats) in 2017 and ranked third in yards after the catch per reception.
  • Grant: The diminutive speed merchant led the league in yards after the catch per reception (min. 20 targets) and ranked sixth in yards per route run last season.

Carolina Panthers

There’s been warranted concern regarding 66-year-old Norv Turner’s ability to design a modern offense around Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton’s unique skill sets. McCaffrey played on all 14 of Newton’s snaps last week and even earned the first-team offense’s goal-line carry ahead of assumed early-down grinder C.J. Anderson, who spent most of his time alongside second- and third-stringers. Increased rushing opportunity could be the cherry on top of McCaffrey’s fantasy-friendly workload.

Betting Odds: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (-3.5)

  • Buffalo Bills Moneyline: +152
  • Cleveland Browns Moneyline: -176
  • Over/Under: 41
  • Kickoff: Aug. 17, 2018 – 7:30 p.m. ET

Buffalo Bills

The total has moved up since opening at 38.5, as 70% of tickets and 78% of the money have come in on the over. It makes sense: Although both teams have unsettled quarterback situations, they seem to have three competent preseason signal-callers and some terrible defenses.

There was more good than bad during the debut of No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen, but Nathan Peterman and A.J. McCarron aren’t ready to go down without a fight. Peterman and McCarron are once again expected to split first-team reps, so expect Allen to have plenty of second-half opportunities against Gregg Williams’ fantasy-friendly pass defense.

Cleveland Browns

The trio of talented offensive rookies appear poised to make an impact at some point in 2018.

Betting Odds: Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)

  • Arizona Cardinals Moneyline: +160
  • New Orleans Saints Moneyline: -189
  • Over/Under: 41
  • Kickoff: Aug. 17, 2018 – 8 p.m. ET

Arizona Cardinals

No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen is expected to get work with the first-team offense after his debut was sabotaged by incompetent backups. Rosen might not see many snaps with Larry Fitzgerald or David Johnson, but second-round wide receiver Christian Kirk and especially fourth-round running back Chase Edmonds proved plenty capable of making plays in their preseason debuts.

New Orleans Saints

There should be plenty of extra opportunity in the Saints backfield during Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension. Terrance West, Jonathan Williams or Shane Vereen could emerge as the robin to Alvin Kamara’s Batman. Williams could be the early frontrunner after an impressive 4-26-1 rushing line last week. However, 61% of tickets and 85% of money on the under have helped move the total down after it opened at 42 points.

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