In the spirit of degeneracy honesty, I will say that I have placed literally dozens of fun long shot futures (Super Bowl exact matchups anyone?) and parlayed together alternate win totals for huge odds, but I’m not here for an intervention, so for now I’d just like to focus on the bets that I actually think have a nice edge and have placed for a normal amount.
We placed some imaginary money on prop bets in the big five categories on the Deep Dive last week (found here), but I actually ended up liking some of the value and opportunity enough on a few of them to put hard earned American dollars on them. Much like anything I do, this is not a "set it and forget it" approach. I will be checking season long prop numbers all year long looking for value or ways to guarantee myself a profit with what I already have. Numbers can swing wildly throughout the season, and it's definitely worth your time to keep an eye on them. Also, as always: SHOP AROUND! While spreads and totals are usually pretty close, there are huge variations in these prices from book to book, so get the best number you can.
Futures as of 9/5/18:
Ravens to win the AFC North +450
I love the Ravens. I really think the defense flies under the radar, and they have a good offensive line, and added some nice pieces to the passing game. This bet is more of an indictment of the Steelers Defense though. Losing Shazier hurt a ton, and the defensive backfield is a liability. Their opponents averaged 28ppg (including playoffs) in the games following the injury. Ben’s a year older, LeVeon’s holding out, and they will again be forced to just outscore people this season. This number was too damn big in my opinion, and I will absolutely be looking for a spot to hedge with some Steelers division futures at a good price if they struggle.
Cowboys to win the NFC East +380
I’ve been on the record before regarding an Eagles regression season, and I think the Cowboys can be the beneficiary of that. This was a very, very good team two years ago and outside of some questions at receiver, I think they have a very solid roster. Keeping Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliot on the field for a whole season could be all we need to see a nice bounce back in big D. While everyone will be giving Philly their best shot, I think Dallas can fly under the radar and be in the mix in December. Again, if they are, I will look for an Eagles division future later in the year if the opportunity presents itself.
Bears to win the NFC +5000
This was the first NFL bet I placed this year. I thought John Fox’s continual mismanagement of Mitchell Trubisky, the complete lack of serviceable receivers and the overall youth of the team made the Bears a good candidate to surprise this year. As the off season progressed, I was very happy to see them try to address as many issues as possible. I think the combination of bringing in Matt Nagy and the addition of some weapons on the outside through free agency and the draft will be what it takes to get the Bears to a middle of the pack team with a shot to make the playoffs and the fact that they had the biggest number to win the NFC made me laugh. If the Bears can overachieve and make the playoffs, it should be easy to extract some value out of 50/1. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from Nagy this offseason, and obviously, Khalil Mack was the cherry on top.
Vikings SB +1400
Enormous homer pick. But, at least I got the best of the number. This was more of a grab to get it before the Cousins signing, but in the loaded NFC, the number has only moved down to around 12/1. Team loyalty and fandom aside, if the offensive line holds together, this is a top tier team with a nasty defense and every chance to make a deep playoff run. If not, this ticket isn't worth the paper it was printed on. (it was bet at 5Dimes, so I didn't actually print it.)
First Coach fired:
The Bucs are 14-18 in the two years under him and their 2018 season win total is set around 5.5 or 6. Dirk is the favorite for a reason, and he is down to 4/1 at some shops at this point. Losing your starting QB for 4 weeks and playing in the NFC South aren’t going to help things either. 4 of the 5 games are vs 2017 playoff teams, things could get hairy in a hurry in Tampa. If they start 1-4 or 0-5, losing to the Browns in week 6 could be the nail in the coffin.
After addressing nearly none of their needs this offseason, I have Seattle severely underperforming this season. This is a long shot for a reason, and it can be bet at an even better number than what I grabbed a while back, but after a period of being highly successful, I could see a house cleaning if things really go off the rails this year.
Another long shot, another team I think will underperform. I hate the OC hire, I don’t think they did much to improve the offensive line, and if Cam can’t carry the team, it will be a long season in Charlotte. Outside of the divisional matchups with Atlanta and New Orleans, the schedule isn’t terribly daunting, but if they have trouble keeping Cam upright and healthy, it won’t matter who they’re playing. This is another one I played early on and I think there are some 60/1’s available at the moment.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Saquon (eventually), Darnold +1000
I tweeted a thread out about my ROY thoughts last week. The main argument to back a guy was opportunity. Allen, Jackson, Rosen, and Mayfield are starting the year out on the bench. On the other hand Saquon Barkley will be a big part of the offense, and Sam Darnold is the only rookie QB that will start week one. I loved Darnold at 10/1 and grabbed some last week.
Barkley is the favorite for a reason, but I can't back a season long award at that price. I'd love to have a ticket, and probably will but, just not right now. The Giants have a tough schedule to start the season and are going through a coaching change. Some combination of a slow start for Barkley, a hot start for Darnold or some other rookie having a breakout performance in the first couple weeks should help push this number out into the range where I would feel comfortable taking it. Hoping for 5/1, but I'll go as low as 4/1 depending on how things shake out.
I'll tweet/blog about anything I add throughout the season and as always, hit my up on twitter with any futures you love, why mine are dumb or if you got an amazing early number on anything. Good luck!