I heavily bet the futures market in the NFL. It is the primary way I try to counter the high degree of variance in a seventeen-game season. I publish this article to provide you with value in the futures market.
Here is a graph displaying the model’s expected win totals, playoff odds, division odds, conference odds, and odds to win the Super Bowl.
Current Value in the Futures Market
The table below compares the model’s fair market prices to readily available prices in the futures market for every team in the NFL. With respect to the primary columns (Make Playoffs, Win Division, Win Conference, and Win Super Bowl), there is value on any highlighted number.
You can use this chart to make decisions about which futures with value appeal to you. For example, Fan Duel currently lists the Raiders at +146 to make the playoffs. The model thinks the fair market price is -143.30. That is a massive edge, 89 cents on the dollar. Again, every position highlighted (bolded) has a positive expected value, but that does not mean you should take every highlighted side. Books shade these numbers to attract longshot action.
|Team||Division||Proj. Wins||To Make Playoffs||Win Division||Win Conference||Win Super Bowl|
|Dolphins||AFC East||6.86||566.67||2,757.14||16,566.67||Close to 0|
|Jets||AFC East||5.84||900.00||3,900.00||Close to 0||Close to 0|
|Steelers||AFC North||6.53||566.67||1,900.00||16,566.67||Close to 0|
|Jaguars||AFC South||5.41||809.09||1,233.33||Close to 0||Close to 0|
|Texans||AFC South||5.72||809.09||1,150.00||Close to 0||Close to 0|
|Washington||NFC East||6.86||365.12||614.29||11,664.71||Close to 0|
|Eagles||NFC East||6.70||400.00||852.38||16,566.67||Close to 0|
|Bears||NFC North||7.11||308.16||589.66||11,011.11||Close to 0|
|Lions||NFC North||4.65||3,981.63||13,233.33||Close to 0||Close to 0|
|Falcons||NFC South||7.08||400.00||1,900.00||Close to 0||19,900.00|
Of course, many long dogs will have a positive expectation. Use this chart and your discretion to determine which value is worth taking.
The model is taking the following sides from the chart above:
- Vikings +215 to make the playoffs
- Raiders +146 to make the playoffs
You may recall that in this article last week, the model pointed out that there was value on the Bills. That value evaporated in the last seven days. The advantage of all this work is to be ahead of the curve by a day or two.
The table does not automatically check for value in the first two columns, so you will have to check those manually against the numbers offered in your book.
Strength of Schedule
We all know the strength of the schedule is critical in assessing each team’s performance. It is tremendously valuable for predicting future performance as well. The following chart compares the strength of schedule each team has faced to date and their remaining strength of schedule.
You can use this graph in conjunction with the chart above to make informed decisions in the Futures Market. You can see from the bets above that the Raiders have more value, precisely because their remaining strength of schedule is high. In contrast, the Vikings have a comparatively easier schedule the rest of the season.
When reading the chart that follows, teams want to be on the far right side. Those teams have the easier remaining schedules and the most significant difference in the quality of competition from the games they have played and the remaining games.
In the season previews I wrote for each division in the preseason, I suggested 44 futures bets. With four games completed, here is a snapshot of where they stand.
What follows is a link to the article where the wagers were suggested, each wager, the amount wagered, the total amount returned if successful, the likelihood that the bet prevails (based on currently available odds), and the return on investment.
To calculate the current expected ROI, I simply multiplied the total payout by the current win probability. Thus, if a wager had a total payout of 2 units and a current win probability of 33%, the expected return would be .66 units.
|TEAM||SIDE||Wagered||Pays Out||Win Probability||Expected Return|
|AFC West Preview|
|Chiefs & Packers||Win Divisions, +135||1||2.35||47.00%||1.10|
|Chargers||Over 9.5 Wins, +110||1||2.11||50.00%||1.06|
|Chargers||Finish Second, +125||1||2.25||39.30%||0.88|
|Denver||Over 8.5 Wins, -110||1.1||2.1||51.00%||1.07|
|AFC South Preview|
|Titans||Win the Division, -110||1.1||2.1||75.00%||1.58|
|Colts||Under 9 Wins, -110||1.1||2.1||53.00%||1.11|
|Houston||Worst Record in the League, +200||1||3||23.00%||0.69|
|Texans & Detroit||Finish Last in their Divisions, +100||1||2||64.00%||1.28|
|AFC North Preview|
|Cleveland||Win the Division, +155||1||2.55||46.51%||1.19|
|Pittsburgh||6-8 Wins, +160||1||2.6||55.00%||1.43|
|Baltimore||Finish Second, +180||1||2.8||46.51%||1.30|
|Pittsburgh||Finish 3rd, +120||1||2.2||33.00%||0.73|
|Beckham||Over 6 Touchdowns, +100||1||2||3.00%||0.06|
|AFC East Preview|
|Bills||Win the Division, -150||1.5||2.5||83.33%||2.08|
|Patriots||Win over 3.5 Division Games, +175||1||2.75||15.00%||0.41|
|Waddle||Over 750 Yards +100||1||2||57.64%||1.15|
|Tua||Over 3899.5 Yards -112||1.12||2.12||3.00%||0.06|
|NFC West Preview|
|Gerald Everett||Over 4 TD Receptions||1.25||2.25||35.00%||0.79|
|49ers||Over 10.5 Wins||1.1||2.1||6.00%||0.13|
|Rams||Over 10.5 Wins||1.1||2.1||49.41%||1.04|
|49ers, Rams, & Seattle||Make Playoffs, +311||1||4.11||25.12%||1.03|
|NFC North Preview|
|Minnesota||Minnesota to Finish Second, +150||1||2.5||58.82%||1.47|
|Chicago||Chicago to Finish Third, +135||1||2.35||55.29%||1.30|
|Minnesota & Chicago||The Two Selections Above Parlayed (where possible), +485||1||5.85||32.53%||1.90|
|GB,MN,CHI,DET||All Four Teams Exact Finish Parlay, +1300||1||14||26.67%||3.73|
|Green Bay||Over 10 Wins, -120||1.2||2.2||52.00%||1.14|
|Chicago||Under 7.5 Wins, -110||1.1||2.1||49.41%||1.04|
|Detroit||Under 4.5 – 110||1.1||2.1||39.22%||0.82|
|NFC South Preview|
|A. Kamara||Over 70.5 Receptions -120||1.2||2.2||25.00%||0.55|
|K. Pitts||Over 775 Yards -112||1.12||2.12||36.00%||0.76|
|K. Pitts||Over 6 Touchdowns -110||1.1||2.1||3.00%||0.06|
|A. Kamara||Over 1500 Scrimmage Yards -125||1.25||2.25||39.00%||0.88|
|Atlanta||Over 7.5 Wins -110||1.1||2.1||30.00%||0.63|
|Atlanta||to Finish Second, +250||1||3.5||5.00%||0.18|
|NFC East Preview|
|Washington||Under 8.5 wins||1.1||2.1||49.41%||1.04|
|New York||Under 7 wins, with a push more likely than an over||1.1||2.1||49.41%||1.04|
|D. Prescott||Comeback Player of the Year +180||1||2.8||73.00%||2.04|
|Washington||to finish Second, +220||1||3.2||62.00%||1.98|