At the conclusion of the season, most NFL fans experience some sort of depression in the coming weeks knowing that the sport they love won’t be returning for several months. While there’s no way to bring back the excitement of a Sunday during the season, there are still some ways to get in on the action if you’re a bettor.
When it comes to finding wagers worth your time from February through August, you need to choose carefully. In this article, I’ll lay out the best bets to make during the NFL offseason.
While none of these wagers are the same as betting on games during the season, they can keep things interesting until the games start again.
1 – The Draft
No event holds as much hope, aspirational spirit, and occasionally frustration, as the NFL draft. Each April, fans watch closely as their teams (and division rivals) go “on the clock” before selecting those individuals who will be the face of the franchise for years to come. Or if you’re the Jets, it’s before selecting the players who will become a headache in three to five years when their rookie contracts expire (sorry, couldn’t help it).
Betting on the NFL draft rewards research in a way that betting on game simply can’t. Whereas there are endless variables within a game that can turn a betting win into a loss, the writing on the wall is much more reliable when it comes to which player(s) a team will select in the draft.
When it comes to the actual bet offerings associated with draft, there are many different options with a wide range of odds. Some are specific to a particular team, while others focus on a position group. And if you want to bet on something out of the ordinary happening, you can find it if you look hard enough.
If you’re a fan of the football prop bet—and let’s be honest, who doesn’t appreciate a few from time to time?—then the draft has numerous options to indulge in. Some examples of draft “props” I’ve found on one gambling website include:
How many trades will take place during the first round?
Which conference will have the most players drafted in the first round?
How many quarterbacks will be taken after the fifth round?
The list goes on.
The bottom line here is that if you’re trying to take advantage of a high-value pick, you’re going to have to put in the time to find the hidden gems other bettors are overlooking. When it comes to these wagers, Adam Schefter, Mel Kiper, and the rest of the draft experts are your best friend.
2 – Free Agency
Aside from the draft, just about every NFL team will be looking to build out the roster and add key pieces in free agency at least in some capacity. It’s worth mentioning that the NFL’s free agency period, (which typically starts around the third week in March) isn’t quite as active as it is in the NBA, but there are always some blockbuster moves that NFL fans love to follow.
Whether your team will potentially be involved in a big free agency signing or not, you can still win the offseason by betting on the landing spots of some of the league’s star players. But, like the draft, you’ll need to be on top of the latest news as it comes out of front offices around the league.
For the most part, the only bet offerings will be about where a player will sign for the upcoming season. But that doesn’t mean making your picks is that straightforward. Just like the draft, value is the most important aspect of the bet, especially if you’re going to be making wagers on multiple players.
Keep in mind that in just about every scenario, there’s a chance a player will re-sign with the team they most recently played for during the previous season.
Think of Tom Brady and the saga that ensued following the conclusion of the 2019 season. Pundits debated endlessly about where the legendary QB would land, and for much of the early part of free agency, the Patriots were the favorite.
The thing that really matters when deciding which bets to take is, as always, the odds and the value they provide. Even if you’re sure a team is going to sign a free agent player, you don’t want to risk more than you stand to gain. There are simply too many variables that can’t be accounted for. With that being said, you also want to be careful about picking teams that would be considered a “longshot.”
Online sportsbooks aren’t just going to list two or three teams when it comes to putting odds on free agent signings. That means some of the options you can pick from aren’t very realistic, and quite frankly, not worth choosing.
Once again, it’s critical to get the most insight possible by closely following the people who have inside information regarding the front office. My advice? If you’re wondering whether or not a team is actually interested in a player, follow local reporters who might have access and relationships with decision-makers in a way that national reporters simply don’t.
One final note, the odds on free agency signings can change significantly as new information comes out. Sportsbooks can only do so much as far as keeping up with it all, so this is one of the rare instances where you might actually be able to gain an (albeit slight) advantage.
3 – Futures Bets
Now that you’ve placed your bets on which teams will acquire which players, it’s time to focus on how the new additions will impact the upcoming season. That can only mean one thing: futures bets.
If you’re unfamiliar, futures bets are wagers placed on events happening well into the future. Don’t you love when things are that easy?
When it comes to the NFL, there is no shortage of interesting and high-value betting options to chew on during the offseason. The best part is you can follow these bets all season long, so the entertainment value alone might be worth the investment.
Some of the most popular futures bet offerings for the NFL offseason include picking which team will win each division, which players will win the individual awards such as NFL MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Offensive/Defensive rookie of the year, and of course, who will take home the world championship in the upcoming year.
Similar to the free agency odds, the futures bets odds will change (often significantly) throughout the course of the offseason. If you want to get the best value for your picks, you need to not just choose the right teams or players, but time it right as well.
In addition to the futures bet offerings I’ve listed, my personal favorite is the team win/loss totals for the year. The sportsbook will put out odds that look like your traditional “totals” (over/under) bet, and you get to choose whether or not a team will win more or fewer games than the number.
The reason I like this bet so much is because it gives you rooting interest in literally every single game that takes place throughout the course of the year (if you bet on every team, that is). However, you might be better served picking a handful of teams who you think are way better or worse than the sportsbook is predicting.
To anyone who is struggling during the football offseason: hang in there. Though nothing can replace 70,000 screaming fans and a last-minute drive as your favorite team tries to win the game, at least you can technically still “bet on football” in the meantime.
Remember, when gambling on the NFL draft or free agency, research and information is rewarded. Put in the time to find the rumors going around the league and always bet with value in mind. Just like your favorite athletes, treat the offseason as a time to prepare for the real thing come September.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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