Futures bets provide some of the best value you’ll find with anywhere. Unfortunately, most bettors are too impatient to place a bet and wait months to see if they were able to accurately predict the future.
In the NFL, there are plenty of futures options to choose from that can help you grow your bankroll before playoff time. The key is to know which bets to take, and which strategy to put in place to help you hit at a high enough rate that you’ll win money.
In this article, I’ll lay out several NFL futures bets, and explain how to win them at the NFL betting sites.
1. Check All the Sportsbooks Before Placing Any Bets
It’s not going to be the most exciting thing, but being an effective futures bettor means you must go through and find the best odds for each pick.
Betting is about finding value, but futures betting is only about finding value.
That means price is a crucial component of separating a good bet from a bad bet.
You might be thinking that sportsbooks always have roughly the same odds on games, why would it be any different on futures bets?
For the reason laid out above, odds on futures bets have been known to vary significantly from book to book. If you’re feeling good about a particular bet, go through a half-dozen or so other betting sites and see if you can find the same bet with better odds.
If you aren’t checking different sportsbooks, you’re simply leaving money on the table.
2. Evaluate MVP Odds
One of my personal favorite futures bets when it comes to the NFL is choosing the eventual MVP. The reason I like this play so much is because the odds are such that you can choose a few different players and still come out with a nice profit if even just one of your choices wins the award.
That means even if you take the person whom the sportsbook deems most likely to win the MVP, you’ll still return more of your money than you’re risking.
Yes, these top three do have plus-money odds. But if you go below the top three, you can truly find some outstanding value.
I would suggest betting on one of the top three as a general rule. Typically, I would avoid taking the favorite and opt for the second or third choice. But where you can make real money is in the three to five range. These are the players who you can easily see winning, but are much more of a wild card in terms of how they’ll perform.
Between the third-highest odds, Patrick Mahomes at +300, and the fourth-highest odds is a massive gap. Josh Allen, who was given the fourth-best odds to win MVP (keep in mind that I’m only using one sportsbook for reference), is listed at +1000. Going down one more spot to round out the top five is Lamar Jackson at +1400.
What surprised me was how long the odds were for Lamar Jackson, the previous year’s MVP. With that being said, I can imagine that players, especially quarterbacks who run the ball frequently and put themselves at a higher risk of injury, are probably unlikely to repeat.
The key here is to take your bet and divide it up amongst two or three players. I like to take 50% of my money toward a top-three odds player (usually the second or third), 30% for a player in the four through six range, and finally one player around the number 10 spot. For reference, the 10th spot in 2020 was Cam Newton at +3300.
3. Division Champs
Arguably, the most popular futures bet in the NFL involve choosing the winner of each division. Your first thought might be that predicting this isn’t really that challenging. In some respects, that is accurate, but it’s important to consider the price you have to pay to get the favorite.
Sticking with preseason 2020 odds, the AFC East is one of the more difficult choices. The Bills opened as the favorite at -240, with the Patriots in second at +190. For many bettors, the Patriots, a team who has won the division seemingly each year for the past two decades, at +190 is the better play.
Just about every division will come down to the top two teams, as most bettors aren’t willing to take the risk of putting their money on a team that opens up as a likely third or fourth place finisher. This is understandable; these teams rarely surprise the world with a division championship.
There’s no consistent odds range between the first and second highest favorites to win the division. The NFC East, for example, has the Cowboys as the favorite at -110, and the Eagles coming in second at +110. For a bet like this, it’s advisable to simply choose who you think is going to win; value is less important.
On the other side of the coin, a division like the NFC West might provide an opportunity for those who are seeking the high-value play.
The Seahawks opened up as the favorite at -155. This sounds fairly reasonable, but the second-place odds where the Rams are at +330, presents a dilemma. Should you go with the team most likely to win, or take a chance on the +330 odds?
In the end, the real decision for choosing the eventual division champ isn’t so much about who you think is going to win, but whether or not the opportunity to make money is there. Bet based on the odds, and know that it’s okay to lay off.
4. Super Bowl Winner
The holy grail of NFL futures bets is, unsurprisingly, predicting who will win the Super Bowl! Like all of the other bets above, this one also comes down to the odds and the value that can be found when betting on one team over another.
If you look at the odds entering the 2020 NFL season, it seems that there’s a great opportunity to cash in. The Chiefs were the favorite at +350, followed by the Ravens (+600), Seahawks (+800), and Packers (+1000).
What I find interesting about these is that you could put $100 on each of the Ravens, Seahawks, and Packers, and still double your money (at the very least) if any of the teams hit. Even splitting up your money between the top three teams would result in a profit if one of them finishes the season as the champion.
Futures bets are a great way for disciplined, patient sports gamblers to enjoy huge value.
Do your research before the season to get ahead of the general public, check every available online sportsbook to find the best odds, and you can turn your futures bet into a high return on your initial investment.