Futures NFL

Five 2021 NFL Future Prop Bets to Passively Acknowledge

I am a PGA handicapper by trade. I lean religiously on Fantasy National data and modeling to take stances on golfers who should perform well week to week at different courses. With football, I have no data at my disposal. I simply watch all the games on Red Zone, listen to a few podcasts, and read the articles of people who are more knowledgeable than me in this space, and then I make my own decisions from there.

So why am I, PGA Tout, writing an NFL article? A couple reasons. #1, there’s no PGA tournaments this week and I have nothing else to write about, and #2, I don’t think the NFL Futures prop market requires any deep dives into stats like DFS or season long fantasy does, so I don’t feel I’m at a disadvantage to the hardcore sharp NFL handicappers. I’m not going to cover NFL weekly, in fact this may be the only NFL article I write all year, but I had some game theory thoughts I wanted to expand on in a Futures market I’ve had limited success in, so I figured I’d use this forum to get those thoughts out.

At the end of the day, I’m not encouraging anyone to tail these picks. I’m not asking you to share this article, or even engage with the post. Don’t even tell your friends about it. I’m simply asking you to passively acknowledge that I have some thoughts on NFL futures. That’s it! You don’t even have to read this article if you don’t want to. Just a simple “Huh, PGA Tout had some thoughts about the NFL Comeback Player of the Year market and felt compelled to write about it. Neat.” is really all I’m going for here. Here are those thoughts!

Comeback Player of the Year: Carson Wentz (+1000)

Carson Wentz Continues Positive Progression Towards Starting Week 1 -  Stampede Blue

This is my one conviction future prop for the NFL season. Last year, I had two conviction props: Derrick Henry MVP +4000 & Alex Smith Comeback Player of the Year +4000. Henry MVP obviously didn’t cash, but he was ultimately an MVP finalist and it made for a good sweat throughout the season. Alex Smith on the other hand, did cash. What I liked about the Alex Smith prop was that the threshold for his season to be deemed a “comeback” was incredibly low. It was widely publicized in ESPN documentaries and media coverage throughout the offseason that Alex Smith’s gruesome injury almost resulted in him having to get his leg amputated and it was a miracle he was able to walk again, let alone play a snap in the NFL. Despite that, he entered the 2020 NFL season as the Washington Football Team’s backup QB, behind Dwayne Haskins, who nobody had any confidence would be any good. So in Smith’s case, if he found himself able to take one snap in 2020, he was going to be a viable CPOY candidate, and if he got a start and wasn’t downright awful, he was going to be a lock for this award.

So fast forwarding to 2021, it’s Carson Wentz who heads into the season in a perfect situation to claim comeback player of the year honors. First things first, he’s in position to look good. He’s behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, has a top tier running back behind him in Jonathan Taylor and a talented young receiving core. He’s also playing in a very winnable division, facing little resistance from the Jaguars & Texans, or the Titans Defense (Titans offense is a different story, but Wentz doesn’t have to worry about that). He is an upgrade from a now retired Philip Rivers, and the starting QB role is firmly his going into week 1. So he’s in position to play well on a playoff contending team, great start. Next we have to consider what he is coming back from, and how that compare the the other CPOY candidates. Wentz had an embarrassingly bad 2020 season with the Eagles, putting up career worst stats, taking a record number of sacks, battling through injuries, and ultimately losing his job mid-season to Jalen Hurts. That’s a LOT to come back from in a year, but by simply entering a situation where he will have time in the pocket and receivers who can get open and catch the ball, he’s going to look a LOT better in Indianapolis. Compare that to the situation of CPOY favorite Dak Prescott (+200), and he doesn’t even need to put up better numbers to be a better comeback story.

Coach of the Year: Joe Judge (+2500)

Fight! Giants brawl in training camp, Joe Judge flipped out and here's  everything that went down - nj.com

Coach of the Year is very rarely rewarded to the best coach in the NFL that season. If it was, the award would be passed back and forth between Bill Belichick and Andy Reid each year. Instead, Coach of the Year is awarded to the head coach of the team who exceeded their expectations the most based on the talent alone they’re working with on paper. Nobody expected the Cleveland Browns to make the playoffs, so when they did, Kevin Stefanski got the credit and won this award in 2020. “This team wasn’t talented enough to win this many games so their coaching staff must have really inspired them to be great”. That’s the sentiment when Coach of the Year votes are cast. I don’t agree with it at all, but that’s how this award is decided. Was Stefanski’s coaching any better than Andy Reid’s or Bruce Arians? Or Mike Tomlin who coached his team to win the Browns’ Division? I would say emphatically no. But be that as it may, that’s how you need to approach this prop. Which surprise team can win more games than they’re expected to and get into the playoffs, and who coaches that team?

To me, the 2021 Brown’s equivalent team with playoff talent but no real playoff expectations in the New York Giants. They continue to play in a wide open division in the NFC East that can potentially be won with a modest 9-8 record and they made significant upgrades to the roster since missing the playoffs by one game last year, getting back Saquon Barkley in addition to new additions of Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Adoree Jackson. It is worth noting at this point that yes, I am a Giants fan, but I’m a very humble, self-deprecating Giants fan with tempered expectations for the season. If the hypothesis is true that no team expected to make the playoffs pre-season is eligible to win Coach of the Year, then Joe Judge at 25/1 is well worth the gamble that his team can somehow sneak its way into the post-season.

0-17 Season: Houston Texans (+2500) or Detroit Lions (+3000)

Worst Losing Streaks in Sports History | Stadium Talk

Usually I like to bet the Least Wins prop because it makes for a fun weekly sweat to constantly root for the same random team to get beaten up on. This year, I really do think it’s a two-team race for the worst team in the NFL between the Texans (+250) and Lions (+350), so I don’t see the value to bet either. Instead, I’m going to roll the dice and see if either of the two worst teams in the league can go completely winless. Everyone with a pulse on the Houston Texans demanded a trade after the 2020 season, and now they’re stuck with Tyrod Taylor under center week 1, with no playmakers remaining on offense or defense. The Lions have a new psychopath head coach, Jared Goff is QB1, and Tyrell Williams is their #1 receiver after the departures of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. It’s a complete rebuild in Detroit, and if they could accomplish this winless feat in 2008 with Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson on the roster, I think it’s in play once again, even with the added 17th game.

Most Interceptions Thrown: Jared Goff (+800)

Detroit Lions Jared Goff Keys to Success - Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions  News, Analysis and More

In order to throw the most interceptions in an NFL season you need (1) job security to play a full season despite all the INTs, (2) a pass-oriented offense that allows for a high volume of pass attempts, and (3) to be a bad quarterback who makes stupid decisions. That’s a perfect formula for Jared Goff this year. He’s playing on a team I think could plausibly win 0 games, has a decrepit receiving corps that will struggle to get open, and he’s learning a new offense without Sean McVay’s handholding for the first time in his career. With Sean McVay’s handholding, excellent offensive line, and great receiving corps during his time in LA, Goff still ranked Top 6 in INTs thrown in each of the last two seasons. With the Lions, who actively traded for Goff and took on his gaudy contract, Goff is essentially locked into playing the full season of a rebuild year where his team will be trailing and forced to pass at high volume throughout the season. Sign me up!

Division Winner Round Robin (4x): Cowboys (+150), Bills (-160), Steelers (+500), Rams (+190), Packers (-160), Colts (+150), Bucs (-200), Chiefs (-250)

Won Not Done:' Steelers Celebrate Winning AFC North Division – CBS  Pittsburgh

What is the point of placing a Future bet if not establish a vested interest of the course of a long season? The Division Winner Round Robin has become my favorite Future bet in any sport. I can pick a team from every single division to root for; if half of them win, I turn a small profit, and if all of them win, I make a big profit.

I’m a little bit higher than most on the Colts, Rams, and Steelers this year, so if any of these “surprise” Division winners pull through, this bet will be looking pretty 17 weeks from now.