With little more than ping-pong to wager on (as we covered here in an earlier column for TheLines.com), the market for NFL Draft wagering is robust … to say the least.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, wagering on NFL draft futures is three times higher than it was a year ago. The most popular Draft markets include 1st Overall Pick and Draft Position of QB Tua Tagovailoa.
And for those hurting for money due to the coronaviris pandemic, there are free options at FanDuel as well.
All in all, it is a way for one of the top legal betting operators to try to keep everyone happy during a time when there are no live American sporting events on television, and folks are feeding their sports jones by watching reruns of old games and awaiting the next two episodes of “The Last Dance”, the ESPN series chronicling Michael Jordan’s last season.
In this strange new sports world, we all have to look far into the future and hope for the best. And year after year, no event captures that audience more than the NFL Draft, which will be conducted virtually for the first time ever this year from Thursday night through Saturday.
Liability on Burrow, uncertainty on Tua
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is widely considered to go No. 1 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals (ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper puts the chances at 99 percent) and enough money has been pouring in on Burrow at No. 1 that he is the biggest liability at FanDuel Sportsbook. The biggest bet on Burrow was $14,400 at -7000 odds, which would pay out $205.71 if (and when) it hits.
“There are some nice four-figure bets at +100 going back to November,” FanDuel’s Marc Sousa told TheLines this week.
Burrow now sits at -100000 to be the first overall pick.
With Burrow’s fate all but sealed, the big mystery involving quarterbacks is where Alabama’s Tuo Tagoviaola will end up. The uncertainty is driving a lot of action at the books, too. As of Wednesdsay, the most popular wager by bet count was on which team will draft Tagovailoa. More than 53% of money bet was on the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins are picking No. 5, and the 6-foot-1 QB from American Samoa by way of Hawaii is listed at just -110 to end up in Miami, with the Los Angeles Chargers at +210 the second choice (they have the No. 6 pick.)
This is an especially interesting pick because there are three teams (the Redskins, Giants and Lions) in between No. 1 and No. 5 who could trade down to a team that really wants Tagoviaola. Sousa says the best case for the book is Tua going at No. 2 or No. 3.
With the Reskins, Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins Jr. split time at quarterback last season for a team that finished an NFC-worst 3-13.
Washington had the NFL’s second-worst offense overall, and they were last in passing yardage by a lot, averaging 175.8 yards per game through the air. Washington is listed at +1200 to draft Tagoviaola, which is an enticing wager opportunity for those who believe the Redskins will prioritize the quarterback position with the No. 2 pick. Tua is +1400 to be taken with the No. 2 overall pick – whether it is the Redskins or another team that decides to trade up.
Big boy for Big Blue?
The New York Giants have the No. 4 pick, and the debate in the New York metropolitan area is whether they should take an offensive tackle to protect Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, or trade down in order to get both an offensive tackle and a linebacker.
But for now, FanDuel lists Big Blue at -400 to select an offensive lineman and +500 to select a linebacker with their first pick. If GM Dave Gettleman gets creative in trading down, wide receiver at +2300 or safety at +3400 with New York’s first pick is not the worst wager in the world (hey, when you are horrible on both offense and defense, trading down allows you to address a lot of needs).
Bettors at FanDuel have been supporting offensive tackle Jedrick Wills as the first player drafted by the Giants on Thursday. “Wills was bet from +450 to current odds of -150 to be the first pick by the NYG – that’s going to hurt (if it hits),” said Sousa. “Our best-case scenario would be if there are some shocking selections that shake up the draft.”
FanDuel’s free NFL Draft contests
The bottom line is this: If any of the top five teams trade down, this draft is not going to go as anyone predicted. Which is why playing a free contest is extra appealing. Let’s face it, with so many Americans out of work, there are free contests that can pay a bunch of grocery and utility bills for those who do well on predicting the first 10 picks.
In the $10K Predict The Draft contest at FanDuel, players can predict the 10 players drafted in order — without a salary cap — and will get two points for every correct pick, as well as 0.5 points for any player chosen within one spot of their correct draft position. First place is worth $1,000.
You can also play in FanDuel’s free DFS contest. Draft a team of rookies and earn points based on their draft position versus their peers.