Injuries are a harsh reality of pro football. Severe ones happen every week as the players put their bodies and love of the game on the line. NFL players are well-paid professional athletes, but only the biggest, strongest, fastest and most talented players from college make it to the pros. Others that have the most drive and determination and play without fear also find their way onto the football field.
The quarterback position is the most important in football. Along with the physical skills to excel at the games most demanding position, it takes an outstanding leader with toughness, mental strength, and the ability to make all the reads and throws to lead an offense and team to more victories.
A quarterback’s impact on the betting line
In the business market, the quarterbacks are the highest paid players on average in the NFL. In the betting market, quarterbacks impact the betting line more than any other player. I keep numbers relating to a QB’s value, and like other players and positions, they can change. Especially for younger QBs and rookies who we are evaluating as they get more playing time and perform. Is Baker Mayfield an upgrade over Tyrod Taylor for Cleveland? How ’bout Josh Rosen over Sam Bradford in Arizona?
Prior to the season and through training camp, these rookies’ grades as backups were below the veteran starters. Now how do they rate as each rookie makes his starting debut in Week 4? The media will have you believe Mayfield is a major upgrade, while one week earlier few thought much of rookie Josh Allen until he performed better than expected in his starting debut and led the Bills to a shocking upset over the Vikings as a 17-point underdog.
Las Vegas sportsbook directors don’t think much of rookie quarterbacks, and they have their QB ratings and numbers and also adjust the betting lines on quarterback play and impact injuries.
Let’s look at some numbers
Following last week’s season-ending injury to San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers now find themselves a 10.5-point underdog at the LA Chargers in Week 4. Backup C.J. Beathard is now the 49ers starting quarterback after playing 5 ½ games last year as a rookie. He’ll be more comfortable this year, but the speed in which he goes through his progressions to deliver the ball and avoid hits and sacks (19 last year) must improve.
The impact on the betting line from Garoppolo to Beathard is below, and while it’s significant, note the 49ers’ rushing attack has been strong thus far and ranks No. 2 in the league at 153 YPG and 5.6 yards per rush, so the offensive line is performing well.
We talked with professional sports bettor Steve Fezzik, a noted numbers guy and two-time Westgate SuperContest winner, about quarterback values and impact on the betting line. Here are some of his thoughts and adjustments.
- Green Bay: Healthy Aaron Rodgers to disaster DeShone Kizer – down 10 points
- Detroit: Matthew Stafford to Matt Cassel – down 9 points
- San Francisco: Jimmy Garoppolo to CJ Beathard – down 6.5 points
- Philadelphia: Healthy Carson Wentz to Nick Foles – down 4 points
- Cleveland: Tyrod Tayler to Baker Mayfield – up 1 point
- Arizona: Sam Bradford to Josh Rosen – down 1.5 points
Prior to the season, says Fezzik, Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston was a 1.5 point upgrade over Ryan Fitzpatrick. Heading into Week 4, ‘FitzMagic’ is one point better in the betting market, showing the need to adjust to performance. Keep that in mind as the Buccaneers decide on their quarterback situation with Winston returning from suspension.
Clearly, there has been a significant upgrade on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes following his record-breaking start and 13 touchdown passes through three games. Over-reaction is common, and it would be more so if Mahomes went down with injury and capable veteran QB Chad Henne was pressed into action. Perhaps 4 points, says Fezzik.
Josh Allen has been upgraded 2 or 2.5 points following his Week 4 performance, but he is still well below average and just a two point upgrade over backup Nathan Peterman.
Even Josh McCown of the Jets as a starter last year was a seven or eight point upgrade in the betting line over backups Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, who are no longer in New York. McCown is now the backup and mentoring rookie QB Sam Darnold, but the impact in the betting line should Darnold go down with injury and McCown become starter should be little, despite the mainstream media suggesting otherwise.
What if Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger or Ravens QB Joe Flacco were to go down with an injury in their Week 4 Sunday night showdown? Fezzik says the betting line would be impacted at least six points, going to backups Landry Jones or not-ready-rookie Lamar Jackson.
The Rams are now the top-rated team and favorite to reach the Super Bowl. Jared Goff shined in the Thursday night spotlight against the Vikings, passing for 465 yards, five touchdowns and obtaining a perfect QB rating of 158.3. The Rams are a strong team overall though, and the impact to backup Sean Mannion should be no more than six points according to Fezzik.
What about running backs and receivers?
As you wonder about other players value including skill position players that get the media hype like Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell, his impact is no more than 1.3 points according to Fezzik. With running back James Connor performing pretty well, you should see that most running backs are replaceable and it’s the strength of the offensive line that is more significant. Wide receiver Josh Gordon’s arrival in New England is worth less than half a point to the betting line, says Fezzik.
Quarterbacks are king in the NFL when it comes to brand, money, impact and the betting line.