NFL Draft Betting: Correlated Player Prop Bets to Target in the 2020 Draft
Whenever we discuss betting on a single NFL game, we talk about bets that are correlated to each other.
Let's take this year's Super Bowl as an example. If you thought the Kansas City Chiefs were going to win, it would make sense to bet certain things like the spread and their individual team total. But a win also implies a positive game script, meaning there's incentive to grab overs on rushing props for Damien Williams.
This is a high-variance strategy. If things don't go your way, there's a chance you could lose every single bet, in which case you're spending your quarantine eating years-old ramen instead of upscale sushi takeout.
The upsides, though, are obvious. If you hit one bet, your odds of hitting on the others increase, giving you the path to a bigger day. Variance isn't bad as long as you can hit the high ends, and this strategy makes reaching that ceiling more realistic.
Although many books don't allow live betting while the draft is in progress, the same line of thinking applies here. If the Detroit Lions trade out of the third overall pick, that will have ripple effects later on. Mapping out those scenarios and correlated bets can help us shoot for a bigger payday than targeting one-off bets.
Again, this strategy isn't for everybody because there's plentiful risk involved, even with lower limits on betting the draft. But let's run through some scenarios that could unfold and ways we can take advantage.
Washington Trades Out of the Second Pick
On Tuesday morning, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Washington was taking calls about the second overall pick. Given Ron Rivera's background, it seems unlikely the team passes up defensive end Chase Young. But there's intriguing betting upside if they do.
Right now, there's not a ton of value on betting Young to be the second overall pick. He's -3000 at FanDuel Sportsbook, so a team trading up to take Young is pretty meh.
The alternative, though, is that a team could trade up to take a quarterback. Which quarterback that would be is up for debate, but Tua Tagovailoa (+1400) and Justin Herbert (+1500) both have long odds to be that selection. You could just hedge and bet both so that you have extra wiggle room.
This would leave Young on the board for the Lions at the third overall pick. They've been linked to defensive tackle Derrick Brown in recent days, pushing his odds to be the third pick down to +400, but you have to assume Young would be higher on their board if he were available. Young is +2200 to go third overall. Hot diggity.
Given the long odds on the quarterbacks at two and Young at three, this is an easy win to spin a profit should things break this way. We do have to consider that the most likely scenario is that Washington stands pat, but the upsides here are worth the risk.
Tua Tagovailoa Slips
Based on his statistical profile, it's wild to think that Tagovailoa could wind up slipping in the draft. And the odds that all the talk around Tua is just a smoke screen to lower the cost of acquisition are high. As such, we need to make sure we're getting proper value here to offset the risk that front offices are flat out lying to us.
But there are a ton of ripple effects if Tagovailoa does slip.
Tagovailoa's draft position on FanDuel has fallen to 5.5 with +118 on the over. That would be the obvious first bet to make if you're assuming this scenario.
The second is that it increases the odds that Herbert goes within the top five picks. His draft prop is also 5.5 but with -112 on the under. If you want a bit more flexibility in this assumption, you could also just roll with Herbert at +124 to be drafted ahead of Tagovailoa.
If we're assuming a Tagovailoa fall, it opens up equity for other bets inside the top 10. It implies that either the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers will select a non-quarterback, and we can get some solid odds around those.
Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported Monday night that the Dolphins have taken a liking to left tackle Andrew Thomas. The Chargers traded Russell Okung this offseason and also have a glaring need at the position. Thomas is +550 to go within the first five picks and -150 to go within the top 10. Those numbers have already moved considerably since Monday night's report, so we have missed the boat a bit, but snagging one of those numbers on Thomas plays well if we project a Tua slide.
This has some ripple effects later in the round, as well. If the Dolphins or Chargers go with a tackle, it decreases the number of top-flight tackles available once we get into the double-digit picks. That's impactful given that the New York Jets are currently -140 to address the offensive line compared to +130 to snag a wide receiver.
In this scenario, it's very possible that all four of the top tackles are off the board by the time the Jets pick at 11. They could also not be as high on one of the four as the media is, potentially pushing them to draft a wide receiver instead of a lineman.
Right now, CeeDee Lamb (+400), Jerry Jeudy (+450), and Henry Ruggs (+700) all check in with favorable odds. We could potentially lop Ruggs off that list given that the Jets signed Breshad Perriman in free agency, potentially indicating they'd value more of a diverse threat than doubling up on speed.
Finally, this also opens up some longer shots as the team to draft Tagovailoa. Specifically, the Jacksonville Jaguars (+600) and Las Vegas Raiders (+900) stand out as they have at least mild links to quarterback markets and control multiple first-round picks. If Tagovailoa slides, they seem to be the two teams best positioned to take advantage.
The Lions Pick Derrick Brown
As mentioned before, the drumbeat of the Lions digging Brown has been building for days. You can still bet them to select Brown, but there would be additional fallout from that selection.
If Brown were to go third overall, he would be almost a lock to be the second defensive player drafted. He's currently +420 in that market. If you want additional flexibility to safeguard yourself should the Lions trade down, Brown is +340 to go within the top five picks. If the Lions were to trade down with the Dolphins, they'd still pick within the top five, potentially allowing that one to cash. You can essentially pick your favorite market on the Brown side of things.
The Lions selecting Brown would ensure that Jeffrey Okudah and Isaiah Simmons are on the board a bit longer. That opens up possibilities in the back half of the top 10.
The two pivotal teams there are the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers are viewed as being a wide open pick with no position being shorter than +200 as their first pick. But if Simmons is there, it seems likely the Panthers would take the plunge, and linebacker is one of the positions at +200. If Okudah is there, they could view him as a replacement for the departed James Bradberry and make him the pick. Cornerback is +400 to be their selection.
Things are even juicier for the Cardinals. Right now, they're +650 to select a linebacker and +850 to select a cornerback. They're actually +198 to take a defensive player, meaning you can just go there and profit whether they take Brown, Simmons, or Okudah. With the DeAndre Hopkins trade and the Cardinals' holes to fill on defense, that number seems longer than it should be and is viable whether you make the Brown-to-the-Lions assumption or not.
Of our three assumptions, this one may be the most likely to actually happen, and it comes with some enticing odds. You could feel good about the Panthers' and Cardinals' sides of things even without going the Brown route, which may make these assumptions a higher-floor string with the potential to cash even if not everything goes your way.