The quarterback is by far the most popular player on the football team, and he’s also the BMOC when it comes to the props market. Here’s how you can take advantage of QB props.
Who’s the first player who comes to mind when you think about the NFL? Is it Tom Brady? Aaron Rodgers? Drew Brees? Whoever it is, chances are he’s a quarterback. These are the most important players on the field, whether it’s the NFL or college football, and rightly or wrongly, the quarterbacks soak up most of the spotlight. Quarterbacks are key players on the props market, too. You can bet on which of these gentlemen will pass for the most yards in 2017. You can also bet on who will throw the most touchdown passes and the most interceptions. That’s for the entire regular season; a long list of props are made available for each game, as well. With so many people fixated on QB performance, you know there’s going to be some betting value with these props. Here’s how to find it.
On the Contrary
We start with the most basic betting plan there is: contrarian betting. When too many bettors invest too much money in one commodity, they distort the marketplace and create betting value for everyone else. This dynamic works best in either-or situations, like single-game props where you bet on the quarterback going OVER or UNDER his posted total for the day. There are two proven ways to scoop up some of that sweet, sweet profit margin: Fade the really popular quarterbacks, and follow the undervalued yeomen. Football fans and recreational bettors treat players like Brady, Rodgers and Brees as if they were demigods. Greatness is expected, and inflated expectations mean you’ll find value betting the UNDER on passing yards and touchdown throws, plus the OVER on interceptions.
Case in point: Super Bowl LI. Here’s how the three aforementioned Brady props looked for the Big Game between Brady’s New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons:
Total Passing Yards – Tom Brady
OVER 310.5 (-115)
UNDER 310.5 (-115)
Total TD Passes – Tom Brady
OVER 2.5 (-180)
UNDER 2.5 (+150)
Total Interceptions – Tom Brady
OVER 0.5 (+120)
UNDER 0.5 (-150)
As you may recall, Brady ended up winning MVP honors after leading the Patriots to the biggest comeback win in Super Bowl history. He ended up throwing for 466 yards, blowing out his posted total even before they went into overtime. However, Brady only threw two touchdown passes, and he also threw a pick. Two out of three ain’t bad, particularly at these betting odds.
So how about those perennially underrated quarterbacks? Casual fans seem to have it in for the “game managers” of the world, those QBs who slowly matriculate the ball down the field without making too many errors. When you find one of these football pariahs, consider betting the OVER for yards and touchdown passes, while betting the UNDER on interceptions. One of the best ways to sort out the wheat from the chaff is to look at the advanced statistics. People forget that football is a team sport, and they focus too hard on the obvious counting stats for QBs while ignoring the bigger picture. Football Outsiders has a handy metric called DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) that a lot of sharp bettors look at to help them with their NFL picks; in 2016, FO had guys like Alex Smith (No. 11 overall in passing DVOA) and Andy Dalton (No. 12) rated ahead of Philip Rivers (No. 18) and Eli Manning (No. 20). Food for thought.
As for those full-season QB props, you’d still be well-advised to avoid the big names at the top of the odds list and look for value with the Smiths and Daltons of the world. Except when it comes to Brees, that is. He led the league in passing yards five of the past six seasons, and he’s +350 to do it again this year. The New Orleans Saints make it easy for him with their offensive style, and by playing indoors at the Superdome. Having a quality offensive line makes a huge difference, too. Just ask Rodgers, who’s led the NFL in passing yards exactly zero times. It’s a team sport, people.