Over the weekend, DraftKings released their first run of NFL Win Totals. Off the top, let’s quickly discuss futures. Betting on NFL Futures in March, or even in early September, isn’t for everyone. Bankroll allocation is a tricky factor here. Depending on your bankroll or unit size, there are better options than tying up a percentage of your funds for 4-10 months. With that said, my goal is to get in good whenever possible. I want to pick off as many bad or stale lines as possible, regardless of the time of year or the bet type. The best approach for most casual bettors is to adjust your unit size a bit, especially this early in the process.
This first release of win totals from DraftKings comes before the draft, in the middle of free agency, and before the official schedule comes out. Naturally, some folks are hesitant to jump in without that information, and if that’s you, I totally understand. My pushback to that would be, as soon as you have all that information, so does everyone else. That doesn’t eliminate your edge, but it certainly reduces it.
Here’s what we do know. We know each team’s cap situation and when and where each team picks in the draft. You can use our sick team resources tool to comb through each team if you’d like. We also know who plays who and where; we just don’t know the sequencing. The schedule matters, but more as a tie-breaker for me, something that would push a lean towards a bet, more so than something I’d solely use to determine a play or not.
I’m 33-9-2 (+43.96u) on NFL Futures over the past two seasons, mixing in team bets, award markets, and player props. Here’s my first play for 2023.
Los Angeles Rams – Under 7.5 Wins
The Rams take a unique approach to team building, and after winning the 2021 Super Bowl, it’s difficult to argue against their strategy. They’ve targeted and acquired top-level talent, often via trade or, at times, through free agency, happily trading off draft picks in order to do so. It’s the ultimate stars-and-scrubs strategy. When your stars deliver and stay healthy, you contend, and that was 2021. When your stars don’t deliver or stay healthy, your lack of depth beyond the blue-chip players is exposed, and that was 2022 for the Los Angeles Rams.
Rams Will Have a LOSING Record In 2023 ❌ #shorts #nfl” width=”410″>
After a Super Bowl run that saw the Rams rank inside the top five in fewest adjusted games lost due to injury, a Football Outsiders metric that accounts for both absent players and those playing at less than 100%. It gives more weight to injuries for expected starters and situational players than to expected backups, they were among the league leaders in 2022. Matthew Stafford was shut down with a spinal cord injury shortly before Cooper Kupp went down with a high ankle injury that required surgery. Both the offensive and defensive lines were decimated by injuries, and with no depth behind them, the Rams were exposed.
The Rams‘ offseason has been interesting, to say the least. Sean McVay has flirted with early retirement. Both Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford have been involved in trade rumors, albeit subtle, but it speaks to how desperate this team is to reshuffle the deck and start over. They’ve been quiet in free agency, letting most of their free agents walk while only resigning a handful of their in-house free agents. They’ve also traded away one of their blue-chippers, Jalen Ramsey, a sign that they’re closer to bottoming out than retooling for another run at the top.
They’ve restructured contracts in an effort to clear cap space, but not so they can make a splash on the open market. They needed to do so in order to create enough room to sign their upcoming draft class, even though none of those players are coming in at a prohibitive price. The Rams are once against without a first-round pick this year and haven’t made a first-round pick in the draft since 2016, when they selected Jared Goff first overall. They have just three selections in the first 166 picks this season, which is bad news for a club that needs to add cheap starters and depth. Now, they have a bunch of late picks this year, with three in the fifth, three in the sixth, and two more in the seventh. With the holes on their roster, they desperately need to land a starter or two in that range, which is a difficult ask considering making the team is often the goal for picks in that range.
If you go unit by unit and grade each of them out, this is a bottom-five roster in the league. Outside of Aaron Donald, the defense is a disaster. Robert Rochell and Derion Kendrick, their current projected starters on the outside at cornerback, ranked 192nd and 217th, respectively, in PFF cornerback grades in 2022. They have no edge rush threat to support their secondary, and linebacker Bobby Wagner is gone after an outstanding year in Los Angeles. His 1.4% missed tackle rate was the lowest in the league among linebackers with 140 or more tackles on the season.
With Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp returning to full strength, the offense should return to form in a sense, but the offensive line has more questions than answers. I believe that Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris are excellent coaches, but you can only make so much lemonade out of these lemons. I’m not convinced that the goal isn’t to completely bottom out with the hopes of putting them in position pick near the top of next year’s draft, so I’ll be looking to grab alt-unders here when they open up.