NFL Diagnosing Injuries
Looking at the injury report after each Sunday and throughout the week is something that nearly everyone who bets NFL regularly has a part of their routine. Injuries are always covered extensively by the media, and though there are rules about clubs “providing full and complete information regarding a player’s availability”, coaches and players may hold out information in their reports.
In this article, we will explain each level of injury designation and the probable of a player suiting up based on his status, how injuries affect the betting line, and when there is value for bettors when dealing with injuries.
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The Injury Report
The NFL made sweeping changes to injury reports before the 2016-17 season. They scrapped the “probable” tag and have instructed teams to list players as “questionable”, “doubtful”, or “out”. Their rationale for removing the probable tag was that over 95% of players played in games if they were probable.
NFL Injury Designations
Questionable Injury Status – “Questionable” now means the player is uncertain to play, but the severity of the injury is unknown since this designation now encompasses players who might have previously been probable.
Doubtful Injury Status – “Doubtful” means the player is not likely to play.
Out Status – Finally, “out” means he will not play this week.
Injured Players and Practice
Regarding practicing, teams must report if the injured player participates in practice and if he’s taking his regular reps. A player who doesn’t do his full practice workload is listed as a “limited participant” and a player takes his normal reps while still being on the injury report is listed as practicing “in full”.
Adapting to New Injury Reports
With a wider range of injuries now under the “questionable” tag, knowing the extent of a player’s injuries becomes a lot murkier. If a player is injured at all, even if it’s minor – they’re listed as questionable.
Getting to the bottom of injuries now comes down to keeping track of practice habits, reading beat writers, and utilizing Twitter for recent news. Even before the changes to the NFL’s injury reporting, diving deeper into the injuries of vital players is something everyone should be doing.
How Injuries Affect the Betting Odds
For the most part, injuries are accounted for in the betting odds if they occurred during the previous week’s game. Even if a player is questionable to play, that will likely be reflected in the line.
Bettors may be able to catch the sportsbooks with their proverbial “pants down” if news breaks during the week about a player being ruled out or getting injured at practice. When major injury news breaks, the sportsbooks usually pull the game off the board and come back with an adjusted number. Even if they don’t pull the game, they typically adjust in a matter of minutes to breaking news.
The oddsmakers are tough to beat, and they are quick to react. If your question is “is this injury priced into the odds?”, the answer is almost always going to be a yes. However, there is an angle with injuries that make sense, which may involve fading the public.
The betting public seems to overvalue injuries. In reality, if a starting quarterback misses a game, and he’s an elite level starter, the line might move 2-3 points at most. For most players, the line will only move slightly, a half-point or full-point. In many cases, line movement after injury news breaks may not be a reaction to the injury, but to betting action.
One of the situational trends that has worked for a long time in NFL betting markets is betting on a team where their starting quarterback is out with an injury. Much of the time, the team rallies behind their backup and puts up a solid performance.
The betting public often inflates the line of the team opposing the backup because, well, he’s a backup quarterback. The situation is often the same with a highly valued defensive player, such as shutdown cornerback missing a game. The public tends to overreact to these injuries, and massive square action is common on the opposing team.
In games where there are injuries and reverse line movement in your favor, these are ideal spots to bet.
When it comes to football, it’s tough to beat the oddsmakers to the punch when it comes to injuries. If you’re wondering if the sportsbooks have adjusted to injury news, 9 out of 10 times it is already factored into the line.
One of the biggest mistakes square bettors make is thinking the oddsmakers haven’t adjusted for a critical (or even minor) injuries. Making matters worse, sometimes these markets are shaded due to public betting action, making them one of more -EV bets in sports betting.