NFL Futures Betting
Futures markets have benefited from the expansion of online gambling perhaps more than any other sport. NFL futures betting have grown exponentially in recent years as sportsbooks have added more markets aside from Super Bowl and conference futures.
Futures are different from different from straight on sides and totals due to the definitiveness of their results (no pushes). They also generally take place over a considerably longer time frame compared traditional wagering. Futures can take months to settle in many cases, especially when players bet them well in advance of the start of the NFL season.
Best NFL Futures Betting Sites 2018
NFL Futures Betting Markets
As mentioned above, the most popular futures markets that bettors will run into is Super Bowl Champion, along with AFC and NFC Champion futures. Although, in the past few years, nearly every major sportsbook now also offers futures wagers on each NFL division. This is a welcome addition to to futures markets and makes for some interesting betting opportunities.
There are some profitable wagers when it comes to betting futures, but bettors first need to learn how to handicap futures markets. That involves calculating the juice of each bet in the market to figure out the implied probability. Futures markets are notoriously “juiced up” by many sportsbooks, so it’s vital that bettors break down the odds and line shop appropriately.
Sample Calculation of a NFL Futures Bet
We’re going to use betting odds from Bovada.lv on the 2015-16 winner AFC East Champion of the AFC East as an example.
Odds to Win AFC East
- New England Patriots -160
- Miami Dolphins +375
- Buffalo Bills +425
- New York Jets +1000
The above odds are listed for each team to win the division. Calculating the sportsbook’s vig on a futures market can be done using simple math. The first step is to divide our risk ($100 with moneyline odds) by our potential payout.
For the odds-on favorite, New England, we risk $100/$160 which equals .625 or 62.5%. The number on the right includes out $100 stake and a potential return of $60, which add up to $160.
The rest of the percentages are underdogs, so their chances of winning will be considerably smaller. Here’s the math.
- Dolphins 100/475 = 0.21 (21%)
- Bills 100/525 = 0.19 (19%)
- Jets 100/1100 = 0.09 (9%)
By adding these percentages together, we can figure out the sportsbook’s vigorish on this futures market. The math is simple addition: 62.5+ 21.0+ 19.0+ 9.0 = 111.50. These percentages add up to 111.50%, which means the commission charged on this futures wagers is 11.5%.
We can get true no-vig moneyline odds by dividing our above percentages by 111.50%:
- Patriots 62.5/111.50 = 56.0%
- Dolphins 21/111.50 = 18.8%
- Bills 19/111.50 = 17%
- Jets 9/111.50 = 9%
Added up, these numbers equal 100.8%, which makes sense since we rounded up several decimal points in our calculations.
True No-Vig Market
Using an implied probability calculator, we can convert these implied probability percentages into moneyline odds to give a true no-vig market.
- Patriots -127
- Dolphins +432
- Bills +488
- Jets +1011
We can see by our true odds that the Jets have the best odds relative to the sportsbook’s hold percentage (+1011 true odds versus +1000). The above hold percentage of 11.50% is relatively fair in regards to futures markets, it’s only slightly more than the standard 10% vig charged on straight wager on sides and totals.
This isn’t always the case, however. Some online gambling sites have hold percentages that charge players between 20-30%. Land-based sportsbooks in Las Vegas are generally much worse with these percentages charging bettors 40% or higher on some futures markets.
NFL Futures Bets – Other Considerations
It’s important to keep in mind that just because the sportsbook’s hold on a futures’ market is better than another’s, it doesn’t mean that gamblers shouldn’t shop around for the best price on their wager. Even if a market has a 40% or more hold, there can still be a better price available on a specific team compared to one with a lower vigorish. Generally, the less vig the more potential for +EV wagers, but that isn’t always the case.
Future betting is a recreational-focused betting market, which means it caters much more to amateur bettors compared to higher-stake betting professionals. The vast majority of people betting futures are amateur bettors who simply want to wager on their favorite teams. Limits are low and as described above, the vig can be quite high. Some betting sites should be avoided altogether for futures because their holds are simply outrageous compared to the rest of the market and are unbeatable.
NFL Futures Betting Strategy
With all that said, futures betting can be profitable with shopping and by avoiding high vig markets. There are also a few areas that bettors may benefit from waiting to bet on a specific team or by hitting the market early.
Future odds are updated throughout the season based on the performance of each team. The oddsmakers don’t pay nearly as much attention to these markets as sides, totals and moneylines, so in some cases, they may be able to get a bet in before the market adjusts to a win or a loss.
Bettors may also have a team that they like to win the Super Bowl or specific division, but see a tough early season schedule for the team where they may lose several games. Though the long-term outlook in the bettor’s mind hasn’t changed regarding the franchise, the oddsmakers will adjust the odds to account for any losses with more generous odds. However, the flip side here is that if they win these games then they are left with a worse price than the original odds.
If bettors take a team that is one game away from clinching a division title, Super Bowl, AFC or NFC Championship appearance, they will also have the opportunity to hedge their bet and lock in a profit. Hedging should be evaluated by a case-by-case basis and isn’t always a +EV move even if you’re locking in a profit.
We don’t want to steer bettors away from futures altogether, but steering clear of markets with large vigorish is simply a smart betting strategy. There are definitely opportunities for value, but one main reason we caution novice bettors from betting too many long-term futures is that it ties up your bankroll for extended periods of time.
Low stakes bettors need all the money they can in the early stages and will be forced to bet less money on other +EV markets that are much more readily available while their money is tied up in futures.
Top NFL Futures Betting Sites
It’s tough to recommend a single betting site for NFL futures. Ultimately, the issue with futures is the high vig. While some sportsbooks may charge fewer fees, or vigorish, on their futures markets – bettors should evaluate each future bet individually. Do this by figuring out the sportsbook’s edge, like the example above.
One area where many sportsbooks have an advantage over the others is the number of markets. Futures expand every year and in the current market, BetOnline.ag, is the winner.
BetOnline is a Futures Favorite
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