2023 NFL Futures Bets: The House Versus Straus

by Mark Strausberg
2023 NFL Futures Bets

This 2023 NFL Futures Bets: The House Versus Straus, is in response to a number of our users asking for my favorite futures bets for this upcoming season.

And if you haven't joined us on Discord, why not?!?!? I know I haven't published a lot of my House Versus Straus lately, but instead, I've been publishing picks on there daily...and I'm on a bit of a heater if I'm being honest.

And that's despite baseball not being my strongest sport. I always do the best with the NFL, and that's especially true when it comes to NFL futures. Maybe its because those were one of the very first type of sports bets I was introduced to. Or maybe it's because it allows me to look at things from a birds-eye view. Who knows? But I usually do pretty well with my NFL futures.

The reason is I so rarely bet the "conventional futures". I don't like betting MVP or Super Bowl winner typically. Instead, I go through all the options and find not only the bets that most fit with my predetermined mindset, but also those that have value. I don't bet something just because I think it will happen. It's a cliche, but I make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.

With that in mind, here are Strausberg's Favorite 2023 NFL Futures.

*Note that all these props come from the DraftKings Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.

2023 NFL Futures Bets

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.5 Unit Bet

AFC North: 1st-Ravens 2nd-Bengals (+500)
AFC North: 1st-Bengals 2nd-Ravens (+380)

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Nearly every prognosticator has one of these two coming out of the AFC North and if they have more than one team making the playoffs, it's often these two. So we can basically put a half unit on each of these and if either bet hits, we are winning making a profit of .9 units or 1.5 units. Either way, that's a profit. And I know, Pittsburgh or Cleveland can mess this up. But I'm confident neither messes up this bet.

First off, last year, Baltimore and Cincinnati were the two teams atop the division. Furthermore, while past performance is no guarantee of future results, eight of the last twelve division titles have been won by one of these two teams. Also, since the division was realigned in 2022, Cleveland has never finished higher than third in the division. I don't think that trend stops this year.

Math More Than History

But this is an instance where we will use the books' own numbers to help make our decision. The Bengals are +125 to win the division and the Ravens are +275 to win the division. Conversely, the Browns and Steelers are both currently over 400+ to win the division. So knowing the books never post payouts that are even to the odds, the books believe that the odds of either the Steelers or Browns winning the division is less than 1/4. This means that the odds of either of our two teams winning the division is better than 2/3. Of course, we now to have subtract one from the numerator, giving us a 1/3 chance, purely on the math. Basically, we have a 33% chance of this hitting just on the book's math alone. And given the +380, there is obviously some +EV here.

But let's keep it simple. The Bengals have improved their defense and the Ravens have improved their offense while Pittsburgh and Cleveland have generally stayed in place. Disagree? Fine. Don't make the bet. But with these two props made, I'll be richer come the end of season for having done so.

.75 Unit Bets

Justin Herbert 400+ Passing Yards in Three Individual Regular Season Games +200

My initial thought was actually a full unit. 2-to-1 felt a little generous. But as I started to do some research, this felt about right. Why? Let's start with this fun fact: Herbert has never thrown for 400 yards in a game during the regular season. Look it up. He's come very close before, throwing for 398 yards for example. And even last year, which was considered a disappointing year for Herbert, he still had more 350+ passing yard games than he did sub-250 passing yard games. But the fact is he has yet to throw for 400 yards or more from September through December during his professional career.

Yet I still like this bet. First off, he'll be working with Kellen Moore, who has a bit of a reputation as the next "QB Whisperer". Dak Prescott attributes much of his success to Moore, who helped Dallas achieve their number-one offensive ranking earlier this decade. But Moore already has an accomplished and talented quarterback with whom to work.

As "disappointing" as last year was for Herbert, he still finished with a 68.2% completion percentage (good for third best in the league) as well as second in passing yards (4,739). And that was despite some speculation that his non-throwing shoulder hurt him more than he let on. But he had surgery on it this off-season and should now be 100% healthy entering this season. In addition, both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen missed a number of games last year and should now also be healthy. Even if they are not, the Chargers added another receiving threat in TCU WR Quentin Johnson, one of the key weapons in the Horned Frogs run in the national playoffs. And let's not forget Austin Ekeler who also can catch his share of passes.

Throw in a top-ten easiest strength of schedule including the easiest opening foursome of games, and Herbert could easily have won this bet for us before Columbus Day. But I'll settle for Christmas. And either way, there's just too much optimism for Herbert this season for me to pass on this bet.

.25 Unit Bets

Puka Nacua Most Regular Season Rookie Receiving Yards +10000

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For those looking for a "long shot" bet to make, this might be my favorite. The receivers who went in the first round of the draft like Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, and so forth are far more likely to win this bet. And I've got a few small bets on them based on expected production despite the expected value. But I'm not going to waste your time telling you why they will win more likely win this award. And the reason they won't is simply that none of them are currently their team's WR1.

But Nacua is definitely going a bit under the radar. And that's despite the recent news that Cooper Kupp might not suit up this weekend. Yes, Van Jefferson is a speedy, nifty receiver with good hands, but he can't be an 80-down WR, especially if he is constantly getting bumped at the line. The best way to stop him is to jam him, and my guess most DBs will try to do so. Nacua on the other hand, not only has the size (6-2 and 201 pounds) but also great hands, regularly winning 50/50 balls against better defenders. Nacua also has the athletic instincts to get open and make the big play. There is a reason why, despite a lack of initial acceleration, he still averaged 18.7 yards per catch in 2021.

Can Nacua Do-a?

Because of Nacua's talent with the ball in his hands, Nacua was targeted primarily on underneath routes. Yet he was also a deep threat, garnering one of the highest average depth of targets (14.3) in this class over the past two seasons. Nacua had the fourth-best contested catch rate (59.3%) from this year’s receiver class since 2021, and the second-highest yards per route run total (3.48). All that is just a more sophisticated way to say that Nacua is a YAC monster. And your YAC monsters are the ones that usually win the yardage totals.

Don't go crazy, and maybe a tenth of a unit is better than throwing away an entire quarter of a unit. But this is definitely my favorite Preseason Prop Bet longshot.

Speaking of incremental units...

.1 Unit Each Round Robin (+24516 Parlay +10200 Quints +4175 Quads)

Division Winners: Bills (+120), Ravens (+235), Chargers (+290), Eagles (-135), Lions (+140), Saints (+105)

I love making this kind of bet every preseason. The odds of me getting all these picks right is pretty slim. But let's suppose I just get four right? I will still make a tidy profit. But here's some quick rationale for each one:

NFC

Eagles: The Eagles are favored to win the SB. The talent from top to bottom for this team is just amazing.

Lions: The team was so close last year. Maybe it's because I just want this to happen. But my head is willing to follow the heart.

Saints: Derrick Carr, Baker Mayfield, and Bryce Young will be under center for the Saints' divisional opponents. That's not exactly an All-Pro lineup. Saints by default.

AFC

Chargers: I actually thought the Chargers would knock off the Chiefs of the division mantle last year. But the Chargers were decimated by injury last season. Well, the injury bug has a knack for not staying in one place too long. And now the Chiefs All-Everything TE Travis Kelce might not suit up this week. He might be week-to-week the rest of the season. Mix in my Herbert feelings and maybe this is the year the Chargers put an end to the Jackson Mahomes Reign of Terror.

Ravens: The Ravens always have a decent defense. And I believe in Todd Monken. Greg Roman was really bad. Expect the Ravens to light up the scoreboard. It won't be easy to unseat Cincinnati. Yet with one of the tougher schedules in the league this year, Cincy gets edged out by Baltimore, perhaps even by a tiebreaker.

Bills: The Jets are getting all the hype. But they're a house of cards waiting to fall should Rodgers get hurt or miffed. Miami scares me a little, but I won't gamble on Tua's health. Meanwhile, Buffalo has Josh Allen. Furthermore, Buffalo saw a positive net flow of talent into last year's division-winning team. It's boring, but I'm taking Buffalo.


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