The NFL season is in the home stretch. For many teams there is still a lot of uncertainty where they will finish. Can they win their division? Will they make the playoffs? Is it time to audition some second-string players in an effort to secure a better draft spot? For many bettors they made their wagers on divisional titles, season wins, and playoff participation back before Week 1 kicked off. They may not realize that these season long props are still available for betting. Furthermore, there’s a lot of value in these markets as the season winds down.
Predicting the twists and turns of a 17 week season can be tough. However, what if that season is more than 75% finished. Predicting the final 25% is an easier logic puzzle to solve. One that can be very rewarding. Fortunately for you, the Unabated NFL Season Simulator greatly assists you in simulating out the remaining 5 weeks of the NFL campaign. It can help point you to value still in the market. In this article, I’m going to show you how you can leverage it, even if you don’t have your own power ratings. Let’s get started.
Betting Season Long Props During The Season
For decades, betting on season long props such as Regular Season Wins was something that stopped when the season began. However, in the hyper-competitive world of regulated bookmaking in the US, many operators adjust the prices after each week. You can find adjusted lines at popular sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, and Caesars.
These books often have different opinions on what these lines should be. This can create arbitrage, but that’s not what we’re here to identify. Picking up pennies in front of a steamroller is not the play. We’re here for value and there’s plenty of value waiting in this market.
The advantage to making these bets now is that you’re only tying up your money for a few weeks. There’s less concern about opportunity cost of dedicating some of your bankroll when the season is only a month from finishing. It also gives you a pretty good multi-week sweat for your wager. Lastly, it can even impact how you approach betting the final couple weeks of the regular season.
Using Unabated’s NFL Season Simulator To Find Value
When we created the NFL Season Simulator, our goal was to empower bettors everywhere with tools to help them quantify their opinions. Many bettors have strong feelings towards or against a team based on their own research. However, figuring out how that translates into various season long wagers such as season wins or playoff futures, is often difficult. The simulator handles that by taking your power ratings and running them through a Monte Carlo simulation where the season is played out 10,000 times.
Of course, building and maintaining your own power ratings might be an ambitious task for many bettors. That’s why we provide power ratings you can import from various sources. These proved to be wildly popular this season. It enabled everyone to leverage the analytical power of thinktanks such as Pro Football Focus, ESPN’s FPI, NumberFire, and of course, our own Massey-Peabody Analytics.
The season progressed and each Tuesday, we update the importable ratings as soon as the various sources publish their updates. You’re probably wondering which power rating system preformed best over the season. That’s a question I can’t answer right now. However, those who have been using our NFL Season Simulator have been happy with their results so far. The big advantage to having all these various ratings systems is the strength in getting more than one opinion. You can run simulations based on various ratings and then compare the range of findings to the market.
In the future, we plan to have the ability to create custom blends of systems. For now, you’ll need to do the blending yourself, or just compare the results manually. In comparing these various systems and results, I started to notice a trend which led me to believe this might be a viable way for bettors to use the “wisdom of the crowd.”
Good Enough For Three – Good Enough For Me
Unabated targets the aspirational bettor. We want to help you become a sharper bettor, but you need to be able to do some of the work yourself. There’s no magic pill to swallow or treasure map to follow. However, we also recognize that some of you just don’t have the time in your day necessary. You can’t devote hours to shopping all the lines and reading up on all the news that might impact games. So in a nod to those who are too busy, here is a simple way to use ratings to identify value in the market using Unabated’s NFL Simulator. I call it the Good Enough For Three – Good Enough For Me system.
Step 1: Pick Three Ratings Systems
In the Unabated NFL Simulator Basic Mode, there are 6 current ratings systems to pick from. Each have their own merit. You could also upload your own if you maintain your own power ratings. Your first step is to go ahead and decide on three you want to use. We’re employing a strategy that three heads are better than one. We’re reducing the likelihood of an errant rating by looking for all three to converge.
Step 2: Prepare and Run the Simulations
The Unabated NFL Simulator might look intimidating to a new user, but it is rather simple to use. We have onboarding videos on the site under the Learn tab if you want to learn more. The simple workflow is you will go to the Design tab and Create New Simulation. Basic Mode will have the most importable ratings systems. Once you choose your first system, you can tweak any of the ratings. Each ratings system has their own settings for Home Field Advantage, QB injury probability, and the impact of that injury.
Given what we’ve seen in the NFL this year, home field advantage is quickly diminishing. Personally, I went through and set the Home Field Advantage down to +1 across the board. This means the home team gets 1 extra point of edge when you compare their power rating number to the visiting opponent. You might want to modify based on city as you see fit. I didn’t bother modifying the RUF factor for any of these models yet. That’s our proprietary Rating Update Function (RUF) which helps quantify dynamic uncertainty in the simulation process. It’s something we’re proud to incorporate into our tool and a lot of people found it an invaluable resource this season.
Once you have the simulator set up to your liking, run the sim. Then do it again for two other ratings systems. In the end, you’ll have three simulations to click between to compare the value they identify in the market. Your three judges.
Step 3: Shop Some Season Long Props
As the name implies: Good Enough for Three – Good Enough for Me. Go to your sportsbook site and work your way through the various lines. If all three ratings models agree, you can look into betting that side. For instance, Carolina Panthers over/under 6.5 wins at FanDuel.
ESPN FPI says the fair price on the over is -133
PFF says the fair price on the over is -137
Massey Peabody says the fair price on the over is -243
Even if we take the most conservative of those estimates, over 6.5 -105 is an 11.44% edge.
Carolina needs to win 2 of their final 5 games to win this bet. It’s not an easy slate, but with Atlanta, New Orleans, and a likely meaningless week 17 game against Tampa Bay, it’s not a hard road either. That’s just one team, there’s plenty more to explore. Remember, you need all three models to agree with you. 1/3 or 2/3 is not good enough for this exercise.
Beyond the season wins, you can also find lines on odds to make the playoffs or win division, conference, or Super Bowl. Between all the various markets there is plenty of room for value. Limits aren’t unlimited on items like these, but they should be decent for most bettors.
Managing Your Portfolio
You can use the Unabated NFL Simulator in subsequent weeks to trade out of positions if you feel the need. Personally, I’ve been using it after each weekend’s games since the season began to identify value. More often than not, I’ve added to a position rather than trade out of it.
Another benefit of playing season long props late in the year is the option to balance out your portfolio against individual games if you’d like. For instance, that Carolina Panthers wager mentioned earlier where they need two wins over the final five games. If they win against Atlanta in Week 13, you could create a rolling manual parlay against them in the final 4 weeks.
The concept of a rolling manual parlay is to wager against Carolina in each of the final four weeks with each subsequent wager built on the stake and winnings of the previous wager. Normally, I’m not a fan of hedging positive expected value against negative expected value, but I recognize many bettors out there like to set themselves up in those scenarios.
We don’t sell picks at Unabated. We purposely shy away from ever giving out recommendations that would resemble picks. Furthermore, I’ve said time and again that there is no harder sport to beat than the NFL. However, at Unabated our tools can definitely point you in the direction of expected value. And these NFL season long props wagered during the season have been some of the best value I’ve seen in NFL markets. Remarkably, it’s never too late in the season to find value either. Use our Unabated NFL Season Simulator in conjunction with some very smart analytics sources and line shopping and you’ll be in great shape to pick up some real value.