We’re trying something a bit new this year, as I’ll be taking a season-long ride we’re calling “The Bankroll Challenge.”
Basically, I’ll start with 50 units to wager on DraftKings Sportsbook for this NFL season and try to build that bankroll as large as possible. In order to do that, I’ll save the majority of my bankroll to use week-to-week, but betting futures has been profitable for me in recent seasons, so I’ll want to sprinkle some of that in, as well.
This article is going to be where my most confident plays go, so while a best bets article may highlight the top five bets to consider one week, this is the place I’ll be posting selective bets that I’m most confident in, along with a unit amount.
This article will also be a running blog, so look for more plays to be dropped in throughout the week with fresh updates. For now, I just have one play I’m loving for the TNF opener between the Texans and Chiefs.
You can find my NFL Futures bets for the Bankroll Challenge here.
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Johnson’s on a new team and coming off an injury, so I think this number is being set at a super conservative place. DJ’s body of work as an elite pass-catcher (out of the backfield and the slot) over his career is being overlooked. In his three healthy seasons with Arizona, DJ averaged 37.1 receiving yards per game. In six games prior to getting injured in 2019, Johnson went over this number five times and averaged 52.5 receiving yards per game — catching 30 of 41 targets (5 receptions per game on 6.8 targets). His reception total is set at 2.5, which also feels like a great bet, but the -148 juice makes it less tempting.
Now we just have to make sure the Texans will incorporate DJ’s pass-catching strengths into their offense, but I can’t find a red flag that would indicate they won’t. Even with less superior pass-catching backs in 2019, the RB position averaged over 28 receiving yards per game, and that was with DeAndre Hopkins on the roster. In theory, getting rid of Deshaun Watson’s go-to-guy should lead to some extra check downs. The Chiefs defense allowed some cushy numbers to the RB position last season, giving up 6.4 receptions for 57.7 yards per game. And the game script as 9.5-point underdogs could help give DJ some extra check down opportunities. Tough to find a reason for this number to be anything less than 28.5, which I would still consider it at.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
SEA ML (-121) — risk 1.21 units to win 1
The Seahawks were road warriors in 2019, finishing 7-1 straight up in the regular season. While Seattle’s had some September road struggles in recent seasons, I’m not particularly concerned about this spot. The Seahawks have won eight consecutive games on the east coast, going 6-1-1 ATS in those contests — the only failed cover was actually last season in Atlanta, when they won 27-20. The spread opened at 6.5 for that one, but closed 7.5. The Falcons began 2019 by dropping five of six home games, losing by an average of 13.8 points. With so many unknowns to start the season, I also like backing a coach/QB combo with a lot of experience together under their belts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
TB +3.5 (-110) — risk 1.1 units to win 1
Most people read into this bet as all aboard the Tampa hype train, and while I do think Tom Brady will be as motivated as ever to put up big numbers offensively, this is more of a fade of the Saints. Sean Peyton and Drew Brees never seem to be ready out of the gates, going 2-15 ATS in their last 17 Week 1 and Week 2 contests. September has been Brees’ worst QBR month of his career. Meanwhile, Tampa goes from Winston’s 30 interceptions last season to Brady, who’s thrown 29 picks in the last four seasons combined. Cutting down on those mistakes offensively is the biggest improvement the Bucs could’ve asked for on the defensive side of the ball.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
UNDER 45 (-110) — risk 1.1 units to win 1
We generally see these NFC North games trend toward the under, specifically between these two teams. The under has hit in nine of the last 11 meetings between the Packers and Vikings, with last year’s totals finishing 37 and 33. Not all that much has changed with these two teams, and on the offensive side of the ball for Minnesota, losing a big playmaker in Stefon Diggs certainly won’t help put points up. The Vikings’ weakness is reshuffling at CB, and while Devante Adams will have a mismatch, the Packers’ pass-catching options are extremely limited behind him.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team
DeSean Jackson Receiving Yards: OVER 52.5 — risk 1.12 units to win 1
The Eagles just can’t seem to get healthy, even out of the offseason. Alshon Jeffery is out, and first-round pick Jalen Reagor will play through injury, but isn’t anywhere near 100%. Philly’s O-line against Washington’s D-line is going to be an issue, but I still think there will be some time to take some shots for D-Jax. He’s the unquestioned WR1 right now, and most importantly, finally healthy. He was healthy once in 2019, when he went for 8-154-2 against Washington in Week 1.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
This one really jumped out to me, as it doesn’t seem to account for the addition of all the work Zack Moss should see in the offense. Singletary only surpassed this number of rushing attempts four times in 2019, and averaged 12.6 carries over the course of the season. This number has a slight edge to begin with, but Buffalo spent a mid-round pick on Moss, who was a workhorse during his time at Utah — he handled 235 carries in 13 games in 2019. I’d imagine Moss gets more carries than Singletary, with Singletary mixing in as the pass-catching and long yardage back.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
Allen went over this number in 12-of-16 games last season, but a lot has changed. For staters, Allen will have to get on the same page with Tyrod Taylor, after working with Philip Rivers for his entire career. But Taylor’s game should work well with finding Allen out of the slot, and slot coverage is a weakness for the Cincy defense to begin with. With Mike Williams banged up, Allen should be an even larger focal point on Taylor’s drop backs.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants
The Steelers held their own last season, even with the majority of their offensive pieces out. They’re all back and healthy to start this season, and the same tough defense is returning. I expect Pittsburgh to have a huge edge on both lines, and really be able to attack downfield on the Giants’ secondary. The Giants should be slightly improved, but I don’t trust a rookie head coach in this spot with much less talent on his roster. The Giants were 0-5 ATS as home underdogs last season, losing by 17.2 PPG and failing to cover by 12.6 PPG.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
Jeudy was a big playmaker at Alabama, and I had him pegged as the top WR prospect in this past draft class. Jeudy will step right into a starting role for the Broncos, and could be relied upon even more heavily, with it sounding extremely unlikely Sutton plays. This is a bet I’m waiting to lock if Sutton is ruled out. This number is just way too low, especially against a Tennessee defense that ranked 26th in passing yards allowed in 2019. I hate laying this juice, I’d rather play it around 40 yards for -110, but this is what we got, and I’m not passing on the spot.
FUTURE UNITS PENDING: 5.88
UNITS REMAINING: 46.06
SEASON TOTAL: 5-4 (+1.94 UNITS)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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