By the time Week 3 of the NFL preseason is concluded, all 32 NFL teams have their starting positions determined. What is left is filling out the 53-man roster with the best possible players.
Many factors go into figuring out this multi-faceted puzzle. Though the last five to seven roster spots usually do not involve individuals with large salaries, generally, older players make more money than younger players and when looking at the salary cap and having to anticipate injuries, the general manager has to take all this into consideration.
Another extremely important factor is player versatility. Can the head coach have a linebacker play more than say just outside position and fill in if necessary on the inside and also be a valuable commodity on the special teams? This all weighs into making final roster selections.
Special Teams Implications
Most sharp bettors consider special teams about 15 percent of the wagering picture for an NFL game. (Offense, defense, and coaching make up the rest) For the most part, this can be glossed over for most teams, with the difference between the sixth-best and sixth-worst special teams not that noteworthy.
However, when talking about the matchup of the Top 5 vs. a bottom 5 in special teams, this can have implications.
This is where the smart GM works with his coaches to assemble the right collection of hungry players who are interested in practicing well at their positions and making notable contributions in special teams.
This is an area that starts to show up about five games into the season and should at the very least be looked at.
Offensive Line Variables
In making final cuts for offensive line, every coach wants individuals who have the ability to play more than one position. If a backup can play either guard or tackle, his value is increased dramatically.
Why this matters let's say the three backups can only play one possession and one in this group is not skilled enough to play anything but right tackle. If the starting left tackle has his ankle rolled up on and has to depart, that would mean the starting right tackle has to move to other side and his replacement takes his place. That is 40 percent change in offensive line, which can disrupt continuity.
If the injured tackle is out for any length of time, oddsmakers like those at Bookmaker will duly note.
If Defense Win Championships, the Backups Play a Big Part
It is a given, injuries impact football teams in many ways and usually not for the better. The coaching mantra of "next player up" sounds too simple until certain players have to play week after week and do not do the job.
This is why scouting and knowing as much as possible about free agents is tantamount. It is one thing to plug in a player, but it is quite another to find one that matches your defensive system, has the right skill set and is a quick, anxious student who wants a full-time spot on the field.
Organizations that find the right players at the bottom of the rosters are those who make the playoffs and do not have big drop-offs when reserves are called into action, making certain clubs more trustworthy for football bettors.