Primer on Using 'AFP' as Contrary Indicator for your Week 3 College Football Picks

Joe Gavazzi

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 7:03 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015 7:03 PM UTC

The AFP (away from the point spread) is an all-important number used to determine odds value. Let’s take a look at some examples from this week 3 betting card to see where some value may occur.


A Primer on Using the AFP as Contrary Indicator
The AFP (away from the point spread) is an all-important number used to determine value in the College Football Odds. The term “away from the point spread” denotes how far away from the opening line is a point spread result. Every team has one for each game, or group of games, that they have played. For example, each team has one for its most recent game, for its games for the YTD, and for home and road respectively. It is also a number that is used by the line maker to adjust his power ratings and thus, the point spreads on the games. Roughly speaking, if no other factors are involved, a team’s power rating may move a point for every 7-10 points that their results are from the point spread.

As we saw in our analysis of the week 1 results, the line maker did an outstanding job, as the average AFP for all the games played was only slightly over 10 points. This indicates that the line maker has an excellent handle on most of the teams as they come out of the gate. This strengthens our case that when a team’s performance after 2-5 games is greatly divergent from the line maker’s projections, there will most probably be a return to form. In a specific game, when one team has a positive AFP and the other has a negative AFP, that is when the greatest value occurs. 

Here is a very general rule to follow: Beginning in week 3, but working especially well in weeks 4 and 5 of the early season: “Play any team with an ATS record of .500 or less and a negative AFP of 20 or more if they are playing an opponent who has a .500 or better ATS record and a positive AFP of 20 or more, the sum of the net AFP differential should be 50 or more.” If the betting odds this week is 7 or more points from the projected opening line in week 1, you can be assured that value exists.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples from this week 3 card to see where some value may occur. 


Temple (-11) vs. UMass
The Owls with 19 returning starters have broken from the gate with consecutive upsets of Penn State-for the first time since Lassie was a puppy, and Cincinnati-with Conference revenge. In those two games they are 2-0 ATS, with a +38 AFP for the season. Now they will travel to UMass as a double digit road favorite. There they will face a UMass team, which some have ranked as the most experienced team in the nation. In their first game at the altitude of Colorado, the Minutemen fell 48-14 with a -21 AFP. The combined -59 net AFP differential favoring UMass is a strong indicator that there is value in this line today for the Minutemen.


Nevada vs. Texas A&M (-29) 
Despite 13 returning starters, Nevada lacks overall experience. They have begun 1-1 SU, but 0-2 ATS following their 44-20 home loss to Arizona as 11 point pup. It has resulted in a -27 AFP for the YTD. Many felt Texas A&M underperformed last year in going 8-5 SU, 4-8 ATS. A change in Defensive Coordinator has led the Aggies to a 2-0 SU ATS start, including a dominating opening week win against Arizona State. The result is a +23 AFP number, and a net AFP differential of -50, favoring Nevada at the inflated price of +29.


Texas Tech vs. Arkansas (-9) 
After an underachieving 4-8 SU season of last, TTRR has broken from the gate with a couple of high scoring outbursts. That includes a 69-20 win last week, in which they covered by 29 points. Arkansas is 1-1 SU ATS for the year, but with a -24 net AFP after losing outright as a 22 point home favorite to Toledo by a score of 16-12. The net -50 AFP differential favoring Arkansas has resulted in a single digit line in a game that would have seen the Hogs as a near 3 TD favorite opening week. 


California (-3) vs. Texas
Each of these teams was sub .500 last year, but it’s the Cal Bears who have broken from the gate at 2-0 SU ATS with 17 returning starters playing to a +34 net AFP. No argument that Texas has been a huge underperformer in their 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS start, in which they were embarrassed at Notre Dame and allowed Rice to come through the back door. The -26 Texas AFP combines with a +34 Cal AFP for a -60 net AFP differential favoring the Longhorns. It results in Texas being a home dog in a game where in the beginning of 2014 they may have been a 3 TD favorite, and certainly would have been favored the opening week of this season.

The above are four games in which the net AFP differentials have resulted in value for one of these teams after just two games.  It will not be surprising to this bureau if many of these teams play to the line maker’s original projections and result in ATS winners.

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