Preseason’s Biggest Injuries, Perceived Value to Spread & Win Total Concerns

Friday, September 1, 2017 1:20 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 1, 2017 1:20 PM UTC

One of the shared goals among all NFL teams during the preseason is to exit without major injuries. Without fail, every year, key players get hurt, causing sportsbooks to adjust odds on Super Bowl chances, win total figures and more. This preseason was no different.

QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck

Miami's Tannehill emerged as one of the first high-profile injuries this preseason. On Aug. 3, the six-year pro tweaked the same left knee (ACL, MCL) in practice that knocked him out of the 2016 campaign after 13 games. Sportsbooks adjusted their numbers after learning Tannehill needed season-ending surgery. Miami’s regular-season win total slipped a half game from 7.5 to 7 victories. Odds to win the AFC East rose to +1000 from +800, as well as the line to make the playoffs from +350 to +450. The team’s Super Bowl chances, which were already long prior to the news, jumped from +4500 to as high as +8000 at some shops. The Jay Cutler signing did little to edge the numbers back.

Reaction to Tannehill’s injury is on par with his actual worth. He’s proven a .500 quarterback in his career. The Dolphins are just 36-40 SU and 33-41-2 ATS all-time when he attempts more than 5 passes in a contest. In the betting market, Tannehill is worth roughly 2-3 points per game, as evident in adjustments following the injury. The Dolphins were favored by 1 point in their regular-season opener vs. the Buccaneers the day before Tannehill went down. Miami is now catching 2.5 points.

Luck and Flacco are other key quarterback injuries affecting the betting market. Both missed preseason play: Luck is recuperating from offseason shoulder surgery, while Flacco is dealing with a bad back. Their absence is slowly causing the market to move away from each team. When news broke Luck was tossing a football in late July, the Colts were +225 to win the AFC South. That number has grown to +310 with the three-time Pro Bowler likely to miss Week 1 and beyond. Ditto with the price on the Ravens; they are +430 at 5Dimes to win the AFC North after opening +275 in May. Flacco’s status remains unchanged.


RBs: Ezekiel Elliott, Spencer Ware

Not really an injury, but market moving nonetheless, sportsbooks suspended betting when the NFL laid down a 6-game suspension to the Cowboys' Elliott for allegedly violating the league’s personal conduct policy in the summer of 2016. Whether he serves the entire suspension is up in the air with the appeals process unfolding currently. Elliott accrued more than 1,600 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns to help Dallas to a 13-3 mark in 2016. 

At the time of the Elliott news, only the Patriots and Raiders had generated more money to hoist the Lombari Trophy at Vegas sportsbooks. Here’s how the odds shifted: the Cowboys went from as +1000 to +1300 to win Super Bowl 52, +500 to +600 to win the NFC and +145 to +200 to win the division (NFC East.)

The Chiefs' Ware is another big-name back to fall in the preseason, tearing his MCL and PCL against Seattle. Kansas City is expected to lean heavily on the run with no star playmakers in wideout positions and game manager Alex Smith serving as signal-caller. Despite Ware being out for the season, the Chiefs did not take much of a hit in long-term betting markets. Charcandrick West, Kareem Hunt and C.J. Spiller can shoulder the load. The biggest hit for bettors is in the proposition market, where Ware oozed value to be the league’s top rusher at +5000 odds (14th selection at Bovada).

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We fall down, but we get up! Minor setback for the MAJOR comeback! 😤 #GodGotMe

— Cam Meredith (@Cam_I_Am81) August 27, 2017

WRs: Julian Edelman, Cameron Meredith

The two top receivers to fall for the regular season include the Patriots’ Edelman (knee) and the Bears’ Meredith (knee). Edelman’s absence, unlike Meredith’s, is affecting the market -- albeit slightly. The 31-year-old has proven a feature piece in the Patriots’ attack over the years, and was the team’s top receiver in 2016 with 1,106 yards and 3 touchdowns on 98 receptions. New England’s season-long win total remains unchanged at 12.5 victories, but bettors have seen increased juice at BetOnline (o-130 to o+105). Most models value Edelman 1-2 points against the spread. Bettors are banking quarterback Tom Brady will latch onto another favorite target underneath and the prolific offense will not skip a beat.

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