American football’s premier competition, the NFL draws in a huge audience both in terms of spectators and bettors invested in an outcome.
A large portion of the bets placed on the NFL will be on their favorite teams’ games, simply picking an outright winner in one single match. However, so many value-seekers will look to predict a competition or player outcome at the start of a season. That’s where futures betting comes in, and here is what you need to know about it.
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What Are NFL Futures Bet?
Futures refers to a bet where punters must wait until the end of a competition, or a period of time more than the typical one fixture, to see it settled. So, unlike a moneyline that will usually only offer three possible outcomes on a single fixture (win, lose, or draw) and be paid out hours upon the completion of that game; a futures will leave someone waiting months for a potential payout.
NFL Team Futures
Futures bets on a team are extremely popular in the NFL. This is where one makes a prediction on an outcome for a side and a usual form of this is predicting their finishing position in their conference or whether they will reach the Super Bowl.
NFL Player Futures
Here, bettors stake on outcomes for individuals. These bets can cover a range of markets, including Most Touchdowns, MvP, and Offense and Defense Players of the Year.
CJ Stroud is the current second favorite to be number one pick in the 2023 Draft at +250. Locking that in now would mean, if something happens that bumps him up to favorite and shortens his odds, a $100 bet would still bag you $250 on top of your stake.
How to Place a Futures Bet
Once you’ve chosen your site, placing one of these wagers is simple. There are just a few steps to follow before you’re on your way.
- Select NFL or American Football from the list of sports.
- Where you see different markets, choose the one that says “Futures”.
- Look for the event or award you want to bet on and choose.
- Add your pick to your ticket and place the bet.
- If you’re creating a parlay, add multiple legs to your ticket but make sure you can combine them first.
What Can Affect My Bets?
When you’re placing a bet that covers more than one fixture, it’s worth keeping in mind that external influences will come into play. While you can place a moneyline wager on a single game once the starting lineups have been released, and with full knowledge of the state of the roster, that won’t be the case here.
Be Prepared for Injuries or Trades
2008 for the New England Patriots is a good example. They were reigning AFC champions and one of the top picks for another conference-topping season and a run to the Super Bowl with incumbent MVP Tom Brady on the roster. If you picked the legendary quarterback to repeat that feat, you would have been disappointed in that first game after seeing Brady go down with a torn ACL. In one game, that bet can be rendered lost.
Some online sportsbooks will allow you to cash out, even on futures bets. Check the terms and conditions because this could come in handy if your ticket doesn’t look like it’s coming in.
What to also keep in mind is that locking in your pick early in the competition can sometimes be beneficial. A midseason trade could reinvigorate a team that had unfavorable odds when your choice was locked in.
For example, in 1987, the Indianapolis Colts picked up Eric Dickerson from the LA Rams at a time when they were 12-36. Anyone staking on a Colts Conference East win would have been given long odds but they managed to bring it home in the wake of the halfback’s arrival. So, it can work in bettors’ favor, too.
Where Can I Place a Futures Bet?
Top rated sportsbooks in the US will allow you to place these long-term wagers with many offering similar markets, as you can see in the below table. However, there are other things to keep in mind when picking which sportsbook to go with.
Super Bowl 2023 & 2024 Winners, Super Bowl MVP, Number One Draft Pick
Super Bowl 2024 Winners,
Super Bowl 2023 & 2024 Winners, Number One Draft Pick, Player Specials
Make sure to check that the sportsbook you pick is licensed in your state. Check for the relevant gaming authority’s logo at the bottom of the page. If you cannot find this information on the platform then do not proceed as it is highly likely not licensed and should be avoided.
Payment and Withdrawal Methods
Go for platforms that offer a variety of methods for deposits and withdrawals. With transparent terms and conditions on any fees to be expected as well as the withdrawal times. So, choose a site that offers your preferred method with the quickest payout times.
Operators with the best customer service will have many ways for you to get in touch. A combination of two or three of these methods will mean you can get answers to your questions much quicker.
- FAQ sections
- 24/7 Live chat
- Toll-free phone numbers
Are Parlay Futures Bets Available?
Instead of just picking one leg, it is possible to build a parlay with futures betting. As with typical parlays, this means that you’re picking multiple legs that can come home, in combination. That means you can’t hedge your bets by picking multiple teams on one ticket to win the AFC East.
You can combine multiple different legs, including conference winners, draft picks, and MvP’s. This way you can really boost your odds, especially if your preferred choices all have short odds individually.
It’s worth keeping in mind, though, just how volatile this makes your bet. If all your conference winner legs come in but your MvP choice gets injured, for example, your foresight on the conference front is going to go to waste.
Super Bowl LVII Winner (1 Leg)
Super Bowl LVII MvP (2 Legs)
Number 1 Draft Pick 2023 (3 Legs)
Super Bowl LVII Winner (4 Legs)
Philadelphia Eagles -125
Jalen Hurts +120
Bryce Young -135
KC Chiefs +550
NFL Futures Strategies to Apply
Like with any sports betting, it’s advisable to employ a strategy for your NFL futures bets. It might seem like there’s no real strategy you can employ when predicting something so far ahead of time, but that’s not the case. There are a few main things to keep in mind here.
Shop the Odds Market
When placing any bet, you should shop around for odds. While there will be some element of agreement across most operators, there will always be small differences in the odds offered and maybe even disagreements on a team or player’s chances. Find those that maximize your bet’s potential.
Unibet Odds on the Falcons for 23/24 NFL Championship
Betway Odds on the Falcons for 23/24 NFL Championship
Returns From $100 Stake
As you can see from the table above, even a relatively small deviation in the odds could prove profitable come the end of the season. That’s why it’s always a good idea to double check that you’re being given the best odds on the market.
Choose Your Time Carefully
The odds for the following year’s competition will usually be available even before the season’s end comes in for of the Super Bowl. However, you need to know when to pick your time and need to keep an eye on any credible rumors on trades or possible retirements.
If a well-respected and trustworthy journalist is reporting that a big trade is about to be made between two teams, which would significantly strengthen one of them and make them favorites, it might be worth acting before it’s confirmed. This way, you can lock in those longer odds for that team before they shorten with the new addition. It might be a risky play, given that anything can and will go wrong in trades, but it could help eke out a little extra value for your pick.
It does also go the other way, too. If you hear your pick is possibly about to lose their star quarterback, it might be worth holding off. No matter the odds, you’re not going to want to put money down on a team that doesn’t have the quality to bring home any silverware.
Pick Your Sportsbook Carefully
This might seem like it’s similar to shopping the odds market, but we’re talking about something very different. You should look for the features that operators are offering. More specifically, those that allow you to cash out your futures bets while in-play.
A lot of sportsbooks will allow you to cash out before a kicker has managed to put his foot through a ball. However, you might want to look for those that allow you to cash your bet out while the season is ongoing.
That way, if your pick’s best player does pull a 2008 Tom Brady and see himself ruled out of a full season, or even just for a good chunk of it, you can throw in the towel while you still have some cash to be retrieved. You can then put what you get back into a more likely choice.
Study the Form and the Fixtures
A good idea if you’re choosing to place a futures bet on a player for MvP, is to look at their history, specifically injuries. Do they have a recurring knee problem? Have they ever spent a season out with ligament damage?
It might seem like it goes without saying but it doesn’t pay to go into a bet like this blind. Whether your ticket is a team or an individual, always look at the formbook. While every season is a new start, there are some yearly repetitive trends worth keeping in mind when wagering on future bets, and they’re worth keeping in mind when putting down any money on a futures bet.
Historical trends you might see:
- Seasonal form – do they perform well in the summer or the winter?
- Bogey fields – has your pick never won in a certain city?
- Rivalries – is there history between two teams that could cause an upset?
Holding nerve – does your pick perform well under pressure or do they lose their nerve in the business end of the season?
Look at the fixture list. Are there any crucial ties where your choice hasn’t had any success picking up points? If your side hasn’t claimed a win on a certain ground for a decade and that game is at a crunch part of the season with a lot riding on it, it might be something to keep in mind and encourage you to look elsewhere.
Some teams even have bogey periods. Does Thanksgiving usually welcome in a barren spell for your chosen team? That could easily derail a bet, even if they looked strong on paper in the offseason.
NFL futures are a good way to add a little extra excitement to a long season of football and potentially a way to show your offseason knowledge with some longer-term predictions. Because of that length of time from staking to payout, though, there’s a lot to consider when placing a futures bet. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure you set yourself a strategy and keep yourself up-to-date on the goings on in the NFL world.
A moneyline bet is when you stake money on an individual game’s outcome. A futures bet is one where many games will pass before the outcome is known.
Yes, parlay betting is possible with futures. Just remember, they will have to include other conferences, competitions, or player awards.
Most leading sportsbooks will allow you to place one. Operators like Betway, Unibet and DraftKings offer futures odds.
No, you can often place bets on the conference winners, as well as things like picks in the NFL Draft.