Sannes' Win Total Projections: Takeaways From FanDuel's Opening Numbers
It's officially NFL season, everybody. Gird your loins and unclip those pocket calculators. We've got win totals to bet.
Now that the NFL draft is officially in the books, FanDuel Sportsbook has win totals posted for each team. With most rosters now largely set for the upcoming season, our job is to look at those numbers early and try to pounce before the market becomes more efficient.
Luckily, we've got the tools to do so. As we've discussed previously here, I've got my win total projections built out for this year's 17-game season in large part so that my brain can comprehend what a 17-game win total looks like. That means we can just plug in what the sportsbooks have, see where we find value, and lock in bets before the juice moves and takes away our value.
At least at first glance, there do appear to be some advantageous numbers currently up. Here's where I'm seeing the biggest deviations between my numbers and the win totals at FanDuel.
Patriots Under 9.0 (+100)
This New England Patriots roster looks a whole heck of a lot different than last year's team. That means we should bake in improvements in their passing efficiency, and my win total projections have exactly that included.
Unfortunately, this ain't your grandparents' AFC East.
My win projections are right in line with the bookmakers on both the Miami Dolphins (9.6 for me versus 9.5 with +115 on the over) and the New York Jets (6.0 for me versus 6.0 and -115 on the over). I'm also a bit higher than the book on the Buffalo Bills with 11.9 wins, though their being -170 to hit the over gives me some pause on pulling the trigger.
Although the Patriots are better, so is their competition. And nine isn't a small number.
Right now, my win projections have the Patriots down at 7.6. We're getting even money on them to go under 9.0, meaning we've got some wiggle room to spare. I'm comfortable locking in the under on the Patriots now, as it seems like this number is a bit inflated by public sentiment around the team's history.
Bears Under 7.5 (-110)
It just likely won't be enough to erase the gap between their win projection and this number. I have them down for 5.7 wins for two reasons.
First, the biggest plus the Bears have -- their defense -- gets devalued relative to offense in my win projections. Defense is flukier year-over-year, so if we're trying to have confidence and put money on the line, we should put more stock in more stickier components of the game.
Second, it's hard to jack up their projected passing efficiency too much. It's elevated from last year, but that starting point was rough. The good stretch to end the year came against wretched competition, and after you account for that, they ranked 26th in numberFire's schedule-adjusted passing efficiency. They might get upgrades at quarterback via Andy Dalton and Justin Fields, but it's hard to be super high on a team that is likely to get big contributions from rookies at both quarterback and left tackle.
Because the Packers' win total is off the board, it seems likely FanDuel is accounting for the possibility of Rodgers' absence. As such, there's not much incentive for us to wait, and the number could move in the opposite direction if Rodgers works out the rift with the front office. Now's a good time to bet the under on the Bears as a result.
Bengals Over 6.5 (+120)
Joe Burrow looked decent as a rookie, ranking 24th in numberFire's per-drop back efficiency metrics out of 44 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs. He has since gotten help along the line via Riley Reiff and added his old playmate, Ja'Marr Chase. This is a good year to buy into the Cincinnati Bengals.
Right now, my win projections have the Bengals at 7.2. We're getting +120 to go over 6.5, making this a pretty easy bet to justify.
That over recommendation is even with some steps backward on defense baked in. The players brought in to replace William Jackson III and Carlos Dunlap are unlikely to duplicate their production, so I do have their defense being slightly worse than it was in 2020. Having a full year of Burrow helps erase that and more.
The big issue with the Bengals is that a lot of their most winnable games are on the road. Four of the five games in which I have them projected to be favored are away games. They play a murderer's row of opponents in Cincinnati. If you bake in a larger home-field advantage with the return of fans (I have it at one point for the home team), then the Bengals might not fit your fancy. But with a likely competent passing game, it's easy to envision the Bengals being competitive in each game, allowing me to take the plunge and snag the over at +120.