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If you just want the bets without the long explanation, jump to the bottom. If you take the time to read this, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

One of the things I enjoy about betting futures is that the way to find value changes throughout the season. Today I'll present you with a case for making two futures bets that illustrate this point.

We're close enough to the end of the season that you can really dial in on what has to happen for a team to go over or under a win total. This allows us to find a significant edge in a couple of futures prices currently available. Here's my process, see if you agree.

I'll start with the 49ers to lay this out.

Determine the record needed to go over or under the rest of the way.

The 49ers win total currently sits at 12.5 (+125 over, -142 under) and their record is 8-3. This means they need to go 5-1 the rest of the way to get to 13 wins and go over the current total of 12.5.

Compare the line to betting single games.

This is where it gets a bit more complicated, but let's dive into it. Again, to hit the o12.5, the Niners have to go 5-1 the rest of the way. What happens if you bet on their moneyline every game and they go 5-1? That's what this table illustrates.

You'll see the return here is $84.12, which translates to a line of about -713. This makes the futures line of +125 look like incredible value, but there are a couple of other factors we need to explore.

First, what if the Niners loss comes to a bad team, say the Cardinals, rather than one of the good teams like the Ravens? This does improve the outcome of betting single games as your total return would be $133.33 which equates to a line of -450, better than -713, but still a far cry from the futures line of +125.

Next, what if the Niners win all six games, surely then the payout would be better than the futures line. Nope. A clean sweep yields a $255.55 profit, for a line of -235. Again, far short of the futures line of +125.

Finally, we have to consider parlays. In a sense, the futures line is a moneyline parlay, but you have the flexibility for any one game to be lost (we'll come back to that in a minute). Let's consider two scenarios. First, what if you just parlay the four games the Niners are very likely to win (leaving out the Eagles and Ravens). Here we may finally have found a competitor! At the lines I have listed above the parlay line of the four easiest games is +179, obviously better than the futures line of +125. (If you disagree with my lines you could run the calculation with lines you think are right.)

Betting exact outcomes entails more risk than flexible outcomes.

So we've come to two viable options.

  1. Bet the 49ers o12.5 wins at +125.

  2. Parlay the 49ers moneyline against SEA, ARI, WAS, and LAR around +180.

To some extent, this may be a matter of personal preference. However, I find great value in betting on the Niners to go 5-1 without locking in which games they will win. The 49ers are one of the top 4-5 teams in the league, and if they play well they're likely to win all of these games. However, we see good teams slip up every week in the NFL. The 49ers themselves lost to Minnesota!

Betting the futures line gives you the flexibility for the Niners to lose any one game, rather than locking in that they must win the four easiest games left on their schedule.

What about betting u12.5?

It turns out that betting the under 12.5 has potential value as well.

In this table I've switched the calculations to show what happens if you bet against the 49ers on the moneyline in every game and they lose the two most likely games, to the Eagles and Ravens. (They have to lose two games to go under 12.5.) This strategy would put you in the hole $150 while the current futures line on u12.5 is -142.

Of course, there are iterations of this as well. What if they beat the Eagles but lose to the Cardinals? This is better. You'd profit $70 for a line of -857, still not nearly as good as the futures line of -142. If they lose to the Caridnals and Seahawks that line jumps to +105, so that gets you over the futures line, but it seems very unlikely the Niners will lose both of those games.

The other obvious way to beat the futures line is to assume the Niners lose more than two games the rest of the way. In that case, you'd do better than the futures line no matter which games they lose.

After all of this, it comes back to betting your most likely outcome.

I've attemped to show that betting the futures line on the 49ers has more value than betting for or against them individual games. (I've acknowledged there are outcomes where this is not true, but made the case that they provide the best value of all the options.)

So now the question is, do you prefer betting on the Niners to go over or under? In a sense, you are getting value either way. I see more value on the over and believe they will get to 13 wins, so that's where my money went.

Bets I've Placed

San Francisco 49ers o12.5 Wins (+125)
2 Units / DraftKings

Houston Texans o9.5 Wins (+116)
1.5 Units / FanDuel
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