Futures to bet in 2021 is hot right now. Sports betting as a whole is becoming more popular and mainstream as we are seeing more states legalize wagering on sports. Heck, even the NFL has bought into it! Once taboo to bet on an NFL game, the NFL has partnered with DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars Sportsbooks. The NFL Network will also promote sports betting with active game lines on the bottom ticker. So, with the season just about underway, let’s look to the futures market!
Futures To Bet: 2021 Atlanta Falcons Under 7.5 Wins FanDuel (+100)
There are simply more questions than answers with this Falcons team. From top to bottom, this roster is not very talented. Let’s start with their defense, which has done little to vastly improve a unit that allowed 25.9 points and 398.4 yards per game. The Falcons signed outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, cornerback Fabian Moreau, and linebacker Brandon Copeland. Those are solid depth signings but nothing that will vastly upgrade the unit. In addition, their defensive woes have led to more shootouts which the Falcons may not handle too well again in 2021.
As for the offense, Matt Ryan is not getting any younger. The 36-year-old quarterback has thrown the ball 600-plus times over the last three seasons, none of which produced more than seven wins. The Falcons actually only had one winning season of the seven seasons where Ryan has thrown the ball 600 plus times. Expect this trend to continue where the Falcons will be scoreboard chasing late in the second half of games.
It’s not just the quarterback, however. The Falcons are also dealing with a shaky offensive line, and they lost their all-time leading receiver Julio Jones. Although they drafted tight-end Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Pitts is still a rookie, and he cannot simply replicate the offense Jones provided. Wideouts Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Christian Blake, Tajee Sharpe, and tight end Hayden Hurst round out the underwhelming receiving options outside of 2020’s stud Calvin Ridley.
Running the football has been an issue for the Falcons over the last two seasons as they have not collectively cracked the four yards per carry mark. Journeyman Mike Davis and Wayne Gallman are good running backs but better suited as backups than starters. Unfortunately, neither running back will move the needle or alleviate the pressure off of an aging quarterback.
Although the Falcons have a manageable schedule, doubling their win total is unrealistic. Therefore, I’m confidently betting the Falcons do not hit 7.5 victories. Take the under at even money.
Futures To Bet: 2021 Minnesota Vikings Under 8.5 Wins FanDuel (+135)
The 2021 season is a make-it-or-break-it campaign for Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Since losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 NFC Championship Game, the Vikings have gone 25-22-1. The Vikings are coming off a disappointing 7-9 in 2020. Even more uncharacteristic is how bad their defense was.
The defensive unit went from being a top ten defense in 2019 to the fifth-worst defense in 2020. Now, Covid opt-outs and injuries factored into their abysmal play, but the bottom line is they didn’t get the job done. How will the Vikings defense fare in 2021?
Their defensive line welcomes back edge rusher Danielle Hunter and defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who did not play last season. In addition, free-agent Dalvin Tomlinson’s presence should bring stability to the defensive line. Their run defense should be much better, but rushing the passer could be an issue. Hunter’s presence alone will improve the Vikings’ 28th ranked pass rush, but depth is a concern. Stephen Weatherly and Everson Griffen combined for just six sacks last season.
The secondary plagued the Vikings for much of the 2020 season. Due to off-the-field issues, the team cut the 2020 first-round pick, Jeff Gladney, and the 2020 third-round pick Cameron Dantzler struggled in his rookie campaign. The Vikings added Patrick Peterson, Mackenzie Alexander, Bashaud Breeland in free agency to bolster the secondary.
I see the Vikings’ 2021 defense being better than what they showed in 2020, but not a dominant group that we saw in 2019.
Ironically enough, the Vikings’ offense benefited from the defense’s inability to stop anyone. Quarterback Kirk Cousins delivered a career-high 35 touchdown passes, running back Dalvin Cook ran for 1,557 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, and wide receiver Justin Jefferson set a new rookie record for most yards in a season with 1,379. In addition, Adam Thielen set a career-high with 14 touchdown receptions.
Outside of Cook, Jefferson, and Thielen, the offense is bare of playmakers. If anything were to happen to any of them, their offense would be in trouble. I bring you the offensive line.
The offensive line could continue to plague the team. The 2020 26th ranked PFF unit did little to improve in the off-season. Out is left tackle Riley Reiff and in is rookie tackle Christian Darrisaw. The rookie first-rounder from Virginia Tech was held out for most training camp and saw no pre-season action with a groin injury. His availability for Week 1 is in serious doubt, and Brian O’Neill is the only sure thing on that offensive line. Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Mason Cole, and Wyatt Davis round out the interior. This unit had pass-blocking severe issues, and they struggle to keep their 33-year old immobile quarterback upright.
They Might Be Better, But So Are Their 2021 Opponents
The schedule does the Vikings zero favors. Not only do the Vikings face MVP Aaron Rodgers twice, but they also face the daunting task of playing the NFC West and AFC North and an improving Chargers team on the road. After their Bye week, their schedule increases in difficulty. From Week eight on, they will play Dallas, at Baltimore, at LA (Chargers), Green Bay, at San Francisco, Detroit, Pittsburgh, at Chicago, LA (Rams), at Green Bay, and Chicago.
On paper, the Vikings’ defense will be better than the 2020 version they put out on the field. However, Hunter and Pierce haven’t played football in over a year, and one has to wonder if they will be as productive as they used to be. The makeshift defensive back unit is nice, but is a quick fix headlined by an aging Peterson going to solve all of their issues? In addition, linebacker Anthony Barr missed 14 games in 2020 with a knee injury and has missed some time in camp due to it.
Cousins continues to be who he is. He is a game manager who plays to the level of his competition. However, the team could eventually decide to move on from him, as evidenced by the team reportedly trying to trade up for Justin Fields.
The entirety of the Vikings’ offense may regress to the means after many of their stars had career years. The offensive line continues to be a below-average unit, and it could eventually cost them. A brutal schedule is the icing on the cake.
Does someone feel that heat? Because that is Zimmer on the hot seat and the Vikings Super Bowl window coming to a close. With the value, I am taking the Vikings to go under .500.
Futures To Bet: 2021 Green Bay Packers Over 10.5 Wins FanDuel (-130)
The Packers are 26-6 under Head Coach Matt LaFleur, reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is returning for his seventeenth season with the club, and the only significant loss on a 13 win team was Center Corey Linsley. So why is their win total set only at 10.5? But, first, let’s take a deeper look.
Love or hate him, Aaron Rodgers is a consummate professional on the football field. He will take whatever chip he has on his shoulder and use that as motivation to get the best out of himself for the team. Last season’s 48 touchdown passes are a testament to that rationale after the team drafted his eventual successor in Jordan Love. Therefore, the will he or won’t return to Green Bay will have no impact once the season kicks off.
The offense returns a unit that scored an NFL best 31.5 points per game and 393.8 yards per game, second to only Kansas City. Wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones return as the focal points of this offense. Running back AJ Dillon, whom the Packers invested a 2020 second-round pick in, will be Jamal Williams’ successor as the 1B. Rounding out the skill-positions are Marquez Valdez-Scantling, newly re-acquired Randall Cobb, and reliable red-zone target Robert Tonyan. The offensive line is as steady as they come.
Could The Packers Be Even More Impressive?
The Packers boast an exciting defense full of playmakers headlined by shutdown cornerback Jaire Alexander and the dynamic pass-rush of the Smith Bros, Preston and Za’Darius.
In addition to Preston and Za’Darius, their impressive front seven includes Krys Barnes, Rashan Gary, and newly signed free agent De’Vondre Cambell. This group can make lives miserable for opposing quarterbacks.
Alexander is one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL, while Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos form one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. Kevin King also provides valuable experience and depth in the secondary. Meanwhile, the team invested a first-round pick on cornerback Eric Stokes. This unit has the potential to be elite.
The schedule is demanding, having to play against the NFC West and AFC North, but I feel confident in Green Bay’s ability to win more than ten games despite those challenges. Believe in Aaron Rodgers, an explosive offense and an underrated defense. Hit the over 10.5 wins.
Futures To Bet: 2021 Washington Football Team NFC East Division Champions PointsBet (+220)
The Football Team may not be the most talented in the NFC East, but they are the most balanced. The offense is quietly one of the most underrated in the entire league.
Terry McLaurin possesses a star quality skillset while Curtis Samuel and rookie third-round pick Dynami Brown are unique talents. They could give opposing defenses fits in the short, intermediate, and deep quadrants of the field. Adam Humphries is a reliable receiver who has made his living in the slot. The quarterback-turned-tight end Logan Thomas is looking to build off his breakout season of 2020. Once a weakness, this offense is poised to break out in 2021.
Antonio Gibson has the look of something special. He had 1,042 all-purpose yards in an unusual rookie season. However, he should have a firm grasp of the offense and become a better pass protector to stay on the field in passing situations with an entire off-season.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can push the ball downfield, something the offense has lacked in recent memory.
The Dominant Defense
The Football Team’s defense is one of the league’s best. Chase Young and Montez Sweat provide pressure from the edge while Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne look to wreak havoc from the inside. This unit averaged 2.9 sacks per game, ranking 5th in the NFL. With Young and Sweat entering their prime, the defensive line should get even better, which is scary.
The team used a first-round pick on Jamin Davis, an impressive linebacker out of Kentucky, to man the middle of the defense.
The backend of the defense is turning into a strength. Kendall Fuller is one of the best slot corners in the league, and the Football Team spent big on outside corner William Jackson III. Rookie corner Benjamin St-Juste had an impressive training camp, and he could make an impact this season. Landon Collins is solid as they come at safety.
The Dallas Cowboys, who are favored to win the division (+150), has the makings of an elite offense with a healthy Dak Prescott. However, Washington has something that the Cowboys do not: an elite defense. The New York Giants have yet to find their identity under GM Dave Gettleman’s regime, and the Philadelphia Eagles look to be in transition mode heading into the season. Washington also has the best coach in the division with Ron Rivera. I am confident that Washington wins the division and will gladly take the +220.
Futures To Bet: 2021 Los Angeles Rams To Win The NFC FanDuel (+750)
The Rams have the potential to do something great this season. Sean McVay and Les Snead, who never shy away from being bold, made headlines by acquiring former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Rams are going ‘all in .’ Anything short of a Super Bowl will be a disappointment.
The Rams, unlike the Lions, will provide Stafford with everything he needs to succeed. He has two underrated wide receivers in Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. DeShaun Jackson and Tutu Atwell could present problems for opposing defenses with their athleticism. Tyler Higbee will be a reliable target for Stafford in the middle of the field.
Pro Football Focus’s ninth-ranked offensive line unit should provide Stafford ample time to get the ball to his playmakers.
Defensively, the Rams have two individuals who are the best at their respective positions. Aaron Donald, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is the league’s best defensive tackle, and Jalen Ramsey is the best shutdown corner in the NFL.
Opposite Ramsey is cornerback Darius Williams, who PFF ranked number nine at his respective position. In addition, linebacker Leonard Floyd had a career year in 2020.
The Rams were the second-best defense in points allowed (19.3) and yielded the fewest yards allowed in the league (292.9 per game). New defensive coordinator, Raheem Morris’s defense has the potential to be even better in 2021.
The Rams have the makings of a Super Bowl appearance in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. There is nothing more of a Hollywood ending than that. In addition to winning the NFC, I like the Rams to go over their 10.5 win total (+120) and win the NFC West (+200). For more Futures to Bet in 2021, stay tuned. Quarterbacks are up next!
You could find me on Twitter @BrownieNJD82 for your fantasy football and sports betting needs.