Jared Smith’s “Early Birds": How to approach COVID uncertainty and roster volatility
It has not been a good month for betting early. As COVID wreaks havoc on NFL rosters, the value of early betting has decreased significantly in my eyes.
This week’s Ravens/Bengals game is a perfect example. Baltimore was forced to start 3rd-string QB Josh Johnson, after Tyler Huntley tested positive for COVID on Friday.
It might not have mattered anyways, as the Bengals’ offense was full throttle against the battered and bruised Ravens defense. But if the line was Ravens +7 when I was scanning the board for possible teaser opportunities, I would have likely passed on Baltimore entirely as it does not fit my criteria for teasing through key numbers.
That being said, I will not be making any early bets this week. I would rather let the news cycle play out and wait until the last possible moment to lock in my bets. This goes against my usual strategy, but the volatility has presented a lot of opportunities to buy low, as the market has tended to overreact to roster moves.
Oddsmakers offer advice for handling roster uncertainty
FanDuel Trading Director John Sheeran: “It’s a very volatile time as you well know. Obviously, you can get blindsided – like with Ravens last week but people should remember it also brings big opportunity like it did with the Bengals. My only advice is to stay as informed as you can, which is what we are all trying to do.”
WynnBET Junior Trader John Manica: “There are a few ways to gain an edge, with one being the closing line value. If you have a good read on who may or may not play, go for it early. A current example would be the Cleveland Browns. They could be a good early bet for this week as they play on Monday Night Football and have an extended period of time to get some of those players back that they lost to COVID previously. Other than an early read, you should have your opinions ready to go as soon as the actives are announced and try to get the best number available in the market.”
TwinSpires Trading Analyst Zachary Lucas: “Have Twitter notifications on for any Covid updates. There are plenty of accounts you can follow. If you’re unsure about who is playing early in the week and your goal isn’t to beat the closing number you can always wait until kickoff to place your bet once you have all the information. While you may not be able to grab a +3 on a now -3 line you’ll at least know who is playing.”
Former Oddsmaker Dave Sharapan: “One, act decisively and make a play to get ahead of it and get the better number. Two, don’t do anything and wait for more information. Either way, you live with the outcome and accept the results. Sometimes, you end up with the right side, right number. Sometimes, you don’t. But, the worst thing you can do is second-guess because you will drive yourself crazy.”
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