2023 NFL Futures

Future Game Lines:

Week 14 (Dec 10): New Orleans Saints -3 vs Carolina (-120 Draftkings): This is one of my favorite spots all season to back the Saints and fade Carolina. The Panthers will be on the final leg of a back to back to back road trip without a bye in between. Purely based on my power ratings, and when including the Saints homefield advantage, I have the Saints as a 5 point favorite here. That alone is significant enough to pull the trigger on New Orleans but when you include the disadvantage that the Panthers will have here historically, the -3 makes little sense and likely won’t last. Since 2000, teams on the final leg of three straight road games (without a bye in between), and are underdogs, are just 44% ATS (-2.5 ATS margin per game) and have only won 26% of those games (vs 30% expected win %). That ATS figure drops to just 40% when the team is an underdog of over 3 points like Carolina will likely end up closing here by kickoff. Those teams also only won 18% of their games versus an expected win rate of 25%. Assuming both teams’ seasons go as currently planned, there is just no way you can justify this current line and there is no way it won’t close higher than 3. Understanding that it is never great to have money locked up on a straight bet like this for six months, but you should have clear closing line value when this game kicks off in December.

As I mentioned above, I think the Panthers are overvalued here anyway even without the spot consideration. This line is essentially saying that the Saints are barely better (0.5-1 point) than Carolina and I just don’t agree. I don’t believe Bryce Young is a great prospect, at least who likely won’t play that way initially, and with his adjustment to NFL defenses it won’t be an easy transition in 2023. Everyone wants to point to other short QBs who have been successful like Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Drew Brees but those are clear outliers. Wilson and Murray showed tremendous quickness and escape ability/play making that Young just doesn’t possess. We are talking about a guy who had a TOTAL of 162 rush yards in 34 career college games. He’s not fast enough to allude NFL defenders the way Russ (484 rush yards as a rookie) and Kyler could early in their careers. So he will essentially be forced to excel from the pocket right away to be successful in the NFL. He may end up being a Brees like wizard from the pocket one day, seeing over the defense and using tremendous balance from his tip toes to do it, but I highly doubt he can master that in year one. It took until Brees’ 4th season in the NFL before he became the Brees that we all know. The Chargers went 10-18 in his first three years, he threw more INTs than TDs and ranked 29th out of 39 qualified QBs in EPA in that stretch. And Young will have to command an offense with WRs like Adam Thielen (finished 115th out of 122 receivers in yac vs expected and 88th out of 103 WRs in yds/route run. He also turns 33 in August.) and DJ Chark (only been able to play in 15 of 34 games the last two seasons and had the top 20 highest drop % among NFL WRs last year). He just doesn’t have the explosive play makers to be a top 20 level offense in year one.




Defensive Rookie of the Year

History of the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award:

Finding a defensive rookie of the year is much harder than on the offensive side of the ball. Looking at the historical trends, since 1995, 43% of defensive rookie of the year winners have come from edge rushers, 11% from DT, 32% LB and 14% CB. Since 2010, the dispersion has been much more equitable between defensive positions. Interestingly, every edge rusher since 1995 to win the award has come from the top 16 of Round 1.

Digging even further, 25 of the 28 DROTY winners since 95 have come from Round 1 and the only three players to win the award outside of Round 1 were LBs. All 28 DROTY winners since 95 have come inside the top 40 of the draft overall. Three of the last seven winners were edge rushers from Ohio State, ironically, but there is a clear advantage to gaining sacks as a way to win this award. Last season was interesting because there were three top 10 edge rushers drafted and Aiden Hutchinson, with 9.5 sacks, finished 2nd to Sauce Gardner for this award. He easily could have won the award in most any other season, but Sauce was so excellent in a top market like New York, that he walked away with the award.

With Sauce winning last season, there have now been three CBs who have won this award in the last eight years. What is interesting is that prior to Marcus Peters winning in 2015, the NFL had gone 17 years without a CB winning. At DT, only three players have won this award since 1995, but they’ve all come since 2010 (Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Sheldon Richardson).



Calijah Kancey 30-1 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year (FanDuel)

Based on the criteria listed above, the likeliest players to win this award will either come from a top 16 Edge Rusher- Will Anderson, Tyree Wilson, Will McDonald, or Lukas Van Ness or one of the top CBs in Devon Witherspoon, Christian Gonzalez or Emmanuel Forbes. All of those players are priced that way too and none are longer than 16-1.

Where I am going to go is a bit off the board at a position that has won this award in 23% of the last 13 seasons, and that is DT Calijah Kancey (Tampa). I like Kancey at 28-1 for a few reasons and I think it’s important to understand why the guys who have won this award at this specific position in the recent past have done so. All three of Donald, Suh and Richardson posted excellent combine metrics and none scored worse than an 8.8 relative athletic score (RAS). In fact, Donald and Suh were elite athletes at the position with a 9.6 and 9.5 RAS. Kancey’s 9.6 RAS fits nicely between Suh’s 9.54 and Donald’s 9.66 mark. Kancey’s athletic testing ranks 10th best among round one DT since 2010. In addition, both Donald and Suh generated tremendous sack numbers in their final collegiate seasons with 11 and 12 sacks respectively. Kancey’s sack numbers were solid last season for Pit with 7.5. Although it’s not at the same level as those other two players, among other first round DT taken in the last 10-15 years, it’s one of the best among them. Richardson, by comparison, only posted four sacks. Point being most DTs taken this high have either posted really good athletic testing numbers or produced high sack totals in college. But it’s actually very rare for a DT to do both and go in round one. Kancey is among the elites from that perspective, and you could argue that behind Suh, Donald and Quinnen Williams (8 sack season at Alabama and with an impressive 9.8 RAS), his profile coming into the pros is as good as any from a DT in a decade.

I don’t know if Kancey will end up being a dominant DT in the NFL, but the only thing holding him back is his size (6’0, 281 LBs). His measurables matchup well with guys like Donald and Geno Atkins so there is hope for upside. I am taking the shot here that he went under drafted only because of his stature and not because of the rest of his profile. If he hits, he likely hits fairly big and could have an immediate double digit sack impact. Donald won this award with 9 sacks in his rookie season and Suh with 10. But Richardson only sacked the QB 3.5 times and somehow won the award in a down defensive rookie class. By all accounts, this class is similarly poor with injury questions to Wilson, character concerns with Carter and Anderson being the biggest threat at EDGE.

I like that Kancey will be going to an already good defense in Tampa and will get the added benefit of being paired with DT Vita Vea inside. Vea consistently takes on a lot of double teams from opposing OL, and in fact, saw a top 5 highest rate of double teams among all DT last season. He could take on enough double teams to free Kancey up for those sacks. In any case, I feel that the 30-1 odds are too high here and would take him anywhere from 20-1 or above.