With the 2021 NFL Draft just a few short weeks away, it’s never too early to start looking at the best draft props available to sports bettors.
The draft is an oft-overlooked wagering opportunity, but it can be a lucrative event, particularly in years like this one. There are several promising prospects available at quarterback, creating the potential for an intriguing short-squeeze. Teams may be trading up to ensure they’re in a position to get the guy they want.
Due to the overwhelming hype surrounding quarterbacks in this draft, other positions have gone overlooked. When assessing an event like the draft from a sports betting perspective, it’s crucial to approach it similarly to betting multiple props from a single game. Each outcome is related to every other, so once a bettor picks a narrative, it’s crucial they bet it with consistency.
With this in mind, these are the NFL draft props that hold the most value.
Odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook*
Justin Fields: Over/Under 4.5
Trevor Lawrence will be going to the Jaguars at No. 1 overall, and the current consensus is that Zach Wilson will go to the Jets with the second selection. The 49ers are expected to draft a QB at No. 3 and the best available by nearly every qualitative metric will be Justin Fields.
Despite this, Mac Jones has emerged as a contender for the third pick, and in some mock drafts, Trey Lance is going before Justin Fields with the fourth pick. The result of all this speculation is that Fields’ over/under has shifted from 3.5 to 4.5, which is great news for bettors. The Atlanta Falcons hold the fourth pick in the draft, which puts them in a position to either draft their QB of the future, Fields, or trade that pick to one of the many teams that will be willing to overpay for him.
Execs around the league have openly doubted that the Niners are seriously considering Jones at three. While this may just be posturing, it’s more likely a reflection on the league’s evaluation of these prospects. Fields has a significantly higher ceiling than Jones, and while Jones may have a high floor, teams don’t trade three first-round picks for a high basement.
If the 49ers decide to go with Mac Jones at three, the Falcons would be hard-pressed to draft anyone other than Fields on value alone. If Atlanta isn’t interested, there will be a long list of teams willing to trade up for Justin Fields at four. There is too much upside to pass on.
Fields could and should go as early as the third pick. The fourth pick — and its flexibility — is a safety blanket that makes Fields under 4.5 one of the better plays in this draft.
The Play: Under 4.5 (-112)
Total WRs Drafted in the First Round: Over/Under 4.5
Coming into this draft, the majority of the hype has surrounded the quarterback position, and the wide receivers have gone relatively overlooked.
LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase is a top-five pick on some boards, and Alabama's pairing of Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith are both top-10 talents (they will fall due to the demand for QBs). Other premium WR talent includes projected first-rounders like Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr, and Rondale Moore. That’s a total of seven WRs who would be considered sure-fire first-round picks in any given year. At first, the over of 4.5 may seem high on paper, but after assessing against the market, it’s significantly more palatable.
Chase should go no later than No. 7 to the Lions. The Bengals could irresponsibly draft him over Sewell at five, or the Lions will take him at seven if the Bengals do the right thing and get the offensive line help they so desperately need. The Dolphins, Cardinals, Washington, Titans, Packers, Saints, among others, could all be in the market for a first-round receiver.
Considering that there are multiple teams with legitimate WR needs and others like the Eagles and Giants, which could see a value that’s too good to pass up at the position, there should be enough demand to send this number over.
The Play: Over 4.5 (-104)
Najee Harris: Over/Under 29.5
While wide receivers have seen increasing attention at the draft over the last decade, the running back position has slowly fallen by the wayside. Due in large part to the burn rate at the position, most teams have found themselves better off spending the draft capital elsewhere.
Last year, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the first running back taken in the draft at No. 32, and most expected him to fall into the second round. This year, Najee Harris is the favorite to be the first RB drafted (-150), and his projected position of 29.5 puts him in a similar space as CEH. The main difference is that the teams drafting in this projected window have little reason to select a running back.
The Browns have arguably the best running back group in the NFL, making them a non-factor at 26. The Ravens need edge or WR help at 27, the Saints need WR and secondary help at 28, and the Packers need an offensive tackle or WR at 29. The only scenarios where a RB goes in the first round appear to be the Bills taking Harris at 30 or the Bucs selecting him with the last pick in the first round. Either of which means this bet covers.
The Play Over 29.5 (-112)
Total Running Backs Drafted in the First Round Over/Under .5
As stated earlier in this article, it’s important to remember that each prop bet is not an independent outcome. If bettors are inclined to believe that the first round will be WR heavy and Harris will go later than 29, this prop becomes a bet on whether Buffalo or Tampa will select a running back at 30 or 32.
Considering the Bucs are in win-now mode and already have talent at the position, it seems more likely they would add to another area of the roster that could contribute immediately. Some mock drafts have the Bills taking a running back at 30, but it’s also become a common opinion that the Bills could trade down from this pick to add more pieces to a team that’s building to win now and for years to come.
When looking at the running back market through this lens, no running backs taken in the first round seems like a damn fine value at +175.
The Play: Under .5 (+175)
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