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NFL draft betting: A low-risk way to stay invested for entirety of Round 1

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As we ramp up toward football's biggest weekend of the offseason, we've looked at what to be wary of in the markets at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft and the various questions posed by five different positional markets.

Bets in those markets leave the bettor hoping to hear individual names called as early as possible, whereas positional totals essentially leave the sweat for the first round's last few moments. As Thursday night winds down, you get to a point where any name will do, just so long as it fits the criteria to go over a total or stay under one.

Positional total odds

Offensive players 21.5 (+110) 21.5 (-140)
Quarterbacks 4.5 (-190) 4.5 (+140)
Running backs 0.5 (+750) 0.5 (-3000)
Wide receivers 6.5 (+185) 6.5 (-260)
Defensive players 11.5 (+105) 11.5 (-140)
Defensive Linemen/Edge 6.5 (+240) 6.5 (-375)
Cornerbacks 5.5 (+250) 5.5 (-400)
Safeties 0.5 (+400) 0.5 (-800)

A no-brainer bet

We've seen movement in the markets above in the last week. Different sportsbooks adjust the lines and odds for draft props at various paces. An individual sportsbook should move certain numbers in concert since over 21.5 offensive players drafted equates to less than 11.5 defensive players. Interestingly, 21 offensive players getting drafted Thursday would equate to 11 defensive players, cashing the under on both.

This is an opportunity to create a long shot without any research into what teams selecting late in the first round will do. It'll ensure you can win both bets but can't lose both, with the worst-case scenario being a split for a marginal loss. At the odds above, betting the under on both would result in a loss of 0.4 units for a chance to win two units or a synthetic +500 bet.


  • Bet $140 on under 21.5 offensive players to win $100
  • Bet $140 on under 11.5 defensive players to win $100

With one of these guaranteed to win (unless a special teams player gets taken in the first round), you're only risking $40. But with the possibility of winning both bets, your $40 risk can quickly turn into a $200 profit.

You can also improve the odds on this by price shopping. The goal should be to look for the best price for either of these combinations:

  • Under 21.5 offensive players and 11.5 defensive players
  • Over 20.5 offensive players and 10.5 defensive players

The better the odds for either, the more you can improve on a 5-1 payout. For example, -130 on either side would result in 0.3 units lost for the same two-unit payout, or +666 odds.

You might wonder why 21 and 11 is the split we're shooting for. The answer is simple - that's the favored split. Based on the odds above from theScore Bet, the under in both offensive and defensive categories is -140 - an implied probability of 58.3%. The final positional split could be 20-12 or 22-10, but betting the most likely result at 5-1 odds (or better) is a fun way to sweat the end of the first round of the draft without having any inside info.

Positional notes

The price for over 4.5 quarterbacks has dropped to a more palatable -190. Given that Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, and J.J. McCarthy are seemingly locked into the first round, this bet amounts to whether or not you believe Michael Penix or Bo Nix will hear their name called on the draft's first night.

The quarterback market is the only one that favors the over. There isn't likely to be a running back picked in the first round, and the under has taken money at 6.5 wide receivers despite numerous candidates and high demand at the position. Those positions combine for 11 draft selections, ten short of the prescribed total for offensive players. Offensive linemen and tight ends will make up the gap.

In the last week, bettors have been asked to pay more for the under in the cornerback and safety markets. If we see more movement toward the under in those individual positional markets, we might find a clue for the offensive/defensive positional totals.

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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