The NFL expanded its season to 17 games Tuesday. Following the official announcement, DraftKings Sportsbook released its 2021 win totals. Win totals are sure to move and quickly, so getting in early on value is a great way to hold a winning ticket with the greatest upside. Without further ado — my two favorite win totals to bet right now.
Chargers win total set at 9
In 2019, the Los Angeles Chargers were 2-9 in one-score games. That moved to 5-7 in such games in 2020. I point this out because they are due for positive regression. There is so much variance that goes into an NFL game that a one-possession game is usually a toss-up. It could be determined by a freak turnover, a blown call or even just one play. The Chargers have been on the wrong side of one-score games for back-to-back years — in large part due to bad luck and bad coaching. Well, Anthony Lynn and his refusal to embrace analytics — or even basic math — is gone now.
In his place steps Brandon Staley, who was just the defensive coordinator to the No. 1 defense in football.
The Chargers are not only rid of Lynn and his abysmal late-game coaching, but they are looking at a much-improved roster. Last year, the Chargers were the third-worst pass-blocking team by PFF grades, in large part due to their horrendous interior offensive line. This offseason, the team made it a priority to protect Justin Herbert, signing C Corey Linsley and G Matt Feiler. Linsley was considered the top center available on the market and is top five at the position. They also replaced oft-injured TE Hunter Henry with Jared Cook and have the 13th pick in the draft, which they are likely to use on more protection for Herbert or potentially another offensive weapon. The defense will also improve, getting a healthy Joey Bosa — one of the top pass rushers in football who was missed dearly down the stretch last year — as well getting arguably the best safety in football Derwin James back healthy.
The improved offensive line, getting Bosa and James back healthy, a new and improved coaching staff, and regression to the mean are enough to bet on the Chargers. But the biggest reason may not even be on that list, and that reason is named Justin Herbert. Herbert took the league by storm last year as a rookie. He finished fifth in the NFL in PAA (points contributed by a quarterback) and completed nearly 75% of his passes from a clean pocket. With a year to grow and better protection, Herbert could be in the running for MVP this season. Last year, all four quarterbacks with a PAA better than Herbert’s win at least 10 games, and he was the only one in the top seven not to do so. With an extra game added to the schedule, the Chargers are primed to make noise in 2021.
Last season, Washington had arguably the worst quarterback play in football, with Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen and Alex Smith leading the way. In steps veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who seemingly gets better as he gets older. Last year, only 43% of his pass attempts were to open receivers, the second-lowest rate in the league. Throwing to Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel should help with that, as both are elite athletes who know how to get open. Fitzpatrick should not only have more open receivers, but his receivers should stand to improve greatly, as he was second in accurate passer rating last year. After quarterback, the biggest need for Washington was a second receiver opposite McLaurin, a role the aforementioned Samuel fills perfectly.
On the defensive side of the ball, Washington ranked six in points allowed but had a major weakness at their second corner position. They added William Jackson, one of the most underrated players in the league, opposite Kendall Fuller, giving Washington has one of the better tandems in football. That secondary behind a defensive line that generated the eighth-most pressure in football last season is a scary proposition for opposing offenses. Of the teams better at generating pressure, only one won fewer than eight games last season, and that is before they added another game to the season.
Washington’s schedule is no easy task, with the Buccaneers, Chiefs, Saints, Packers and Bills all on it, but three of their toughest games are at home and they play eight games against teams currently picking top 13 in the draft.
Eliot Crist is the Chief Operating Officer of Fade The Noise. Formerly of TQE, PFF, and 4for4 Eliot has been playing fantasy sports for 18 years and betting on them for 12. the 2019 Pros vs Joes champion, Eliot has had success in both best ball and in DFS with seven career GPP wins. He makes frequent appearances on Sirius XM radio talking fantasy sports and CBS New York talking sports betting. Eliot contributes Season Long, Best Ball, DFS, and Betting NFL content and you can find him in our premium chat interacting with customers.