Week 1, Baby, LFG! Thank you once again for subscribing and checking out the 4th and Jord newsletter! This is still a work in progress, but I’m stoked on the feedback and progress so far. A couple of housekeeping items first. I have shuffled some of the podcasts around in the podcast picks report. Some of the guys are not giving out their picks in time so I am removing them. Also, Volume Network, in partnership with Action Network, has added additional pods from sharps I like, and I will be incorporating these pods into the report. Finally, I am still working out some kinks with the formatting in Substack - I want to make things concise and easier to read. Please stay patient.
STORYLINES, NEWS and Big Questions
Scoring at an all-time high - 2020 was an historic year for points scored. Does that continue in 2021 or is there a correction? Is it rule changes? Improved offensive talent? Lack of fans? Lack of holding calls? Keep an eye on the totals.
The fans are back! Seeing football played in empty stadiums was such a bummer. Fingers crossed we are done with that. How do fans effect the game? The historical average home field advantage for handicappers has been 3 points with some exceptions on either side i.e., stronger (Seattle) or weaker (Chargers) home fields. Consensus from sharps is that number has come down to 2.5 on average now for various reasons. Fans certainly contribute to this number but how much? Are we underestimating fans back in the stadium, especially early on? Could 1st and 2nd year players that played their last season without fans struggle early on to adjust? Especially 1st and 2nd year QBs?
New QB’s Starting - 13 QB’s starting for new teams in 2021 is unprecedented. How do we handicap these situations? Do they struggle early or hit the ground running?
Pre-Season - More than ever teams are holding out their stars and QBs from playing any pre-season snaps. Historically that does not bode well for those QB’s in their first half of regular season football. Does that continue?
Home Dogs - 6 home dogs in week 1! Typically targets for sharps to play on. Usually some of these will win outright - who is it week 1?
Power Rankings - Everyone and their moms have power rankings now so take it with a grain of salt. That said, I do think it’s an important tool in handicapping. It is a great starting point when building a cap. What’s the market line vs what is my power rankings line. My power rankings are at the bottom of the page and I will be adjusting them every week. It’s important to reference some other Power rankings as well. I have added Steve Fezzik’s in the Tools section below, they are one of the rankings I trust most. The number on the right of each team is how you can start your line comparison.
Baltimore Injuries - Man that Baltimore backfield has been decimated after losing their top 3 running backs to season ending injuries. What does that mean for Lamar and the offense?
Links to Tools and Resources
Their proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system breaks down every single NFL play and compares a team's performance to a league context-specific baseline to determine value over average.
NFL Power Rankings
Steve Fezzik NFL Power Rankings
Jord’s NFL Power Rankings (Coming Week 1)
QB Rankings (The most important position in Sports)
I think Chris Simms is the best QB evaluator in the media and it’s not close, especially when evaluating QB prospects where he is not afraid to go against consensus. His record speaks for itself.
A League wide poll of the best QB’s by NFL executives
The best QB metric.
O-line is the second most important position group in football to me. Having a sense of O-line groups when making wagers can give you an edge.
Don’t forget to shop for the best numbers!
This is a great tool to help understand who the public teams are and who the pro teams are. For example: Team A in a given matchup has 70% of the tickets bet on them but only 35% of the money; public is on Team A, sharps (big money) is on Team B (Pros vs Joes).
Podcast Picks Report
Below is a breakdown of my favorite football podcasts that make picks ATS. I think you can separate these into 3 different categories: the pro betters/analysts, the tape evaluators (scouts/ former players), and the media opinion-givers. I have ranked these sharpest to squarest in terms of my trust level of their picks. I will track all the picks and adjust this list as we move through the season.
In my opinion this is the best and sharpest sports betting podcast. Steve Fezzik is the only 2-time Westgate Super Contest winner. He is great with derivatives, calculations behind line moves, juice, and identifying bet and fade spots in the schedule. RJ Bell keeps Fez in check and is very sharp himself, a contrarian thinker on the NFL and always finding unique angles. AJ is a college football expert and solid NFL contributor.
Super Contest picks - All three guys pick 5 games, weighted 5 star* Best Bet (BB) down to 1 star. Then they come up with a consensus top 5 picks for the contest (These 5 can change by Saturday when they make the picks depending on line moves, injuries etc.) Disagreements are automatic crossfire bets.
AJ 5* BB - WFT +1
Fezz 5* BB - WFT +1
RJ 5* BB - Zona +3
AJ 4* - Bills - 6.5
Fezz 4* - Vikings -3 (agreement, AJ2*, RJ1*)
RJ 4* - Jets +4 (Fezz Crossfire 1*)
AJ 3* - Pats -3
Fezz 3* - Colts +3 (RJ agreement)
RJ 3* - Jags -3
AJ 2* - Vikings -3
Fezz 2* - Browns +6 (AJ crossfire KC)
RJ 2* - Colts +3
AJ 1* - KC -6
Fezz 1* - Panthers -4
RJ 1* - Vikings -3
Fezz Prop - Andy Dalton pass yards under
Warren is super sharp and especially good with the models on game totals. You need to pay for most of his picks, but you can pick up his leans from listening to his pods. Some of the other guys, especially Mark Derosa, another pro, are sharp as well.
Warren - Philadelphia Eagles Over *SPLIT* 23.5 first half (0.5 units) and 48 game (0.5 units)
Warren - Jets Panthers Over 43.5
Warren - 2 team / 6 point teaser (-120) (1 unit): 452 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2 to 480 Los Angeles Rams -1.5
Derosa - Jets +4.5
Derosa - Dolphins +3
Derosa - Javonte Williams Over 32.5 rush yards
Derosa - Mike Williams Over 38.5 receiving yards
Derosa - Najee Harris Under 59.5 rush yards
Ben - Under Jamar Chase 965 yards
Ben - Kyle Shannan COY +1800
Kelly, now with Barstool Bets, is very sharp and typically a contrarian better, fading public sentiment and money. I think similarly so I like to keep an eye on her picks.
Pitt/Buff under 48.5
Chad Millman, the CTO of the Action Network, hosts this podcast with pro better Simon Hunter. Chad also does a picks pod with Colin Cowherd, reviewing his takes and giving him sharp agreement or disagreement. I have a feeling I will be moving this podcast up the rankings quickly.
Simon and Chad’s Week 1 sides
Longshots Pitt ML, Det ML
New podcast for me, just getting to know the hosts Sean and analyst Stuckey. Action Network is a great resource, and this is a worthwhile pod.
Stuckey BB – Saints +4.5
Sean BB - WFT +1
Stuckey 2ndBB - Pats -2.5
Sean 2ndBB - Eagles +3
Stuckey 3rdBB - Zona +3
Sean 3rdBB - Seahawks -3
Stuckey BB Total - Under 42 NYG/DEN
Sean BB Total - Over 44.5 WFT/LAC
Stuckey BB 6 point Teaser - Colts +8.5, Rams -1.5
Sean BB 6 point Teaser - Rams -1.5, SF -1.5
Stuckey Dog ML - Eagles +140
Sean Dog ML - Texans +150
Colin is surprisingly sharp and the blazing 5 pod with RJ bell is a great listen on Saturday mornings.
Bill is one of the pioneers of podcasting and an entertaining media personality. He is more of an NBA specialist but does two solid shows on NFL betting: guess the lines with Cousin Sal every Sunday night, and Million Dollar picks with Peter Schrager every Thursday. Bill can be sharp and square but is entertaining, and Schrags offers some relevant inside info.
6 Point Teaser SF -2, Rams -1.5
Longshot Parlay Raiders ML + Texans ML +620
Pats over Bucs Super Bowl 70-1 - lol
Great QB evaluator and NFL talent evaluator, but relatively square when it comes to making picks ATS. His insight is worth listening to for picking up tidbits on players and teams to implement in your picks, but his picks themselves offer moderate value.
Chris Best Bets
Florio Best Bets
What I’m thinking and Who I’m picking
Beware of week 1 line traps. Remember these lines have been sitting out in the market for months and have been bet out by pros, so the lines are usually quite sharp, or the books are trapping you into playing something they need. Also pay attention to line moves. Some big ones already: Colts/Hawks was a pick’em and now Colts are +3 home dogs, Tampa went from -6.5 to -9, Pats -2 up to nearly -3.5. Week 1 tends to be wonky with some weird stuff happening.
A note on Teasers: Teasers have become extremely popular by anyone that has got a taste of betting football. They are for the most part super square. The only way to get agreement from sharp betters on teasers is if you can ‘advantage tease’ a 6 point teaser through key numbers of 3 and 7 gaining positive expected value. Bucs -7.5, Rams -7.5, 49ers -8 are advantage teaser options in week 1 and a lot of us will get sucked into playing one (I did). One of these teams will probably lose out-right.
6-point Teaser Bucs -1.5, SF -2 -120: Yeah I got sucked into a teaser. I sweated out the Bucs -1.5 leg Thursday night (what a game!) some of the sharps are actually on Lions which is shocking and scared me a bit of this play (Rams may be a better leg than SF), but as a die-hard Lions fan this is also a good emotional hedge.
Raiders +4: Baltimore is the #1 rushing team in the league in terms of volume and have just lost their top 3 running backs to season ending injuries. On top of that, 2 of their top 3 WR’s are on IR with the 3rd, Hollywood Brown, sitting out all of pre-season with a hamstring. Can Lamar and Mark Andrews carry this offense to enough points? You know Vegas will put up points. This is also the first home game with fans in Vegas and I expect it to be wild. Raiders getting 4 points at home seems off to me. If this was in Baltimore, would -9 or -10 be right? That’s what this line is saying.
WFT +1: Seems like all the sharps are on this side, so this is a partial tail but also a fade of the Chargers’ lack of continuity on O-line (although, I expect it to be improved long-term); they will be in tough against this WFT front. Additionally, I don’t like the lack of any pre-season snaps in a complicated new system for 2nd-year, Herbert. This will also be his first NFL road game in front of a full stadium.
GB -3.5: Power rankings must play for me. This is a neutral field so no HF advantage for New Orleans because of the hurricane disruption. Fading the impact of this disruption, I make this line GB -5 on my power rankings. Also, I believe Rogers is as focused as ever. I know I am on somewhat of an island with this (lots of sharps on Saints), but my pre-season assessments just don’t get me there on the Saints.
Tailing Warren Sharps Philly/AtlOver 23.5 first half (0.5 units) and 48 game (0.5 units). I don’t run models, so I tend not to bet as many totals unless I see a clear mismatch or misprice. I got this one for free from Warren week 1 and I’m going to roll with it - that Atlanta secondary is suspect.
Giants +3 and Colts +3 at home I really want to take but couldn’t bring myself to play. Everyone is so high on Denver, it’s thrown me off; I am in wait-and-see mode with them. Colts are just pure value from a line move perspective, but, again, wait-and-see on Wentz. Pats -3 I like as well but kicking myself for not betting it last week at -2.5, so I passed.
Additional Future Considerations: I was looking for another way to get some action on SF, and Ben from the Ringer brought up his Shanahan COY bet and I really like it. It’s +1800, so great value but I can also see the narrative perspective with the backup rookie QB. Does Shanahan keep him on the bench all year? Does he bring him in to start at the right time in the season? Does he have a special package for him in the redzone? Any of these things could happen and Shanahan will receive a lot of praise if it works out for the team.
I have also softened a bit on my New Orleans under 9.5 future bet. I really liked the trade they made bringing in Roby at corner. I am not off this bet but looking at a sprinkle on Jameis MVP or passing yards leader to hedge.
My Power Rankings
Kansas City 6.5
San Francisco 4.5
Green Bay 4.5
LA Rams 4
New England 2
LA Chargers 1
New Orleans -.5