Why Not to Put Faith on a Futures Bet Based on the Quarterback

By | March 7, 2021

Nothing is ever set in stone in the NFL. And for many of us, we’re taught that the better a quarterback is, the better a team is. This is false.
 
And while we may feel tempted to bet on teams that have stellar quarterbacks, betting on a team because of their quarterbacks will probably lead to mixed results. 

Many of you may point to Tom Brady’s presence in Tampa. A team who went from 7-9 to Super Bowl Champion. Was it because of Brady? More like, Brady was the missing piece to an already talented puzzle. 

Look at Deshaun Watson in Houston. Or even Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. And of course, we’ll talk about Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. 

The following cases will show you why elite quarterbacks don’t always lead to winning bets. 

The Case of Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson had a legendary season. One for the ages. And if you bet player props on Watson, then props to you. But if you put a futures bet on the Texans, you probably didn’t fare well unless you bet the Under. 

Watson led the league in passing yards and yards per attempt. He had a career-high 33 touchdown passes and a career-low 7 interceptions. He also scored a career-high in completions, pass attempts, passer rating, and completion percentage. 

Everything went right for Watson.

Except the Houston Texans finished 4-12 and after the season ended, he requested a trade.

You can argue that no quarterback in NFL history had a better season than Watson, who won only a quarter of his games. 

No wonder the guy wants out of Houston. The franchise has been a disaster and a blueprint of how not to run an NFL franchise than their 2002 inaugural season. If the NFL ever contracted, the Texans would probably and rightfully be the first franchise to go. 

And you can use Watson as a prime example for sports betting on teams who have marquee quarterbacks. It shows that the quarterback doesn’t always make the team great. And therefore, you should bet with caution, even if you see a quarterback posting numbers akin to Watson’s. 

What else should you check before placing a futures bet on an NFL team?

Let’s look at the 2020 Houston Texans. 

Obviously it matters who is playing quarterback. But as you can see, one man can’t save an entire franchise. 

Look at every other position on the team. 

They had nothing at running back in terms of a featured back. Though David Johnson had a good year. They had journeymen in the pass-catching units. And the Texans had absolutely nothing on defense, having allowed 464 points over 16 games. 

Moral to the Case of Deshaun Watson?

See who he has playing around star quarterbacks before making your bet. Once you get to know the roster, it’ll paint a clearer picture on whether the team is worth betting on. 

The Case of Tom Brady

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers swapped Jameis Winston for Tom Brady. Not really, but you know what I mean. Brady signed with the Bucs, and Winston signed elsewhere. Brady won his seventh Super Bowl, sending Winston and his Saints home in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. 

So, it was Tom Brady, and not Bill Belichick, this whole time?
You may say that. 

But here’s the skinny. 

Brady never had a team that good around him in New England. No, not even the 2007 team that went 16-0. The 2007 Patriots were an aging bunch, Brady included, having hit his 30th birthday back then. You know, the age where most of your normal players see their skills diminish. 

Brady’s no normal player. But Brady’s not winning the Super Bowl had he remained in New England. 

Brady had an outstanding cast of young pass catchers, including Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and the unsung Scotty Miller. He also had a familiar face in Rob Gronkowski, and midway through the season, Antonio Brown. 

Tampa Bay NFL

Add Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones to the backfield along with 2 stellar offensive minds on the sidelines in Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich, and you have a team that resembles one you’d create in Madden franchise mode. 

Oh, and the Bucs also had the best running defense in football along with a halfway decent pass defense. 

They didn’t have a great quarterback. They went out and got one. Then they won the Super Bowl, and are among the favorites to win the next one. But they already had a good football team. Winston was a turnover machine at quarterback (how many other quarterbacks throw 30 interceptions in a single season?).

So with Brady, he joined a good NFL team. Brady’s a smart guy, and he probably knew it going into the season. 

What’s the bottom line?

Brady was the missing link. 

The Case of Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson has supposedly revolutionized the game. Okay, but when was the last time a run-first quarterback with mediocre passing skills won a Super Bowl?

Maybe in Madden franchise mode, because scrambling quarterbacks are just fun to use. 

But there’s a reason Jackson can’t beat the NFL’s best franchises. Ditto for, oh, I don’t know…Josh Allen? No wonder it was a defensive struggle when Baltimore visited Buffalo during the AFC Divisional Playoffs. 

It’s also why neither quarterback can ever come close to beating Patrick Mahomes. 

To put a futures bet on the Ravens is like betting on some glorified college offense coached by Woody Hayes back in the day. Which is the offense John Harbaugh’s Ravens resemble. Three things can happen when you throw, and two of them are bad. Especially with a guy like Jackson at quarterback, who needs to use his legs to open things up.

And while Jackson continues to play well, the reason the Baltimore Ravens are probably never a decent futures bet beyond the over-under and winning the division – they did neither this season – is because their dated offense is dated for a reason. 

Not revolutionary. Dated. I feel like I’m watching rugby when I see the Ravens play on a Sunday half the time. And in 2020, teams figured the Ravens out. 

What’s this section saying?

Just because a quarterback adds a new element to the game, don’t fall for the ruse. Teams figure them out. It’s why Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen are dangerous to bet on. Until they stop relying on their legs so much, they’re risky futures bets. 

The Cases of Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff

Matthew Stafford’s case with the Lions can relate to what Watson’s going through in Houston. Except Watson’s doing the wise thing and getting out while he’s still young. Or at least he’s trying to. Stafford, at 33, had more leverage in asking his team for a trade because of his age. 

Watson’s literally Houston’s last hope, and the Texans know it. But don’t be surprised if he pulls a Carson Palmer. 

Anyway, back to Stafford. Stafford is the perfect example of why it’s not always safe to bet on a marquee quarterback playing for a mediocre franchise. 

But what if that marquee quarterback goes to a decent franchise, as Stafford has with the Los Angeles Rams?

Lions Jones

Now, a Stafford led team is looking like a safer futures bet. 
And why wouldn’t they?

The Rams have arguably the 2 best defensive players in football with Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald. They also have a team-oriented defense that opposing offenses often have a tough time scoring on. Plus, Stafford has more than his fair share of offensive firepower in Los Angeles.

Flip over to Goff, who despite his production probably won’t be any better for the Lions in 2021 than Stafford was. Goff’s a good quarterback. But he won’t perform miracles.

In fact, the Lions may be worse off. 

Why?

Next to hiring Dan Campbell as their head coach, the Lions have a historically bad defense that won’t fix itself within one offseason. Then, there’s the uncertainty surrounding the return of Kenny Golladay. 

Does Golladay return because Goff’s there?

So no, Goff doesn’t make the team any better in 2021. But as for having a stockpile of draft picks in future drafts, the Lions may become a decent futures bet in the future. That’s if their front office drafts smart and stop waiting picks. 

The Case of Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield did something the previous 30-plus quarterbacks for the Cleveland Browns never did. 

He won a playoff game. 

Yeah, the Cleveland Browns won a playoff game and they almost upset the Kansas City Chiefs with an encore presentation. 

But would Mayfield really be a winning quarterback if it wasn’t for the Browns’ old school identity? And does Mayfield alone make the Browns a solid futures bet?

Probably not. 

Quarterbacks like Mayfield, who also include Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, and Jimmy Garoppolo have never been found guilty of leading their team past greater competition. Instead, it’s often the running game stealing the show. 

They also have offensive lines built to run block. And they throw the ball under certain circumstances. Often, it’s from play-action, the shotgun formation, pistol formation, or even a waggle. 

But if they’re in the right offense, they make good futures bets. If they’re in the wrong offense, like a pass-first offense, they’re not worth placing a futures bet on. Or they’re at least risky futures bets. 

Like Brady, they’re puzzle pieces to an offense. Baker Mayfield thrives when his running game thrives. And when he needs to throw the ball 40 times a game, he often folds. Ditto for Tannehill and Cousins. But, because they’re in the right offense, it makes them more sensible futures bets. 

At least in a few categories. 

What should you learn?

Gadget quarterbacks doing too much probably won’t win you money. They’re system guys who win in the right offenses. But they’re fringe starters when asked to do too much.

Conclusion

As you can see from the cases above, placing a futures bet on a quarterback just because they post epic numbers doesn’t always translate to money in your pocket. Sometimes, the quarterback can’t elevate the mediocre talent around him. 

Other times, they’re just another puzzle piece or they’re playing in the right offense. And still others, they’re playing in a college-like offense that’s long since run its course in the NFL and will fail, eventually. As with Lamar Jackson. 

Your best bet is to always evaluate the talent around the quarterback. Few quarterbacks can elevate talent around them. So before placing a bet, be sure to check the talent on offense around them, the defensive talent, and even the coaching.

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