Whether it’s an awful Thursday Night Football clash between bottom feeders or a blowout in the fourth quarter, there are two huge reasons we don’t turn the TV off until the final whistle.
Betting on the NFL, and fantasy football.
Both are wildly popular past-times in North America. According to an American Express study, nearly one-quarter of Americans played fantasy football in 2015, spending nearly $5 billion on their hobby. Meanwhile, the American Gaming Association estimated that close to $100 billion was bet on football that same season.
But which is better?
If you’re asking us, betting on the NFL is better than playing fantasy football. And here are 6 reasons why.
1 – You Can Bet During the Game
Fantasy football is full of deadlines.
In some leagues, your entire lineup needs to be set before that week’s games begin. Others are a bit more liberal, allowing you to plug players into your lineup anytime before their game kicks off. However, once games involving your players are underway, there’s nothing else you can do in fantasy football but cross your fingers, pace back and forth across your living room and hope no one gets injured.
Betting on the NFL has no deadlines, thanks largely to live betting. If you don’t like the way the game has started for your team, or if a star player gets injured, you can ‘buy out’ of your bet by wagering on the opposite side on the in-game odds. If you love the way your team is playing, you can bet a bit more on them on the live lines. If live betting isn’t your cup of tea, you can use a similar strategy on the halftime betting lines.
The bottom line is that if you’re playing fantasy football, you’re no longer in control when the games kick off. When you bet on football instead, you still have options.
2 – There Are More Betting Options
Fantasy football scoring systems may vary by the league or website where you’re competing, but the goals are basically the same. You want your players to gain yards, complete or catch passes, and most importantly score touchdowns.
Betting on the NFL opens up so many doors. The basics, of course, are when you bet on teams to win the game (moneyline) or cover the point spread, or on how many points will be scored in the game (Over/Under).
Sportsbooks continue to add more and more ways to bet on the games, however. You can bet on which team will win the first quarter, or how many points will be scored in that quarter. You can bet on how many points one team will score, without having to worry about how many points the other team scores. You can bet on which team will score first, which team will score last, who will kick the longest field goal, whether the game will go to overtime, and so on. You can even bet on whether the next play will be a run or a pass!
Even if the guys on your fantasy team aren’t getting the ball, you’re invested on every play when you have a bet on the game.
3 – You Can Bet On Individual Players, Not Rely On a Team
So you’ve done all your homework and are convinced Cam Newton’s going to have a huge game this week. Sure enough, Newton absolutely goes off, destroying the Falcons for 400 yards passing and four touchdowns.
If you’re betting the NFL at a sportsbook, you would have had a big day. You could have loaded up on Newton’s props, such as the Over on his passing yards or touchdowns. Or maybe you laid the points with the Panthers and took the Over on the game total.
If you were playing fantasy football, however, a big day from Newton might not be enough. You still need your other players to come through. If a few of them don’t, or someone suffers an injury in the first quarter, you can still lose your weekly matchup.
4 – You Don’t Have To Worry About Playing Against Sharks
A huge criticism of fantasy leagues is how the best players dominate the little guys.
According to a 2015 article published in Sports Business Journal, 1.3% of daily fantasy players won 91% of player profits in the first half of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, while 5% of the players accounted for 75% of all losses. The point of the article was that unless you’ve got sophisticated models that automatically and accurately project player performance, or unless you’re willing to make DFS your full-time job, you don’t stand much of a chance of winning against the sharks.
Even if you play fantasy football in a traditional league with your buddies instead of competing in DFS, you’re probably sick of losing every year to the stats geek. You know, the guy with no life, who knows the Jaguars backup quarterback’s middle name better than you know your wife’s.
When you bet on the NFL, you don’t have to worry about losing to that one guy. Technically, you’re playing against the sportsbook, but the reality is that the line is based on public perception. And in order to win, you just need to be right 53% of the time (at -110 odds on a point spread). You think you’re smarter than 47% of the betting public, don’t you?
5 – You Know What You Need To Do To Win
It’s frustrating when you’re going up against a moving target.
That’s exactly what you’ve got when you play fantasy football. Even if your team has a great week, you could still lose if your opponent’s team has an even better one.
Sure, it can work the other way too, when you win your matchup because your opponent’s team craps the bed. But wouldn’t you rather know that you’ll win when your team has a good week and that you’ll lose when they don’t?
That’s what you get with betting on the NFL. There are no variables on your wager. If you take the Steelers -3, you win if they win by more than 3. If you bet on Matt Ryan Over 310 passing yards, you’ll win if he throws for 311 or more. You won’t be in for any surprises.
6 – The Odds Are Better
When you play fantasy football at DFS sites, you aren’t winning nearly as much money as you should be.
The standard rake (commission) for head-to-head and 50/50 contests at DFS sites is in the 15-20% range. That means for every $100 you win, the DFS site is keeping approximately $15-20 of it.
On a -110 points spread or Over/Under bet, the commission is 4.55%. The sportsbook takes in $110 on each side of the bet, pays $210 to the winner ($100 profit plus the $110 bet back) and pockets $10. And several sportsbooks offer -105 odds or better on point spreads and totals, lowering that commission even more.
Juice on sportsbook props is a bit higher (often in the -115 or -120 range) but the commission is still less on those than it is when you play DFS.