As the name suggests, the NFL futures market involves betting on future events. Futures are often related to teams winning the Superbowl or division, but can cover just about anything that takes place over the course of more than one game. With futures, bettors can wager on the Patriots likelihood of becoming the AFC champion or David Johnson’s chances of becoming the NFC rushing leader before the season even starts. NFL futures vary wildly depending on the sportsbook. Traditionally, futures were thought of as fun bets for casual fans, but sharp NFL bettors can find edge to be exploited as well. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FUTURES AND PROP BETS NFL futures are often confused for prop bets, and in many ways, they are. Prop bets, or propositional bets, are exotic wagers placed on outcomes unrelated to the score of a game and, technically speaking, futures fall into this category. With that said, when people talk about prop bets, they are typically referring to exotic wagers that take place within one slate of games or one week. Futures take place over longer periods of time, such as an NFL regular season or the NFL playoffs. 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Futures can be listed with American odds, decimal odds or fractional odds, depending on the region. The payouts can vary significantly – a relatively safe wager, such as the Eagles winning the NFC East might be – 200. A more daring bet, like the Seahawks taking the NFC North, will be +600. A lightning in a bottle bet, like the Browns winning the AFC North, could easily be +1000 or greater. SUPERBOWL FUTURES The biggest trophy in NFL football is also the biggest money maker on the NFL futures market. Played by everyone, from casual fans to Vegas sharps, Superbowl futures involve betting on the eventual winner of the Lombardi trophy. Superbowl futures open during the offseason, when every team will be given odds relative to their expected chance of taking home the Lombardi Trophy. For example, the 2018 season opened with the favorite Patriots at 7/1, the middle of the pack Seahawks at 40/1 and the cellar dwelling Dolphins at 150/1. Exploiting preseason rankings can pay big dividends. For example, a 2017 pre-season bet on eventual Superbowl winner Philadelphia was available at 40/1. OTHER TEAM OUTCOME FUTURES The Superbowl isn’t the only future outcome bettors can wager on. Futures bets can also be made over division titles and conference championships. With some sportsbooks, it is also possible to bet on whether teams will make the playoffs (Y/N) or place an over/under bet on their win totals. Often, these bets will be available throughout the season, at changing odds. PLAYER OUTCOME FUTURES Like prop bets, NFL futures can feature players instead of teams. Unlike props, these future bets will not be confined within one game. An example of a player outcome NFL future bet could be making a pre-season wager on the eventual season long leader in yards from scrimmage or the winner of the AFC defensive player of the year. Player outcome futures don’t have to be confined to an entire season – bettors could also wager on the first to achieve certain milestones or the first rookie QB to win a game. The offerings available will vary greatly depending on the sportsbook. ADVANTAGES OF FUTURES Futures betting is both cost effective and fun, similar to fantasy football. The casual fan can get a lot of bang for their buck by placing a $20 wager on a contender and following them throughout the season. This can make watching football more enjoyable for bettors new to the game. Futures also attract less sharp money, are typically priced fairly and can pay out nicely when they hit. One of the most underrated aspects of futures betting is the bragging rights that come attached to a win. Sure, cashing a 40/1 2017 Eagles Superbowl futures bet feels great, but telling everyone you had the confidence to put money on the Eagles in August feels even better. DISADVANTAGES OF FUTURES The main disadvantage of futures is that they can tie up your money for long stretches of the season, and often don’t pay out that great. If the Patriots would have beaten the Eagles in 2017, the pre-season odds were likely 10/1 – not a bad win by any stretch, but not worth sitting on for six months either. The increasing popularity of in-game prop bets has also cut into the futures market. If you are confident in you powers of prediction and can afford to sit on the money, futures are still a great way to invest in a team or player outperforming expectations.