For the first time, the NFL will be debuting an 18-week season in 2021, meaning that each team will be playing 17 games instead of the usual 16. What this means when looking at win totals is that they are going to be set higher than they have been in previous years. With the additional game, it is more important than ever to dive deep into the schedules and details to find some solid futures plays on win totals.
In this article we will look at a few of the AFC win total futures that are my best bets for the upcoming season using the current lines on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Los Angeles: Over 9.5 (+115 on DraftKings)
Los Angeles is one of my favorite plays this preseason. Not only would I play the over on their win total, but there is also a line on DraftKings Sportsbook with the Chargers to make the playoffs at +105, which I think is a virtual lock.
LA quarterback Justin Herbert had an amazing rookie season and now, with a revamped offensive line and a healthy Austin Ekeler, we expect him to take another step forward in 2021. They only managed seven wins last season but that was with Ekeler dealing with injuries, poor coaching by Anthony Lynn and missing several defensive players. Even with that all stacked against them, most of their losses were only one score games. Los Angeles should grow from that and win some more close games, and they have a great schedule in the second half of the season this year as well.
The season starts with some tough games that will challenge them, but really softens up after the bye week. Even if they get off to a slow start, don’t panic; they will make up the ground we need in the second half with favorable matchups down the stretch, including two against Denver, and games against Cincinnati and Houston all after Thanksgiving.
With a new coaching staff, players returning healthy, and a favorable back end schedule, this team should be an 11 or 12-win team this season to take this play to the bank.
Buffalo: Over 11 (-110 on DraftKings)
Buffalo and their ascending quarterback Josh Allen were one of the best stories of the 2020 NFL season. After adding Stefon Diggs to give Allen a true alpha wide receiver, we saw the QB step up to the elite tier of quarterbacks in the league. The organization just opened the Brinks truck for Josh Allen which will allow him to play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder to prove to the world that he is deserving of the massive payday.
Buffalo also returns most of their key pieces from their 13-win roster, as well as the coaching staff that helped get them there. The schedule is favorable, not only playing the rebuilding teams in their own division twice, but also getting matchups against Houston, Jacksonville, and the NFC South teams with many question marks of their own. The Bills are the favorite to win the division and the second favorite to win the AFC at +500 on DraftKings Sportsbook. I agree with Vegas here and have Buffalo building from last year’s success and finishing atop the AFC East with at least 12 wins this season.
New England: Under 9.5 (-125 on DraftKings)
Betting against Bill Belichick takes some stones, but here we are. The 2021 New England team should be better than the seven-win squad they had last season with the return of a bunch of key defensive players who opted out of the 2020 season. That said, there are still plenty of concerns, particularly on the offensive side which give me reason to believe this team won’t get to double digit wins this season.
The first concern is at the quarterback position. New England drafted Mac Jones but also brought back Cam Newton who is expected to be the starter in Week 1. Cam showed us his ability to still be effective for fantasy football managers with his rushing TD upside, but also showed us that he is a shell of his former self as far as being a starting NFL quarterback. His arm doesn’t look nearly the same as it did in his MVP season, and he struggled to pass with accuracy and any strength last season. New England’s wide receiver group is also extremely questionable, led by new additions Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, neither of which I would consider true number ones. The defense and Belichick’s coaching should be good enough to win them some games, but I see them coming in under the 9.5-win total, winning only 9 games at most.
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