Setting the NFL Draft Odds at Circa Sports
With most betting markets, there’s a perception that sportsbooks oddsmakers simply know more. They have models, or they’re the first to get information. They dictate the market, and the old saying that it’s impossible to beat the house gets repeated over and over. Whether or not that’s true in general can be debated for sure. One time a year where it certainly isn’t true, however, is for the NFL Draft.
Setting the NFL Draft Markets
Nick Bogdanovich was in charge of setting the draft markets for Circa Sports this year. Bogdanovich, a veteran of the industry for nearly 40 years and recently announced as being in the newest class of the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame, started looking at mock drafts in March, and narrowing down the list of markets that Circa could put up and players that they would put numbers on.
“You’re listening to every podcast you can, watching TV and scouring the internet for information,” Bogdanovich explained his process. “I compiled 10 or 11 mock drafts from respectable people and used that to try to come up with a good number.”
While the exercise is tough on its own, there’s another aspect that makes the draft different from most other markets, and that’s the people who bet into it. While it’s certainly changed from the niche event it once was, most casual bettors aren’t betting heavily into the draft, and it tends to be people who truly focus on the draft as an event.
Initial NFL Draft Market for Players
“This is a market that is sharper-specific,” Bogdanovich said. “Once you come up with a number, the sharp guys jump all over it. That makes it tougher on the oddsmaker. It would be a lot easier if the public was more involved.”
The initial markets went up on Friday, April 21. Bogdanovich decided to put draft position numbers on 25 players, plus 5 head-to-head markets on who is drafted first between two players, position totals on the first round as well as a market on the second pick.
Once he put the numbers up, people started betting quickly. “You have to book small, and you have to be ready to move fast,” Bogdanovich explained. While most players stayed at their opening draft position, and the Circa Sports team just moved the juice, there was one notable outlier.
Individual Player Movement
Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy opened at 13.5, with heavy juice on the over. However, even with the juice, people kept betting the over, and the number was raised to 18.5 He is the only player to move. Tennessee OT Darnell Wright also took some heavy over action, and the over moved from -400 to -750.
A number of players saw the juice flip from over to under or vice-versa. Will Anderson moved from a favorite on the under to the over. Jalen Carter eventually moved from over to under. Bijan Robinson, Paris Johnson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Darnell Washington, and Bryan Bresee all also saw considerable movement. However, two players really stuck out as far as tickets taken.
“Bijan Robinson and Darnell Washington have the most action,” Bogdanovich explained. Bijan Robinson is a consensus to be the top running back taken, however, there’s no consensus where he will go. He opened with his position at 12.5, with juice on the over. Eventually, the under money came in, and he stands at the under at -240. “Talent wise you’d think he would go way before. But people don’t like taking running backs early…I’ve seen him go anywhere from 8-20, so 12.5 feels right.”
Darnell Washington is an interesting case. He was originally added to the list because he is a Las Vegas local, having attended Desert Pines high school before going to the University of Georgia. He’s not on every book’s market, but Bogdanovich wanted to include him because of the local connection. He also believes the local connection is why there is so much action on him. He opened at 38.5, with slight juice, -120, to the under. However, despite the fact that there are many who have him mocked in the first round, the money came in on the over. The over currently sits at -190. This also factors into the market for total tight ends in the first round. Set at 2.5, the under opened at -170. It has now moved to -420. That is a market that Bogdanovich had a strong opinion on going in, and moved accordingly after bets started coming in. “I’m shading the under on tight ends. I think Washington falls to the second round.”
The Quarterback Market
Another market that he’s pretty confident in is the quarterbacks taken in the first round. Bogdanovich opened the market at -110 both ways, however, he was shading towards the over. As reports continued to come out and bets came in, he’s continued to move to the over, and it now sits at -175. “I believe in Hooker. I believe he will go in the first round. I’ve been shading over in the quarterback market as much as I can.”
The trickiest part about setting draft markets is simply that it’s all information-based. That information includes intentionally-leaked smokescreens that are false. “Obviously you have to filter it all. Some of it’s good and some of it’s bad,” Bogdanvich said with a sigh. “There’s nothing happening on the field, so you’re always second-guessing yourself. The information may or may not be correct.
Bogdanovich’s biggest hope? Chaos early on. A big trade can change the entire board, and those who thought they had a read on the draft can have their reads completely blown up by a surprising pick or two, and that can be good for the bookmaker.
More NFL Draft Thoughts from Nick Bogdanovich
Order of the quarterbacks: “Forever Stroud and Young were a lock 1-2. Stroud was #1 for a long time. That was a mortal lock 1-2. Now, supposedly, Levis has overtaken Stroud. I don’t know what has happened. They didn’t play any more games, so I don’t understand that. A lot was based on that test.
QB Will Levis: “[Booking] All things Levis was hard. All the early mocks had him way later, and now he’s apparently Joe Namath. I don’t know what to think.”
QB Anthony Richardson: “Richardson is Richardson. Freak athlete, with the highest ceiling. Someone is going to love him.”
All in all, it’s a tough process for Bogdanovich, but one that he’s not planning on stopping any time soon. “It’s not always fun..If you wanted to just put up 2 or 3 players, you’d sleep better at night,” Bogdanovich said. “I’ll keep making the markets as long as people bet them.”
The draft really is the start of football season. Odds will move depending on the draft, the schedule will be released soon, and people will start thinking about fantasy football. Make sure to look at Circa Sports for all your football needs, from betting to parties and more. And once the NFL draft is over, don’t forget to put your bets to the test with the Circa Sports Million and Circa Survivor pro football contests this season.