College basketball gasped last Wednesday night when Zion Williamson of Duke injured his knee against North Carolina. You know how gasped louder? Bettors with big investments on Duke to win the National Championship!
Injuries are a part of the game…whatever game you’re talking about. And, that means they have to be part of your consideration when betting futures. You can’t just assume that your team is going to maintain perfect health. When you see a price like 2/1, 8/1, or 20/1, part of the “probability” you’re dealing with involves the health of key players.
There’s a chance that another star on a college basketball superpower is going to get hurt in the next month…or Steph, or LeBron, or Giannis between now and the NBA postseason…or a Cy Young candidate during the baseball season…or a star quarterback next season.
On relative “longshots” it can be even more of an issue. Can any of those 25/1, 50/1, or 100/1 plays survive an injury to their best player? At least championship contenders have depth! Longshots usually don’t.
VSiN has talked often about why it’s best to avoid the futures board. You’re typically not getting paid anywhere near true odds anyway. If you just wait until the postseason, a “rolling parlay” through the brackets often pays off even better than past futures prices would have.
The reality of injuries drives that point home further. The more information you have, the better! Early in a season, you can only guess about the long-term health of the team you’re considering and it’s biggest threats. When the postseason arrives, it’s a much clearer picture (granting that injuries can still happen in the playoffs).
When thinking long term, whether it’s for futures prices or early in a postseason when you’re pondering “rolling parlay” nominees, consider focusing on the issues of “fragility” and “versatility.”
*Avoid teams who are over-reliant on one key player, who have a clear weakness that can be exploited by smart opponents in high stakes situations, or who have shown a history of crumbling under pressure. These teams are fragile, making it tougher to run the table through a postseason. Why purchase a vase that’s about to break?
*Consider solid but unheralded options possessing a depth of skill sets that can compete versus any challenge, particularly if they have a past history of postseason success. Basketball teams who can score inside or out, football teams who can move the ball in the air or on the ground, baseball teams with a balance of quality pitching and hitting.
The public tends to bet on superstars, which warps prices on teams who are over-reliant on a big-name player. The public is less excited about team depth and versatility, which can at least create some friendlier prices on the futures board or with rolling parlay options.
Bad injury luck is going to happen. Guard against that reality by looking for deep teams with versatile skill sets at value prices.
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