How NFL Draft Is Becoming First Overall Pick For Sports-Starved Betting Public

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NFL Draft

US sportsbook operators have seen a flood of NFL Draft bets, as sports-starved bettors look for a return to normalcy.

DraftKings told LSR that handle on the draft already surpassed 2019, more than a week out from the first round on April 23.

“To put that in context, over 90% of NFL Draft betting last year was done in the 10 days leading up to the event,” said DraftKings spokesperson Parker Winslow. So, we’ve eclipsed last year handle-wise, without the real push that comes leading up to the draft.”

It’s a similar story over at PointsBet, with the operator predicting something in the range of 2.5 times last year’s numbers.

The Colorado-based firm said it expected NFL betting handle to be in the range of a typical standalone NFL game like Monday Night Football.

Fox Bet said industry turnover on this year’s draft should exceed $2 million, which would be up 4-5 times relative to last year.

What NFL Draft props are people betting?

FanDuel reported that Tua Tagovailoa was driving the most interest among bettors. The firm’s most popular market by bet-count is on which team will draft the Alabama quarterback.

Here’s the full top five:  

  1. Team to draft Tua Tagovailoa
  2. No. 1 overall pick
  3. First draft pick by NY Giants
  4. Top WR drafted
  5. First three picks, exact order

Over at DraftKings, the most popular bet is the first three picks trifecta, with most bettors anticipating:

  1. LSU QB Joe Burrow
  2. Ohio State DE Chase Young
  3. Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah

Virtual draft, real betting interest

In the absence of other major sports during the coronavirus pandemic, operators have also poured more time and resources into the draft. DraftKings, for instance, expanded its offering from 46 distinct markets last year to 130 this time around.

The betting activity is expected to mirror “record” interest and viewership, with fans starved of real sports content. The event will be held virtually, hosted by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his Westchester, NY, basement. 

The telecast will be shown on NFL Network, ESPN and ABC. The draft might not be quite as good as a game itself.

But this year, at least, it might be bet like one.