2024 NFL Futures: 5 Bets To Make With Schedule Release

2024 NFL Futures: 5 Bets To Make With Schedule Release article feature image

2024 NFL Futures: 5 Bets To Make With Schedule Release

The NFL Draft is over, free agency is mostly in the books, and the 2024 schedule is about to drop.

Soon, it will be time to settle in for the long NFL summer.

Now is not the time to be placing bets on favorites or giving books your money on juiced -125 lines so they can hang onto it for eight months before paying out. There will be many months and so many opportunities ahead to make those bets.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't place any bets right now! It just means we need to be selective, hunting long odds and lines we can't get later when that August buzz hits.

This is the time for long shots — and I do mean long shots, guys 50-to-1 or longer. We're panning for gold here, and if even one or two of these still has legs by mid-October, we'll be cooking.

Be sure to check our latest episode at The Action Network Podcast for these bets and even more long shots!

Kyler Murray, MVP (+6000 BetRivers)

It's hard to find too much of a long shot for MVP. We know how this award works — it goes to an elite quarterback on a team that wins a lot, and that really only leaves so many options.

But why does it feel like everyone's moved on from Kyler Murray as a possible elite quarterback? Murray is a former No. 1 pick and Offensive Rookie of the Year, and the last time he was healthy in 2021, he started the season 7-0 and was the actual MVP betting favorite nearly halfway through the season. Then he got hurt, saw the season fall apart, tore his ACL in 2022 and missed half of the 2023 season to boot.

Now Murray should be fully healthy again, and he steps back into perhaps the most favorable situation of his career. Drew Petzing was a breakout offensive coordinator for the Cardinals and did wonders with precious little talent, and the Cardinals were the league's best rushing team over the back half of the season once Murray and James Conner got healthy. Now add in a true No. 1 target in Marvin Harrison Jr., something Murray's really never had before in the NFL.

In three healthy seasons, Kyler Murray has averaged a 17-game pace of around 4,250 yards and 26 scores passing, plus 650 yards and seven TDs on the ground. Lamar Jackson just put up 3700/24 and 825/5, and he won MVP with those numbers.

Murray is a highlight machine, and he finally has two possible great weapons in Harrison and Petzing. He'll need some help getting wins in a tough division with a defense that's a work in progress, but that might just mean Murray will need to put up big numbers to help his team win a few shootouts.

Fourteen quarterbacks are listed at +2500 or shorter at most books. That includes names like Brock Purdy, Tua Tagovailoa, Matt Stafford and Trevor Lawrence. Murray is just as good a quarterback as those guys, if not better, leading an offense that could be very good — and over twice as long of odds.

Murray could easily be right in that top-five MVP mix six weeks into the season if things get off to a good start in Arizona. At that point, this ticket is more like +1000, not +6000, and now we've got options. Murray is priced about the same as Deshaun Watson and all his baggage, a rookie Caleb Williams, and the guy he replaced, Justin Fields, who may not even play this season.

He's just too talented to be this long a price — and now you see what we're looking for in a long-shot bet.

Zamir White, Most Regular Season Rushing Yards (+5000, BetMGM)

One look at the top odds for Rushing Title tells us this looks like a soft market.

Christian McCaffrey, the favorite, rarely stays healthy all year and is coming off a career campaign. Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry are on new teams and unlikely to see the volume they had in the past. Jonathan Taylor is two years removed from his huge season when he won the crown. Breece Hall is still on his way up. Those are the top odds names, and that tells me this market is crying out for some long-shot values.

Henry, Taylor, and McCaffrey are among the favorites because they won four of the last five rushing titles. The other winner was Josh Jacobs, two seasons ago. He's in Green Bay now, but the guy taking his job with the Raiders is the name we want to bet.

It was clear when Antonio Pierce took over that he wants to coach old-school, smash-mouth football that emphasizes defense, running the football and winning with power. That should continue to be the case with Gardner Minshew little more than a game manager at quarterback.

With Jacobs hurt to end last season, Zamir White stepped into the starting role and ran 84 times for 397 carries over the final four weeks. That's nearly 100 yards a game, and over a 17-game pace, that puts White over 350 carries for 1,687 yards. That's almost exactly the season Jacobs had two years ago when he won the rushing title, and it shows precisely what sort of upside White has in his new role.

The Raiders offensive line is terrific blocking for the run, and with Alexander Mattison the only real name on the depth chart, White should get first crack at a heap of carries — at least 250, maybe over 300. If he looks like The Guy in August, this number will be halved and then some.

This is my favorite long-shot bet on the board.

Jaylen Warren, Most Regular Season Rushing Yards (+10000, BetRivers)

Shall we go back to the well with another bet in the same market?

The only two-time rushing crown winner in the last five years was Derrick Henry. And Henry is priced among the favorites this season, even on a new team.

But what if we fade the guy that ran for all those yards and bet the guy who ran the system that gave him all those opportunities?

That would be Arthur Smith, of course — the new Steelers offensive coordinator. His teams have ranked top three in rushing attempts in three of the last five seasons, and they're ranked top three in rushing yards three times too. The man likes to run the football, and with either Russell Wilson or Justin Fields under center, that should be the case again in 2024.

The Steelers have given Najee Harris 25o to 300 carries in three straight seasons as fans clamor for more touches from Jaylen Warren, and they could finally get their way now that Pittsburgh has declined Harris's fifth-year option and turned things over to new offensive coaches. Harris is at an ugly 3.9 yards per carry for his career, but Warren is at 5.1 YPC.

Warren's a bit undersized and that make it tough to get to 300 carries, but even 250 carries at 5.1 YPC is 1,275 yards and that's enough to contend in this category in today's game. Pittsburgh's run blocking has improved a lot, and if it looks in preseason like Warren will be the guy and not Harris, this is a ticket that could be more like +2000 by Week 1.

Khalil Shakir, Most Regular Season Receiving Yards (+15000, BetRivers)

Our longest bet on the board comes in a market typically dominated by favorites, but it's not unheard of to see a receiver skyrocket up the board, even if just for one season, like receiving yard leaders Josh Gordon (2013) or Brandon Lloyd (2010).

Again, we're looking to the recent past for a hint at some value here. Stefon Diggs led the league in receiving yards just four seasons ago with 1,535, and he was in the mix again in 2023 with 1,429. His four-season average with the Bills was 111 catches for 1,343 yards — and he's gone now, along with Gabe Davis.

That leaves a wide-open Buffalo depth chart at WR. Rookie Keon Coleman was taken at the top of the second round and should be an immediate redzone threat with his size, Curtis Samuel adds depth, and tight ends Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox will see plenty of looks. But don't be surprised if Khalil Shakir becomes the top target in Buffalo.

Shakir leaped from under 25 snaps a game with Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator the start of last season to over 50 snaps a game with Joe Brady at the helm. He was also supremely efficient with his touches, leading all WRs in EPA per target at 0.89, ahead of names like Brandon Aiyuk, CeeDee Lamb, Puka Nacua, and Tyreek Hill in the top 10.

Shakir is almost an exact clone to Diggs by height and weight, and his speed element stretches the field and leaves room for a few 75-yard Josh Allen bombs that could boost this total in a hurry. Could he be a breakout star for the Bills? He's another name that could catch buzz in fantasy circles and could easily climb to something like the +3000 range or shorter by September.

Michael Penix Jr., Most Regular Season Rookie Passing Yards (+8000 DraftKings)

Why not get a little crazy with our final long shot?

Everyone knew Atlanta was the perfect landing spot for a quarterback: three top-10 draft pick weapons in Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Bijan Robinson, a terrific offensive line, and a good new coaching staff. The Falcons are priced as a clear playoff team and expected to have a very good offense — for Kirk Cousins.

If you could bet on Kirk Cousins having more passing yards than the rookie QBs in this class, it would be a no-brainer. Most of the guys may not even start the season, and Cousins would have just as good of odds as Caleb Williams.

So what if Michael Penix Jr. is Atlanta's Opening Day starter, not Cousins?

It sounds absolutely bonkers, but are we sure it is? Remember, this is the team that just drafted Penix even though it already paid Cousins $100 million in guaranteed money not two months prior. It was one of the most shocking draft picks in recent memory and showed just how much the team likes Penix and believes in his future.

What if that future is now?

Again, it sounds crazy, but isn't the team that was crazy enough to spend the No. 8 pick on a 24-year-old Penix also the team that would be bonkers enough to just say screw it and start him from Day One?

If Opening-Day-Starter Penix is something like 30% likely to lead all QBs in passing yards, then this bet is effectively more like 1-in-25 that Atlanta does the unthinkable and sits Cousins to give Penix the reins. Maybe Cousins isn't healthy or reinjures the Achilles. Maybe he gets outplayed in camp.

Maybe Atlanta is just that crazy, crazy enough to spend a top-10 draft pick on Penix and then crazy enough to start him too.

If you found out tomorrow that Penix was going to start for Atlanta, this ticket would be priced around +200 or +250. That means this is basically a lottery ticket on the Falcons doing something absolutely crazy… with Michael Penix… again.

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