NFL Preseason – QB Changes Highlight Depth Charts and Teams Hopes

Preseason Betting Lines and Totals Hinge on QB Playing Time, Depth Charts and Rotations

The handicapping tools that are required for profitable NFL preseason betting are completely different then what you would use for your regular season football handicapping. While preseason football isn’t as intense as regular season action, the competition is still fierce for many players trying to make the team and others working their way into starting spots.

That includes at quarterback, where the #2 and #3 QB’s often get a bulk of the playing time. So evaluating backup quarterbacks is one significant difference than regular season play, as is coach’s philosophies and their intentions from game to game during the preseason.

The sportsbooks’ uncertainty of the games is also evident, as a majority of the games are lined near 3-points. In the first full week of this year’s preseason action, 12 of the 16 games are lined between 2 and 3.5 points. The highest posted total is 37 points, which is well below what you will see during the regular season. That’s because starting quarterbacks play so little during the preseason, and other key players also see less playing time.

Yet as bettors and sportsbooks gear up for football season, there is plenty of interest in preseason play. New additions, rookies and free agents draw interest, and understand that evaluating players for most coaches takes priority of winning. Plenty of storylines as the preseason progresses, but try to tune out the media hype and focus on the strategies and what coaches, players and teams are trying to accomplish.

Another big difference from preseason vs. regular season is there is far less letdown and disappointment from players, except for those that are cut and fail to make the team, and others that suffer injury and are forced out of action. Pro football is a vicious contact sport, and unfortunately many players will suffer injuries during the course of the season. In terms of betting and key numbers, understand that the most common number of 3 is far less important in preseason than during the regular season. That’s because teams attempt the 2-point conversion if down by 1-point in the fourth quarter. That’s a common occurrence, and we’ve already seen it happen during the opening preseason contest in the Hall of Fame game when the Bears went for 2 and failed when trailing 17-16 to the Ravens in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

Preseason Week 4 Totals

One final note regarding totals in the final week 4 preseason games later in August. In the last two preseasons, totals have gone 8-22-2 over/under including 4-12 last season. So 22 of 30 games went under the posted total at the sportsbooks, and two games pushed. All eight of the Green Bay Packers games have gone under the total the last two years during preseason play and quarterback Aaron Rodgers has played just a handful of series. You saw how the Packers struggled last season when star QB Rodgers went down for the season with a shoulder injury in mid-October. Green Bay won just 3 of their remaining 11 games with Rodgers making one late season appearance. The health of players and especially key starters and No. 1 quarterbacks is of most importance to coaches and teams during the preseason. So recognizing QB rotations and finding out as much as possible about potential playing time is a main factor if you’re wagering on preseason contests.

Looking for value in the betting line is always key and something sharp bettors employ when betting numbers, not teams. In preseason contests with more games lined from 1-3.5 points, it becomes imperative that you seek out information and understand the intricacies of preseason football and the variances in betting and results. Consider reducing your risk and amount wagered if you’re betting preseason football, but be willing to ‘up the ante’ and make a stronger play if you feel the information and situation warrants a bigger bet. These games may be meaningless to many observers, but for the players competing for a livelihood and roster spots, and coaches looking to identify the next Dak Prescott or Jimmy Garoppolo, the games are in fact quite important. And if the bookmaker is willing to take the risk by posting a betting line, you can be sure that bettors, and especially professionals, are looking for every edge imaginable in evaluating the games and betting lines.

Quarterback Depth Charts

Here are the 2018 quarterback depth charts for each team. The number in parentheses next to the team is the number of new quarterbacks on the roster compared to 2017. Bold is a new opening week starter.

There are 11 new projected opening week starters from last season. Not included in the 11 are both Andrew Luck (Colts) and Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins), who return to the starting lineup after missing all of last season with injury. Three teams have 4 new QB’s on their roster – Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings.

* = Rookie

2018 NFL Preseason Quarterback Depth Charts
Team QB 1 QB 2 QB 3 QB 4
Arizona (4) Sam Bradford Josh Rosen * Mike Glennon Chad Kanoff *
Atlanta (2) Matt Ryan Matt Schaub Garrett Grayson Kurt Benkert *
Baltimore (2) Joe Flacco Lamar Jackson * Robert Griffin III Josh Woodrum
Buffalo (2) AJ McCarron Josh Allen * Nathan Peterman
Carolina (2) Cam Newton Garrett Gilbert Taylor Heinicke  Kyle Allen *
Chicago (2) Mitch Trubisky Chase Daniel Byler Bray
Cincinnati (2) Andy Dalton Matt Barkley Jeff Driskel Logan Woodside *
Cleveland (4) Tyrod Taylor Baker Mayfield * Drew Stanton Brogan Roback *
Dallas (2) Dak Prescott Cooper Rush Mike White * Dalton Sturm *
Denver (1) Case Keenum Paxton Lynch Chad Kelly
Detroit (1) Matthew Stafford Jake Rudock Matt Cassel
Green Bay (2) Aaron Rodgers Brett Hundley DeShone Kizer Tim Boyle *
Houston (2) Deshaun Watson Brandon Weeden Joe Webb Stephen Morris
Indianapolis (1) Andrew Luck Jacoby Brissett Brad Kaaya  Phillip Walker
Jacksonville (2) Blake Bortles Cody Kessler Tanner Lee *
Kansas City (3) Patrick Mahomes Chad Henne Matt McGloin Chase Litton *
LA Rams (2) Jared Goff Sean Mannion Brandon Allen Luis Perez *
Miami (1) Ryan Tannehill Brock Osweiler David Fales
Minnesota (4) Kirk Cousins Trevor Siemian Kyle Sloter Peter Pujals *
New England (2) Tom Brady Brian Hoyer Danny Etling *
New Orleans (3) Drew Brees Tom Savage Taysom Hill JT Barrett *
NY Giants (3) Eli Manning Davis Webb Kyle Lauletta * Alex Tanney
NY Jets (2) Josh McCown Teddy Bridgewater Sam Darnold *
Oakland (0) Derek Carr Connor Cook EJ Manuel
Philadelphia (2) Carson Wentz Nick Foles Nate Sudfeld Joe Callahan
Pittsburgh (2) Ben Roethlisberger Landry Jones Mason Rudolph * Joshua Dobbs
LA Chargers (2) Philip Rivers Geno Smith Cardale Jones Nic Shimonek *
San Francisco (2) Jimmy Garoppolo CJ Beathard Nick Mullens Jack Heneghan
Seattle (1) Russell Wilson Austin Davis Alex McGough *
Tampa Bay (1) Ryan Fitzpatrick Jameis Winston (susp) Ryan Griffin Austin Allen *
Tennessee (2) Marcus Mariota Blaine Gabbert Luke Falk *
Washington (2) Alex Smith Colt McCoy Kevin Hogan

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Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful handicappers and professionals. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay