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One of the keys to successful NFL handicapping is understanding player value. Injuries are way of life in pro football. They happen all the time and no team is going to avoid them.

This article is all about understanding how specific players can impact the odds. More specifically the exact numerical value they are worth on the point spread. As well, as using that information in our handicapping to make wiser bets.

Impact Different Positions Have on NFL Odds & Betting Lines

PositionATS Value
Elite QBs5-7 Pts
Non-Elite QBs3-4 Pts
Off Skill Player0.5-2.5 Pts
Def Player0.5-1 Pts

The data is based on an average NFL season. It’s not to say that one year a player may exceed the position value. It is simply a baseline to go off of.

Quarterbacks have the biggest impact on the lines. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s no secret that the elite at the position give their teams a better chance of winning. Not just the Super Bowl, but on a week to week basis.

As you can see from the chart, elite signal callers on average will impact the odds by 5 to 7 points. You might be thinking only a touchdown? That’s a huge amount when it comes to the sports betting world. Most NFL spreads are less than 7-points.

There’s only a handful of quarterbacks even considered to be in the elite class. Were talking the best of the best. Don’t make the mistake of including above-average QB’s here.

Not to say your run of the mill signal caller isn’t important. In fact, they are going to impact the odds on average a lot more than an elite skill player or defensive player.

How to Figure Out Player Value Using Odds & Line Movement

This is more tricky than you might think. The values given to these players is not always something you can easily see by looking at the odds.

The simplest way to try and gauge a players value is to set a spread for a specific matchup if all things were equal. By that I mean both teams are 100% healthy. Be sure to incorporate home-field advantage into your line.

Once you have that number, you would subtract it from the actual spread on the game. This would tell you how valuable a player is.

For example, let’s use the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Let’s say I think the Packers should be a 7-point favorite if everything was equal (Rodgers isn’t hurt). If the spread on the game is a pick’em, that tells us that Rodgers is worth 7-points.

Just keep in mind that multiple injuries to players who impact the odds will make this a lot more difficult. As I’ll soon explain, you probably just want to get a set player value chart.

Tips for Finding Value Against the Spread Using Player Values

To be able to spot value, you are going to need a set number for each player already in place. There’s some lists out there, but I encourage you to make your own. Just be sure to use common sense and to go off the average values in the chart above.

Also, you don’t need values for every single player. You only want to focus on the players who will impact the odds. Oddsmakers play to the public. They know they are more likely to bet against a team if they are missing a QB or an elite skill player or defensive stud.

They aren’t going to move the line on a game because the starting center has a concussion and won’t play. The thing is, center can be a critical position to an offense’s success. However, the public isn’t lining up to go against a team without their center. Because of this, few at this position will make the line move at all.

One of the common mistakes the public makes it blindly betting against a team because they are minus their starting quarterback. What they overlook is that they aren’t getting any more value in their bet. The odds have already been adjusted for the injury.

This is where you can find value. Let’s say a team is without their starting QB and center. Needless to say, chances are they are going to have a difficult time scoring. A lot more so than if it was the backup QB playing with the starting center.

The odds will likely only be adjusted for the injured quarterback. In this case, that player is worth more than normal, which means you would be getting value on the other team.

This is just one example of finding value. If a team suffers multiple injuries at the same position. While there might not be a drop off from the starters to the backups to adjust the line. There’s usually a noticeable decline from the backups to the guys on the practice squad. The line needs to be adjusted some for this, but it’s not always the case.

You also have to factor in coaching. The Patriots could pull a guy off the street and put him at quarterback and I wouldn’t be surprised if New England covered. That is as long as Bill Belichick is the head coach. Top level coaching can cover up for some big injuries. There also might not be as big a drop off for players in systems that seem to produce no matter who is on the field.

The biggest takeaway from all of this should be that it’s not just the big injuries you should be focusing on. It’s the guys who get hurt that the media doesn’t focus on. I’m confident that if you start factoring in more of the guys on the injury report you don’t know, you will start winning more of your bets.