Where to place your post-draft wagers for team win totals

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The NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror. Rookies don’t usually influence the top teams much, but hitting on a player can make a difference for teams at the bottom of the league.

It makes for lots of clicks, but I never like to ravage or reward teams too much for their picks at this stage of the game. To me the key is whether they got some players in areas of need. Time will tell whether the first edge rusher off the board is more productive than the second, fifth or 10th. 

To give this piece some shape I looked at each regular-season win total tier and tried to identify which team helped itself the most at the draft (just the draft!). Whether that means an extra win or more is hard to see, but maybe there is some value there. Or perhaps there is an opportunity to fade a team that might not have helped itself much as not needed too. 

NFL Win Totals

11.5 Wins
Bills, Buccaneers, Packers

Obviously, at the top of the league, you are looking at teams that already have good rosters. That said, I think the Bills helped themselves the most in this group. Cornerback Kaiir Elam should play right away, and getting the right running back fit (James Cook?) might push them away from running QB Josh Allen so much.

Green Bay did not get a top receiver, which was its biggest need, and Tampa did not even have a first-round pick. 

In this group, Buffalo improved itself the most. It is not just the draft, but I would back the Bills’ over. 

10.5 Wins
Chiefs, Cowboys, Rams

This is such an interesting group of teams. The Rams won it all last season, the Chiefs are always in the mix and the Cowboys are always a disappointment. 

The Rams did not draft until the third round after their trades to go all in last season, while K.C. was in a nice spot drafting for the future thanks to the Tyreek Hill deal. The Chiefs are also the team that improved the most at the draft, getting an edge rusher and a cornerback who probably start for them in September. They have leaned in to relying on their quarterback elevating those around him by adding another speedy receiver for Patrick Mahomes to work with.

The Chiefs definitely improved themselves the most in this group. The AFC West is so tough though that it is hard to see if affecting the total much. 

10 Wins
Chargers, 49ers, Broncos

The Chargers were the only team in this group with a first-round pick, which makes this an interesting group to make comparisons within.

L.A. went with an offensive lineman, which makes sense given the Chargers want to keep the heat off QB Justin Herbert, but I like what Denver did more. I am not going to say the Broncos “drafted” Russell Wilson, but they did give him a speed threat at TE in the third round. I also like edge rusher Nik Bonitto from Oklahoma in the second. The gap between him and those guys drafted a round earlier is not much.

Denver has had a killer offseason, and it had the best draft in this group. Similar to K.C. though the Broncos are in a division where they are just keeping up with the Joneses — no real advantage gained last week. 

9.5 Wins
Bengals, Titans, Colts, Browns, Ravens

This is an interesting group with the Bengals coming off a surprise trip to the Super Bowl in large part due to drafting WR Ja’Marr Chase, who proved quickly to be an elite playmaker. 

In this group, it was one of their rivals that looks like it did the best at the draft though, and sorry, Browns fans, but it was the Ravens that got the best safety in Kyle Hamilton and the best center in Tyler Linderbaum. Even edge rusher David Ojabo has a high ceiling once he is healthy. 

Three years from now Tennessee might be the winner if Malik Willis pops after waiting for a few rounds to hear his name called. 

The AFC North is very crowded, but the Ravens might have helped themselves enough to get an over. 

9 Wins
Cardinals

They win this grouping by default, but there is not much excitement with Arizona right now. There is all that Kyler Murray stuff, and that made for a curious move with their first pick, getting a pass-catching, speedy tight end after extending Zach Ertz in the offseason already. There just seems to be no synergy to the team right now, and the Cardinals need one of the three edge rushers they drafted to pop. 

This is a team I am looking to stay away from. 

8.5 Wins
Patriots, Dolphins, Raiders, Eagles, Vikings

It’s a big group to look at here, but the team that stands out is the one that dealt away a first-rounder on draft night. Philadelphia traded for WR A.J. Brown but still improved itself the most with actual draft picks by getting a couple of players from that elite Georgia defense in DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean. Dean fell big time due to some health concerns, but that makes his upside even better while Davis is a physical marvel who should be better at the NFL level. 

All the other teams have massive question marks from their picks, especially New England. Maybe that first-round offensive lineman turns out, but why draft Bailey Zappe, the QB from Western Kentucky, a year after Mac Jones? He was probably going to be a free agent if the Pats showed more patience. 

Philly is a playoff team that looks a lot better right now. The Eagles would be an over team for me. 

7.5 Wins
Commanders, Steelers, Saints

Quarterback picks always command a lot of attention, even when they are absent. The Steelers were the only team to go QB early, and in Kenny Pickett, they have a player they should be pretty familiar with due to his time at Pitt. Washington also selected a QB, getting Sam Howell from North Carolina, a player who at one time was expected to be the top pick in the whole draft. New Orleans had a couple of first-rounders, but the Sains look to have had the worst draft in the group.

The Steelers get the nod here. I am not sure about Pickett, but he will have a chance to close the gap between them and the other teams in the very competitive AFC North. 

Playing rookie QBs is rarely about winning now so the pick of Pickett leans to an under on the Steelers win total. 

7 Wins
Giants

With just one team here the Giants win, but that should not take away from a very good draft. They should get production from all three of their top picks with edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux a great bet to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year. 

Even though their draft looks good, it is hard to see it moving the needle in terms of wins this season. 

6.5 Wins
Jaguars, Bears, Lions

All of these teams need lots of help. The Jags had the top pick in the draft, and the general consensus is they flubbed it, drafting maybe the least productive top pick in NFL history. Meanwhile, Detroit, which was drafting second, didn’t overthink it and forever we will be comparing Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson. I didn’t love drafting an injured speed receiver next for the Lions just because you never know with injuries.

Detroit improved itself the most in this group, and there is upward mobility for the Lions in the NFC North. It is not my top play, but I can see an over. 

6 Wins
Seahawks, Panthers

Both of these teams are a long way from relevance, but the Panthers did a little more to help themselves in the short term. They might have drafted the best offensive lineman in the class, and they might have found their QB of the future too. The latter (Matt Corral) is unlikely to help them much on the field next season, but it tips the favor to the Panthers from what they did last week. 

Carolina might exceed six wins next season, but it probably won’t be because of the guys the Panthers drafted. They really underperformed last year, and the heat is on. 

5.5 Wins
Falcons, Jets

This one is not really fair with the Jets ultimately having three first-round picks and making smart choices with all of them. Plus, I love RB Breece Hall in the second round. The Falcons took some heat with the choice of WR Drake London so early in the first round. He will put up numbers though, and if Desmond Ridder starts for them down the road this one will even out over time

With three immediate starters, the Jets definitely improved themselves the most. They could be a six-win team. 

5 Wins
Texans

The Texans are moving forward without QB Deshaun Watson. They went with CB Derek Stingley Jr. with their top pick. The corner has a high ceiling, but there are definite worries about his health and consistency. It was a bit of a swing for a team with so many needs. The Texans love their SEC guys for sure. Six of their nine picks played their last season. 

Nothing they did screams immediate improvement so look for the under. 



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