Here is a look at the top ten college football teams according to pre-season AP poll for the 2019 college football season:
The idea behind this theory is that we will catch betting value fading these teams, because the casual bettor is going to want to back them. The other idea is that the AP poll is not ranking these teams on a betting strength. Vegas will set numbers, and often disagree with these power rankings, and that is when the public feels like they are getting a great deal, or sure thing. We can recognize those betting patterns to our advantage. I dug deep on this over the last 7 years to see how the pre-season top 10 did overall, and then narrowed it down into different categories where we could really take advantage.
Full Season ATS
2012 - 56-71 ATS (4 out of 10 had winning ATS records)
2013 - 58-62 ATS (4 out of 10 had winning ATS records)
2014 - 64-71 ATS (4 out of 10 had winning ATS records)
2015 - 61-72 ATS (4 out of 10 had winning ATS records)
2016 - 66-63 ATS (4 out of 10 had winning ATS records)
2017 - 70-61 ATS (7 out of 10 had winning ATS records)
2018 - 58-65 ATS (4 out of 10 had winning ATS records)
Overall record was 433-465 ATS which is not a crazy advantage at 48.2%, actually it's very close to the break even win % you need to show a profit if you blindly faded all of these teams. Again, this is just a tool to get us to increase our win % and start looking at the right teams. Ironically until 2017, 60% of the teams on the list had a losing win % ATS, and that trend continued in 2018 when 6 out of the 10 teams again had a losing record against the spread. Take out teams who do well ATS because of coaching or ability to re-load. For instance I would not blindly fade coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Kirby Smart or Dabo Swinney who had winning records ATS despite being in the top 10 in the AP poll. Those 4 coaches had a combined record of 29-20 ATS last year. Take those top tier coaches/programs out of the mix, and the rest of the teams 29-45 ATS, which fading them would get you a 60.8% ATS record. From the Top 10 this year, I would probably add Oklahoma to the mix as they have proven to be a perennial power that reloads and has a top tier coaching staff. The rest of the teams you could probably fade and do really well. Those teams include Ryan Day & Ohio State, Ed Orgeron and LSU, Jim Harbough and Michigan, Dan Mullen & Florida (although I would be careful here) as I do consider Mullen a top tier coach, Brian Kelly and the always highly touted Notre Dame, and Tom Herman and Texas. I would not advise fading Tom Herman in the under dog role where he has done really well. This is the first year Herman is getting pre-season hype with this Texas team, and it may be a great year to fade him as he should be in the favorite role for most of the season. I especially like the idea of fading these teams as home favorites where the lines seem to always be inflated.
Home Favorites ATS
Over the past 7 years, home favorites have gone 203-237 ATS which is right around 54% if you fade them blindly.
Away Favorites ATS
123-134 ATS which is too close to 50%, and you will see that these teams often step up in this situation, especially the ones with good coaches.
1st 3 Games ATS
If you blindly fade the pre-season top 10 in their first 3 games you would hit 56% ATS. Early in the season is the best time to fade these teams, because once they lose or once Vegas has better numbers on them the line is sharper. 6 of the last 7 seasons had a losing record, and when we take out 2017 18-11 ATS anomaly the stats are overwhelming with a record of ast years 18-11 ATS anomaly the stats are overwhelming with a record of 73-101 ATS for a 58% ATS record just for fading the top 10 in their first 3 games. The record was even better when they were playing a non power 5 school.
Overall out of a total of 70 teams only 28 had a winning record ATS in their first 3 games of the season, Again, we could look at the teams playing non-power 5 schools and those with coaches who are either inexperienced or not very good ATS early in the season or with extra time to prepare. There are a lot factors to consider, but it gives us a good idea of which teams in 2019 to go after.
1st 3 Games vs. POWER 5 ATS - 96-101 ATS