The 2021 MLB season is coming sooner than you'd think, judging by the temperatures we're seeing across the country.
As spring training is right around the corner, FindBet is releasing their initial power rankings for the 2021 season. These rankings will be updated throughout the season; but based on what teams have done since the end of last year, here are where we see all 30 teams standing going into this new campaign.
We have seen some superstar players find new homes this offseason including Nolan Arenado, Blake Snell, and Francisco Lindor, just to name a couple. With some major contenders making moves to put themselves in a position to unseat the Dodgers as the reigning champs, this year is already shaping up to be a hot summer.
Agents for Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Javier Baez upon seeing Fernando Tatis Jr. contract ex… https://t.co/1KPvsMMpOf— Bill Plunkett (@Bill Plunkett)1613613535.0
Let's jump into the power rankings.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
2020: Finished 5th in NL Central (19-41)
The Pirates finished with the worst record in baseball in the 60 game 2020 season. This offseason has seen them ship out starting pitchers, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon along with all-star first baseman Josh Bell. 2021 is not going to be any better for Pirate fans, if anything it's going to be worse.
Monster win total of 104 for the Los Angeles #Dodgers. Meanwhile the poor Pittsburgh #Pirates are below 60. https://t.co/HhQIX1jyx2— . (@.)1613772679.0
29. Baltimore Orioles
2020: Finished 4th in AL East (25-35)
While their record may not indicate as such, Baltimore was in playoff contention for most of 2020, and they received an emotional boost when Trey Mancini returned after his battle with colon cancer. However, the AL East is uber competitive and they were unable to keep pace with the Yankees and Rays.
The biggest of strides into Sarasota. @TreyMancini is back and ready to work. https://t.co/iCpRuWC9ek— Baltimore Orioles 😷 (@Baltimore Orioles 😷)1613924121.0
Jose Igesias, who hit .373 last season was traded to the LA Angels, taking away one of their best hitters from an already baron lineup. Unless the Yankees deal with injuries and we see major regression from Tampa Bay, don't expect Baltimore to climb the division this year.
28. Texas Rangers
2020: Finished 5th in AL West (22-38)
The Rangers sported the league's worst offense in 2020 as their star hitter, Joey Gallo, struggled to return to the form we saw him enjoying prior to his season ending injury in 2019. The Rangers have added Khris Davis and David Dahl to help bolster the lineup, but have also parted ways with Lance Lynn who had been the team's ace before being sent to the White Sox. Texas is expected to be aggressive in shedding contracts as they're in rebuild mode.
i wish i was as happy about anything in my life as Joey Gallo is in this picture at Rangers Spring Training today https://t.co/wyNT6dV36c— kennedi landry (@kennedi landry)1613777853.0
27. Detroit Tigers
2020: Finished 5th in AL Central (23-35)
Detroit is in a tough spot currently as they don't have much talent on their major league roster, and play in a division with three playoff contenders in Minnesota, Cleveland, and the Chicago White Sox. So this year is already written off as a transition season. Detroit does however boast one of the league's best farm systems and the hire of former Astros manager A.J. Hinch, provides them with a leader with championship pedigree to try to mold some of the brightest prospects in baseball.
26. Colorado Rockies
2020: Finished 4th in NL West (26-34)
The Rockies started 2020 on fire opening the year 11-3. They finished the season on a 15-31 stretch which saw them miss the postseason. That promising start and disappointing ending is a perfect comparison to Nolan Arenado's career in Colorado. Not that he as a player was ever a disappointment, but after consistently proving he's one of the best two way players in baseball for nearly a decade, the organization never fully committed to building around him, and now he is a member of the Saint Louis Cardinals after being traded this offseason.
Something tells me that Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Corey Seager and Javier Baez feel the same way. https://t.co/5xlo7HHG1g— Mark Feinsand (@Mark Feinsand)1613616438.0
Expect the Rockies to be shopping Trevor Story before the deadline as well as he will be due a big pay day following this season, and Colorado isn't the kind of team to give their players those paydays.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks
2020: Finished 5th in NL West (25-35)
Finished just a game behind the Rockies last year in the NL West, the Diamondbacks were a team that struggled to find their identity in 2020. Hoping to build on what they saw last year out of Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen, Arizona could at least have a strong enough rotation to keep them competitive in one of baseball's best divisions. That's especially if Madison Bumgarner can get back to form after a tough first season in Arizona.
24. Seattle Mariners
2020: Finished 3rd in AL West (27-33)
Kyle Lewis had his MLB debut for the @Mariners on September 10, 2019, and is the second player to ever have a home… https://t.co/DUITsBbySu— Baseball Beyond (@Baseball Beyond)1613691015.0
Finishing only two games behind the Astros, the Mariners just missed out on a chance to get back to the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades. Seattle has been rejuvenated by outfielder Kyle Lewis who won AL Rookie of the Year with his outstanding performance in 2020. The Mariners also have a deep farm system with talented arms and a platoon of outfielders that could be utilized if need be. If Justus Sheffield can take a step forward this year, we could see the Mariners competing for a playoff spot in 2021.
23. Kansas City Royals
2020: Finished 4th AL Central (26-34)
The Royals face the same uphill climb as the Tigers do in trying to frog leap teams like Cleveland, the White Sox, and the Twins, but the difference between Kansas City and Detroit is that the Royals have been very active this offseason making moves to improve their roster for this season.
Additions include Carlos Santana, Michael Taylor, Andrew Benintendi, and Mike Minor. They aren't splashy moves that garner the attention of national media, but they are solid improvements to a team with a handful of good players returning. The Twins are the closest thing to a favorite in the AL Central, but no team is impervious to being overtaken by an up and coming team like the Royals.
22. Miami Marlins
2020: Finished 2nd in NL East (31-29)
The Marlins shocked the baseball world last year by earning a playoff berth with a roster that could have very easily been confused with that of a double A team. They were lead by their promising young arms in Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and Sixto Sanchez. While the rotation looks to be on the rise, they don't offer much pop in their batting order. Over the course of a longer season we don't expect Miami to be as competitive as what we saw them be in 60 games last year. But out of respect they come in a little higher than maybe what they deserve to to open the 2021 rankings.
21. San Francisco Giants
2020: Finished 3rd in NL West (29-31)
The Giants managed to stay competitive throughout most of the 2020 and just missed the postseason in the waning moments of the season. We'll get to see the return of Buster Posey this year and they added Tommy La Stella who has flashed all-star ability at getting on base, but they don't have much in the way of starting pitching and they play in the NL West with the Dodgers and the Padres. Ouch.
20. Boston Red Sox
2020: Finished 5th in AL East (24-36)
There may not have been a bigger disappointment in Major League Baseball last year than the Red Sox. Everyone knew it was going to be bad after Mookie Betts went to the Dodgers, but they still had guys like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez there to pick up the slack. Even though Martinez had a down year, offense wasn't their problem. Boston's pitching was horrid from their starters to the back end of their bullpen.
Chris Sale putting in the work. #SoxSpring https://t.co/pk0fToQdIL— Red Sox (@Red Sox)1613836042.0
With Chris Sale still recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Sox are going to have to rely on Garrett Richards and Eduardo Rodriguez to keep opponents in check and hopefully allow their offense to win them some more games than they did last year.
19. Cincinnati Reds
2020: Finished 2nd in NL Central (31-29)
The Reds got into the postseason in 2020 behind the three headed monster of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer. The Reds saw Bauer leave in free agency this offseason and they traded closer Raisel Iglesias leaving a few gaping holes in their pitching staff. The Reds offense was poor last year and they haven't added anyone that will help with that matter. The pressure is really going to be on Castillo and Gray to deliver every time they toe the mound in 2021.
18. Chicago Cubs
2020: Finished 1st in NL Central (34-26)
The Cubs went from World Series contender to being a borderline playoff contender in the blink of an eye, and it could get worse after this season. With Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo all playing on expiring contracts, this could be the start of a rebuild depending on what the Cubs front office wants to do.
Jon Lester left to sign with the Washington Nationals and the team traded Yu Darvish to the Padres this offseason. Instead Chicago will send out Zach Davies, Trevor Williams, and Jake Arrieta to headline their new look rotation. Based on the club selling Darvish who has been one of the league's best starters over the past two seasons, we think the Cubs will be sellers before the deadline and a lengthy rebuild is on the horizon.
Good morning. @JArrieta34 is back. https://t.co/dh56g1KnR7— Chicago Cubs (@Chicago Cubs)1613667412.0
17. Oakland Athletics
2020: Finished 1st in AL West (36-24)
Oakland has always managed to shuffle their roster, see budding stars leave, pluck a diamond out of their farm system, and find ways to sneak into the playoffs for years now. Very rarely though have we seen so much turnover in one offseason from the club. Major pieces from the 2020 roster are gone including Kris Davis, Joakim Soria, Marcus Semien, Tommy La Stella, and Liam Hendriks.
That's a lot of players from a team that had championship aspirations coming into 2021. The good news for Oakland is that they saw a down season from Matt Olson last year, and Matt Chapman went down with an injury halfway through the season. If they bounce back in a big way this year it would go a long way in making up for some of the losses they've incurred on their roster.
Some Matt Chapman action via A’s IG account. https://t.co/DXXS4fFgCb— Martín Gallegos (@Martín Gallegos)1613690205.0
They also benefit from playing in a poor division. Depending on what we see out of the Astros, the A's could have little competition for the division pennant.
16. Philadelphia Phillies
2020: Finished 3rd in NL East (28-32)
The Phillies lack of success should be an anomaly. They were 10th in the league in ERA and fifth in runs scored. They let the Marlins sneak up on them and steal second place in the NL East and also a playoff spot. They will see catcher J.T. Realmuto returning along with shortstop Didi Gregorius who are both solid bats in the middle of the order.
This is gold😂😂 congrats on a great career, buddy! @locatejared https://t.co/b7IElUflO6— Jacob Realmuto (@Jacob Realmuto)1613531333.0
Maybe most importantly they added Archie Bradley and Brandon Kintzler to help plug up one of the leakiest bullpens in all of baseball who allowed a 7.06 ERA in 2020, blowing plenty of leads and costing quite a few wins for the squad in 2020.
For the top 15 in the MLB according to FindBet check back on Tuesday Feb. 23 to catch the rest of our opening 2021 MLB power rankings.
It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.