Will Levis: Reddit NFL Draft hero
An anonymous Redditor bamboozled football fans and sportsbooks into believing that Kentucky quarterback Will Levis was going to be selected by the Carolina Panthers with the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
“SaleAgreeable2834” posted a statement that made it seem as if they had inside knowledge as to what was going on behind the scenes just a couple of days before the draft. Fans in various states can bet on where players will be selected in the draft, so naturally, their ears perked up reading Mr. or Ms. Agreeable’s post.
The post was submitted around 8am ET without any context or evidence, yet Levis’ odds shifted from +4000 to roughly +400 at many major sportsbooks within an hour.
Levis has been the presumptive third or fourth-best quarterback prospect for most of the draft buildup. Ohio State QB CJ Stroud and Alabama QB Bryce Young battled for the top spot in experts’ draft boards, a race in which Young pulled firmly ahead after mental cognition test results leaked and Stroud scored just 18%. Young, on the other hand, recorded a historic 98% (note: the creator of the test said to take the results “with a grain of salt”).
In light of the results, Levis, who supposedly scored an impressive 93% on the test, became the favorite to be selected second by the Houston Texans, but was still well behind Young in odds to be the number one pick.
DraftKings, Caesars and FanDuel all reported significant upticks in the number of bets
In the hours after the Reddit post, DraftKings, Caesars, and FanDuel all reported significant upticks in the number of bets received on Levis to be the first prospect off the board.
“Once you get those flood of bets, it’s going to make a big odds shift,” Caesars college football lead trader Joey Feazel said.
Feazel revealed that despite the rapid increase in popularity, there were no huge sums of money bet (at Caesars). The largest bet they received was for $800, which would pay out $32,800 if placed at +4000 odds.
Panthers coach Frank Reich said at a Tuesday press conference the organization had made its decision as to who it was going to select with the first pick, but did not share who that player was. Carolina met with Young, Levis, Stroud, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson over the past months.
Moving the needle
Odds for Levis and other NFL Draft prospects are still all over the place following the Reddit debacle. On DraftKings, Levis is tied with Stroud at +800 and well behind Young at -1600 (94.1% implied probability).
BetMGM, which did not even have Levis as one of the three favorites to go first overall the morning of the Reddit reveal, has him as the standalone second-most likely option at +500. Young is -1400, Stroud is +2500, and Richardson is +3000.
FanDuel is all-in on Young being the first off the board and has him at -2000. Levis is +1000, Stroud is +2500, and unlike BetMGM, Richardson is a way-off +7500.
Certainly, the production between Levis and Young, even Stroud, is not comparable. The Reddit favorite threw for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions during his final collegiate season. Young was much better with 3,328 yards, 32 touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Stroud racked up 3,688 yards, 41 touchdowns, and six interceptions, and had the second-best quarterback rating in the country.
social media has a track record of influencing huge financial markets
As silly as it may seem, social media has a track record of influencing huge financial markets. In 2021, a group of Redditors banded together to drive GameStop’s stock price through the roof to force those that bet on the stock falling to lose billions of dollars.
Dogecoin, a “joke” cryptocurrency, helped early investors receive massive payouts after it went viral on social media and saw its stock price increase significantly. New Twitter boss Elon Musk even put the coin’s logo on the Twitter app in support.
The NFL Draft starts at 8pm ET on Thursday, April 27.
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