One Reddit user single-handedly influenced the NFL Draft markets by claiming that Will Levis told people he was going to be selected first overall. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Will Levis: Champion of the Reddit NFL Draft
An anonymous Redditor fooled football fans and sportswriters into believing that Kentucky quarterback Will Levis would be selected by the Carolina Panthers with the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
“SaleAgreeable2834” posted a statement that made it sound like they had inside knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes just two days before the draft. Fans in different states could bet on where players would be picked in the draft, so naturally, their ears were excited to read Mr. or Mrs. Achievable’s post.
The post was sent out around 8am ET without any context or evidence, yet the Levi’s odds went from +4000 to roughly +400 in several major sportsbooks in the space of an hour.
Levis has been the third or fourth best quarterback prospect for most of the construction draft. Ohio State QB Stroud and Alabama QB Bryce Young battled for first place in the EA draft, a race in which Young advanced steadily after the results of a mental awareness test leaked and Stroud scored just 18%. Young, on the other hand, scored a historic 98% (note: the test’s creator said he took the results “with a grain of salt”).
In light of the results, Levis, who supposedly scored 93% on the test, became the favorite to be selected second-ranked by the Houston Texans, but was still behind Young in odds to be first-choice.
DraftKings, Caesars, and FanDuel all reported significant increases in the number of bets
In the hours following the Reddit post, DraftKings, Caesars, and FanDuel all reported a significant increase in the number of bets received for Levis to be the first prospect off the board.
“Once you get that avalanche of bets, it makes a huge shift in the odds,” said Joey Wiesel, the leading Caesars college football trader.
Wiesel revealed that despite the rapid increase in popularity, there had never been huge amounts of betting (at Caesars). The biggest bet they got was $800, which would pay out $32,800 if placed at +4000 odds.
Panthers coach Frank Reich said in a news conference on Tuesday that the organization has made its decision on who it will select as the first pick, but has not disclosed the identity of that player. Karolina met Young, Levi’s, Stroud and Anthony Richardson from Florida over the past months.
Move the needle
Levis and other NFL Draft prospects are still all over the place after the Reddit debacle. In DraftKings, Levis is tied with Stroud at +800 and is far behind Young at -1600 (94.1% implied probability).
BetMGM, which didn’t even have Levis as one of the three candidates to go first overall the morning of Reddit’s reveal, made it the second most likely independent choice at +500. Young Hee -1400, Stroud +2500, Richardson +3000.
FanDuel is all on Young being the first off the plate and having an IS-2000. Levis is +1000, Stroud is +2500, and unlike BetMGM, Richardson is the elusive +7500.
Certainly, production can’t compare between Levis and Young, even Stroud. Reddit’s favorite threw for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions during his final collegiate season. Young fared 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 proven track record of influencing huge financial markets
As silly as it may sound, social media has a proven 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 betting on the stock to lose billions of dollars.
Dogecoin, a “joke” cryptocurrency, helped early investors receive huge payouts after it went viral on social media and saw its stock price skyrocket. New Twitter boss Elon Musk even put the coin’s logo on the Twitter app to support it.
The NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 27.