The spread, also referred to as the line or the odds, is always used in our football Play Money
leagues, and is an option for football Pickem
leagues. Our printable Football Pick Sheet
also contains the latest line for NFL and college games (you can also reference our useful NFL Picks Against the Spread
page to see which games are drawing the most attention). When the line is being used, in order to have a correct pick the team you pick must "cover" the line. The favored team is always the team with the negative line. For example, if the line is Denver -4 over Seattle, that means Denver is the favorite and must win by more than 4 points to cover the spread. If Seattle wins, or they lose by less than 4, they cover the spread (so a team can still lose and cover the line if they are the underdog). If Denver wins by exactly 4, its a "push" or a tie. The pick sheet will also have an (F) next to the team that is favored as an additional aid to the player.
How the line is set
The opening line is set Tuesday AM around 4am MST. The lines will periodically update during the week and will stop updating for a game when that game starts. A line for a game will only be updated if it changes by 2 or more points, or if the line was OFF and becomes available. The latest line is always shown on the play money and football pickem pick sheet, as well as our printable football pick sheet
What if I change my picks?
This depends on the configuration options below. A grace period
set to 0 will not allow players to change picks once they have made them (the default is 255 hours, which allows players to change picks up to the league deadline). For fixed lines, the line is the opening line and doesn't change (unless the line was OFF and then becomes available, see below). For variable lines, the line for each picked game is preserved when the re-submission occurs, unless the player picks the opposite team, in which case the most recent line is used. As mentioned above, the line is updated only if it moves by 2 or more points.
What if the line is OFF when I make my pick?
leagues, if the line becomes available before kickoff, then that will be the line the player will be assigned for that game. If the line is still OFF after kickoff, the line becomes 0. So how a player deals with this is simply making their best guess of what the line will be, or check shortly before game time to see if the line posted and decide if they want to change their pick. Lines that are OFF will typically post by at least 15 minutes before game time, but this is not a guarantee.
For Play Money
leagues, you simply cannot pick a game that is OFF (it is grayed out on the Picks sheet).
leagues, if you configure your league to use the spread, you can choose to 1) use the opening line, or 2) use the variable line that may change during the week. The opening lines are set Tuesday morning. For any games that are OFF, the moment the line is available becomes that game's opening line. Some managers like to use just the opening line so that all their players are using the same line. If variable line is used, whenever a player resubmits picks, the line is preserved for the player if they don't change the picked team. Otherwise, the most recent line is used.
The pick grace period
is used to indicate the number of hours after a player makes their picks that they can come back and change the picks (provided a picked game hasn't started or the league deadline isn't past). The default is 255 hours, which means players can always change their picks as long as the league deadline isn't past and the game hasn't started (the value of 255 is treated as infinity, not 255 hours; all other values below 255 are treated as hours).