Welcome to our weekly post on NFL survivor pools, where we recap the previous week and list a few teams you should definitely avoid this week if your goal is to win your pool.
Week 1 Recap
For a while it looked like chaos would rule in Week 1. The most popular pick, the Eagles at 44%, were down 17-0 at halftime to the lowly Jaguars before ultimately winning. And the second most popular pick, the Bears at 19%, did lose to the Bills in overtime. So including some of the other upsets, over 70% of survivor players were nearly eliminated in Week 1!
The actual value ended up being only 28%, but that’s still a very good week…provided you didn’t pick one of those losing teams, of course.
Weeks like Week 1 serve as great examples of why mathematically optimal survivor strategy, which drives our recommended picks, often advocates avoiding the most popular teams — even if they have higher win odds (Philadelphia) and/or less future value (both Philly and Chicago) than the team you choose.
If you survived Week 1, your surviving entries just had their expected share of the prize pool go up by almost 40%, assuming an equal split among all surviving entries. If the Eagles had lost as well, the expected share for your surviving entries would have more than tripled.
Note: This post is taken from our NFL Survivor Pools product, which includes our picks, analysis, and tools for survivor/eliminator style contests. We’re posting it on the blog to provide an example of the depth of Survivor pool analysis we do. If you like what you see, we invite you to check out the full product.
A Quick Refresher Course on Survivor Strategy
A quick review of our picking methodology is in order since it’s Week 1. Our goal is to maximize your expected winnings in your survivor pool. We assume your #1 goal is winning your pool — not just surviving for a certain number of weeks so you can tell your friends you made it that long.
Maximizing your odds to win your pool most often requires a slightly riskier picking strategy than most of your opponents will use. In most weeks, we’re looking to avoid the most popular public pick in favor of a less picked team, and rooting for an upset to take out a large percentage of your pool competitors.
Here’s a quick rundown on upgrades we made to our NFL Survivor Pool picks product this summer.
Before we dive in, it’s worth noting what happened to us in survivor last season. After ripping off a 29-week survivor win streak across the two previous two seasons, we hit a bit of rough patch during the first few weeks of 2013. This was especially frustrating for two reasons:
- Our analysis was sound, but our luck was bad. The teams our survivor algorithms categorized as “Top Options” and “Worth A Look” during Week 1 and Week 2 of 2013 won even more often than we expected. Combined, those teams went 13-3 compared to an expected 11-5 based on our pre-game win odds. Unfortunately, we just happened to settle on two of the losers as our Week 1 and Week 2 picks for people playing one entry in a pool.
- The rest of the season went fine. Toward the end of last season we began hearing from customers who, despite our rocky start, were still cashing in their survivor pools. These were people who played three, four, or more entries in their pools, which is often a good idea for survivor, especially in larger contests. They had lost entries early on, but stuck with our analysis and still ended up profiting.
We spent the summer figuring out how to dominate football pick’ems and NFL survivor pools.
This post is going to explain what we did and why we did it.
And why you’re missing out if you don’t pay attention.
If you hate to read and just want to cut to the chase, here are the links to sign up for our groundbreaking new picks and analysis packages for football pools:
Welcome to the Week 17 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data.
As the season progresses, Survivor pool elimination rates usually increase. People use up all the good teams at the beginning of the year, and their choices over the last few weeks become more difficult.
Week 16 bucked that trend, as over 98% of Yahoo! contestants survived. It was the second safest week of the season, behind Week 11. Our pick, the Denver Broncos, breezed past the Cleveland Browns by a 34-12 score.
We’re now entering the final week of the season. The decision-making process becomes much simpler this week, as there is no future value to consider. If you’ve got a big favorite available, it’s now or never.
Well, it’s December 21st, and there have been no signs of an alpacalypse (though it may feel differently if your $200K Survivor prize pool was just seized by the feds). That means you still need to make a Survivor pick this week.
There have been quite a few shifts in the money lines and win odds since Wednesday. If, like us, you’ve still got one last trump card that you’re using this week, then those changes probably won’t make a big difference to you.
On the other hand, if you’re dipping into the Tier 2 pot, you’ll probably want to pay close attention.
Welcome to the Week 16 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data. This article presents our preliminary Survivor pick of the week; we publish our final, official pick on Fridays.
While the Miami Dolphins’ victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15 advanced over half of Survivor contests on to Week 16, the next most popular team, the Detroit Lions, couldn’t manage a win in Arizona. Their loss knocked out around one fifth of the public.
Our pick, the New Orleans Saints, laid a 41-0 whipping on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That ends our two-week losing streak and gets us back in black for the close of the regular season.
This week’s choice is probably obvious to those of you who have been following the blog all season, but let’s review the data before we make it official.
One of our Tier 1 picks, the Cincinnati Bengals, took care of business on Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bengals were picked by only about 4% of Survivor contestants, so the end result probably had little impact on your pool, unless you had Cincy available and are now through to Week 16.
As far as the rest of the Survivor landscape, a couple line shifts have led to a slight re-ordering of our top Tier 2 teams, but there have been no high impact movements. Let’s review.
Welcome to the Week 15 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data. This article presents our preliminary Survivor pick of the week; we publish our final, official pick on Fridays.
When it rains, it pours.
After our 29-game regular season winning streak came to a close last week, we’re now on a 2-game losing streak. Hopefully we’re getting all the bad mojo out of our system now, in one big burst.
Do we regret switching off our Wednesday pick of Cleveland? Well, based on the results, sure, a little. But given the closing lines (-350 for the Steelers, -305 for the Browns), Pittsburgh still seems like the smarter choice. Sometimes you make the right choice and get the wrong result.
And there is one silver lining here. Given that we were going to lose in Week 14 anyway, we can stop kicking ourselves over flipping the Week 13 pick from Denver to Detroit.
For those of you who survived, Week 14 was a fairly uneventful week. There were several minor upsets, but none knocked out more than a few percent of the public. Overall 13% of your opponents likely bit the dust, slightly boosting your chunk of the pie.
As expected, the Broncos took care of business on Thursday against the Raiders, advancing about 7% of the public on to Week 15. Though it would have been nice to be in that group, or for Denver to have taken a surprise loss, at least their win means another 7% of our opponents won’t be able to take them in Week 16.
As for our official pick, it looks like we’re going to be flipping it for the second week in a row, and the third time this year. The first time we flipped, our original pick lost while our new pick won. The second time, our original pick won while our new pick lost. Let’s hope this time we get a repeat of the former … or even a “both win” scenario.