Week 10 NFL Survivor Strategy: Steer Clear Of The Steelers

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor Pools

Welcome to the Week 10 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 last week’s schedule was loaded with close matchups, and made for a stressful Survivor experience, Week 10 features several huge favorites. Even the back up plans this week are safer than our official pick last week.

The narrow lines in Week 9 didn’t translate into as many upsets as expected, however. The biggest was Carolina over Washington, which knocked out a measly 3% of Yahoo contestants.

Of course, that means it was a fine week to roll the dice on a riskier team, which we did with the Seahawks. Seattle pulled away late to finish with a 10-point victory over the Minnesota Vikings, and we’ve survived to pick again.

Will we be taking one of the three double digit favorites this week? Or is there a sleeper pick in Sunday’s field?

Week 10 NFL Survivor Decision Factors

This is the heart of our column, the table showing the factors that influence our weekly Survivor pick decision. For every team, here are the three questions we ask ourselves (and the data in our table that helps us answer them):

1. How likely are they to win? (consensus sportsbook Spread at -110 payout odds, Pinnacle Money Line, and TR Odds from our NFL win picks page)

2. How popular is this team? (Average public Pick % from sites like Yahoo! and OfficeFootballPool)

3. Should I save this team for later? (Future Value: a quick rating created by giving 1 point for a future game with 75%+ win odds and half a point for a game with 65%+ win odds, with only partial credit for games late in the season when teams may be resting players; Near Value: a modified version of Future Value that places more emphasis on near term value and is more relevant to players in very small pools. Both are based on averaging projections from our NFL Survivor Tool [which uses data from only this season] and our NFL Season Projections [which incorporates our preseason team projections].)

Teams are listed in order of how attractive we think they are as a choice this week. They’re also separated into rough tiers. If two teams are in the same tier, you may want to choose among them based on which pros and cons are more important to your particular situation.

TeamOpponentSpreadMoney LineTR OddsPick %Future ValNear Val
Tier 1: Top Options
San Franciscovs St Louis-11.0-530 / +44682%13.3%1.81.8
Baltimorevs Oakland-8.0-325 / +28579%6.5%0.00.0
New Englandvs Buffalo-11.0-540 / +45477%8.5%3.94.9
Tier 2: Worth A Look
Seattlevs NY Jets-6.5-280 / +24872%4.1%1.00.8
Miamivs Tennessee-6.0-250 / +22268%1.9%1.51.4
NY Giantsat Cincinnati-4.0-190 / +17162%0.9%0.90.7
Pittsburghvs Kansas City-12.0-560 / +46879%59.6%2.12.2
Indianapolisat Jacksonville-3.5-172 / +15556%2.6%0.90.8
Tampa Bayvs San Diego-3.0-162 / +14659%0.2%0.70.6
Denverat Carolina-3.5-184 / +16665%1.8%4.55.8
Detroitat Minnesota-2.5-132 / +11254%0.1%0.30.3
Dallasat Philadelphia-1.0-115 / +10454%0.1%0.81.0
Atlantaat New Orleans-2.5-127 / +11552%0.1%1.72.5
Chicagovs Houston-1.0-113 / +10254%0.1%2.32.9

Teams We’ve Already Used (Final Official Picks): Houston Texans (WIN), Cincinnati Bengals (WIN), Dallas Cowboys (WIN), Green Bay Packers (WIN), San Francisco 49ers (WIN), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WIN), Minnesota Vikings (WIN), Chicago Bears (WIN), Seattle Seahawks (WIN)

Previous Wednesday Preliminary Picks: Houston Texans (WIN), New York Giants (WIN), Chicago Bears (WIN), Green Bay Packers (WIN), San Francisco 49ers (WIN), Arizona Cardinals (LOSS), Minnesota Vikings (WIN), Chicago Bears (WIN), Seattle Seahawks (WIN)

Weighing the Options

Please note that the discussion below is designed for people in large pools. In pools with under 25 people left, where the contest may not last all season and where your pick actually changes the pool pick rates to a significant degree, please see the “Advice For Smaller Survivor Pools” section at the end of this article that provides quick strategy tips for smaller pools.

Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Kansas City Chiefs) — The 49ers, Patriots, and Steelers are all huge favorites this week, with around 80%-83% win odds according to a mix of the Vegas lines and our TR Odds. However, there’s an enormous weight hanging around the Steelers’ neck: a ridiculous 60% of the public are picking them. Clearly, in most cases the right move is to STAY AWAY from the Steelers and hope the Chiefs pull an upset and knock out over half your pool.

New England Patriots (vs. Buffalo Bills) — The Patriots are less popular than the Steelers, which is obviously a good thing. However, New England has quite a bit of future value. They may not be the clearly safest pick in any future week, but there are a lot of cases where it looks like they’ll be useful as a Plan B when we need to avoid a super popular team. So, we’d prefer to save the Patriots for later, though they’re certainly not a bad choice.

San Francisco 49ers (vs. St. Louis Rams) — The 49ers are as safe as the Pats and the Steelers, but without the big negatives. Only 13% of the public is picking them, which is an acceptable level given how safe they are. And they don’t have much future value; their easiest remaining game looks like it may come in Week 17 against Arizona, but by that time it’s possible they’ll be resting starters for the playoffs. So, of the three teams in the safest tier, the 49ers look like the best option. Unfortunately, we’ve already used them, so we’ll have to look elsewhere.

Baltimore Ravens (vs. Oakland Raiders) — The drop in money line from the top three teams to Baltimore looks enormous: -540 to -325 is over 200 points, right? But as lines get larger, each additional line point is worth less, on a percentage basis. That drop is only worth about 8% win odds. That’s still significant, but it’s not nearly as important as a move from, say, -340 to -125. That would represent over a 20% decrease in win odds. The point here is that the money line difference between Baltimore and the top tier looks larger than it really is. Combine that with Baltimore’s zero future value, and the fact that our models are pretty high on the Ravens this week, and you’re looking at a pretty attractive pick. They are a bit riskier than the top tier, but you’ll be preserving some flexibility in your picks down the road.

Seattle Seahawks (vs. New York Jets) — Seattle’s profile this week makes them look like a poor man’s Baltimore. Like the Ravens, they’re riskier than the safest few squads, and in return for the risk you get to keep some future value and avoid the most popular team. However, there’s really no upside to taking Seattle rather than Baltimore. They have lower win odds and more future value, and the difference in public pick percentage is negligible. So the Seahawks are an acceptable second or third option, but we prefer Baltimore.

Miami Dolphins (vs. Tennessee Titans) — They look very similar to Seattle, but are a few percentage points riskier, and have a bit more future value. Clearly a step down from the Seahawks.

New York Giants (at Cincinnati Bengals) — Wow, it’s really easy to rank the second tier this week. The Giants are several percent riskier than the Dolphins. They do have less future value, but an extra week of being a borderline option is not enough to take on the additional risk, so the Giants are at the bottom of Tier 2.

The rest of the favorites are even riskier, and there’s no real upside to gambling with them. There are already unpopular teams with little to no future value listed above, so why drop down to Tier 3?

Preliminary Week 10 NFL Survivor Pick: Baltimore Ravens Over Oakland Raiders

In our discussion above, we laid out our reasoning for why the San Francisco 49ers are the best option out of the three huge favorites this week, and why the Baltimore Ravens are the best of the rest. But of these two teams, which is the better pick?

For us, the question is academic, as we’ve already used the 49ers, so we can say up front that the Baltimore Ravens are our preliminary Survivor pick for Week 10 (in medium and large pools). For those of you that have the 49ers left, it’s not such an easy call.

Looking only at this week, New England and San Francisco are the top choices. They offer the best combination of win odds and unpopularity. The only way Baltimore can surpass them is by taking into account future value. New England has quite a bit of it, and we’re pretty comfortable opting for the Ravens rather than the Pats.

However, the 49ers have a bit less value going forward, and what looks like their easiest game comes in Week 17, which is notoriously risky to count on this far in advance, since teams often sit players at the end of the year.

If forced to choose right now, we’d go with the 49ers over the Ravens. Of course, the best move is to wait a few days, if possible. Lines could shift, and public pick rates may swing in one direction or another, and what looks like a cloudy picture now may clear up by the weekend.

Advice For Smaller Survivor Pools

Remember, all the discussion above is designed for large pools, where future value is still very important. Many of you are probably in pools with only a few people left. It’s important to remember that in small pools, the correct strategy can change considerably. Here’s a refresher on key three points about Survivor end-game tactics:

  • It’s less likely that your opponents’ picks will closely mimic the national public picking averages.
  • Future value means less.
  • Resist the urge to play overly conservative just because you’re close to winning.

For an expanded discussion on these points, see the Week 4 NFL Survivor post.

Here is some specific advice for Week 10 for those in smaller pools:

Pools With 10-20 People — Future value is less important here, so the 49ers look like the clear best choice, and the Patriots are neck and neck with the Ravens. Though if one of these teams (or Pittsburgh) looks like they’ll be far less popular than the others, we’d opt for them.

Pools With 3-10 People — If you’re in a very small pool, where you can take some rough guesses about who your opponents will choose, all bets are off. Our picks are made based on the assumption that these public pick percentages roughly match the pick rates in your pool, and that won’t be true for your poolIn very small pools this week, it’s tough to lay out a one size fits all strategy. If your whole pool is split evenly between the three biggest favorites, it might be wise to take Baltimore. But if it looks like one of those safest three will be less popular than the other two, they are likely the best pick.

Head-to-Head Pools — This is a very interesting week for head-to-head pools. Generally, we recommend taking the safest team. But there are three equally large favorites this week (SF, NE, PIT). Generically, out of those three we’d suggest either Pittsburgh or San Francisco, due to their lower future value.

However, there’s another consideration: which teams your opponent has left. If he looks like he may have the upper hand in future weeks because he has better teams left, it’s probably wise to try to pick a different team than him this week. You’d be hoping to win or lose this week (with equal chances of both), rather than waiting for the future (where he has the advantage). On the other hand, if you have the upper hand in the future, you should try to pick the same team as him, so he doesn’t get the chance to win now, and must fight against the odds later.

As always, feel free to ask questions about your specific situation in the comments section. However, please note that the volume has gotten high enough that we can’t commit to giving everyone a detailed answer. But we’re doing our best and can make it work if we all follow a few guidelines:

  • First, please read the “Advice For Smaller Pools” section and see if that answers your question.
  • A lot can change between now and Friday, when we publish our finalized pick. So if your pick isn’t due until Friday or the weekend, please hold off asking questions until Friday.
  • If you do need advice now, and you’re in a small pool, be sure to include information about pool size, who you have available, and who you think your opponents will choose, as those are the key factors in small pools.
  • If you’re in a large pool, please include info on why you think your pool is different than the generic Yahoo! and OFP pools.
Good luck!
  • gus

    i have to pick 2..i have balty left 2x ,pitt left 1x ,new england left 1x,denver 2x,miami 2x
    what 2 would you pick..benn avoiding taking the same team for both picks so far

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Without knowing anything else about your pool (size, opponent tendencies), I’d say BAL & NE.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    No details, so I guess you are in a giant pool? I’d go BAL & NE out of those choices.

  • Vincent

    If I have to make a pick between Miami and Pittsburgh (I have picked every other team mentioned above) in a pool with a little over 30 people left, where only four people have picked the steelers, what should I do? From your article, it seems like you would advocate taking the dolphins in a larger pool, but what do you think I should do at this stage?

  • Vincent

    *only four people have already taken the steelers, probably meaning many people will take them this week

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Assuming PIT is super popular in your pool as they are elsewhwere, Miami will maximize your expected value.

  • GoBlue914

    In a big pool with 300 people left. Still haven’t used teams like NE, HOU, PIT, DEN, MIA, SEA. Double picks start Week 14. I was planning on using the NE this week but should I use a riskier team like MIA and save NE’s future value?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think with future value so important, the right move is probably SEA.

  • Frank_Elways

    With double picks in week 14, you might need Seattle.

  • Bob Sanders

    I’ve already used SF, NE, BALT, and SEA. But, I still have PITT available. Can I assume I should pick one of MIA or NYG? If that’s the case, I think MIA has much more future value. So, I guess NYG it is. Or in my case, is the extra safety in taking PITT more important, given the riskier MIA/NYG alternatives. Thanks

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Without knowing anything about your pool, I’d have to recommend you go by the order from the table I posted.

  • Jen

    I asked VW this question, and I’d like your opinion too please.

    I’m in a multiple strike pool. I have zero strikes, along with two others.
    They started out taking less popular teams, but in the last 4 weeks they have
    been 100% with the public (ATL, NE, GB, SD). I know they will take PITT – my
    question is – does it make sense to take PITT with them? Worse case scenario is
    PITT loses and I still have SF & NE while and they don’t.

  • Greg

    I’m in a similar situation. 6 people left. I have 0 strikes. There is 1 person with 1 strike and I know he will pick PIT. Do I pick PIT to maintain my lead win or lose?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, I think if you have better future teams left, you want to eliminate “coin flip” type situations. It helps to think of a simplified example. If it’s Week 16, and you have a great matchup left in Week 17, while your opponent only has the Chiefs, then you want to pick the same team as him in Week 16, so that he is forced to make that Chiefs pick the next week.

    Of course, that ignores the 1-loss people. The general strategy there is that you’d like to pick the same team as the 1-loss opponents, so that they have no chance to catch up.

    So, given all of the above, I think you should go PIT.

  • Axeman

    In 186 man pool with 80 left in play. Choosing between Baltimore, Pitt & San Fran. All 80 can pick Pitt, 41 can pick San Fran and 27 can pick Baltimore. Based on future value I am leaning towards Baltimore. Questioning whether I should use San Fran or save them for Week 14 against Miami.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Do you have any other reasonable options in Week 14? I don’t think a game vs. Miami is exactly a gimme for SF. I lean SF at this point.

  • Axeman

    If I use San Fran this week, Week 14, I would be looking at Seattle (Home) over Arizona or a reach with Cleveland (Home) over KC.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Those seem like OK alternatives, especially SEA. However, it’s always better to keep your option open, right? I think if you lean BAL, that is a fine pick. The line between SF and BAL is pretty thin.

  • NYJoe

    Hi David, Thanks for all the help so far. I’m in a pool that started out with over 10,000 people in it and is now down to 743, thanks to your advice so far I am one of the 743. Rules are a little different than most pools. Weeks 1-9 you must pick one team, weeks 10-15 you must pick 2 teams and weeks 16-17 you must pick 3.

    So far I have used: Texans, Giants, Bears, Packers, 49ers, Bucs, Vikings, Patriots, and the Lions.

    This week begins the 2 picks, what are your thoughts? I was thinking maybe Baltimore and Miami or Baltimore and Seatle.

    The same people that run this pool stated a second half pool with the same rules, just starting in week 7. This pool started with 1,800+ and is now down to 1,478.

    In the second half pool I have already used: Raiders, Bears, and Packers.

    I usually don’t like picking the same teams in each pool, just incase one loses I don’t get kicked out completely. Any thoughts for the second half pool (again I have to make 2 picks). I was thinking possibly San Fran and New England or maybe San Fran and Pittsburgh. Pick % on this second half pool are much different than the main pool which is similar to Yahoo. Thanks again for all your help.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think BAL & SEA are good for the first pool. And, actually, SF and NE are decent in the second pool. Though picking FOUR teams increases your chances of losing at least once. I’d probably go BAL/SEA and BAL/SF instead. Your chances of getting completely eliminated go up, but so do your chances of both entries surviving.

  • NYJoe

    Thanks David!

  • Marc

    In a pool with over 300 entries remaining and one most likely has to go the distance to win, would it really matter if I pick pitt on Sunday? Isn’t it more about surviving and advancing and saving certain teams based on future value?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Only if you don’t care how much money you win.

    Given that your pool looks like it will last all season … if you pick PIT you’ll be more likely to win a share of the pool than if you pick BAL. But the share you win will *on average* be a lot smaller.

  • Chris

    Easy week for me. Only person in my pool with Baltimore left so it’s a simple decision. Another is the only one with SFO left so I assume he’ll be on them.
    The other 3 will battle it out over PIT/SEA/NWE I imagine.
    It’s possible we’ll all have different picks this week.

    Thanks for the help David, and good luck to everyone! (except those in my pool)

  • MacFirth

    Sorry if I am being a total dork, but when I go back to the week 4 write up, I am not finding the expanded version of the end game tactics mentioned above.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Ooops, thanks for pointing that out. I linked the Friday Week 4 post rather than Wednesday, Here’s the right one: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/week-4-nfl-survivor-strategy-more-than-meets-the-eye-as-usual

  • Tim

    Three left in my pool (started with 52). So far, here are the picks:

    Me: Texans, Bengals, Cowboys, Packers, 49ers, Bucs, Vikings, Bears, Chargers

    #2: Bears, Bengals, Cowboys, Texans, Giants, Falcons, Pats, Packers, Chargers

    #3: Lions, Giants, Bears, Packers, Ravens, Falcon, Vikings, Pats, Texans

    I figure #2 goes with the 49ers or Steelers. #3 probably the same. Do you recommend sticking with the Ravens, or should I take NE since I know neither will take them? Thanks again! You guys rock!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think NE is good in your situation.

  • ron

    5 people remaining in a 60 entry pool. Nobody has used Pittsburgh. Only 1 person can still use SF (not me) and I expect that person to do so. One other team can still use Baltimore – I think its a toss up whether he uses Pitt or Baltimore though. I expect the other 2 people to take Pittsburgh. I am the only person with New England available. But as you wrote in this weeks entry, they have great future value and I’m torn with whether to use them and hope for upsets this week or save them. I guess my other option would be Seattle. Do I save New England or use them since I know nobody else can take them?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Hmm, with 5 people that’s tough. I think I actually lean BAL here. If you end up as the only one on them, it’s enough of a plus to outweigh the negatives (possibly second one on, riskier). But it’s very close. BAL, NE, SEA would be my preference order.

  • Tbone

    I am the only 1 (out of 4) that has Balt & NE left, already used SF.. Which team would I ride? Assuming 2 or 3 on Pitt & 1 or none on SF.

  • Tbone

    Thanks for the research BTW. Love the site!!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think in this case, both NE and BAL are great picks. NE is obviously a bit safer this week, but it’s not a huge margin, so I think going with BAL now and saving NE for later is the right move.

  • Jake

    63 people left in pool, I’ve already used SF and Bal. Do I go with NE or SEA ?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Ooh, tough. … Right now, I lean NE.

  • tampamike37

    Great stuff again. I am 1 of 4 left in my pool. me and 2 others have used NE and Bal. me and 1 other has used san fran. no one has used Pitts. I have also used philly, det, hou, miami, bears and packers. One person left is a steelers fan and might take them, but they have been all over with picks so it is hard to predict. another has not used san fran and has been picking the big favorites lately so i was guess they take san fran. the other person is my wife so i can ask her who she is picking and probably won’t take Pitts. since i have used the favorites i was thinking Indy thursday night since Jax is terrible and i don’t think anyone else would take them, or should i wait and take seattle? do you think seattle a safer pick than Indy this week? thanks for all the help.

  • Scott

    I’m in a double elimination pool with six people left, only one guy guy is perfect; I’m not that person. This pool also has no tiebreaker and will go into the playoffs if necessary.

    So far I’ve picked Bears/Bengals/Cowboys/Texans/49ers/Bucs/Vikings/Titans/Packers

    Of the five other teams, 3 people have used New England, 2 have used Baltimore, 1 has used Seattle, 3 have used the New York Giants.

    I’m leaning Baltimore, but I’m wondering if New England might be a good pick since they have better win odds and 3 of the 5 other people have already used them. If I had to guess, the one owner will pick the 49ers, one will pick Pittsburgh, and the other 3 will split between the Ravens and Patriots.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Hmm, tough. The worst case scenario for picking NE (3rd person on a huge favorite) isn’t nearly as bad as the worst case for picking BAL (4th person on a medium favorite). But BAL does help your flexibility in later weeks.

    I think I lean BAL, but it’s a close one.

  • Scott

    Should I consider Seattle at all since they might go unpicked? Or is the pick definitely Baltimore?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I’d go BAL rather than SEA, as they are both safer *and* have less future value.

  • Kyle

    We are down to 3. One team has SF still and one has Bal. And only one team has used NE so far and none have used Pit. I used SF and Bal so far. If they don’t pick SF and other team on Bal. Which team should I pick if I ill be 2nd team to take them Pit or NE?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I’m not sure I understand the question, but sounds like you’re asking me to assume that 1 opponent will pick NE, and 1 will pick PIT. And you want to know which of those two teams would be better in that case?

    PIT because they have similar win odds but less future value.

  • Steve

    Just to clarify, BAL and PIT have the exact same win odds? I know it says 79% each about with such a huge difference in ML and spread between the two, I am surprised that PIT is not sitting above 80% win odds. Only reason it’s relevant to me is that I am in a pool of 3 and think one will be on NE and the other PIT/BAL and I’d like to go with the safer pick (I don’t have NE or SF left but have both PIT and BAL).

  • Chris

    In terms of Vegas odds PIT has greater win odds. The TeamRankings odds has them at the same.

    I would say PIT is the safer pick.

    But, I would also consider the future value. BAL seems to have none, whereas PIT has a fair bit. In a 3-team league, where PIT’s future value is really only in week 16 and 17, it probably shouldn’t be too strong of a consideration.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Those are our projected win odds from http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl-win-picks/

    I list those as a “second opinion” basically, and suggest taking into account both Vegas and our TR Odds.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Forgot to add that, yes, I think PIT is safer.

  • Guest

    6 left in my pool. Considering SF, NE, BAL. I have PIT available, but so does everyone and I expect at least 2 will take them and maybe even 4 will. I might be only one on NE, but one other has them available. 3 have used SF. If I go BAL, I am guaranteed to be the only one, as everyone else has used them. They scare me a little, having struggled in wins against CLE, KC, DAL. Suggestions?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Being the 2nd one on NE is about equivalent to being the 1st on BAL, looking *only* at immediate value. Being the only one on NE would be a good chunk better. However, you need to consider future value as well, which knocks NE back. I think given the info, I lean BAL, but NE is a good pick as well.

  • Elsner

    So I have SF, NE and BAL available in a pool where you can lose twice (unscathed so far). Who do I go with? Thanks!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Pool size? Number with 0 or 1 losses? General picking trends of the pool? Not knowing this stuff … SF?

  • http://twitter.com/the_acylum Ace Trizzie

    in a pool w/ only 4 left.. every1 has pitts available but all top 3 choices for every1 are used. they’ve been very conservative in the past so i’m assuming they all go pittsburgh this week. since pitts doesnt have much future value either, is it better to stick w/ PIT to fight on another day while not wasting a strong future pick, or go for Seattle and try to win it at all.

  • Tyson

    I used these win percentages for this calculation based on the money lines (85% PIT wins, 73% SEA wins)

    There is a 11% chance SEA wins and PIT loses (73% * (100-85%) . There is a 23% chance that PIT wins and SEA loses. The other cases don’t matter (both win, both lose). The numbers go more in your favor if you use the TR win percentages.

    So if you pick Seattle, 11% of the time you win the whole thing (100% of the pool), 23% of the time you win nothing, and the rest of the time (66%) you either win 25% of the pool or have a 25% chance of winning the pool.

    If you pick Pittsburgh and the rest pick Pittsburgh, you have 25% chance of winning the pool. For Seattle the math looks like this:

    11% * 100% = 11%

    23% * 0% = 0%

    66% * 25% = 16.5%

    So by picking Seattle, you’ll have a 27.5% chance of winning the pool vs. if you stay with Pittsburgh. So that is better.

    The caveat is that what happens if someone else is thinking the same thing? Then it is clearly better to pick Pittsburgh.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Great answer.

  • The_acylum

    What do you think Dave?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    That Tyler had a great answer… Not trying to be flippant here, but not sure what you are asking. I agree with Tyler’s answer, so if there is a specific part of it you want to talk about, feel free to ask.

  • http://twitter.com/the_acylum Ace Trizzie

    i meant, who would you pick, seattle or pittsburgh

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    As Tyler said — if everybody else picks PIT, it’s better to pick SEA, Otherwise it’s better to pick PIT. You need to figure out what your opponents will do and make the appropriate choice. Though it’s probably dangerous to assume you can really know what they’ll do, so I lean PIT.

  • The_acylum

    27.5% of winning vs 25% of winning. What would you do? Saving Pittsburgh for week 12 isn’t a bad idea neither.

  • Tyson

    I’d probably pick Pittsburgh. There’s a > 0 chance that someone else will not pick PIT, and the percentages are so close, I’d go with PIT personally.

  • http://twitter.com/the_acylum Ace Trizzie

    they all picked pittsburgh.

  • http://twitter.com/the_acylum Ace Trizzie

    and we are locked in w/ seattle. go big or go home… let’s go chiefs

  • den

    2 left in pool. I have NE, Balt Sea and Mia available. She has Pitt, Mia available. Assuming she takes Pitt. Is NE the play here? I still have Atl available for future.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, I think NE is the way to go. You don’t want to voluntarily give her the edge this week, especially considering it sounds like she doesn’t have many good teams for future weeks.

  • Krs703

    27 left in a pool that started in WK 8 and could go thru the playoffs. Most of teams seem to be using the big teams and high favs. Does Sea become a better play then SF, Bal, NE and Pitt? I think a lot will be choosing those teams as well.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    You would need to see quite a few people on any of those teams before SEA looked as good. I’d rather be the 3rd or 4th on Baltimore in your pool than the 1st on SEA.

  • StevenB

    I’m in a ‘normal’ pool that started with 1000 and has 60 left. I have NE and BAL left. It seems that you are saying BAL over NE, but that seems to be based mostly on future value. However, it looks like in my pool it will be 10% BAL, and 7% NE. Does that make a difference? Also, are you sure the TR odds are correct. From the money line, it looks like NE would have a greater chance of winning, but in your table above, BAL seems to have the greater chance of winning.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    The TR Odds are the odds from our models, so they will not match the money line.

    Yes, the decision to use BAL rather than NE is based mostly on future value. No, that small change in pick% doesn’t affect much. Both are fine, I still lean BAL.

  • StevenB

    Thank you for the response. BAL it is… I can’t decide which I am enjoying more, playing (and surviving so far) in my pool, or reading this website. Great work, guys!!!

  • Adam

    121 left.. over 50% are taking steelers and double picks start week 12, i have steelers, seahawks, dolphins, colts as options.. Any advice?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Don’t take the Colts, and wait til later to make your pick.

  • Barry

    In my pool starting in week 10 and through week 15 I have to select 2 teams and weeks 16 and 17, 3 teams, any of wich lose and you arre done. So you wind up selectting 27 teams in total. I coludd use any insight you mmay have. I have useed most of your main sellections and have 3 entries out of about 700 (10,000 statred)

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Ouch, that means you need to take every team, almost. In that case, your future value is way different than what I have in the table, as even borderline toss ups may need to be picked at the end. I think you need to take advantage of any chance to use a terrible team. BAL definitely looks like a pick for you, then for the other … wow, who knows. Maybe SEA or TB?

  • http://twitter.com/troyjcopeland Troy Copeland

    im in a pool with around 150 people left. We started with 4000; so far so good. I have already used Balt and SF. I have NE left and Seattle. I feel 80% of the field will go with Balt., do I go with the masses or take the riskier Seattle?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think you may have mixed up some of the team names here, so I don’t know how to answer the question. Generically, I prefer NE over SEA this week.

  • AL

    For small pools (3-10 persons), when you say “But if it looks like one of those safest
    three will be less popular than the other two, they are likely the best pick.”,
    are you referring to the above Tier one picks (SF, Balt, NE) or the top 3 from
    your site’s Week 10 Projections, in which case it would be SF, Pitt, Balt?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    By “safest three” I meant the three biggest money line favorites. (SF/PIT/NE).

  • John

    Do you have any strategies for having to start picking two games for the remainder of the season.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    You’ll need to place an even higher emphasis on future value, and keep a look out for bad teams that actually have decent lines. This week there aren’t any great examples of that, so I’d go BAL for sure, then … I don’t know, maybe SEA or MIA?

  • John

    Hi David, Thanks for all the help so far. I’m in a pool that started out with over 10,000 people in it and is now down to 743, thanks to your advice so far I am one of the 743. Rules are a little different than most pools. Weeks 1-9 you must pick one team, weeks 10-15 you must pick 2 teams and weeks 16-17 you must pick 3.

    I have picked Tampa,NY Giants,Oakland,Green Bay, Detroit,San Diego,Chicago,Minnesota and Baltimore

    I was thinking of San Franciso and Seattle. week twelve looks brutal having two pick two teams that week.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, I think SF and SEA are the two I’d go with as well.

  • Scooter

    24 left. I’ve used SF, but have Pitt and NE available.

    20 other members have Pitt available, 12 have SF available, and 8 have NE available.

    I would normally just take NE this week, but I worry about next week as I don’t have ATL available (and my best options would be Dal over Cle or Den over SD). Should I just take Pitt this week and save NE for next week?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Umm, BAL maybe? If PIT is super popular in your pool, as they are elsewhere, my number one piece of advice is don’t pick them.

  • Barry

    John, looks like we are in the same pool

  • John

    sure does. I only have one pick i see there are four or five who have 6 picks remaining

  • in it to win it

    David – still surviving and need some help to stay surviving! You’ve been a big help the last couple of weeks keeping this alive.

    My picks – HOU / NYG / CHI / BALT / SF / ATL / NE / GB / SD

    His picks – HOU / NYG / CHI / BALT / SF / ATL / NE / GB / DEN

    Since its a head to head matchup, would PITT be my best pick assuming both of us basically have the same picks to this point and no other options to consider since we’ve already used SF/NE.
    Thanks for your help!!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, definitely.

  • Turn & Coughlin

    2300 people to start down to 170. Need to start picking 2 this week. Don’t know everyone’s picks until after the deadline, however most can still pick Pitt, NE, SF, Balt. Does the need to pick 2 change your “stay away from Pitt” advice? Was leaning towards Balt and Pitt, although Oak worries me a little (almost knocked me out vs Atlanta a few weeks back)

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    The need to pick 2 mainly makes me worry more about preserving future value. I guess it does make the public pick % a tad less important, because there are other games that can knock out those 60% on PIT (so that upset isn’t *quite* as value as it would be otherwise). Still, 60% is huge. So out of the three huge money line favorites, they’d be my least favorite to pair with BAL. Would prefer SF.

  • Turn & Coughlin

    looking closer, only 50 left can take Balt, 66 Sf and 98 NE. Almost all have
    Pitt left…

  • Shish

    8 left including myself. Everyone has Pitt left. 4 have Bal left. No one has SF left. No one has NE left.

    I have Bal/Pitt/NE left.

    Is taking NE a no brainer?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, I think you have to here.

  • Tyson

    Can you explain how you get the money lines? Is this the pinnacle site you use? http://www.pinnaclesports.com/League/Football/NFL/1/Lines.aspx

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    That’s Pinnacle, yes, but I grab them from http://www.sbrforum.com/betting-odds/nfl-football/money-line/ where they’re in a more convenient format.

  • James D

    I have 14 left in my pool. I can use BAL, NE, MIA, and Pitt. I definately want to lay off Pitt and 13 of the 14 people left can and probably will take Pitt. Only 2 left can take NE (myself included) and 7 people left can take BAL (myself included). I am not sure if I should roll with BAL or NE. The Pats a have a lot of future value left. Any advice would be apprciated.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    That’s pretty close to a toss up. With 14 people left, I think future value still matters enough to go with BAL.

  • John Anderton

    4 teams left. I am the only one with NE. 3/3 oppnents have PIT and tend to pick most popular team, 2/3 have SF, and only 1/3 has BAL.

    Since I am near end game I am thinking that I won’t want to save NE too long and likely utilize my option to pick them alone in the next three weeks. Is now the time or do you think I should go with the less favored, but fairly sure to pick alone BAL?

    Next week 0/3 have ATL, HOU, CIN. 4/4 have DEN and i am alone with CIN available.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I’d lean BAL but either is a good pick, if all your opponents are on PIT.

  • SanFranShelly

    Love the site! You wanted me to post my question from last week to this week. Down to two. Have a feeling that we both pick Pitt this week. I think I’m at a disadvantage with him having NE next week vs. Indy and I don’t. Assuming he goes Pitt then NE then Denver, am I better off going Pitt vs. KC, Cinncy @ KC, then Denver @ KC, at which point we would have virtually the same teams left? Cinncy scares me. My other option is Balt vs. Oak, then Den vs. SD, then Pitt @ Cleveland. Scary three weeks there, too. Thoughts? My pick locks before tonight’s game, so I’m praying that you respond before that! Thanks!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think your first path sounds a touch safer, plus your second path puts you at a distinct disadvantage in 2 of the weeks, I think (1st & 3rd). So I’d go with PIT.

  • SanFranShelly

    You da man, David! Thanks!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    It appears there are a lot of people asking questions who probably don’t need to make a pick tonight. … I may not get to all of these.

  • Steve

    15 left in my pool, 2 strikes and you’re out. I’m one of 3 with no strikes. I can only guess as to who’s picking who. But only one person has taken Pitt. so I imagine they’ll be popular. I have Pitt, NE, and Balt all available. Should I go more conservative with Pitt or NE, since I have no strikes? Appreciate your thoughts about multiple strike pools.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Multiple strike pools are weird. You actually want to pick the SAME team as the people with more strikes, so that they can’t catch up.

    And then you essentially have a 3-person pool between the no strike entries, where NE might be the ideal choice, but PIT is not bad.

    I think when you consider both of these, PIT is probably the way to go.

  • http://twitter.com/SethLewis37 Seth Lewis

    Out of 900, there are 30 left in my pool, 21 picking PITT, 2 on NE, 1 each on BAL, MIA, SF, and 4 non picks so far. I don’t like picking PITT with the group, but don’t have any of your Tier 1 teams left (found your site too late!) I’m thinking SEA instead of PITT. Thoughts?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yes, for sure go with SEA there. You definitely want to avoid PIT and hope for an upset.

    Hope this reaches you in time!

  • http://twitter.com/Coco_Drila12 CocoDrila

    Hi there again
    Still only 3 in my pool. For the past two weeks I’ve been playing it safe because the game could end at any moment now, but we all have been picking the same teams..not good!

    I still have the Steelers, 49ers, Broncos, Cowboys bla bla bla…These two guys playing against me have used GB, NE (just one of them), Bears, Ravens, Vikings…. I can’t remember much. Last week one of them picked the Lions and he passed…. I don’t know what to do, I was thinking Seahawks? I would rather pick a team that nobody is thinking about while saving the good teams for later on in case this pool becomes a never ending one… What is my best choice this week?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    With 3 people in your pool, you pretty much want to play it safe, UNLESS either

    A) taking a slightly riskier team will help you gain an advantage in future weeks, or
    B) the other two opponents are on one team, and you can take another team that is a bit riskier, but not TOO risky.

    Not sure there’s enough info here to give you more specific advice.

  • http://twitter.com/Coco_Drila12 CocoDrila

    Everybody has PIT AND 49ERS, only one has NE, . Who has more future value? Which team should I pick? I was thinking being risky and picking the Seahawks but I don’t know…

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Future value is listed in the table. Please read the post if you’re going to ask for advice, thanks.

    So, one opponent can pick any of the three top teams, the other can pick SF and PIT. You have SF and PIT. That’s a tough spot, and there’s no real great pick here. Ideally, you want to be on whichever of SF or PIT will NOT be picked by the second guy. I would definitely not go risky, as I said in the previous comment.

  • Guest

    s used Pitt, 15 have used SF, 16 used Balt and 19 NE and I still have
    all 4 left. Won’t know other peoples picks until after the deadline and
    at some point we may have to make double picks, no hard rule here but
    the guy that runs the league has final say. I’m thinking I take SF or
    Balt since they both have low FV. My initial thought is Balt, what do
    you think?


  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, I think given the possible double picks, BAL seems good.

  • Mike

    Not sure what happened there. Sorry.

    One of 24 left in my pool. Nobody has used Pitt, 15 have used SF, 16 used Balt and 19 NE and I still have all 4 left. Won’t know other peoples picks until after the deadline and at some point we may have to make double picks, no hard rule here but the guy that runs the league has final say. I’m thinking I take SF or Balt since they both have low FV. My initial thought is Balt, what do you think?


  • mattsimmons6

    so I a have to pick two teams this week. i am taking Baltimore and choosing between Miami and Pitts. What would you do? love your column by the way!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Depends on pool details (size, opponent pick tendencies, rules like how many teams you need to pick, etc). Without knowing anything else I’d say MIA.

  • mattsimmons6

    Sorry dave we have 142 let down from 2950. Everyone has pitt left and only 43 has NE left, I also have Seattle available also. Should I stick it out with Miami and save Seattle and NE?

  • mattsimmons6

    He normally only have to pick one team a week but on weeks 5,10,15 we have double up

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I would go BAL/SEA then. SEA is slightly safer than MIA this week, and seems to have less future value.


    Hi David – In a pool where you can use the same team as many times as you want. We are down to 3 people form 150. What do you recommend – SF or Pit?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Who do you think your opponents will pick? Basically, this week with 3 people and three very safe teams (SF, PIT, NE), you want to be on the safest team that you think nobody else will pick.

  • BTK

    Hey Dave, 3 left of 94. We all have used NE, myself and one other has used BALT, 1 has used SF. Is it safe to assume the picks would look like this?
    Myself. SF or PITT
    Player 2. BALT or PITT
    Player 3. SF or PITT

    So for me, SF has to be the pick right, as they have the best chance of being the least popular team? Seems like other 2 guys have been playing favorites. However, small part of my gut is telling me STL coming off the bye has the best shot at pulling the upset? Or am I just overanalyzing? BTW, love the site, keep up the great work. Cheers.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, those seem like safe pick assumptions for the other guys. In which case, you are right, SF is the best choice. The only way PIT ends up being a better choice is if neither guy picks them, which seems relatively unlikely. Naively, it’s a 1 in 4 chance, but I would think Player 2 is more likely to pick PIT than BAL, so that lowers the odds. The again, Player 3 may pick SF and Player 2 BAL using the same logic as you, in which case PIT would be the right choice. [head explodes]

  • JOJO

    in a 3 strike leauge, i am only undefeated…7 with one loss… 12 with two loses..I have Pitt and NE and Baltimore avail, who should i go wil

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Since you are the only one with zero losses, all you need to do is hold your lead. That’s a great position to be in, and it means you should actually TRY to pick the popular team — because any time you pick the same team as someone, they can’t gain any ground on you. So, assuming PIT is super popular in your pool, they seem like the clear choice.

  • Mike August

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I have been following your advice for the past 2 years and won the league last year and am 1 of 3 left this year. I am in good shape to repeat again thanks to you! Just wanted to pass along my gratitude!!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Congrats. (knock on wood for this year)

  • Shane

    Dave, I’m in a reverse pool. I used your top picks but have KC and the Jets available. Would you still recommend the Jets taking KC to lose? No pt spreads just need to pick the loser. Help?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Not sure I understand. “Would you still recommend the Jets taking KC to lose?” What does that even mean?

  • Shane

    Sorry I was typing and thinking to fast., ha. Ok, I already used all of your first option pics. So my best bets are either to take KC to lose at PItt or take the Jets to lose at Seattle. I was thinking KC all week until I got your email. What do you think? Thanks!!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    OK, gotcha. It seems like KC probably has a TON of future value, as they are one of the two worst teams in the league, based on my own subjective opinion (along with JAX). So I think I’d go with JAX. It’s not really much of a downgrade in “lose odds” (feels weird to type that), and you preserve all that future KC value.

  • Joe Allan

    Hi Dave. My pool is down to around 150 people. I am leaning taking Pitt this week. I know you think SF is the better choice but I can’t see myself taking Pitt any other week the rest of the way. Their schedule is tough. The easiest game they have is at Cleveland, and that’s not a gimmie.

    Now being that week 13 is really tough I was thinking of saving the niners till then when they travel to St. Louis. I hate taking road teams but I just don’t see any better choices. Do you agree and if not what team would you take in week 13?
    By the way, I can’t take Falcons, Pats, Bears, Packers or Broncos.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Here are the resources I use to check out a team’s future value:

    http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/tools/survivor-predictor/ (uses power ratings based on this season only)

    http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/projections/standings/ (click on a team to see a list of their future win odds on the right side … uses power ratings that include our preseason projections)