Week 17 NFL Survivor Strategy: Use It Or Lose It

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor 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.

Week 17 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? (Public Pick % from OfficeFootballPool)

3. Should I save this team for later? Most weeks, this is a very important consideration. However, in Week 17, we can safely ignore this question, as there’s no future to speak of in most pools.

Teams are listed in order of how attractive we think they are as a choice this week in large pools. 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 %
Tier 1: Top Options
Denvervs Kansas City-16.0-1395 / +97088%8.0%
San Franciscovs Arizona-16.5-1200 / +86589%14.8%
Tier 2: Worth A Look
New Englandvs Miami-10.0-520 / +43978%2.9%
Seattlevs St Louis-10.5-608 / +50480%13.2%
Atlantavs Tampa Bay------- / ----76%0.8%
Houstonat Indianapolis-6.5-300 / +25073%0.1%
NY Giantsvs Philadelphia-7.5-347 / +30371%14.8%
San Diegovs Oakland------- / ----73%13.6%
Tier 3: AVOID
Green Bayat Minnesota-3.5-184 / +16665%0.0%
Tennesseevs Jacksonville-4.0-204 / +18364%4.1%
New Orleansvs Carolina-5.5-229 / +20567%13.2%
Washingtonvs Dallas-3.0-180 / +16261%3.1%
Buffalovs NY Jets-3.0-177 / +15960%1.6%
Pittsburghvs Cleveland------- / ----63%8.0%
Chicagoat Detroit-3.0-146 / +13261%1.0%
Baltimoreat Cincinnati-2.5-132 / +12050%0.1%

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), Baltimore Ravens (WIN), Atlanta Falcons (WIN), New England Patriots (WIN), Detroit Lions (LOSS), Pittsburgh Steelers (LOSS), New Orleans Saints (WIN), Denver Broncos (WIN)

Weighing the Options

As you can see in the table above, the teams are essentially just ranked in order of how safe they are, after taking both the sportsbook money lines and the TR odds into account. There are a few minor adjustments for public pick percentage, but nothing very extreme. Let’s touch briefly on each of those:

Seattle Seahawks (vs. St. Louis Rams)
New England Patriots (vs. Miami Dolphins)
Seattle is about 2-3% safer than New England, according to both the Pinnacle lines and our models. However, in large pools where you’re going to be splitting the pot with a lot of other people, your expected value will be slightly higher with New England than with Seattle. An upset of the Seahawks is only a tiny bit less likely than an upset of the Patriots, and the reward is about a 15% boost in your prize share, compared to a 3% boost with a Pats upset.

Houston Texans (at Indianapolis Colts)
New York Giants (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
The betting market rates the Giants as safer than the Texans, but 15% of the public is picking New York, while essentially no one is picking Houston. Combined with the fact our models prefer Houston to New York, that’s enough to bump the Texans ahead by a hair.

New Orleans Saints (vs. Carolina Panthers)
Tennessee Titans (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
Green Bay Packers (at Minnesota Vikings)
Once we get down into Tier 3, public pick rates become a bit more important, as there is actually a good chance of these teams getting picked off. As a result, the New Orleans Saints (13% pick rate) drop below the Packers (0%) and Titans (4%), despite being 2-3% safer.

Preliminary Week 17 NFL Survivor Pick: New York Giants Over Philadelphia Eagles

We’ve already used most Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams, so our decision this week comes down to the New York Giants or the San Diego Chargers.

Our models slightly prefer the Chargers. However, those models do not explicitly take into account “soft factors” like motivation, and this week there ought to be a significant difference in motivation between the two teams.

As of right now, the Giants still have some slim playoff hopes, while the Chargers have been eliminated. Possibly as a result, the money line for the Giants implies they have about 5% higher win odds than our models give them credit for.

That positive evaluation by the betting markets is enough to bump the Giants ahead of the Chargers in terms of safety. The fact that there is no money line available for the Chargers is also a slight black mark, as it introduces some uncertainty into the equation.

Both teams are fairly popular — 15% pick rate for the Giants and 14% for the Chargers — so that’s a wash.

Given that the Giants are rated slightly safer, and there is no line available for the Chargers, our official Week 17 NFL Survivor pick is the New York Giants over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Advice For Smaller Survivor Pools

This is the last week of the season, which means there’s very little difference in strategy between large and small pools. Whereas earlier in the season future value was much more important in large pools than in small ones, now it’s of no concern to either. The most important goal now — especially given the lack of a single super-popular team — is surviving the week.

For most pools, the best pick will be the safest team left available to you, with one minor exception.

Pools With Under 20 People — The main thing to keep in mind in smaller pools is that the public pick percentages we listed in the table probably won’t hold once you’re down under 20 people or so, meaning it may be worth your time to try to forecast who your opponents will be picking In addition, your pick makes up a sizable chunk of the pick rate, so it’s tough to pick a truly unpopular team. You generally want to pick the safest team, but if you can pick a team that is only a few percent riskier, and 10% less popular (based on your opponent pick forecast, NOT on the values listed in the table above … and be sure to include your pick in the percentage!), it’s worth taking on the small additional risk.

Head-to-Head Pools — The pick percentages heads up will always be 50% or 100%. It’s impossible for you to pick an unpopular team, because you are half the pool. In these cases, safety becomes the number one priority. So in head-to-head pools, we generally recommend taking the biggest favorite you have available, no matter who the opponent is picking.

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.
  • If 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.
  • Biz

    I had to have my pick in by Thurs aft so…expecting more of my pool was going w/ SD, I went with Pittsburgh..my next best avail. Think I’m in trouble? Thanks for the blog every week. It’s been extremely helpful!

  • Colin

    You will be fine. As a Browns fan, I can tell you we are starting our #3 QB Thad Lewis and #2 RB.

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

    This late in the season, playing second or third string guys can be pretty common, and definitely screws with our models. So if Colin is right, and CLE is going with some scrubs, PIT is probably not too bad of a pick. We’re just staying away because we have some safer options.

  • Eddie Money

    12 people left in my pool. Assuming everyone picks the safest team they have available this week, it looks like 4 will be on the Seahawks, 2 on the Giants and the other 5 split between San Diego and New Orleans (probably 3-4 on SD). I’ve got the Giants, Chargers and Titans still available. In this scenario, are the Giants still the best pick in terms of EV? I notice you have the Titans in the ‘Avoid’ group this week, but they are my only hope (albeit extremely slim) for not having to split the pot. Is winning it all basically a pipe dream at this point and should I just bite the bullet, pick the Giants and hope for (at best) a 3-way split? Thanks for all your great commentary this year.

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

    Yeah, NYG has the highest EV if that’s the actual pick distribution. They are a few percent higher than TEN, who are a few percent higher than SD.

    If you pick TEN, and are right about the other picks, I have the odds of winning the whole pot at 0.3% … so, yeah basically a pipe dream. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no value in avoiding the popular teams. Every upset increases your share of the pool, so there is some value in TEN being un-picked (that’s why they have more EV than SD).

    As for the AVOID label, that’s for big pools where the pick% is likely to match the values listed in the table. And, it’s more of a shorthand for “it’s not good that you are having to dip this far”.

  • StevenB

    I had to make my pick by Thursday, and I was down to NYG and SD as well. 24 left, out of 1000. Since the pool is based in NY, I guessed that a few more than the norm might go for NYG, so I went with SD. As it turns out, no-one picked NYG, while 5 picked SD (including me). Ooops… Anyway, since no-one picked NYG, I can still root for you to be right. And, go Chargers… and Panthers (12 on NO)… By the way, if people are still left, we go to the playoffs and can pick each team once more. Will you be continuing this column? In any case, thank you very much for a very enjoyable season…

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

    Wow, I’m surprised nobody picked NYG. Did they all use them earlier in the year?

    We haven’t figured out the Survivor plan for the playoffs yet, but I would guess I’ll be posting *something* each week.

  • StevenB

    7 had NYG available. 4 of them picked NO and the other 3 picked SD (I was one of those).

  • AL

    Once the odds for the Chargers come out, at what point with the chargers be a better pick? Do you just go with who has the best money line? it seems strange that there are no odds for the chargers’ game yet, do you know why this typically happens?

  • Anon

    Vegas waits for big injuries (typically QBs) to sort themselves out. In this game that is Carson Palmer fro OAK.

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

    The line itself will affect our model, so I couldn’t tell you what line exactly would make SD the better pick. Given that they have basically even pick percentages, I’d assume if the Chargers line is much higher than the Giants, they’d be a better pick.

  • Cwils

    How does Vick coming back affect Eagles chances on beating Giants? I’m worried about picking Giants instead of Saints because of this.

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

    Well, the betting markets have known for a couple days now that Vick is playing, so I’m assuming this is baked into the money line at this point.

  • Derrick James

    David..thank you for your yearly insight..because of you , i have made it to the end..and I have a choice..Seattle and the Giants.
    I think half remaining have the Seahawks..but should I play the GMen and pray for the upset..or take what I think is a lock , and play the SeaHawks at home , where they are deadly.

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

    Well, I don’t think there is such thing as a lock in the NFL. If half of your pool is really going to be on the Seahawks, then the Giants are definitely the higher EV pick, according to the numbers. Of course, if it’s such a huge pool that you care more about securing any piece of it, rather than maximizing your long term expected value, then SEA is a better pick for you.

  • Derrick James

    true about the lock..but what I am saying is half still have Seattle that they could use..Then again, only 2 of us went Washington last week, so who knows how things will play out.I would rather take a piece of the pie rather than have pie on face, as I cannot trust the Giants ..all year they have been too inconsistant and the last thing I want is Vick to have a banner day , auditioning for a team next year..

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

    Ah, OK, I misunderstood. I thought you meant half would be picking SEA.

    “Then again, only 2 of us went Washington last week, so who knows how things will play out”

    That’s a pretty important point, actually. If your opponents are not easy to predict, just going with the safest pick and hoping the other guys get too cute is a pretty good strategy. Especially if, as you said, you are more concerned with getting any piece of the pie. So I’d go SEA.

  • Sammie

    Thank you David for all of your advice. Because of all your good I advice, I am down to one other opponent and myself.I know this person has picked the Broncos. My only choices are really only the Giants and the Saints. I see you have picked the Giants as well. Just curious as to why you don’t think the Saints are a good pick. A lot of other analysts have picked the Saints to beat Carolina and Giants to lose to Philadelphia because Vick is back and Giants have a long shot of being in the Play offs. Thanks in advance.

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

    The Giants have a higher money line.

  • Steve

    Your insights have been great this season. I too hope that you can continue this into the playoffs. Our league uses them as a tiebreaker where everyone starts from scratch. It would be great to see which playoff teams to pick and which to save for later. Thanks again!

  • Chris

    Debating between NYG and Pit. No Pit line up except on party, which is better than the Giants line so leaning towards the Steelers. Assume both my opponents will be on Settle . If not, one can take pit one can take nyg, so i may as well take the biggest favorite.

    Will keep watching lines I guess.

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

    I think you have the right strategy. I’m not great at forecasting lines, but considering the Steelers were -7 in early lines released 12/18 (before Lewis was named starting QB for CLE), it seems like a safe bet that they’ll be higher than that now … Then again, the Steelers were still alive for the playoffs then, so maybe their lack of motivation (and poor showing last weekend) would counteract the QB news.

  • Chris

    I’m just going to stick with the lines. I can pick right up until 1pm
    EST tomorrow. I think Pitt will have the most favorable line.

    It’s really only between NYG/PIT for me. I’ve already taken SD and all the other more favored teams.

    reasons I also like Pit: Richardson out, Weeden out, 2nd QB out,
    Steelers playing to be .500, Steelers undefeated under Tomlin when they
    have a losing record.

    Those are all subjective reasons, but I
    think they’ll make up a lot of the line, Their average on oddsportal is
    -476 (small sample size), while the Giants are only -336.

  • John

    Pitt is the right call, NYG secondary is dead thin right now and Philly has Vick, McCoy and WR’s back. Pitt is a 10 point favorite right now.

  • Mike Rae

    Question: 7 people left of a pool of 150. NYG is available for 3 teams, SD available for 5 teams, NO available for 4 teams. I have NYG and SD available, and so does a friend of mine. We want to hedge. What is our best strategy? should we each take 1 of them or should we take a Philly/NYG combo or a SD/Oak combo? Interested in your thoughts.

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

    Well, it just depends out how much value you want to give up in exchange for a guarantee of a piece of the pie. Here are my rough estimates of the odds of various outcomes in both scenarios.

    PHI/NYG or SD/OAK: 100% chance of having 1 surviving entry (obviously); average surviving = 1
    NYG/SD: 56% chance of 2 surviving, 38% chance of 1 surviving, 6% chance of 0 surviving; average surviving = 1.5

    So, going with both sides of the same game only increases your chance of having “at least 1” left from 94% to 100%. In exchange you are taking a 33% decrease in your average expected value (from 1.5 to 1).

    NYG/SD is definitely the higher EV option, so *personally* I would only go the both sides route if 1/6 of the prize pool is so large that you will be regretting it many years from now if you lose out on a piece. But this choice is more of a money management and personal risk tolerance choice, so I can’t tell you what’s right for you.

  • KMP

    Need an opinion…I have Chicago, New Orleans, or Tennessee left…..3200 people….12 left…winner take all….My gut says CHI because they have to win and only 1 other guy has them left…..most of the pool will probably be on NO…….thoughts?

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

    Well, you didn’t give me a ton of info to work with here, but if most of the pool is really on NO then I’d avoid them. Out of CHI & TEN, TEN is rated safer by both Vegas and our models, so they would be my pick. … Though it’s only about a 5% difference, so if you think CHI will be much less popular, or you feel very strongly about the CHI pick, I’m not going to try too hard to sway you away from that.

  • KMP

    I think half the pool(6) will take NO….Only 2 people including me has CHI, and a couple guys make take TEnn, but do you really trust Locker/CJ against JAX? I like CHI because of their motivation to win…does that matter to you at all? Playing for the playoffs and possibly Lovie’s job? IF NO is the pick in your humble opinion…thats cool—I just wanna survive—dont care because it is a split if everyone wins tomorrow meaning if all 12 guys pick’s wins—12 people split the poy….Which team are you on more? CHI or NO?

  • ESR

    This is it – going with the Giants on your advice TR – 1 of 18 people left from 5,000 – 16 weeks in a row – glad I didn’t take all of your advice though this year – wouldve been out a few weeks back. $10,000 on the line – LETS GO GIANTS!!!

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

    If you still have San Diego left, I think switching to them may be the right move. Some early lines for that game came out this morning, and SD is listed as a 10 point favorite right now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesm.morck James M Morck



  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesm.morck James M Morck


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

    Hey everybody, quick note — SAN DIEGO IS LISTED AS A 10 POINT FAVORITE in some late lines released Saturday morning. So they look like a better choice than the Giants now.

  • ESR

    Thank you David, I don’t have SD left, so I’m sticking with NYG…

  • TY

    17 people left. I got Seattle, SD, New Orleans that im looking at this week. Simple and short, who do i go with?

  • Jon Jackson


  • Warhol

    Who is the better pick of SD or PITT? SD is -9.5 on vegas insider and PITT is -10 on vegas insider. Clev is starting 3rd string qb and richardson and a starting cb are out. Raiders are starting Pryor. I’m leaning PITT seems like more things in their favor but not sure?

  • Packman

    1318 person pool, 102 teams left. I have NYG, SD and NO as my top available. I’ve already eliminated NO based on factors in your notes above. With the late line for SD being -10.0 and NYG currently at -7.0 who is your suggested pick?

    Love the site and your column.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.ceruzzi Joseph John Ceruzzi


  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.ceruzzi Joseph John Ceruzzi

    1332 9 left ny giants, sd, buffalo, tenn, minn, wash. double pick who’s best

  • Manning jnr

    David – quick one. I am in a 700 person pool – down to 7. I have to double pick – Broncos is my first pick – am left with a choice between Redskins and Titans based on all the other teams i’ve used. Who would you go for out of those two? Thanks for all your advice this season.

  • Manning jnr

    Meant to add – only 3 other people can pick Redskins – everyone has Titans as a pick…

  • Michael

    Thanks David got through and won the pool. Loved your column and the great advice!

  • Greg

    David – will you keep posting survivor advice/tips during the playoffs?

  • psherman

    I’m also interested in whether you’ll continue analysis going into the playoffs. I’m in a pool that still has 11 entries left. Teams reset, so we can pick any team, but only once within the playoffs. Either way, thanks for all of the info you provided us! I don’t think I’d still be in the running if it weren’t for your blog and analysis.

  • StevenB

    Yep, David, I’m in the same position as psherman. I’ve got 13 people left. Same rules. I’ve got to make my pick by Thursday afternoon. So, if you’re so inclined, I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give. If not, thanks for a very enjoyable season.

  • Frank_Elways

    My bet would be Green Bay. They will be road dogs the rest of the way, and this weeks biggest favorite. They will be popular as well though, so maybe Baltimore?

  • StevenB

    Yeah, it looks like the popularity numbers will be about 60% on GB, 20% each on BAL and HOU. Very few on SEA or WAS. I don’t think any of them, except GB has any future value. GB might have a little, but only if they get to the Superbowl. So, using those numbers, and the way that I interpret David’s strategies, I’m guessing that David would say something like “Since HOU and BAL have the same popularity, it comes down to whose safer, and BAL has the edge between those two. GB is a bit safer than BAL, but is MUCH more popular, so our official pick for the Wild Card round is BAL”. My only problem with this is that when I think about it, I think that the BAL ‘safeness’ is a little overstated. I just am not that sure they are going to win. And, I feel REAL confident about GB… However, I’ve been following David’s advice all season, and it’s gotten me where I am, and if he actually does say what I’ve guessed, I’ll go with it… I think… Good luck everyone.

  • Frank_Elways

    David will also factor in the teams chance to win the superbowl, which is the equivalent of future value. So he will say that even though GB has almost twice the chance of making the superbowl (14% to 8% (need to take the juice out, but close enough) than Baltimore, both will be road dogs next week, and therefore neither have significant future value. So this gets us back to Baltimore as the official pick based on your above-stated logic.

  • StevenB

    Popularity has changed a bit from a couple of days ago. It looks like it’s about 50% on GB, 40% on BAL, and 10% on HOU. I think, given these numbers, and updated TR Odds on this site, and my admittedly cursory understanding of David’s calculations.the pick seems to have changed to HOU. The deadline on my pool has changed to tomorrow morning, so we’ll see what happens… Maybe, if I keep sort of quoting what I think David will think, I’ll goad him into making an appearance here, in the cheap seats. But, to all of you who are only paying a little attention, I am NOT David, and the views expressed in my posts are mine and mine alone.

  • Frank_Elways

    Well if you drop the $30, let me know what he says.

  • Frank_Elways

    You should note that the hou money line is now below -200, a place that TR tried to avoid as too risky.

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

    I’m not exactly sure what the plan is. I hope to do *something* today or tomorrow, but can’t make any guarantees.

  • John

    Thanks again for all of your help, cashed another ticket! Thank you so much.

  • jm22508

    Just wanted to say thanks guys for your help this season. I won my pool in week 17 thanks to your help!

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


  • Laura K.

    Thank you, David, for your survivor pool expertise all season (and Tom’s when he filled in for you). It helped me get to where I am now – in an 8-way tie for 1st out of 187 folks. That sounds daunting to me. Our task is to just pick a winner for each of the 4 games this upcoming weekend. I’ll continue to seek your expertise and ask you – who would you pick for each Wild Card game this weekend?

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

    That’s rough. The default picks will obviously just be the Vegas favorites, but that’s also going to be the most popular route. It’s tough to say whether throwing an upset in there is going to be positive EV. It would obviously lower your odds of surviving, but would be more likely to make you the only person with your picks. However, if another opponent or two think just like you, you could end up being on a popular AND riskier set of teams, which would be a terrible outcome. Given that risk, I think I might just go the conservative route and pick the four favorites.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.trainor.18 Kelly Trainor

    Hi David, found you late in the season, thanks for the info. I am one of 5 out of 220 to get to he playoffs, we can pick each team only once, so any ideas would be appreciated. I am thinking Baltimore, i think they will win this week but not next.


    Will you be doing a “playoff” installment?

  • SoCal Sal

    I’ve been following you guys all year and am very impressed with your research. Will you be doing an article for the playoffs as well? Just curious since my pool still has 15 people left!?!?! (yep – that’s right…it’s been a lucky year for us all)

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

    Hey guys, forgot to drop by and post this. The Survivor analysis for the Wild Card round: http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/pickem-forum/#/discussion/33/nfl-playoffs-survivor-analysis-wild-card-round

    The TR brass decided that the Survivor column should be part of the premium package for the playoffs …

  • Dan

    Hi David! Thanks for all your analysis this year! It has improved my picking ability tenfold! I definitely think it would be good for you guys as a business to make these picks a part of the pay system. However, to do this all of a sudden in the end of the season seems like bad business to me! I for one don’t have much of a choice in playoff teams anyway so it would be a waste of money to pay for a subscription now when I could possibly lose this week and your analysis won’t change my pick! It seems a lot more fair to start this at the beginning of a season and announce it ahead of time!

  • Frank_Elways


  • http://www.teamrankings.com TeamRankings.com

    Dan, this is Tom responding, not David. I think it’s a fair point what you said about the suddenness. The reality is we were planning on transitioning our contest advice over to a premium service for a while, and didn’t want to do it during the regular season, but starting with the college bowls we’re moving things over. So the break between the NFL regular season and post-season, when a lot of Survivor pools do end, seemed as good a time as any to me. But you’re right we could have given an earlier heads up.

    Whether it’s worth $19 to you to get our Playoff Survivor analysis given your options is obviously a decision for you to make. If the analysis won’t change your pick, then it seems like the answer is definitely no. On the other hand, if you’d made it this far with our help and there’s a big pot on the line that you’re close to winning and you do have a choice between teams, then I would think that value equation would be quite different.

    Finally, whether you subscribe to this final line of thinking is also up to you, and quite frankly David and don’t fully agree on it. TR is a business, and we invested a ton of time into the Survivor analysis both this year and last. I would say that most people who’ve consumed this information for the past couple seasons would agree it’s a very high quality product and David has done a great job. Overall, TR invests 8-10 hours a week into doing the analysis, writing the posts, and answering questions. At some point, though, we need to start making a return on all that time, and I think the price we’re asking is very fair if you consider it in the context of the value that it delivered over the course of the season.

    We’ve had several comments both this year and last from folks asking to “donate” to TR for all the Survivor help, for example. Rather than have them do that, our response would be, hey, if you want to throw us a bone for the help and get the side benefit of helping us to invest in devoting even more resources to improving our Survivor analysis in the future, the best way to do that is to subscribe — and you get something out of that too.

  • Dan

    Hi Tom, thanks for the reply! My issue was just the suddenness of it and how it wasn’t announced. You guys could have written in last week’s post that the playoffs would be for pay. It seemed rude to do it on the day when people were expecting the same analysis they have been getting! It seemed better business IMO to announce that next season it will turn into a pay for picks system or at least announce it the week before! I had already made my pick this week without waiting to see the analysis due to it being an easy choice between the only 2 teams I have to pick from in the WC round. I still would have looked at the post as it is interesting to me. I look at the weekly posts not to just get the pick but to do my own analysis and learn from the one on here. My pool is different than the normal suicide pool and I pick different teams than on here quite a bit. You are obviously free to charge for the time and work you put into these things and I do believe you should as I would too. Now that the posts cost money everyone has to analyze to see if it is worth paying for the info. For me in the playoffs it is not. That being said I am pretty sure when next season starts up I will most likely subscribe so I can see the posts! See you next season and GL to everyone in the playoffs!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com TeamRankings.com

    Yep, understood. We should have put a note in an earlier week’s post. That was my bad, I thought about it several times but with a bunch of things going on, never actually got it done. OK, hope to see you next year — or better yet for March Madness. :-)

    As I alluded to above, we’re also going to be investing in improving the Survivor related analysis next year as well, which we’re excited about.

  • Ron

    Still 7 remaining in my survivor pool. And everything gets thrown out for the playoffs. From here we have to pick 1 winner per playoff day. So for this weekend, 1 winner Saturday and if there is still more than 1 person left, 1 winner Sunday and the same next week until we have a winner. Based on the spreads and the way my league has picked over the season, I’m thinking most of the people are going to take Green Bay for day 1. I’m really leaning towards taking Houston because of that. Looks like there won’t be any additional input here – oh well, wish me luck.

  • GD

    is this not going to be free this year?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com TeamRankings.com

    GD, thanks for the question. No, our survivor advice is no longer going to be free. We invested a lot of time and effort in our survivor blog column over the last couple years, from developing the analytics behind our picks to answering everyone’s specific questions. It was great to see the audience for the column grow, but it was also getting unsustainable to devote so much time every week to it.

    In addition, we felt that with even greater investment of resources, we could build some truly awesome stuff to help people win survivor pools. So that’s what we’ve done. We spent the past several months doing a lot more analysis into optimal survivor pool strategy, and building out new survivor related tools that go far beyond what we’ve done so far with the blog posts. Once we launch all these new features (soon!), I can promise it’s going to set a whole new bar for survivor analysis. You can check out a preview here:


    We understand that charging for survivor analysis is going to disappoint some of our loyal readers from the last few years who don’t want to pay for our advice. However, at the end of the day, TR is a business and we’ve found that what works best for us is to focus on building unique products and tools that help people win, and selling them to people who are serious enough about these pools to justify paying a bit of money for it.