Week 8 NFL Survivor Strategy: Which NFC North Team Should You Pick?

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor Pools

Welcome to the Week 8 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.

Well, Week 7 was fairly uneventful.

The Jets almost knocked out the 33% of our opponents who chose New England, but ended up falling in overtime. In the final tally, twelve out of thirteen favorites won in Week 7, resulting in only 2.5% of Yahoo! contestants being eliminated. We’re happy we saved New England for later; we’d definitely miss them more than we will Minnesota.

This week, Green Bay is far and away the safest pick of the week. And, of course, they have the popularity to match. Is it finally time to join the crowd, or is there a good alternative to the Packers this week?

Let’s check out the data.

Week 8 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: the estimated number of future games where the team is expected to have win odds of 75%+, 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]. 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.)

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
Chicagovs Carolina-7.5-375 / +32678%15.6%0.51.0
Minnesotavs Tampa Bay-6.5-275 / +24472%10.0%0.00.0
San Franciscoat Arizona-6.5-280 / +24872%2.3%0.51.0
Tier 2: Worth A Look
Green Bayvs Jacksonville-13.0---- / ----88%56.7%2.52.5
New Englandat St Louis-7.0-305 / +26974%5.3%3.33.3
Denvervs New Orleans-6.0-257 / +22869%1.4%2.51.1
Tennesseevs Indianapolis-3.5-185 / +16659%1.1%0.00.0
Pittsburghvs Washington-4.5-218 / +19566%1.0%1.52.1
NY Giantsat Dallas-2.0-124 / +11255%0.2%1.82.2
Philadelphiavs Atlanta-2.5-136 / +12355%0.1%0.50.5
Kansas Cityvs Oakland-2.0-118 / +10754%0.2%0.00.0
Detroitvs Seattle-2.5-124 / +11250%0.3%0.00.0
NY Jetsvs Miami-2.5-126 / +11445%0.9%0.00.0
San Diegoat Cleveland-2.5-136 / +12348%3.7%1.82.2

Teams We Already Picked (Final 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)

Teams We Already Picked (Wednesday 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)

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.

Chicago Bears (vs. Carolina Panthers) — The Bears have a pretty solid lead over New England in the race for the second safest team of the week behind Green Bay’s near-lock. They also don’t have a ton of future value. There are a few weeks where they could be a borderline choice if you’re in a tough spot, but nothing that really stands out as a gimme. Their main negative is that they are the second most popular team of the week, at about a 16% pick rate. But that level of popularity is an acceptable trade off, so we think at this point Chicago looks like the best choice in nearly all pool sizes.

Minnesota Vikings (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers) — The Vikings are definitely a step below the Bears in terms of safety, but they partly make up for it by being slightly less popular and having less future value. We prefer the Bears, but the Vikings are a reasonable alternative.

San Francisco 49ers (at Arizona Cardinals) — The risk profile for the 49ers is almost identical to Minnesota’s. The difference between the two options is that San Francisco is less popular, but has more future value. The difference between 10% and 2% popularity is less important than preserving SF as a backup option in Weeks 10, 14, and 17, so we slightly prefer the Vikings. Either way, both teams are a clear notch below the Bears.

Green Bay Packers (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) — Ordinarily, a 57% public pick rate would send us running for the hills. However, the Packers are huge favorites compared to all other teams this week. So huge, in fact, that their immediate expected value is nearly on par with Chicago. In other words, the normal strategy of avoiding a very public team in the hopes they get upset is not as important this week, because the odds of a Packers upset are so low. However, we still have to account for Green Bay’s future value, which is much higher than any of the Tier 1 teams. If future value doesn’t matter in your situation, then the Packers are a decent pick. For most pools, however, we recommend saving the Packers for a week when they are less popular. We’ve already used them in Week 4, anyway.

New England Patriots (at St. Louis Rams) — The Pats are the third-safest team of the week, and aren’t very popular (5%). However, they have tons of future value, so in most pools it seems silly to use New England this week when Chicago, Minnesota, and San Francisco are all roughly as safe but have less future value. That said, in very small pools where future value is of little importance, it’s worth considering them as a safe-but-unpopular pick.

Tennessee Titans (vs. Indianapolis Colts) — The Titans are way too risky for most people to consider. However, in some cases you really need to preserve future value; perhaps your season extends into the playoffs, or perhaps you are in a pool where season wins is a tiebreaker, and you need to take a big risk in order to gain some ground. Basically, if you need to pick a bad team off the junk pile, cross your fingers, and hope for a win, then our preference would be to try it with the Titans. Otherwise, stay away. Out of all the teams with losing records, the Titans seem like the safest option this week.

Denver Broncos (vs. New Orleans Saints) — In most pools, the Broncos are a bad pick. There are safer teams with less future value that aren’t super popular. However, the future value of the Broncos is very heavily back-loaded. Their easiest games are in Week 16 (vs. CLE) and 17 (vs. KC). So if you are in a small pool where it’s unlikely that the final two weeks will matter, Denver looks like an acceptable option. They’re still a cut below the top tier, but they’re basically on par with Green Bay at the top of Tier 2.

Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Washington Redskins) — The only real strength of Pittsburgh’s profile this week is that they are not very popular (1%). However, there’s a good reason for that, as the Steelers are pretty risky compared to the top options this week, and also have some future value. We’d avoid taking Pittsburgh this week, unless your hand is forced.

The rest of the teams have spreads and money lines low enough that we can dismiss them with barely a second thought.

Preliminary Week 8 NFL Survivor Pick: Chicago Bears Over Carolina Panthers

This week, the decision is pretty clear cut.

  • Green Bay is easily the safest option of the week, but with such high popularity (56%) and so much future value, we recommend saving them for a future week when they are less popular. And we’ve also used them already.
  • Chicago is the next safest team, and they do have a bit of future value, but not a lot. They are picked by 15% of the public, but that’s not a scary number. So they’re superior to Green Bay.
  • The next safest tier includes Minnesota, San Francisco, New England, and Denver. New England and Denver both have more future value than the Bears, so there’s no way they’re leapfrogging into the top spot. The 49ers are less popular, and the Vikings are less valuable going forward, but in both cases the safety gap outweighs the popularity/future value gap..

That leaves us with the Chicago Bears as the preliminary pick in Week 8.

Like last week, it seems unlikely that lines will move enough to change our official pick, but that’s partly because we’ve already used the second and third best options. For those of you that haven’t yet used San Francisco, it’s possible that the 49ers could look like the best option in a couple days, so we would definitely recommend checking back in before finalizing your selection.

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 8 for those in smaller pools:

Pools With 10 – 20 People — Future value is less important here, so Chicago and San Francisco both look a tiny bit more attractive. Overall, for smallish pools the rankings above barely change, and Chicago is still the best option. Denver does move up a couple spots so that they are on par with Green Bay, but no other teams shuffle around.

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, the general strategy this week is to take Green Bay if you think less than half of your pool will choose them, and otherwise try to take the team you think will be least popular out of Chicago, New England, Minnesota, and San Francisco. Any tie in projected popularity goes to the safer team. If you’re having trouble predicting who your opponents will choose, you may want to just default to Green Bay or Chicago.

Head-to-Head Pools — Strategy totally changes here again, as the pick percentages will always be 50% or 100%. It’s impossible for you to pick an unpopular team, because you are half the pool. And future value means very little, as the pool may be over this week. In those cases, safety becomes the number one priority. So in head-to-head pools, we recommend taking the biggest favorite you have available. For many of you, that’s probably Green Bay or Chicago.

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, and you’re not likely to pick Minnesota in Thursday’s game, 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!
  • eric

    We are in a large pool (400+ still). and have picked Chicago and SF. We have Green bay, it looks like our pool will choose GB this week. The gut says stay away from Minnesota, but your numbers have not been wrong. Follow the numbers this week?

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.melvin.94 Adam Melvin

    David I am in a pool of 14 people left. I have used all your tier 1 options and Green Bay already. This is the pick i i didn’t want. We have followed the blog firday picks exept we have used Chicago instead of Ciny. In our pool 7 thers have use chi and 8 have used NE(we have Tenn, NE, and Den as only viable options) Only 2 other people have used GB so I expect GB and Chi to be heavily used. Knowing this what do you think is our best option of either Denver, New England or Tennessee?

  • http://www.facebook.com/russell.w.morris Russell Morris

    In one pool, have 19/248 remaining. I’ve taken HOU/CIN/CHI/GB/SF/TB/MIN. No one has taken NE yet, and only 2 of us have taken GB so far–figure that’ll be the popular pick this week. Do you think TEN is a better choice than DEN? Or would you go safe this week with NE? Smaller pool has 8/50 remaining. Taken HOU/NYG/CHI/GB/SF/MIA/OAK in that one. Assuming most everyone is going to take GB–think NE is a better choice than MIN? I hate to waste NE, as 4/8 remaining still haven’t used them either.

  • Dino

    unfortunately I already used Chicago in week 3. and followed your other picks of Minnesota and San Francisco. Also followed your advice and took Green bay over the Saints. What is your advice if you used the top 3 picks for this week already? Should I go with New england even though they have good future value? Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericwais Eric Wais

    Here we go again…So 3 people left in my pool, I’m the only one with 2 picks left. I am about 99% certain that one of my opponents will pick Green Bay and the other will pick Chicago based on who they have used and also just knowing their tendencies. I’m thinking Minnesota is a lock for one of my picks as I’ve already used the 49ers are burned for me on both. So my question is (assuming you agree with the Minnesota pick) do I go safe with either Green Bay or Chicago, knowing that likely I’ll still have at least one opponent left for next week, or do I go outside the box with New England and hope for a perfect storm of upsets? I suppose even if I took Green Bay or Chicago I could still win it all assuming Minnesota wins. Should I be using the 2nd pick to gamble more or play it safe as basically a 2 to 1 favorite in a small pool?

  • Zz2008

    I’m almost in the same boat as the OP except I still have GB avail. Is gb the best play ? It looks NE has the better future value.

  • Team Rankings Fan!

    I am in a pool with 4 left. I think the other 3 will pick NE, GB, an Chicago. I have GB, Chicago and Minnesota left. Was thinking of picking Chicago. Thoughts?

  • Dino

    There are 15 out of 200 left in my pool.

  • Yunier

    Looks like a lot of people have the same issue as myself. Huge pool still with over 700+ left and already used CHI, GB, SF, and MIN…so do we forget a little about future value and go with NE or DEN, or take more risk with TEN? Thanks guys

  • Cindy

    Same here….only 6 left in and have followed pretty closely to your picks, but would hate to use the Pats now….

  • http://twitter.com/bogey72 Tim BOgiatzis

    Thanks To you i am still alive in a pool that started with 219 people. It is a double knockout pool and 3 weeks you have to take a road team. I already took New England and San Franscisco. I was thinking of San diego or miami. Week 12 we have to take a road team also. Any thoughts??

  • http://www.facebook.com/russell.w.morris Russell Morris

    out of curiosity, how many did your pool start with?!?

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    I’m in a similar situation. Already used Chicago (along with SF, GB, MIN, PIT). I’m very torn between Denver and New England.

    When I try to calculate the odds, its razor thin for my smallish pool (low 30s). If a few more people switch from MIN to NE, than Denver seems the pick based on both Vegas odds & your rankings. If only a couple of people are on NE, than they still have the advantage.

    This ignores future value however. Do I risk Denver to save NE for weeks 10 or 11? Or maybe hold onto Denver for weeks 12 or 13…

    AdvancedNflStats.com has Denver v NO as the clear matchup – but I’m not sure how much to trust in those rankings. Picking against the Saints back in Week #4 was nerve-wracking, but who knows if an under-performing Patriots in a possibly muddy London field will fare any better. Plus, Denver is coming off a bye week.


  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.santinello.3 Tony Santinello

    Looks like anyone who took your Wednesday picks are bit in a jam…the Chicago pick got switched to DAL (Week2)? So; we’re really out CHI/GB/MIN/SF. A similar Wednesday issue will occur with a NYG/CIN switch (Week3). I think we have no choice; but to go with NE. Or take a huge risk going with (TEN/DEN)?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.santinello.3 Tony Santinello

    Looks like anyone who took your Wednesday picks are bit in a jam…the
    Chicago pick got switched to DAL (Week3)? So; we’re really out
    CHI/GB/MIN/SF. A similar Wednesday issue will occur with a NYG/CIN
    switch (Week2). I think we have no choice; but to go with NE. Or take a
    huge risk going with (TEN/DEN)?

  • Dino

    I agree. I’m in the same situation as you. I think NE is the safest pick out of those 3. TEN and Denver worry me

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    On the flip side, it seems that 69% of people are betting against Denver with the 6-point spread, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that line starts to drop before Sunday…

  • Brian L

    Great site, terrific insights. I wanted to dive in a little more on the perceived Future Value of the GB Packers, because looking at the schedule I don’t see huge future value for them beyond week 9 (against AZ). Yes, they have some decent matchups towards the end of the year but none of them are even remotely close to the Jax matchup. While I hate taking the consensus pick in my pool, I’m inclined to take GB this week and live to fight another week

  • Frank_Elways

    Not that anyone is going to take them this week, but the Giants have a 77% percent win percentage for Week 9, but have no future value according to you chart? Might want to account for that before you pick them next week!

  • Frank_Elways

    Really appreciate the analysis on the Titans game (best of the mediocre teams). It would be really helpful to have this type of FV-centric pick everyweek.

  • MC

    I seem to be running into the same situtation as others:
    Chicago – Pittsburg – Dallas – Green Bay – San Francisco – Tampa – Minnesota
    all used already. I had multiple pools and as I lost (week 5 – Green Bay, week 6 – Arizona) in other entries, it left me one entry.

    We are not a small pool yet (just under 37 out of 360 left) so future value is a consideration. This is the pick count already used going into the week. No one has taken Denver in the pool yet.
    SF 34 NYG 32 ATL 31 HOU 30 CHI 29 NE 26 BAL 21 GB 6
    I hate to burn New England but with most people having Green Bay available Denver seems risky. Denver or New England?

    Thanks in advance,


  • Frank_Elways

    Week 16 they will be double digit favorites.

  • Danny

    In a small pool, if Green Bay is at 50% (including your pick), is that the right move?

  • JetFan

    thanks to you I’m still alive in a pool that started with over 5,000 people now down to 85 for $10,000 – I’m so on the fence this week – Chicago always scares me – seems like a letdown game for them. Green Bay too popular. Jets risky but I feel like they can take Miami this week after last weeks solid effort vs New England – thoughts?

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

    I’m not clear on what your question is. Are you asking if I’m going to change the analysis because of your gut? :)

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

    I lean DEN, with NE second. I’d avoid TEN — too much risk for such a small pool, without any real reward. The main argument for DEN here is that while they are a few % worse in win odds, they make up for it in future value.

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

    Are there 19 remaining (of an original 248)? Or you have 19 entries alive out of the 248 overall still alive? I’m assuming the first option.

    For the large pool, per the text in the post, I have DEN ahead of NE/TEN in pools your size, barring any quirks that would change your pool strategy:

    “Pools With 10 – 20 People — Future value is less important here, so Chicago and San Francisco both look a tiny bit more attractive. Overall, for smallish pools the rankings above barely change, and Chicago is still the best option. Denver does move up a couple spots so that they are on par with Green Bay, but no other teams shuffle around.”

    And for the smaller pool, again per the text in the post, I think whichever you think will be less popular out of NE and MIN is probably the better choice:

    “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 pool. In very small pools, the general strategy this week is to take Green Bay if you think less than half of your pool will choose them, and otherwise try to take the team you think will be least popular out of Chicago, New England, Minnesota, and San Francisco. Any tie in projected popularity goes to the safer team. If you’re having trouble predicting who your opponents will choose, you may want to just default to Green Bay or Chicago.”

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

    Then without any other info about your pool, I would stick with my advice from the post, which says to use the rankings from the table, but move Denver up to even with Green Bay:

    “Pools With 10 – 20 People — Future value is less important here, so Chicago and San Francisco both look a tiny bit more attractive. Overall, for smallish pools the rankings above barely change, and Chicago is still the best option. Denver does move up a couple spots so that they are on par with Green Bay, but no other teams shuffle around.”

    That would mean Denver is my pick for you, though New England certainly isn’t terrible either.

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

    If you don’t want to use the Pats, the next best option is probably Denver.

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

    Yeah, you are right that the margin there is pretty small. Small pick% shifts can change things. Tough call. Right now I lean NE but things can change.

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

    Which is why I asked people to wait til later in the week to ask questions & make decisions. :) If you don’t have to act now … then don’t. More info is always better.

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

    I think in your spot, you want to go safe with the second pick. Like you hinted at, once you get that first pick on MIN, the opponent picks don’t matter much as much for that second one. It’s certainly *possible* that GB/CHI/MIN could all lose, AND that NE wins. But that’s really the only situation where picking NE instead of GB with your second pick helps you, and it’s pretty unlikely.

    Of course, there is still the future value aspect to take into account … but NE has as much as GB, so I don’t think that matters here.

    I’d go MIN/GB.

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

    Not sure what OP you are referring to here… but if you are trying to decide between GB and NE, I prefer GB in most cases.

  • Mark Hulett

    Well, in the end i almost suffered a heart attack Sunday, but thankfully the Raiders pulled out the win (my picks to date are – Det, Cin, Dal, Gb, SF, Mia, Oak). We remain, however, at 5 people. I am the only one who has taken GB, so have to think at least will take the Packers. Two have already taken Minn, and the other 2 have taken Chi. I am leaning towards Minn, but figure I might be the 2nd guy on Minn, don’t think it will go to three. I like Chi at home against Minn later in the schedule. Still think this will go another 4-5 weeks. So, is being #2 on Minn a big deal?

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

    If those really end up being the picks of your opponents, then I think CHI is the worst of your 3 options, according to the numbers.

    In terms of immediate EV (ignoring future value), Green Bay is the best, at about 10% higher than CHI or MIN (tied for 2nd). However, MIN seems to have a touch less future value than CHI, so I would bump them into 2nd, and drop CHI to 3rd. I am basically giving zero weight to future value here, because the pool is so small. But if it changed anything, it would pop Minnesota up to #1 over Green Bay. … Still, I lean GB.

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

    Wow. In a pool that big, I think you have to give a lot of weight to future value still. Tough call between TEN and DEN, but I actually lean *gulp* TEN here.

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

    Are you saying you are forced to take a road team this week? And in Week 12? Yikes.

    I don’t really have any clue what to do. All your options are pretty close to coin flips or worse, so I guess just try to pick an unpopular team with no future value. Which I guess would mean avoiding San Diego. So .. NYG/MIA/SEA seem like OK options.

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

    Ha. Anybody that followed our Wednesday picks is eliminated… a bit worse than “in a jam.” :) Anyway, I ranked the teams up above, so unless you have some specific info about your pool that would alter basic strategy, you can see the advice above. … In which, yes, New England is listed next after the teams you’ve already used.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    Agreed. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury. Wish I did.

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

    Yes, NE is clearly the safest out of those three. In large pools, I think that outweighs the lower future value and popularity of TEN/DEN. … In small pools, I think the backheaviness of Denver’s schedule means they are a decent pick (their easy matchups in Week 16/17 no longer matter).

  • Dave

    I’ve used up all the top picks on your board (CHI, SF, MIN, GB). I’m debating about going for either NE or DEN. I just don’t have the courage to pick TEN, the Colts seem like they can pull the upset in that one. I feel better about picking NE instead of DEN, even though NE has more future value. Likely I’ll end up picking DEN in week 12 when the play CLE. Though if I do pick NE now, I don’t have them for week 10 when they play BUF. (though likely I’ll go for Ravens over Raiders or Dolphins over Titans that week) Decisions, decisions.

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

    We use info from http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/team/green-bay-packers/projections and http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/tools/survivor-predictor/ … Those use two different versions of our rankings — one that takes into account preseason ratings, and one that looks at only results this year.

    We have them as 75%+ favorites in both metrics in Week 9 (ARI) and Week 16 (TEN). There are two games where one of the ratings has them as 75%+ Week 13 (MIN) and Week 14 (DET), so they get half credit for those. Then there is a bit of weighting to make earlier games worth more (since there is more uncertainty the further into the future you get).

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

    Thank you, I don’t know how that crept in there! Typo, I guess. I’ll fix the table, and possibly the text if it changes anything significantly.

  • Tommy(NY)

    Ok here we go again. To recap I am in a poll that started with 5000 and down to 428. I started with 13 teams and down to 8 teams which isnt bad. I have not taken the Packers, Bears or Vikings yet with any of my picks and wanted your advise on what to do with those 8 picks and how you wold break them up. Is putting several picks on the Vikings a bad idea? I have a hunch that the two biggest picks will be the bears and packers. If that is the case who do i put the other picks on. Thanks for all your help Dave this has become my favorite column every week.

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

    OK, I’ll try to keep that in mind in the future. But in case I forget … the main data table is sorted according to how attractive I think the teams are in big pools, so if nothing else you can always just look for the highest ranked teams with zero (or very little) future value.

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

    Eh, tough call. New England should have higher immediate EV, but Denver lets you save NE for later. Your pools size is kind of an in-betweener, too. I guess given how many people have already used NE, I lean NE in your pool, but it’s very close.

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

    In a pool of, say, 8 people, I think I’d rather be the first person on CHI/MIN/SF than the 4th on GB, but it’s close. In a smaller pool, I’d go NE.

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

    It’s not ideal. First on CHI would be *much* better, but I don’t know if that’s a possibility. Second on MIN is probably on par with first on NE, due to future value — you’ll take a hit this week, but if you survive you’ll gain some safety in later weeks.

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

    Ah, OK. Thought you were talking about the future line for that reason.

  • Frank_Elways

    A general theoretical question regarding your super small pool strategy. Generally, you say to pick the safest team with little or no regard to future value. Usually, the safest pick is obvious and easy to discern for anyone, i.e., GB this week. So if the other couple of people in the pool are rational (or even just one of those “survive the week” type pickers that we love to hate on here), they will do the same thing, which means you will both survive, week after week, extending the pool. Doesn’t that mean to win, you will eventually need the future value you are throwing away by always picking the safest team? By always picking safest, you’re essentially waiting for your opponent to make a mistake instead trying to take the pot. It seems like sticking to the normal TR strategy of picking a safe, but not the “safest” pick will still come in handy in the end. I guess this is basically a really hard game/math problem, but wanted to throw it out there for your thoughts.

  • Chris

    Been flipping between MIN/CHI all week. Only 6 teams left in my league.
    The 3 things specifically I’m considering when making my pick…

    1) Likelihood of winning – much more comfortable with Chi here.

    2) Future value – Min has none. I’d like Chi as an option for next week. I don’t see much other value for them, especially when only 6 teams remaining. I also don’t even know if I’d pick them next week, but I’d like that option to be there. I’m the only person with BAL remaining so BAL @ CLE could be a very reasonable option for week 9.

    3) Who are the other managers likely to pick? I’d prefer to be the only person on a team rather than the 2nd on another. Or 2nd, rather than 3rd. That makes sense in my head at least. But who are my opponents likely to pick?

    – den/min/chi – save CHI as option for week 9, so DEN/MIN.

    – nwe/gb/sf/den – probably GB, has HOU for week 9.

    – nwe/min/chi/den – could go any. may want CHI for 9, NWE for 10. weighted towards DEN or MIN.

    – save GB for week 9 – DEN or MIN.

    – save GB for week 9 – may want NWE for 10. so DEN.

    – save GB for week 9 – SF/DEN/CHI – Can likely be only person on SF which makes it reasonable pick.

    As of right now, I’m preferring Chi for the safety reasons.

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

    I usually recommend splitting among two teams, sometimes three So I would probably go something like 5 CHI / 3 MIN or 5 CHI / 3 GB.

    Or, since GB is *such* a big favorite this week, it might be one of those times where splitting onto three teams isn’t the worst idea. Something like 3 CHI / 3 GB / 2 MIN. You have to figure the GB picks are kind of like insurance in this case.

    If I have to pick one, it would be … hmmm … I guess 5 CHI / 3 MIN. But it’s a tough call.

  • UGA

    31 with 0 losses out of 92 with 1 loss. You get 2. I have 0 losses thanks to you. Is this the week for Tenn. All winning picks have been your final picks

  • Tony

    36 left in my pool. Two losses before you’re eliminated, and the pool can continue into the playoffs (though I find it unlikely to go that far at this point). I am one of 6 left with no losses. I’ve already used the four top picks this week (chose to go with DAL rather than CHI in Week 3).

    12 of us (including me) have NE still available, but not GB. 9 have GB available, but not NE. 10 remaining have both GB and NE available. 5 have neither available.

    I’m assuming that almost all of the 9 who have GB but not NE will go with GB, and that a huge majority (let’s say 80%) of the 12 who have NE but not GB will go with NE (we are in a league that is based on the east coast with several Pats fans). I also think that at least a third of those who have both available with go with NE this week. So based on my assumptions, we have:

    ~7 unknowns (probably a mixture of Denver, Pittsburgh, Minnesota)
    ~13 NE (36.1%)
    ~16 GB (44.4%)

    My question is – does my assumption that over 1/3 of all picks will land on NE make Denver the best option for me this week?

  • Mark Hulett

    here is what the other guys have taken to date:
    Hou Ind Chi Bal Sf TB NE
    Det Hou Chi Den NYG ATL SF
    Hou NYG Dal Den SF Mia Min

    i am inclined to think that between Chi and GB that will take care of 2-3 picks. i think people will save NE. so, always a chance 3 people could go Minn, but i think #2 above (tends to go with safe picks is going to go GB) – so i think your advice re: 2nd on Minn is equal to 1st on NE is good, and will lean towards Minn (which would allow me to use some order of Hous, NE, Chi, Den, NYG over the next few weeks).

  • Tony

    36 left in my pool. Two losses before you’re eliminated, and the pool can continue into the playoffs (though I find it unlikely to go that far at this point). I am one of 6 left with no losses. I’ve already used the four top picks this week (chose to go with DAL rather than CHI in Week 3).

    12 of us (including me) have NE still available, but not GB. 9 have GB available, but not NE. 10 remaining have both GB and NE available. 5 have neither available.

    I’m assuming that almost all of the 9 who have GB but not NE will go with GB, and that a huge majority (let’s say 80%) of the 12 who have NE but not GB will go with NE (we are in a league that is based on the east coast with several Pats fans). I also think that at least a third of those who have both available with go with NE this week. So based on my assumptions, we have:

    ~7 unknowns (probably a mixture of Denver, Pittsburgh, Minnesota)
    ~13 NE (36.1%)
    ~16 GB (44.4%)

    My question is – does my assumption that over 1/3 of all picks will land on NE make Denver the best option for me this week?

  • D Nasty

    We only have 35 people left and 5 have used GB, I have used SF, Chi, and Minn!!! So it looks like I’m going to have to go with the masses this week. Any other suggestions?

  • D Nasty

    This pool started with 550 people!! And I’ve been in it for years, so I would really like to win this year. Got to the final 8 last year, I NEED to win this year!!

  • Orconectes

    Just a quick post to say thanks for a great site. Refer to it weekly for multiple NFL and NCAA pools, mostly NFL survivor.

  • Scott

    My league has six teams left, it’s double elimination, three of the six are still perfect including myself, and we play it out until there is only one left; no tiebreaker. Last year it went into the first week of the playoffs.

    So far I’ve taken the Bears/Bengals/Cowboys/Texans/49ers/Buccaneers/Vikings

    Of the five other people remaining… 2 have used the Bears already, 1 has used the 49ers already, 1 has used the Packers already, and 1 has used the Vikings already.

    Since I’ve used all three of your tier 1 choices, and the possible picks from my opponents are spread out; who would should I go with?

    Should I suck it up and go with the Packers or roll the dice with the Titans?

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

    Yeah, I think CHI makes sense, as your theoretical opponent picks seem to be biased a tiny bit more towards MIN than CHI, plus as you said, CHI is safer. They would be my pick in your situation, I think. But MIN certainly isn’t bad.

  • Eddie Money

    Used all the Tier 1 teams already (Chicago, Minnesota, San Fran) – but have all four Tier 2 teams still available (Green Bay, New England, Denver and Tennessee) in a pool with 40 people remaining. 16 of 40 already used the Pats, 11 already used Green Bay, and 4 used the Broncos. I’m leaning on New England because of the lower public pick percentage and higher number of people already picking them, but Green Bay’s higher safety is appealing as well. Is it worth biting the bullet this week and picking the extreme favorite, or should I stick with New England? Or can you make a stronger case for Denver or Tennessee? Thanks in advance for your help.

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

    I’m going to assume you’re talking about a 2 or 3 person pool…

    You are correct that there are situations where taking the safest team isn’t the best course of action. However, remember that your goal is not to be the sole person to win the pot (at least ours isn’t). It’s to maximize your expected value. Splitting the pot 100% of the time is better than winning the pot outright 49% of the time, so there is no point in taking a risk just to avoid a tie. To justify choosing a riskier team, the pick needs to increase your future value enough to counteract the decrease in current week expected value. Because the future odds are both less certain *and* less likely to actually matter (i.e. the pool may end), the increase in future value has to be quite large in order for it to make it worth the increased risk.

    If you have another person in the pool employing the same strategy, it’s a good idea to look ahead to future weeks and check out who has better options going forward. If the other guy has an advantage in future weeks, it can make sense to take a *slight* hit in current week win odds in order to gain an advantage in the future. However, the circumstances for this are very restricted. I may be missing something here, but I think all these conditions have to apply in order for it to be a good move:

    A) You have to be sure your opponent is going to continue to pick the safe teams. If he is the type of guy that might switch to a riskier team (maybe for the exact reason you gave), then it’s usually smarter to wait for him to take a gamble.

    B) You also have to have a second best option that is nearly as good as the top option. A 10% hit in current week win odds is almost never the right move heads up, according to the math, even if you take future value into account.

    C) You also have to be at a disadvantage in future weeks due to the opponent having better teams left. If you guys have identical teams left, then all you are doing by taking a worse team now (and a better team later) is shifting your risk earlier in time. Since the *first* loss loses, that’s only a good strategy is you get a large advantage later. … I guess one exception here is that if you can take a slightly worse team now in exchange for having a MUCH better option in a near-future week, it could be worth it. (Actually, I thought I had included a qualifier along the lines of “unless it screws up your strategy in the next couple weeks”, but I see it’s not there. Must have edited it out. I’ll add it back in next time.)

    OK, that was long and rambling. But the main idea is that your basic point is correct … but the situations where it makes sense to take on additional risk are not terribly common. (I think … not 100% certain here.)

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

    I assume that if somebody finishes with no losses, all the 1-loss people are out of luck? If so, I’d play this basically like a normal Survivor pool, I think, and go with CHI. Chances are reasonable that somebody will last all year, so I would’t get super risky just for the heck of it.

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

    Yeah, I think so.

  • Magoo

    Why do you look at Yahoo for public pick percentages instead of ESPN? Seems like there is a significant difference each week between Yahoo and ESPN. On ESPN Green Bay is only picked 19.1% with San Diego as the most popular at 29%. Thoughts?

  • tmbeliever

    Down to 2…I have gb and minn. Opponent has gb, minn, and chi. Believe they will use gb and chi next. Should I go minn and save gb?

  • Ravensfan

    3 people left still in my league. The other 2 have picked most popular like the last couple weeks so I expect them both to be on Green Bay. I have used CHI/SF/MIN already but not NE and HOU like they have. Do I go with NE this week or play it safe and go with GB and use NE and HOU in the future weeks when they can’t? Thanks for all your help!

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

    Well, my first piece of advice is that you should temper your expectations. With 35 people left, I’d guess your odds to win some money are around … 1 in 35 :) OK, actually hopefully higher than that due to taking smart risks. But still, you will more than likely NOT win the pool.

    Anyway, I think GB is OK this week if you’ve already used the top 3. I think another decent alternative would be NE or DEN. Any idea what your pick trends will look like? If any of those will be even more popular than I indicate in the table, I’d try to avoid them.

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

    Thanks! Gad you find it useful.

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

    Hmm, the playoffs really throw a kink in things. That adds future value to all of the Tier 2 options … except TEN. As crazy as it sounds, I think TEN may be the best pick, once you also factor in the fact that a loss doesn’t eliminate you.

    I don’t have a “correct” answer for you here. I lean TEN, but I certainly would understand a GB pick as well.

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

    I think GB is probably a better pick than NE in your case. As I touched on in the post, they are such huge favorites that it makes up for their popularity. What keeps them from being a good pick is future value, but that’s a negative for NE too, so I prefer GB here.

    As for GB vs DEN/TEN … I don’t think you need to get as risky as TEN. If your pool were smaller, DEN would look good. But since it will likely last til the end, I think DEN has a decent amount of future value as well (see Weeks 16/17).

    So, I guess that means I would stick with my rankings above and go with GB.

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

    ESPN lets people pick all their games at the beginning of the year, and doesn’t kick people out when they lose a game.

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

    Hmm, interesting. The fact that you’d be the only person left with NE is nice. And knowing that you can’t lose this week with a GB pick is also nice. I think in your special case, I’d go with GB this week.

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

    Hmm. Who do you have available for next week? If GB is your only decent option, I’d go MIN. If you’ve got somebody else, I’d probably go GB.

  • tmbeliever

    best option is sd or den. opponent also has Nyg.

  • Steve

    Before you posted this blog, I picked CHI preliminarily as I figured you would too. In a pool of just 2 others, is there any reason I should change to another team based on this scenario: both of my opponents have used CHI and SF but neither have picked GB, MIN or DEN (I still have GB, MIN, CHI, and DEN). The fact that my opponents can’t pick CHI makes them a no brainer even if I think just one other will take GB (I have a feeling the other will take MIN or DEN), right? I ask because you stated above that in small pools if you think less than 50% will take GB it is a good idea to pick them.

  • 808duck

    Appreciate all the write-ups this season. I’m heads up in a league with two strikes. I’ve been perfect so far this year mostly by following your picks (HOU, PIT, CHI, GB, SF, ATL, MIN in order), and my opponent has one strike after picking DET, CIN, NO (loss), BAL, NYG, ATL, NE. I’ve got the extra strike advantage, but he’s still got CHI, GB, and HOU left among others. I can say with near 100% certainty that he’ll be picking either GB or Chicago this week.

    I’m looking for opinions on where to go this week. I’m thinking of taking a team with a little more risk and hoping to survive. Any suggestions? I’m passing on NE this week because I can’t be eliminated yet and love their future value. Is Denver the move here, or do the numbers say they’ll be in a better spot down the road?

    Thanks for your time and responses!

  • Steve

    Also applicable to my situation is your reply to Frank_Elways from earlier this evening. You state something along the lines of there are only certain situations in a 3 person pool to pick the riskier team, one being the increase in future value must counteract the current week’s expected value. While I would love to pick GB, hanging onto them for next week fits the bill does it not? Other than HOU (who my opponents can’t use anymore), GB appears to be the safest team next week too.

  • Greg W

    Still have 3 pools alive: Big one, 400ish ppl left, cant take chi/gb/sf/min. Looks like that sticks me with NE then. Pool with 10 left, 2 have taken GB, so other 7 likely to take them (no one has chi avail). I’ve taken Chi/Min, so my top choice is SF right now? GB if I want to be conservative but take team 7 others likely to? Final pool is heads up, we’ve both taken chi/ne/sf. I KNOW he’ll take GB (we’ve both taken favs every week for a few now). Is it smart to just go GB and wait to make a move next weeks? Or should I go Min, saving GB, and hoping that a GB loss helps me in all 3 pools as unlikely as it is? Alright, alright, I know it’s an unnecessary risk. Thanks for input on the rest though!

  • Ravensfan

    As always thanks for your help!

  • Robert Ebin

    Thanks for the help last week….still 7 left including myself. I just started logging three weeks ago
    1. Hou/ bal/ne
    2. Sf/atl/gb
    3. Nyg/atl/sf
    4. Sf/atl/ne
    5. Sf/atl/chi
    6. Nyg/tb/oak

    I thought everyone would take ne last week but they didn’t. Go with GB here or chi?

  • Greg W

    Also, after looking at this, i’d be spreading over 3 teams (going with ne/sf/gb). Better odds of having 1 team survive, but also better odds I lose at least 1. Does that maybe justify taking gb in the middle pool to go ne/gb/gb? I figure that’s just preference, but curious on what you’d do. Again, many thanks.

  • Andy

    what about San DIego coming out of a bye vs Cleveland? SD looked like shit in their last game but they could easily take this game

  • Mike


    I am in two pools.

    The first pool is down to 968 picks. In weeks 10 through 15 you must pick 2 teams
    and in weeks 16 and 17 you must pick 3 teams.

    HOU / CIN / CHI / GB / SF / TB / MIN

    This week is tough. I am thinking of taking TEN or maybe NE? TEN is riskier but saves some future value.

    The second pool is starting in week 7 and
    follows the same rules as the first pool.
    There are 1,874 picks left.


    I am thinking of picking MIN.

    What do you think?

    Thanks again for your help!


  • rcc22

    here is the scoop..

    I have 2 picks left out of less than 70 people in the pool.
    Ive used Chi already…here is the breakdown:
    1. Hou/Cin/Chi/GB/SF/TB/Min
    2. Chi/SD/Dal/Hou/NYG/Atl/Ne
    Any suggestions?

  • Keith

    I am in a pool with about 83 entries left. I have already used Chicago Green Bay San Francisco & Minn. Do you recommend NE or Denver this week?


  • PA

    Same predicament as last week: – 34 of 77 were on NE – 14 on Min.
    Took Oakland as you suggested, sweating that one for sure.(min based Pool)

    Of the remaining 76 –
    28% Have Used Minny, 22% have used GB. Can’t take Bears or 49’ers.

    Thinking of taking the Packers to live to next week. I’m not a fan of the Thursday night games, and I will be attending the game as well, and I hesitate to take the Titans.

    Appreciate your insight.

  • the_acylum

    in a pool with 5 people left. Last 2 weeks all 4 others took ATL in Week 6 and NE in week 7. I could bet the farm on them all going GB this week. Should we continue with our strategy to take NE or do you suggest taking GB knowing that we can’t lose. I would rather save GB for the future, but the same can be said about NE. I was also considering SD to give us a great shot of saving both NE and GB for the future. Thoughts? Thanks!

  • MC

    How do you your models account for the game being in London? I am really struggling with this week. Looking ahead having NE against Bufflao seems to be the only pick that week but it won’t matter if I don’t get there.

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

    OK, so it seems like your option in Week 8/9 are GB/SD, or MIN/GB. I think the drop off from GB to MIN this week is probably larger than the drop off from GB to SD next week, so I’d go GB this week.

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

    Your case is tough. If you ignore future value, Green Bay is pretty clearly the best pick in your spot, given that you think there’s a chance one of your opponents will pick a different team. However, you’re right that saving GB for next week (which would allow you to save HOU for Week 11) would be nice.

    What is your best option next week besides GB/HOU? If you have SD available next week, I’d go GB this week. If you don’t have another great option next week, I’d go CHI this week.

  • PA

    Also 75% have used the bears and 62% have used San Fran.

  • MrOban

    I agree with this analysis and wish I still had Da Bears available but alas used them back in week 3 I believe (which was your early pick and then switched to the Bengals which I chickened out of foolishly). Anyway, I have to take the Patriots this week because I have burned all the other top choices. But one thing perhaps that hasnt been considered is what others in your pool have done in the past. I am down to 12 teams out of 350 or so original players. All but 2 (including us) used the Patriots in the past (mostly last week). So there is some value in that I believe (although optimally would be better in the weeks ahead against the Bills or Colts).

    As Tony Santinello mentions below, we are kind of stuck with the Patriots here if we had taken the Wednesday advice that week but I think in that situation the Patriots are a really good choice (assuming most of the pool cant use them this week). Btw, the game is also in LONDON, and not in St. Louis. That makes a huge difference and I think favors the Pats at least from the standpoint that it is being played on neutral site and on a surface more like the Pats play on at home. That is enough I think to feel good about the Pats here.

  • MrOban

    Ah I see the Bengals selection was week 2. Kicking myself for not switching. Have burned alot of good teams that would come in handy now like the Giants and Bears. As I say in my post above, New England is a pretty good pick particularly since most of my pool used them last week. So at least we have that.

  • MrOban

    as a Jets fan, I say to you “why would you do that to yourself?” That game will be a nailbiter and the Dolphins defense is very tough – particularly against the run which makes it a hard game for the Jets.

  • MrOban

    Ouch. I guess the Chargers. Hold your nose and pray…

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

    A lot of Denver’s future value is in weeks 16/17, which you hopefully won’t need. So if you are looking to gamble this week to preserve some future value, they seem like a decent choice.

    One thing to think about — while you have the strike edge, picking the same team as him is generally a good move. That way if they win, you maintain your edge, and if they lose, he’s out. The only way your opponent can catch up is if your team loses while his team wins. So if you are sure he’ll take GB or CHI, I might take one of those teams as well, in the hopes you end up on the same side.

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

    I would definitely avoid taking GB in the middle pool.

    DEN is an OK option in the large pool instead of NE. Pretty close call between the two.

    Ordinarily I like to split between only 2 teams, but GB is a big enough favorite that I think adding them as the third is fairly safe this week. So NE/SF/GB seems alright, or DEN/SF/GB.

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

    Hmm, if you think they will avoid GB again, then I think GB is the right pick … assuming you have a reasonable option for next week.

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

    The line is -2.5, so I’m not touching that game with a 30-foot pole.

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

    Yeah, in that big pool, I think rolling the dice with TEN might be the way to go, due to the crazy high importance of future value.

    In the small pool, I agree with MIN for sure. Again, future value becomes so important that you probably want to save CHI.

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

    Hmm. I’d probably go with MIN of SF in pool 2, and … DEN or NE in pool 1?

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

    DEN and NE are pretty neck and neck, and both have some decent future value. However, the future value comes in different weeks, so I’d check out your alternatives for those future weeks and pick based on which one you have better alternatives for.

    NE’s main value comes in weeks 10, 11, 16.
    DEN’s value is weeks 12, 16, 17.

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

    Looks like GB, MIN, and SF all have reasonable arguments in your case. I think it’s fine to choose between them using some outside factors like going to the game. I would lean SF over GB, but GB is SUCH a huge favorite, that it’s not the end of the world if you go safe this week with them.

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

    There is absolutely no way I would pick GB or SD in your case. If you are sure all 4 will be on GB, I’d go with CHI if possible. Or NE, SF, or MIN.

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

    I’m not 100% certain off the top of my head, but I think the main thing is just that they decline to apply a home field advantage to either team. There’s no “game in London” variable or anything like that.

    Oh … we DO use travel distance as a variable when finding similar games, and in the decision tree model. So past overseas games should get more weight in predicting this game than they would in predicting a normal game.

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

    Yes, saving a team that everyone else has used does have more value. That’s a good point, and I didn’t take it into account. If you want an alternative to NE, you might try DEN. They are a bit riskier, but I think most people have them available still, so that decreases the value of saving them.

  • Steve

    I actually don’t have HOU anymore (sorry for not making that clear) and either do my opponents. I have SD but so do my opponents and they will both surely take SD next week (they don’t have NYG left). My only real advantage right now is I have ATL and they both have used them. One other guy still has NE, but I used them last week. Other than that, we are all pretty even in regard to teams left. SD next week will likely be riskier than CHI this week, no? Or is CHI that much riskier than GB this week that I should avoid using them even if it means I will be able to use them next week? Of course there IS a chance that everyone picks GB this week. It seems you are suggesting that I pick the safest team and let someone else get risky and slip up sometime down the line.

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

    It’s fine if you disagree with me, but I just want to make sure I was clear, and you didn’t misread my comment … I was saying that given how similar the win odds were for SD/NYG/MIA/SEA, I would just try to avoid picking a team with a lot of future value (SD). So I would go with NYG/MIA/SEA. … However, I had a typo in the NYG future value before, and they actually do have some. So I would go with either MIA or SEA and hope you get lucky.

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

    I think CHI is a -375 money line favorite, and the Jets are a -125 money line favorite, so CHI is waaaaay safer.

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

    Oh, if both your opponents pick SD next week while you pick GB, that’s a nice spot for you. So, I think CHI is decent for you.

    And yes, the raw win odds don’t matter. It’s the drop from one choice to another that matters.

    Overall, though, yes, I was suggesting you go conservative and wait for your opponents to take bigger risks. It sounds like you think one guy will oblige this week.

  • Robert Ebin

    I’ve used hou/cin/dal/den/sf/tb/min…what would be the option next week? Thanks so much for the help.

  • ThaddeusB

    I have 4 entries in a field of 800. One entry has Chicago left, so that is an easy pick. The other three have:

    Entry 1 – GB, SF, TN
    Entry 2 – GB, NE, Den, TN
    Entry 3 – GB, Den, MN, TN

    I estimate final pick percentages to be (based off current percentages with 40% in):
    GB 65%
    MN 10%
    Chi, NE 7%
    TN 5%
    SF, Den 2%

    I am currently leaning toward 1-GB, 2-Den, 3-MN. I don’t want to put too much on GB due to the even higher pick %, and would prefer to save SF & NE for week 10 when I figure most people will be on either Pitt or Balt. In week 16 & 17 two picks will likely be required unless GB loses this week or another equally big favorite loses as some point (its based on # of entries left whether one or two picks is required those weeks), so saving Den gains some extra value. Otherwise, I would probably go GB, Den, Den. I haven’t completely ruled out going with two GBs or no GBs or using TN, so I’m pretty up in the air.

    Your thoughts?

  • L.A.

    big pool, started w/ 4,300+, 375 left. I have taken Chi, Cincy, Dallas, Hou, Giants, Tampa and Minny. is San Fran the play this week or do I roll the dice with a Tenn, Denver or Pitt? I hate taking road faves and Prime Time games so San Fran scares me.
    Thanks and keep up the great work

  • lav1022

    Was thinking about going with Minn over GB this week. Have 10 people left in the pool, most of them picking GB. However, why did your NFL Survivor Predictor decrease for Minn from 72% to 69% since yesterday?

  • curtis

    Hey DAVID HESS when making your suggestions for a Wednesday pick shouldn’t you use your Wednesday pick you used CHI in week 3 therefore you loose this week…..

  • Ted

    Down to 2 in my league. He will for sure take GB. I’m thinking min or sd. I can’t use Baltimore, chi, ne, sf, atl, gb, or nyg. Thoughts?

  • RT

    I am 1 of 6 left in my pool. Who do you suggest for this week? Bears are used

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

    SD seems alright for next week.

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

    I think having 4 different picks is almost asking for at least one to be knocked out, though GB does seem pretty safe. I do think if you go with 4 different picks, you have the right four with CHI/GB/DEN/MIN.

    With 3 different teams… I guess I would avoid doubling up on GB, as then an upset on the Pack loses most of its value (the pool loses 65% of its entries, but you lose 50% of yours). … But then the only options are doubling up on DEN (bad for future value reasons), or on TEN (bad because they are so risky). …

    So, what about NOT choosing CHI with entry 1? It sounds a little weird, I know. But if you have, say, MIN available there, you could go MIN/GB/DEN/MIN

    I don’t know, tough call. Your original 4 isn’t too bad of an option. I just hesitate to spread out among 4 teams.

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

    I think San Fran is the best choice, but I am assuming the lines are relatively good estimates of a team’s win odds. If you think differently, obviously everything changes.

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

    Line changes.

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

    I think we’ve been pretty clear all year that Wednesday is only a preliminary pick, and Friday is our official one.

    Besides, anybody that has followed our Wednesday picks got eliminated two weeks ago when Arizona lost, so there doesn’t seem to be much point in using those as our baseline.

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

    San Diego is waaaaay too risky. There is no reason whatsoever to take them. You take riskier team than Minnesota, AND they have more future value. There doesn’t seem to be any upside there.

    I’d go MIN is your spot.

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

    I think maybe the formatting got messed up there. Can you try again in a different layout? … Also, please try to make some guesses about who your opponents will pick this week, don’t just lay out the list of what they’ve done in the past. Thanks.

  • Chris

    Hi David, is Minnesota still a Tier 1 team after their line change or are they no longer next best option after Chicago?


  • Pizzaman

    Double elimination, each team only once, lowest wins is tie breaker; 70 left with 0 losses (I have two of those entries: currently in two way tie for 3rd place on lowest wins for one and in five way tie for 10th on other), and 200 still alive with one loss. I’m three wins back and ten wins back of leader at current. Used chi/cin/dal/den/no/cle/min on 3rd place one to date and hou/pit/chi/gb/nyg/tb/sf on 10th place one. Thoughts on who to go with this week on these entries? Was looking at tenn and kc as a couple potential flyers and then gb, ne, minn, sf as conservative options where available…

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

    I think given the current lines, it’s basically Chicago clearly at #1, then pretty close to a tie behind them, with #2 SF, #3 MIN, #4 GB all in a group. (Green Bay’s line opened higher than I expected, so they move up to the top tier.)

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

    I like TEN for one of the picks. KC seems awful risky, but I’ve got no experience in these lowest-loss-tiebreaker pools, so maybe that’s how far down you need to reach to get a win.

    I might go TEN/MIN — one low-win, one conservative

  • Steve

    Ok, bugging you one last time as picks are due today and I’m still a little confused. Is the 10% better win odds good enough reason to take GB this week over CHI even though my opponents cannot pick CHI? The chance is there that they both take GB as they haven’t used them and I’m starting to think they both will. If I take CHI this week, they will both be forced to take SD next week and I can take GB. I would be trading safety this week to potentially pick different than both opponents 2 weeks in a row.

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

    Sorry, I guess I did kind of pull in both directions in my last answer.

    I think CHI is the better pick for you. Like you said, you take on a bit of risk this week, but you make up for it with A) the safer pick next week, and B) having both your opponents pick a riskier team next week. … Basically, if this were the last week of the year, GB would be the better choice, even if both of your opponents were picking them. But the spot you’re in next week could be good enough that it’s worth a bit of a disadvantage this week.

  • Jon

    David – love your insights – thanks for the help this year! 5 guys left (started with 100) and I have used Bears, Bengals, Cowboys, Texans, Giants, Falcons and Vikings. Do I go with the safe pick of Green Bay (likely choice of majority) or go with the Pats or SF this week? Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derrick-James/1068589042 Derrick James

    Question..if I dont use Green Bay now , when should I use them..in Week 16 against Tennessee..The Pack havent done much to install confidence and with the injuries , they may struggle against the Jags..should we stay away from Green Bay all together

  • ThaddeusB

    Thanks for the interesting take on things. Noticing the last minute drop in the Minn line, I decided to skip them. Now I just have to decide two GB or two Den.

  • Yunier

    around 11,000

  • Chris

    Glad I didn’t go with MIN!!! Hope the 2 others in my pool that could have, did. Won’t know till Sunday.

    I’m on Chi now and don’t see myself changing. Den & Ten are the only other real possible options and I don’t like them very much.

  • 808duck

    Thanks for the reply! My league requires us to make our selection before the start of the Thursday game, so I went with Denver. As I predicted my opponent went with Green Bay. Unfortunately I’ve already used Green Bay and Chicago in weeks four and three, respectively, which is why I chose Denver (and also why I went with Atlanta in week six like my opponent).

    I do handicapping/wagering as well, and there were a few factors that support my selection of Denver: coming off a bye week, with the better defense, and playing at home outdoors in the altitude. I’ll say this is the most unsure I’ve been about my survivor pick thus far, but I’m hoping Denver gets the job done.

  • Rick

    Hi, David! Thanks for all your work on this but I have a problem. I am one of 20 left out of 202 that started. I have gone off the grid a little and have already used Green Bay, Chicago, and Minnesota along with Houston, PIttsburgh, San Francisco, and Atlanta. The best two for this week seem to be New England and Denver and I know NE is the public pick and also still has the most future value. Should I take Denver or is there another option you like better? Thanks.

  • Tbone

    David: Since there are only 5 left in my pool, & I have only NE/Den available, should I take Den as the safer pick due to their future value? Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/bogey72 Tim BOgiatzis

    I understood what your comment was and i hope i get lucky and pick the right team and alot of people get knocked out this week. Thank you !

  • Frank_Elways

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. That’s a great point regarding the EV of a tie. I tend to get too aggressive with saving the good teams, so I’ll keep your 3 conditions in mind going forward. Great job.

  • http://twitter.com/Coco_Drila12 CocoDrila

    Hi there again!
    Well, last week (7) I picked the Raiders, I know it was a very risky pick, especially in my situation (only 4 left) I survived and only one person lost. We are now 3 and I still can’t figure out which team would be my best option. One of my biggest competitors already picked NE and the other picked GB. They still have the Bears, 49ers, Vikings, Ravens etc… I can’t pick NE or the Bears… I still think I’m better off picking a team that is not good enough, I just don’t want to waste the good teams because I know this pool will last for a while. I need your expert advice, this site is so far the best one I’ve vivited and I trust your opinion. Thanks!

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

    I’d go SF in your spot.

    FYI, the Friday update has been posted. Please make any future comments there.


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

    For info on GB future value, see http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/tools/survivor-predictor/ and http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/team/green-bay-packers/projections … Weeks 9, 13, 14, 16 seem like options.

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

    Whew, great job watching the lines. I was actually thinking of you when I wrote about using Minnesota for a secondary pick in this week’s intro. Glad you avoided them.


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

    Yeah, I’d definitely stick with CHI at this point. Dodged a bullet with MIN there.

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

    FYI, update post is out: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/week-8-nfl-survivor-final-update-a-new-1-team-but-weve-picked-em-already

    DEN and NE are pretty much a toss up. I think I lean DEN in your case, as your pool size means you may not need them in Week 16/17.

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

    Yeah, unless you have reason to suspect DEN will be more popular than NE in your pool, I’d go with DEN since they are nearly as safe, and have less future value over the near term.

    FYI new post is out.


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

    If only one of your opponents can pick GB, I’d go for GB. If you don’t want to burn them now, then I’d take the safest remaining option, which sounds like it’s San Francisco.

  • BT

    I’m in two pools. In one, with 33 players left, no one has taken GB and only a few have taken CHI…so I’m taking CHI this week there. I usually use the same pick for both pools (all or nothing baby!!) but this week is unique…

    In my other pool, with only 15 players left, 3 players (20%) have already used GB and 10 players (66%) have already used CHI. Two of the players who have used GB have also used CHI.

    My guess is that CHI is the safe choice in the 2nd league as well because its not an option for two thirds of remaining poolers.

    What do you think? And also…what do you think in general of picking the same team in multiple pools?

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

    Picking the same team in multiple pools is more of a personal choice. It will, by definition
    –increase your odds of at least one of your entries being eliminated.
    –decrease your odds of *both* entries being eliminated.

    I generally prefer to play different picks, to diversify my portfolio. But it’s not *wrong* to play the same picks.

    If I was going with 2 different teams this week in your situation, I’d probably go CHI in the bigger one and SF/DEN/GB in the smaller one.

  • TOOT

    New user.. testing