Week 1 NFL Survivor Strategy: It’s Early, Don’t Outsmart Yourself

posted in NFL Survivor Pools

Welcome to the Week 1 installment of our series of NFL Survivor contest advice columns, where we use a data-driven strategy to get an edge. This post includes analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models and other relevant data.

Our Survivor column is back! Last year we ran undefeated through the regular season, going a perfect 17-0. There’s no doubt that good luck played a huge role, but we also used number-crunching and game theory to put ourselves in a position to take maximum advantage of good luck. We’ll be employing the exact same strategies again this season, and hoping that luck smiles on us again.

Since it’s Week 1, let’s do a 2-minute review of general Survivor Pool strategy before we get to the actual picks. The following important concepts were laid out in last year’s article on Survivor ground rules, and they’re worth recapping, especially if you’re a new reader.

Survivor Strategy Review

1) You’re in it to win it. This is really the master rule, and all others follow from it. Your picks should be made with the goal of maximizing your odds to win your NFL Survivor pool, not maximizing your odds just to survive the current week. Sometimes that will mean choosing a team that isn’t the biggest favorite in a given week — or even the second or third biggest favorite.

2) Plan for the future. If you want to take home the trophy, you have to save some teams for future weeks. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to use our NFL Survivor Predictor. The Survivor Predictor shows every team’s predicted chance of winning in every week of the season.

3) Pick against the public. In order to beat any given Survivor opponent, there has to be one week of the season where you pick a winner and your foe picks a loser. That means that avoiding very popular teams is often a good strategy, because it provides an opportunity for a single upset to knock out a good chunk of your opponents.

4) Know your pool rules. In some pools, you’re out after one loss. In others, it takes two losses to be eliminated. Some pools run through the playoffs, while some end after the regular season. Any rules variations can affect your weekly choices by increasing or decreasing the amount of risk you can take on, or altering the importance of saving teams for later. If you have specific questions about your pool’s rules, you can ask them in the comments section. Our baseline advice in this column assumes no second chances, and a pool that runs through the regular season only.

If there is one point to stress again, it’s #1. Winning a Survivor contest against 10 or 25 or 100 other people isn’t easy — it’s a longshot. So we will take some calculated risks as the season goes on, confident that we are following optimal strategy, but also knowing that we have a lower chance to survive the current week than some (or many) of our competitors do.

That’s totally fine with us. If we get knocked out in Week 4 or Week 6 because we choose a less popular, slightly less certain pick that ends up losing, while 75% of the people left in your pool go with the more “obvious” pick that ends up winning, we still made the right call. NFL games are far from certainties, and it could have just as easily gone the other way.

Remember, in almost all Survivor pools, if you don’t win, it doesn’t matter when you lost or how long you stayed alive. It’s a binary outcome. You either won (or tied for first) or you lost. Making it to Week 12 or Week 14, compared to Week 5 or Week 7, may have much less to do with someone’s picking skill or ability to figure out the best strategy than you think it does.

OK, keeping those points in mind, let’s get to the Week 1 advice…

Week 1 Survivor Decision Factors

This is the heart of our column, the table showing the factors that influence our decision. For every team, there are basically three questions you should ask yourself:

1. How likely are they to win? Obviously, the better a team’s chances to win this week, the more attractive they are as a pick. To answer this question, we list a team’s point spread as of the writing of this column (from Pinnacle Sports), and their odds from our NFL win picks page.

2. How popular is this team? All else being equal, it’s better to choose a less popular team, because then an upset of the more popular team can knock out more of your opponents. To help answer this question, we show the public pick percentage (Pick %), which is an average of a team’s popularity at various online Survivor Pool sites.

3. Should I save this team for later? In larger pools, you may need to survive the entire season to win a share of the prize pool. That means you need to conserve bullets, and try to save teams that may be useful later. To help answer this question, we include a future value column that estimates how many solid future chances you’ll have to pick this team.

We’re going to try out a slight change for the table this year: we’ll list the teams in order of how attractive we think the team is as a choice this week, assuming a larger pool size. We’re also going to try listing them in separate tiers. If two teams are on the same tier, then we think the difference between the picks is fairly small, and you may want to make your choice based on which pros and cons are more important to your particular pool.

*UPDATE* Since we posted this data, Houston’s public pick percentage has shifted higher, to slightly around 33%, while Chicago’s has dipped a couple points. That is enough to make Houston and Chicago virtually tied for the best pick of the week in our eyes. We’ll be keep Houston as our official pick, but thought we should point out that Chicago is now on the same level. *END UPDATE*

TeamOpponentLineTR OddsPick %Future ValNotes
--------------------------------------------------------------------- TIER 1 ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Houstonvs Miami-11.586%26.4%1popular but safe, little future value
--------------------------------------------------------------------- TIER 2 ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Chicagovs Indianapolis-9.577%17.6%0semi-popular, but little future value
Philadelphiaat Cleveland-9.080%9.2%4less popular than CHI, but more future value
--------------------------------------------------------------------- TIER 3 ---------------------------------------------------------------------
New Orleansvs Washington-9.076%5.1%6
------------------------------------------------------------------- THE REST -------------------------------------------------------------------
Baltimorevs Cincinnati-6.066%3.0%3
Green Bayvs San Francisco-5.571%0.6%5
Detroitvs St Louis-7.069%24.1%3why so popular? STAY AWAY
Minnesotavs Jacksonville-4.061%1.8%1
NY Giantsvs Dallas-4.063%1.8%4
New Englandat Tennessee-6.070%3.5%10best 2012 team
Seattleat Arizona-2.557%1.3%1
NY Jetsvs Buffalo-3.054%0.5%1
Atlantaat Kansas City-3.056%1.3%2
San Diegoat Oakland-1.053%0.5%1
Denvervs Pittsburgh-1.054%0.2%3
Carolinaat Tampa Bay-1.049%1.1%1
Tampa Bayvs Carolina+1.051%0.1%0

Future Val = The number of future games where the team is expected to have win odds of around 75% or greater. This is usually based on our NFL Survivor Tool but early in the season we’ll also supplement it with info from our NFL season projections.

Teams We Already Picked: None. It’s Week 1!

Weighing the Options

Houston Texans (vs. Miami Dolphins) — Houston is pretty clearly the safest choice of the week, with the largest Pinnacle line, and the highest TR win odds. They also don’t have a ton of future value, partly because their schedule is slightly tougher than average. The main negative is that they are fairly popular, but 26% of the public going with them isn’t super high. If you’re confident (or know) that the Texans will be much more popular than that in your pool (say, 35%+), it might be wise to go with a TIER 2 team. Otherwise, it’s too early to get crazy. Just go with the Texans as a safe pick.

Chicago Bears (vs. Indianapolis Colts) — This is one of the easiest games of the year for Chicago, so if you’re going to use them, now’s a good time. However, there’s not much upside to choosing the Bears rather than the Texans. Chicago is only a little less popular, and only has a little less future value. If you’re in a huge pool that will stretch into the playoffs, Chicago may be a smart pick. Otherwise, Houston’s higher win odds trump Chicago’s positive qualities.

Philadelphia Eagles (@ Cleveland Browns) — The Eagles are more valuable going forward than Chicago, but less popular this week. Both teams have similar lines and win odds. At this point in the season, that future value is more important, so we rate the Eagles as less attractive than the Bears.

New Orleans Saints (vs Washington Redskins) — The profile of the Saints looks quite similar to the Eagles, except they are even more valuable going forward, mostly due to their easier schedule. So not really a consideration for us, given the alternatives.

The Rest — The above four teams round out our playable options this week. There’s a steep drop in win odds after New Orleans, and there’s not really any positive benefit to taking on that additional risk, since it’s not like any of the next few almost-as-safe teams have zero future value and zero popularity. There is one game in particular we should mention, though:

Detroit Lions (vs St. Louis Rams) — The Lions are nearly as popular as the Texans, even though their line is only -7, compared to -11.5 for Houston. This is probably because some people made their choices earlier in the week, before the line changed (it opened at Detroit -9). This is a great for you. If your opponents don’t change their picks, you’ll have a quarter of your pool backing a team that’s only a moderate favorite. You should STAY AWAY from Detroit this week, and hope for an upset.

Official Week 1 NFL Survivor Pick: Houston Texans over Miami Dolphins

This was a fairly straightforward week. The Texans are clearly the safest team (relatively, at least, as far as Week 1 point spreads can be trusted), and the only negative to picking them is that they have also been chosen by about 25% of your opponents. That’s not enough to push us off of the pick. The Houston Texans are our choice in both large and small pools.

However, if your pool stretches into the playoffs, you may want to save the Texans, as they are favored to win the AFC South. In that case, the Chicago Bears are probably your best pick. They are slightly less safe, but have significantly lower playoff odds.

*UPDATE* Since we posted this column, Houston’s public pick percentage has shifted higher, to slightly around 33%, while Chicago’s has dipped a couple points. That is enough to make Houston and Chicago virtually tied for the best pick of the week in our eyes. We’ll be keep Houston as our official pick, but thought we should point out that Chicago is now on the same level. *END UPDATE*

Of course, as always feel free to ask questions about your specific situation in the comments section.

  • Daniel

    What strategy difference is there in a 3 misses you’re out type of pool? Could I risk more from the beginning and go with a team like Minnesota? Or am I doing exactly what you said and outsmarting myself? Thanks

  • Yunier

    In a huge league (probably high hundreds or even thousands) where you’re allowed to have 2 different entries, what’s the best strategy each week? Go with an obvious pick like Houston this week on both entries or spread them out to different teams to make sure you don’t lose both entries in the same week? Thanks

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

    I think it depends on A) how many people there are, and B) whether the pot gets split between everybody still alive or only split between the people with the fewest losses. But basically, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to make riskier picks. Since there is literally a 0% chance that any opponents get eliminated this week, public pick percentage seems like it would be less important. That makes Houston even more attractive, in my eyes.

    Of course, in your pool, I doubt the pick percentages will be the same as what we have listed above. I’d play it conservative the first few weeks while you figure out how your pool trends will differ from normal pools, then try to use that info to figure out which teams will be popular in future weeks.

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

    In a week like this where there are multiple decent options, I would spread the risk out and pick two separate teams. That also leaves you Houston available for future weeks for one of your entries, and it’s good to have different options for the two entries at the end of the year.

  • Mike

    Hello David,

    I am in a large pool, there are probably going to be over 7,000 entries.

    In weeks 10 through 15 you must pick two teams and in weeks 16 and 17 you must pick three teams. Do you have any advice or strategies on how to handle a pool like this?

    Thanks for your help and looking forward to following your blog throughout the year.


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

    It sounds like in your situation, future value will be MUCH more important (since you need more teams in the future). Also, with so many people, you’ll want to place a larger premium on avoiding popular teams. With that in mind, I think I’d opt for Chicago this week — less future value, and less popular than Houston.

  • Dan

    I’d guess that an option for buy-backs in the first 2 weeks wouldn’t change the overall recommendation much? I’m not sure if the future value of Houston is really at all significant.

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

    By “buy-backs” I assume you mean that if you get eliminated in Week 1 or Week 2, you can pay to enter another team?

    I think the biggest differences that would make would be:
    1) Riskier teams will be more popular in your pool in the first 2 weeks, and
    2) The popularity of a team should matter slightly less to you, since a huge favorite losing won’t actually eliminate all the people that picked them. (It will eliminate some, and increase the prize pool which is mathematically similar to eliminating opponents, but the effect will be smaller.)

    You might think that you should take more risks, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case. If you lose and buy back in, you just halved your ROI, so there is still a pretty big penalty for a loss.

    Given those two main changes, I think the case for choosing Houston becomes stronger. Their main negative is their popularity, but (1) means they’ll be less popular, and (2) means that popularity shouldn’t concern you as much.

  • John F.

    Hey David

    Love this site – if only I had found it earlier last year!!

    I have 5 entries in a ~ 1,500 entry pool. I suppose the pinnacle of success would involve me having 2 entries left heading in to week 17 so I could pick a team on each side of the same game.

    With 5 entries, what sort of strategy should I implement throughout the season? I’m thinking I spread picks out, but not to a point where I’m losing entries just for the sake of avoiding stacking picks on a “good” game.


    With statistical admiration,
    John F. (California)

  • Dan

    Thanks! I’m feeling much more confident about my pick.

  • AG

    How do you determine the “popularity” of a given pick? I don’t know anyone who makes their survivor choices before this article is published.


  • Jet

    David, love the column and appreciate the help. Cashed in last year. In a huge pool (1,000) entries, we have 24 picks (group of us). Was considering going like 14 with Houston and 10 with Chicago to spread out. With that many picks would you go with just two picks or spread to three? Tough to decide, but was leaning towards 2-3 each week.

  • Dave

    David, what are your thoughts on an Anti-Survivor pool, where you’re picking losers? I know there’s not a lot of Pick% data for this type of pool, but what are your thoughts on week 1? Seems like SF would be a popular pick, from future value perspective.

  • http://twitter.com/jerristig gerardo adame

    Hi David, how you would think the strategy should change in a 200+ pool where you can choose the same team more than once? I’m a Mexican fan of your column. Thx!

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

    Yes, you’ve got the right idea, I think. No need to try to make 5 different picks when there are not 5 good options. Spreading your picks out decreases the chances of you getting entirely eliminated in a given week … but it also increases the chance of at least one of your entries losing.

    Without actually running the math (i.e. simulating a Survivor season where you have 5 entries), my guess would be that spreading your picks out over about 3 teams each week would be fine. Maybe 2 Houston, 2 Chicago, 1 Philly this week. Or: HOU / HOU / CHI / PHI / NO

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

    We use public pick info from Yahoo, ESPN, and OfficeFootballPool.com. The pick values will definitely change some as the week goes on (especially this week), but generally they don’t change enough to make a huge difference in our picks.

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

    Wow, 24 is definitely the highest number of entries I’ve been asked about.

    I think the number of teams to spread out onto each week should depend on how good the options are in any given week. This week, there are several pretty decent ones, so I might do something like 12 HOU, 8 CHI, 4 PHI. But that is total gut instinct, I definitely don’t have any 24-team math to back that up.

    One thing I think might be interesting it reserve a few of your entries to employ different strategies. You can have one that takes the safest pick each week and ignores other factors, one that tries to plan out the whole season in advance to maximize survival odds, one that ignores future value but DOES pay attention to popularity, etc. … My thinking here is that there are some years that are good for “smart picks” (several upsets of the most popular teams), and some that aren’t (most popular team wins every week). It might be worth diversifying your entries a tiny bit in order to be covered in more situations. That will probably lower your AVERAGE expected value, but might increased the percentage of years that you win at least *something*.

  • rcc22

    David…in a pool with pot is HUGE…i got 3 picks

    Houston is one…hate to use all 3 on one team..any advice…
    NOTE: You can only pick against the same team twice.
    Usually only need to survive to week 15 or so to get something out of this…
    any suggestions?


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

    The same concepts apply to anti-survivor. You should think about the same three factors:

    1) How likely is this team to lose?
    2) How popular will this pick be?
    3) How much future value does this team have?

    SF is a good pick by criteria (3), but they are pretty far behind Miami on criteria (1), and like you said, they may be bad for criteria (2) as well. … And actually, they aren’t as far ahead in criteria (3) as you might expect, according to our Survivor table: http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/tools/survivor-predictor/

    In my mind, I think it comes down to those 2 teams (MIA & SF), as the other “safe” picks look like they have a lot more future value. Given that it’s early in the season, and it’s tough to accurately gauge the teams, I like to go more conservative to start with. So I would lean MIA, but SF is not bad, either.

    My more solid advice is to carefully study what teams got picked in your pool this week (after the week is over, and you see the choices), and see if you can figure out any patterns, to help you predict who will be popular next week. Do people pile onto the biggest underdog? Do they focus on picking the best team out of the semi-reasonable choices (SF)? Etc.

    Good luck!

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

    If you can choose the same team more than once, then future value becomes irrelevant. That will, of course, change who your opponents are picking. If anything, it should shift some people from Houston to other teams. Since Houston’s main negative is their popularity, which will be lessened in your pool, I’d say Houston still seems like a good choice. But again, its tough to say without knowing how your opponents will choose. Definitely pay attention to pick percentages in Week 1, and see if you can gain some insights for future weeks.

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

    Hmm, only being able to pick against the same team twice definitely complicates things. However, looking at the top few options, it seems like you are less likely to pick against Miami in the future than the other top choices. So that doesn’t change Houston as the top choice, I think.

    In general, actually, it seems the top options this week are facing OK teams. The worst teams are St. Louis and Jacksonville, and you’ll be saving both of those. So not sure that requirement changes a ton this week.

    So yeah, I’d go HOU / CHI / PHI … or HOU / HOU / CHI … but as I’m saying on all these, it’s tough to say how your rules will change what people pick. You’ll want to make sure to pay attention to that the first few weeks, and figure out what the trends in your league are.

  • Tyson

    I’d recommend not using ESPN after this week. People can pick the entire season up front, so those percentages after week 1 will include people who lost the first week, picked the entire season, and never return.

  • Pizza Man

    I’m in a 1000 person survivor pool….you can get one loss….can only use a team once (regardless if it wins or loses)….the question is in regard to the tiebreaker which always comes into account….the player with the lowest cumulative total wins total that survives wins the tiebreaker. How would you let that adjust your weekly strategy at all? I have three seperate entries….thoughts?

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

    Yep, I think I heard that last season. Haven’t really decided on a plan, but I figured I’d use just Yahoo/OFP going forward. Thanks for the reminder!

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

    If you’re saying that the tiebreaker always comes into play (meaning multiple people survive), it might be helpful to take a look at what the tiebreaker values were for the past winners, and to see how many big risks they needed to take to win the pool. Then, make picks similar to those winners.

    I suppose it’s possible that in order to win this pool, you need to take some substantial risks and get very lucky. So, bad teams with lower win odds now look a bit better. Chicago may now be preferable to Houston (we project Chicago with fewer wins). I don’t think any other team suddenly looks like a good pick — Minnesota seems like a possible candidate, but they are SOOO much riskier than Houston/Chicago, that I’d probably still stay away. In future weeks there may be some better chances to get a bit risky.

  • Joe N

    Hi David, I’m in a pool similar to Mike with over 7,500 people (same rules too – may be the same pool). I have 3 picks for this pool. How would you handle this? I was thinking one Houston, one Chicago and maybe one Philly. What do you think? By the way, your blog is great, read it all last year, should have followed it more and maybe I would have ended up winning!

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

    Yeah, I think I agree with your 3 choices — HOU, CHI, PHI. Or perhaps save PHI, and go CHI, CHI, HOU. The Eagles look like they could be pretty useful at the end of the year when you need multiple teams. Or, because it’s such a huge pool, you may need to get frisky and go with something like CHI, HOU, MIN (since the Vikings are the next team on the list with very little future value).

  • Frank Elways

    hmmm, but doesn’t the increase in future value by picking a risky team early (resulting in higher odds of winning later) make up for for the loss of ROI? Especially in the case of a rising pot from everyone’s buybacks?

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

    The pot rises whether you make a risky or safe pick — if 20% of the pool buys back in, every ROI calculation just gets multiplied by 1.2. That doesn’t change the rank ordering of the picks at all.

    However, I think you may have a point about the risk trade off in this case (now vs. later). Generally, because we have a better estimate of this week’s win odds than we do for, say, Week 17, it’s usually better to take the safe option now and leave the risky one for later (There’s always a chance that a great opportunity appears out of nowhere thanks to injuries, trades, or simple improvement/decline of teams over the season.).

    But in this case, because a loss only halves your ROI rather than completely wipes it out (assuming you plan on buying back in), it does make sense to front-load the risk … Taking it to extremes, it’s better to have a coin flip today and a guaranteed win in Week 17 than a guaranteed win now and a coin flip in Week 17.

  • Greg W

    David – Love the insight, i’ll keep my question brief. I’m in 3 varying sized pools, 1 entry with 3000, 2 entries with 110, 1 entry with 15. Best to keep them all the same, or should I vary them to give myself less of a chance of being eliminated? Right now have Hou in all, Chi as second pick in 110 pool. Thanks.

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

    Greg, pool size makes a big difference in the proper strategy. You probably won’t need to survive all 17 weeks in the 15 person pool, so future value is less important. On the other hand, in the 3000 person pool you’ll want to place a premium on avoiding popular teams, since your goal is to eventually split the pot with as few people as possible.

    Another consideration is that you may want to make different picks in the different pools in order to have a better chance to win at least one of them. If you make the same picks in the large an small pools, you’ll probably win both or lose both. If you make different picks, you’ve got a better chance to win at least one of them.

    So, if you want to diversify your picks, I might go:
    Large: HOU
    Medium: HOU, CHI

    That PHI pick may not be as good as HOU in a vacuum, so if you want to treat each pool individually then your original suggestion is fine, too (HOU in all, plus CHI in medium).

  • Dan

    Well, I’m already locked in with my Houston pick – but I was trying to weigh the slight benefit of using Chicago & saving Houston (for week 9, 11, or 15-17) vs. taking the safer pick now.

    I decided to stay with Houston because who knows what will happen by week 9. Also, there are other alternatives for those weeks, and the pool likely won’t make it to the end-of-the-season anyway. Plus, a 9% difference in win odds between Houston & Chicago (if you trust this site’s model) is significant.

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

    Cool. I think that sounds like a good plan. Good luck!

  • NJR

    Hi David, love your blog. This is the 1st time I’m reading you but I can tell you DEF know what you’re talking about and your insight is valuable. With that being said, I’m in a Survivor pool (same rules as described in your post) with about 700 members. I have 6 teams (2 of them alone, 4 with partners). What would be your strategy here? I’m considering the following: W/partners: Saints, Bears, Texans and Bears; Alone: Bears, Texans….Thoughts?

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

    I think that’s pretty reasonable. It looks like Houston has become a bit more popular since we published this, so Houston and Chicago are now neck-and-neck for the best pick in my book.

    So I definitely think you are right to go with HOU/CHI for your 2 picks. And CHI/CHI/HOU/NO seems fine for the partners. I would lean towards PHI rather than NO for that last pick, but not it’s not like NO is a *bad* pick. I do like doubling up on either CHI or HOU there.

    Not sure how many partners there are, so that may affect this, but … One thing you might want to consider is thinking of your 2 personal entries as more of an extension of your portfolio. With 6 picks, I might try to go 2 CHI, 2 HOU, PHI, NO. That would mean making your personal picks HOU & PHI. Then again, you may want to keep the group picks and the personal picks kind of in separate boxes, especially if the groups are big. Kind of a matter of personal choice. I suppose 3 CHI, 2 HOU, 1 NO is good, too, and then your personal picks look better in isolation. So … yeah, I like your personal picks.

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

    *UPDATE* Since we posted this data, Houston’s public pick percentage has shifted higher, to slightly around 33%, while Chicago’s has dipped a couple points. That is enough to make Houston and Chicago virtually tied for the best pick of the week in our eyes. We’ll be keep Houston as our official pick, but thought we should point out that Chicago is now on the same level. *END UPDATE*

  • NJR

    Thanks for your response. I should have specified that all my partner teams are with one other person only. And the league is a buy-back league (for double the initial investment), up to and including week 8. And if you do buy-back, you still cannot use whatever teams you’ve already chosen (even if they lost). Hope this doesn’t change your view on your decision too much. Thanks!

  • B-RAD

    Hey David,
    Love the blog. Does your pick change at all if Arian Foster and Brooks Reed don’t play? I still think they’ll have a field day with Tannehill

    I agree with you about Detroit- might be a trap game looking toward SF if SL comes out blazing with Fisher’s new Defense

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

    I’ll basically defer to Vegas on Houston. If their line drops, then I’d back off. If not, then I don’t think I’d be too worried.

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

    Hmm, interesting. Is that buy-back as many times as you want, or just once? Either way, I thing Chicago looks better than Houston in tour case, since it’s OK to be a bit riskier in exchange for wasting less future value. So your 3/2/1 strategy looks pretty good.

  • rcc22

    Houstons pt spread dropped because ofFoster…my picks are houston, houston & chicago…should i change my picks?
    whats your thoughts?

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

    The Houston point spread is -12.5 now at Pinnacle, compared to -11.5 when I wrote this article. So, I’m not worried.

    That said, if you notice the *UPDATE* message I posted, more people are picking Houston later in the week, so Chicago is looking like just as good of a pick as the Texans. So if you are worried about Foster, I think switching to Chicago/Chicago/Houston seems fine. I think it’s six of one, half a dozen of another, so you should go with the option that makes you feel more comfortable.

  • Tyler Thigpen

    Regardless of how the Lions game finishes (currently 13-13 tie), I want to thank you for convincing me to switch to the Texans. I would be sweating right now.

  • Dan

    What happened to the week 1 stats? Why did Houston drop to 48%?

    Also, is it too early to start talking week 2? Seems like Patriots have the win percentage, but Giants will be less popular (?) with less future value…

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

    Ha, no problem! From a Survivor perspective, I was really hoping the Rams would be able to pull that off. Would have been nice to knock out a quarter of the pool in week 1!

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

    Hmm, I’m not sure why those Week 1 percentages are off. Then again, I’m not sure why we have any values listed for a past week at all. I’ll look into it, but in the meantime you can safely ignore that week — I just double checked the Week 2 and Week 3 numbers, and those look good.

  • wile

    When you have an update – can you reflect the change by also updating your RSS feed? If you can’t – what is the latest I should check for updates? My pool picks lock at 11am CST Sunday.


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

    We do plan on updating the RSS if we change our official pick in an update. Other lower priority updates (like this week) will not be broadcast in the RSS.

    As for how late to check … we’re not going to set a rule for how late an update might happen. If the QB for our pick gets injured 15 minutes before the Sunday morning games start, and we catch it, we’ll update with a new pick. That said, it will take a pretty big line move or pick% move to knock us off of our original pick. It only happened once last year.

  • wile

    I know – it was that miss that knocked me out of my pool.

  • robert

    David any strategy rules of thumb if you can use a team repeatedly as many times as you want in a very large pool (multiple thousands of players)?

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

    Sure. Future value is irrelevant in that contest, since you can re-use teams. And in a pool that huge, you want to pay more attention to how popular a team is, and be a bit more inclined to avoid to top picks — your goal here is to split the pot with as few people as possible, so you want to root for this to be a year full of upsets that take out the popular teams and leave you standing.

  • Malachievol

    Hello David!! Been following you since last season… :) Our picks have to be in by wednesday… Who you going with this week? Thank you in advance 😉

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

    Our Survivor post will be out later today. I haven’t run the numbers yet, but taking a quick look now it seems like the Giants may be the pick. But like I said, the actual pick will be out later today.

  • Tyson

    Been following since last season as well, and after watching for a while you get to know how they go about things. So I’d be surprised if their pick isn’t the Giants this week.

  • Malachievol

    Thank you David :)

  • C U Later!

    Hi David. Been following you guys for several years…great job with the site. Any luck running the numbers for week 2’s pick? At work we unfortunately have a deadline to get pick in…Thanks for your great advice.

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