September 6, 2019 - by Jason Lisk
Like Saquon Barkley, you will often need to go on long runs to win a survivor pool (Photo by Icon Sportswire)
What are the chances that you’re going to need to survive until the very end of the season this year to win your NFL survivor pool? What about just until Week 12 or Week 15?
A big reason why our subscribers have reported nearly $1.5 million in survivor pool winnings since 2017 is because our survivor pick optimization algorithms take into account how long their pools are expected to last.
Armed with that data, you can make the highest expected value decisions when you need to choose between “burning” a great team or saving that team for use in a future week.
This post provides data and guidance to help you understand what your future planning horizon should be.
Due to the nature of survivor pools, there is significant variability in how long a pool lasts in a given year, compared to the longer-term average expectation.
Because of that variability, it’s also helpful to look at the median long term survival rate instead of the average.
The following table, using data from SurvivorGrid.com, shows the general public’s cumulative weekly survival rate in survivor pools by year, going back to the 2010 season.
Percentage Of Original Survivor Pool Entries Still Alive After Each Week, 2010-2018
Here are some observations from the survival rate data:
In survivor pools, an average of 73.2% of entries survived each NFL week between 2010 and 2018.
In other words, on average, 26.8% of survivor entries (a bit more than 1 out of 4) that were alive at the beginning of a given NFL week were eliminated that week.
Based on that statistic, here is how long you should expect your survivor pool to last, based on the total number of entries at the start of the pool.
The columns in the table below show the 5th percentile expectation (that is, how long the pool would last in outlier-type years when survival rates are lower and eliminations come earlier) all the way up to the 95th percentile expectation (the opposite scenario). The 50th percentile column is the “average” expectation.
Expected Length of A Standard-Rules Survivor Pool, By Pool Size
|Pool Size||5th Percentile||25th Percentile||50th Percentile||75th Percentile||95th Percentile|
|10||Week 5||Week 7||Week 9||Week 11||Week 17|
|25||Week 7||Week 10||Week 12||Week 14||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers
|50||Week 10||Week 12||Week 14||Week 17||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers|
|100||Week 12||Week 14||Week 16||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers|
|250||Week 15||Week 17||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers|
|1000||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers||Past Week 17/Tiebreakers|
Note: These calculations are based on “standard rules” survivor pools with no buy-backs (which let you re-enter the pool if you get eliminated early), strikes (which let you get one or more picks wrong without being eliminated), or additional complexities like making double picks in later weeks, if you survive that long.
Non-standard rules will impact how long a similar-size survivor contest is expected to last. Buy-backs and strikes, for example, will extend the expected length of a contest.
On the other hand, a requirement that you start picking multiple games later in the year should increase the elimination rate in those weeks, and shorten the expected length of the pool.
When you are making your weekly survivor picks this year, make sure you think about how long your pool is expected to last. You’ll probably need to survive longer than you would assume in order to win it.
And if you don’t prepare your survivor house accordingly for the storm ahead, you’re going to have a hard time making it through.
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