The Holy Trinity Of Survivor Pick Strategy Data
If you want to make the best survivor picks possible, you must keep three key pieces of information in mind.
To win in Survivor you need a good threesome (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire)
To maximize your edge in an NFL survivor contest, you need to focus your attention on identifying the specific pick opportunities that give you the best chance to beat your opponents. That means looking at pick decisions through a value lens (by understanding the relative risks and benefits of picking against the crowd) as well as a survival lens.
To do this level of analysis, you must have the Holy Trinity of survivor pool strategy data. These are three metrics about every team, every week, that are required to identify your best possible survivor pick:
- Win Odds
- Pick Popularity
- Future Value
Win odds are the most basic element of winning survivor pick strategy. It is, after all, a survivor pool, so it’s paramount to understand how certain point spreads translate to game-winning odds for each team.
It goes without saying that the higher a team’s win odds, the better. All else being equal, you’re better off picking a team that’s more likely to win.
At Team Rankings, we use a combination of betting market odds and data-driven predictive models to calculate objective win odds for every team, every week.
Usually, though, all else is not equal, and pick popularity–the percentage of opponents expected to select each team–plays a big role in determining optimal pick strategy.
Many survivor pool players do not fully appreciate the impact pick popularity has on their chances to win. They focus so much on picking the “safest” team that they forget there is only one way to win a survivor pool: You need to get a pick right while your opponents get their picks wrong.
While safety is important, identifying choice opportunities to pick against the crowd is also critical to maximizing your chances of winning the pool. At TeamRankings, we gather data from multiple survivor pool hosting sites. This allows us to estimate how frequently each team is being selected in survivor pools each week. Sacrificing a few percentage points of safety to pick a team that is much less popular will often increase your odds to win a survivor pool.
Unpopular, almost-as-safe teams generally make for great picks in survivor pools.
The interplay of pick popularity and game odds goes into the basic assessment of expected value, which we cover in more detail for those interested in the specifics. But first, let’s hit the final element of a winning strategy: the future.
You will find numerous Survivor Pool advice articles on the internet that tell you not to worry about the future. Just try to get through the early weeks, because the future is unpredictable. You want to be in pools with people that have such beliefs, and you can gain big edges in pools by understanding that keeping one eye on the future matters.
Future value in survivor pools is pretty easy to understand in theory. When you “burn” a very good team by using it as your survivor pick in a given week, you typically increase your odds to survive the week (good), but you then no longer have that team available to use in the future (bad).
However, determining a team’s future value gets very complicated, because it isn’t only determined by how good a team is. It’s also determined by their future schedule, and what other games in each of those future weeks are also potentially useful in survivor pools. it’s more important to save a team if their easiest future game comes in a week with few other good pick options. You can read more about Future Value here.
Bringing It All Together
Survivor pools are amazingly complex games. Figuring out your optimal pick strategy takes a lot of data and math, and there’s no simple formula for doing it. If there were, these pools wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
To increase your chance of success, you need to take a value-oriented approach, and not just a survival-oriented approach. You cannot disregard everything about what is going to happen with both your opponents and in future weeks. The weekly pick that gives you the best chance to win your survivor pool may sometimes still end up being the safest pick for that particular week — but not always.
Figuring out your optimal pick requires an objective and precise understanding of win odds, pick popularity, and future value for every team. Do all that well, and you should reap handsome long-term profits from survivor pools.