Week 15 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2021)

Week 14 NFL Survivor picks have a lot of options, including the Chargers against the Giants and the Titans versus Jaguars.

Miami will try to sweep the New York teams (Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire)

In this column, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL survivor pools, also known as knockout or eliminator pools. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our NFL Survivor Picks product.

Week 15 Survivor Updates

We’ll add to this post every day until the Sunday kickoffs, so check back for updates.

Tuesday 12/14

Week 15 Early Most Popular Teams Summary

This is an early summary of the most popular picks so far in Week 15.

  • Miami Dolphins (20%) vs. New York Jets
  • San Francisco 49ers (18%) vs. Atlanta Falcons
  • Arizona Cardinals (18%) at Detroit Lions
  • Dallas Cowboys (9%) at New York Giants
  • Philadelphia Eagles (5%) vs. Washington Football Team

These numbers are early, and you should expect some of these teams to rise in popularity, as right now, about 31 percent of the public is picking teams outside of these five. We will go through these five most popular teams.

Miami Dolphins

Miami is a solid play this week if the popularity numbers stay near where they are. The Dolphins have no future value, and they have relatively high win odds at 78 percent.

Yes, you would like to have one of the higher-EV plays available (Arizona or Dallas), but those teams were heavily used by entries to navigate through the gauntlet to get to this point.

The Dolphins have similar win odds and popularity to the 49ers, but they have less future value. Miami also has significantly better win odds compared to the teams being picked by about 25 percent of the public.

San Francisco 49ers

The Niners have similar win odds and popularity to Miami, along with a solid EV. However, if you may still need an option in what could be a tight Week 17, San Francisco projects as a high-EV pick that week.

It would be preferable to save the Niners, but if you’re deciding between taking them and going with a team with win odds below 70 percent, then using them now makes sense.

Arizona Cardinals

This is a “use ’em if you’ve got ’em” week with the Cardinals, but most entries don’t have them available. Arizona is the biggest favorite of the week and will not have an EV this large again this year, as its schedule gets tougher moving forward.

Dallas Cowboys

Similar to Arizona, this is a good week to use the Cowboys if you have them available. They are one of the largest favorites of the week and have relatively low popularity.

The Cowboys do have future value next week, when they will be an option against Washington at home. But entries are more likely to have at least one of the LA Chargers, Philadelphia, or Seattle for next week compared to the top options this week.

So on balance, using Dallas is an high-EV move this week.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles may not be the preferred option this week, but they might be the necessary one if you’ve used the other four teams on this list (plus some other high-usage teams like Buffalo and Tampa Bay).

Their EV is below the other options, but it’s above some other picks that are drawing interest this week.

The Eagles also draw the spiraling Giants next week, who have been without QB Daniel Jones and may be without him for the rest of the year. So they could have a higher EV in Week 16 if you have another option now.

Tuesday 12/14

Week 14 Survivor Recap

And on the seventh week, the upsets rested.

After a tumultuous six-week stretch of survivor eliminations, Week 14 returned to the favorites winning as expected. All of the popular choices got through.

Here is a summary of the most popular picks for Week 14, and the results:

LA ChargersNY Giants21%W, 37-21
TennesseeJacksonville17%W, 20-0
Green BayChicago17%W, 45-30
DenverDetroit16%W, 38-10
SeattleHouston11%W, 33-13
New OrleansNY Jets10%W, 30-9
Kansas CityLas Vegas2%W, 48-9
CarolinaAtlanta1%L, 29-21
DallasWashington1%W, 27-20
San FranciscoCincinnati1%W, 26-23 OT

Most of the survivor-relevant games in Week 14 didn’t even require a late sweat. Most of the favorites won big, and only the Green Bay Packers trailed at half (though they took the lead for good early in the third quarter).

About 97 percent of the public advanced, with Carolina being the biggest loss. Nearly all of our recommendations survived (99.6%), with four total picks in multi-pick pools on Carolina, Washington, or Pittsburgh.


Survivor Strategy Articles and E-Book

If you’re serious about winning more survivor pools, you need to learn the key strategies that create edge. You can start with our free survivor strategy articles, which explain a number of the concepts we apply to our customized survivor pick recommendations.

We’ve also published a strategy e-book, “Survivor Pool Strategy: What It Takes To Win,” available for free download.


About Our Survivor Pool Advice

We break down the pros and cons of various survivor pick options in this column, but none of our advice is ever absolute.

Why don’t we just tell you the “best” survivor pick of the week? Because there is no universal “best pick” for all NFL survivor pools.

The best weekly pick for your pool depends on a variety of factors, including the number of entries still alive and your pool’s rules. For example:

  • Bigger pools reward more risk-taking.
    The more entries in your pool, the lower the chance you have to win it. In addition, you have a limited number of weeks to send hundreds or thousands of opponents to slaughter while you survive unscathed. As a result, bigger pools demand more focus on avoiding the most popular picks.
  • Non-standard rules change pick calculus.
    If your pool requires double picks late in the season, or if it’s a strike pool (i.e. your first incorrect pick doesn’t eliminate you), you don’t want to use the same pick strategy you’d use in a standard-rules pool. Those rule variations significantly influence decision factors, such as the value of saving good teams for later use.

Plus, what if you’ve already picked the team (or teams) that some article says is the best? What if the point spread for that “best pick” has gotten several points worse since the article was published? How should you spread your picks across multiple teams if you’re playing more than one entry?

Technology to the rescue

Other sites don’t understand this stuff, or they just ignore it because it’s complicated and hard. We’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate all the strategy factors that matter and provide you with customized survivor pick recommendations every week.

The result? Over the past four years, our subscribers have reported nearly $3 million in survivor pool winnings using our data-driven picks and tools.

So if you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pool, you need to use our NFL Survivor Picks product.

As another bonus, the product updates multiple times per day with the latest win odds and pick popularity data, so you’re never forced to make pick decisions based on stale data.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks the product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

We also utilize this column to help educate our readers about survivor pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more survivor pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

Our goal with these articles is to dig deeper into the world of survivor pools than anyone else does, using an objective and data-driven lens. We’ll recap key results from the previous week, identify the most compelling picks of the current week, and evaluate the implications of breaking news on survivor strategy.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our survivor pool strategy articles.

Wednesday 12/15

Early Week 15 Outlook

Here is how our pick recommendations are shaping up so far heading into Week 15.

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