Week 16 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2021)

Week 16 NFL Survivor picks feature a newcomer in Atlanta, joining options like the Eagles, Chargers, Saints, and Seahawks.

The Philadelphia Eagles play two games with Survivor implications in five days (Rich Graessle/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 16 Survivor Updates

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

Tuesday 12/21

Product Launches on Wednesday Due to Tuesday NFL Week 15 Games

As a reminder, our survivor product for Week 16 will not open up until Wednesday afternoon due to the games tonight. That pushes us back 24 hours on our timeline of releasing pick recommendations.

If you need pick recommendations before Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET for your particular pool, please reach out to us or drop a question in the Support Forum.

Meanwhile, we are listing the early popularity numbers we have for Week 16. We’ll add analysis on Wednesday.

Tuesday 12/21

Week 16 Early Most Popular Teams Summary

This is an early summary of the most popular picks so far in Week 16. We will update this on Wednesday with more analysis.

  • Atlanta Falcons (19%) vs. Detroit Lions
  • Philadelphia Eagles (17%) vs. New York Giants
  • Seattle Seahawks (15%) vs. Chicago Bears
  • New Orleans Saints (12%) vs. Miami Dolphins
  • Los Angeles Chargers (11%) at Houston Texans

These numbers are based on preset picks, many of which were saved prior to the Week 15 games. You can expect some shifts, such as Atlanta dropping after Detroit’s win, based on recent results, but it should identify the teams likely to be used by many entries this week.

We’ll update this tomorrow once we get ready to launch the product.

Tuesday 12/21

Week 15 Survivor Recap

We still have the Philadelphia game in play tonight, where about 7 percent of the public and TR recommendations are awaiting the outcome.

Pending that result, here is a summary of the most popular picks for Week 15, and the results:

MiamiNY Jets24%W, 31-24
San FranciscoAtlanta19%W, 31-13
ArizonaDetroit18%L, 30-12
DallasNY Giants8%W, 21-6
PhiladelphiaWashington7%W, 27-17
JacksonvilleHouston4%L, 30-16
BuffaloCarolina4%W, 31-14
MinnesotaChicago3%W, 17-9
Tampa BayNew Orleans3%L, 9-0
ClevelandLas Vegas2%L, 16-14
Green BayBaltimore1%W, 31-30
Kansas CityLA Chargers1%W, 34-28 OT

Arizona was the big upset of the week. Tampa Bay was another big upset by point spread, though few entries had the Bucs left to use.

So far, about 28 percent of public entries have been eliminated. About 21 percent of TR entries were eliminated, mostly on Arizona.


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 12/22

Five Most Popular Teams of Week 16 Breakdown

Yesterday, we posted the five teams that were the most popular in early pick data. But with Tuesday games still to be played, those were almost entirely preset picks from before Week 15 had begun.

The five teams stayed the same, but the percentages and order shifted as entries have started updating for this week. The Chargers are moving up, and Atlanta is dropping.

Here are the current popularity numbers on Wednesday:

  • Los Angeles Chargers (36%) at Houston Texans
  • Philadelphia Eagles (14%) vs. New York Giants
  • New Orleans Saints (10%) vs. Miami Dolphins
  • Atlanta Falcons (9%) vs. Detroit Lions
  • Seattle Seahawks (7%) vs. Chicago Bears

Let’s go through these options.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have understandably moved up in pick popularity this week, but that has reduced their EV as a result. At 36 percent popularity with 80 percent win odds, their EV is right at 1.01.

Los Angeles is a solid choice, but if you’re aiming to increase your pot share with three weeks left, you may want to differentiate if you have another option that isn’t much riskier.

The Chargers have low future value after this week, which is why entries might be using them. They do project to have 70 percent win odds next week against Denver, but we project eight other teams to have higher win odds, so their EV could be even lower.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are a good option if you think their pick rate will be lower than the Chargers in your pool. They have similar win odds against the Giants, but less than half the popularity and a pretty good EV (1.15) at the national public pick rate of 14 percent.

This is also the last clear spot to use the Eagles, as they close with games at Washington and versus the Cowboys.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are coming off a big win against Tampa Bay and have become a semi-popular option this week. The problem is that they have the lowest win odds of this group, and the worst EV.

If you want to consider the Saints as a contrarian play, it may be better to utilize them against Carolina in Week 17 or at Atlanta in Week 18.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta is the “Mr. Right Now” choice for entries that are short on options, as the Falcons have modest win odds (66%) but are pretty much available to everyone. Those win odds could also fluctuate based on Lions QB Jared Goff’s availability.

Goff was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, but he could return if he has no symptoms by this weekend based on the changed rules for returning players implemented last week.

Atlanta’s EV (0.94) is below all of the other popular options except the Saints. You should choose the Falcons only if you don’t have those other options as of right now.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks have win odds slightly below Philadelphia and the Chargers (74%), but they are a decent contrarian play this week at relatively lower popularity. They do have some future value, but that also may be overestimated by many players.

The Seahawks could be a very popular choice next week as a team with higher win odds vs. Detroit. However, that is far more likely to be available to entries that have not planned ahead to save other teams.

If you have a good Week 17 option who will have its popularity limited by usage (San Francisco, New England, Buffalo, or Tampa Bay), it might be better to go contrarian with Seattle this week to increase your pot odds.


Thursday 12/22

New Orleans to Start Ian Book at QB, Plus Survivor Week 16 Strategy Breakdown

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Saints will have to start Ian Book at QB, as Taysom Hill is now in COVID -19 protocols, and Trevor Siemian is out. That has some survivor implication, as about 8 percent of the public was picking New Orleans.

Expect that percentage to drop with this news, as the Saints are now a betting underdog against Miami. Those picks should shift largely to the other four popular choices.

Now, let’s turn to how our pick strategy is shaping up.

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