Week 9 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2021)

The Week 9 survivor outlook includes four teams with popularity above 10 percent, and no team above 30 percent this week.

The Colts will try to bounce back against the resurgent Jets (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 9 Survivor Updates

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

Tuesday 11/2

Week 9 Early Most Popular Teams Summary

This is an early summary of the most popular picks so far in Week 9.

  • Indianapolis Colts (25%) vs. New York Jets
  • Dallas Cowboys (23%) vs. Denver Broncos
  • Buffalo Bills (15%) at Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Miami Dolphins (12%) vs. Houston Texans
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (7%) vs. Chicago Bears

No other team is currently being picked by more than 4 percent of the public in Week 9. Let’s go through these options.

Indianapolis Colts

Even after the Jets’ great performance last week, the Colts are still double-digit favorites on Thursday Night Football. (That result is accounted for in the spread, as the look-ahead line was 14.5 points before last Sunday but has since gone down four points.)

The Colts give a decent combination of win odds and expected value.

They were already the most popular pick in Week 6, which is limiting the extent of their popularity this week. Outside of Buffalo, Indianapolis has one of the best EVs of the week since a majority of entries are taking riskier teams right now.

The Colts have some future value—they’re 10th in our future-value estimates for a 100-entry pool—but that’s down from last week since this is one of their higher-value slots.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are a 9.5-point favorite over Denver, the third-largest of the week. Our models are a little lower than the market on them, at 77 percent win odds.

The Cowboys have a mediocre EV because 40 percent of entries are on teams with higher win odds, and they have moderately high popularity for a second choice.

The main reason to consider saving them is future value, as they’re now up to the fourth-most in our future-value estimates. That is driven in part by Week 12, where they are the biggest projected favorite in a difficult week with a lot of even-looking matchups.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo is going to have a high EV most weeks from here on out. The Bills are the biggest favorite of the week and are only moderately popular.

The big consideration is the relative value of using them now versus saving them depending on the other options you have available. They have the highest future value of any team, and we project them with win odds of 85 percent or more in four later weeks.

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have the lowest future value of any of the options this week, which is why they’re attractive as an alternative pick. They are riskier than the top three options, but compared to the other alternatives, they do save more flexibility for future weeks.

Whether to use them may depend on how sharp your pool is with regard to future-value preservation. If low future-value teams get picked at a higher rate, their EV goes down further.

Miami is a more interesting option in multi-pick pools, those with wins tiebreaker, and those that extend into the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have a slightly lower EV than the other alternatives who have between 65 and 70 percent win odds because of their relatively higher popularity.

They do have fairly low future value, most of which is tied up in next week when they host Detroit. They project as the most popular pick of Week 10 with a moderate EV.

Tuesday 11/2

Week 8 Survivor Recap

For the first time this year, the most popular pick in survivor pools lost. Jets QB Mike White had an outstanding game in his first career start, and the Jets shocked Cincinnati 34-31 after trailing 31-20 late in the fourth quarter.

We also came close to the second-most popular pick losing, as Kansas City survived on Monday Night Football by getting a late field goal to beat the Giants.

Here is a summary of the most popular picks for Week 8, and the results:

CincinnatiNY Jets47%L, 34-31
Kansas CityNY Giants20%W 20-17
BuffaloMiami15%W, 26-11
LA RamsHouston10%W, 38-22
SeattleJacksonville2%W, 31-7
LA ChargersNew England2%L, 27-24

Led by the Cincinnati loss, roughly 50 percent of entries were eliminated in Week 8. We had the Bengals as the second-most frequent recommendation, trailing Kansas City by nearly 20 percent, and about 72 percent of TR recommendations survived.


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 11/3

Aaron Rodgers Being Out Could Shake Up Survivor Landscape

Aaron Rodgers is out for Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19. That has moved the Kansas City-Green Bay game from a toss-up with the Chiefs favored by just one point to a much larger spread.

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