If you read the article last week, most of you should still be in the Survivor pools this week. The most popular teams from last week made it through, and only a few people got eliminated by Houston and Kansas City, which together were picked by about 5-6% of all entries.
As we move into week 9, there are a couple of teams that many people will choose. According to survivorgrid.com, 51% of all selections are going for Cleveland, and 33% of entries are picking New Orleans. This might make the week kind of boring or give a chance for those who like to go against the crowd to win or come close to it.
- Win Projection: I calculate win probability based on each game’s mid-point of the money line.
- FV (Future Value): This value comes from look-ahead lines. Lower numbers indicate more future value for a team.
- Pick%: This shows how frequently a team is selected across major websites, according to survivorgrid.com.
- # Unique teams: If you have multiple entries, you can decide how many teams to spread your risk across.
As we do each week let’s take a look at my spreadsheet with 0 weight for future value.
When we look at the spreadsheet without considering future value, it consistently recommends picking the biggest favorites of the week. This week, these top teams are the popular choices for everyone. There’s a good reason for this – neither of these teams is essential for the future, and not many people have selected them in previous weeks. It’s no surprise that over 80% of entries in most pools are going with these two teams. In a smaller pool, there’s usually no strong reason to avoid picking these teams. If I had to choose between New Orleans and Cleveland, I’d lean toward New Orleans because it gives you a bit of an edge over the pool. More people will be picking Cleveland, but both teams have similar chances of winning their games.
If you have the option, going for Baltimore is also a good idea. You might be the only one in your pool with a team that has a 70% chance of winning. Baltimore isn’t a must-pick in the next few weeks, so you could potentially win the pool if both the Saints and Cleveland lose. The probability of both of those teams losing combined with a Baltimore win is approximately 4%.
Now, when we factor in future value at 50%, the situation appears quite similar to when it’s set at 0%. Let’s take a closer look.
Baltimore remains an interesting choice in medium-sized pools for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Another team worth considering is New England. In a medium-sized pool, it’s unlikely that you can win solely by relying on the ideal scenario of the Saints and Browns losing, combined with a Ravens victory. Therefore, you might think about picking a team like New England, as you won’t need to use them in the future. It’s a riskier choice, but it comes with a lot of potential leverage. If one of the top two teams stumbles and you back New England with its 61% probability of winning, you’ll find yourself in a favorable position. When the pool advances to week 14, the Saints could be a smart pick, especially since others may not have that option. Similarly, in week 15, both the Saints and Browns will be among the top favorites you may want to consider.
As the season progresses, the impact of changing the future value weighting on the spreadsheet becomes less significant. This is especially true in a week like this when the biggest favorites are also teams with minimal future value. It’s clear that the popular choices are solid picks. I mentioned some alternatives to steer away from the top two teams. Another team to consider, when we give 100% future value weight, is Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a 57% chance of winning but don’t carry much future value. Currently, about 2.8% of people are going for Pittsburgh. If you’re thinking about Pittsburgh, you might want to look at New England as a similar option. It’s likely that New England won’t be favored by 3 points again this season, whereas Pittsburgh might be needed in week 14. Personally, I don’t see much upside to picking Pittsburgh.
Due to the limited future value of the top choices this week, I’m fine with you selecting either of them in all formats, with a slight preference for New Orleans. Going against the grain with Baltimore works best in small pools because they have a high chance of winning. Once we move into medium to larger pools, considering New England becomes a viable option. The choices appear somewhat restricted this week. Depending on your pool and your risk tolerance, you’ll have to decide what suits you best.
Ultimately, you have to decide how you will play your pool. Hopefully, you will be around for many weeks with me as we try and survive!