Stuckey’s 2020 NFL Survivor Pool Strategy & Preliminary Picks

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Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Ingram #21 of the Baltimore Ravens

The 2020 NFL season is somehow two weeks away, which means it’s survivor season.

Everybody approaches survivor differently. Many just wing it on a week-to-week basis, but I like to have some semblance of a strategy and also map out a preliminary plan. Obviously things can change drastically throughout the season with injuries and teams just being much better or worse than projected, so flexibility will always be key.

While some like to just live to see another week, I actually like to take more risks early in the season and keep some of the elite teams in my back pocket for later in the season when most would have already used them. I also build a list of teams I would potentially consider and ones I want to completely avoid.

I then look at my projected spreads each week and account for other factors (travel, divisional games, bye weeks, etc.) while starting to build my preliminary survivor picks for all 17 weeks.

2020 NFL Survivor Pool Strategy

Here are the seven teams I want to avoid if possible:

  • Carolina Panthers
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New York Giants
  • New York Jets
  • Washington Football Team

Those are the only seven teams I project to win six or fewer games this season. Ideally, I’ll be fading those teams with a high frequency. That leaves 25 remaining teams to fill 17 slots during the 2020 season.

Here is my preliminary NFL survivor pool plan, which could change by the start of Week 1 based on injuries and other factors:

2020 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

NFL Survivor Pool Summary

  • As you can see, I’m taking a few risks early in the season. Per my power ratings, my average projected spread for the teams I picked over the first four weeks is 6.5 — a full field goal below the 9.5-point average over the final 13 weeks. The overall average is 8.8 points. At least the Patriots, who I’m much lower on than most, get a home game against the Raiders, who will be traveling across the country on a short week after a Monday night game against the Saints.
  • All 17 picks play at home. That might not mean as much this year, but I usually have an extremely high percentage of home teams.
  • Most of the teams I’m fading come from the aforementioned list of seven teams I want to avoid. I’m fading the Jaguars four times, the most of any team.
  • The two elite teams this year are the Ravens and Chiefs. I’m sure most will use them prior to Week 8. If I can get to Week 9, I can use the Chiefs at home against the Panthers while rooting for carnage elsewhere.
  • While I usually wait a bit to use the elite teams, I always use them prior to Week 16 in case they rest starters.
  • My preliminary plan is to use the Ravens in Week 15 at home against the Jaguars. I assume most will have used Baltimore by that point, so I’ll be in a great spot. The difficult part is getting to Week 15.
  • I have the Texans and Colts down for Weeks 16 and 17, but if everything goes according to plan (highly unlikely), I will also have the Bears, Cardinals, Eagles, Falcons, Lions, Raiders, Titans and Vikings in my back pocket.

I will examine this each week to see if I need to modify anything based on performance and injury news. It takes some luck to win a survivor pool, but having a process will help increase your chances.

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