The Best Formats for NFL and College Football Pick’Em Pools

The Best Formats for NFL and College Football Pick’Em Pools article feature image

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Philip Rivers

BREAKING: We’ve added a new feature into The Action Network app that we think you’re really going to love. You can now run Pick’Em Pools with your friends (or enemies or whomever) in both the NFL and college football.

The first decision you need to make when creating a pool (which can be either public or private) is whether or not you want it to be against the spread (ATS) or straight up (SU). In the former, you pick games against the number — and in the latter, you simply pick who will win the game.

NFL Pick’em Formats

When it comes to the NFL, it’s very straightforward. After you’ve decided whether your pool will be ATS or SU, you can to determine how many games per week each participants must select.

You could even keep it as simple as possible by doing just one straight up pick per person (and even make it survivor style). Some other popular options are three teams or mirror the Super Contest with five per week.

On a related note, lines will lock in for all of our contests on the app just like they do for the Super Contest. Some lines may change drastically later in the week, especially if there are any major injury announcements, but everybody is on the same playing field.

Plus, it introduces some more game theory, especially in survivor contests. Do you want to go with the stale line that has the most value relative to the current number in the market or do you want to avoid that particular game, knowing that most people might go that route.

Others like to include every NFL game, while some only want a Sunday specific contest, making it much less likely someone will miss a pick. (There is an option in the app that will remind users to get their picks in on time.)

College Football Pick’em Formats

With so many more teams (and games), the options for college football contests are endless.

Just like the NFL, you can choose either an ATS or SU format.

And while you certainly have the option to include every single college football game each week, you can also limit the scope for any specific contest. You can include only games involving top 25 teams or create a conference-specific contest. For some of you SEC-diehards who don’t care about any other conference, an SEC-only contest might work best.

You can allow contest participants to choose up to 20 picks per week if you want to get a little crazy, but I personally like to keep it between three and seven selections.

Unique Contest Ideas

Besides your standard SU or ATS contests, here are four other ideas for your 2019 college football Pick’em pools:

  • Standard Survivor: I prefer the survivor format for straight up contests. However, since college spreads can get much higher than we see in the NFL, you will want to restrict the eligible games. You can do this in a number of ways, but I like either excluding any games involving FCS teams and/or only allowing participants to choose a team that is favored by single digits, while allowing users to use the same team as many times as they want. Those options make for a much more difficult and competitive league.
  • Moneyline underdogs: This is a straight up contest where users must select three (or whatever number you fancy) underdogs that will win outright each week. It’s still one point for a win and zero for a loss, but this is a contest I enjoy and don’t see enough of.
  • The Boot: If you want to do a survivor but with ATS picks, I like The boot. Everybody makes 10 picks (or however many you decide) and the worst record at the end of each week gets the boot. If there are any ties, I like to settle them on Monday Night Football with a total points prediction.
  • 1 and 1: I like this simple format best for NFL SU contests but it can just as easily be applied to NFL ATS contests or with college football. The premise is simple: pick one underdog and one favorite each week.

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