Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool Analysis, Percentages & Pick: Patriots a Slight Contrarian Selection

Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool Analysis, Percentages & Pick: Patriots a Slight Contrarian Selection article feature image
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Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Julian Edelman

  • Looking for Week 1 NFL survivor pool advice? Travis Reed breaks down the slate and gives out his projections for every game this season.
  • He's taking the Patriots in Week 1, since New England should be a slightly contrarian play compared to the Ravens, Bills and others.
  • Get his full Week 1 survivor breakdown below.

Welcome to Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. This season figures to have more obstacles along the way than any other.

For survivor pool players, that means you will need to be nimble as scheduling changes may arise without much notice.

For a broader approach to these pools, check out my strategy piece on how I attack survivor pools from an analytical perspective.

With that introduction out of the way, here are the projected win percentages for every game of the season.

Games above 60% are highlighted in yellow, games above 70% are highlighted in green. This should allow you to easily see which teams you should be targeting in future weeks.

[Download Week 1 Survivor Pool Projections Now]

If you are new to the article, these percentages are based off of 10,000 simulations that adjust as the season progresses. You may notice that Denver’s odds decreased from last week’s article due to Von Miller’s injury. These percentages will continue to update as news breaks and as more games are played.

To make a decision on who to pick, you need more than just the win percentages. You need to see who other people are picking to gain a competitive edge.

Here are the top picks this week with their projected ownership for Week 1.

NFL Week 1 Survivor Pool Expected Value

Team Pick % Model EV
Ravens 13.80% 76.50% 1.16
Chiefs 10.40% 75.70% 1.16
Patriots 4.60% 69.40% 1.11
Bills 20.10% 68.60% 0.98
49ers 8.30% 68.10% 1.05
Eagles 10.70% 0.643 0.96
Colts 18.40% 0.642 0.9
Saints 0.60% 0.616 1
Lions 1.10% 0.605 0.98

A new addition to the article this year is expected value. This is putting a number to what we are trying to figure out with each pick — how much am I gaining (or losing) against the field with each selection?

A value of 1 is the break even point. Anything above a 1 is a positive expected value (or +EV) while anything below 1 is negative expected value (or -EV).

For this week’s data, you can see the Ravens and Chiefs both have the highest expected value of 1.16. But that should be common throughout the season as they project to be two of the best teams.

More than 20% of picks are projected to take the Bills, which makes it a popular pick and therefore not a good play. If you could play the games 100 times, you would rather be against the 20% then jump on the bandwagon with them.

My Pick: Patriots over Dolphins

If you are in a smaller pool with 10 friends or something like that, you can make a case to go ahead and use either Baltimore or Kansas City. In larger pools that expect to last most of the season, I think it’s too soon to use either one.

In larger pools, the Patriots are the best play. They are projected to be picked less than 5% of the time which gives them great contrarian value*. There is risk with this pick because we haven’t had any preseason to see how healthy Cam Newton is, but that is true of every team this year.

If you have multiple entries, I would be in favor of spreading the picks around with so many unknowns. For example, if I had five entries I would have one each on Baltimore and Kansas City and the other three on New England.

(*Contrarian value is already baked into the expected value, but it also gets you “off schedule”, meaning you have different teams available later on in the season which gives you future picks that also project to be contrarian and have good value.)

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