Week 11 NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Building on Last Week’s Upsets
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and running back Alvin Kamara (41)
- Week 10 was littered with massive upsets, proving why contrarian strategies are optimal for NFL survivor pools.
- Travis Reed uses his model to determine the smartest picks to keep you alive through Week 11.
Last week, we saw an absolute bloodbath when it came to NFL survivor pools. Both New Orleans and Indianapolis lost at home as double-digit favorites. Nearly half of all entries on Yahoo took the Saints against the lifeless Falcons, who somehow found life.
Another 35% took the Colts prior to their loss to the Dolphins, the team that now (somehow) has the longest winning streak in the AFC East. A smattering of entries were also knocked out with the Chiefs and Giants. When the dust settled, more than 85% of all entries were knocked out last week.
I was always fading the Saints but was okay with the Colts, especially if Jacoby Brissett was cleared to play. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to suit up and I didn’t have many viable options available … until we got a big shift on Sunday morning.
Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford has fractured bones in his back and doctors will not let him play today vs. Bears, per source. Jeff Driskell starts for Detroit.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 10, 2019
The Bears immediately came into play as a contrarian option. I thought more entries would pivot to Chicago, but only 1.2% of survivor pool entries ended up on the Bears at home against a backup quarterback.
Regardless of how it played out for your entry, it is a great example of why a contrarian strategy works well. There are going to be upsets in the NFL and we don’t know when they are going to happen. The key is when they do happen and a large chunk of the pool gets knocked out, your entry is still alive.
This strategy is purposefully risky. There are going to be seasons in which the contrarian strategy gets knocked out early. It’s a feature, not a bug.
With that look back to Week 10 out of the way, let’s move to Week 11.
Here are the projected win percentages for the rest of the season.
Here are the top five options for Week 11 and the key stats for those teams.
The Oakland Raiders are far and away the most popular pick this week and you can see why. The Raiders are at home and 10.5-point favorites against the winless Bengals. Nathan Peterman, er, I mean Ryan Finley will make the second start of his career.
The Raiders have no games remaining that look like viable options, so more than 60% of entries are locking them in. This makes them a clear fade option this week.
The 49ers are the best option and why I liked saving them a couple of weeks ago when they also played Arizona. If you have San Francisco available, I don’t see much merit in saving it for another week.
Minnesota and Buffalo are both good options. If you have both available, I could see saving Minnesota for Week 14 (vs. Detroit) depending on which options you have remaining.
The Rams are another good contrarian play and they are really down right now in the eyes of oddsmakers, pundits and fans.
What happens if you have the Raiders and a bunch of short favorites as your only options? I think the short-term safety of Oakland this week is understandable, just know that long term you are making a -EV decision.
Note that the percentage above for Dallas assumes Stafford is playing. If we see a repeat situation of Stafford being scratched, the Cowboys become another good option to pivot off Oakland.