NFL Survivor Pool Picks: It’s Finally Time For the Bills, Chiefs and 49ers Are Also In Play, But Avoid Cowboys
Getty Images. Pictured: 49ers TE George Kittle, Bills QB Josh Allen, Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
- Still alive in NFL survivor pools? Congratulations, you survived the first big elimination week, but now it's time to lock in your next pick.
- Our expert uses his model to project win probabilities for every team through the end of the season in order to help.
- Find out why he thinks it's time to finally pick the Bills, plus why the Chiefs and 49ers are also options.
Final NFL Survivor Pool Pick
The Colts were easily able to take care of the Jets on Thursday, but Indianapolis was not as popular of a pick as I predicted. Instead, the Cowboys have become the most popular pick of the week with roughly 30% of entries. This makes Dallas an even worse play from a game theory standpoint than I had outlined earlier in the week.
I would avoid the Cowboys if at all possible.
The Bills are still my preferred pick, but injuries have opened other options.
As of writing on Saturday, only 2% of entries are trusting the Chiefs despite the Packers’ quarterback change, which makes Kansas City a contrarian option.
Another intriguing scenario is if the injured Kyler Murray (ankle) misses the Cardinals’ matchup against the 49ers. If he does, San Francisco would become a touchdown favorite (or so) and would likely carry a pick percentage of less than 1%. The only issue is that game kicks off at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, so unless we get news before the 1 p.m. ET games lock, it would be extremely risky to plug in the 49ers without knowing the opposing quarterback.
Editor’s note: The following was written on Wednesday.
The big elimination finally happened.
Nearly half of all remaining NFL survivor pool entries were knocked out when the Jets shocked the Bengals this past Sunday, when Mike White threw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns en route to earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Football is hard to predict.
There are going to be upsets every season, but projecting when they occur is extremely difficult. This is why using pick percentages when deciding which teams to take in survivor pools is key.
All entries that did not take Cincinnati last week gained a huge amount of equity in their pools as they now have to contend with only about half the entries that were still in it heading into last week.
This doesn’t mean that you always fade the popular pick, though — just a few weeks ago I recommended a very popular Cardinals pick against the Texans — but it is one piece of the puzzle that you should always take into account before making your selection.
Now let’s turn our attention to Week 9, where the most popular pick as of writing is the Colts going against the Jets with White at quarterback on Thursday Night Football. Hmm, what could go wrong?
NFL Survivor Pool Projections
Before we do dive into Week 9, though, here are projected win percentages for each team through the rest of the season based on my model:
NFL Survivor Pool Options
Below you’ll find the top options for Week 9, complete with their key statistics.
Note that news broke of Aaron Rodgers’ positive COVID test (and thus his unavailability for this weekend) on Wednesday morning, so below I estimate what the Chiefs pick percentage will be by Sunday, as they’re now a reasonable option with a matchup against a backup quarterback:
The picks are pretty evenly distributed this week.
The Colts are the most popular pick as of writing, but are still only picked in 24% of pools and could be leapfrogged by the Dolphins or Cowboys come Sunday.
Curiously, my model hates the Cowboys this week. I’m actually not sure why my model thinks their matchup against the Broncos will be so much closer than the market does — I even triple-checked to make sure I didn’t have still have Cooper Rush subbed in for Dak Prescott — but it’s enough to keep me away from this game. There are plenty of remaining opportunities left to use the Cowboys, and there’s a risk of Prescott re-injuring his leg, putting your pick at risk.
The Bills are the biggest favorite of the week with a -14.5 spread against the Jaguars (check real-time NFL odds here), but Buffalo also has the most games remaining as a viable option due to the team’s extremely weak strength of schedule.
And while the Dolphins get to play the Texans at home — probably the best scenario you could ask for — pick a 1-7 team with your season on the line would still involve a lot of risk.
In previous seasons, the Chiefs vs. a backup quarterback would have been a lock, but they’re anything but that this season. Are Jordan Love and the Packers that much of a downgrade from Daniel Jones and the Giants?
The Chiefs seem impossible to trust right now.
NFL Survivor Pool Pick: Week 9
Bills (at Jaguars)
1 p.m. ET on Sunday
This feels like the right time to finally use the Bills.
They have a ton of usable weeks left on the schedule, but they’re projected to be the best pick only twice — in Weeks 9 and 10 — and I would assume most will wait to use them next week against the Jets, when I can pivot to the Steelers or Colts.
This way, I am getting the Bills as the most likely team to get a win this week at a fairly low ownership. Expected value, which takes into account both of these factors, shows a huge edge between the Bills vs. the other options this week.
Also, what if Mike White balls out again and we find out that next week’s Jets game isn’t nearly as easy as we projected it to be?
You never know. Football is hard to predict.