Pool Picks For NFL Week 2: Advice For Survivor & Pick’em Contests (2023)

Pool Picks For NFL Week 2: Advice For Survivor & Pick’em Contests (2023) article feature image

Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Fields.

It's officially Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season, and we're back with data-driven advice for making picks in NFL survivor pools, football office pools, and pick'em contests. Maximizing your edge in these types of football pools requires a lot of strategy and game theory, which is a primary focus of our Week 2 pick analysis.

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Week 2 Survivor Pick Advice: Dallas Shows How Not All Future Value is Created Equally

In NFL survivor pools, Week 2 offers four top contenders (Buffalo, Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco) as potential picks, with all of them showing up among the biggest favorites of the week. Meanwhile, the New York Giants (at Arizona) are an alternative popular pick (11% pick popularity as of Wednesday) serving as a riskier “save better teams for the future” option.

Although it may be tempting to lump Buffalo, Dallas, Philadelphia and San Francisco together as similar types of plays this week, don't fall for that trap. Not all future value in survivor pools is created equally, and significant differences in future value exist across these four teams.

Dallas is shooting up in survivor pick popularity this week, rising +7% from Tuesday to Wednesday, and is now at 18%. That number may continue to rise as more players react to both how good Dallas looked last week, and the Jets starting Zach Wilson at QB against the Cowboys defense with Aaron Rodgers out for the year.

But the dominating 40-0 win in the opener over the Giants also served as a data point that raised Dallas’ power rating, which in turn raises their projected win odds in lots of future weeks. As a result, Dallas has now moved to No. 1 overall ranking in our survivor pool future value estimates. The Cowboys also face Arizona next week, and should be an even bigger favorite than they are this week against the Jets.

Dallas also has a six-week stretch from Week 8 to Week 13 when we project them to have the highest win odds in three of those weeks, the second-highest win odds in two others, and to have 78% or higher in five of those six weeks. However, that only tells part of the future value story for the Cowboys.

Just as important as future juicy matchups is projected pick popularity in future weeks. If you save a team to use in a specific future week and everybody else in your survivor pool does the same thing, that pick may end up being -EV due to sky high popularity. The ideal situation is when you save a good team to use in a future week, while most of your opponents are forced to pick other riskier teams that week.

The future value estimates in our NFL Survivor Picks product take both future week win odds and projected pick popularity into account. (They also factor in some more sophisticated adjustments such as taking into account how far out the future matchup is and how likely your particular pool is to even get to that point.) And the prognosis for Dallas is clear.

If over 20% of entries in the average survivor pool pick Dallas in Week 2, and another sizable chunk of entries take the Cowboys against Arizona next week, there should be some extremely +EV spots to pick Dallas in the near/mid season—the types of spots where you might be picking the biggest favorite of the week, but only 5-10% of your opponents can do the same thing. And you won't need to wait until the end of the season to take advantage.

Picking a top contender like Buffalo or Philadelphia in Week 2 may not feel like you are saving future value, but the reality of the 2023 NFL schedule means that both of those teams have significantly lower future value in survivor pools than Dallas currently does.

Finally, if your survivor pool is at the high end of the risk profile (e.g. lots of entries to beat plus multiple weeks with double picks required), then sacrificing some EV in Week 2 with the Giants to hoard future value is worth consideration, especially for some entries in a multi-entry strategy.

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Week 2 Pick’em Contest Advice: Exploit Overreaction Opportunities To Fade The Public

In pick'em contests, NFL Week 2 is often like Christmas morning if you are willing to pick against public sentiment. Humans have a tendency to react more strongly to recent events, and having only one game result as a data point makes that dynamic even more powerful.

As a result, Week 2 gives you opportunities to pick teams that did worse than expected in their opening game, and are undervalued. You can potentially also pick against teams that outperformed first week expectations largely because of good luck. For instance, factors like turnover variance or injuries often go a long way in explaining opening week upsets.

We actually have some compelling proof of how much the public overreacts to Week 1 in pick'em contests. Since 2014, our subscribers have reported to us their weekly wins in NFL pools. Over that nine-year period, they have reported winning a weekly prize 15.9% of the time during Week 2. Based on their pool sizes and payout sports, an average player would have expected only a 5.6% weekly win rate.

That’s the second-highest weekly win rate of any NFL week in our data, and it's nearly equal across both game winner and spread based pick'em pools. And it's all by design. Our Football Pick’em Picks product collects pick popularity data from multiple pool hosting sites, and applies a value-driven approach to pick making that exploits the irrational biases of the public.

In NFL Week 2 of 2023, we are seeing lots of potential examples of value versus the public. Playing Baltimore, Cincinnati (-3.5) is far from the shortest favorite of the week, but the Bengals are the least popular pick in pools out of all 16 Week 2 favorites. So you have an early opportunity to grab value on the Bengals after a dreadful first week performance.

Against New Orleans, Carolina (+3) is also a really unpopular pick this week for a team that’s not a huge underdog. Their win odds are around 40%, but only about 12% of the public is picking them. Last week, the Panthers only scored 10 points in QB Bryce Young’s debut. But they turned the ball over three times and had more yards than the Falcons. Meanwhile, the Saints hit some big plays to squeak out a one-point win over the Titans, but only had 15 first downs and couldn’t run the ball without Alvin Kamara, who is still suspended.

Finally, Chicago (+3) at Tampa Bay looks like a quintessential overreaction game where the public is riding high on the Bucs after an upset win over the Vikings. The Bucs were outgained by more than 120 yards, but won with timely plays and a +3 turnover margin, despite averaging only 5.1 yards per pass and 2.2 yards per rush. The Bears lost by 18, but gave up a pick-six, went -2 on turnovers and had several other big plays go against them; total yards were close (Packers 329, Bears 311).

Those are just some of the value pick examples we are seeing in Week 2, with more identified in our product. How many of them you should actually pick—especially upsets like Carolina or Chicago—all depends on the characteristics of your pool. For example, in a small season-long pick'em contest, you need to be more careful about making risky upset picks. In a big pool with only weekly prizes, Carolina and Chicago are probably both great plays.

Get Expert Week 2 Football Pool Picks

Giving yourself the best chance to win more NFL survivor pools and football pick'em contests is all about stacking the odds in your favor. The challenge is that it takes a lot of data and math to do it right, and most players don't have the will, the skill, or the time to compete at that level.

At PoolGenius, we do all the data collection and number crunching required for you to play like a pro in your 2023 football pools, from projecting how your opponents will pick in Week 2 to identifying the most compelling opportunities to differentiate your picks.

And thanks to our partnership with Action Network, you can get a no-obligation free trial and exclusive season discounts using the links below:

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