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Week 2 NFL Survivor Pool Picks, Strategy: Navigating Thin Field After Upset-filled Opener

Week 2 NFL Survivor Pool Picks, Strategy: Navigating Thin Field After Upset-filled Opener article feature image
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Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson.

Week 1 was one for the ages for survivor pools.

Depending on whether your pool counted ties as a win or a loss, more than 60% of survivor entries were eliminated based on Yahoo! Survivor Pool Pick Data.  Of the six teams with more than 5% of the field using them, only one advanced.

If you’ve made it through successfully, good luck. Thanks to the massive loss rate in Week 1, going contrarian moving forward won’t be as necessary. We can also afford to burn some of the better teams early. especially in smaller pools. The odds of anyone making it all 18 weeks is drastically reduced thanks to Week 1.

Still, we’ll keep an eye on rest of season expectations using projected win probability for the whole season from our Director of Predictive Analytics Sean Koerner. These will update each week throughout the year, so every week we’ll have up-to-date information.

We’ll continue to utilize pick data to identify chalky teams to consider fading. While it’s less important than it was at this time last week, maximizing EV in massive pools still requires going against the grain.

Week 2 should — emphasis on should — be an easier go of things in survivor contests.  There’s four different games with double-digit spreads and a fifth at 9.5.

Let’s dig into the Week 2 Picks.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are the heaviest favorites heading into Week 2, with the only 10.5-point spread on the board as of Wednesday. That alone should be enough to pick them in survivor contests, but they’re also good form a long term standpoint.

The next time the Rams are projected to be the heaviest favorite is in Week 13, which is far enough away that I’d bet against that remaining the case when we get there.

Additionally, of all the big favorites on the slate, they have one of the lowest “future value” scores. The combination of a tough NFC West and a difficult non-divisional schedule will do that.

They looked pretty bad last week against Buffalo, so this pick requires a bit of faith — particularly in Matthew Stafford’s elbow. Still, they’re facing the Falcons at home.

Additionally, two of the double-digit favorites are in primetime games, so if we get negative late news on the Rams, we can pivot to those other teams.

The Rams are by far the chalkiest team picked according to Yahoo!, but we can eat that chalk after an eventful opening week.

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Denver Broncos

Denver is another team that under-performed in Week 1, with questionable time management killing any hope of a late comeback against the Seahawks.

Still, they’re in a much better spot in Week 2. They’re hosting the Texans, who’s Week 1 tie certainly seemed to be more of a reflection on the Colts being overrated than Houston being better than expected.

Houston was out gained by more than 200 yards in Week 1, which also suggests that getting a tie was an extremely fortuitous outcome. Denver out-gained the Seahawks by 180 yards, as well, so losing was an unlikely outcome.

While the late-game clock management is highly concerning, the 10-point spread means it’s unlikely to be a factor for Denver this week.

The Broncos are also the least popular of the four double-digit favorites this week, making them an ideal option for larger pools.  Additionally, as of Week 2 this is the most they’re expected to be favored by all season, so we aren’t giving up much by burning them now.

I have enough concerns about Denver that I’m willing to fade it in smaller pools, but it’s a great choice in huge contests.

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The Data

Below is the full data for each week of the NFL season. The implied probability as of Week 2 is listed for each team, as well as their “future value” in survivor contests.

The future value is the percentile ranking of each team’s combined win probability the rest of the way, and doesn’t factor in which weeks are strong. It should be used as a rough guideline for which teams to save down the stretch.

For a downloadable sheet that covers the entire season, click here.

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