Week 5 NFL Survivor Pool Picks, Strategy: Should You Use the Bills Now?
Megan Briggs/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen.
Week 4 ended up as a fairly calm one for Survivor Pools, with the most popular team that lost being the Detroit Lions, who were used in under 7% of entries.
That's not to say it was a smooth ride, as the mega-chalk Packers went to overtime with the Patriots. An ugly win is still a win though, and if anything it's comforting to not have to sweat the Packers the rest of the way.
Given the overwhelmingly high numbers of eliminated teams, our main focus should just be on advancing, not planning for later. If we're still battling it out into December, then looking ahead will become more important.
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.
Let's dig into the Week 5 Picks.
The Bills are fairly clearly the best pick on the board this week. They're 14-point favorites, on a week when no other team has a double-digit spread. Fortunately, most survivor pool players haven't used them yet, making this an obvious situation.
However, the Bills also project as one of the stronger teams at a few key junctions. They have the best implied probability in Weeks 9 and 18, and are effectively tied with the Chiefs in Week 16.
Those are critical weeks, as most players will have burned the top teams by then. While I wouldn't plan on saving the Bills for Week 18 — it's possible they rest their starters by then — Weeks 9 and 16 could end up tricky without them.
Therefore, I'd consider fading the Bills in pools with at least a couple hundred entrants left. Odds are good that you'll need to make it all 18 weeks under those conditions. Besides, there's a somewhat viable alternative.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are hosting the Falcons as 8.5- to 9-point favorites in Week 5. Tampa struggled a bit to start the season, but look to be hitting their stride. All of Julio Jones, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans played last week, and the Bucs scored a season high 31 (after not topping 20 in any prior game) against the Chiefs.
They're taking on a Falcons team that will be without star running back/receiver/athlete Cordarrelle Patterson and has looked completely lost in the passing game.
For Tampa, Week 5 is their highest implied win percentage of the season, so we're giving up slightly less future value than we did on Buffalo. The only Week where Tampa Bay is the strongest play is Week 17, and there will be considerable changes before then.
While Buffalo is a slightly safer option, the Bucs are the higher EV pick in fields where you'll have to last all 18 weeks.
Below is the full data for each week of the NFL season. The implied probability as of Week 5 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.