It was absolute carnage.
Week 3 of the NFL season produced some major upsets and that meant it was a bloodbath for those in NFL Survivor Pools (https://www.predictionmachine.com/nfl-survivor-pool-strategy-zag-when-they-zig/) . First, the Jaguars were upset by the Texans around the same time Ravens lost in overtime to the Colts. Then the Cowboys somehow lost to the Cardinals during the late slate of Sunday games. Arizona’s victory was the cherry on top of a wild and unforgettable Survivor Sunday.
At Circa Sports in Las Vegas, which hosts the largest NFL Survivor Pool contest ($9.267 million prize pool), 40.9% of the remaining entries went down with the Jaguars, 10.5% were eliminated with the Ravens, and Dallas knocked out 6.2% of the crowd. Now, only 2,479 (26.75%) of the original 9,267 entries remain.
The Cowboys, Jaguars or Ravens were selected by more than 40% of Yahoo! or ESPN survivor pool participants and according to survivorgrid.com’s consensus pick numbers, only 34.37% of participants remain alive heading into Week 4.
Circa Contest Headache
For the fortunate 2,479 remaining entries in the Circa contest, Week 4 presents a big headache. A unique quirk of the contest is that Thanksgiving and Christmas are considered a separate week, which incentives participants to save teams like San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Kansas City who play on holidays.Without those options, the biggest favorite on the board is San Diego (-5.5) vs. Las Vegas.
The implied value of each remaining entry is $3,738. Would you trust the chargers (without Mike Williams and maybe without Derwin James) with that kind of money on the line? Other options include the winless Vikings on the road vs. Carolina, the disappointing Jaguars in London vs. Atlanta, and the winless Broncos on the road vs. the Bears.Yikes.
Strategy moving forward
In general, the smaller your survivor pool, the less risks you need to take to get to the promise land. In other words, if you’re in a pool with under 100 people left, you should consider focusing on teams more likely to win as opposed to getting caught up in planning ahead.
As the number of opponents in your field decreases, it’s also time to start looking at which teams your opponents have burned. Solid handicapping can get you close to the finish line, but game theory is what can win your survivor pool. If there’s a team utilized by a lot of people in your pool (San Francisco and Kansas City for instance) it might be wise to save them for later so you can have a safe bet later in the season while others are forced into risky decisions.
If it seems like the advice in the last two paragraphs is contradictory – it’s because it is. And that’s one of the reasons why survivor pools are a delightful and torturous mind game that can leave you second guessing yourself and overthinking things.
For an article briefly explaining survivor pools and outline strategies for success, click here: https://www.predictionmachine.com/nfl-survivor-pool-strategy-zag-when-they-zig/