If you’ve never taken part in a survivor pool, relax, the rules are very simple. Each week you will have the opportunity to select one team to win any given matchup. If your pick wins, you survive and move on to the next week. If your team loses, then you are eliminated without a chance to return. Sounds simple enough, right? Now here comes the twist. When you select a team once, you can not use that team again. So there can be no picking the Chiefs, Bucs, or Bills every week. There is some pretty good survivor pool strategy out there with a ton of tips to match. Here are a few to get you started.
Survivor Pool Strategy
First and foremost, you’re going to want to plan ahead a bit. Take a look at the NFL schedule and decide which team you feel confident in each week. I like to physically write it down so I don’t misstep later on. By planning ahead you can avoid those weeks where you are forced to make that tough last-minute decision. You want to save the better teams for later. It would not be strategic to blow through all of your “sure things” in the first few weeks of a survivor pool. One downside to this planning method is the fact that there are a ton of things you can not control. The Bucs may seem like a lock to beat the Seahawks in Week 10, but what happens if Brady gets hurt the week before? The name of the game is surviving, but at the same time, it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead.
Use Ownership %
At the start of each week, your platform shows what percentage of the survivor pool is picking each team to win. I’m willing to bet my savings account that over 40% of users are going to pick Baltimore over the Jets in Week One. You can look at this three different ways. One, you could follow the crowd and select the Ravens, which in this case would probably be the right choice. Two, you could “save” the Ravens for another week and look for another matchup. Russell Wilson returns to Seattle in his first appearance as a Bronco. With the lack of QB identity in SEA, this could be a worthwhile matchup to take advantage of early on. Lastly, you can look at the 40% ownership for the Ravens and you could zig, while everyone else zags. I am NOT on record, recommending doing that for this particular matchup. Picking the Jets here is super risky, but the reward is even greater. If the Jets somehow come away with the victory, then you’ve just eliminated almost half of the competition. At the same time, you’ve just used the Jets and still have those top teams to choose from later on.
Prey on the Weak
You can’t choose the Chiefs to win each week, but that shouldn’t stop you from picking the Texans, Jets, Falcons, or Seahawks to lose every week. This method, in combination with the planning method, should provide you with enough leeway to plan a solid 8-10 weeks of “sure” things. Keep in mind that you still don’t want to exhaust all of your top teams right away. All in all, you really can’t go wrong picking against scrubs. Just beware of “trap games.”
Use Betting Odds
The last survivor pool tip I have for you is to trust the experts. At the start of each week, I like to use betting odds as a guideline for my picks. Professional sites like Bet MGM, FanDuel Sportsbook, and DraftKings Sportsbook will tell you the odds each team has of winning each week. Lets go back to the previous Ravens-Jets example and see how Vegas is feeling about this week one matchup. I might end up losing that money in my savings account I bet earlier, as the Ravens are not the largest favorite of the week. Currently, the line stands at +200 for the Jets and -250 for Ravens, making the birds convincing favorites to win. I probably should have seen this one coming, but the Colts are actually the biggest favorite on the slate with a -375 line over the Texans. A ton of research goes into creating these lines, so you can rest assured that Vegas knows what it is doing.
All in all, playing in a survivor pool is a ton of fun. They get you rooting for teams you usually could care less about. If you haven’t done it before, I highly recommend giving it a go. Yahoo Fantasy runs a contest every season. It is free to join and has big rewards. There is one grand prize, which is a Las Vegas getaway (including hotel accommodations) for the winner and one guest; valued at $5,000. This grand prize also comes with $1,000 of cold hard cash. There’s absolutely no risk to playing, so there is no excuse for you to not give it a shot.
For more great content aimed at getting you ready for the 2022 NFL season, check out the FantraxHQ Fantasy Football Draft Kit.