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NFL survivor pools are becoming more and more popular every season and we have a list of popular contests you can enter. While “Survivor” is the most commonly used name for this contest, several will refer to it as a Knockout, Elimination, or Suicide Pool.

The goal is pretty straightforward. In order to win the NFL survivor pool, you simply have to be the last person left standing by not making any losing picks.

How it Works:

Unlike fantasy leagues, where you often will look to cap your league at a certain number of players, the more people the better in a Survivor Pool.

Most of these pools will require an entry fee. How much is really up to you and the people you are playing with? I think a good starting point is $50.

The number of people and entry fee all need to be taken care of prior to the season starting.

Using the Week 1 schedule, all contestants will submit one team that they think will win. If the team you selected wins, you advance to Week 2.

If the team you pick loses, it’s game over (some suicide poo leagues do offer people the chance to buy back in if they lose prior to Week 5 or something).

The big catch is that you can only use each team once. For example, if you pick the Packers to win in Week 1, they are no longer an option the rest of the way.

You keep repeating the process until there is only one person left in the survivor pool. If by chance multiple people go all 17 weeks without losing, the pot is typically split between all remaining survivors. However, it’s pretty rare that it comes down to this.

Our guide to starting your own last man standing pool covers all the details.

General Game Theory & Strategy for Making Suicide Pool Picks

Basic Guidelines

  • Use Vegas Point Spreads – It would be silly to not at least take a look at the NFL betting lines for the games. The books are straight up telling you who they think the better team is. You are going to last a lot longer in this thing picking teams who are -7 or more than trying to sneak by each week with a small favorite or underdog.
  • Try to Avoid Road Teams – It’s not easy winning on the road in the NFL. In 2018 there were only 7 teams in the entire league that posted a winning record away from home.
  • Be Careful of Division/Rivalry Games – Crazy things seem to happen in division/rivalry games. You see a lot of upsets in these matchups. Try to avoid these unless there’s a significant gap in talent.
  • Check Injury Report/Suspensions – I think this is pretty straightforward. The big point I want to make is that it might not be a bad idea to wait until closer to the deadline to make your pick for the week. More and more injury information becomes available the closer we get to game time. Why not wait and use that info to your advantage?
  • Don’t Just Focus on the Best Teams – Too many people get caught up in picking the best teams, while this could lead to some early success in your pool, it’s going to be difficult to maneuver your way through the second half of the season with a bunch of bad teams to pick from.

Pro Tips

  • Advanced Scheduling – Don’t just look at things on a week-to-week basis. If you want to consistently be one of the last people left in your pool, you need to start looking at the schedule as a whole. Vegas sets early odds in the spring/summer for every game Week 1 – Week 16. Use these odds to see how many easy games (-7 or more) each team has. Teams with a lot of easy games are ones you want to save until later. Good teams with only a few elite spots to back, are ones you want to look to play early on. If you have the time, try to map out your picks for every week before the season starts.
  • Pick Percentages – This is the contrarian approach to Survivor Pools. You want to use whatever resources you can (ESPN, Yahoo, etc..) to try and find out what the consensus picks are for that week and avoid these teams. The goal here is to take less obvious choices who are maybe playing against a bad team and hope that there are some big upsets. If 60% of the pool is on one team and that team loses, your chances of winning go up drastically.

You can also check out my NFL knockout strategies for more information on doing it yourself.

Best Free NFL Expert Last Man Standing Pool Picks

Each week I’m going to give my thoughts on some teams. I’m going to give you my favorite team to play, some others you might want to consider, and a few that I recommend avoiding.

Note that a lot of the logic used for survivor pool picks goes hand-in-hand with handicapping the point spreads.

Week 2 Recap

Last week was a rare “clean sweep” with the top three odds plays (Bills, Eagles, 49ers) as well as the top value play (Dallas) winning. Our recommendation to avoid the Lions versus the Seahawks also paid off with Detroit losing outright at home as 6 point favorites. This week features a lot of big favorites to choose from, but the best choice isn’t as easy as you might think. Let’s take a look.

Our Best Survivor Picks & Contest Help – Week 3

Best Available

These are the best teams available this week regardless of relative value. If you are in a pool that lets you reset during the year or lets you re-use teams, these are your top options.


Kansas City Chiefs (-13.5)

vs Chicago Bears
The Chiefs are the biggest favorite on the board this week and it’s not hard to see why. The Bears looked downright awful in their last game. That being said, I don’t think the Chiefs should be your choice this week for a number of reasons (see below).

Dallas Cowboys (-13)

at Arizona Cardinals
We don’t love taking road teams, but the Cowboys are low-risk in this situation against the Cardinals. Dallas is a 13 point favorite as of this post and there’s really no reason to think they won’t be able to get the job done this week. As with the Chiefs, however, using up a team as good as the Cowboys this week might not be your best option since they have great future value.

San Francisco 49ers (-10.5)

vs New York Giants
San Fran is favored by 10.5 points at home against the Giants this week, which shockingly ranks them as just the third-biggest favorite. The Niners have done just about everything right to start the season and look well on their way to competing for another NFC title. As with most contenders, however, it’s a hard pill to swallow taking them this early in the season. While you only need to be able to pick from the best 18 teams in the league, you’d much rather have San Francisco than, say, the Packers or Commanders in weeks 15-18.

Top Value Play

Our top value play of the week is a combination of a low projected number of pool picks, a high percentage chance to win, and a lower value later in the season. These are the top teams to target if you want to really maximize your chances of winning your pool. These teams do usually come with more risk than the “top” teams listed, but ultimately you want to put yourself in a position to win by pivoting away from the most popular picks.


Jacksonville Jaguars (-10)

vs Houston Texans
Normally we try to avoid what should be the most popular pick of the week in our “value” section, but the Jags simply fit the bill in this case. They are double-digit favorites at home against a Texans team that is only competing with Arizona for who is the worst team in the league. The Jags are one of the few big favorites this week that don’t have a ton of value left on their schedule. I wouldn’t blame you for picking from one of the top three, but I’ll most likely land on Jacksonville this week along with an expected 20%+ of other survivor pool participants.

Suicide Team to Avoid

Our team to avoid can fall into one of two categories – and sometimes both. The first is simply that the team has too much value down the line to take them this week. If there are enough viable options, you should hold on to them for later on in the season. The second category are teams that look appealing, but that have some red flags going against them this week that you should consider before picking them.


Kansas City Chiefs (-13.5)

vs Chicago Bears
Trust me when I say that I know the odds that the Bears beat the Chiefs this week is extremely low (<17%), but that doesn't mean that the Chiefs are a good pick. No other team has better week-to-week and late-week value this season than Kansas City. I'm going to hold on to use them for as long as possible and so should you.

For more great content this week check out my teaser of the week or the free expert NFL picks released by our team of handicappers.