NFL survivor pools are becoming more and more popular every season. While “Survivor” is the most common used name for this contest, several will refer to it as a Knockout, Elimination or Suicide Pool.
The goal is pretty straight forward. In order to win the pool, you simply have to be the last person left standing.
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 needs 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 leagues do offer people the chance to buy back in if they lose prior to like 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 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.
General Game Theory & Strategy for Survivor Pools
- Use Vegas Point Spreads – It would 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 straight forward. 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.
- 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 got 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’s some big upsets. If 60% of the pool is on one team and that team loses, your chances of winning go up drastically.
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 go hand-and-hand with handicapping the point spreads.
My Best Survivor Pick – Week 7
- Buffalo Bills (vs Miami Dolphins) – Really hard to not like the Bills this week. I know the Dolphins returned from their bye with a near upset of Washington, but I think that speaks more to how bad the Redskins are and not Miami all the sudden being a competitive team. Buffalo’s only loss this season is to the Patriots and they were arguably the better team in that matchup despite the outcome. No way the Bills don’t beat this awful Dolphins team on Sunday.
Top Teams to Back This Week
- San Francisco 49ers (@ Washington Redskins) – The Redskins squeaked out a 17-16 win over the Dolphins last week and that’s by far the most competitive Miami has been all season. I think that says a lot about this Washington team and the direction they are headed the rest of the way. San Francisco is absolutely rolling to start 2019 and I just don’t see them slipping up against a bad team like the Redskins. They might not cover the double-digit spread, but they should win the game no problem.
- Green Bay Packers (vs Oakland Raiders) – Slight concern here with Green Bay playing on a short week after facing the Lions on Monday Night Football, but hard to see Aaron Rodgers and the Packers losing at home to the Raiders. Oakland strength defensively is stopping the run and 4 of their first 5 have been against the Broncos, Vikings, Colts and Bears. All run-first teams. Only game against a legit passing attack was Week 2 at home against KC and Mahomes lit em up for 433 yards. Packers defense should have no problem slowing down Oakland’s attack.
Suicide Teams to Avoid This Week
- Houston Texans (@ Indianapolis Colts) – I could see some being tempted to play the Texans, who are off a huge road win at Kansas City and are 4-1 over their last 5. Not to mention they followed up a 53-point outburst with 31 against the Chiefs. Colts aren’t the most sexy team without Andrew Luck, but they can run the ball and play defense. They also beat the Chiefs in KC and did so in a prime time game. Indy also has a huge edge coming off their bye week.
- Los Angeles Rams (@ Atlanta Falcons) – Even though the Rams have lost 3 straight and just got embarrassed 20-7 at home by the 49ers, there’s still an overwhelming public perception that the LA is a much better team than the Falcons. I know Atlanta has lost 4 straight, but the books aren’t making the Falcons a mere 3-point home dog not thinking they can win this game.
- Chicago Bears (vs New Orleans Saints) – Everyone just wants to keep doubting Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints, but New Orleans just keeps on winning. With the Bears at home off a bye and expected to have Mitchell Trubisky back, most will be taking Chicago to win this game. I’m not saying they won’t but I think this will be an offensive struggle that could go either way.
For more great free content this week check out my teaser of the week.