Week 3 Picks for NFL Survivor Contests

Sep 18, 2019
Week 3 Picks for NFL Survivor Contests

This article was written by TeamRankings

We head into NFL Week 3 survivor pools missing the roughly 13% of entries nationwide that picked Carolina last week after the Panthers fell straight away to Tampa Bay in a bit of a fluky game on Thursday night. That game is now the No. 1 survivor elimination game of the 2019 season, taking the crown from Titans over Browns in Week 1.

All of the other most popular teams survived last week, though there were some close calls, especially for Houston. The Texans closed at a high 17% pick popularity and stopped a two-point conversion with 36 seconds left to squeak out a win. When the dust settled, though, about 82% of survivor entries alive at the beginning of the week made it through Week 2.

Our NFL Survivor Picks product generally advised subscribers to save New England due to extremely high future value, plus the availability of Baltimore as a very safe alternative pick. When taking more risk made sense (e.g. in pools that allow strikes or re-buys), Cleveland looked better than Carolina, primarily because the Browns were similarly risky but much less popular (3% pick popularity vs. 13% for Carolina).

As a result, 93.6% of our subscriber pick recommendations survived last week, compared to an 83% survival rate for the public. That's the second week in a row our subscriber picks out-survived the public.

Now let's get to the NFL Week 3 survivor pick analysis.

FREE TRIAL OFFER: 4for4 readers can get a free three-day premium trial to TeamRankings, including all game predictions plus customized picks for your NFL survivor pools and pick'em contests: Get Free Picks.

Week 3 NFL Survivor Pick Analysis

Our free analysis of weekly NFL survivor picks focuses on three factors you always need to consider in order to maximize your edge in survivor pools: win odds (how likely a team is to survive), pick popularity (what percentage of your pool you'd expect to pick a team), and future value (how valuable it is to save a team for use in a future week).

If you're making survivor picks on your own, the data below should serve as the foundation of your decision-making process for your Week 3 pick(s).

Just remember that the specific characteristics of your survivor pool can have a big impact on your optimal picking strategy. For purposes of this article, we assume a 100-entry "standard rules" pool (one loss and you're out, you can only pick each team once) with no other rule tweaks like allowing strikes or buy-backs, forcing double picks late in the season, etc.

Data referenced below was current as of Wednesday morning and could change between posting time and kickoff time. Our product updates multiple times per day with the latest information.

Win Odds: Top Five Week 3 Picks

When it comes to win odds, higher is obviously better. All else being equal (granted, it pretty much never is), you want to pick the team with the best likelihood of surviving.

Here are the five safest teams for NFL Week 3 according to the betting markets, as measured by their money line odds, which we translate into win odds (in parentheses):

  1. New England Patriots (96%, 23-point favorite) vs. NY Jets
  2. Dallas Cowboys (96%, 21.5-point favorite) vs. Miami
  3. Minnesota Vikings (76%, 8.5-point favorite) vs. Oakland
  4. Green Bay Packers (75%, 8-point favorite) vs. Denver
  5. Kansas City Chiefs (74%, 7-point favorite) vs. Baltimore

Win Odds Analysis

The two safest teams of Week 3, by a wide margin, are the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots, and both teams are favored by more than 20 points in the betting markets. As it turns out, this is an unprecedented week in modern NFL history.

According to our Custom NFL betting trends tool, only 10 NFL games since 1985 have had a point spread of 20 or more. We’ve never had a single season in which two different teams were favored by that much in a game, let alone a single week where it has happened, like this one.

Could an upset of New England or Dallas happen? Sure, it’s the NFL and one recent historical result, in particular, is quite relevant. Exactly one year ago, in Week 3 of 2018, the Bills won at Minnesota as a 16.5-point underdog, wiping out over nearly 60% of all still-alive survivor entries.

But so far, Miami has been a disaster and the Jets are already down to their third-string quarterback in Luke Falk.

The next three leaders in terms of win odds (Vikings, Packers, and Chiefs) are just ahead of several other teams in terms of safety, and in most weeks would be the "safe" picks. This week, though, they are about 20% lower in terms of chances of survival than the two leaders—a huge drop you need to consider very seriously.

Pick Popularity

If you ignore win odds and future value, it's almost always better to pick a less popular team in a survivor pool. Diversifying your picks from the crowd sets up a scenario where your expected pool winnings can increase significantly if your pick wins and another popular pick loses.

(The Bills game we mentioned above was a great example last year. When Buffalo won, the expected pot share of the 40% of survivor entries that didn't pick Minnesota skyrocketed.)

Here are the five most popular survivor picks of Week 3 in 2019:

  1. Dallas Cowboys (60%) vs. Miami
  2. New England Patriots (15%) at Miami
  3. Green Bay Packers (7%) vs. Denver
  4. Minnesota Vikings (5%) vs. Oakland
  5. San Francisco 49ers (4%) vs. Pittsburgh

Pick Popularity Analysis

It’s no surprise Dallas and New England are the two most popular selections given their extreme likelihood of survival. What is slightly surprising is that Dallas is so much more popular than New England, though that is partly explained by our next category, future value, plus the fact that nearly 30% of still-alive survivor entries took New England last week.

Unlike last week, though, when Baltimore and New England “split the vote” relatively evenly and neither had insanely high popularity numbers, this week the Dallas Cowboys are one of the most popular survivor picks of the last decade.

Last week, if you took a chance to fade the heavy favorites, you would have needed two massive upsets to happen in order to knock out the majority of entries in your survivor pool. This week, all you need is Dallas to lose for that to happen (and yes, it would require Miami to look like a professional football team). There’s about a 4% (1-in-25) chance of it occurring.

Of course, 4% is far from likely, and with a full 75% of survivor pool entries nationwide going with two teams that have over a 95% chance of advancing, safety is again at a high premium this week. Generally, it's a more attractive proposition to go with a contrarian pick when the safest pick of the week actually isn't all that safe, and this week does not fit that criterion. Still, there are cases where it may make sense, depending on your pool's rules and/or how many entries you are playing.

(Don’t worry, this will not always be the case, as even the Dolphins will play worse teams or have a bye week.)

The 49ers, by the way, sneak into the list as the fifth-most popular choice, going against Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph in his first career start.

Future Value

The final element to consider when making a Week 3 survivor pick is future value. If you burn a great team this week, you don’t have that team for the future, and even smaller survivor pools have a realistic chance of lasting deep into the season.

(Of course, teams with high future value also tend to be the better teams, at least until later in the season when even great teams may not have many very juicy matchups left.)

According to our numbers, here are the top five ranked teams in future value this week for a 100-entry standard rules pool:

  1. New England Patriots (6.4)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (5.1)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (2.6)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (2.4)
  5. Buffalo Bills (2.4)

(Note: The numbers in parentheses are a proprietary rating of future value we created, which is also impacted by factors such as pool size. Comparing future value ratings gives you an idea of the tiers of teams, for example, how the Patriots and Chiefs have much higher future value than even the other top-rated teams below them on the list.)

Future Value Analysis

New England still has the highest future value in the NFL, even after drawing consecutive weeks of the Dolphins and the Jets. Meanwhile, Kansas City now has eight future games with projected win odds of 74% or higher according to our models, so they are likely to be a quality survivor pick option in lots of future weeks.

You may not immediately think of Buffalo as a great future play, but the Bills still have multiple games against the Dolphins on their schedule, play the Jets again and at home, and also play Washington at home.

How do the other popular alternatives (Green Bay, Minnesota, and San Francisco) rank compared to these top five? Not super high, although San Francisco has the most future value of the bunch.

Since 2017, our subscribers have reported nearly $1.5 million in survivor pool winnings, and we are offering 4for4 readers a free 3-day premium trial, which includes all game predictions plus customized picks for your NFL survivor pools and pick'em contests: Get Free Week 3 Picks Now.

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