Week 2 Picks For NFL Pick'em Contests
This article was written by TeamRankings
Week 1 is in the books, and it is time to see the reaction, or in some cases, the overreaction to the first set of games as we look ahead to Week 2 picks for NFL pick’em contests.
If you're into fantasy football or DFS, you probably also enjoy playing in an NFL office pool or two. That's where we come in. We've been studying football pool strategy for the better part of a decade. Last year, 80% of our subscribers reported winning a prize in a football pick'em.
In this post, we identify some of the top Week 2 value picks in NFL pick'em contests and confidence pools. Of course, trying to pick lots of winners in your pool every week is important, but that's not all you need to do to maximize your edge.
FREE TRIAL: 4for4 readers can get free premium access to TeamRankings for NFL Week 2, including all game predictions plus picks for your NFL pick'em contests and survivor pools: Get Free Week 2 Picks
Picking for Value in NFL Office Pools
Putting together your optimal Week 2 pick sheet for NFL pick'em pools requires understanding several different pool strategy factors: your pool's size and rules, its prize structure, your current position in the standings, and how your opponents are expected to pick, just to name a few.
Our Football Pick'em Picks product applies sophisticated math to do all that number crunching for you in a precise way. But for the purposes of giving high-level pick advice in this post, we can apply a much simpler approach to at least separate the wheat from the chaff from a value perspective.
Using betting lines, game predictions from our algorithmic models, and pick popularity data we collect from multiple national sites like Yahoo! and RunYourPool, we've ranked every Week 2 team on the basis of win odds and pick popularity in NFL pick'em pools. To explain:
- A No. 1 ranking in win odds means that the team is the most likely team to win in Week 2, which is a good thing.
- A No. 1 ranking in pick popularity means that the team is the least popular Week 2 pick in pick'em contests nationwide, which is also good.
Of course, you would expect these two rankings usually to be at odds. The biggest favorites of the week are usually the most popular picks, and vice versa.
However, summing the ranks provides a simple composite metric that reflects teams that likely present good value, because that approach considers both components.
Week 2 Value Picks For NFL Pick'ems
Here are the five teams that float to the top of our "Simple Value Test" for 2019 NFL Week 2.
Keep in mind we are not blindly recommending you make all of the picks below—the upset picks especially. The best Week 2 picks for your specific NFL pool depend on several different dynamics, and you can find those picks here.
What we are saying is the teams below have some of the more compelling risk vs. reward profiles this week. You should certainly think twice about picking against favorites, and if your pool's format rewards taking more risk (e.g. a one-week pool with lots of entries in it, or even a season-long pool with disproportionately large weekly prizes), then the underdogs deserve strong consideration as well.
Note: Win odds and estimated national pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.
No. 1: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Seattle)
Win Odds: 62% (7th best in Week 2)
Pick Popularity: 56% (14th best in Week 2)
Yes, Pittsburgh looked utterly awful in Week 1 against the Patriots, and it was showcased in primetime. But going against the team that finished dead last in yards allowed last season, Seattle managed only 233 total yards (the fourth-lowest total of last week). The Bengals also out-gained the Seahawks by nearly 200 yards. In short, Seattle was significantly outplayed last week; they just happened to survive with a lucky win.
Pittsburgh is playing at home and is being picked at a lower rate than their actual win odds. Most favorites are pretty highly overrated by the public, so when you see a solid favorite with over a 60% chance of winning, being picked less frequently than that, we call that a value favorite and it is the closest thing to an automatic pick decision in pick’em pools.
No. 2: Atlanta Falcons (vs. Philadelphia)
Win Odds: 48% (17th best in Week 2)
Pick Popularity: 25% (10th best in Week 2)
Atlanta took until the fourth quarter to score against Minnesota in Week 1, so the public is understandably down on the Falcons. But Atlanta put up decent yards in the opener, and was victimized by a punt block and three turnovers; the fumble luck went 3-for-3 Minnesota’s way (one lost by Atlanta, two Vikings fumbles recovered by Minnesota).
The Falcons are close to a pick’em in this contest, as a 1-point underdog in the betting markets at post time, the closest line of the week. However, the Falcons are very unpopular, drawing only 25% of the public's picks. If you can get a near coin flip game with this many people on the other side, it makes sense to consider bucking the crowd, especially if your pool's format rewards taking some additional risks.
No. 3: Buffalo Bills (@ NY Giants)
Win Odds: 52% (15th best in Week 2)
Pick Popularity: 41% (13th best in Week 2)
Buffalo was able to win its first road game 17-16 despite four first-half turnovers, coming back in the fourth quarter from two scores down. The Bills also soundly won the yardage battle against the Jets. As a result, it looks like bad luck played a role in the slim 1-point win margin.
The public is siding with New York in this one, picking the Giants 62% of the time. By our current ratings, Buffalo is 3.6 points better than New York on a neutral field and should still be the favorite even after home field advantage is included. The betting markets agree, making Buffalo a 2-point favorite. Pick the Bills—you're getting a favorite at an underdog price.
No. 4: Cincinnati Bengals (vs. San Francisco)
Win Odds: 54% (14th best in Week 2)
Pick Popularity: 44% (tied for 14th best in Week 2)
Cincinnati is very similar to Buffalo in that both teams are slight favorites, but the public is picking the underdogs more frequently. Cincinnati had low expectations coming into the season, but in new head coach Zac Taylor’s first game, they outgained Seattle by nearly 200 yards on the road, and that was without A.J. Green. In short, it doesn't seem like the Bengals' performance was just a fluke driven by things like turnovers and lucky special teams plays.
San Francisco, meanwhile, had only 264 yards of offense in winning at Tampa Bay, benefitting from two pick-sixes thrown by Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. The 49ers passing game was not particularly impressive against a Bucs team not expected to have a great defense.
The public is treating Cincinnati as the underdog here at home; it's almost certainly a wiser move to trust the betting markets instead and pick the favorite with value on your side.
No. 5: Detroit Lions (vs. L.A. Chargers)
Win Odds: 43% (23rd best in Week 2)
Pick Popularity: 10% (7th best in Week 2)
Detroit becomes the third home team in an AFC-NFC cross-conference matchup to show up on the value picks list this week, along with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The Chargers are the slight favorite in this game, by 2.5 points in the betting markets, but the public is picking the Chargers at an extremely high rate (90%) for a less-than-field-goal favorite. That gives Detroit the biggest positive differential between win odds and pick popularity in all of Week 2.
To put the relative value in perspective, Detroit is only slightly less likely to pull off an upset than the Giants are this week, but the Giants are over five times as popular an upset pick. If you want to take a moderate gamble to differentiate your picks from the crowd in Week 2, Detroit is a great choice.
Which Of These NFL Week 2 Picks Should You Make?
Once you know the best value opportunities of Week 2, you can often increase your odds to win your pool by making some educated gambles on them.
Perhaps you bump up the number of confidence points you assign to a solid value pick like Buffalo, or maybe you take even more risk on an upset pick like Detroit.
There are a lot of potential decisions to make, and not all of them will make sense for your specific pool. It takes a lot of data and math to get to the right answer.
We invite you to give our premium NFL tools a try for free:
FREE TRIAL: 4for4 readers can get free premium access to TeamRankings for NFL Week 2, including all game predictions plus picks for your NFL survivor pools and pick'em contests: Get Free Week 2 Picks