This week we need to start with an important note. Now that we’re entering the final stretch of the 2019 season, this will be our final weekly NFL pick’em article for Fantasy Footballers. We hope you have enjoyed reading about our data-driven pick’em contest strategies.
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With that, back to our regularly scheduled program…
Last week in the NFL gave us the first loss for the New England Patriots and the first win for the Miami Dolphins in the 2019 season. That means we are down to just one remaining undefeated team, the San Francisco 49ers, who will, by the way, be features in this week’s pick analysis.
As a refresher on how we pick for value and maximize your edge in pick’em pools, here’s the two-part series on NFL office pool strategy. Otherwise, read on to find out about the NFL Week 10 picks that need to be on your radar screen.
How Last Week’s Value Picks Did
We highlighted two different sets of favorites, comparing the Browns (at Denver) to Green Bay (at LA) and also discussing Oakland (vs. Detroit) compared to Houston (vs. Jacksonville). Both the high value and low-value teams lost in the first group and won in the second. (Though the Chargers game was also mentioned as an upset you might want to consider in weekly contests since only 7% of the public picked them).
Finally, we said the Steelers were the much better value in the game against the Colts, with 75% of the public on Indianapolis. Pittsburgh won that matchup, again a case of when there is a toss-up game but the public is heavily on one side, it makes sense to go against the crowd. Adding up three “good values” for the week, the general public got 1.1 wins in those games on average, compared to our advice going 2-1, a benefit of almost a full game against the typical pool opponent.
Good & Bad Week 10 Value Picks In NFL Office Pools
Every week, we highlight three pairs of possible picks. Sometimes, we compare favorites from two different games who have similar odds of winning and discuss where the relative value lies. Sometimes, we compare two teams playing head-to-head in the same game, and discuss which is the better value option.
This week, we compare two different favorites to a team that is being over-picked by the public and also highlight a game where the outcome is closer to a toss-up, but the public is more heavily on one side.
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.
Better Value: Cleveland Browns (vs. Buffalo)
Worse Value: New York Giants (at NY Jets)
The Cleveland Browns are the favorite against Buffalo, though you wouldn’t know it by how the public is picking, as 76% of the public is going with the Bills. It’s easy to see why the public is so heavily on Buffalo. The Bills are 6-2, and the Browns are 2-6 and look like a disaster.
But those records are almost entirely a function of schedule. The Bills have won five games against the worst five teams in the league, by only 8.8 points on average. They have lost, at home, to the only two teams who have a winning record (the Patriots and Eagles). The Browns meanwhile have played four of our top six teams by power rating, and have played only one game against the bottom of the league (a 20-point win at the Jets).
So Cleveland is a 2.5-point favorite, the same as the New York Giants are favored over the Jets in the Battle of New York. But unlike Cleveland, the favored Giants are being picked by 79% of the public. It’s as if the public is reacting extremely to the notion that the Jets and Browns are terrible. But the truth is that neither is all that different from their opponents.
So the Browns are the much better value here as a favorite, while you might consider the Jets as an upset pick in a weekly contest.
Better Value: San Francisco 49ers (vs. Seattle)
Worse Value: Green Bay Packers (vs. Carolina)
Memo to the casual public: the San Francisco 49ers are really good. The last time they played at home, we highlighted them as a value favorite against Carolina, because the public was picking the upset enough to make sticking with the 49ers the smart play. All they did was win by 38. In fact, San Francisco has played only three home games in their 8-0 start and has outscored opponents 106-36 at home. Seattle is a feel-good story and Russell Wilson is having a great year, but Seattle is closer to an average team winning a bunch of close games (6-1 in one-score games this year).
San Francisco is a 6-point favorite at home against Seattle with 72% win odds. Compare that to Green Bay, who is also playing an NFC playoff contender at home in Carolina, and is favored by 5.5 points, with 69% win odds. Yet, the public is picking the upset by the Seahawks 36% of the time, compared to only 7% of the time for Carolina.
That means the value is again in riding the 49ers this week. You may still want to stay with the Packers as a favorite to bounce back after last week’s loss, but the Panthers are at least a consideration if you are in a large weekly pool where taking a risk on a very unpopular but realistic upset is necessary to differentiate your entry.
Better Value: Chicago Bears
Worse Value: Detroit Lions
This week’s head-to-head showdown takes us to Chicago, where the Bears host the Lions. This one is the battle of the completely resistible force against the entirely moveable object. The Bears have really struggled on offense, and if you were watching last Sunday, it was hard to miss criticism of just how poorly they look with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. Here’s a dirty little secret, though: the Lions’ defense is not very good, and has been squandering a great year from Matthew Stafford. Detroit is 31st in yards allowed and is trending in a bad direction in recent weeks.
Chicago is actually the higher-rated team in our power ratings, (No. 15, at +0.9, versus No. 22 for Detroit at -1.5) and has the better point differential, and the game is in Chicago. Our models have the win odds at 60% for Chicago, while the public is treating it as a toss-up, taking the Lions just over half the time on the road, so you can get the favorite here at a good value.
Which Of These NFL Week 10 Picks Should You Make?
Once you know the best value picks of NFL Week 10, you can increase your odds to win your pool by making educated gambles on them. There are a lot of potential decisions to make, though, and not all of them will make sense for your specific pool.
Factors like your pool’s size, scoring system, prize structure, and even your current position in the pool standings should all weigh in to your Week 10 pick strategy, and it takes a lot of data and math to get to the right answer.
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