Week 3 Survivor Advice: Pros and Cons of Five Popular Picks

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In this post, we’ll analyze the pros and cons of NFL Week 3’s five most popular NFL survivor picks: Dallas, New England, Green Bay, Minnesota and San Francisco. We’ll also recap the impact of last week’s results on NFL survivor pools.

Dallas is the “obvious” survivor pick of Week 3 as far as the public is concerned, with a huge 60% of survivor entries nationwide taking the Cowboys. Should you take them too?

Well, it depends. Sometimes, a very large concentration of picks on a single team can be a great opportunity to fade the public and root for an upset to knock out the majority of your opponents. But the dynamics of every week are different, and the size and rules of your pool will influence your answer as well.

This Week 3 survivor pool analysis is brought to you by TeamRankings, the only site that provides customized picks that maximize your edge in survivor pools. Since 2017, TeamRankings subscribers have reported nearly $1.5 million in survivor pool winnings.


Fantasy Footballers readers can get a free 3-day premium trial to TeamRankings, including all game predictions plus picks for NFL survivor pools and pick’em contests. Get Picks Now

Last Week’s Survivor Picks Recap

The Carolina Panthers were the biggest loss for survivor pools, as they were picked by about 13% of survivor pool entries, but lost on Thursday night to Tampa Bay. But after Thursday, the other six teams that were among the seven most popular options last week survived. When the dust settled, around 83% of survivor entries nationwide lived to see another week. 

Compared to the public, our customized NFL survivor pick advice for Week 2 was generally high on Baltimore given New England’s extremely high future value. In situations where taking more risk made sense, the analysis liked Cleveland better than Carolina, primarily because the Browns were similarly risky but much less popular.

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In the end, 93.6% of our subscriber pick recommendations survived Week 2, compared to an 83% survival rate for the public, and more of our subscribers saved the Patriots for later. That’s the second week in a row our subscriber picks out-survived the public.

Survivor Pool Pick Analysis For Week 3

Below we analyze the pros and cons of the five most popular survivor picks for Week 3. To be clear, we’re not implying that any of these teams are necessarily the best pick for your pool — because there is no such thing as a universally “best” survivor pick.

For example, if you’re in a pool that requires making two weekly picks later in the season, your optimal pick strategy is likely to favor taking a bit more risk early on. If you’re in a tiny, standard-rules pool with 10 or 15 friends, being more conservative is usually a better call.

Whatever your pool situation, though, the analysis below will help you weigh the pros and cons of the picks you’re most likely considering.

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

Dallas Cowboys (vs. Miami Dolphins)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 59%

Point Spread: -21.5

Pro: Miami has lost their first two games by a larger cumulative point differential than any team since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978, and Dallas has extremely high win odds (94%). Your almost never see picks this safe in the NFL.

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Pro: Relatively low future value. Despite being a good team so far, the Cowboys’ schedule gets much tougher after this week. They do play the Saints on the road without Drew Brees, but it’s unlikely that they will be a huge road favorite there. Dallas isn’t currently projected to have win odds above 70% again until Week 17 at home against Washington, though they could still be useful in Week 9 when they visit the Giants in a week that may not have a clear-cut best survivor pick.

Con: Super high pick popularity. Just like the Vikings had in Week 3 last year, 60% pick popularity is an absolutely huge concentration of picks on one team. If you don’t pick Dallas, and by random chance, the Cowboys have their worst game of the season, while Miami has its best, over half your pool could get knocked out while you survive. That chance is very slim but it’s not zero; Minnesota, a 16.5-point favorite, ended up losing to Buffalo.

New England Patriots (vs. NY Jets)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 15%

Point Spread: -22.5

Pro: Extremely high win odds. Like the Cowboys, the Patriots have a very high chance of securing the victory going against the Jets and third-string quarterback Luke Falk.

Pro: Relatively low pick popularity. The goal when you use the Patriots this year is to do so in a week when others can’t or won’t use them, and thus you get high expected value (EV) out of the pick. New England’s pick popularity is only a quarter of Dallas’s this week, so you are effectively getting the Patriots at a discount. You aren’t going to do much better than 96% win odds on a team being picked by only 15% of your pool (if it reflects the national averages).

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Con: Future Value. Of course, one reason why so many entries are opting for Dallas and not New England is future value. The Patriots remain the most valuable team to save for the future by a significant margin and will be much more useful than Dallas in several other weeks if you save them. They are particularly important in Week 6 if you already used Baltimore, as the dropoff from the Patriots to the next best (non-Baltimore) option is again fairly sizeable. 

Green Bay Packers  (vs. Denver Broncos)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 7%

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Point Spread: -7.5

Con: Large dropoff from the Patriots and Cowboys in safety. Compared to picking New England, you would be taking on a roughly 20% additional chance to get eliminated in order to pick a team that isn’t even that much less popular.

Pro: Only modest future value. The Packers have four future weeks where they look like they could be one of the top three survivor pick considerations, but none where they appear to be a clear-cut top choice. But they could be a more interesting contrarian option in Week 7, hosting the Raiders. The Bills are likely to be an extremely popular pick that week at home against the Dolphins, and the dropoff in win odds from Buffalo to Green Bay likely won’t be as great as the dropoff from the Patriots and Cowboys this week.

Minnesota Vikings (vs. Oakland Raiders)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 9%

Point Spread: -9.5

Pro: Less popular than Green Bay. If you are assessing the non-Patriots and Cowboys options this week, Minnesota is both less popular and more likely to win than Green Bay, both relative pluses. 

Pro: Not huge future value. Minnesota won’t be a great option in most future weeks, but they might be an enticing contrarian pick to go against the “pick whatever team is playing the Dolphins” crowd in Week 8 when Pittsburgh hosts Miami and Minnesota gets Washington at home.

Con: Again, a very large dropoff in safety from the top two options this week. When teams like the Cowboys and Patriots are so likely to win, it really puts a premium on safety.

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San Francisco 49ers (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 4%

Point Spread: -6.5

Con: Risky, Riskier, Riskiest. San Francisco is a riskier pick than either Green Bay or Minnesota, and only slightly less popular than those two teams. (With Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph making his first career start, you can also read our analysis on what happens when first-time starting quarterbacks play, relative to the spread. In short, there’s cause for at least some concern about variance here, if it turns out that Rudolph ends up being not that big a drop from Roethlisberger.)

Con: Surprisingly important future value in a key week. The 49ers look like they could be one of the best options in Week 12 when they host Arizona. That week, the Patriots play the Ravens, the Chiefs play the Chargers, and the Rams go against the Chicago Bears, so several of the more prominent favorites will have matchups that you may want to avoid.

Which Week 3 Pick Is The Best For Your Survivor Pool?

The teams above are the most popular survivor picks in Week 3, but that doesn’t mean one of them is the best pick for you. Every possible pick has an expected value and future value associated with it, and those values vary based on the characteristics of your pool.

We built our NFL Survivor Picks product to do all of the number-crunching needed to identify the best picks for your pool. You answer a few questions about your pool’s size and rules, and it provides customized pick recommendations for all of your survivor pool entries using the latest matchup data, betting market odds and public picking trends from national survivor pool sites.

The proof that it works? Over the last two NFL seasons, our subscribers have reported winning over $1.5 million in survivor pool prizes. We invite you to give it a try with our free trial or to sign up for the season at the link below. 

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Good luck in your survivor pools this week!


Fantasy Footballers readers can get a free 3-day premium trial to TeamRankings, including all game predictions plus picks for NFL survivor pools and pick’em contests: Get Picks Now

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