Week 4 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 4’s five most popular NFL survivor picks: the LA Chargers, LA Rams, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Baltimore. We’ll also recap the impact of last week’s results on NFL survivor pools.

The two Los Angeles teams are the most popular choices this week, with 74% of entries rolling with either the Chargers or Rams. But are they the best choice for you?

Well, it depends. Sometimes, a very large concentration of picks on some favorites 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 4 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.

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Last Week’s Survivor Picks Recap

For the 2019 NFL season so far, 14 of the 15 teams that have been among the five most popular survivor picks each week have advanced, with Carolina’s loss to Tampa Bay in Week 2 the lone exception. Only a handful of less popular favorites bit the dust last week: Tampa Bay (2.0% picked by the public), Seattle (1.4%) and Philadelphia (1.2%) represented the biggest public eliminations.

Compared to the public, our pick recommendations leaned more toward New England and Minnesota, though Dallas was still the most frequent recommendation (though our percentage of recommending the Cowboys was lower than the public, 44% to 55%). Overall, both the public and TeamRankings subscriber pick recommendations via our NFL Survivor Picks product survived at an extremely high 95% rate last week.

If you combine all three weeks so far, you would expect that about 70% of all public entries are still alive heading into Week 4. In comparison, around 81% of all TR pick recommendations have survived, a difference of 11% in survival rate so far.

Survivor Pool Pick Analysis For Week 4

Below we analyze the pros and cons of the five most popular survivor picks for Week 4. 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.

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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.

Los Angeles Chargers (at Miami Dolphins)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 46%

Point Spread: -16.5

Pro: Gets Miami and thus is the safest team this week. Miami continues to “break” survivor pools so far in 2019. The Dolphins are currently at least 8.6 points worse than every other NFL team in our predictive ratings, making them one of the safest options to play against each week no matter the opponent. When Miami plays a decent team, it becomes even more extreme. The Chargers, despite their two consecutive close losses, are the clear safest play this week. 

Con: Highest pick popularity. The Chargers are not as safe as Dallas was last week and do have a bigger chance of losing on the road (our models estimate it’s 10%). As a result, LAC’s pick popularity is an important consideration here, and if it continues to trend higher (or you expect it to be above 50% in your pool), it would increase the appeal of a potential contrarian pick this week.

Pro: Lower future value. The Chargers only have one other week where they look like a top-three option in terms of safety, Week 16 against the Raiders. They are, though, a decent contrarian option next week playing Denver at home, when Miami is on the bye. New England is the safest option next week against Washington, but the Patriots already have high usage and also have better future weeks as well; after the Patriots, there are a handful of other matchups that are only slightly safer than the Chargers in Week 5.

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Los Angeles Rams (vs. Tampa Bay)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 28%

Point Spread: -10

Con: Dropoff in safety from Chargers. Our models have the Chargers at 90% win odds versus 82% win odds for the Rams. 

Con: The Rams’ popularity is somewhat high for a “second most popular option” in a given week. Philadelphia drew 22% of public picks as the second option in Week 1, with similar win odds to the Rams this week. Baltimore was at 26% in Week 2 with better win odds, and the Patriots were at only 14% last week as a significantly safer favorite than Los Angeles is now.

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Pro: Might be the best week to use them. The Rams do not have great future value for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. That largely has to do with when their best future matchups occur. The Rams look like they will be favored in almost every remaining game, but the weeks where they are likely to be favored by the most are also weeks with plenty of other good-looking options. So in terms of when they are the safest option, relative to the rest of the weekly slate, this week does rank highly and makes the Rams a more attractive team to use.

Indianapolis Colts (vs. Oakland Raiders)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 7%

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Point Spread: -7

Pro: A good option if you want to avoid the L.A. teams. It’s easy to see why Indianapolis would be the most popular choice of that next group. They draw a home matchup with Oakland where they are a decent favorite (our models give them a 71% chance of winning). Indianapolis has not been used much, if at all, in survivor pools so far this year. So compared to other options, they likely are more available too.

Con: Big dropoff in win odds from the safest option. The chances the Colts eliminate you with a loss are about three times as great as the Chargers. Our models have the Colts at about 71% win odds versus 90% for the Chargers.

Pro/Con: Could be the safest, and most popular, play in Week 10. Indy isn’t a great survivor option in most future weeks. That said, they do play Miami at home in Week 10 and are clearly the top choice that week in terms of survival right now. Our projections give the Colts a 94% chance of victory in Week 10, and no other matchup currently projects with more than 71% win odds. The Colts are likely to be a hugely popular choice that week and so you have to consider now if you want to have them available in Week 10, or go the contrarian route now by picking them, and again in Week 10 by avoiding them (when it may make a lot of sense).

Kansas City Chiefs (at Detroit Lions)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 5%

Point Spread: -6.5

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Pro: Low pick popularity for using the Chiefs. The Chiefs make the list at 5% popularity, going against the 2-0-1 Lions on the road. They have a similar safety profile to several other teams around them, and our models give them a 72% chance of winning. 

Con: Why burn the Chiefs on this matchup when the future is bright? Kansas City has the second-highest future value of any NFL team, and are particularly attractive in Weeks 13 and 15. In Week 15, for example, they could set up as a nice alternative to everyone who will be using the Giants against the Dolphins that week. A team like Kansas City will have its public popularity held down because so many entries will have used them by then, potentially making them extremely valuable as a high win odds option at home against Denver.

Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cleveland Browns)

Survival Pool Pick Popularity: 3%

Point Spread: -7

Pro: Low popularity for what could be the third-best safety option. In a vacuum, using Baltimore looks pretty compelling as a non-Chargers pick this week, because their popularity is lower than other options like the Chiefs, Colts, and Rams. Our models are also higher than the betting market on Baltimore’s chances this week, giving them the third-highest win odds at 78% (the market has them at 73%, similar to New England and Indianapolis). Either way, they are among the safest choices once you get past the Chargers and Rams.

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Con: Baltimore has decent future value, including in Week 6, when they host Cincinnati and look like one of the safest options, particularly if you want to save New England for a different week. Add in that about 40% of surviving entries have already used Baltimore, and they might be best saved for a week when they are higher in win odds, but their usage will be similarly limited. 

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Which Week 4 Pick Is The Best For Your Survivor Pool?

The teams above are the most popular survivor picks in Week 4, 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. 

Good luck in your survivor pools this week!

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