Will Week 5 be the revenge of the favorites? Last week was a wild week where the nine teams closed as underdogs in the betting market won their games outright, led by the Buccaneers winning at the Los Angeles Rams. That was only the tenth week since the start of the 2008 season where underdogs won more games than they lost.
As we will see below, in pick’em contests, the public appears to be responding to taking a beating last week by being more willing to pick upsets in Week 5. That, in turn, presents opportunities for value on some favorites.
For more background on how to pick for value and maximize your edge in pick’em pools, see our two-part series on NFL office pool strategy. Otherwise, read on to find out about the NFL Week 5 picks that need to be on your radar screen.
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How Last Week’s Value Picks Did
Last week, we highlighted three pairs of matchups. The three teams we highlighted as “better values” (Ravens, Broncos, and Bears) went 1-2. Based on national public picking trends, the average pick’em player scored 1.1 wins from those three games, so the result was pretty much a wash against the public. If the Broncos hadn’t given up a game-winning field goal in the last minute, it would have been a great week for those value picks, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Those results were just part of the larger trend last week, which featured many upsets when the public was heavily on favorites; all but three games in Week 4 featured a pick popularity above 75% for the favorite. So don’t worry too much if you had a losing record last week, as the average public entry did as well (7.2 wins out of 15 games).
Good & Bad Week 5 Value Picks In NFL Office Pools
Below we list three pairs of possible picks and identify the “better value” and “worse value” of the pair. Keep in mind that we’re not saying you should pick against all the “worse value” teams we identify in each pair below, especially if they are favored to win. In season-long pick’em pools especially, you need to be careful not to get too risky with your picks.
But if you find yourself wanting to pick the “better value” team to get upset, then pump your mental brakes and reconsider. In comparison, picking the “worse value” team to lose would be a much better strategy. The risk is similar, but the reward will be greater if you get it right.
And if you’re only gunning for weekly prizes and could care less about an end of season prize in your pick’em contest, then picking one or more of the “worse value” teams to get upset might make a lot of sense.
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: Minnesota Vikings (at New York Giants)
Worse Value: Houston Texans (vs. Atlanta)
The Vikings were a popular choice last week to beat the Bears on the road, and lost. The Giants were a popular choice to beat Washington and won. So it’s pretty easy to see why the public is relatively down on the Vikings this week and high on the Giants. The Vikings, though, are a 5.5-point favorite and have a 69% chance of winning according to our models. The public is picking Minnesota 68% of the time, so you are getting a pretty solid favorite being picked at a slightly lower rate than its odds to win.
That may not sound like a huge value, but consider this for perspective: there have been nine other games so far this season in which a team was favored by 5 or 5.5 points. On average, the public picked the favorite 89% of the time, and never less than 84% of the time.
Speaking of which, the Houston Texans are favored by 5 points this week over Atlanta at home and are being picked 90% of the time. The public has been high on Atlanta recently since the Falcons upset the Eagles and has been burned twice in a row, so they appear to be jumping ship and overrating Houston here.
Better Value: Dallas Cowboys (vs. Green Bay)
Worse Value: New Orleans Saints (vs. Tampa Bay)
Dallas and New Orleans played on Sunday Night Football, and both enter this week favored by nearly the same amount at home. In fact, they have almost identical money line implied win odds this week, at 63%.
But the public is reacting to that primetime outcome and picking the Saints heavily while being more willing to take a chance on Green Bay to pull the road upset of Dallas.
The public is picking the Saints 84% of the time, which is the sixth-highest pick rate this week for a favorite, while they are taking the Cowboys only 65% of the time.
New Orleans has won consecutive games as an underdog with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, but the offense has not been particularly impressive (less than 200 passing yards each week). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is coming off a big road upset of the Los Angeles Rams. The Bucs have put up a combined 963 yards of total offense and have scored 86 points in the last two weeks. Those factors explain why New Orleans is only a small favorite in this one.
Of these two smaller favorites, the value is on taking Dallas to win, because it is a situation where you are getting the favorite, and where their actual win odds are in line with the pick percentages, unlike New Orleans. And in some pools, there is value in going contrarian against New Orleans, the one small favorite this week that the public is treating more like a sure thing.
Better Value: Tennessee Titans
Worse Value: Buffalo Bills
Tennessee and Buffalo are facing off this week, and the public is evenly split on who to take (currently, the public is going 51% for Buffalo).
But the Titans are a 3-point favorite here and have about a 60% chance of winning, giving you the expected value edge if you take Tennessee. Buffalo put up a fight against New England in Week 4, which likely made an impression with the public. But Bills quarterback Josh Allen did sustain a concussion on Sunday and his status for this game is still to be determined. The public does not seem to be reacting to the possibility that he is out on Sunday, yet. That’s something to keep an eye on throughout the week, as betting lines may move as a result.
As for the Titans being unpopular, it’s possible the public has been burned by Tennessee being so unpredictable, and they are willing to go against Tennessee in this spot. The Titans have won twice as underdogs and lost twice as favorites, so the public has only averaged getting 0.6 picks right in games involving Tennessee this year.
Which Of These NFL Week 5 Picks Should You Make?
Once you know the best value picks of NFL Week 5, 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 into your Week 5 pick strategy, and it takes a lot of data and math to get to the right answer.
Our Football Pick’em Picks product recommends the best weekly picks for your pool based on all these strategy factors. You answer a few quick questions about your pool, and it gives you the weekly pick sheet that will maximize your edge.
Some proof of the real-world results: last year 80% of our subscribers reporting winning a prize in football pick’em pool. We invite you to give the product a try for free for NFL Week 5:
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