Week 6 Office Pool Advice: Top Picks For Your NFL Pick’em Contest
Can Cleveland turn things around after a rough Monday Night result? Does Jacksonville have a chance to give the Saints their first loss with Teddy Bridgewater starting? The public is definitely taking strong sides on those questions and more in Week 6, and we will break down the value implications as you decide which picks to make in your weekly pools.
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 6 picks that need to be on your radar screen.
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How Last Week’s Value Picks Did
The favorites we highlighted as “better values” went 1-1, with Minnesota rebounding with a big win over the Giants, while Dallas lost at home to Green Bay. Meanwhile, we also discussed a third game where the public was picking both sides equally, but advised that the value was on Tennessee at home since they were a 3-point favorite. Tennessee went 0-for-4 on field goals and lost a low-scoring game to Buffalo at home. That result meant our highlighted picks went only 1-2, while the public garnered 1.55 wins on average in those games, with the difference almost entirely coming down to the Titans’ result.
We did discuss how the public was picking a few more underdogs in Week 5, and the value was generally on favorites. A strategy of picking only favorites last week would have resulted in nine wins, even considering some big upsets like the Colts over Chiefs and Raiders over Bears, while the public would have averaged about 8.6 wins based on pick popularity data for each winner in Week 5.
Good & Bad Week 6 Value Picks In NFL Office Pools
Every week, we highlight three pairs of possible picks. Sometimes, it is to compare favorites from two different games who have similar odds of winning and discuss where the relative value lies. Sometimes, it is to compare two teams playing head-to-head in the same game and discuss which is the better value option.
This week the three picks below all come in head-to-head showdowns. These are the three smallest point spreads for Week 6 games, where the teams are basically toss-ups according to the odds. But in each, there is a clear value based on the public’s picking preferences.
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: Carolina Panthers
Worse Value: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina is a 2-point favorite as the Panthers and Buccaneers meet again this season, this time in London. Our power ratings are in agreement with that assessment on a neutral field, with Carolina 2.3 points better than Tampa Bay. Our models give the Panthers a 54% chance of winning the game.
The public, though, is slightly on the side of the Buccaneers in this one, taking Tampa Bay 52% of the time.
Why? It’s not like the Panthers have struggled lately, as they have reeled off three straight wins with Kyle Allen at quarterback. Maybe it’s because the Buccaneers won the first matchup back in Week 2. It’s also possible that some people do not realize this is a neutral site game since it is technically one of Tampa Bay’s home slots. But whatever the reason, you are getting a Carolina team at some value here as the slight favorite based on early pick popularity numbers.
Better Value: Cleveland Browns
Worse Value: Seattle Seahawks
Cleveland just got crushed in primetime by San Francisco. Seattle won in primetime on Thursday against the Rams in an exciting game. It’s pretty easy, then, to see why the public would be very heavily on the Seahawks, selecting them 81% of the time.
But dig a little deeper, and this one is not nearly as lopsided as the public numbers suggest, and that presents value in considering the Browns as a selection. Seattle is only favored by 1.5 points. Our models give Cleveland a 48.9% chance of winning at home.
Seattle has not been a powerhouse, so just looking at their record likely causes some public overconfidence here. Seattle beat the Bengals and Steelers by a combined three points, and just survived against the Rams on a late missed field goal. Our power ratings have Seattle at +1.1 points over average and Cleveland at -0.9 points below average, so factoring in home-field advantage, this one is close to a toss-up.
But if Cleveland wins, you make up ground on the vast majority of your pool, because such a huge chunk of the public is likely to be on the Seahawks. Cleveland makes a lot of sense in weekly pool contests and is even in consideration in a seasonal pool.
Better Value: Jacksonville Jaguars
Worse Value: New Orleans Saints
Minshew Mania or Bridgewater Buzz? At least for one week, it seems like the public is more enamored with how the Saints have responded to Drew Brees’ injury. The Saints are being selected by 85% of the public here. That pick percentage puts the Saints in the same range as the Chiefs and the Chargers, teams favored by 5 points and 7 points respectively this week.
But would you believe that Jacksonville is actually the (slight) favorite in this one?
Our models give Jacksonville a 47.9% chance of winning, while the implied win odds from early money lines put Jacksonville at 51.5% to win, and the Jaguars are an early one-point favorite. Either way, it’s close to a toss-up, but the Saints are extremely popular. Given the vast disparity in how the public is picking this one versus the odds, trusting in Gardner Minshew seems like the better value play.
Breaking Down the Value in Taking the Unpopular Teams
We’ve highlighted three games here, all games where the results could realistically go either way in any of them. In fact, if you add up the win odds of the three games, you get 1.53 expected wins for taking the teams we highlighted as better value, versus 1.47 expected wins for going the opposite, popular way with each game. That’s virtually indistinguishable, and the odds are almost as good that the better values go 1-2 as that they go 2-1.
The impact, though, is what happens in pools by going the unpopular route. In order to win a weekly prize, for example, you don’t have to achieve some arbitrary score. You just have to score better than your fellow competitors. Using the pick popularity numbers for the above three games, you would expect only 1% of all public entries to go with all three of the teams we highlighted above. Meanwhile, 36% of all entries are expected to go with all three of their opponents, and another 48% should be expected to pick against the better value in two of those three games.
That means the vast majority of your opponents will be picking opposite you, in what are essentially toss-up games. It won’t happen every week, but when things do break your way, and you have played the value game, the expected winnings increase. If you go 2-1 or 3-0 by going the unpopular route, you shoot ahead of virtually everyone in your pool. If you go 2-1 or 3-0 by playing the popular choices, you are still in a logjam with between 30% and 80% of your pool.
Getting weeks where that value hits is why 21.1% of our subscribers reported winning a weekly prize back in Week 2, a rate more than four times larger than you would expect based on pool sizes. That week, the Lions beat the Chargers and the Falcons beat the Eagles, in games where both had pick popularity below 15%. Both were only a one-point underdog.
For the season, our subscribers have reported weekly winnings 2.3 times as frequently as you would expect compared to an average entrant. 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 6, look at the “Data Grid” that provides lots of cool information on each game, check out the tab on weekly wins history reported by subscribers, and visit the Q&A forum (where we interact on a regular basis with updates, observations, and sometimes answers to thoughtful questions we receive, throughout the week).
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