Week 1 is here, and with it comes sweating your NFL survivor picks as you hope this will be the year. The season kicks off Thursday with a game between Tampa Bay and Dallas that has survivor pool relevance. The week ends with two more games that will have interest for survivor players, as the Rams host the Bears on Sunday night, and the Ravens travel to Las Vegas on Monday Night Football. In between, there are plenty of other survivor pick possibilities, and we're here to offer up expert advice to help with your pick.
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Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool Advice: Tips, strategy for picks
Here are our thoughts on the five most popular survivor picks of Week 1 since you're probably considering at least one of these teams already. You can check out more of our survivor pool strategy advice on Sporting News if you want to dig a little deeper. To get our pick advice for your specific pool, please check out our NFL Survivor Picks product.
(Note: "Pick Popularity" numbers below refer to the estimated percentage of survivor pool entries nationwide that have already picked the team in question. Those numbers, as well as a team's odds to win, can shift over the course of the week and impact a team's attractiveness as a survivor pick as a result. Make sure to check our product for all the latest data.)
San Francisco 49ers (at Detroit Lions)
Survivor Pick Popularity: 22% (most popular pick)
Point Spread: -7.5
There aren’t any huge favorites in Week 1, and the 49ers are tied with the Rams and Buccaneers for the largest point spread in the early going. San Francisco will look to rebound following an injury-filled 6-10 season in 2020. Detroit looks to be in rebuilding mode, hiring head coach Dan Campbell, trading away QB Matthew Stafford, and turning to new acquisition Jared Goff at quarterback.
The 49ers do have some future value, but it’s not as high as some other options this week, such as Tampa Bay and Kansas City. They also aren’t an insanely popular pick given the alternatives this week (even though they are the most popular team). If these numbers hold, San Francisco looks like a reasonable option for many pool types.
Los Angeles Rams (vs. Chicago Bears)
Survivor Pick Popularity: 20%
Point Spread: -7.5
The Rams are turning to new QB Matthew Stafford in an effort to revitalize the offense after it fell off a bit last season (by head coach Sean McVay’s standards). Los Angeles's defense did manufacture the most points in the NFL last year (over two points per game on average), and gets to open against a Chicago team that will have veteran Andy Dalton starting at quarterback ahead of rookie Justin Fields.
A lot of what we said about the 49ers also applies to the Rams. They have some future value, but they're not too popular given the other options. Relatively speaking, they are among the safest picks of a week in which there are no huge favorites.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
Survivor Pick Popularity: 12%
Point Spread: -7.5
The Bucs immediately provide an interesting strategy decision for NFL survivor players in Week 1. They are right up there with San Francisco and Los Angeles at the biggest favorites of the week, but Tampa Bay is a less popular pick, making the Bucs a higher value play if you only consider this week.
However, as an expected very good team, Tampa Bay also should have high value throughout the season whenever you choose to use them. In smaller pools, they might still be worth using early. In pools that have a lot of entries or pools that feature special rules like strikes and later multi-pick weeks, holding Tampa Bay may be more prudent.
You can see where we have the Bucs ranked in your specific pool by taking advantage of our free Week 1 survivor picks trial.
MORE TEAMRANKINGS: Week 1 Pick 'em pool advice
Carolina Panthers (vs. New York Jets)
Survivor Pick Popularity: 9%
Point Spread: -5
The Panthers are the top choice for entries looking to advance with a team that has little future value in survivor pools. While the other popular options this week should have multiple future weeks where they will be valuable picks, the same is not as true of Carolina.
The Panthers do have a little more risk, though, as they are starting the year with a new quarterback in Sam Darnold, who is facing his old team. The Jets were one of the most popular teams to pick against in 2020, but they have a new coach, new quarterback, and more uncertainty around how good or bad they will be this year.
Still, if you're in a pool that has a buy-back option only after Week 1 if you happen to lose and you're willing to exercise that option, taking a riskier team with low future value in Week 1 is a calculated gamble worth consideration.
Kansa City Chiefs (vs. Cleveland Browns)
Survivor Pick Popularity: 7%
Point Spread: -6.5
Finally, the Chiefs are the only other team drawing more than three percent of the public’s survivor picks in Week 1.
We talked about Tampa Bay presenting an interesting quandary as the highest value play this week while also having high value in the future. Kansas City has high future value, as well, but the difference is that Kansas City isn’t quite as safe. In most pool formats, it’s probably best to save the Chiefs for a more better spot in the future.
Get our Week 1 survivor pick for your pool!
Every possible NFL Week 1 survivor pick has an expected value in the current week as well as a future value associated with it. Those values can vary significantly based on the characteristics of your pool, such as its size and its rules.
It takes a lot of data and math to figure out which pick (or combination of picks, if you're playing multiple entries) gives you the biggest edge to win your pool, which is why we spent years building our NFL Survivor Picks product.
Our product asks you a few questions about your survivor pool, then provides customized pick advice using the latest matchup data, betting market odds, and public picking trends. It tracks the picks you've already made and even recommends how to split up your picks if you're playing multiple entries. There's nothing else like it, and it's why our subscribers have reported nearly $3 million in survivor pool winnings since 2017.
We invite you to try it out, and good luck in your survivor pools this week!