Expert Week 5 NFL Survivor Pool Advice, Tips, Picks

Last week presented a classic contrarian strategy setup for NFL survivor pools — the chance to avoid a hugely popular favorite, the Rams, and hope for an upset. In certain years (e.g. 2018 Week 3, when Minnesota lost as a 17-point favorite), these calculated gambles end up being the biggest reasons behind survivor pool wins. You take an educated risk with your pick for a potentially huge payoff. Is there a similar situation in Week 5?

Unfortunately, while the Rams looked bad last week and only led by one point in the fourth quarter, they escaped with a win thanks in part to a final-series interception. Meanwhile, one of our primary recommended contrarian picks to our subscribers, the 49ers, were upset thanks in part to bad turnover luck. Because of that outcome, we are now slightly down versus the public (30 percent to 37 percent in terms of survival rate) through four weeks, but there’s a lot of season left.

Week 5 features a lot of legit survivor options, with several teams favored by at least six points. The two biggest point spreads involve Baltimore and Kansas City, a familiar story since those two teams will be among the most valuable potential plays all season. Meanwhile, the public is going most heavily with Dallas against the struggling Giants.

As usual, let’s dive in and analyze the five most popular survivor pool picks of NFL Week 5 using the “Holy Trinity” of survivor pick strategy data: Win odds, pick popularity, future value.

This analysis is brought to you by TeamRankings, the only site that provides customized picks that maximize your edge in football pools. Check out their NFL Survivor Pool Picks, Football Pick ’em Picks, and NFL Betting Picks.

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Week 5 NFL Survivor Pool Advice: Tips, strategy for picks

The pick analysis below should cover at least some of the picks that you are most likely considering making in your NFL survivor or knockout pool this week.

Just to be clear, though, we are not saying that the first team listed, the Dallas Cowboys, is the best Week 5 survivor pick for your specific pool(s). We’re telling you that the Rams are the most popular Week 5 pick in survivor pools nationwide, and we then break down the major pros and cons of potentially picking them.

To get our specific Week 5 survivor pick recommendations, check out our NFL Survivor Picks product. Using the My Pool Picks feature, you first tell us some details about your pool(s) and the teams you’ve picked so far, and the product shows you the best Week 5 picks for all of your survivor pool entries.

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

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Dallas Cowboys (vs. NY Giants)

Survivor Pick Popularity: 28% (most popular pick)

Point Spread: -10

For the second week in a row, the team facing the Giants is the most popular choice in survivor pools. The 1-3 Cowboys aren’t as popular as the Rams were a week ago, but they also do not have win odds that are quite as high as the Rams did last week.

This seems like a matchup of the resistible force versus the moveable object. The Dallas offense is cooking but the defense cannot seem to stop anyone, while the Giants are dead last in points scored (11.8 per game).

This is the first week in 2020 to seriously consider Dallas as a survivor pick, although three percent of the public lost taking the Cowboys last week against Cleveland. Dallas’ future value is mostly tied up in two remaining matchups with Washington in Week 7 and Week 12 if you do not use it this week.

There are eight other teams favored by six or more points this week, so there are plenty of other options with only slightly lower (or perhaps higher) win odds than Dallas this week.

Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cincinnati)

Survivor Pick Popularity: 16%

Point Spread: -13

For the second straight week, Baltimore is the second-most popular choice in survivor pools while having both the highest win odds and point spread. This week, the Ravens get Cincinnati at home in a division rivalry game.

As will be the case often this year, Baltimore has good expected value this week, since the Ravens have high win odds but are not hugely popular relative to their level of safety as a pick. Just as with last week, Baltimore presents an interesting question of whether to use their value now in a week where there are other good choices available or continue to save the Ravens for the future, where fewer and fewer entries will also have them available.

Baltimore again looks like a reasonable choice, but whether they are the best choice depends on your specific situation, rules, and number of other remaining entries. 

For example, if you are in a large pool that is likely to go deep into the season and requires multiple picks late, using Baltimore now, when it is going to be a very large favorite in Week 15 and 16 against Jacksonville and the Giants, may not be the best choice. If you are one of seven entries left in a small pool and the majority of others have already used Baltimore, though, it may be a stronger consideration.

Arizona Cardinals (at New York Jets)

Survivor Pick Popularity: 12%

Point Spread: -7

If you are on the “always pick against the Jets” train this year, then Arizona is next up. So far, 12 percent of the public is going that direction.

Arizona has little future value after this week. The only week over the next eight where we currently project the Cardinals to be favored is in Week 9 at home against Miami.

That said, Arizona’s higher popularity, at least relative to other options with similar win odds this week, reduces their expected value as a survivor pick. So, the choice with Arizona comes down to preserving future value by picking them versus taking a different team that stands to give you a biggest boost in your pool this week (but also would be more valuable to save).

Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Las Vegas)

Survivor Pick Popularity: 9%

Point Spread: -13

Hosting the Raiders, Kansas City is tied for the largest point spread this week with Baltimore. Given that KC’s pick popularity is below Baltimore, it has high expected value this week.

However, the choice with Kansas City, as it will be in many weeks, is whether now is best time to use it. In four weeks, the Chiefs get the Jets at home followed by the Panthers at home, two games where you would expect them to be favored by even more than they are against the Raiders.

New England Patriots (vs. Denver)

Survivor Pick Popularity: 8%

Point Spread: No Line/Off the Board

Will the New England game even be played? Right now, eight percent of the public is taking the Patriots at home over Denver, but there is a lot of uncertainty around this one at the moment after star cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, four days after Cam Newton did. Practice will be canceled while the league monitors further testing coming out of New England.

And if the game is played, even if pushed back from Sunday, will Cam Newton be involved? We saw on Monday night that the Patriots’ offense looked completely different with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham at quarterback.

The QB situation could have a significant impact on New England’s win odds in this game and therefore also on the expected value of taking New England. Add in that there’s an outside chance that Drew Lock (shoulder) could return at QB for Denver, depending on when the game is played, and there are currently just too many questions around this game.

Football Picks From TeamRankings:
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Get our Week 5 survivor pick for your pool!

Every possible NFL Week 5 survivor pick has an expected value and future value associated with it, and those values can vary significantly based on the characteristics of your pool.

It takes a lot of data and math to figure out which pick (or combination of picks, if you’re playing multiple entries) gives the biggest boost to your expected survivor pool winnings, which is why we spent years building our  NFL Survivor Picks product.

We invite you to try it out, and good luck in your survivor pools this week!

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If you want to dig deeper into some specific topics, you can also check out our full survivor pool strategy guide, where you can learn about things like expected value, future value, different survivor pool rules variations, and how to play multiple entries.

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