Week 12 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2023)

Thanksgiving is here, and Week 12 is a challenging one as entries run out of the best teams and look to some new options.

T.J. Hockenson and the Vikings hope to spike the Bears (Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Thanksgiving is upon us, so be thankful if you have any survivor entries that have made it to through the recent stretch. For two weeks in a row, a team being picked by over 30% of the public has lost, and now we get a week with plenty of potential treachery. Five teams are favored by at least a touchdown, but all five have been among the most popular picks this season, and many entries will have used a lot of them.

In these weekly columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL survivor pools, also known as knockout pools or eliminator pools. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our product.

We plan to periodically update this post until Sunday of Week 12 arrives. Here’s what’s available now:

Five Most Popular Week 12 Survivor Picks

Here are the most popular teams early on for Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season.

  • Minnesota Vikings (20%) vs. Chicago Bears (MON)
  • Tennessee Titans (18%) vs. Carolina Panthers
  • Kansas City Chiefs (12%) at Las Vegas Raiders
  • Detroit Lions (12%) vs. Green Bay Packers (THU)
  • Dallas Cowboys (5%) vs. Washington Commanders (THU)

Minnesota and Tennessee

The options thin out pretty quickly this week, as there are five teams favored by six or more points, but all of them have had previous weeks (often several) where they were the most popular pick to advance.

Minnesota and Tennessee are the next biggest favorites, but only by four points (Tennessee) and three-and-a-half points (Minnesota). With win odds just over 60%, both carry a lot of risk, and are the two most popular picks. Neither has any notable future value, and both are largely available.

Dallas, Detroit, and Kansas City

Dallas, Detroit, and Kansas City are three of the biggest favorites this week, and are drawing moderate popularity, collectively making up just under 30% of public picks so far.

Of the three, Dallas has the highest value as the least popular, and largest favorite. Dallas’ future value is also coming to an end for a while. After this week, the schedule tightens up. They could be usable in another tough week next week vs. Seattle, but then are likely not in consideration until Week 18.

Kansas City is favored by slightly more than Detroit, but has higher future value. The Chiefs are another option in a tough week next week (at Green Bay) and also get Las Vegas again, and the Bengals without Burrow, later in the season.

Detroit is still a high value choice, and their future value also drops a bit after this week. They could be an alternative choice in several future weeks, but may not have win odds as high as now against the Packers.

Tuesday 11/21

Week 11 Survivor Recap

For the second week in a row, a team with over 30% popularity fell. This time, it was Washington, who turned the ball over six times against the Giants, capped with a game-sealing pick-six. Most of the other popular options prevailed, though it took a furious comeback late by Detroit.

Here is a full summary of the most popular picks for Week 11, and the results:

WashingtonNY Giants32%L 31-19
JacksonvilleTennessee17%W 34-14
DetroitChicago16%W 31-26
San FranciscoTampa Bay10%W 27-14
HoustonArizona8%W 21-16
MiamiLas Vegas7%W 20-13
DallasCarolina5%W 33-10
BuffaloNY Jets2%W 32-6
LA ChargersGreen Bay2%L 23-20

Our recommendations were heaviest on Miami, who let Las Vegas linger longer than they should have, but maintained a lead. We also had more than the public on San Francisco. We were lighter on Washington than the public, as about 12% of our recommendations were on the Commanders.

For the public, around 66% of all entries advanced out of Week 11. For PoolGenius, about 88% of our pick recommendations advanced, all of the eliminations courtesy the Washington loss.


About Our Survivor Pool Advice

We break down the pros and cons of various survivor pick options in this column, but none of our advice is ever absolute.

Why can’t we just tell you the “best” survivor pick of the week? Because there is no universal “best pick” for all NFL survivor pools.

The best weekly pick for your pool depends on a variety of factors, including the number of entries still alive and your pool’s rules. For example:

  • Bigger survivor pools reward more risk-taking.
    The more entries in your pool, the lower the chance you have to win it. In addition, you have a fixed number of weeks to send hundreds (or even thousands, in really big pools) of opponents to slaughter while you survive unscathed. As a result, your best strategy for bigger pools generally demands more of a focus on avoiding the most popular picks.
  • Non-standard rules change optimal pick strategy.
    If your pool requires double picks late in the season, or if it’s a strike pool (i.e. your first incorrect pick doesn’t eliminate you), you don’t want to use the exact same pick strategy that you’d use in a standard-rules survivor pool. Those rule variations significantly influence decision factors, such as whether you should be more inclined to save a good team for later vs. use it now.

And then there’s all this stuff:

  • What if you’ve already picked the team (or teams) that some article says is the best pick this week?
  • What if the point spread for that “best pick” has gotten several points worse since the article was published?
  • How should you spread your picks across multiple teams if you’re playing more than one entry?

Technology to the rescue

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms that evaluate all of the strategy factors that matter in survivor pools and provide you with customized survivor pick recommendations based on the data updated multiple times a day.

The result? Since 2017, our subscribers have reported over $5.7 million in survivor pool winnings using our data-driven picks and tools.

If you want to see all the picks we recommend for your pool, use our NFL Survivor Picks product.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks the product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So, over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

This column can also help educate our readers about survivor pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more survivor pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our survivor pool strategy articles.

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