Week 13 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 13 brings us into December in survivor pools, and new teams are emerging as options for late season runs.

Survivor hopes will be on Baker Mayfield and the Bucs in Week 13 (Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire)

It hasn’t been a long December yet, but there’s reason to believe maybe this month will be better than the last. As we approach a new month, and the final third of the season, we get some new survivor blood as well. Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh in particular are options this week, and Jacksonville is back with an unexpected lopsided matchup with the Burrow-less Bengals.

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 13 arrives. Here’s what’s available now:

Five Most Popular Week 13 Survivor Picks

Here are the most popular teams early on for Week 13 of the 2023 NFL season.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31%) vs. Carolina Panthers
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (20%) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (MON)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (14%) vs. Arizona Cardinals
  • LA Chargers (11%) at New England Patriots
  • Miami Dolphins (5%) at Washington Commanders

As we look at these five teams, we can divide them up by win odds:

Jacksonville and Miami

These two teams have the highest win odds, both favored by more than eight points. Both have pretty good EVs. Miami’s is better because of the relatively lower popularity, but that’s arguably offset by Miami’s better future value, where you could instead use them in either of the next two weeks as a big favorite (vs. Tennessee and the Jets).

LA Chargers, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay

These three are a tier below in safety, but all roughly equal in that factor, favored by 5.5 to 6 points.

All have low future value, with Tampa Bay as least likely to be useful again in the future, but none of them are must-saves.

Tampa Bay’s much higher popularity, though, makes their EV significantly lower than the other two choices. They are more than twice as popular as Pittsburgh, and nearly three times more popular than the Chargers.


Tuesday 11/28

Week 12 Survivor Recap

Only four favorites lost in Week 12, but three of them had big survivor implications. Minnesota was the most popular public choice, losing on Monday Night Football. Detroit and New England also lost, with Detroit coming out flat on Thanksgiving at home against the Packers, and the Patriots turning the ball over and missing a late field goal to tie it against the Giants.

Here is a full summary of the most popular picks for Week 12, and the results:

MinnesotaChicago26%L 12-10
TennesseeCarolina24%W 17-10
Kansas CityLas Vegas14%W 31-17
DetroitGreen Bay8%L 29-22
DallasWashington5%W 45-10
MiamiNY Jets5%W 34-13
San FranciscoSeattle4%W 31-13
BaltimoreLA Chargers3%W 20-10
PhiladelphiaBuffalo3%W 37-34
New EnglandNY Giants2%L 10-7

Our recommendations were heaviest on Detroit, a team that our entries had saved at a higher rate, but that burned us. The New England miss also hurt, while the public took most of its losses with Minnesota, a team we mostly avoided. We also had about 37% of entries on Dallas, Kansas City, Miami and San Francisco, and a small amount on Tennessee.

For the public, around 64% of all entries advanced out of Week 12. For PoolGenius, about 44% of our pick recommendations advanced.


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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