Week 18 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 18 is the regular season final in survivor pools, and lots of hopes will be resting on Baker Mayfield and Tampa Bay.

Baker Mayfield is trying to clinch a playoff spot, and survivor titles (Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire)

Happy New Year! The final week is here, and the future is now. Good luck to those of you still competing in a survivor pool.

We have a week with some teams likely to rest starters, so pay attention to the odds and the news. Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, and San Francisco are among the teams who are likely to view this week more like an exhibition, as they are locked into their spots.

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

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Five Most Popular Week 18 Survivor Picks

Here are the most popular teams we are seeing as of Tuesday for Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (29%) at Carolina Panthers
  • Green Bay Packers (9%) vs. Chicago Bears
  • Philadelphia Eagles (5%) at New York Giants
  • Seattle Seahawks (5%) at Arizona Cardinals
  • Las Vegas Raiders (5%) vs. Denver Broncos

We only have one team favored by double digits, or for that matter, by more than 6 points, and that is Dallas. But few entries have the Cowboys available.

Tampa Bay is the clear public favorite going against the Panthers. The Bucs’ loss last week actually keeps this in play, as they would have clinched the South and probably rested starters if they had won a week ago. With really high popularity, they are going to have a mediocre EV in a riskier week to close for everyone.

Whether you want to stay with Tampa Bay or pick a different option may depend on just how popular you think they will be in your pool, and what your specific other options are.

Check back tomorrow and we will discuss that in more detail


Tuesday 1/2

Week 17 Survivor Recap

The Eagles were the big upset victim, losing a costly one at home to Arizona that likely also cost them the NFC East title and a home game in the playoffs. Philadelphia was the most popular pick last week and a tough one to take for anyone that got that far, able to pick a double-digit favorite with one week to go.

Here is a full summary of the most popular picks for Week 17, and the results:

PhiladelphiaArizona15%L 35-31
HoustonTennessee14%W 26-3
JacksonvilleCarolina13%W 26-0
ClevelandNY Jets13%W 37-20
BuffaloNew England9%W 27-21
LA RamsNY Giants8%W 26-25
San FranciscoWashington4%W 30-22
DenverLA Chargers4%W 16-9
IndianapolisLas Vegas4%W 23-20
ChicagoAtlanta3%W 37-17
Tampa BayNew Orleans3%L 23-13
MinnesotaGreen Bay2%L 33-10

There were a lot of smaller favorites this week, but for the most part, they won. Jacksonville, for example, crushed Carolina without Trevor Lawrence at QB, as the line in that game dropped. Tampa Bay and Seattle were the other two favorites to lose, but neither had high popularity.

The public lost about 25% of entries, while our recommendations lost at a similar rate, about 26%, mostly due to Philadelphia’s 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.

As a result, you will see Jacksonville’s EV dropping a bit, and might see their grade lower as well.

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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