Week 2 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2022)
Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season has some values available in survivor pools. Which teams should you be looking at after a wild opening week?
The Rams and Bills are two of the most popular survivor picks in Week 2 (Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
Less than half of all survivor entries made it through Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.
The opening week was full of landmines and heartache, but survivor players that made it through now have an opportunity. Pool sizes should be substantially smaller after only one week.
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 2 arrives, and we will also be posting video updates throughout the week as well, so check our articles section for those. Here’s what’s available now:
- 9/18: Week 2 Sunday Recommendations
- 9/16: Week 2 Outlook Entering Weekend
- 9/15: Bengals Become Popular
- 9/14: Oh, San Francisco
- 9/13: 5 Most Popular Week 1 Picks
- 9/13: Week 1 Recap
- FYI: Survivor Strategy Articles
- FYI: About Our Survivor Pool Advice
Five Most Popular Week 1 Survivor Picks
Here are the most popular teams early on for Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season:
- Los Angeles Rams (28%) vs. Atlanta Falcons
- Denver Broncos (16%) vs. Houston Texans
- Cleveland Browns (11%) vs. New York Jets
- Buffalo Bills (9%) vs. Tennessee Titans
- Green Bay (9%) vs. Chicago Bears
Let’s briefly go through the five most popular options.
Los Angeles Rams
In Week 2, the Rams have an opportunity to bounce back from their Thursday Night Football debacle against Buffalo. The result of that game understated how poorly they played, as some Buffalo turnovers prevented it from being an even bigger margin of defeat.
On Sunday, the Rams face the Atlanta Falcons, who have the lowest projected win total in the betting markets for the year. However, the Falcons did gain more than 400 yards in a narrow loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1.
The Rams are the biggest favorite of the week (-10.5), but there are four other teams favored by 9.5 or 10 points that have similar win odds and lower popularity. That gives the Rams a solid-but-unspectacular EV this week.
The Rams also have the second-highest future value of the five most popular options this week, behind only Buffalo. Week 5 looks like a suddenly viable spot to use the Rams in the near term if you save them, as they get Dallas (without Dak Prescott) that week.
Denver lost its season opener to Seattle by one point and now faces a Houston team that tied Indianapolis in Week 1. But Denver’s offense moved the ball consistently and just struggled in the red zone (two fumbles at the goal line).
Denver is the second-most popular pick right now. It’s in that large group of teams favored by 10 points, with win odds of 82% in the markets.
The Broncos have solid future value, but it isn’t prohibitively high. If you don’t use them this week, Weeks 7 (Jets) and 8 (Jaguars) look like the next-best options.
The Cleveland Browns have moved into the third position in popularity after winning their season opener at Carolina. Having the Jets as their opponent is also a factor here in the public pick rate, as New York was the one big underdog last week that did not win or play a close game.
The Jets lost 24-9 to Baltimore, although they did have 104 more yards than the Ravens.
The betting markets have Cleveland as a 6-point favorite, lower than the other popular choices this week. Because of those lower win odds, the Browns have a lower EV than other options.
What they don’t have is a lot of future value, especially in pools where the size is reduced enough that late weeks look less likely. The Browns’ win odds this week are larger than any week until the matchup with Houston in Week 13, when QB Deshaun Watson is expected back from his suspension.
The Bills are also one of the bigger favorites of the week, and they have similar win odds to the Rams and Broncos. Because their popularity is a little lower, they do have a pretty good EV.
However, that is countered by Buffalo being by far our highest future-value team for 2022. We project them to have win odds higher than this week in five different future weeks. Not all of those weeks will have as many other quality options as this one.
Green Bay Packers
Finally, the Green Bay Packers move into the fifth spot. You may be getting a little recency-bias discount on this one, as the Packers offense struggled in a Week 1 loss to Minnesota. Meanwhile, Chicago beat San Francisco 19-10.
However, the Bears beat the Niners with only 204 total yards of offense. They were outgained by 127 yards. San Francisco committed two costly third-down penalties on the Bears’ first two scoring drives, which allowed Chicago to take the lead after doing nothing on offense for 2.5 quarters.
Chicago will likely need to duplicate that formula to beat Green Bay. “That formula” means getting the Packers to repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot, turn the ball over, and commit bad penalties, while the Bears get one big play to a receiver whom you thought was out of the league.
Green Bay has win odds of 79% and a pretty good EV because its popularity is lower than other options. The Packers have solid but not spectacular future value, highlighted by a Week 6 matchup with the Jets.
As always, you can get the most up-to-date popularity data in our Data Grid. Check your specific pool rankings and recommendations to see what makes sense for you.
Week 1 Survivor Recap
Last Friday, we talked in one of our new videos about the risky outlook for Week 1 and the potential for a big sweat. Sunday (and Monday) provided even more sweating for survivor players than anticipated, as nearly every survivor-worthy pick was on the ropes, and almost all of them lost in excruciating fashion.
When the dust settled, our subscriber recommendations ended up modestly beating the public despite the widespread carnage. 45% of our recommendations advanced (assuming the Colts tie eliminated entries, which is true in most but not all pool formats), compared to a 38% survivor rate for the public at large.
As a bit of a silver lining, our recommendations also advanced more entries with a slightly better future-value outlook. Over half of still-surviving entries nationwide have now used Baltimore, while our Week 1 picks leaned most heavily on New Orleans.
Here is a summary of the most popular picks for Week 1, and the results:
|Baltimore||NY Jets||20%||W, 24-9|
|Tennessee||NY Giants||13%||L, 21-20|
|San Francisco||Chicago||9%||L, 19-10|
|Cincinnati||Pittsburgh||8%||L, 23-20 (OT)|
|New Orleans||Atlanta||5%||W, 27-26|
|Kansas City||Arizona||2%||W, 44-21|
There were a lot of missed field goals and bad red-zone execution by the teams that lost. Five of the six most popular teams lost (or tied), and four of those had a kick late to win the game (sometimes multiple kicks).
Tennessee was the only team in that group to get outgained by its opponent. In the other four games that eliminated a lot of survivor entries, the favorites outgained their opponents by over 170 yards (428 to 256 on average).
To put this in some perspective, over the last decade, teams that outgained opponents by between 160 and 180 yards won 86% of the time.
As a result, about 62 percent of the public was eliminated, with 38 percent advancing this week, if ties count as eliminations. (Some small percentage of pools do count ties as wins, so the Colts entries advanced in those.)
Our picks were most heavily on the Colts, Saints, 49ers, and Eagles, with a smaller subset on the Broncos and Ravens. Our biggest “fades” compared to public pick rates were nearly entirely avoiding Cincinnati and Tennessee.
Survivor Strategy Articles
If you’re serious about winning more survivor pools, it pays to learn the strategies that give you a long-term edge.
You can start with our free survivor strategy articles, which explain a number of the concepts we apply to our customized survivor pick recommendations:
- Don’t just try to survive the week
- The “Holy Trinity” of survivor strategy
- Expected Value: What it is, why it matters
- Future value: What it is, why it matters
- Why pool size should influence your picks
- How survivor pool rules affect strategy
- Playing multiple entries in survivor pools
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 $3.7 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.