Week 5 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 5 of the 2023 NFL season brings us two teams that haven't been big players in survivor pools yet: Detroit and Miami.

Will we be praying for a Detroit Lions survivor win? (Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

Last week, all the favorites won, and nearly all entries advanced, something that hasn’t been common so far this year. This week, we get some new blood to the survivor pool battle, as Detroit and Miami take the fore.

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 5 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:

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Five Most Popular Week 5 Survivor Picks

Here are the most popular teams early on for Week 5 of the 2023 NFL season:

  • Detroit Lions (39%) vs. Carolina Panthers
  • Miami Dolphins (35%) vs. NY Giants
  • Washington Commanders (8%) vs. Chicago Bears
  • Cincinnati Bengals (5%) at Arizona Cardinals
  • Buffalo Bills (4%) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars in London

Let’s quickly go through each of these options:

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions are favored by nine points against the winless Carolina Panthers, the first time they have been a big favorite this year. (They were a 4.5-point favorite getting 6% of survivor picks in Week 2, when they lost to Seattle.)

As a result, the popularity is skyrocketing in a week where they are one of two teams favored by more than a touchdown. That popularity is keeping their EV down, combined with the fact that the other popular choice, Miami, is an even larger favorite, and no one else is drawing a significantly high pick total.

Detroit actually does have decent future value, as they have Las Vegas at home in Week 8 and the Bears twice this year.

Miami Dolphins 

Miami is the highest win odds option on the board this week, as an 11-point favorite with win odds over 80% against the Giants. They also have a decent EV thanks to the high popularity of Detroit.

Miami does have high future value, including Carolina at home next week when they may be a little less popular than now. Home games against the Raiders, Titans, and Jets are also contributing to their future value estimate.

Washington Commanders

The Commanders get the Chicago Bears this week on Thursday Night Football. They are favored by 6.5, with win odds of 73%.

In a lot of respects, this is similar to Week 1, when Washington was a survivor choice against the Arizona Cardinals on the theory they had no future value. As it turns out, the worst team in the NFL appears to be the Bears, not the Cardinals. Washington is a similar-sized favorite this week, but the difference is their pick rate, and two popular bigger favorites, rather than one (Baltimore) back in the season opener.

As a result, Washington has a good EV with the public concentrated on two other teams, and little future value (we now also favor them against the Giants later in the year, as a potential contrarian option).

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have had quite the awful start to the year, and as a result are now a smaller favorite than expected a month ago at Arizona. We may even see this pick rate go down more, as it is still likely influenced by some pre-saved picks from earlier in the year that could get switched by Sunday.

Cincinnati has lower future value because of that start, and the argument for Cincinnati is pretty simple: they provide a low-picked contrarian option to two highly popular bigger favorites, with most pools heavily concentrated this week.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills (-5.5) travel to London to face the Jaguars. The thing with using Buffalo as an alternative now is that they have our highest future value rating entering Week 5. They will probably be a big favorite in four of the next six weeks. This week might be the lowest win odds they have in that span.

Tuesday 10/3

Week 4 Survivor Recap

Week 4 was the return of the survivor favorites. The top six most frequent picks all won, making it largely a wash for everyone, and favoring those entries that got through with picks that preserved future value longer term.

We had a few close sweats, Philadelphia going to overtime after the Commanders scored on the final play of regulation being the most notable, but overall it was a pretty uneventful week in survivor pools.

Here is a full summary of the most popular picks for Week 4, and the results:

San FranciscoArizona33%W 35-16
PhiladelphiaWashington20%W 34-31 OT
Kansas CityNY Jets17%W 23-20
LA ChargersLas Vegas9%W 24-17
MinnesotaCarolina6%W 21-13
DallasNew England5%W 38-3
JacksonvilleAtlanta2%W 23-7
DenverChicago2%W 31-28
PittsburghHouston2%L 30-6

We were focused mainly on three choices: San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Minnesota. San Francisco was most common in smaller standard pools, while Minnesota became a more frequent recommendation in larger, late week multi-pick pools. Overall, over 99% of all PoolGenius entry recommendations advanced, with a small number on New Orleans, mostly in multi-pick formats.

For the public, about 95% advanced, with New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati most likely to contribute to the public losses. With our entries being heavier on Minnesota, particularly in the largest pool sizes, there were some nominal future value gains this week against the field on average, that may provide an edge later in the year.


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:


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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