Week 9 Survivor Pick Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 9 is here for Halloween, where a team in Orange (Cleveland) and Black (New Orleans) are the new survivor pick top options.

Myles Garrett and the Browns are the popular Week 9 survivor pick (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Week 9 is like an oasis in the desert, as we get a host of new teams to explore as survivor options this week. Most of the biggest favorites in recent weeks are either on bye or playing each other, so it’s also a week with a lot of close matchups. As of Tuesday, there are only two teams favored by more than a touchdown, and two others favored by over a field goal.

We also have a fair amount of quarterback uncertainty this week, that could impact the survivor options, so check back throughout the week to stay on top of the latest outlook.

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

Five Most Popular Week 9 Survivor Picks

The outlook on this Halloween shows that the public is into orange and black. Here are the most popular teams early on for Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season. We list the top five each week, but we really only have a big two.

  • Cleveland Browns (49%) vs. Arizona Cardinals
  • New Orleans Saints (33%) vs. Chicago Bears
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (3%) vs. Tennessee Titans (THU)
  • Baltimore Ravens (2%) vs. Seattle Seahawks
  • Atlanta Falcons (2%) vs. Minnesota Vikings

This is a week where we see a lot of different teams than we’ve seen in recent survivor weeks. No Buffalo, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, or San Francisco. Baltimore is really the only team that has been used to any significant degree in most pools, and that is creating unique dynamics.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns have the highest market win odds, but also an extremely high popularity figure right now, approaching half of all survivor picks. That reduces their overall EV. While Cleveland has relatively low future value, they do project as one of the top options in Week 15 (vs. Chicago).

New Orleans Saints

The Saints’ popularity is climbing, and they are approaching a third of all picks. The win odds are similar to the Browns, and they are the only two teams favored by over a touchdown. The presence of the Browns at higher popularity makes the Saints the relatively better EV, over 1.00.

The Saints do have similar, but slightly higher future value than the Browns. Like Cleveland, Week 15 looks like another good spot for them (vs. the Giants) but they are also going to be one of the top options in Week 14 (vs. Carolina).

Pittsburgh Steelers 

The Steelers are one of many riskier options at low popularity this week, as no one else is drawing 5% of early survivor picks. They do have a little bit of future value, centered on another tough week, Week 13, where they host Arizona.

The EV this week is solid because the public is concentrated on two teams with win odds below 80%, but you are still risking about a 40% chance of elimination by going with Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore is the third-largest favorite this week, at -5.5 at home against Seattle. Because of the relatively higher win odds, low popularity, and the public concentration on Cleveland and New Orleans, the Ravens have a really good Expected Value. They have more future value than other options, being potentially useful in several other weeks.

Atlanta Falcons 

The Atlanta Falcons get Minnesota in the first week after losing Kirk Cousins for the year, and the Vikings offense could be unsettled. Atlanta is the fourth-largest favorite and a pretty good EV because of the potential payoff of either a Browns or Saints upset knocking out a big part of a pool. Atlanta has minimal future value, projecting as a favorite of more than field goal a couple more times (and just barely over field goal, at that).

Tuesday 10/31

Week 8 Survivor Recap

Like Oprah giving away cars, nearly everyone got a win last week. The top seven most popular picks all won in Week 8, most as larger favorites.

Here is a full summary of the most popular picks for Week 8, and the results:

LA ChargersChicago34%W 30-13
BaltimoreArizona20%W 31-24
DetroitLas Vegas16%W 26-14
BuffaloTampa Bay7%W 24-18
PhiladelphiaWashington6%W 38-31
MiamiNew England6%W 31-17
DallasLA Rams4%W 43-20
Kansas CityAtlanta3%L 24-9
HoustonCarolina2%L 15-13

Kansas City losing at Denver, and Houston losing at Carolina, were the two most common knockouts in a high advancement week.

Baltimore was our most common recommendation, followed by the Chargers, Ravens, and Bills. Based on our recommendation data, 99.8% advanced (there were a handful on the Chiefs and Texans, lower than the public rate).

For the public, around 95% of all entries advanced out of Week 8.


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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