Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 NFL Survivor: Week 1 (Loser Pools)

I have never actually participated in one of these "loser" pools myself, but people ask me about them occasionally, and they seem interesting enough, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

As you've likely guessed, the idea here is the same as with a normal Survivor pool, except the goal is to lose every week. Aside from the obvious flip-flopping of the "win" probabilities of every game, it seems like this has two relevant (and related) implications:
  • Future value completely changes. In normal pools, you generally want to be picking against the really bad teams, so you can keep your win probability high without wasting really strong teams. Here, with everything flipped, it's going to be better to pick against the really good teams, which will keep win probability low (high) while saving teams which will consistently be big underdogs.
  • In a related story, the new future value dynamic will inevitably have an effect on popularity each week. Unfortunately, I haven't come across any consensus numbers for this type of pool, so there will be some guesswork involved here.
Just going down (up) the Safety Rating™ list here:

Oakland (at Indianapolis; Safety Rating™ 1.97)

I don't think taking the Raiders here is really any better than picking the Colts in a normal pool. Seems like this will be a really popular pick, and Oakland is legitimately awful, thus having lots of future value.

Buffalo (vs. New England; SR 2.09)

You're not going to want to be picking too many home teams in this format. Along with the obvious trip to Foxboro (in Week 17), Buffalo also visits New Orleans and Pittsburgh in the middle of the season. It seems like the Bills will be the second most popular pick this week, anyway.

Baltimore (at Denver; SR 2.53)

This seems like the way to go. The Ravens are the third largest underdog this week, but not in a particularly obvious way. And, since they're quite a bit superior to the two bigger dogs, this is way better from a future value perspective, even before you start thinking about how much less popular they'll be.

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