Tips and Strategies for FanDuel's NFL Survivor Contest

Picking an NFL winner each week could net you $100,000, but what strategy should you employ to take home the prize?

Everyone has a lock of the week when it comes to the NFL. There always seems to be that one matchup where you just think -- no, you know -- that one team will emerge victorious.

With FanDuel's survivor contest, those picks could lead you to a $100,000 grand prize this season.

All you have to do is pick a winner -- one winner -- in every regular season week, and you'll share the prize with the others who did the same.

If no prognosticators go 17-for-17, then the prize is divvied up among those who lasted longest. What's not to love?

Exactly, so let's dive into the contest and see which strategies can guide you to a perfect season.

The Details

It may not sound hard to pick one guaranteed winner each week, but in this one-and-done format, you can select a team only once during the year. The Dallas Cowboys are heavy 7.5-point favorites on the New York Giants in Week 1 and are 73.4% likely to win the opener? Fine. Take them, but then you won't have them when they host the lowly Miami Dolphins in Week 3.

Plus, the field you're up against isn't your immediate family and your third cousin. It's massive, so you'll need to take the road less traveled to find the rainbow.

How can you play it?

Eat the Chalk

One path you can take is to select the week's biggest favorite while the other players try to get fancy. That would mean taking the Seattle Seahawks as 8.5-point home favorites against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. Our algorithm gives Seattle a 78.1% chance to win, meaning you have a nearly four-in-five chance to keep marching into Week 2.

You can roll out the chalk strategy and just hope that the winners win and the folks saving their New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints and (insert team you think will be great here) will get bounced when the Buffalo Bills actually beat the New York Jets in the opener.

You can play it conservatively early on to outlast those who embrace the volatility from the start. After all, even through 17 weeks, there would be 15 teams you don't pick to win.

Check the Odds

Using good data to help aid your selections should be obvious.

There are odds from FanDuel Sportsbook you can leverage, whether you're looking at the point spread or the moneyline. numberFire's algorithm doles out full-on win probabilities for each and every game. Letting these guide your choices should offer up shortcuts and increase your chances to keep on dancing toward the prize.

You don't always have to choose the heavy favorites, but sometimes seeing a 60/40 game can help you determine when it's smart to differentiate from the week's heaviest favorite.

Check oddsFire

oddsFire culls sportsbook data from various bookmakers to show where there's agreement and where there's dissonance in a line.

But where this really comes into play is indicating betting trends in the data.

Per oddsFire, 90% of bets on the Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins game have come in favor of Baltimore. That makes sense, as the 'Phins are dead last in our power rankings while Baltimore is 12th. Our projections have the Ravens as a 70.1% favorite here. They're going to be a popular pick, but they're on the road, and they aren't the only heavy favorite in Week 1.

If you feel like the Ravens are going to be a heavy survivor pick, just go elsewhere. Even if you know they're going to win. Because sometimes, it's okay to admit that you don't know everything. If the Dolphins show up in the home opener and knock off the Ravens, you're shedding a significant portion of the field from contention.

Choose Your Path and Plan

Are you going to side with the favorites early in the season, or are you going to get sneaky and hope some of the favorites lose to knock out your competition, all while you can save those powerhouse teams for later on in the year?

Whatever you decide, you should have some idea of what your strategy is going to be. Sometimes in a survivor pool, even looking one week ahead can help. Not sure between the Ravens, Seahawks, and Eagles in Week 1? Just look ahead even a week. Seattle travels to Pittsburgh. Philly travels to Atlanta. Baltimore hosts Arizona. As the herd thins, being prepared will ultimately be crucial in crowning the victor.

At numberFire, our premium users can rely on the survivor pool matrix to help identify those situations where it may be better to hold off on a certain team for another week or two (or more). Nothing is guaranteed, but being prepared sure helps.


Upsets in the NFL happen, and you have to account for that possibility when locking in your pick each week. I know. I know. A lot of us are absolutely certain about our lock of the week, but the survivor contest is more than just taking that pick.

It requires some looking ahead and some planning, but by doing the work, you could be sitting atop the leaderboard at season's end. And for $100,000, doing a little homework seems worth it.