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Week 1 NFL Survivor pool strategy and picks

The NFL season is back and with it come Survivor pools. We are here to provide some tips to stay alive all season.

Philip Rivers of the Indianapolis Colts is seen during training camp at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on August 26, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

UPDATE: If you used the Chiefs as your Week 1 Survivor team, congrats on advancing to Week 2. They thumped the Houston Texans, winning 34-20 after opening up a 31-7 lead. Houston looked game early on, but it became quickly clear how much they missed DeAndre Hopkins and how good Kansas City’s offense remains. You probably should have saved the Chiefs pick, but when I get knocked out this week because of a stupid pick, you’ll feel pretty good about yourself!


It’s been a long offseason in more ways than one, but the NFL is back for the 2020 season. It remains to be seen how the Covid-19 pandemic will impact the next five months, but for now, the season will kick off as scheduled.

The regular season gets underway with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans on Thursday. Fantasy football leagues and DFS lineups need to get settled through the weekend, and there’s still time to get your pick ‘em pools sorted out. But we’re also here to get you ready for your NFL Survivor pools.

If you’ve never played in a Survivor pool, it’s a pretty straightforward deal. You pick one team each week that you think will win. If your team loses in Week 1, you’re eliminated (unless it’s a double elimination pool). If your team wins in Week 1, you can make a pick in Week 2. If your team wins in Week 2, you can make a pick in Week 3, and so on. The catch is that you cannot pick the same team twice. You could use a heavy favorite in Week 1, but you would not have access to them later in the year if you’re alive in the closing weeks.

DraftKings is offering their own version of this contest, with a free pool that will pay the winner $1 million. Additionally, they are giving away up to $100 million in total money as people sign up for the Survivor pool.

You’re welcome to just take the team favored by the most points this weekend, but there is strategy to consider if you want to survive to the end. DK Nation is here to help with a look at safe choices, value choices, and potential traps.

Safest picks

Chiefs over Texans
Ravens over Browns

There is some concern about overvaluing two strong 2019 teams, but if you want to play it safe in Week 1, you don’t overthink it. The Texans made some questionable roster decisions, and with Brandin Cooks a big question mark for Week 1, the Chiefs should win this one. The Browns should be an improved team from a year ago, but I think we could see an improved Ravens passing attack on top of an already dominant ground game.

Best value picks

Colts over Jaguars
Chargers over Bengals

We don’t actually know just how good or bad Philip Rivers is at this point. He struggled in LA last year, but was it age or the Chargers? The Jaguars are making a strong push for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Normally I don’t like divisional road games, but limited attendance due to Covid-19 changes that dynamic.

The Chargers head to Cincinnati with Tyrod Taylor starting at quarterback. I suspect he will be undervalued as people making their Survivor and betting decisions. Joe Burrow is talented, but I expect the Bengals to be slow out of the gate. This would be a bold choice, but there’s tremendous value.

Trap pick

Eagles over Washington
Steelers over Giants

Washington isn’t good, but NFC East matchups always strike me as a little odd. I’m inclined to stay away from that division, and with Ron Rivera making his debut, it’s all the more reason to hold off until we know more about WFT.

The Steelers are an intriguing pick in Ben Roethlisberger’s return, but I have a feeling this Giants team could take some big steps this year. I don’t think New York will be consistent enough to earn a wild card berth, but they’re going to surprise some folks with that offense. It’s enough to keep me away from them for the time being.