If you are here, you have survived a week 3 for eternity. With approximately 20 percent of players choosing Jacksonville and 17 percent choosing Dallas in Week 3, the survival pools became significantly smaller.
It was a great week for contrarian picks like Miami (5 percent) or, if they were saved, Buffalo (1 percent). San Francisco (16 percent) and Kansas City (21 percent) were the most popular elite teams spending last week. Whether you’ve successfully passed the gauntlet or sucked it up and gone back to shopping, let’s tackle Week 4 together.
Teams used so far: Baltimore, Buffalo, Kansas City. These were the teams with the highest roster percentage in Week 3. If you’ve saved these teams up to this point, you might consider KC (at the Jets) this week, but we recommend you still pick Buffalo (vs. Miami) and Baltimore (near Cleveland). for better matchups in the future.
Strategy for week 4
Adam Gretz: Well, that was a disaster of a week for some favorites, wasn’t it?
Hopefully you’ve strategically saved Kansas City and/or San Francisco in the first three weeks of the season, because this looks to be a week where you’ll have to prevail against one of the league’s elite teams. If you don’t have at least one of these saved, you may be faced with a coin toss selection where almost every game comes close to a 50:50 bet.
As of Wednesday morning, 11 of this week’s 16 games have a point spread of five points or less, while most of those games have a point spread of three points or less. The only teams favored by a touchdown or more this week are San Francisco (vs. Arizona), Philadelphia (vs. Washington), Dallas (vs. New England) and Kansas City (at the New York Jets). Aside from the fact that most people have probably fielded at least one (or two) of these teams so far, the number of evenly matched games on the schedule makes it seem like it’s a good week to turn to one of the heavyweights.
Of course, “any Sunday” rules always apply in the NFL (as we saw with Arizona last week), but there is at least one matchup out there that makes me feel really good.
Renee Miller: When we are faced with an unexpected setback, two natural instincts come to the fore. One is to be overly cautious and the other is to be overly reckless. neither is logical or well-founded. This is particularly true if the measures we took that led to the setback were themselves safe and logically flawless. Most human brains are designed to prevent losses—physical, material, and emotional—rather than to optimize gains. Think about every time your full house lost to a straight flush in poker. The resulting tendency is for your brain to react to the unexpected loss. Since the decision to go all out was probably the logical one, your brain decides that the logic no longer works and can get a little messy.
For some, this means taking unnecessary risks to regain what was lost, and for others, it means resorting to the safest strategy to prevent further losses (at the expense of large profits). When considering how to act in your survival pool after an unexpected upset like Dallas’ loss to Arizona, we have one big advantage over the poker table: time. Our cognitive biases have the most damaging impact on our decision-making processes when we are forced to react immediately. After a day or three, the strong emotions we feel about the loss—anger, disappointment, self-doubt, and a real sense of injustice—wane. Other experiences we have had restore our confidence in ourselves and the power of logical thinking.
So like any other week on Survivor, you just have to balance the need to stay alive this week with the need to plan for the future. If you had to buy back in, you’re more focused on getting through Week 4 with your remaining elite team(s), whereas if you got through Week 3 with the Dolphins, Chiefs or 49ers, you’re probably thinking a lesser-known option this week to choose.
Week 4 Chalk Picks
at the Panthers
Choose projections from OfficeFootballPool. Lines from BetMGM.
Renee: 49ers over Cardinals
I’ve been following this game since week 1. The 49ers are 3-0 at home and healthy on both ends. It’s not like them to take an opponent lightly, and after seeing what Arizona did against Dallas, that will be doubly the case in this divisional clash.
Aside from the fact that Arizona looked better than expected, even though its 1-2 record was pretty much what we wanted, there are still plenty of logical reasons to rely on the 49ers in Week 4:
- They are the biggest favorites of the week (-14).
- They are the third highest scoring team in the league.
- They allow the fifth fewest points per game.
- Starting in Week 5, they will face Dallas, Cleveland, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Bye, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
- The 49ers had three additional days of rest and preparation since their Thursday night game in Week 3.
Will recency bias (thinking the Cardinals are scary good because they upset Dallas) keep you from making a logical decision this week? Maybe it helps to look at it not so much as a Cardinals win but as a Dallas loss. The Cowboys seemed lazy and unoriginal in their style of play. Ultimately, they were outclassed by a less talented team and never seemed to take the match seriously. Again, the 49ers are too talented and disciplined to do that. Trust the process and burn the 49ers while you can.
Adam: Chiefs instead of jets
I’ve been hesitant to pick the Chiefs for myself for a few reasons. The first was the simple fact that they opened the season without Travis Kelce and Chris Jones in Week 1 and had what appeared to be a bit of a rocky start to the season in the first two games with Detroit and Jacksonville.
I resisted the urge to put them against Chicago in Week 3 because I saw how it seemed like it would be even bigger when Dallas played Arizona (oops), while the Chiefs had another potentially one-sided matchup with New York this week Jets was imminent. That’s why I’m using this week as my week to conquer Kansas City.
Yes, the Jets have a great defense, and that might even cause a few problems for the Chiefs and slow them down a bit, but the Kansas City offense seems to be finding its rhythm after trampling the Bears, and Kelce now has two games on the hump. It’s also worth noting that while Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense may be dangerous, the defense has also gone crazy in the last two games. There will be an opportunity to enjoy a Jets offense that can’t be rattled when Zach Wilson plays like…well…Zach Wilson. A three-and-out or a poorly thrown interception will cause anarchy among Jets fans at MetLife Stadium, and it’s not hard to imagine the whole thing unraveling pretty quickly. I know the Jets have already pulled off an upset when Wilson beat another AFC Super Bowl contender in Week 1, but I don’t know if the Jets will intercept Mahomes four times this week and score a special teams touchdown to boot .
I also like San Francisco vs. Arizona, but I’m also a little afraid of the Cardinals because they’ve been a thorn in the side of every team they’ve played so far. They beat Washington late, had a three-point lead over the Giants and looked great against Dallas. You can debate whether the front office is tanking as much as you want this season, but the players certainly aren’t. This team is annoying and could use some confidence.
Renee: This is for the commentator who wants us to list teams that are on our “already issued” list based on the highest percentage selected.
Opposite choice for week 4
Adam: Vikings over Panthers
Do you realize how much of an absolute madman you have to be to willingly rely on the Vikings, even when times are good for them? Imagine what a madman you must be to voluntarily choose to trust them when the score is 0-3.
Well, here we are.
Some sort of regression was always expected for the Vikings this season after their good luck in one-score games last season. The regression gods are out in force this season, handing them three consecutive defeats by one point at the start of the season. If you look back at last year’s Wild Card game, it’s actually four straight losses by one point each.
Still, this team is better than this one. It’s better than 0-3, it’s better than what we’ve seen so far, and it’s better than the Carolina team it plays on Sunday. I also think this is a good opportunity to perhaps stand out from the rest of the league with a contrarian choice. Minnesota still has its two NFC North games against Chicago, but the first of those comes in Week 6, when that week also includes games like Philadelphia vs. the Jets and Kansas City vs. Denver (if you still have those teams have). .
They don’t play the Bears again until Week 12. These two games and the home game against Green Bay are likely to be the only games in which Minnesota appears to be the clear favorite. If you’re feeling really insane, this could be an opportunity.
Renee: Chargers instead of Raiders
It’s funny that our contrarian picks both come from a fantasy festival of a Week 3 game. In the end, the Chargers prevailed, but one thing was clear: defense doesn’t matter to either LA or Minnesota. That’s really what makes the Chargers a controversial pick this week. Their offense is undeniable, even though Mike Williams was lost this season due to a torn ACL. Josh Palmer and/or Quentin Johnston will fill that void for Justin Herbert. Keenan Allen is having the season of his life and there is a slim chance that Austin Ekeler returns for this matchup. But their defense is terrible, as they give up the fifth-most points and most pass yards per game to opponents.
There is two pieces of good news for LA. First, the Raiders don’t have a particularly good defense either (ninth-highest points allowed, 25.7 per game). Second, the Raiders don’t boast a great offense (tied for fourth-fewest points scored, tied for third-most turnovers). Things will get worse if Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t make it through the concussion protocol for Week 4, which is very likely to be the case.
It’s currently unclear whether veteran Brian Hoyer or rookie Aidan O’Connell would start, but either way, this puts the Raiders’ offense in uncharted territory. With the Garoppolo news, the Chargers almost have a touchdown advantage.
The Chargers are on a bye in Week 5, followed by Dallas and Kansas City. You could keep them until Week 8 (Chicago) or Week 9 (at NY Jets) if you have one of the elite players available that week. If not, I really like their chances of getting that second win at home and putting them ahead of the competition if one of SF or KC falls out.
A certain other Survivor returns tonight… let us know in the comments if you’re playing in a Survivor Survivor pool (and if I can join in)!
(Photo by Christian McCaffrey: Michael Owens / Getty Images)