NFL teams will be putting on pads next week for the first time in training camp, and with no preseason games this year, fans will be focusing in on every morsel from practice reports. Jobs are more often won or lost in practice than in a preseason game, but this year that is all the more significant.
The lack of preseason will also leave us scrambling a bit for making Week 1 decision. Whether that be fantasy football, betting lines, or even your Survivor pool, we’ll be flying by the seat of our pants a little more than usual this year.
If you’re asking yourself what a Survivor pool is, we’re here to help! A Survivor pool involves picking one team each week that you think will win. 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. The pool launched last week for sign-ups, but DraftKings has decided to supersize the pool!
The company announced on Friday it will be running what it calls the “$100 million Golden Ticket Giveaway.” The pool will still have the $1 million prize for the season-long winner, but it will also include up to $100 million in giveaways when you sign up.
The $100 million will go to new and existing customers who sign up for the free Survivor pool. One person who signs up will win $1 million in cash in a September 13th drawing following the kickoff of the season. Then, up to another $99 million will be paid out to users using DraftKings Dollars, ranging from 5DK$ to 500DK$ and then $1,000 and $25,000 in cash. The DraftKings Dollars can be used for DFS contests or sportsbook wagering. Here’s a full rundown of sweepstakes terms and conditions.
Whether you secure an instant win or not, you still have a shot at the $1 million prize for winning the Survivor pool, and that’s going to require strategic considerations. This is a weekly contest, but every week you have to consider later weeks for the top choices.
For example, in Week 1, the Kansas City Chiefs are the biggest favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook, installed as 10-point favorites against the Houston Texans for the season-opener. Additionally, the Baltimore Ravens are a 7.5-point favorite against the Cleveland Browns, the Indianapolis Colts are touchdown favorites against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the San Francisco 49ers are touchdown favorites against the Arizona Cardinals.
Those are all the touchdown or greater favorites for Week 1 at this point, but are any of them worth grabbing? While the Chiefs are big favorites, the Texans aren’t exactly slouches, even without DeAndre Hopkins in the lineup. Week 1 is unpredictable, and who knows if the Chiefs have a Super Bowl hangover. More importantly, I’d rather save them for later in the year against potentially shaky teams like the Jets, Broncos, or Dolphins.
As for the other three games, the big issue is that they’re divisional games. If you survive long enough, you’d likely eventually need to pick a divisional game, but a decent rule of thumb is to avoid them where you can. Divisional games offer a little more uncertainty at times given the rivalry nature and how much better a divisional opponent might know a team than a non-divisional opponent.
Things are difficult right out of the gate, so you can either go for that guaranteed pick or roll the dice to try and get an early edge. Chargers-Bengals is an interesting one, for example. We don’t know what to expect from Joe Burrow, but Tyrod Taylor is an under-appreciated quarterback and the Chargers have a lot of talent around him. It’s a road game, which is not ideal, but I think the Chargers are a potential sleeper this year.
We’ll continue looking at the Week 1 slate over the next month. Injuries are going to shake things up and at least one of those big early matchups is likely to see a shift in the narrative. We aren’t making final decisions yet, but it’s helpful to have a baseline before Week 1 arrives.
In the meantime, make sure and sign up for DraftKings’ Pro Football Survivor Pool and maybe you’ll win some of up to $100 million in giveaways!
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