How to Run an NFL Survivor Pool
by Matt Severance
If you have been charged with or have the initiative to set up an NFL survivor pool, I'm here to give you a few pointers if it's your first time. You may remember my byline from a series of weekly 2009 survivor pool articles here on Doc's - and I will be writing those again this year. Hopefully I made a few of you a bit of money.
Basically, running a survivor pool is fairly simple. Obviously you need to round up a bunch of your friends/co-workers/family/suckers and decide on an entry fee. I will get into the actual rules of a survivor pool in an article later this week on Doc's - this is just the actual setup and steps on how to run an NFL Survivor Pool I am referring to here.
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A survivor pool is simply picking a team that you think will win each week, but then you lose that team for the remainder of the NFL season. So you don't want to use those superpowers right away - if you want to use that strategy, there is some debate on how to handle this. I know of some leagues that do a full-season survivor pool, meaning that you pick your winning team for each week of the season before the Week 1 kickoff. I can't say I have participated in that one, and there are too many variables there with injuries and the like, so I won't touch on that.
Make sure your league is set up so that pool members can only view the other members' picks after all pool members have chosen. You usually want to give people up to an hour before the first kickoff of the week. You certainly don't want the competitors basing their picks on other pool members' picks. The easiest way is to send out a spreadsheet to your league each week so people know what to watch for.
I guarantee you that the first few players eliminated from your pool are going to ask for a "buy-back" option. This is really up to you. I know of many survivor pools that have started completely over because they were finished by Week 8. One "buy-back" option might be to force the eliminated players to pay a new, larger entry fee on a sliding scale (some pools do use double-elimination). Thus if they are eliminated in Week 1, they wouldn't have to pay as much to get back in as they would in Week 5. And you obviously want to set a cut-off point for a minimum numbers of players remaining before allowing buy-backs. I also recommend not giving 100 percent of the pot to those buying back, but scaling that as well by when they were knocked out.
If by some miracle your survivor pool ends in a tie in the final week, I like to use the composite records of the teams each player hasn't used as a tiebreaker. So there would be 13 teams left if your league ends on Week 17 in a deadlock. Whichever player has the "worst" teams left (by composite records) would win, because that would mean he/she kept banking on the favorites while the other person took a few more risks. Or you can simply come up with some sort of Week 17 tiebreaker with total points in the games picked. Or continue on into the playoffs or just split the money.
This is just a very basic structure for survivor pools, so keep an eye out for a Cliffs Notes version of the actual rules later this week at Doc's.
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