This article is part of our Survivor series.
Surviving Week 1
I probably shouldn't admit this, but in the interest of full transparency my recommendations in this space wouldn't have gotten you very far the last two seasons. In 2017, I picked the Patriots over the Chiefs in the opening Thursday night game and was literally out in Game 1 of 256. Last year, I picked the Saints, and while they played on Sunday, the result was the same. So, you might understandably wonder, why am I bothering to write the column at all?
For starters, realize that from a strict EV/financial perspective, it makes no difference whether you lose in Week 1 or Week 9. A loss is a loss, and your job isn't merely to survive, but to survive while everyone else perishes. That means the optimal way to play often entails taking greater risks of losing early in order to deviate from the path of your fellow competitors (more on that below.) So don't worry about how deep into the year you make it. Worry about lining yourself up for the greatest amount of projected equity each week (again, more on this below) and let the chips fall.
That said, the Week 1 losses the last two seasons were not due to making high-risk equity-maximizing picks. The Saints last year were the biggest favorite on the board, and the Pats were one of them in 2017 in what was a nasty Week 1 with no huge moneylines. That's not an excuse, but sometimes even