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Survivor: Week 5 Edition

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Not a whole lot to say about last week unless you took the Bengals, something we advised against given the better options on the board. Our three choices - Denver, New Orleans and Indy, all won easily.

Let's take a look at the Week 5 slate:

Team Opponent %Taken Vegas ML** Vegas Odds
RAMS Jaguars 44.30% 550 84.62
FALCONS Jets 38.40% 480 82.76
PACKERS Lions 4.70% 300 75.00
Broncos COWBOYS 3.40% 340 77.27
Chargers RAIDERS 3.20% 200 66.67
49ERS Texans 2.00% 270 72.97
BROWNS Bills 1.60% 185 64.91
Chiefs TITANS 1.00% 135 57.45
Home team in CAPS
** Average of the two moneylines

I had thought going in that huge numbers would be on the Rams because it's probably your only chance to use them, and almost no one's used them yet. In that case, it would be a great pot odds play to fade them. But apparently enough people are scared off by the prospect of taking a bad team against a worse team, so the Falcons are also heavily picked.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

A Rams win/Falcons loss happens 14.5 percent of the time while a Falcons win/Rams loss happens 12.5 percent. The ratio of 14.5/12.5 is 1.16. Thus, in order to take the Falcons over the more heavily favored Rams you'd need the payout to be 1.16 to 1 or more.

In our hypothetical 100-person, $10 buy-in pool, a Rams win/Falcons loss means 62 people are left minus five more who took other teams, so 57. $1000/57 = $17.54. A Falcons win/Rams loss means 51 people left = $19.61.

$19.61/$17.54 = 1.12. So the Rams are the better choice, assuming you agree with the Vegas win percentages.

But what if we compare the Rams to the Broncos and Packers? The Broncos (higher win percentage, fewer entries on them) trump the Packers here, but because many have used the Broncos, we'll look into the Packers too if the Broncos are a better investment than the Rams.

A Rams win/Broncos loss happens 19.6 percent of the time. A Broncos win/Rams loss 11.6 percent. The ratio of 19.6/11.6 = 1.69.

In our hypothetical pool, a Rams win/Broncos loss means 14 people are out (including those who took other teams), and $1000/86 = $11.63.

A Broncos win/Rams loss means 55 are out (including those who took other teams), and $1000/45 = $22.22. The ratio of $22.22 to $11.63 is 1.91. The Broncos are the better pick than the Rams for pot odds purposes then!

Okay, but many of you have used the Broncos - what about Green Bay? I won't go through all the math step by step, but let's just say the ratio of STL wins/GB loses to GB wins/STL loses is 21.25 to 11.25 = 1.89.

In our hypothetical pool, a Rams win/Packers loss means 15 people are out (including those who took other teams), and $1000/85 = $11.76. A Broncos win/Rams loss means 54 are out (including those who took other teams), and $1000/46 = $21.74. The ratio of 21.74 to 11.76 = 1.85. Green Bay falls just short.

Of course, when it's this close, we're splitting hairs, and any minor tweaking of the percent-to-win chances could tilt the balance. In short, the math has the Broncos as No. 1, the Rams No. 2, the Packers No. 3 and the Falcons No. 4, but all are very close.

My Picks

1. St. Louis Rams

The Rams are ordinary bad, but the Jaguars are historically terrible, and this game is in St. Louis. Moreover, the Rams are coming off extended rest and are playing at home. I give the Rams an 85-percent chance to win this game.

2. Denver Broncos

I think they'll handle the Cowboys even on the road as the Dallas defense isn't good, the offense doesn't strike for big plays and the home field confers very little advantage. Combine that with the pot odds for avoiding St. Louis and Atlanta, and this is the best pure equity choice. I give the Broncos a 78 percent chance to win this game. (The only reason they're No. 2 is the difference between the equity for taking the Rams and the Broncos is so small the ability to use up the Rams and save Denver actually comes into play.)

3. Green Bay Packers

This is the aggressive pot odds play if you want to make one. The Packers have owned the Lions in Green Bay (22 straight wins including the playoffs), and having Aaron Rodgers is always going to be a big advantage over other non-elite quarterbacks. Of course, the Packers defense is suspect, and the Lions can score points quickly, so there's some added risk here. I give the Packers a 75 percent chance to win this game.

4. Atlanta Falcons

The Jets have a good defense, and Geno Smith has played well for stretches, but he's missing Santonio Holmes and likely Stephen Hill, and the Falcons are typically far better at home. I give the Falcons an 83 percent chance to win this game.

Notable Omissions:

San Francisco 49ers: - Don't be overly swayed by a big win at home over the Rams. St. Louis also took a similarly severe beating from the Cowboys the week before. The Texans had Seattle down 20-3 in the second half and are rough equals to the Niners.