NFL Confidence Pool Strategy

 

If you do what everyone else does, the best you can do is tie.

 

Who would’ve thought confidence pool strategy could also be a life lesson. Picking in a confidence pool league or Yahoo Pick Em League with confidence points involves two things: accuracy and contrarian-ness. Accuracy is picking the right team to win and putting the right confidence level to it. However, it’s virtually impossible to pick all the teams right. If it were easy, we wouldn’t need to care for the second part of the equation: contrarian-ness. To be a contrarian is to be someone who goes the opposite way; someone who zigs when others zag. If you pick the same as everyone in the league, you’ll probably end up in the middle of the pack… out of the money.

Let’s start with #1: Accuracy. There are tons of sites out there that will tell you why team one is missing their left guard, and therefore their offense will struggle because team two’s run defense is holding opponents to under 92.6 yards rushing when coming off a bye week during night games. Or you might think you have a great gut feel why one team is due for an upset. However, no offense to anyone, the pros out there are going to be more accurate than you and me.  I use Vegas Moneyline picks to calculate a percent probability that a team will win the game. I then set the highest confidence points to the team with the highest win probability, and on down the line. These I call these “Base Picks.”

[How accurate are those probabilities? I ran an analysis of 2013 Moneyline probabilities versus actual results]

#2: Contrarian-ness. In order to beat everyone, you have to be different than everyone. The Yahoo Pick Em site tells you what percent of the crowd has picked a certain game. If you hope to take first place in a week, you need to find a pick, or maybe two, where you can go against the crowd as much as possible. (If you just want to win the overall season, you can just pick according to win probability and forgo this part of the picking.) The best pick to do that is with a game where the crowd is picking one team, and the people who know what they’re talking about (the gamblers and real stats geeks) are picking the other direction. I call these “Money Picks” because these are the picks that will put you in the money if they work out.

We’ll give you the base picks and money picks each week. Get updates sent to your email.  

However, there is a trade-off. By bumping up or going all in on the “Money Pick,” it actually lowers your overall season points. You give up some overall points for the chance to take 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in a week.  If you are going for the weekly win,  go “all-in” on one Money Pick of choice… in other words, put them for the highest points. If you’re going for the overall win, stick closer to base picks and just adjust the points up or down.

[See what that trade off is]

Strategy
How to assign confidence
Weekly win All in money pick
Mixed Bump up money picks
Overall win Stick with base picks

[Does the all-in strategy work? CPP reader @Ironclad ran an extensive computer model and presents it here]

At ConfidencePoolPicks.com, we give you three types of “Money” picks for you to pick from: Green, Yellow, and Blue. Green picks are very contrarian; oftentimes, less than 15% of the people have picked them. Yellow picks are in the middle, around 20-35%. Blue picks are mild contrarian, about 40-50%. We try to pick the games that have the highest probability of winning but also has enough difference to the crowd to help you vault to first place.

Which picks should you use? It depends on where you are in the overall standings, if you’re trying to go for the weekly win, and how many teams are in your league. Following is a chart to help you figure out what color money pick you want to use:

League size
Use these colors
Less than 25 Blue or Yellow
25-50 Green, or Yellow and Blue
50-75 Green
75+ Blue and Green

Let’s run through a scenario, using 2014 Week 9 as an example.

[See these videos for a step by step guide on how to make your picks]

Here is the picks chart:

2014-11-04_1048

Home teams are bolded. Green are big money picks, yellow are medium money picks, and blue are mild money picks. Say you’re in a 50 person league, and you’re going for the weekly win. The first thing you do is to pick all teams in the above chart under “Base Pick” and assign them the points under “Conf Pts.” These are the base picks. Since you are going for the weekly win, according to the first chart you need to assign a top value, in this case 13, to a money pick. Since you’re in a 50 person league, the second chart tells you to go with a green or yellow “Money Pick.”  If you go green, take NYG for 13 and move all the other points down. Another option is to go with a yellow and a blue. If you’re going for a mixed strategy, say you’re trying to straddle going for the overall win and the weekly win, don’t go as high on the confidence picks on the Money Picks; just bump them up a few points.

The final step is to watch the games, and cheer for the contrarian picks you made!

I went with a slightly mixed strategy, going Mia (yellow) for 11 and Dal (blue) for 10 that week. Miami ended up blowing out SD, but Dallas lost to Arizona, so I ended up well out of the money with 67 points (highest was 83). However, had Dallas beaten Arizona, I would’ve taken first place. You’re on the right track when you’re one game away from winning the week. You’re not when you are a whole bunch of games away.

Click on the blue button below and we’ll let you know when the picks are up each week:

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