This article is part of our FanDuel Survivor series.
"You don't get a trophy after halftime. We don't look at the scoreboard until the end of the game." - Chip Kelly
Chip may have been talking about football, but that quote feels relevant at this current juncture in season 40. Wednesday night's episode marks Survivor's half-way point, canonically known as "the merge". The 11 remaining players from all three tribes will come together as one group. Up to this point, viewers might think they have a finger on the pulse of this season and who is pulling away from the field. The merge, however, changes the game to such a degree that it's hard to say we really know how things will play out. Players who seemed to be in a strong position might suddenly find themselves painted as a target. Players who seemed to be on their way out might find new allies and flip the script on their season. To be successful, players will have to make adjustments in their strategy moving forward. As fantasy Survivor players, we too must change our approach for this episode and those that follow.
We'll share with you our strategies and predictions for Wednesday night's slate, including our lineups. In case you missed episode seven, a recap of the biggest moments follows as well. If you're new to fantasy Survivor, you can find a full breakdown of the scoring system here.
Episode seven had a surprising start as we saw the newly eliminated Sandra forgo the opportunity to stay at Extinction Island, opting instead to leave the game permanently. The remaining players on the island were then given clues to the location of four fire tokens. Tyson found one, earning him five fantasy points. Boston Rob managed to find the other three, totalling an impressive 15 points.
The immunity challenge involved carrying a heavy saucer of water to a well which, when filled, would unlock a puzzle. Jeff Probst noted during the challenge that Nick of the Sele tribe had competed in this same challenge back in season 37, calling it one of the "worst losses" in the show's history. Much to Nick's dismay, his luck didn't improve this season. The Yara and Dakal tribes finished first and second respectively, sending Sele to tribal council. All players on the winning tribes earned 12 fantasy points, plus the additional five points for surviving the week. Any lineups which managed to avoid players from Sele likely found themselves towards the top of standings.
At the Sele tribe, both Wendell and Yul emerged as the likely candidates to be voted out. Initially it seemed like the group was leaning towards eliminating Wendell. It wouldn't have come as much of a surprise to viewers; he had been arguing with Michelle for multiple episodes. Ultimately, it was Yul who was blindsided and sent to Extinction Island with three votes against him. Yul's total of minus-14.5 points reminds us that even though it can be hard to predict, avoiding eliminated players in your lineup is a must. When given the choice between a risky player with a lot of upside and a player in a safer position, the latter may be the right choice just because of how detrimental those negative points can be.
Before heading to Extinction Island, Yul split his two fire tokens bequeathing one to Sarah and one to Sophie. Both players received 7.2 bonus points as a result, launching them to the top of the rankings for this episode. Unsurprisingly, the key to a perfect lineup was having both of these players and setting either as your MVP. If players continue bequeathing fire tokens in future episodes, don't be surprised to see the recipient feature in your perfect lineup most weeks.
State of The Game
Denise ($22) one fire token (from Danni)
Jeremy ($22) "safety without power advantage", one fire token (from Natalie)
Tony ($20) one fire token
Kim ($16) one immunity idol, one fire token
Michele ($23) three fire tokens (from Parvati)
Nick ($19) two fire tokens (one from Tyson)
Wendell ($18) two fire tokens (one from Michele)
Sophie ($28) one immunity idol, two fire tokens (one from Yul)
Sarah ($26) "vote steal advantage" (from Natalie), one fire token (from Yul)
Ben ($19) one fire token
Adam ($15) one fire token
Natalie ($8) four tokens (three from Sandra/Jeremy/Sarah)
Boston Rob ($6) three fire tokens
Tyson ($6) one fire token
Amber ($3) one fire token
Ethan ($3) one fire token
Danni ($2) one fire token
Keys to This Week
- FanDuel has added a new scoring category for this episode. "Contestant Has A Confessional (Interview)" will be worth 1.8 points. Our strategy with this category, as it is for most of the "bonus" categories, is to think of it as a tiebreaker. We're focused primarily on the higher scoring categories, but if a player has an increased chance at bonus points they should be higher in your rankings. Of the players remaining (excluding those on Extinction), the favorites to receive points in this "confessionals" category are Adam, Tony, and Sarah. All of those players have been interviewed regularly this season and are on top in terms of total confessionals on the season. On the flip side, both Kim and Wendell have not had many confessionals and that might not change this episode if they continue to fly under the radar.
- We know from the preview that one player will return from Extinction Island in this episode, taking the total number of players in the game back up to 12. Up until now, we've consistently recommended avoiding players in this group, but that has to change given this information. The player that returns to the game will earn 12 fantasy points and could be in the mix for MVP this week. It's a big risk because if they don't win their contributions to your lineup will be slim to none. Still, any chance to earn double digit points demands our attention. We know that the players will have an opportunity to buy an advantage with their fire tokens, so Natalie and Rob should firmly be in consideration for your lineup. Even if they don't win the challenge, they will rack up some points for buying an advantage (assuming they spend all their tokens). Many will also consider playing Tyson, and justifiably so. He has proven to be a challenge threat in previous seasons, his one fire token will put him on an even playing field with most of the players, and he is the only player on Extinction who spent fire tokens on food. Will that added boost from peanut butter be the difference in this challenge?
- As of this week, tribal immunity is no more. Only one player will earn immunity and the 12 fantasy points that come with it. Given how varying the challenges can be, it's hard to predict if any one player has an edge. While some may be tempted to lock in stronger players like Jeremy and Tony, their past season history should make you think twice. Neither player had more than one individual win in their winning seasons. In fact, only two players can claim four or more wins in their winning season: Kim and Michele. Whoever you think can win immunity this week, you'll likely want to slot them in as your MVP.
"Based on the previews for this week, the merge is happening and one of the Extinction Island players will return. I'm going to stay away from the returning player, because I think they will be a strong candidate to go home this week. Other players to stay away from are Adam and Wendell. Adam is too much of a wild card and has no allies and Wendell is being portrayed as the villain of this season. Ben and Tony, however, are good choices because they are strong players and have a tendency to hunt for idols. Jeremy, my MVP, has the best chance at winning the immunity challenge, and he has the "safety without power advantage", increasing his odds to survive the week. Finally, Michele (3 fire tokens) and Kim (hidden immunity idol) have a strong chance at surviving the week as well." - Kurt Kroll
"With the merge happening this episode, the preview showed that there is the possibility that someone from Extinction Island is going to reenter the game from a challenge. I believe that you have to pick someone currently on Extinction because getting back into the game could be big points. My pick for the reentry is Tyson. My second pick, and my MVP, is Tony. Since FanDuel made confessionals worth points this week, you are going to want people who are close to the drama but still appear to be safe. I'm not going to pick Adam this week because I think he will get voted out, but the rest of the former Yara tribe are going to get confessionals because they were stuck with him. Tony's always good for some whacky confessionals and if there is an individual immunity challenge he's not the worst pick!" - Andrew Parr
"I think whoever returns from Extinction Island is a lock for your lineup. Both Rob and Natalie have a chance to earn 15 points from their tokens, even if they don't win the challenge. Even though she's been on Extinction Island longer than anyone, I give the slight edge to Natalie because of her physical prowess. My strategy for the rest of my lineup is pretty simple; avoid elimination and target players with advantages. Jeremy has an "immunity without power" advantage that would allow him to leave tribal council and guarantee his own safety. Sophie and Kim both have immunity idols, so their positions feel very safe. Sarah has a steal-a-vote advantage that she could use to swing the vote if she feels she's in trouble. Given how crazy the post-merge tribal council usually is, I won't be surprised if one or more of those advantages get played and that means plenty of bonus points for my lineup." - Harry Thompson
"I'm implementing a go-for-broke strategy. The hope is that Tyson wins the Edge of Extinction return challenge at the very beginning of the episode and ends up being involved throughout the rest of the episode just like all the others. With that thinking, he will already have 12 extra points (ReG) to begin the episode and will likely have had many confessionals (Cnfs) explaining his thoughts and emotions about battling back. Of course, he could lose the battle back or the battle back could come near the end of the episode, and then all this logic will be useless in one fell swoop." - D.J. Trainor
"Now that "tribe stacks" are no longer viable for FanDuel lineups with individual rather than team immunity likely coming at the merge challenge, there seems to be more flexibility with spending. That's even more true if we assume a player from Edge of Extinction will return this week, as using one of your spots on one of those eight players will cost no more than $8. I'll pay up for Natalie in that spot; not only is she a great physical competitor -- which the EoE challenge likely promises to be -- but she also has four tokens that can be put toward a potential advantage purchase, which earns additional FanDuel points. I won't go all in with her in my MVP spot, however, since I feel Tyson and Rob should have similarly good cases to come back from Edge and earn that 12-point bonus (18-point for MVP). For the rest of my lineup, I'm simply looking to mitigate risk by filling the four spots with players who are already protected by advantages/idols. Sophie, Sarah, Jeremy and Kim all fit in the budget with Natalie, and should at the very least avoid elimination, if not rack up more points by playing their respective advantage or idol. I would think Sarah's vote steal is the most likely advantage to be played as she aims to keep herself on the right side of the numbers, so I'll use her as MVP." - Adam Wolf