The NFL Pick'em Bellcurve at RYP

The 2022 RunYourPool 'Rudy' Award For Sportsmanship in the Face of Your Own Terrible Picks

Our Search for the Worst NFL Pick'em Player Who Kept Going All Year Long

Nicky G
Nicky G

Last week, you may recall that we named user JoannaT our worst picker of the tens of thousands of people who make NFL picks against the spread here at RunYourPool.

It was a little tongue-in-check gesture, to single her record of 26-123 out, noting that it seemed like a crazy, kinda hilarious anomaly. Then, we moved on.

Luckily, we have smarter people reading this blog than the person writing it (ahem, me).

One reader — an actual Ph.D.-possessing statistician — pointed out in a reply to the newsletter, to be that horrendous ATS is more than a weird outlier: it's a near statistical impossibility. "You couldn't be that terrible at picking NFL games if you tried (especially if you tried)," he said.

So I did my research. And yup, he was right.

The pool that Joanna was playing in had, let's just call them... unusual irregularities. Her commissioner created a rule that if picks weren't made on time, he would automatically override the autopick options and hand out losses for the whole week. (Talk about one way to encourage engagement! Yeesh!)

So, in actuality, Joanna hadn't made a bunch of terrible picks. She just hadn't made any picks at all.

For several weeks.

Me, finding all this out^

I was (and am) deeply embarrassed that I branded poor Joanna as such a poor NFL pick'em player. So, I've since reached out to over a little consolation prize for the bad call on my part.

Still waiting to hear back about that one.

She's probably long gone.

But in the meantime, my insatiable desire to know who was in fact the worst of the worst has only grown. What was the worst record? Did anything stretch the bounds of statistical probability?

I spoke with our math nerds on the team (I barely survived Trig myself, so I deferred to real experts), and they eventually agreed that the amount of people earning a number of wins would plot out like a bellcurve.

Sure enough, after running the numbers, doing a little spreadsheet jujitsu, that's what we found: a curve with a perfect 136-136 .500 coin-flip peak at the crest (the graph above).

This exercise also provided us our strongest, and weakest ends.

To prevent another Joanna snafu, we removed all the folks whose commissioners had any hand in changing the outcome of their record. We also decided, after finding many, many folks who went 1-15 in Week 1 of the NFL season who then quit, that it was best to reward somebody who stuck it out all year.

We traced the curve all the way back to the left side of the graph, and eventually arrived at our worst record: 105 good picks and 167 bad picks and our best record: an astonishingly near-equal side of the bellcurve: 168-104. Only one person on each side of the pick'em bellcurve.

And it's one thing to keep going when you're winning. It's another to keep going even though you're losing, bad. There's just something more football-ish about pushing through adversity, so we named it after the poster-boy for white-knuckling it through adversity: Rudy.

We called it The 2022 RunYourPool 'Rudy' Award For Sportsmanship in the Face of Your Own Terrible Picks.

And the winner is...

Bsweet1125, come on down!

He made every one of his picks, no commissioner involvement whatsoever. And for that, we award him the RunYourPool "Rudy" Award For Sportsmanship in the Face Of Your Own Terrible Picks.

And now, our first-ever pep talk to our award winner.

Bsweet1125... You're 5 foot nothin', 100 and nothin', and you have barely a speck of pick'em ability. But you hung in there with some of the best NFL football pickers in the land for a full season. And you're gonna walk outta here with a degree from the School of Hard Knocks.

In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself.

And after what you've gone through, if you haven't done that by now, it ain't gonna never happen. Now come back next year, and do the exact opposite of what you did this year, and who knows... you could land at the top of tens of thousands of players.

Now chant with us, everybody!

B Sweet! B Sweet! B Sweet!

We'll see you next year, everybody!


Nicky G

Dad of 3. WVian by birth. ATX for now.