Welcome to our Survivor 35: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers pre-season contestant draft. Everyone else is doing one, so why not one more?
The rules were simple: we each ranked everyone 1 through 18, and then ran a snake draft, leaving each of us with four players, and two people missing out entirely. There’s no complex formula to decide who wins this draft – whoever drafted the winner of the season takes all.
Without further ado – here’s the draft! Along with our various reactions. (Now including Pat's! Yay!)
Pick #1: Ben picks SIMONE
Ben ranked Simone: #1
Ben says: The sarcasm of Courtney Yates mixed with the sweetness of Michelle Yi. There’s a lot of decent winner candidates this season, but all of them have flaws, so it was really hard to pick first. Simone needs to be more Michelle than Courtney to take this out, but I think people are going to like her.
Dan ranked Simone: #14
Dan says: Okay, first and foremost, too stoked we’re doing a fantasy league for Survivor. With that being said, I’m amazed she was the first overall pick. For someone who looks like she’s going to clash with her tribe immediately… I’m just saying, she’d have to be pretty damn smart to survive with what I see as a less-than-amicable attitude. Good luck, Ben.
Pat ranked Simone: #7
Pat says: Simone must be super smart and that’s saying something for someone from Worcester, Mass. I kid because I love… as someone who grew up about 30 minutes from Woostah. I actually thought about putting her higher until I read she considered herself most like Tai. Um, good luck, Ben.
Jeff ranked Simone: #12
Jeff says: I had Simone ranked a lot lower, but that's mostly based on her tribe, and not really based on Simone. I feel like she'll be seen as a strategic threat and a physical non-asset early, which could be bad news if the Hustlers start losing. She'd do great on either of the other tribes, and better on an 8-person or 10-person tribe.
Pick #2: Dan picks CHRISSY
Dan ranked Chrissy: #1
The sweetheart Survivor needs. I see Nicaragua’s Holly meets Denise Stapley, and I liked that combo—not to mention I believe she was the overall highest ranked person at TDT. Still my winner pick, and I hope she turns out to be for Survivor fantasy what Jay Ajayi and Jason Witten have been for my fantasy football team thus far: workhorses who keep me in games I have no business being in.
Pat ranked Chrissy: #5
It seems like we all thought highly of Chrissy, even though my fellow bloggers had her much higher. I’m not going to lie, I would have put her No. 1 except I read she was an actuary. There’s this stereotype in mind that all actuaries are super boring. I’ve never met one though. I’m dumb.
Jeff ranked Chrissy: #2
And if I would have gotten away with her, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids and your better pick orders. Well, okay, that and my putting Ben in the #1 slot. Chrissy seems like a great pick to win. She's already beaten the odds and been cast after 16 years of trying. Her mix of intelligence, game knowledge, and a great tribe draw give her a solid shot at further beating the odds to become just the third over-40 winner.
Ben ranked Chrissy: #2
Denise Stapley. Looking at these draft rankings, I probably would have gotten Chrissy AND Simone if I put Chrissy first, I’m bummed not to have her in my team. Chrissy certainly has to beat the age odds to win, but if anyone is going to do it it’s her. I think she’s a really good pick from Dan.
Pick #3: Pat picks JP
Pat ranked JP: #1
You know, make fun all you want fellow bloggers. Every year I pick a winner … and every year that winner pick goes out first. I’m going all George Constanza and doing the opposite this season. I know JP won all kinds of drinking games at the frat house. And that’s the real question: Does frat house domination translate to the island? We shall see.
Jeff ranked JP: #18
If he can get all the strategists out early, and convince all the jurors to respect only in-game honor and integrity and real-life job title, JP might have a shot at winning. That seems like a big ask. He could go far, but I don't see him winning with this group.
Ben ranked JP: #18
Ken McNickle. There hasn’t been a JP who has performed well in Survivor history (Cook Islands? Vanuatu?), and I don’t expect this one to be the first. I get the sense he won’t pick up the game at all and he won’t get the respect a winner needs. If JP makes it to the end, I think he’s getting no votes.
Dan ranked JP: #15
Pat, why’d you pick JP third…? He’s a douche-y Carter Williams with less fun hair. Could he make it to the Merge? Most certainly! But who could he beat in the end?
Pick #4: Jeff picks BEN
Jeff ranked Ben: #1
I'm shocked, Ben Martell! You're the only one who didn't rank your fellow Ben in the top 5? Ben's standing out as a Holloway-esque threat is possible, but I think there are enough physical and strategic threats that he might not rise to the top of anyone's target list until it's too late. Also: Hey, everyone got their #1 pick!
Ben ranked Ben: #12
Mike Holloway. People knew they couldn’t let Mike get to the end the first time. They’re going to know it again this time. It kills me not to have Ben on team Ben, as I played with having him first for a while. But his threat level is just too high to justify it. I can’t see any way anyone lets him make it to final tribal. Sorry Jeff, you’re striking out here!
Dan ranked Ben: #5
Solid pick, Jeff. I think Ben’s probably the best overall contestant this season: physically, mentally, socially…but I don’t think he’s quite OG JT good enough to convince people to let him skate to the end and win the million unopposed by all. Still, he is a marine, and he could win his way to the end, even in this physically-fit cast. If Ben—and by Ben I actually mean Jeff which is sort of confusing—beats me and m’lady Chrissy in the end, hats off. Well played.
Pat ranked Ben: #4
I thought Ben sounded OK, like the kind of guy who could win this. But now Jeff must root for a dude who says he’s like Hantz, wants to bring cowboy boots to an island and likes something called circle track car racing. Good luck with that.
Pick #5: Jeff picks COLE
Jeff ranked Cole: #3
Cole is a bit of a dark horse as a winner pick, simply because he seems too big and too charming to be allowed to get anywhere near the end, just like Joey Amazing. But his pre-game interviews make me believe Cole might just be able to do it, anyway.
Ben ranked Cole: #5
Jay Starrett. Cole isn’t going to stand out as the biggest threat in this bunch of very physical guys, but in fact I think he’ll have the best social game out of them. His slight willingness to consider a showmance could be his undoing, but overall I think he has the right mix to be a real winner contender. Good recovery from Jeff.
Dan ranked Cole: #2
The one piece of the puzzle I think my team is missing—damnit, Jeff. I think he’s a massive threat to win, simply because he’s in a cast filled with decent seeming people! Imagine if Joey Amazing was on a season where he wasn’t legitimately one of the only likeable people? The fewer Rodneys out there will only serve to make Cole’s charm less noticeable. Damn, I wish I had him…
Pat ranked Cole: #15
He describes himself as: unreserved, dauntless, and flirtatious. Um, yeah, that sure sounds like a winner … or not. And someone tell me what a wilderness therapy guide is, please.
Pick #6: Pat picks JESSICA
Pat ranked Jessica: #2
I got my first and second pick. I win. And who doesn’t want to root for Jessica? She hates can openers more than anything else in life. That’s awesome.
Dan ranked Jessica: #7
Will I be upset with the season—preemptively—if Jessica wins? Yeah. Probably. That being said, I think she could dip, duck, dive, dodge, and… dodge her way to the end. If we get some ruthless strategy, Jessica could play the innocence card and succeed like Natalie White. One of this season’s many dark horses, for sure.
Ben ranked Jessica: #3
Neleh Dennis? Jessica was my number one pick for a while, but in the end I felt that her relentless positivity could be a struggle for some people to take. Hopefully the enthusiasm will settle after a couple of days and then she’ll be a real contender, but people might perceive her as naive or annoying. She needs to show she is more Michele Fitz than Neleh. But if she does, she’s a serious winner contender. Great pick from Pat.
Jeff ranked Jessica: #9
I love that Jessica's a fan, and is so enthusiastic about playing. I'm just unclear on how she'll come across to the others. She might be able to disarm everyone with her sunny disposition, and use that to play a deceptive game, or they might all see her as too nice, and thus a threat. Hopefully she can turn her longtime viewing of the show into longtime playing.
Pick #7: Dan picks ALI
Dan ranked Ali: #3
The low ranks of my TDT friends has me somewhat stumped. This gal comes off as charming, kind, and smart. Given her starting tribe has the beigeness of Lauren and Patrick, the standoffish Simone, the eccentric Ryan, and Devon Zoolander, she seemed poised to do something. If she can get to the Merge, I have a hard time seeing her not in the finale. Just you watch, fellas.
Ben ranked Ali: #14
Semhar? That’s not a kind comparison, and I’m sure Ali will be better than Semhar was, but I think Ali is at real risk of being the first one out. There’s something about her that makes me feel she just won’t fit in. An ambitious pick for Dan here, Ali does have the upside of not being an obvious threat. I think her chances improve if she makes it to a swap. But I think more likely she becomes the last female you think of a few years from now when trying to remember who was on the season.
Jeff ranked Ali: #11
I had Ali ranked so low mainly because Josh Wigler's pregame interview with her hadn't yet been released when we drafted, and the CBS interview was useless. She's better than 11th. Then again, as she worries in her interview, knowing Patrick could torpedo her game early. Even so, this could be a steal at #7 by Dan.
Pat ranked Ali: #16
Sorry Dan, I think most of us just knew we couldn’t highly rank someone whose hobbies include shopping and posting on social media. That sure doesn’t sound like someone ready for island living.
Pick #8: Ben picks DESI
Ben ranked Desi: #4
Cydney Gillon + Tasha Fox + Michaela Bradshaw – and possibly the best bits of each. I never expected Desi to be on the board at 8. Admittedly, she’s the female Ben Driebergen in this cast – the person everyone already knows is so good that they must get her out. But despite this, so many of the Healers seem to want to work with her already. If Desi makes it to the end, she seems very likely to get the win.
Dan ranked Desi: #9
Desi is someone with a lot of pros and cons to me. On one hand, swoon at being a professor that young! On the other…she seems to tepid toward the survival aspect of the game and Probst’s little comment about her going far only if she can make it through the elements? If she’s in the end, I like her chances, but I don’t like the road to her getting there. Again, I think she might clash with her tribe off the bat, and the weather don’t help.
Pat ranked Desi: #6
I would have put Desi even higher, but there were two things that stopped me. First, she said she was named assistant professor by 26 and they don’t just give out those titles to anyone. Well, I would say I’m proof positive that’s not true. And, second, she calls herself unbeatable. Um, you’re not Tom Brady, Desi. Sorry.
Jeff ranked Desi: #10
My low ranking for Desi comes from the disparity between press and Probst. Desi seems like a triple threat, and nearly everyone identified her as someone they wanted to work with in the pre-game interviews. All good, right? Probst agrees with all that, but then finishes "If the elements don't get to Desi, I think Desi goes a long way." Where did that come from? That just set off alarm bells for me.
Pick #9: Ben picks ALAN
Ben ranked Alan: #6
Alan might be Cliff Robinson, but has a Jeremy Collins upside. I think everyone is going to like Alan, and it really depends on how much people feel they need to get rid of him, and how much the spectre of him being a professional athlete hangs over him. I think he has good social skills, though, and his physicality might blend in on a cast that is so physical across the board.
Dan ranked Alan: #13
He’s a professional athlete… need I say more? Jeremy Collins at the best, Cliff Robinson or John Rocker at the worst. Likely somewhere in between, but closer to the latter.
Pat ranked Alan: #10
I like Alan, but until I see a jury reward a former professional athlete with $1 million, I just don’t buy it can happen.
Jeff ranked Alan: #15
Alan seems like an interesting guy, and has some good pre-game reads on people. He's also really young (32) for a former pro athlete, since they've usually been retired far longer. So he's smack in the middle of the optimal winner age range. But after watching Brad lose in Game Changers, I'm going all in on betting a former NFL/MLB/NBA player will never win Survivor.
Pick #10: Dan picks RYAN
Dan ranked Ryan: #4
He’s adorable! Look, might Ryan flare out early? Of course, and I’ll be kind of surprised if he goes the distance in the first place, but he’s just so endearingly enthusiastic without the chip on his shoulder that served at Spencer’s downfall. He’s got potential, and he’s a true super fan. That’s more than enough for the tenth overall pick for me.
Pat ranked Ryan: #17
I can’t believe how highly everyone ranked Ryan. I’ve never seen Big Brother, but this dude reminds me of someone who could win Big Brother. And Eli Manning? Seriously dude?
Jeff ranked Ryan: #6
Ryan is one of several players who has a really good shot at winning if he gets to the end. (I would put Ben, Chrissy, Mike, Cole, and Lauren there, too.) But I don't like his initial tribe's chances, and there's also the chance of a similar jury mindset to the one(s) that gave Spencer (or Stephen) zero votes.
Ben ranked Ryan: #8
Aubry Bracco, with Cochran’s complexion. I love Ryan. He’s worth having on your team just because he seems like someone fun to root for! Ryan has an uphill battle to win, but I think he’s a great value pick for Dan down here at number 10.
Pick #11: Pat picks MIKE
Pat ranked Mike: #3
Woo hoo! I got my first three picks. Clearly the other people in this draft aren’t so bright. Look, I’m usually not a fan of anything from Florida, but this guy signed up for Survivor as a germaphobe and says one hobby of his is watching Game of Thrones. And, look, I know what you’re saying, a lot of people hate germs and watch GoT. Yeah, but he hates germs and is a urologist. And he counts GoT as a hobby along with archery and fishing! You can just can’t pin Mike down.
Jeff ranked Mike: #5
Another over-40 player with a seemingly legit shot at winning, assuming he can last until the merge. At the very least, he should be a big character, and it's great that slot goes to a superfan. Amazing that he languished unpicked until slot #11. Which, notably, is lower than any of us had him individually.
Ben ranked Mike: #9
I’m hoping for Jonathan Penner, but he has David Samson downside. I like Mike a lot, and I’m really rooting for him to be one of the breakout characters of the season. He’s the first person I’ve come across who is out there with my concept of ‘Survivor integrity’ – he calls it ‘justifiable ethics’ – and I think that’s good. What’s not so good is that he’s weak on self-analysis. It’s this combo that has me seeing him as Penner-like.
Dan ranked Mike: #10
Wow. Again, I want Mike to do so, so, so well this season, but he seems like a lesser Ryan to me. Dorky, awkward, and despite the great upsides I see with him, the age factor on an overall weaker tribe makes me hesitate. I think he could find his way at the end, and for a number eleven pick, I think he’s solid.
Pick #12: Jeff picks LAUREN
Jeff ranked Lauren: #4
She might be the female Keith Nale, but she's also a Survivor fan who might be able to make some moves. I think Lauren will be a workhorse and provider for a tribe that needs one, and that will keep her around for a while. And I was impressed with how relatable she seemed in her pre-game interviews with Josh Wigler. It may take people a while to get to know her, but once they do, they'll be hooked. Like a fish.
Ben ranked Lauren: #17
I can’t shake Deb Eaton vibes. Lauren is one of the two I thought would go undrafted, so I’m surprised to see Jeff pick her up here. I think Lauren is so different from everyone else that she may struggle to connect, and her précis of a winner’s speech as she told it to Josh didn’t fill me with hope. Her best shot is how much she needs the money, although it’s a very tough line to sell.
Dan ranked Lauren: #17
Pitman, the hell are you doing? I’m honestly shocked she was drafted. I like rooting for a single mom out there, but she just seems to have little in way of personality, is too old for her tribe, and, again, said others would have to be flexible to work with her. If she’s around after seeing one or two Tribals, color me shocked!
Pat ranked Lauren: #13
I don’t understand what our fearless leader, Jeff, is thinking with this one. I mean, I read Lauren’s bio and it screams, “Person cast to irritate the younger folks by telling them to work harder.” She’s gone quickly.
Pick #13: Jeff picks ROARK
Jeff ranked Roark: #7
I see Roark as the female Spencer Bledsoe, but with enough social (work) game that she might be able to turn Spencer's jury whiff into a win. Or she could take the Sophie Clarke path of just aligning with a villain, although I'm not sure there really is one here. Ryan? Simone? Joe? If there is one, Roark is perceptive enough to find them. And she knows the show well enough (Siska notwithstanding) to know where to go from there.
Ben ranked Roark: #7
Candice Cody, or Kelley Wentworth? Roark has some high upside – surprising to see that she was still on the board at 13. She’s a good pick for Jeff so deep. But I think she’ll be pegged as a superfan and she’ll have to work hard to make it deep.
Dan ranked Roark: #11
Similar to Desi for me, but I think Desi will outlast her because she seems just better enough in every way to her. She could make a deep run, but she seems somewhat arrogant to me, and in a cast where most people seem like quality folks, lack of humility ain’t going to win over votes if she finds herself at the end. Still, she had to get drafted eventually, and 13 is as good as any.
Pat ranked Roark: #11
When answering about pet peeves, Roark said, “Name something and it probably peeves me.” When listing her hobbies, she wrote: “Falling into Bachelor social media black holes, listening to the Uhh Yeah Dude podcast, reading Yelp reviews of generic businesses, like my local Starbucks.” I’ve never wanted anyone to win more in my life. It ain’t happening though, I think.
Pick #14: Pat picks DEVON
Pat ranked Devon: #8
What can I say, I’m going all bro, all the time on these picks. Either Devon and JP will immunity every single time there’s a flip cup challenge.
Jeff ranked Devon: #8
Devon is the most likely Jay of this season, from what I can glean from the pre-game interviews. I think he's a pretty valuable pick for the #14 slot.
Ben ranked Devon: #13
I can’t name a previous contestant that represents Devon – I think he’s that guy who goes out early merge every single season, but who is entirely unmemorable. Devon would surprise me if he was even a particularly memorable player. But he has more upside than some of the other guys, as he has few obvious weaknesses.
Dan ranked Devon: #12
Zoolander: I don’t want to see Fabio win again. Maybe he’ll dazzle and become Jay 2.0, but I don’t think so. Still, probably a bargain pick, third from the bottom (though like a 10% off sort of bargain).
Pick #15: Dan picks JOE
Dan ranked Joe: #6
Hey, I don’t think Joe’s going to win. Let me make that clear. That being said, he seems like a smart dude, and if some of the nicer intelligent people think his perceived sliminess might be worth taking him to the end… he could win. Right? *sigh* I regret this, like drafting the Texans D this year. Stupid, Dan. Stupid. Sorry, Ashley… my bad.
Pat ranked Joe: #18
I lived in Connecticut for seven years. I know people like Joe. And just like all those people I know, Joe’s not going on Survivor and winning anything.
Jeff ranked Joe: #13
Joe could be boxed in by everyone thinking that he's like Tony, just based on his being bald and from the Bronx. He can't do anything idol-related or strategic without reinforcing that perception. Which is sad, because he'd probably be fine if this had filmed before Game Changers, instead of early episodes of GC being the last thing everyone saw before coming out here.
Ben ranked Joe: #15
More Judd Sargeant than Tony Vlachos, but the spectre of Tony is going to sit over Joe like the smell of 100 llamas. Joe’s coming in with a stigma that would take a lot to overcome, and I’m not sure that he’s the guy to do it. Decent upside all the way down here, though.
Pick #16: Ben picks PATRICK
Ben ranked Patrick: #10
JT. His upside is JT 1.0, but I have a real fear that he believes JT from Game Changers was just fantastic. I think people are going to like Patrick, but you need more than likeability to win. He has a legitimate outside shot, though.
Dan ranked Patrick: #16
He’s going to blend into the sand, both because he’s so pale and because I think he’s going to be about as memorable. Wow, guys. We sort of fucked up. How didn’t we choose Ashley?
Pat ranked Patrick: #12
I truly wanted to rank my namesake higher. But if the dude could bring anything to the island, he’d choose teriyaki sauce. Seriously.
Jeff ranked Patrick: #16
Ben sees JT, I see Bobby Jon. Either way, I don't see Patrick as a strategic mastermind, but if he's charming and gets along with everyone, he could have a shot.
Ben ranked Ashley: #11
Sierra Reed. I’m seriously surprised to see Ashley go undrafted, as I thought someone would pick her up for sure. But too many people are already having trouble connecting with her and that lack of connection is likely to be her biggest problem in the game. I would have been just as fine ending up with Ashley as Patrick.
Dan ranked Ashley: #8
Sorry! You deserved a spot somewhere (which reminds me, can we do a wavier system? I think one of my picks my find his way on the free agent market if so…).
Pat ranked Ashley: #14
Her bio says life is short so everyone should say yes to everything. I mean, hyperbole aside, I’m thinking that’s not so smart. Literally this morning I got an email from the KKK telling me I need to visit some blog. I said no.
Jeff ranked Ashley: #14
From her profile with Josh Wigler, people seemed to have a poor impression of Ashley before the game started. She otherwise seems like someone who should do fine, but if the Heroes go to Tribal early, she could have a problem.
Ben ranked Katrina: #16
Ben says: Maralyn Hershey. I hope she’s Mad Dog, because the alternative is Wanda Shirk. Either way, I can’t see her lasting long, and definitely not winning at the end.
Dan ranked Katrina: #18
You did better than Wanda in Palau, because you’re on a tribe. That’s cool, but you were undrafted for a reason, my friend.
Pat ranked Katrina: #9
I had Katrina ranked pretty highly. I mean, she’s an Olympian and a Berkeley grad. But you know, those two things take such dedication, more dedication and work ethic than the other folks on her tribe have probably. And that, my friends, might just make her unlikeable.
Jeff ranked Katrina: #17
Hate to see anyone finish last (or next-to-last, in my rankings, but still in undrafted territory), but someone has to, and Katrina seems like the contestant with the least in common with everyone else. If she makes it through a Tribal Council or two, she might go far, but a win seems unlikely.
So the teams are as listed below. Who picked the best? Which TDT writer will win? Weigh in, in the comments below:
Other HvHvH pre-season cast analysis