Survivor Season 44 kicks off on March 1, but the cast has been revealed ahead of time. As part of the announcements, we’ve also gotten a bit of insight into how this new crop of players will try to work through the game. Obviously, things are going to change a lot once they actually hit the beach, but we can still make some predictions.
I correctly predicted Jesse would do well in last year’s version of these rankings (though I did put winner Mike Gabler in second to last place), so maybe I’m finally on to something. Let’s check out the rankings!
Survivor season 44 pre-season power rankings
18) Kane Fritzler – Kane is going to be great television. I don’t think he’ll get very far, but it’s going to be a hoot to watch. He seems like the kind of dude who thinks he’s much funnier than he actually is and mixes a bit too much confidence. I won’t say he doesn’t have a chance, but his over-the-top bio doesn’t give me much confidence.
17) Maddy Pomilla – I have to say again that these pre-season rankings are based on very little. That said, Maddy’s bio reads a bit too lassez-faire for my tastes. She’s got the air of someone who doesn’t really care if she wins or loses, which isn’t the mindset I want my Survivor winners to come into the game with.
16) Carolyn Wiger – It’s pretty clear that Carolyn is going to be one of the big characters regardless of how long she’s in the game. That said, I’m not sure how long she’ll actually be able to stick around. Somebody as talkative as Carolyn seems to be could rub her tribemates the wrong way and be an easy out. That said, she definitely seems like she has an easy time connecting with people, so if she makes it past the first few votes, she could rise quickly.
15) Jaime Lynn Ruiz – Look, nothing against Jaime, but anyone who types in all caps this much might be the kind of loud that’s going to annoy people on a deserted island. On top of that, I have to question her strategic acumen if she’s calling out Angelina as someone with “brilliant” strategy. She just isn’t ticking a lot of the boxes I look for in a winner.
14) Lauren Harpe – In her bio, Lauren spends a lot of time talking about how Survivor is going to be an opportunity for “growth.” Now, nothing against people who come out to play for the experience, but many times those players lack the killer instinct needed to win. I’m not convinced Lauren should be lumped in with those players given other parts of her bio, but I am cool on her prospects ahead of the game starting.
13) Bruce Perreault – One archetype that’s tough to predict is the older man who comes from a job where they’re probably in charge. Bruce gives me even more pause because this is a younger cast. If he tries to play the leader role, that could blow up in his face and he’ll be gone early. On the other hand, if he can roll with the punches, he has some upside. After all, we’ve seen both Mike Gabler and Mike Turner make it to the end from a similar archetype in the last two seasons.
12) Claire Rafson – Claire is in a pretty decent spot heading into the game despite me placing her this low. It all depends on how well she’s able to hide her background as a tech investor and hustler. If she plays her cards right, she has the tools to go far, I’m just a bit worried that she won’t be able to keep her perceived threat level from flying through the roof.
11) Carson Garrett – Carson is probably too young to actually win the game. We’ve seen people around his age struggle to convince the rest of the tribe to vote for them in the past few seasons and I don’t know if that changes here. This cast is a bit younger than usual, which could help Carson out, but it’s also going to be hard for him to hide his intelligence. That’ll be yet another reason for his tribe to vote out what appears to be a major threat.
10) Matthew Grimstead-Mayle – Matthew is another player who doesn’t talk much about how he plans to play the game, making it hard to place him. He does seem relatively fit for his age though, so I’ll put him right in the middle and call it a day.
9) Yamil “Yam Yam” Arocho – Yam Yam is a fan favorite before the first episode even starts. Whether he wins the game or not, he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. He doesn’t seem like too much of a physical threat (though past Survivors have surprised us), so he’ll need to rely on what looks like an excellent social player with a pinch of cutthroat strategy.
8) Frannie Marin – Frannie is a bit young for what I look for in a Survivor winner, but she comes off as wise beyond her years. I do think her whole nail salon analogy sounds like a bit of reach, but it does at least show that she has some real-world work experience that could come in handy. My one worry is that she could be targeted early if she isn’t a physical asset in challenges, but I think she can make it past that and rally numbers to become a major player.
7) Brandon Cottom – We have to talk about this former NFL player saying that he can “fit into any crowd.” I’m sorry Mr. Cottom, but you are 6’2 and weighed 262 pounds when you were in the league. You’re not fitting in with anybody. Brandon is certainly going to be a physical threat, but I am concerned he’s a little heavy for the individual portion of the game. That said, he should be safe until the merge at least.
6) Sarah Wade – Sarah is one of those classic players that almost seem too perfect for Survivor. I’m probably underrating her a bit at six, but I’ve been bitten in the butt by this archetype several times, so I’m a bit tentative. If she can put it together, look for her to make some waves this season.
5) Matt Blankinship – I really like Matt’s outlook heading into the season. His bio reads like someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, while also being a big fan of the game. I do worry the other players won’t take him seriously, but I think he’s easily making the merge at the very least.
4) Helen Li – Helen seems to have a very good idea of both the archetype she’s going to be seen as and how she plans to play. That understanding of herself is huge when you’re heading into Survivor and not something I get from most of the rest of the cast. Her one problem might be that these players have just seen both Maryanne and Erika win the game, and Helen fits into a similar archetype as those two, making her a potential target.
3) Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt – I’ve always had a soft spot for fit older women when it comes to pre-season Survivor. Last season it was Lindsay Carmine and the year before that it was Jenny Kim. Both of those players went out in somewhat strange circumstances, so here’s hoping Heidi can break the curse and make a run at this.
2) Danny Masa – Danny is mostly up here because there’s nearly no scenario where he goes home early. He’s just too much of a physical asset in the early game. On top of that, he lists “breath work” and “meditation” as his hobbies, which will be a big help once we get to more endurance-based individual challenges. If anyone has the goods to run the table with immunity wins, it’s probably Danny.
1) Josh Wilder – And here’s my winner pick. Josh brings the type of physicality that he’s not going to be voted out early but also has the body type you need to succeed once the game becomes individual. On top of that, he has the brains you need to win this game, and seems like he’ll be a great social player. That makes him a triple threat and someone that can win if the Survivor gods don’t work against him.