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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 16) - Targets and Avoids

Underdogs have been the theme recently, and it looked like that trend was coming to and end Sunday with eight of nine favorites winning, but then the Niners and Steelers both won has home dogs. But it wasn't over then as the Eagles shocked the Rams as 13-point dogs.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, you may think some teams have nothing to play for, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Coaches are looking to save their job and players are looking for their next contract.

With nearly all participants in survivor pools eliminated, you may not find a need to read this column. However, some survivor pools have restarted. There's still plenty of good tidbits to help you with your daily fantasy squads. Plus, my best bets against the spread are at the bottom of this column.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Nuggets from Week 15

  • Cody Kessler had more rushing yards (68) than passing yards (57)
  • Patriots have lost back-to-back games for the first time since December
  • Chargers beat the Chiefs for the first time since Dec. 29, 2013
  • 32-year-old Josh Johnson won his first game as an NFL starter


Survivor League Strategy

For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools it’s very simple; pick a team to win each week. If they win you move on to the next week. But you cannot use that team ever again. There is no point spread involved. Teams italicized are my best bets.

Before making any picks, look at the point spreads. Vegas has the best minds, smarter than any of us. Use them to get a glimpse at how each team is projected to fare that week.

Teams favored by more than seven in Week 16 per The Action Network app (home team in caps):

  • RAMS -13.5 vs. Cardinals
  • PATRIOTS -13 vs. Bills
  • TITANS -10 vs. Redskins
  • COLTS -9.5 vs. Giants
  • BROWNS -9 vs. Bengals
  • COWBOYS -7 vs. Bucs

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Wednesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.


Top Survivor Picks for Week 16

In order of my favorite selections:

PATRIOTS -13 vs. Bills

The sky is falling in New England once again. After the Pats lost two in a row in Weeks 2 and 3, people were writing them off. Now, it's happening again. Those four losses all came on the road. New England is simply a different team at home than on the road. At home, they are +13.8, but on the road, are -2.4. Buffalo has looked good recently behind their phenomenal defense and rookie quarterback/running back Josh Allen. But this is a rookie going into Foxboro against a desperate Patriots team.

Patriots 31 - Bills 12


DOLPHINS -4 vs. Jaguars

Another team that is vastly different at home than on the road is Miami. They are 1-6 on the road but 6-1 at home. Jacksonville stinks. Their quarterback had more rushing yards than passing yards Sunday. Their defense is good, but once they get behind, that's it. They've averaged nine points a game in their last three. That is putrid. Even Arizona, next on the list, has averaged 12. Miami is averaging 24 their last three.


Bears -4 @ 49ERS

The Niners had no business winning the last two games against the Broncos and Seahawks. They're in for a real test when they face the Bears ferocious defense. I think Chicago is too much for Nick Mullens to handle.

Bears 23 - 49ers 14


Rams -13.5 @ CARDINALS

A 14-point road favorite is not something you see often. Arizona's defense isn't all that bad. They are seventh in team sacks, and when you pressure Jared Goff, he gets extremely flustered. The Rams will win, but not cover.

Rams 34 - Cardinals 21


BROWNS -9 vs. Bengals

Cleveland is rolling. Baker Mayfield should have a field day picking apart the 29th ranked team in opponent yards per play. Cincy also gives up the most points per game. Mayfield has been a different quarterback since Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator. Cleveland also has a good defense and will smother Jeff Driskel.

Browns 34 - Bengals 14


COWBOYS -7 vs. Bucs

If Dallas doesn't dominate a Bucs team that gives away the ball more than any other team in the league, there's something wrong with them. The defense should dominate in this one.

Cowboys 30 - Bucs 14


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Redskins +10 @ TITANS

I don't think Tennessee deserves to be a 10-point favorite against any team. Their defense is very good, but their offense ranks 27th in scoring with 19.1 points per game. The team that's right behind them with 18.9 – the Washington Redskins. However, through their last three games, Washington is averaging 15 while Tennessee is averaging 24.

I can't forget three weeks ago when the Titans were 10-point favorites against the Jets and had to come from behind and win. This is one too many points.

Titans 23 - Redskins 14


Giants +9 @ COLTS

I am always terrified of going against Eli Manning when he's this big of an underdog. When you count him out, he'll surprise you. The Colts need to win this one, but also may be looking ahead to next week's clash with the Titans which could very well be a de facto playoff game.


The Rest 

Ravens +4.5 @ CHARGERS - I keep waiting for the Chargers to have one of their games where they make stupid turnovers, miss some kicks. They're off their biggest win of the season against Kansas City and still don't control their own destiny. Baltimore needs to win this one or they will be eliminated if both Tennessee and Indy win. Lamar Jackson brings another dimension the Chargers haven't seen. Plus, Baltimore's defense is top-five.

JETS pick vs. Packers - This line opened at Packers -3.5 and is now pick. Rumors are swirling that Aaron Rodgers may not play as Green Bay's season is over. Even if he does, I like the Jets. I said it last week; the Jets want to win even though their season is over. Sam Darnold wants nothing to do with tanking. He is a talented young quarterback that will bring his all to this game while Rodgers may have no motivation.

LIONS +5.5 vs. Vikings - If Minnesota decides to run the ball, they should win. If they let Kirk Cousins try to win the game, they're in trouble. I think 5.5 is too much for a divisional road game.

EAGLES -2.5 vs. Texans - I have no idea what to make of this game. I think Houston is grossly overrated. Is Philly back with Nick Foles at the helm? I'll take the home team, but I'd avoid this one.

Falcons -3.5 @ PANTHERS -  This line swung five points since Cam Newton was declared out. I'll take Atlanta against a depleted offense.

SAINTS -5.5 vs. Steelers - New Orleans's offense has been awful the past three weeks, but they're 2-1 in those thanks to their defense. The fact that they're winning with their defense shows how versatile of a team they are. If the Saints win, they lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They're +14 at home – best in the NFL – while the Steelers are +1.6 on the road. Ben Roethlisberger struggles on the road as well.

SEAHAWKS +2.5 vs. Chiefs - Seattle is 16-2 at home in prime-time games under Pete Caroll. Five times they were underdogs. In those games, they are 4-1 against the spread with all four of those being outright wins.

Broncos -2.5 @ RAIDERS - What an awful game on Christmas Eve. Who cares about this one! But I like Denver.


My Running Season Total

  • This week: Patriots -13, Dolphins -4, Ravens +4.5
  • Last week: 2-2
  • Best bet ATS record: 22-23-1


Good luck RotoBallers, and I'll be back next week previewing Week 17.

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