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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 9) - Targets and Avoids

Each team favored by four or more in Week 8 took care of business.

The Patriots, who went off as 14-point favorites, let the Bills hang around for three quarters before a pick-six sealed the deal.

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 at the bottom of this column.

Editor's Note: All you early birds can get a full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our Draft Kit, In-Season tools and over 150 days of Premium DFS. Sign Up Now!


Nuggets from Week 8

  • The Jaguars have not scored more than 20 points since Sep. 30
  • Jameis Winston has thrown 10 interceptions in 14 quarters this season
  • The Bills have scored 11 combined points the last two games
  • The Chiefs have scored at least 27 points each game this season


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.

I will also be giving out my three top plays against the spread. I will italicize those three teams. It will look like this: Patriots -7 vs. Jets. The team I like in any given game against the spread will be first.

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 9 per The Action Network app (home team in caps):

  • Bears -10 @ BILLS
  • Chiefs -9 @ BROWNS

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.

Teams on bye: Bengals, Cardinals, Colts, Eagles, Giants, Jaguars


Top Survivor Picks for Week 9

In order of my favorite selections:

Bears -10 @ BILLS 

I did a double take when I saw this line. I thought it would be around four to five, but this means the Bears would be 16-point favorites at home. Wow. I'm not sure I trust Mitchell Trubisky to cover by more than a touchdown on the road, but if they score 24, that will be enough. The game plan for Trubisky should be simple this week; take what the defense gives you, don't force it, and protect the ball. Let the defense do all the work. The Bears rank 10th in opponent yards per play while the Bills offense is dead last. Buffalo also ranks 31st in third-down conversion percentage, 26th in red zone touchdown scoring percentage, and has the second-most giveaways. That won't bode well against a Bears defense that's second in takeaways.

Bears 24 - Bills 13


BRONCOS -1 vs. Texans

Houston finally had their first legitimate win of the season with a dominating 42-23 win against Miami. They're winners of five in a row, had an extra three days of rest, yet are one-point underdogs to a 3-5 team. Hmm, that doesn't make much sense. Even all the stats I care about, yards per play, third-down conversion percentage, red zone touchdown percentage, turnover margin, all favor the Texans. However the eyeball test points me to Denver. In addition, the defensive line will terrorize Deshaun Watson and the elements of being a mile-high above ground will get to Houston.

I don't mind that Demaryius Thomas was traded because it's not like he's done much for them; 4.5 receptions per game for 50 yards and a total of three touchdowns. It's not like he'll know the Texans playbook this week and Broncos defends will know exactly how to guard him.

This is also a must-win game for Denver. If they fall to 3-6, the season's over. Vance Joseph needs this to save his job. Vegas is begging you to take the Texans, so that's why you take Denver.

Broncos 23 - Texans 19


Chiefs -9 @ BROWNS

The highest-scoring team takes on the Browns who are fresh off firing head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. That begs the question; how do teams do against the spread the following game after firing their head coach? Thanks to the Action Network, the answer is 12-10.

Baker Mayfield is really trending downward, but the Chiefs are 27th in opponent yards per play. However, the KC defense can get off the field on third down, ranking fifth in that department. The thing that keeps bringing me back to the Browns is their defense. They have the most takeaways with 22, five more than the next. And despite 11 turnovers, they're first in turnover margin. Now with Gregg Williams being the interim head coach, get ready for a ton of blitzes. He loves to blitz and he has no problem sending the house. He won't let Pat Mahomes move around and pick them apart. Mahomes ranks 12th under pressure completing 38.6 percent of passes.

Chiefs 27 - Browns 20


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

COWBOYS -6.5 vs. Titans (Monday night)

How in the world is Dallas a touchdown favorite over a team that's equal, if not better than them. The Cowboys average 20 points per game while the Titans average 15. They're both bottom-ten in yards per play. The defenses are both top-ten in the league, so I'm not sure how this line isn't three.

The Cowboys aren't really good at home under Jason Garrett; just a measly 32-27 record. Off a bye, he's 4-4 straight-up off and 5-3 against the spread.

The Titans are a more physical team that likes these kinds of slug-fests. I'd take them moneyline and of course, against the spread.

Titans 21 - Cowboys 17


Bucs +6.5 @ PANTHERS

Carolina has scored at least 30 in their last three home games and should easily do it again this game. The Bucs defense has improved over their last three, but are still 31st in opponent yards per play. The Panthers have won their last two games, in which they were underdogs in both. Three of the last four times the Bucs played in Carolina, the game was decided by less than three points. I get the feeling Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps this close, or at least gets a backdoor cover.

Panthers 34 - Bucs 28


VIKINGS -4.5 vs. Lions 

I like the Vikings in this spot at home off a loss, but I'm never sure which Vikings or Lions team I'll see. Minnesota's defense was fantastic against the Saints while the Lions no-showed at home against the Seahawks. It makes me nervous that this line has come down from seven to four-and-a-half and the fact that Detroit has won the last two in Minnesota. However, the Vikings will be able to move the ball against this Lions defense. Through their last three games, Detroit has given up the fourth-most yards per play and are 27th in opponent red zone touchdown scoring percentage. That and the Vikings pass rush will be the difference in this one.

Vikings 27 - Lions 19


The Rest 

49ers -3 vs. Raiders (Thursday night) - Go see a movie, take your girlfriend or wife out to dinner. Do whatever it is instead of watching this game. But the Niners should have an offensive explosion against this horrendous Raiders defense.

49ers 38 - Raiders 20

Falcons +1.5 @ REDSKINS - I'm not buying Washington yet. They struggled to beat an offensively inept Giants team. They haven't scored more than 23 since Sep. 23 (the only time this season they scored 30). Their defense is what's gotten them to a 5-2 start. They rank sixth in opponent yards per play and ninth in opponent third-down percentage. But there's only so much they can do to handle a dynamic offense that ranks fifth in yards per play, second in third-down conversion percentage, and sixth in red zone touchdown scoring percentage. The Falcons should be able to break 30 in this one and that should be enough.

Atlanta's defense makes me nervous, but they had a bye week to fix that and I'd be very surprised if they didn't.

Jets +3 @ DOLPHINS - Both these teams are trending in the wrong direction. I finally think we see the bad Brock Osweiler and the Jets avenge their Week 2 loss.

RAVENS -3 vs. Steelers - If Baltimore loses this, they fall to 4-5. That's hard to believe considering three weeks ago, they were 4-2 and Super Bowl contenders. This is going to be a low-scoring hard-hitting game. The Ravens will fix their defense and rebound.

Chargers +2 @ SEAHAWKS - This is such a hard game to pick. I favor the Chargers because they are number one in yards per play and their only losses have come to the Chiefs and Rams.

Rams +2 @ SAINTS - A game that will decide home-field advantage in the NFC. Sunday night, the Saints beat the Vikings by 10, but Minnesota should have won. They were driving at the end of the second half up 13-10 when Adam Thielen fumbled on the Saints 14. They returned the ball to Minnesota's 33. Tack on a 15-yard penalty on the Vikes and the Saints are now at the 18. Two plays later and the Saints are up 17-13 at the half. The Vikings were completely demoralized after that. The Saints defense did not look good at all. New Orleans also isn't good at home. They're 20-15 at home since 2015. The Rams should be favored by one and to get them getting not one but two points is a steal. This will be a shootout and the Rams will outscore them.

PATRIOTS -5.5 vs. Packers (Sunday night) Green Bay just gave it their all against the Rams only to lose because of Ty Montgomery's stupidity. Tom Brady will pick apart this Packers defense and go on long methodical drives.


My Running Season Total

  • Best bet ATS record: 10-13-1
  • This week: Broncos +1, Falcons +1.5, Titans +6.5
  • Last week: 1-2

Good luck RotoBallers, and I'll be back next week previewing Week 10.

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