Best survivor pool picks for Week 3 of NFL season
All three of our picks made it through last week, though two of them sure made it interesting. Both the Bears and Texans needed late-game heroics to move to 2-0 on the year even though they were huge home favorites. If nothing else, those games should illustrate why it's so hard to win one of these pools. By the time the early games kicked off, the Bears were a touchdown favorite over the Vikings, while the Texans were laying 9.5 points against the Titans. They may have made us sweat, but a W is a W. It's called survivor for a reason, right?
There are a handful of huge favorites on the board this week, and while it often makes sense to avoid the herd in survivor pools, these games are simply too close to a sure thing to pass up.
1. Seattle Seahawks (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) -- With as much certainty as we can make a definitive statement about after two weeks of football, this is the league's best team against its worst team. That shows up in the spread, where the Seahawks are giving 19 points. No game carries a 100-percent guarantee, but this is as close as it gets. It's hard to fathom Chad Henne leading the Jaguars into Seattle without Maurice Jones-Drew (or with a gimpy version of him) and leading them out with a win. There are a few other strong choices on the board, so there is something to be said for leaving yourself the Seahawks for a more challenging week. But if picking the Bears or Texans left you exhausted last week and you're simply looking to kick your feet up and worry about survivor in Week 4, make the Seahawks your pick. That is, unless, you'd rather go with our next huge favorite.
2. Denver Broncos (vs. Oakland Raiders) -- If Seahawks-Jaguars pits team No. 1 against team No. 32, Broncos-Raiders is No. 2 hosting No. 31, or something awfully close to 31. Again, this is a pick with minimal risk. Andrew Luck didn't put up huge numbers against the Raiders in Week 1, but he was very efficient, connecting on 18-of-23 passes and getting 7.74 yards per attempt. Just imagine what Peyton Manning will do to that defense. Despite missing Von Miller and Champ Bailey, the Broncos defense has played well when it has had to, as both the Ravens and Giants inflated their stats after falling way behind. According to Pro Football Focus, the Broncos rank 14th against the run this season, something that should help them slow down Terrelle Pryor. The Broncos are favored by 14.5 points. They'll cruise to the cover on Monday night.
3. San Francisco 49ers (vs. Indianapolis Colts) -- Yes, even with Trent Richardson now in Indy. The Colts' new running back will certainly bring a dimension the team has been lacking, but I don't see him making a huge impact in his first game with the team. He wasn't even in their building until Thursday. It's hard to see him being the difference on Sunday. Meanwhile, the 49ers are coming off a humbling loss in Seattle last week, and are now back home to face a team with a struggling offensive line. Indy's defense has been in the middle of the pack as a pass-rushing group and is in the bottom half of the league as a coverage unit. That sounds like a dangerous cocktail to serve Colin Kaepernick. I'd have reservations about laying the 10.5, but the 49ers should be able to win this game relatively comfortably.
4. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Cleveland Browns) -- Cleveland, a team that has scored all of 16 points this year, is starting a quarterback who was third on its depth chart last week and just traded away its best offensive player. How exactly are the Browns going to score this week? This line opened at 3.5, and Vegas was being honest by moving the line in Minnesota's direction with 70-plus-percent of the public money coming in on the Vikings. And that was before the Richardson trade. The Vikings are currently laying 6.5 points, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that eclipse a touchdown by kickoff. Christian Ponder had a great second half against the Bears last week and was the best offensive player on the field, at least for one half, on a team with the reigning MVP. A lot of that had to do with the Bears' complete lack of a pass rush, something that cannot be said for the Browns. They've been elite against the run and have generated a solid pass rush this season. Still, I just can't see where they find the points. Back Minnesota.
Teams to avoid
New England Patriots (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -- Just one this week. The Patriots may be 8.5-point favorites, but we all saw what happened last week against the Jets. Are you comfortable supporting a team in survivor when its quarterback trusts only one of his receivers? Neither do I. The Bucs are having plenty of issues of their own, but they're plenty capable of pulling the upset.
MORE WEEK 3 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
BELLER: Fantasy football Week 3 player stat projections
SI.COM STAFF: Week 3 composite player rankings
BELLER: Trent Richardson's fantasy value increases with trade to Colts
GONOS: Start 'em or sit 'em -- Trades and injuries alter lineups
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Eddie Royal's hot streak won't last forever
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Best strategy for owners with injured running backs?
McQUADE: Risers and Sliders -- Several top running backs disappointing owners
BELLER: Fast Forward -- Crazy finishes highlight Week 2 of the NFL