Anyone in a standard survivor pool with 18 gameweeks likely went with the Cowboys last week, and we were no different. It was a bit of a free square, but it prevented us from being able to use the Cowboys at home against the Seahawks in a tough Week 13 slate down the road. And it's a good thing we made that decision, because our primary pivot was the Bengals, who lost at home to the Texans and showed that Houston has now become a team you can never fade in survivor the rest of the year. In fact, we'll probably find an occasion to play them at some point if we keep surviving.
This week is going to be a fascinating one in survivor pools. Five games have featured double-digit favorites at some point this week, and the ones that have dipped below 10 at some books aren't going to drop much further. But all five also feature favorites that have been likely survivor picks earlier in the year.
We just talked about the Cowboys, and the team they beat is now up against the Commanders, who many people backed in the Week 1 opener against the Cardinals in order to be able to cross a mediocre team off their list right out the gate. The 49ers were the obvious play for people in Week 4 (also against the Cardinals), and we used the Dolphins and Lions in Weeks 5 and 8, a combination where I'd expect a lot of people deployed the pair in some order (the Dolphins beat the Giants and Patriots, while the Lions beat the Panthers and Raiders). The Dolphins were also a clear option for people in Week 6 against the Panthers for anyone who didn't want to trust the Rams (vs. Cardinals) that early in the season.
But there will be people who saved at least one of those teams and will roll them out this week. Those people will have to avoid a sleepy spot for all of those teams, because if you're a schedule nerd like me, you already know that all five have short weeks ahead due to Thanksgiving or Black Friday games. The Cowboys and Commanders face each other, the Lions and 49ers play in the other two Thanksgiving games, and the Dolphins are up on Friday. With the short week, all in likely tougher spots due to opponent (or in Miami's case, going on the road), and with holiday planning to contend with for the players and coaches on those teams, I don't expect all of them to come out fully focused on the opponents the market is telling them are doormats they're supposed to easily beat this week. And that should make for a minefield to navigate for survivor pool bettors.
When looking at your options for Week 11, it's important to project out the rest of the schedule (hence the point of this weekly column). It's also important to know the format of your pool, as Circa Survivor adds two standalone slates for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This week, I'd think long and hard about not using one of the big favorites if you have one available, and if you are looking for a pivot, as I would avoid using the Texans against the Cardinals.
The Texans are at peak value right now after beating the Bengals on the road, and they've put up over 1,000 yards of offense and 69 points in their last two games. But they barely won both games because the defense surrendered 64 points and almost cost Houston a home win over a beatable Buccaneers team. That scares me a little with an upgraded Cardinals offense coming to town, as Kyler Murray looked 100% healthy in the upset of the Falcons, while James Conner also returned to give the run game a lift. The Cardinals defense has given up 20 points in seven straight, but they held two of their last three opponents under 300 yards, including the Ravens. I'm not saying they're going to shut this Houston offense down, but they could provide enough resistance to allow Murray to do his thing and win a game where both teams score in the mid-to-high 20s.I'd rather wait and use Houston against an offense where I more know what I'm going to get, and Week 17 at home against the Titans looks like a great spot.
Why listen to me? Well, I was 535-450-30 (+3532) on ATS picks over the last six years and even better with my top five picks each week, going 376-290-24 (56.5%) over the last eight years in the Westgate SuperContest. While this doesn't involve picking against the spread, I do believe by applying the strategies I've developed to have long-term success on those picks to survivor pools, we'll be in the best position to outlast the competition.
Below, you'll find my top options for this week as well as a tiered set of options for every week over the rest of the season, including breakouts for the Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Christmas slates. Let's dig in.
What are the best options to use in survivor pools in Week 11? And which teams should be saved to use later in the season? ... Join SportsLine right now to see NFL Survivor Pool strategy from the expert who's 535-450-30 on ATS picks from 2017-22, returning $3,532 to $100 players!
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