NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Cardinals Are Still Expert’s Top Pick, Packers Now An Option, But Eagles Are Risky
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images. Pictured: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray
Updated NFL Survivor Pool Pick
Not much has changed since we published my initial NFL survivor pool advice on Wednesday … other than three games being postponed and the league changing its COVID protocols.
Oh, and there are also some quarterback injuries to monitor.
The Eagles looked like a smash pick with the Football Team’s depth in question due to so many of their players hitting the COVID list. Now that game has been postponed from Sunday to Tuesday, making the Eagles a really risky pick as we have no idea what Washington’s roster could look like by then. A few players have already cleared protocols as of Saturday and we could see more before cleared by Tuesday, including starting quarterback Taylor Heinecke.
Meanwhile, the Packers become an interesting play against the Ravens if quarterback uncertainties play out in Green Bay’s favor. Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson are dealing with injuries, but Rodgers’ status looks much more optimistic than Jackson’s as of writing. If that scenario plays out, the Packers would be favored by at least a touchdown and would be less than 5% owned, which would make them a fantastic play in survivor pools.
That said, the Cardinals are still my preferred play if you have them available.
If you’re running low on options, though, you may have gained a couple more as the week progressed.
Editor’s note: The rest of this story was written earlier in the week.
We had a very clean week in survivor pools last week as nearly every favorite won — and covered. It’s highly likely that nobody was eliminated from your pool.
We’re in the endgame now. You absolutely should be mapping out the last four weeks of the season. Being contrarian matters less this time of the season because picks will be more evenly distributed.
Looking ahead to Week 18, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of rest candidates. Both conference standings are tight at the top and no team looks locked into a seed currently.
The teams most likely to be locked in would be the Cowboys and Rams. This is the most likely 4-seed vs. 5-seed matchup in the wild-card round and both teams could be resting starters.
NFL Survivor Pool Picks
With that caveat out of the way, here are the projected win percentages for the final four weeks of the season.
And here are the top eight teams as options for this week. I could have listed 10 but then I would have had to put the Jaguars on there and I want to retain some credibility.
The Cardinals are the most popular pick at 30% of pools but you still have to take them. If this were earlier in the season, you could easily see this being closer to 60% owned but many players simply don’t have the option anymore.
The Bills are also a solid pick this week, although they still have two easier games on their schedule against the Falcons and Jets. If you have no other options you can take Buffalo, but if you can pivot they have a lot of value in the final two weeks.
Miami and Dallas are both fine. The Cowboys have more expected value because they are less popular, but I have no issue with taking the Dolphins. Maximizing win probability for the next four games is most important in my opinion.
The other four picks are technically -EV but if you have to take one, I get it. If the Eagles are your best option available this late in the season, you just have to hold your nose and take them and hope it works out.
Pick: Cardinals (vs. Lions)
If you have Arizona available, you take Arizona. Unless half the team gets held out with COVID (which seems more plausible by the day), you can’t hang onto them this long and not play them against the Lions.
Odds are you don’t have Arizona though. So take the next best thing. Maybe that’s Buffalo or maybe it’s Minnesota.
At this point, your options are more or less going to make the pick for you and you’re just along for the ride.
And if you find yourself stuck taking the Jaguars … best of luck.