If you’ve ever played in a survivor pool, you know that winning is no easy task. You have to effectively win a 17-leg parlay, at minimum, to win these contests. That’s why it’s important to be aware of every team’s future opponents. We’ll explore those options for 21 NFL teams.
Reliable Teams to Use Early
It usually takes a handful of games to truly get a strong feel for who each NFL team really is. That’s why we like reliable teams whose quarterbacks either have an injury history or take too much contact early in the year.
The Baltimore Ravens have been among the most reliable teams this century. When Lamar Jackson is healthy, Baltimore can beat anyone. That said, Jackson is a mobile quarterback who has missed five games in each of the past two seasons. That’s why we like to use Baltimore early in the year when possible.
Best Remaining Matchups: Week 3 vs. IND, Week 8 at ARZ
The Buffalo Bills have made the playoffs every year since 2019. They’ve become a reliable team whose offense or defense can carry them to victory. Josh Allen, as great as he is, takes a lot of contact for a quarterback. That makes Buffalo another team we’d prefer to use early when possible. Week 3 has a number of great options, which makes Week 6’s game against the New York Giants one to target.
Best Remaining Matchups: Week 3 at WAS, Week 6 vs. NYG (SNF), Week 8 vs. TB (TNF)
Tua Tagovailoa’s injury history makes the Miami Dolphins a good bet to use early. All of these matchups are strong, but Week 6’s contest against the Carolina Panthers looks like the safest for Miami. If you’re comfortable holding, the Dolphins have an excellent matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 11.
Best Remaining Matchups: Week 5 vs. NYG, Week 6 vs. CAR, Week 11 vs. LV
Reliable Teams You Can Hold
Kansas City Chiefs
Everything is schedule-dependent, but the Kansas City Chiefs are a great option to hold when possible. Not only do you have the elite quarterback, but you have a Hall of Fame coach and overachieving defense. If you’re going to hold Kansas City, Week 16’s matchup against Las Vegas is your best target.
Best Remaining Matchups: Week 3 vs. CHI, Week 6 vs. DEN (TNF), Week 16 vs. LV
When you deploy the Dallas Cowboys in survivor pools, you want to target opponents with weak offensive lines. Dallas can win games offensively, but we want to put it in positions where we can get the most out of its elite roster. In these three matchups, Dallas either has a significant trench advantage or faces a rookie quarterback.
Best Remaining Matchups: Week 3 at ARZ, Week 10 vs. NYG, Week 11 at CAR
San Francisco 49ers
Much like the Cowboys, you want to target weak offensive lines when deploying the San Francisco 49ers. Since San Francisco is less reliant on its quarterback than most teams, that gives it an edge as a late-season hold. Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals is the safest matchup for the 49ers, but Week 15 and 17 are strong late-season spots. San Francisco can be a late-season weapon, with multiple options in survivor pools.
Best Remaining Matchups: Week 3 vs. NYG (TNF), Week 4 vs. ARZ, Week 11 vs. TB, Week 15 at ARZ, Week 17 at WAS
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the league’s most talented rosters, which makes them a team to consider holding. The Eagles have appealing home matchups in Week 16 and 17. If Kyler Murray remains inactive for Week 17, that’s close to a free square for Philadelphia.
Best Remaining Matchups: Week 3 at TB (MNF), Week 4 vs. WAS, Week 16 vs. NYG, Week 17 vs. ARZ
Talented, But Inconsistent Teams
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a young, ascending team that will likely improve as the season progresses. If you’re in a format where you have to pick two teams every week, consider holding them until Week 17. You may want to consider that move regardless of your league’s rules.
Best remaining matchups: Week 3 vs. HOU, Week 6 vs. IND, Week 17 vs. CAR
The Cincinnati Bengals offense has struggled through two weeks, and Joe Burrow’s status is up in the air for Week 3. If Burrow is healthy in Week 5, the Bengals are the best option on that slate. Given his calf injury recurrence, it may be best to use Cincinnati in that spot if Burrow is active.
Best remaining matchups: Week 5 at ARZ, Week 10 vs. HOU, Week 14 vs. IND
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers are talented, but we want to see more consistency out of this group. As things stand today, Week 8 against the Bears looks like the best spot to use Los Angeles.
Best remaining matchups: Week 4 vs. LV, Week 8 vs. CHI (SNF), Week 14 vs. DEN
Talented, But Not Quite Elite Teams
Best remaining matchups: Week 5 vs. CAR, Week 8 vs. LV, Week 11 vs. CHI
The Seattle Seahawks have been a bit Jekyll and Hyde through the first two games of this season. This will be a common theme in this article, but Seattle has a much better roster than the Cardinals.
Best remaining matchups: Week 3 vs. CAR, Week 7 vs. ARZ
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are a solid team with an advantageous schedule. If the Houston Texans’ offensive line is still dealing with multiple injuries, Week 5 is the safest spot to use New Orleans.
Best remaining matchups: Week 5 at HOU, Week 14 vs. CAR
Generally speaking, we’d prefer to take a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers at home whenever possible. That said, the Steelers’ defense will have a trench advantage against Houston’s injury-ravaged offensive line in Week 4.
Best remaining matchups: Week 4 at HOU, Week 13 vs. ARZ
Strong Passing Games, But Little Else
Los Angeles Rams
Best remaining matchups: Week 6 vs. ARZ, Week 12 at ARZ
The Minnesota Vikings have a high-level passing attack, but that’s where the compliments end for Minnesota. The Vikings tend to be a roller coaster ride in survivor pools. If they are 0-3 heading into Week 4, the Vikings have a more talented roster than the Panthers.
Best remaining matchups: Week 4 at CAR, Week 12 vs. CHI, Week 14 at LV
Strong Rosters with Volatile Quarterbacks
The primary challenge in survivor pools is that you’re going to have to deploy a number of volatile teams. The Murray-less Cardinals are already a popular target in the format. There’s a very high chance that the Atlanta Falcons will be the chalk in Week 10 if Murray remains sidelined.
Best remaining matchups: Week 5 vs. HOU, Week 10 at ARZ, Week 14 vs. TB
Deshaun Watson’s borderline horrendous play through the first two weeks makes the Cleveland Browns a volatile option. That said, if Murray is still out for Week 9, the Browns will be smart chalk in that matchup.
Best remaining matchups: Week 7 at IND, Week 9 vs. ARZ, Week 15 vs. CHI
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love has only made a handful of NFL starts, which makes the Green Bay Packers a wait-and-see type of option. Thankfully, some of their most advantageous matchups happen late in the year. Don’t plan to use the Packers in one specific week, but treat them as a potential option during this stretch.
Best remaining matchups: Week 14 at NYG (MNF), Week 15 vs. TB, Week 16 at CAR
New England Patriots
Bill Belichick has a long-standing history of ruining games for inexperienced quarterbacks. Week 9’s home matchup against Sam Howell looks very appealing. Belichick has had issues with dynamic quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson in the past. That makes Week 10’s bout with Anthony Richardson’s Indianapolis Colts more of a wait-and-see matchup. If they are at full strength, the New England Patriots will have a trench advantage against the Giants in Week 12.
Best remaining matchups: Week 9 vs. WAS, Week 10 vs. IND, Week 12 at NYG
New York Jets
The New York Jets are not safe with Zach Wilson at quarterback. Still, we may need to color outside the lines late in the season. New York’s defense will have plus matchups in both of these contests, against young quarterbacks.
Best remaining matchups: Week 14 vs. HOU, Week 16 vs. WAS