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Week 3 Survivor Pool Rankings: Take the SKOL Bus

Week 2 provided a bit more normalcy for those competing in Survivor Pools. Though there were many close calls, most of the obvious favorites held serve. Week 3 features several games that have a clear-cut favorite, with one in particular standing way above the rest. Here are my Week 3 survivor pool rankings.

Week 3 Survivor Pool Rankings

Best Bet: Minnesota Vikings v. Buffalo Bills

Fantrax Football CommissionerI do not think a ton of thought needs to go into your Week 3 survivor pool selection. Minnesota should have little trouble handling the Bills on Sunday in what is an absolute mismatch. Minnesota has Super Bowl aspirations and the talent on both sides of the ball to make that goal a reality. Buffalo has already been outscored by 55 points this season and they are an early favorite to have the first pick in next year’s NFL draft.

Do not overthink this. This is the sort of game where you should just set it and forget it. There really is no reason to get cute and pick any other team in Week 3. Minnesota is by far the easiest Week 3 survivor pool pick and should be the favorite of nearly every entry.

Next Best Thing: New England Patriots at Detroit Lions

If you really insist on going another direction, the New England Patriots are probably the safest choice. The Patriots suffered a rare double-digit loss last weekend in Jacksonville. New England has not lost consecutive games since the end of the 2015 regular season. Detroit, meanwhile, has started 0-2 and has given up 78 points in the process. I just do not see a scenario where Detroit’s defense can stop Tom Brady and company. Nor do I see one where Matt Patricia outcoaches Bill Belichick and leads the Lions to victory. Give me the Patriots here, though there are plenty of better spots to use New England in going forward.

Best of the Rest

Jacksonville Jaguars v. Tennessee Titans

Jacksonville had arguably the most impressive Week 2 performance, defeating New England by double digits in a game they controlled throughout. Their defense held the Patriots in check and will be licking their chops when the Tennessee Titans roll into town. Marcus Mariota did not play last week and is questionable to suit up for this one. Blaine Gabbert threw for just 117 yards last week and cannot be trusted against Jacksonville’s elite defense. Blake Bortles was outstanding last week and is in line for another good game against Tennessee’s middling defense. Jacksonville also figures to get running back Leonard Fournette back into the fold. With a victory, Jacksonville will likely grab a two-game lead on the rest of their division, so there should be no letdown after last week’s big win. I believe the Jaguars win this one to remain unbeaten in 2018.

Houston Texans v. New York Giants

Houston and New York both enter Week 3 without a victory. Each team ranks in bottom-six in scoring through two games. Houston’s offense showed a bit more life last week, and I expect them to be able to move the ball against the Giants. The Texans’ offensive line play has been suspect but the Giants have the lowest sack rate in the NFL. On the other side of the ball, Ereck Flowers and company will have their hands full with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and the rest of Houston’s defensive front. I do not envision a logical reason to use Houston as a survivor pool pick in Week 3 but I do think they will come away with a Week 3 victory.

Favorites Who Should Win

Philadelphia Eagles v. Indianapolis Colts

Carson Wentz will be back under center for the Super Bowl Champions when they host Andrew Luck and the Colts. Philadelphia is susceptible to the deep ball, but Luck has not shown a willingness to attack down the field so far this year. His recent recovery from shoulder surgery as well as new coach Frank Reich’s quick-hitting style has resulted in Luck having the lowest aDOT (average depth of target) among all starting quarterbacks. I think the Eagles have the edge when their defense is on the field. As for Wentz, I expect him to take a little while to knock the rust off, which is why I would not fully trust them with my Week 3 survivor pool entry. However, I still think the Eagles will emerge victorious on the strength of their defense.

Los Angeles Rams v. Los Angeles Chargers

The Rams have started 2018 on fire, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 67-13. They host the crosstown Chargers in what should be an exciting game. The Rams’ defense figures to be challenged in this game after easy matchups against Oakland and Arizona. Since we have not yet seen them face a potent offense, it is hard to say with certainty that their defense will continue to dominate, talented though they may be. I do think the Rams get the better of the Chargers in this one, but I think the game ends up being closer than most suspect.

Miami Dolphins v. Oakland Raiders

The betting line on this game is just three points, which seems odd in a game featuring a 2-0 home team against an 0-2 road team. That number gives this game a bit of a trap feel, but I do believe Miami will get the best of Oakland here. Miami’s defense has been stout through two games, allowing just one touchdown as a unit in each contest. Oakland, meanwhile, has scored just 32 total points in two games. There are those who will be tempted to use Miami here and “save” Minnesota for later. Though I understand the logic, I would strongly advise against employing such a strategy. If you take Minnesota and they lose, there is not much you can do. If you take Miami and they lose, you will be kicking yourself for weeks.

Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals have put up 350 total yards of offense through two games. For reference, 19 NFL teams have put up at least 700 total yards, and only Buffalo has put up less than 500. Things figure to go from bad to worse on Sunday when Arizona hosts a Chicago defense that has dominated up front. Chicago has posted 10 sacks and forced four turnovers already this season. They should have little trouble holding Arizona in check in this game. My only cause for concern is that Chicago’s offense has sputtered at times, which is the kind of ailment that can rear its ugly head on the road in a short week. I think Chicago wins this game, but I would not risk taking them in a survivor pool this week.

Baltimore Ravens v. Denver Broncos

Denver has started the season with two wins, but they have not exactly set the world on fire in doing so. The Broncos have outscored inferior foes Seattle and Oakland by just four combined points in two home victories. They will have a much tougher go of it in Week 3 when they head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. The Ravens suffered their first 2018 defeat last week, but are well-rested after a Thursday night game. I do not anticipate a runaway victory, but I do believe Baltimore will come out of Week 3 with a hard-fought win.

Cleveland Browns v. New York Jets

It feels dirty putting a team that has won a total of one game since 2015 in this section, but here we are. Cleveland has fought hard in two close games against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, and now has the benefit of hosting a rookie quarterback on a short week. Cleveland’s defense is better than most realize and should be able to capitalize on Sam Darnold’s mistakes. I think Cleveland gets the better of this matchup against the Jets and posts their first victory since 2016. I can understand the urge to impress your buddies and call your shot by picking the Cleveland Browns as your Week 3 survivor pool pick. But ultimately, there is no reason at all to risk your entry on this game.

Kansas City Chiefs v. San Francisco 49ers

Two of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks take center stage Sunday when the white-hot Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs host Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. Lost in Kansas City’s 2-0 start is the fact that their defense has been decimated for over 1,000 through two games, including 860 yards through the air. That is something that gives me pause when considering the Chiefs in a survivor pool. Both quarterbacks should put up plenty of numbers in what figures to be the most entertaining game of the week. Instead of sweating out an entry on Kansas City here, just sit back and enjoy the show.

It’s a Trap!

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

The Saints have parlayed home dates with Tampa Bay and Cleveland into a loss and a last-minute victory. Those are hardly awe-inspiring results. They now head out on the road for the first time this year when they travel to face the Falcons. Atlanta was without starting running back Devonta Freeman last week but did not miss a beat as they put up 31 points against Carolina. Freeman will once again be in street clothes when these NFC South rivals go head-to-head. The home team won each game in this series last year, and this should be a close contest. If forced to choose, I would probably take Atlanta here. But this is a stay-away game for me in survivor pools.

Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers

The Bengals have started 2018 by posting identical 34-23 winning scores in their two wins. They will be without starting running back Joe Mixon when they head down to Carolina to take on the Panthers. Carolina will be looking to bounce back after a road loss in Atlanta. I think this will be a tight battle. If forced to make a pick, I would favor the home team. However, this is not the kind of game I want to put a ton of stock into. I would prefer not to use either team in my Week 3 survivor pool.

Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins

Green Bay has already faced two division rivals at home, coming away with a come-from-behind victory in Week 1 and a disappointing tie last week against the Vikings. The Packers now venture out for their first road game of the year against a helter-skelter Washington team. The Redskins dominated on the road against Arizona in their opener, but then laid an egg at home against the Colts. Washington failed to score a touchdown against an Indianapolis team that had allowed the second-most points in the NFL dating back to last season. I have no idea which Redskins team will show up on Sunday, making this an easy game for me to avoid.

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

Seattle gets its first taste of home cooking after two road losses to open the 2018 season. The Seahawks struggled on both sides of the ball as they seek to establish an identity following their Legion of Boom days. They rank in the bottom half in most major defensive categories, including yards and points allowed. It remains to be seen whether Dallas can take advantage. Dallas ranks third-worst in the NFL in total yards, passing yards, and total points. The Cowboys’ defense has started the year strong and should have the advantage against Seattle’s offense, which has struggled to generate much traction so far in 2018. This has the makings of a sloppy slugfest and is not the kind of game you should target in survivor pools.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What a difference a few short weeks make. If you had forecast this game a month ago, Pittsburgh would have likely been a popular Week 3 survivor pool pick. Now, Le’Veon Bell has been removed from the team’s official roster and Antonio Brown sounds like another star player disgruntled with how things are going in Pittsburgh, who has yet to win a game. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has shocked the world, putting up 75 points against two of last season’s elite defenses on its way to a 2-0 start. As is the case in the Kansas City-San Francisco game, both teams have explosive offenses and substandard defenses.  There is no point in risking either team as your Week 3 survivor pool pick.

Mick Ciallela has been writing for FantraxHQ since July 2017. He has also written for Bleacher Report. He is a lifelong sports fan and has been an avid fantasy sports player for many years. Mick was the Overall Champion of both the 2016 Football Challenge – Roto and 2017 Play 3 Football contests hosted by CDM Sports. MIck was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York and currently resides in New London, Connecticut.

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