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The 2020-21 NFL season kicked off on schedule and was as exciting as ever despite most stadiums being empty of fans. There are still many ways to cash in on your knowledge of the most popular professional sports league in the country, including survivor pools.

At PlayPicks, we’re breaking down the NFL survivor pool landscape to bring you weekly options that will help you stay alive and ahead of the field in your pool.

For those new to survivor pools, the format is simple: Pick an NFL team to win each week, advance if they win, and you can’t pick the same team twice. The last member of the pool standing takes home the cash.

In this article, we will identify our strongest survivor pick for this week, called a “lock“, and a “thrifty” pick that can help you save better teams for later in the season.

The lock is our safest and most obvious pick for the week. The thrifty pick is a good team to consider at this point in the season schedule. And our land mine identifies a team that might be a popular pick but could come up short when the defecation hits the oscillation in the NFL and thousands of survivors lose a supposed lock to an upset.

You can also use advice from this article to place bets on FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook. Many of the recommended bets can be applied to those sportsbooks. Also, be aware that the point spread could be considerable with these teams favored to win by over a touchdown in some cases.

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Week 3 Lock Survivor Pool Pick 

Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets 

The Jets are quite clearly the worst team in the NFL this season and may be the worst team we’ve seen this decade. Picking on Gang Green in survivor pools has paid off over the first two weeks and the Colts (-10 at DraftKings Sportsbook) should be considered a virtual lock to handle business at home against this flawed team.

Philip Rivers has been shaky with his new team, but the Colts defense picked up the slack with a dominant performance against the Vikings, holding Kirk Cousins to just 113 passing yards with 3 INT for a blowout home win in front of a few thousand fans.

Le’Veon Bell (hamstring) remains out for the Jets, with top WRs Jamison Crowder (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (ankle) questionable for Week 3. The Jets are averaging just 23:15 minutes of possession through two games and the Colts can pound the rock behind one of the best offensive lines in football. The Jets were solid against the run last year, but without defensive leader Jamal Adams, they’re allowing 140 rushing YPG and have coughed up 3 rushing TDs through two games.

Week 3 Thrifty Survivor Pool Pick 

Los Angeles Chargers vs Carolina Panthers

Christian McCaffrey might try to play through a high-ankle sprain in Week 3, but his expected absence is a big reason the Chargers (-7 at DK Sportsbook) are suddenly big favorites at home. Another big reason is 6-foot-6, 236-pound rookie QB Justin Herbert, who pounded the defending champion Chiefs for 18 rushing yards and a TD while passing for 311 yards and a TD in an OT loss.

Anthony Lynn said he’ll stick with Tyrod Taylor as the starter if healthy, which seems foolish based on the eye test of how each QB performed in their respective starts. If Taylor starts and McCaffrey is active, we’d advise backing off a Chargers team that is in a potential letdown spot after battling the Chiefs. Yet if Herbert is starting, the Chargers defense should rally around the No. 6 overall pick and the offense should have no trouble shredding Carolina’s porous defense.

Note that the Chargers host the Jets in Week 6. They’ll be on a short week after playing a MNF matchup at the Saints, but should be a great option if you decide to pass because the team starts Taylor this Sunday. Strong alternative options for Week 3 include the Patriots (-6.5 vs. Raiders) and Falcons (-3.5 vs. Bears).

Week 3 Survivor Pool Land Mine 

Cleveland Browns vs Washington Football Team

The Browns were able to bounce back from a humiliating defeat at Baltimore to edge the Bengals. Yet they coughed up 30 points and 316 passing yards to a rookie QB and their passing attack was far from impressive against one of the most defenses in the league.

Cleveland posted the highest run-play percentage (60.34%) in Week 2 and will now face an underrated Washington defensive front that can stop the run. The Football Team has allowed a modest 217 rushing yards through two games despite trailing for most of those contests and facing two very mobile QBs. That defense has recorded 7 sacks against quicker passers than Baker Mayfield, who absorbed 40 sacks with 6 fumbles and 21 picks last season.

Ron Rivera should devise an aggressive game plan to try and force Mayfield into mistakes that could turn the tide of this game. Cleveland ranks 30th in DVOA pass defense through two weeks, so Washington could make the Browns pay with deep shots to Terry McLaurin.

Since 2018, the Browns are 5-8 following a win and 2-6 against NFC foes.