Best survivor pool picks for Week 7 of the NFL season
Any week where you hit on five of your six selected picks is a good one. Just ask any gambler -- there's a reason why you don't see six-team parlay tickets cashed all that often. The best part about it was that of the five teams that won, only the Seahawks made us sweat a little bit, and even then, it never really felt like they were in any danger of losing the game. Drama-free survivor weeks are my favorite survivor weeks.
It isn't quite as easy in Week 7. We have fewer options, and there isn't a slam-dunk pick along the lines of Denver over Jacksonville like last week. There are also a couple dangerous games that could wreak havoc on survivor pools across the country on Sunday. But first, the best selections of the week.
1. Miami Dolphins (vs. Buffalo Bills) -- Fresh off a bye, the Dolphins are 9.5-point favorites at home against the Bills. Thad Lewis suffered a foot injury last week, but he looks like he'll be good to go for the visitors. However, that shouldn't matter all that much against a defense that will get back two of its best players. Cameron Wake has been conspicuously absent from Miami's losses to New Orleans and Baltimore. He played in both games, but his knee injury seriously limited him against the Saints, and he was on the field for just one series against the Ravens. He has been a full participant in practice all week, and should be full strength on Sunday. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson is also expected to return after missing the last four games with a groin injury. It might surprise you to learn that Pro Football Focus grades Miami's passing game as the 11th best in the league through six weeks. Jairus Byrd returned for the Bills last week, but I don't see him as a singular fix for a defense that has surrendered 12 passing touchdowns this year. This will be a survivor's last good chance to use Miami potentially for the rest of the season. That's what puts them over the top here.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Houston Texans) -- With apologies to the Seahawks, the Chiefs have staked their claim to league's best defense. They're coming off a complete dismantling of Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders in which they posted 10 sacks, three interceptions and a defensive touchdown. They've allowed just 5.9 yards per attempt this season. Teams have managed 5.1 yards per carry, but that number is a bit misleading. They've faced the eighth-fewest rushing attempts this year, and most of the damage was done by LeSean McCoy, who had 158 yards on 20 carries. That's nearly one-quarter of all the rushing yards they've surrendered this season. Now the reeling Texans come to town with new starting quarterback Case Keenum at the helm. I can think of few worse environments for a quarterback to make his first career start than against this particular Chiefs team at Arrowhead. You can bet the Texans will try to ride Arian Foster all day, but that will not get the job done when their defense is allowing 4.2 yards per carry and must stop Jamaal Charles. Kansas City wins and covers the 6-point spread.
3. Green Bay Packers (vs. Cleveland Browns) -- Randall Cobb is out with a knee injury and James Jones may join him on the sideline, which would allow Joe Haden to shadow Jordy Nelson if the Browns wanted to go that route. At the same time, the Packers have the third-worst pass rush and fifth-worst pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus, and they've allowed a league-high 8.7 yards per attempt. Even with Brandon Weeden under center, Cleveland has the weapons to take advantage. I think Cleveland can keep it close, likely beating the 10-point spread, but I feel great about Green Bay winning this game. In a quarterback-driven league, I cannot imagine an Aaron Rodgers-led team losing to a Weeden-led team. Eddie Lacy has developed into a legitimate threat on the ground, which should open up Green Bay's play action, a facet of the offense the team will need without Cobb and potentially Jones. You will have more opportunities to use the Packers this year, so I could see staying away from them on Sunday. I do think they're about as safe a straight-up bet as you could make, though.
4. Carolina Panthers (vs. St. Louis Rams) -- The Rams are coming off an impressive win in Houston, but when you start digging beneath the surface, it feels a bit fluky. They had two defensive touchdowns and benefited from two more takeaways. Meanwhile, Carolina absolutely destroyed Minnesota, and has quietly amassed the third-ranked offense in the league according to PFF. That same website ranks the Rams fourth worst in the league against the run, which just happens to be Carolina's bread and butter; the Panthers have the second best run-blocking unit in the league. You can expect a healthy dose of DeAngelo Williams on Sunday. St. Louis is one of just three teams averaging fewer than 300 yards per game this season, the other two being Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. That's bad news against a Carolina defense that surrenders just 6.8 YPA and 3.8 yards per carry. Carolina wins, covering the 6.5-point spread.
Teams to avoid
• San Diego Chargers (at Jacksonville Jaguars) -- If all you've done in your survivor pool this year is pick against Jacksonville, you've cruised to Week 7. While the Chargers are coming of an impressive win over the Colts and laying 9.5 points in this game, I think this is a dangerous pick. The Chargers are on a short week and have to travel across the country to play a 1 p.m. EST kickoff. Moreover, the Jaguars have looked at least semi-competent offensively with Justin Blackmon back. Even after limiting Andrew Luck to 6.7 YPA, the Chargers have allowed opposing quarterbacks to pick up 8.3 YPA on the season. Only four teams have been worse. Stay away from this game.
• New England Patriots (at New York Jets) -- The Patriots are without way too many of their offensive weapons to trust them in a rivalry game against a Jets team that has surrendered just 3.0 yards per carry and 6.7 YPA on the season. There are far superior options on the board.
MORE WEEK 7 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- New faces in upper tier of WRs
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- Top running backs will explode
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- Quarterback may surprise owners
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Randle, Dobson worth a roster spot
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Time to stash Brown, Crabtree?
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Nick Foles emerges as a fantasy starter
BELLER: Early Week 7 advice -- Martin, Jackson owners can breathe easier