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While DFS and traditional fantasy leagues are the most popular games to play during the NFL season, there are still many who play some form of an Survivor game.  The game is great for those that don’t have a lot of time.  If you aren’t familiar, you pick one team each week to simply win the game.  If you get it right, you move on to the next week.  If you get it wrong, then you are eliminated (although some variations give you a second chance).

While it may seem easy to just take the biggest favorite every week, there is a catch.  You can only take each team once.  You can’t just keep taking the best teams over and over again.  Because of that it’s important to plan ahead and try to waste taking the best teams too early.  To help with that, I’ve created this grid:


What this shows is each team’s projected win percentage during each game of the season.  Please note that these are estimates and will change over time.  Injuries can obviously affect a team’s chances to win, as well as teams just surprising us with their true talent level.  This isn’t an exact science, that’s what makes the game fun in the first place.

I’ve highlighted games in the top 10% in projected win percentage.  These are games that you should be targeting in future weeks.  While you could theoretically set your lineup for all 17 weeks, I usually just focus on the first 10.  By Week 11, so much will be different and most eliminator challenges don’t last that long anyway.  Here would be my tentative plan to start the season:

UPDATE – I originally had the Eagles in Week 1 against the Browns, but have updated the pick since the Sam Bradford trade to the Vikings.  The grid above has also been updated.

Week 1: Chiefs vs Chargers

The Seahawks will be the most popular pick and if you are in a smaller sized pool, then you can make the case they are the better option.  However, since the Seahawks project to be a powerhouse all season, I’d prefer not to use them in Week 1.  So instead I’ll take the next biggest favorite in Week 1 as the Chiefs host their division rival as 7-point favorites.

Week 2: Panthers vs 49ers

While there are many weeks that you could use the Panthers, there aren’t a lot of options in Week 2.  You could take the Patriots at home vs. Miami but I’d prefer to wait until Tom Brady is back before using New England.

Week 3: Packers vs Lions

This is the first tough decision and one you could easily change once Week 3 arrives.  The other option is to take the Seahawks at home against San Francisco when they could easily be 2-touchdown favorites.

Week 4: Redskins vs Browns

The easiest decision on the slate as it’s the highest percentage for Week 4 and the highest percentage of the season for Washington.

Week 5: Patriots at Browns

The third time to fade Cleveland and the first road team picked so far.  Tom Brady returns, he’s pissed off, and oh yeah, it’s still Cleveland.

Week 6: Seahawks vs Falcons

The reason to take the Packers in Week 3 is to avoid using the Bills here, who are currently the 2nd best option but I imagine another game will pop up by the time this one comes around.

Week 7: Bengals vs Browns

Another week, another chance to fade the Browns.

Week 8: Broncos vs Chargers

Not a lot of options for Week 8.  Hopefully Denver has their quarterback situation ironed out by now in time for this divisional battle.

Week 9: Vikings vs Lions

The best option on a week that has six teams on a bye although you could also make a case for the Cowboys against (you guessed it) the Browns.

Week 10: Cardinals vs 49ers

Another easy choice as one of the best teams goes up against one of the worst.  This is the most likely win for Arizona all season long, and the most likely win for Week 10.


Again, I think it’s overkill to go past Week 10 and to be honest it might be overkill already.  But we’ll try to update a few times throughout the year to help you win your Survivor Pool this season.