Fading teams, or going against them, is a very popular strategy for NFL Survivor Pool picks. There are some really bad NFL teams every year, and you can only pick a good team once but you can go against a bad team plenty of times during the season. I am a fader, but I like to pick my spots. I don’t fade teams that are playing at home, at least early in the season. I try and stay away from divisional matchups. Even the worst teams in the NFL are going to win a couple games, so fading one particular club normally won’t get you all the way through the season, not to mention that teams play other squads in their division twice each year, so you couldn’t fade a team every week even if you wanted to.
In Week 1 we saw some really bad football played across the league. Here are four teams that look like likely fade candidates after what we saw from Week 1. I like to take a wait-and-see approach on fade teams and normally use them more later in the season. Take the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs, for example. They looked like a fade club early in the season after starting 1-5 and losing star RB Jamal Charles to injury. They were anything but, however, as they racked up 10 straight wins to close the regular season and even won a playoff game on the road at Houston.
So don’t be quick to label a team as a fade club, but here are four teams I think have a decent chance to be good fade teams this season.
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I’ll start off with the Bills since they play tonight, at home against the Jets. Buffalo opened as a small favorite, but sharp betting action has moved the line, and the Jets are now favored by a point at most sportsbooks. That the professional bettors like the Jets so much on the road here confirms to me that the Bills are expected to be bad this season. Coach Rex Ryan is on the shortlist of “first coach to be fired” props at many online sportsbooks.
The Bills lost 13-7 at the Ravens in Week 1. Their 160 total yards of offense was the worst performance on that side of the ball in nearly 40 years in a season opener for Buffalo. The offensive line looked bad, QB Tyrod Taylor could not get anything going because of pressure, and the running game was almost nonexistent. WR Sammy Watkins looks like he will play tonight, but his surgically-repaired foot has been bothering him, and is the brittle receiver misses any significant time this season then the Bills offense is in even bigger trouble.
There are quite a few spots to fade the Bills in the coming weeks: Week 3 vs. Arizona, Week 4 at New England, Week 7 at Miami, Week 8 vs. New England, Week 9 at Seattle, and Week 11 at Cincinnati.
Los Angeles Rams
No team looked worse in Week 1 as the Rams were blasted by a San Francisco team that could very easily make this list, too. I do like Chip Kelly as a coach of the Niners and think he can lead the team to five or six wins. And the Rams are probably not as bad as they looked in Week 1. But we have to put them on this list until they show otherwise because if this team plays like it did on Monday Night Football all season then they won’t win a game.
Los Angeles already has a quarterback controversy, and their rookie No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff hasn’t even suited up for a game yet, But starter Case Keenum was 17-of-35 for 130 yards and two interceptions in the opener. A couple more performances like this and public pressure will force Goff into the starter’s role, even though Coach Jeff Fisher knows he isn’t ready. That will be a very good situation for those looking to fade the Rams in Survivor Pools.
Los Angeles still has Todd Gurley, one of the best young RBs in the game. He had only 47 yards on 17 carries in Week 1, and if the Rams can’t get anything going in the passing game then opponents will just stack the box against Gurley and make the Rams try and beat them through the air. The Rams should have a good defense, even though we didn’t see too many signs of that on Monday.
Lots of possible fade spots for the Rams in the coming weeks: Week 2 vs. Seattle, Week 3 at Tampa Bay, Week 4 at Arizona, Week 6 at Detroit, Week 7 vs. New York Giants, Week 9 vs. Carolina, and Week 10 at New York Jets.
Everyone’s favorite fade team is back again and even worse than the team that won three games last season. This team has a handful of starters that wouldn’t even be backups on other teams. Their starting QB, Robert Griffin III, was hurt in Week 1 and will not be back for 10-12 weeks, if ever. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Josh McCown. Last season McCown was 1-7 for the Browns, although his one win was against this week’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens (he set a franchise passing mark in that game with 457 yards). I talked to an offshore oddsmaker earlier in the week, and he told me McCown is an upgrade over Griffin. I don’t think he will be enough to get Cleveland to more than three wins. This team is also in arguably the toughest division in football, which only makes things harder.
Almost any week will be a great one to fade the Browns. Really, the only game in which I would advise against it through Week 9 is their Week 6 matchup at Tennessee. That is a game where the Browns could potentially pull an upset.
San Diego Chargers
The Bolts looked great last week…for three quarters. Then they showed their true colors. They were up by 21 points in the third quarter against a Chiefs team that many, including myself, picked to win the AFC West. Then the Chiefs pulled off the biggest comeback in franchise history and won in OT. This had to be a very demoralizing loss for San Diego, and Coach Mike McCoy is firmly on the hot seat.
San Diego lost their best offensive skill player in the loss when WR Keenan Allen went down with a season-ending torn ACL. He was hurt last season, too, and Philip Rivers was not the same quarterback once he lost his favorite target. In eight games with Allen in 2015, Rivers averaged 344 yards with 18 TDs. In eight games without him, those numbers went down to 255 and 11. There aren’t a lot of proven playmakers on this team, and the loss of Allen hurts badly.
There will be some nice spots to fade San Diego in the coming weeks: Week 3 at Indianapolis, Week 5 at Oakland, Week 6 vs. Denver, Week 7 at Atlanta, Week 8 at Denver.