Survivor Pool Picks 2017: Identifying the Best Fade Teams

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In a Survivor Pool the name of the game is to win and move on to the next week. In previous articles we have talked Survivor Pool strategies, with one of those strategies being playing against, or “fading” bad teams.

Just last year in 2016 you could have played against the Cleveland Browns for the first nine weeks of the NFL season before having to choose another team to win. That means you would have made it to Week 10 of the NFL season in your Survivor Pool, and getting to Week 10 is no easy feat.

Let’s look at some teams to fade and a fade strategy in 2017.

New York Jets

These Jets are not cleared for take-off and could very well be the second team in NFL history (2008 Detroit Lions) to go 0-16. I do not want to disparage the talent it takes to play in the NFL, but the quarterback Christian Hackenberg to wide receiver Robby Anderson connection is not going to keep up opposing defensive coordinators up at night. Oh, and the Jets have a new offensive coordinator.

The Jets defense is young and will be well coached under defensive-minded and lame duck HC Todd Bowles. Unfortunately the Jets defensive unit can expect to be on the field a lot with the offense continually going three and out.

Schedule-wise, the Jets play six games before playing a repeat divisional opponent in the Miami Dolphins. The Jets do play the improving Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4 and the improving Cleveland Browns in Week 5. As bad as the Jets will be in 2017, I am not sure I want to put my faith in the Cleveland Browns that early in a Survivor Pool.

You can go against the Jets again in Week 8 vs the Atlanta Falcons, Week 10 vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers then Weeks 12-16.

Chicago Bears

The 2016 Chicago Bears went 3-13, and it is quite possible that record is repeated under another lame duck head coach in John Fox.

The Chicago Bears QB situation is bad. It is Mike Glennon’s turn under center, and he is backed up by Mitch Trubisky and Mark Sanchez. The WRs are a bunch of interesting names you may have heard of in the past: Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz. Running the ball will be fantasy favorite Jordan Howard.

My overall take on this offense is that you need a quarterback to win in the NFL. And while Glennon is the best of the 3 QBs the Bears have on their roster, he’s not the answer. The Bears know this, and that is why they basically gave Glennon a one-year deal worth $16 million.

Defensively, the Bears have a nice Front 7 that fell apart due to injury last year. The Bears do not have a lot of depth here, and much like the Jets when your defense is constantly on the field they get tired and injuries can happen.

Looking at the Bears schedule, they do not play a repeat opponent until Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers. There is a chance the Bears could give the Vikings, who still have offensive line issues, a run at home in Week 5. In Week 6 the Bears have a winnable game vs the Baltimore Ravens. The other winnable games for the Bears are in Week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 vs the Cleveland Browns.

San Francisco 49ers

It has been a quick fall from the Super Bowl for the 49ers ever since Jim Harbaugh left for University of Michigan. The 49ers will usher in their third head coach in as many years with Kyle Shanahan. He is a bright coach who led the Falcons offense to the Super Bowl last year and is in the lineage of possible future Hall of Fame Coach Mike Shanahan. Unfortunately for Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers offense does not have a lot of toys to play with, and it will take some time to get things going.

Defensively, the 49ers could not stop anyone on the ground in 2016 and finished with the worst run defense in the NFL. You could say the passing defense was average, but that was because opposing teams did not have to throw the football. Injuries did play into the poor play, so the 49ers could be respectable, but much like the Jets and the Bears the poor offense will leave this defense on the field for too many games.

Schedule-wise, the 49ers do not have a common divisional opponent until Week 9 when they play the Arizona Cardinals for the second time.  Winnable games up to Week 9 on the 49ers schedule are Week 3 vs. the Los Angeles Rams and possibly Week 5 vs the Indianapolis Colts if all-pro QB Andrew Luck is inactive. After Week 9 the 49ers will have opportunities for wins against the Chicago Bears in Week 13, the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16 and the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17.

Cleveland Browns

Last year’s 1-15 team has improved but is once again a team to fade in 2017.

The Browns have a great offensive line and a strong power running back in the underrated Isiah Crowell. The Browns don’t have a great WR to keep defensives from playing the run and will play either 2016 QB Free Agent bust Brock Osweiler or rookie QB DeShone Kizer, who looked good in his first preseason action. Either way, the Browns will not score a lot of points.

Defensively, the Browns will have new defensive coordinator in Greg Williams. Yes, that Williams who was infamously suspended by the NFL.  Character questions aside, I am personally not a huge fan of Williams and his blitz-happy schemes. Live by the blitz, die by the blitz. If the defense gets burned it will put pressure on a weak offensive team to score points.

Looking at the Browns schedule, they do not play a second game vs. a divisional opponent until Week 12. However, out of all our fade teams the Browns do have more winnable games early in the season. In Weeks 2 and 3 the Browns play the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts. Both the Ravens and Colts are dealing with question marks around the QB position. In Week 5 the Browns take on the New York Jets, who are our No. 1 team to fade in 2017. Weeks 10 and 11 could be an opportunity for the Browns as they battle the Lions and Jaguars, respectively. The final chance for the Browns to win will be Week 16 vs the Chicago Bears.

2017 Fade Team Strategy

So let’s lay out our survivor pool year listing only these 4 fade teams.

Week 1 – Buffalo over NY Jets

Week 2 – Oakland over NY Jets

Week 3 – Pittsburgh over Chicago

Week 4 – Green Bay over Chicago

Week 5 – Minnesota over Chicago

Week 6 – New England over NY Jets

Week 7 – Carolina over Chicago

Week 8 – Atlanta over NY Jets

Week 9 – Arizona over San Francisco

Week 10 – Tampa Bay over NY Jets

Week 11 – Detroit Lions over Chicago Bears

Week 12 – Seattle over San Francisco

Week 13 – Kansas City over NY Jets

Week 14 – Denver over NY Jets

Week 15 – New Orleans over NY Jets

Week 16 –Los Angeles Chargers over NY Jets

Week 17 – Los Angeles Rams over San Francisco