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Football survivor pool strategy/picks, Week 3: The rare opportunity to use the Dolphins, Cowboys

NFL survivor pools are back as Week 3 gets going. We are here to provide some tips to stay alive all season.

The 2016 football season is upon us, and that means all sorts of options for exercising our skill as football prognosticators. People will take part in fantasy football and pick ‘em contests, but Survivor pools are growing in popularity. For those new to the contest, a Survivor pool involves picking one team each week that you think will win. If your team wins in Week 1, you can make a pick in Week 2. If your team wins in Week 2, you can make a pick in Week 3, and so on. The catch is that you cannot pick a team twice. You could use a heavy favorite in Week 1, but that precludes you from using them later in the season.

There is plenty of strategy in determining which team you will take each week, and SB Nation is here to help. We have experts providing rankings for each week, and then some thoughts on weekly strategy. First up, we have a consensus ranking of all 32 teams, and which is most likely to win this week. That is followed by each writer making a pick, some reasoning for the pick, and then some alternatives to consider.

Rank Team Opp. AP JG ZS DG SK
1 Miami vs. CLE 1 1 1 1 1
2 Seattle vs. SF 2 5 2 6 2
3 Carolina vs. MIN 4 4 4 5 4
4 Green Bay vs. DET 3 8 3 7 3
5 Pittsburgh @ PHI 5 3 5 3 9
6 Arizona @ BUF 6 6 6 2 8
7 NY Giants vs. WAS 9 9 9 4 6
8 Houston @ NE 7 7 7 9 16
9 Dallas vs. CHI 16 2 16 11 5
10 Denver @ CIN 11 11 11 8 23
11 NY Jets @ KC 10 12 10 12 22
12 Indianapolis vs. SD 15 15 15 10 13
13 Tampa Bay vs. LA 12 23 12 14 7
14 Los Angeles @ TB 8 10 8 19 26
15 Oakland @ TEN 14 13 14 13 19
16 Atlanta @ NO 13 17 13 17 21
17 Baltimore @ JAC 19 14 19 15 15
18 New Orleans vs. ATL 21 16 21 16 12
19 Cincinnati vs. DEN 18 22 17 25 10
20 Kansas City vs. NYJ 20 21 20 21 11
21 Tennessee vs. OAK 23 20 22 20 14
22 Jacksonville vs. BAL 24 19 24 18 18
23 New England vs. HOU 25 26 25 24 17
24 San Diego @ IND 28 18 28 23 20
25 Minnesota @ CAR 17 29 18 28 29
26 Detroit @ GB 22 25 23 26 30
27 Buffalo vs. ARI 27 27 26 31 25
28 Philadelphia vs. PIT 26 30 27 30 24
29 Washington @ NYG 29 24 29 29 27
30 Chicago @ DAL 30 31 30 22 28
31 San Francisco @ SEA 31 28 31 27 31
32 Cleveland @ MIA 32 32 32 32 32

Jeff Goldberg: Miami Dolphins over Cleveland Browns

Certain factors always make for ideal survivor picks, and when you can combine them into a tidy package, you should gleefully accept the gift. Two teams this week present three such boxes to check: 1. Home team. 2. Facing backup QB. 3. Limited future value. I submit to you, the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys. With Cody Kessler under center for the hapless Browns and Brian Hoyer expected to start for the equally inept Bears (on a short week), it's hard to bet against Miami and Dallas this week. They are even more attractive in a week that lacks many clear options (Carolina perhaps, but many of you used them last week and they have future value). It is hard to see scenarios where using the Dolphins or Cowboys sounds appealing down the road. Use them now, take your win over a weakened opponent, and move on.

Scott Kaliska: Miami Dolphins over Cleveland Browns

Miami would be my top Survivor pick for Week 3. The Dolphins started out with two tough games but have played relatively well. They'll be facing a Cleveland team that will be starting a rookie quarterback in his first start. Miami will be playing their home opener, which is a plus. The Browns haven't shown much so far and I find it extremely hard to believe that they pull an upset on the road. I also like Seattle at home against San Francisco and Green Bay at home against Detroit. Both of them are coming off disappointing losses to divisional rivals and will be looking to bounce back. They also seem to always have the upper hand recently when it comes to playing this week's divisional opponents. The Seahawks and Packers have unresolved offensive issues; that's why I have them in the spots below Miami.

Derek Gordon: Miami Dolphins over Cleveland Browns

It’s with great fear that I select the Miami Dolphins as my survivor pick this week (all I see when I close my eyes is that Ryan Tannehill faceplant meme). They're at home and play a bad Browns team who may be starting a rookie quarterback. Making a pick this week is super difficult since all the teams with bad defenses are playing each other (Chargers vs. Colts, Falcons vs. Saints, Ravens vs. Jaguars). I usually like to pick against these teams, but I’m avoiding these matchups. Seattle should be able to make it six straight wins against the 49ers this week, but I will wait until they have a home game against a non-divisional rival.

Zach Senvisky: Dallas Cowboys over Chicago Bears

My Week 3 survivor pick (other than the Miami Dolphins) is the Dallas Cowboys over the Chicago Bears. The Bears lost starting quarterback Jay Cutler this weekend after a terrible showing in their Monday Night game against the Eagles. Rookie Dak Prescott has way more weapons at his disposal than Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz and a better offensive line. Dallas should be able to control the ball with their running game at home and keep backup quarterback Brian Hoyer from making enough plays to stay in the game.