*Editor's Note: Each Thursday leading into the NFL games, contributing writer Jonathan Auping will break down a few things to consider as fantasy owners set their weekly lineups, including players to start or sit, along with trends to remember. Whether your game is the traditional fantasy league or the daily games from DraftKings, this weekly feature should help you get prepared for the fantasy weekend. *
C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos, (DraftKings Salary $4,700)
What's the difference between the Cowboys' run game and the Giants' run game? Yes, talent, obviously.
But don't undervalue a commitment to the run. Jason Garrett has emphasized it for years and it sets the tone for runners and blockers to have confidence in the eventual results. Don't be fooled into thinking that the Giants' pathetic 35 yards rushing in Week One means the Cowboys can't give up yards on the ground. It's all about the game plan.
The Broncos ran the ball 12 times in Week One. The Cowboys ran it 31 times. The Broncos ran it 36. C.J. Anderson will get the lion's share of the carries, and he'll test the resolve of the Cowboys' defense.
Make the Smart Plays:
Baltimore Ravens Defense, (DraftKings Salary $3,700)
The Ravens quietly might have the most talented defense in the league. In their opener they overwhelmed Andy Dalton, who threw three interceptions. The only thing that can hurt this defense is if their offense is so inept that it can't stay on the field long enough to give the defense rest.
I wouldn't worry about that against the Browns. I like Deshone Kizer a lot, but he's still a rookie quarterback with meager weapons going against a stacked defense.
Terrelle Pryor Sr, Wide Receiver, Redskins (Draft Kings Salary $6,000)
A lot of people are worried about the Redskins' offense. Kirk Cousins looked shaky Week One. He made some mistakes, and the Eagles' pass rush put a lot of pressure on him.
But the difference between last year's Kirk Cousins and this year's isn't a willingness to throw deep. He just happened to fail to connect with a new crop of receivers last week, He was throwing deep early and often. Pryor was targeted 11 times by a quarterback who wants to make big plays. If Pryor made it work with the quarterbacks he put up with in Cleveland, he's bound to put up impressive numbers with the best quarterback he's ever played with sooner than later.
Greg Olsen, Tight End, Panthers (DraftKings Salary $5,500)
It was a tough fantasy opener for premier tight ends with Greg Olsen, Rob Gronkowski, and Jimmy Graham all putting up paltry numbers.
I expect Olsen to bounce back the soonest because his quarterback needs him the most. Cam Newton's most valuable years always included Olsen as a primary target, especially in the red zone. The Bills look to have a feisty secondary able to cover the Panthers' receivers, but their linebackers can't matchup with Olsen's athleticism. Even if the Bills make it a competitive game, expect Olsen come up big.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Drew Brees, QB, Saints, (DraftKings Salary $7,700)
In 2014 the New England Patriots were blown out by the Kansas City Chiefs 41-14. The public bemoaned the end of their defense. Sound familiar?
The next week they bounced back and held the Cincinnati Bengals to 17 points, generated three turnovers, and went on to win the Super Bowl.
Brees' receiving core is banged up, his running game is dismal, and he struggled in the red zone in Week One against the Vikings. Brees is still a great quarterback, but to pay a top Draft Kings salary for him and just assume he puts up big numbers against a Super Bowl contender is a bigger risk than you think. Brees is the second most expensive quarterback in Draft Kings this week. There are some quality options with cheaper price tags.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
New England Patriots
Oakland Raiders over the New York Jets
Let's hope you're coming to this part of the column a week late. We're running the table from here on out.
The Jets are horrible. I don't know that I have to say much more, but the Raiders' offense looked as smooth as it did before Derek Carr got injured last season. They handily beat a talented Titans team. Expect a three-touchdown lead at some point in this game.