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.
Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys, (DraftKings Salary $5,000)
San Francisco has given up the fourth most passing yards in the league this season. But it's the announcement that Ezekiel Elliott will be available to play Sunday that has me leaning towards Cole Beasley as a safe play. The 49ers just don't have enough talent on defense to stop a full-strength Cowboys' offense. The best they can hope to do is commit to stopping the run and double-teaming Dez Bryant whenever possible. That's going to mean linebackers matched up with linebackers who can't keep up with him.
Make the Smart Plays:
Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Steelers (DraftKings Salary $6,200)
I hate to make excuses for Ben Roethlisberger, but for the past five weeks he has faced five very good defenses in Kansas City, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Chicago, and Minnesota. The talk of his demise may be a little premature.
Roethlisberger has too many weapons for him to be almost $2,000 cheaper in salary than Tom Brady. Roethlisberger has more career passing yards (6,140) against the Bengals than any other team. He's thrown 34 touchdowns against them with a 19-7 record.
I'm not worried about Big Ben. At least not this week.
Los Angeles Chargers, Defense, (Draft Kings Salary $2,400)
The Chargers have had a frustrating season, but they've actually been a top-10 passing defense through six weeks. In their week one matchup, they picked off Trevor Siemian and held C.J. Anderson under 100 yards.
The Chargers are priced at a salary that would suggest they're the worst defense in the league. That's just not the case. Joey Bosa will be coming for Siemian, and the Chargers' defense might just surprise the Broncos with some playmaking.
Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver, Saints (DraftKings Salary $7,500)
Even with some impressive fantasy games under his belt, I still don't think Thomas has had the dominant performance this season that he's capable of playing with Drew Brees. Aaron Rodgers might not be suiting up, but I see this game delivering on the shootout we would have expected.
With the playoffs a realistic possibility the Saints need to keep putting a lot of points on the board. Thomas leads the Saints in targets. If Brees ends up throwing it 40-plus times you can count on Thomas accumulating some numbers.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Rishard Matthews, Wide Receiver, Titans, (DraftKings Salary $5,500)
A number-one receiver against the Browns defense might be enticing, but Matthews just isn't consistent enough within the Titans' offense to justify his salary. He hasn't had more than four catches once in the past three games. The upside isn't there. Amari Cooper and Terrelle Pryor can both be had for the same salary or less.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
Patriots, Raiders, Ravens Cowboys Bills, Texans
Seattle Seahawks over New York Giants
This game is Eli Manning's worst nightmare. He's crumbled under pressure from pass rushers. Without Odell Beckham Jr., Manning doesn't have a security blanket against the most polished secondary in the NFL. Even if the Seahawks don't snag multiple interceptions from Eli, the Giants just won't be able to move the ball.
This might be a close game in the first half, but by the time the fourth quarter comes around I wouldn't expect the Seahawks to be sweating it out.