*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. *
Make the Smart Plays:
Zach Miller, TE, Bears (DraftKings Salary $3,600)
If it were possible for both teams to fall behind early when the Bears and Colts face off on Sunday, that's exactly what would happen. These are two pass-heavy teams that are constantly let down by their defenses. Expect a shootout.
Miller is the cheapest red zone target between the two teams. Whether Jay Cutler is back from injury or Brian Hoyer is behind center for the Bears, Miller, who has three touchdowns in his last two games, should be able to find some space to operate against the Colts' soft defense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets (DraftKings Salary $5,100)
You really just have to trust me on this one. He's looked more like Ryan Pick-Fatrick the past two games, in which he's managed to throw a staggering nine interceptions. So he certainly isn't going to be a hot pick this week.
That said, the guy still has the arm and the weapons to produce a ton of yardage and a couple touchdowns to go with it. He's going against a 3-1 Steelers team that just decimated the Kansas City Chiefs. But Fitzpatrick isn't playing the Steelers offense; he'll be trying to keep up with it. And he has the luxury of playing a Pittsburgh defense that despite facing Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, and Carson Wentz, has given up the third most passing yards in the NFL.
Fitzpatrick's numbers are scary bad, but don't think of him as a game manager. He's a gunner facing a bad defense in what will likely be a high scoring game. The Steelers won't be able to contain all of the Jets' receivers. He's also the second cheapest starting quarterback in the league on Draft Kings behind Cody Kessler.
Patriots Defense (DraftKings Salary $3,700)
The Patriots were embarrassed last week by the Bills. It was a perfect storm for them: They couldn't move the ball on offense, and they were facing a Buffalo team that had recently realized its own scoring potential under a new offensive coordinator.
Now, it's the perfect storm for Cleveland. The Patriots have Tom Brady back so their offense will be exponentially better. And the poor Browns simply don't have the weapons to put up much of a fight.
Brady's career first half numbers trump his second half numbers across the board. He throws touchdowns early in games. New England will be up big by halftime and watching Cody Kessler try to mount a comeback against a Patriot defense that knows he's throwing is not going to be pretty.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders (DraftKings Salary $4,200)
I'm not going to call it a career for a 26-year old, but the Raiders are seeing something in practice that has dissolved their trust in Murray. In the first four games of the year he's been given 40 carries combined. There was no four-game stretch all of last season in which he had that few carries.
If you have Murray in a season-long league you may want to try to trade him for a high usage backup like Giovani Bernard before Murray loses his own starting job to rookie DeAndre Washington.
Who Will Make Cincinnati/Dallas Memorable?
Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys (DraftKings Salary $3,900):
Brice Butler might seem like the Cowboy receiver who had the breakout game of his career against the 49ers, but Williams did his part to assure he deserves his fair share of targets.
Both Williams and Butler will continue to see opportunities if Dez Bryant remains sidelines, but Williams is a safe play as a second receiver even if Bryant returns. Williams has the route running skills to work short first down plays and the speed and playmaking to be a deep threat. He probably has the highest upside of receivers under $4,000 on Draft Kings.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals (DraftKings Salary $8,900):
Unlike Williams, who's likely to take advantage of the opportunities that come his way over the course of the game, Green is the type of receiver who makes his own opportunities and dominates a game. He's coming off one of the best games of his career in which he put up 173 yards and a touchdown on the Dolphins.
The key to stopping the Bengals is to get pressure on Andy Dalton, and the Cowboys might not be the team most equipped to do that. All he needs is enough time to throw deep, and there's not a player in the Cowboys' secondary prepared to stop Green one-on-one.
Green's career per game averages of 83 yards have actually proven him to be a more consistent deep threat than Dez Bryant or Antonio Brown.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
(Season Record: 4-0)
(Off the Board: Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Redskins)
Pittsburgh Steelers over New York Jets
This game might be something of a shootout. There are two dangerous receiving cores facing off against two soft defenses. But one of these teams has more fire power, a better running game, and home field advantage.
This will be a fun game to watch in the first half, but New York simply doesn't have the talent to survive a toe-to-toe battle with the Steelers. Pittsburgh is a Super Bowl contender and the Jets aren't going to make the playoffs. This game will have a final score that reflects that reality.