*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. *
Dallas Cowboys, Defense (DraftKings Salary $2,300)
The Cowboys' secondary isn't going to strike fear into anyone, but their defensive line is beginning to make a reputation for itself. Last week in San Francisco, five different players recorded sacks for Dallas. The Redskins' offensive line is banged up and vulnerable. Four of their five starters suffered injuries that have their status up in the air.
A *GQ *feature on Kirk Cousins in the offseason claimed that he participates in sleep studies and consistently got less sleep in weeks preparing to play better defenses. The way the Cowboys' pass rush is playing, I can't imagine Cousins will be getting much sleep this week.
Vernon Davis, Tight End, Washington Redskins (DraftKings Salary $3,700)
Considering the chemistry between Davis and Cousins, this is a relatively safe salary to grab Davis at. He's recorded at least 50 yards each of the last four games and is a decent red zone threat. Cousins is going to be under pressure on Sunday, so expect Davis to be his security blanket. Jordan Reed, the Redskins' other tight end, is a full $1,000 more expensive. Davis is the safer play with similar upside.
Cole Beasley, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys (DraftKings Salary $4,500)
Cole Beasley hasn't broken 50 yards once this season. He did it in both games against Washington last season. The reason he's due for a breakout game is because Dallas' signature run game is getting harder and harder to stop as the season has gone on. Defenses have to focus first and foremost on stopping the Dallas ground attack.
These are the moments when defenses lose Beasley in the shuffle. An over commitment to stopping the run means getting burned elsewhere. Beasley can vastly outperform his salary.
Make the Smart Play:
Mohamed Sanu, Wide Receiver, Falcons (DraftKings Salary $4,900)
Sanu came back from a hamstring injury last week and was targeted 10 times by Matt Ryan. The Jets are going to be on the receiving end of the Falcons' frustrations over once again losing to the Patriots. They tend to gain their confidence back by putting up a ton of points and racking up a ton of yardage.
Sanu is clearly Ryan's number-two option after Julio Jones. Eight receptions, 80 yards, and a touchdown is far from unreasonable for Sanu. That type of production would be huge at his salary.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Jay Ajayi, Running Back, Dolphins, (DraftKings Salary $5,900)
I can think of too many reasons *not *to play Ajayi and struggle to find one good reason he makes sense. He's dealing with a knee injury and an elbow injury. The Dolphins' passing game has been lackluster, allowing defenses to load the box against Ajayi. The Ravens' defense has struggled at times this season, but there's a lot more talent there than there is on the Dolphins' offense.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
Minnesota Vikings over Cleveland Browns
I can't even envision the Browns scoring a touchdown in this game unless it comes off something like a punt return or returned fumble. The Vikings defense is far too good and the Browns' offensive line is banged up, which is a problem for them considering that might be the only part of their offense where there was any talent.