*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:
Antonio Brown (Draft Kings Price $9,700)
Finding the cheap play might seem like the key to daily fantasy, but knowing when it's worth spending the big bucks is just as important. Brown is the best fantasy player in the NFL for a reason: The Steelers think he's just as good as the rest of us do.
Brown's monster game last week against the Eagles wasn't a coincidence. Pittsburgh had every intention of making sure that he got the ball. They targeted him 18 times in the game. He's been targeted 40 times in three games, which is why he leads the league in receptions. Even in a 31-point loss to the Eagles Brown managed to show off his speed and put up numbers. The Kansas City defense isn't going to be the one to figure out how to stop Brown.
Gary Barnidge (Draft Kings Price $3,600)
There are glass-half-full and glass-half-empty ways of looking at Barnidge's situation. On one hand, his quarterbacks (Cody Kessler and Terrelle Pryor) wouldn't get snaps at QB on any other team in the NFL. On the other hand, struggling quarterbacks often rely on their tight ends to find some sort of groove in the passing game.
Of Barnidge's nine catches, five of them have resulted in a first down. That sounds like the makings of s security blanket. The Redskins defense has given up the seventh most passing yards in the league. It's a long game, Barnidge is getting some yards somewhere along the way.
DeAndre Hopkins (Draft Kings Price $8,400)
I know it's expensive, but if you're willing to splurge on Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins they might just carry you to a big payoff. The Titans defense has allowed a 100-plus yard receiver in all three games this season. And I can promise you that none of those three receivers are as dangerous as Hopkins.
Hopkins is the cheapest he's been all season on Draft Kings. Expect that price tag to go up next week.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Amari Cooper (Draft Kings Price $7,600)
Michael Crabtree has actually been Derek Carr's favorite target through three games this season. Crabtree has more receptions than Cooper so far.
Baltimore has a stingier pass defense than any of Oakland's first three opponents. The Ravens might have the best pass defense in the NFL. So it might not be a great week to use an Oakland receiver, but if you go that route it'd be safer to go cheap on Crabtree.[embeddedad0]
A Cheap Paring For Cowboys/49ers
Dak Prescott (Draft Kings Price $5,700):
Simple and efficient has been the key for Prescott thus far, and that should be good enough to beat San Francisco. The Cowboys aren't going to ask their rookie to play beyond himself if they don't need it. Prescott has a nearly equal number of pass attempts to Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Jason Witten so the potential loss of Bryant shouldn't rattle his game.
With all the drama surrounding Bryant's health, a lot of daily fantasy users might stay away from Prescott this week. But he has still yet to throw an interception and he's had a number of near passing touchdowns that would have bolstered his fantasy numbers. Add his threat as a runner in the red zone, and you have a pretty safe and potentially high ceiling play with Prescott this week.
Cole Beasley (Draft Kings Price $3,900):
Honorable mention: Terrance Williams ($3,100) Brice Butler (3,000)
If you're going to follow my advice and spend big on your other two receivers, why not tie yourself to a cheap and (as of late) reliable pairing in Prescott and Beasley? I can't reiterate enough that the Cowboys won't be trying to let Prescott show off against a suspect San Francisco defense. They're going to let him keep doing what he has found comfortable.
So far, that's been a healthy dose of Cole Beasley. Would you have guessed that Beasley is tied for 5th in the NFL in receptions? Prescott has targeted him more than any other player on the Cowboys thus far. If Beasley could get back a dropped touchdown in Week 1 and could have rolled a little further into the end zone on a 29-yard catch against the Bears then the whole country might be talking about the Cole Beasley Breakout Season.
Williams and Butlercan both be had for about the minimum Draft Kings price. Increased opportunity is a guarantee without an increased price. So, if you're intrigued by either of them then this is the week to go for it. That said, Beasley is still a safer bet considering his price tag is also pretty low.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
(Season Record: 3-0)
(Off the Board: Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs)
Washington Redskins over Cleveland Browns
The Redskins finally ran the ball more than a handful of time, and it made the offense click. I won't lie to you, though. This pick isn't about the Redskins. It's about the Browns, who might have blown their only chance to win a game all season against the Dolphins last week.
Washington proved they are a middle-of-the-pack team by beating the Giants on Sunday. That puts them pretty far ahead of Cleveland on the spectrum of the league. The Redskins aren't losing to the Browns at home.