*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. *
Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Eagles (DraftKings Salary $8,700)
This season has been a nightmare for Elliott. He missed six games due to a suspension that hung over the team much longer than six weeks, only to return as the Cowboys are eliminated from playoff contention.
That said, Elliot looked well rested and showed no rust in his return against the Seahawks. Jason Garrett wants to finish the season on a high note and plans on giving his starters a full workload. Meanwhile, the Eagles have no postseason implications tied to this game, so expect defensive starters to be sitting the final quarter or two. Elliot might be the best run-defense on paper, but that won't be the run-defense on the field for the majority of the game. Expect Elliott to pad his stats.
Zach Ertz, Tight End, Eagles (DraftKings Salary $6,000)
In DraftKings' point-per-reception format Ertz has become a no-brainer play at anything less than $7,000. In the past two weeks, Ertz has been targeted 23 times by Nick Foles. That's the most by any tight end. I think the Eagles' offensive starters last longer in this game than the defensive starters as they'll want to maintain chemistry and momentum heading to postseason. Ertz is the offensive focal point for the Eagles right now. He's too inexpensive to pass up.
Make the Smart Play:
Leonard Fournette, Running Back, Jaguars (DraftKings Salary $7,100)
It's rare that a healthy player's DraftKngs salary drops after scoring a touchdown in three consecutive weeks. The concern is that the Jaguars will rest their starters going into the playoffs, but I don't buy it. Jacksonville was pummeled by the 49ers last week and need to get some momentum back. Last week, Todd Gurley recorded over 270 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against the Titans. Fournette will have a chance to put a nice cap on his rookie numbers with a dominant performance before the postseason.
DaVante Parker, Wide Receiver, Dolphins (DraftKings Salary $4,400)
Parker is a great value pick this week. The past two weeks he's been targeted 22 times by Jay Cutler. That's more than Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, or Keenan Allen. When the Dolphins faced the Bills earlier this season, Parker brought in six catches for 89 yards. Those numbers would easily exceed the value of his salary.
But don't outsmart yourself:
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (DraftKings Salary $5,700)
You're probably looking for a quarterback in Week 17 who actually has something to play for. That's the case for Flacco, but don't expect much in terms of production. The Bengals have had the seventh best pass defense this season. You can be sure they'd like to knock their division rival out of the playoff picture. Meanwhile, Flacco's career numbers against Cincinnati have been dismal. He's thrown 17 touchdowns compared to 22 interceptions.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens
I mentioned it earlier: Flacco's career numbers against the Bengals come down to 17 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. The Bengals are coming off of eliminating the Lions from the playoffs and can do the same thing to the Ravens. This Baltimore team is not playoff bound.