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.
Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver, Raiders (DraftKings Salary $6,800)
The NFL's currently stocked with enough dynamic receivers that there always seem to be a handful of pass-catchers who we collectively forget are extremely effective. The Cowboys' secondary tends to do a good job of reminding us. It was the case with Keenan Allen, who dominated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and catapulted himself back into the national spotlight, and I think it will be the case with Michael Crabtree.
The Cowboys are one of just six teams that have given up 24 or more passing touchdowns this season. The only other time Crabtree faced one of those teams this year was against the Jets. He scored three touchdowns in that game. He's coming off a season-high in targets last week. Expect a big game.
Make the Smart Play:
Sterling Sheppard, Wide Receiver, Giants (DraftKings Salary $5,200)
Sterling Sheppard is a boom or bust play. For a big DraftKings entry, you need to gamble on players like that, and Sheppard is relatively affordable considering his ceiling. You might be focused on the 'bust' game he had against the Cowboys last week. But I'm looking back to the 'boom' game he had against the Eagles the last time they squared off. Philadelphia's defense gave up seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown to Sheppard.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, 49ers (DraftKings Salary $6,300)
Everything about this contest between the Titans and 49ers feels like a trap game. The Titans are in great playoff position, but haven't proven much at all. The 49ers, meanwhile, would like to show their fans what their franchise quarterback is made of.
The Titans' have given up more first downs through the air than any team in the NFL this season. Garoppolo was groomed by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. His current coach, Kyle Shanahan, is touted as one of the league's offensive gurus. Garoppolo is going to take what the Titans give him and put together an impressive outing.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Defense (DraftKings Salary $4,500)
I rarely feel comfortable reaching for such an expensive defense, but it's worth it this week for the Jaguars' ceiling. They have the best secondary in the league. They have put up huge fantasy numbers against every awful-to-average quarterback they've faced this season. Tom Savage is on the awful end of that spectrum.
When Jacksonville faced the Texans in Week 1, they recorded 10 sacks. This is a nightmare matchup for Houston.
But don't outsmart yourself:
Drew Brees, Quarterback, Saints (DraftKings Salary $6,500)
It's a new era in New Orleans. Is Drew Brees having a good season? Absolutely. But is he the fantasy stalwart he had been in years past? Not quite. The Saints are relying on a dominant running game. He has thrown for over 300 yards just once in his last seven games. I think Brees will be a common play in big tournaments this week. I'd advising fading that trend, and looking for high-ceiling production elsewhere.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
Patriots, Raiders, Ravens Cowboys Bills, Texans, Seahawks, Vikings, Rams, Giants, Steelers, Redskins, Bears, Packers
Jacksonville Jaguars over Houston Texans
This isn't just a matter of one team having more talent than the other (one team does have more talent than the other). It's about one man (Tom Savage) not being able to handle 11 other men (the Jaguars defense). Savage won't be protected against the Jaguars' pass rush, and he'll be throwing into the most dangerous secondary in the league. This game will get ugly and stay ugly.