*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:
Brock Osweiler, QB, Texans, (DraftKings Salary $5,400)
Osweiler has the highest upside of quarterbacks priced under $6,000 this week. If you want to spend big on a quarterback then go right ahead, but if you'd like to save at the position the Texans QB is the pick. Osweiler forces throws when he has to play from behind, but he has a cannon for an arm and two of the best deep threats in football, so he needs a steady balanced attack to lure the defense into giving up long passes. The Jaguars are one of the worst first quarter teams in the NFL so Osweiler should be allowed to play within himself from the get-go.
Last season DeAndre Hopkins managed 148 yards and two touchdowns in Jacksonville with Brian Hoyer throwing to him. The ingredients are there for Osweiler to put up big stats on the road.
DuJuan Harris, RB, 49ers, (Draft Kings Salary $4,100)
The 49ers found a weapon when Harris filled in for Carlos Hyde last week, and San Francisco has been nothing if not a team that needs weapons this season. He had a run of 19 yards and a reception of 47 yards. He combined for 106 yards rushing and receiving to go along with a touchdown. Any player who is that much of a threat receiving out of the backfield for a team that struggles getting the ball downfield to receivers is worth Harris' meager price tag.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles, (DraftKings Salary $5,900)
Matthews is the closest thing the Eagles have to a deep threat, and he consistently brings in a pass of 20 yards or more each game. In fact, Matthews is the only real mark of consistency on the Eagles. Even in losses, Matthews is averaging 73 yards per game and is as safe a bet as anyone on Philadelphia to score a touchdown.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings, (DraftKings Salary $3,800)
I'm the first one to find a bargain player with a favorable rate of salary versus opportunity, but I would not suggest talking yourself into McKinnon. He is coming off of an ankle injury that limited him against the Lions. He is now apart of a three-man running back rotation. And his offensive line is just about on the opposite end of the spectrum as the Cowboys in terms of run blocking. The ceiling for McKinnon against the Redskins is probably 75 yards rushing. The floor is much, much worse than that.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers, (DraftKings Salary $8,900)
The Cowboys have done a great job keeping talented wide receivers in check this season, but Morris Claiborne was a big part of that and he'll likely be out of the game with injury. Brown might be the most dangerous weapon Dallas has faced thus far. He was upset with how he perceived Baltimore was able to take him out of the game with double teams last week, and yet he still managed 85 yards and a touchdown. Those are decent fantasy numbers, but Brown and the Steelers expect better.
Ben Roethlisberger is likely to be more comfortable on his surgically repaired knee and the Steelers have lost three straight. Even if they lose to the Cowboys expect them to go down feeding the ball to their number one guy.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys, (DraftKings Salary $6,100)
This might turn out to be the Cowboys' first high-scoring shootout. If it had occurred earlier in the season Dallas might not have trusted Prescott to open up the field and match Roethlisberger drive-for-drive, but the rookie QB has proven he can handle himself. Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' run game demands respect, which gives Prescott an advantage throwing the ball. The Cowboys might have to score in the 30's to win this game. Factor in the threat of a running game, healthy playmakers at receiver, the best offensive line in football, and a shaky Pittsburgh defense and there's no reason to think Prescott can't put up the stats that the Cowboys need to win their eighth straight game.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
(Season Record: 8-1)
(Off the Board: Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Redskins, Steelers, Bills, Packers, Vikings, Dolphins)
Carolina Panthers over the Kansas City Chiefs
This is the biggest risk I've taken so far this season. The Chiefs don't lose many games at home, but their offense is one-dimensional, and the Panthers defense has sneakily become the third-best rush defense in the league. Carolina might not look like a Super Bowl contender often this season, but I think they'll look like their old self on Sunday.