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:
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins, (DraftKings Salary $5,800)
Last week, Marcus Mariota lit up the Packers defense for four touchdowns. Kirk Cousins is just as eager to take shots down field and has more dangerous weapons than Mariota did. The last time Cousins faced an opponent as prone to giving up passing touchdowns as the Packers was in London against the Bengals where he threw for 458 yards and two touchdowns.
Rodgers and Cousins are both strong cases to put up big numbers in this game. Go with the one that comes at the cheaper salary.
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers, (Draft Kings Salary $5,800)
The Chiefs' run defense has been a statistical anomaly so far this year. They have only given up four rushing touchdowns all season, which ties them (with the Ravens and Cowboys) for best in the league. BUT they've given up 1,095 rushing yards in total, which is 27th in the league.
If one of those stats is indicative of future performance it's probably all the yards they've given up. The low touchdowns could be a product of random factors like poor coaching decisions by opponents. Doug Martin had a nice warm up game back from injury last week grabbing a touchdown in a blowout win over the Bears. He'll be full-health against Kansas City and I expect a big game.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts, (DraftKings Salary $3,300)
When the Colts and the Titans played each other earlier this season, Andrew Luck beat up on Tennessee by consistently converting first downs through his tight ends. The Colts' tight ends combined for 129 yards, and Doyle accounted for over half of those yards plus a touchdown.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns, (DraftKings Salary $3,900)
Maybe Crowell has more talent than his numbers suggest. Maybe he would be an exciting player in this league if he could run behind the Cowboys' offensive line. But he's got the misfortune of playing running back for a Browns team that has trailed, and ultimately lost, in every single game this year.
The Browns have to shy away from the run game before halftime in order to have any chance at being competitive. The Steelers offense is going to come out of the gates looking to score touchdowns and grab two-point conversions. Crowell isn't going to have many opportunities to make a mark on this game.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys, (DraftKings Salary $8,000)
It's starting to get boring picking Elliott almost every week, but he's become everything you want out of a fantasy player. He is the focal point of an offense that has a dominant offensive line. He catches passes with big gain potential, and there's an above 50 percent chance he's rushing for over 100 yards every single game.
Elliott has obliterated the other three teams in the AFC North so far, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and combining for seven touchdowns against the division. Baltimore will be the last team to check off the list.
Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens, (DraftKings Salary $5,500)
I expect the Cowboys to take an early lead in this one and likely be up at halftime. That's when Wallace becomes a focal point of the offense. He has more targets and receiving yards when the Ravens are trailing than he does when they are tied or leading the game. He's also the speedy type of receiver who can find holes in the Cowboys' thin secondary. Joe Flacco and Wallace can connect for 100-plus yards and a touchdown even if the Cowboys leave with a comfortable victory.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
(Season Record: 8-2)
(Off the Board: Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Redskins, Steelers, Bills, Packers, Vikings, Dolphins, Panthers)
Cowboys over Ravens
The Ravens are a tough team to throw it over the top on, but that hasn't been a large part of the Cowboys' offense this year anyway. Elliott will eventually wear down the Baltimore defense, and there's no reason to think Joe Flacco will be the one to finally expose the Dallas defense.
This one might be in the single digits at halftime, but Dallas is a 60-minute team, and Baltimore will lose steam eventually.