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:
Marcus Mariota (Draft Kings Price $6,000)
Everyone likes to say that young quarterbacks can be inconsistent, but there might be a pretty simple way of explaining that. The talent level of the defenses they face varies from week-to-week, which is a big factor for inexperienced quarterbacks. Mariota played confidently against a great Vikings defense and the results were average (25-41 passing, 271 yards, two touchdowns, one interception).
Pit that same version of Mariota against a less formidable Detroit defense and the statistics should look much better. The Tennessee quarterback completed multiple passes to seven different receivers. Mariota is capable of using the entire field, and he's primed for a big game.
Danny Woodhead (Draft Kings Price $5,200)
Woodhead is an offensive weapon. In week one against a formidable Chiefs defense, he turned 16 carries into 89 yards and five catches into 31 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers were expecting wide receiver Keenan Allen to be a huge part of their offense this season. With Allen likely out for the season with a torn ACL, Woodhead will once again have to be Ol' Reliable. It's hard to imagine him letting you down in a PPR league.
Mike Evans (Draft Kings Price $7,200)
Evans isn't any better than the top five or six receivers in the NFL, but by the end of the season we might be talking about him in the same breath as those select few. He is that physically gifted and somehow looks even more athletic this season than he was in his first two years.
The difference right now is that he is a much better value than the current cream of the crop. In week one against the Falcons he managed to turn just seven targets into 99 yards and a touchdown. Expect Jameis Winston to look for him more against a Cardinals defense that looked surprisingly vulnerable against Jimmy Garoppolo.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Jeremy Maclin (Draft Kings Price $6,300)
Maclin was a big part of the Chiefs comeback victory over the Chargers, making big plays in the fourth quarter including a 19-yard touchdown. But those were very specific circumstances and there are less promising factors this week against Houston.
Kansas City was forced to throw the ball after falling behind big to San Diego, but traditionally Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense don't exactly air it out to their receivers. Playing at Houston last season, Maclin only managed five catches for 52 yards.He also left week one's game after a head-to-head collision. He came back in and played well, but he's far from a safe bet against the Texans.
What To Look For in Cowboys/Redskins
Chris Thompson (Draft Kings Price $3,700):
The New York Giants probably didn't outrush the Cowboys because Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen are due for bounce back seasons. They just found openings in a Dallas rush defense that looks to be a major weakness.
Thompson is a low-cost fantasy option who looked to be healthier and more of a receiving threat than starting running back Matt Jones. The Redskins will be a pass-heavy team this season, which bodes well for Thompson who had a four-game stretch last season when he was targeted 31 times out of the backfield. There will be more opportunities for Thompson this year, and if there's a defense vulnerable to quick running backs Dallas fits the bill.
DeSean Jackson (Draft Kings Price $6,300):
On the other hand, familiar foes mean familiar faces and the Cowboys are nothing if not familiar with Jackson.
Jackson has more career receiving yards (976) against the Cowboys than he does against any other team.He proved Monday night against the Steelers that he's still the same deep threat he's always been by going for 102 yards. Kirk Cousins has the arm to find him down the field, and if the Cowboys don't find a way to manufacture more of a pass rush then Jackson's speed may very well burn them once again.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
Baltimore Ravens over Cleveland Browns
(Season record: 1-0)
My week one pick of Cincinnati squeaked by with a one-point victory, but the point is to survive and thanks to AJ Green I'm still alive.
The Browns might be the worst team in the NFL. In typical Brown-fashion they spent week one getting stomped by the rookie quarterback they could have drafted. The Ravens defense is healthy and improved over last season. They shut down the Bills in week one and the Browns have a lot less playmakers than Buffalo.