*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:
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (DraftKings Salary $7,000)
I'm doubling down on my Matt Ryan pick from last week. Call me stubborn, but I just don't see his average performance against the Chargers as a sign of him coming down to earth. I still think he's the most reliable fantasy quarterback at the moment.
There's still no question he is playing with more confidence than he's shown his entire career, and he's facing a Green Bay defense that has crumbled against every decent offense it's played all season. The Packers have given up 10 passing touchdowns in six games. The last time Ryan faced Green Bay (in 2014) he put up four touchdowns and 375 yards. Don't jump off the bandwagon with everybody else; regain an advantage by sticking with Ryan.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans, (DraftKings Salary $6,300)
The Texans are undefeated at home this season, because they stick to a very simple formula: Give Lamar Miller the ball consistently until the defense is vulnerable to give up a deep bomb.
Miller is averaging 105 yards per game at home compared to just 50 on the road. While Fuller's impact might only show in a play or two, Miller will show his value all game long. His production on the ground should have merited more than the one touchdown he's recorded all season. Those things tend to reach their proper averages. Like I said in regards to Fuller, Matthew Stafford and the Lions will ask the Texans offense to score in the mid-twenties or thirties. Miller will be the key.
Quincy Enunwa, WR, Jets, (DraftKings Salary $4,800)
Enunwa would thrive on the Cowboys as a third or fourth option. He's not the type of receiver whose production is dependent on opportunity and thus the injury to Eric Decker hasn't actually benefitted Enunwa. On the contrary, it's actually hurt him. A healthy Decker and Brandon Marshall make all the difference for Enunwa, because he's a big, athletic receiver who wins favorable matchups almost every time. A bump up the depth chart has just pit him against defenders who can actually cover him.
Unfortunately for the Browns, they can't cover one receiver, let alone two. Brandon LaFell might be the worst second-option receiver in the NFL, and he managed 83 yards against Cleveland last week. Enunwa might revert back to being a bust in a couple weeks, but he should live up to his physical talent on Sunday. Marshall and Enunwa could both have huge games in Cleveland. Enunwa just comes with a much cheaper price tag.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans, (Draft Kings Salary $6,000)
The Lions are tied with the Browns for the most passing touchdowns given up this season. There are two reasons for that: 1.) Their passing defense is bad and 2.) Their offense is good enough to keep them in the game and force their opponents to keep throwing the ball.
Fuller is the definition of a deep threat. He can win or lose you a fantasy matchup in one or two plays. He is unfortunately saddled to an inconsistent quarterback, but Brock Osweiler still has a cannon. He can throw it as deep as anyone, and for the Texans to beat Detroit he's going to have to make some plays against a defense that is prone to allowing them.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars, (DraftKings Salary $6,100)
Bortles has some promising weapons at his disposal, so it's tempting to think the young quarterback will round into shape as the season progresses. It's always nice to grab a quarterback in his breakout game rather than jumping on the bandwagon the next week, but if Bortles is going to be a reasonable option he's going have to prove it first.
He's thrown just as many interceptions (9) as touchdowns, but here's another stat for you: He's thrown four first quarter touchdowns over his entire 36-game career. That's a horrible sign. If you draft Bortles, you'll always have a chance at some garbage time stats, but relying on that is leaving a lot up to chance.
Win or Lose, Zeke Will Carry the Cowboys Against Philly
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys, (DraftKings Salary $7,200)
The Eagles are bringing one of the best defenses in the NFL into Dallas on Sunday. They've got the kind of defense that makes teams one-dimensional. They'll force you to stick to what you're good at and punish you every time you try to get cute.
The Cowboys have stuck to what's worked with pretty rigorous discipline this season. This isn't the defense Jason Garrett wants to see Dak Prescott opening up the playbook against. The Eagles pass defense is great while their rush defense is merely pretty good. They've actually allowed more first downs on the ground (35) than the Cowboys defense (30).
Even if the Eagles leave with a victory Elliott will be given plenty of opportunity to leave his mark, like he has all year.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
(Season Record: 7-0)
(Off the Board: Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Redskins, Steelers, Bills, Packers)
Minnesota Vikings over the Chicago Bears
You're not supposed to say anything when a pitcher is in the middle of a perfect game, so let's not talk about my record for the year. We don't want to jinx a flawless 7-0 record.
I would be shocked if the Bears managed to score 14 points on the Vikings' defense. Minnesota isn't losing two games in a row, even if it takes their offense a quarter or two to get going on the road.