*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:
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers, (DraftKings Salary $6,800)
Benjamin's DraftKings's salary is finally back to a number low enough for me to feel comfortable selecting him. It's the lowest he's been since Week 2.
Cam Newton merely needs plenty of time on the field to get Benjamin the ball. In Benjamin's two best fantasy performances of the year, the Panthers have won the time of possession. The Rams offense will provide Newton with all the time of possession he wants. Los Angeles won't be able to move the ball on an invigorated Panthers' defense Look for Benjamin to be a red zone target this week.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints, (Draft Kings Salary $4,800)
If you want to win a big contest in Draft Kings sometimes you'll have to zig when everyone else is zagging
Everyone will run from Ingram after he was benched for Tim Hightower after fumbling against Seattle last Sunday. But there's not a chance that the Saints think they can survive the rest of the season without production from Ingram.
Before last Sunday's benching, Ingram had four total touchdowns in the four previous games. Most importantly, the 49ers have given up more rushing yards than any team in the NFL. The Saints will feast on their defense. Expect Ingram to get in on that.
Vikings, Defense (DraftKings Salary $4,000)
Matthew Stafford might seem like a scary quarterback to bet against, but the Lions gimmick this year has been comeback victories. They let their opponent take the lead and they surge back with a potent passing attack.
That's not a good plan against the Vikings. They have yet to give up a lead all season. Their defense thrives on teams trying to comeback on them. Stafford will try to do what he's been doing all season. Just don't expect it to go very well.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins, (DraftKings Salary $5,600)
The Dolphins are coming off the bye with two straight victories under their belt. They've found a secret weapon in running back Jay Ajayi, but most importantly they have protected Tannehill in their last two victories. Here's a stat for you: In the Dolphins three victories this season Tannehill has been sacked a combined two times. In their four losses he's been sacked 16 times.
The Jets can't generate a pass rush this year despite a seemingly talented front seven. They've also given up more passing yards than any team in the NFL this year. If there's ever a time to play Tannehill, it's this week.
But Don't Outsmart Yourself:
Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers, (DraftKings Salary $5,000)
There's always someone to benefit in the production department when a team suffers injuries to their skill position players. That doesn't always mean they're always able to sustain that production. Second year receiver Tyrell Williams took advantage of increased opportunity, but as teams have more film on him they'll notice he isn't very good at getting open, forcing Phillip Rivers to throw into tight windows.
The Chargers will attack the Colts with short passes to their tight ends and running backs. Williams will always have a chance at a big play just because he has a good quarterback throwing to him, but I wouldn't consider him a reliable play.
Cowboys vs. Browns
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys, (DraftKings Salary $7,200)
Elliott has become a backbreaker for the Cowboys' opponents. Despite his heavy workload, defenses always tend to wear out before he does. The Cowboys are going to play their typical game plan and at some point, I don't know what quarter, it will become apparent that they are winning this game. I think that moment is going to come after a Zeke first down or touchdown.
Only one team (San Francisco) has given up more rushing yards than the Browns and Elliott put up 138 yards and a touchdown on that team earlier this season.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
(Season Record: 7-1)
(Off the Board: Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Redskins, Steelers, Bills, Packers, Vikings)
Miami Dolphins over the New York Jets
Of course the week after I bring up my perfect record it's shattered by the Chicago Bears front seven knocking around Sam Bradford every other snap. Time to start a new seven game winning streak.
The Dolphins and Jets are both coming off wins, which may be the last time we can say that all season. The difference is that the Dolphins have real momentum having just beat the Bills and Steelers. The Jets beat the Browns, which doesn't really count.