*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. *
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks (DraftKings Salary $7,000)
This as close to a playoff game as you're ever going to watch in December. There's a chance that the Seahawks lose to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, but if that's the case, Russell Wilson will go down swinging. He'll get every last yard with his feet and try to connect deep over the top of the Dallas secondary.
Keep in mind that you're not necessarily betting against the Cowboys by playing Wilson. If the Cowboys' offense produces a lot of points it only increases Wilson's fantasy value. Even if Wilson gets sacked or throws an interception, that's not nearly as consequential as touchdown passes, and only four teams have given up more touchdown passes than the Cowboys.
J.D. McKissic, Running Back, Seahawks (DraftKings Salary $3,800)
If you think Cowboy's pass rush is going to get to Russell Wilson then McKissic is the smart play. It won't be the first time that Wilson has faced pressure and the Seahawks know how to adjust. McKissic is the best pass-catching back they have. Expect a number of quick check downs to him, which will add up quickly in DraftKings' point-per-reception format. All it takes is for Wilson to find him for a long gain in a broken play. At that point, he's probably already exceeded his value.
Make the Smart Play:
Juju Smith-Schuster, Wide Receiver, Steelers (DraftKings Salary $6,400)
With Antonio Brown out with a leg injury, Smith-Schuster is a no-brainer this week. Ben Roethlisberger has attempted more passes this season than any other quarterback in the league. Antonio Brown has the second most targets of any player in the NFL. So if you take away the most targeted receiver from the most pass-heavy offense, then you have some targets to make up for.
Smith-Schuster managed 114 yards last week off just six targets. He'll easily reach double-digit targets this week. The only other time that's happened this season, he recorded 193 yards and a touchdown.
Evan Engram, Tight End, Giants (DraftKings Salary $5,600)
Engram has seen seven targets in eight of his last nine games. That's heavy involvement for the athletic rookie in the passing game. At this point, developing confidence in Engram is the only point of optimism for the Giants. Expect them to test his ceiling in the last two games. If the Giants have the next Rob Gronkowski, they're going to want their fans to know about.
But don't outsmart yourself:
Marquis Goodwin, Wide Receiver, 49ers (DraftKings Salary $5,200)
Goodwin has been a fun fantasy player this year because he's probably the fastest receiver in the NFL. But he's fighting off back pain this week, and I can't imagine pure speed and back problems are a good mix. Add on the fact that he's facing the pass defense in the league, and you've got a recipe for a disappointing performance.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
Los Angeles Chargers over the New York Jets
The Chargers have more talent than the Jets almost across the board. But this is going to come down to whether or not you think Josh McCown wlll be able to handle the pass rush of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Only two players have been sacked more than McCown this season. This game will get ugly quick unless the Jets are allowed to play a couple extra offensive linemen.