Thanksgiving DFS can best be described as some of the most fun and some of the most frustrating of any DFS sport. The reason being is that with only one game at a time and with late swap, those of us who tinker with our lineups are constantly thinking about game strategy for the entire day as the games progress and our players do well or not so well.
Should you play cash games?
This is a question that gets asked a lot, and the short answer is it depends. The problem on a three-game slate is that you are going to run into a significant amount of overlap amongst lineups. However, DFS is supposed to be fun, and if you enjoy having a one-on-one competition (which I love), then, by all means, go for it, there are plenty of ways to diversify lineups this week that will draw people on to different lineup combinations.
I mentioned it on the Power Grid, but there is a difference between building a unique lineup and building a stupid lineup. While you can take a deep shot on a guy, you should not take more than one sleeper player on your roster, and even then by fading certain players, you can get uniqueness out of your lineups. For example, some of the most common builds will be Michael Thomas, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and a bunch of sleeper players. You can get unique lineups by just going with a more balanced approach this week and fade one or even two of those top-end players.
At the quarterback position, there are only a few options on this slate. Logic tells you that you should try to spend up at the other positions as there are a few elite players who are likely to have tremendous performances this week in Michael Thomas, Ezekiel Elliott, Jared Cook and possibly Alvin Kamara. This ultimately means that at the quarterback position, sacrifices are going to have to be made to save salary.
Trubisky for the first time all season last week looked like he was starting to regain some of his form in early 2018 in which he lit the fantasy world on fire with his ability to get the ball to wide receivers in space and utilize his mobility to extend plays. Detroit has allowed the 8th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and Trubisky threw for three touchdowns earlier this year against them.
Look there is no denying that Brees is at the top of the chart this week as he is in the best matchup against Atlanta in what should be the highest-scoring team of the week. The problem is whether or not you can fit him into your lineup as sacrifices will ultimately need to be made to make it work. At $8,500, Brees prevents you from playing Elliott, Kamara, Thomas, and Cook all in the same lineup, which should lead him to have a lower ownership projection than he otherwise would as people will look to gravitate towards cheaper options to save some salary.
On paper, this should be an unbelievable matchup as Detroit has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and have had linebacker issues all year. The problem is that David Montgomery is trending in the wrong direction as it seems he has hit the rookie wall. In back-to-back weeks, Montgomery has less than 2.5 yards-per-carry and is averaging just 2.0 between the two games. While the upside is still there, and the price is a good one at $5,900, be careful this week of not having too much exposure as the floor is near zero. Alongside Montgomery is Tarik Cohen who has been a receiving machine recently having caught 17 passes over his last three contests. The problem with Cohen is simply the price, at $6,400 it is too high to be relied upon in a half-point-PPR setup as he is averaging just 5.4 yards-per-catch which is near the bottom of the NFL this year.
While the matchup is not a great one, it is not a terrible one either especially after the Bears lost Akiem Hicks for the season. Chicago has allowed the tenth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and has allowed Todd Gurley, Jordan Howard, Latavius Murray, and Josh Jacobs all to have their best fantasy outputs of the year against the Bears since Week 5. This leaves Bo Scarbrough in a tremendous spot this week as he has emerged as the main running back in Detroit as he had 18 carries last week against Washington averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry. At just $6,100, Scarbrough makes for a tremendous play even though he won’t participate much in the passing game as he has just one target in his first two games. Scarbrough has 100-yard upside and could be the under-the-radar guy that most people skip over simply because of the name value of the Bears defense.
EDIT: With Jeff Driskely out, and David Blough starting, this will essentially guarantee the early usage of Scarborough.
On the year, Dallas has been a middle-of-the-road run defense as the linebacking group has been surprisingly inconsistent so far this year, and will be without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch who also missed last week which played a role in Sony Michel having 85 yards. The other problem for the Cowboys is Antwaun Woods is going to miss this game, Woods may not have a lot of name value, but is the starting nose tackle and space eater for the Cowboys. This should open up opportunity for Devin Singletary who has emerged as starting to take over in Buffalo as he has 36 carries over the last two games averaging 5.0 yards per carry against Denver and Miami. The only problem with Singletary is that while he may get them close to the end-zone, Frank Gore will be the one getting the touchdown opportunities as Singletary has just two carries inside the five-yard-line compared to Gore’s ten carries. Singletary also has just three carries inside the ten compared to Gore’s 14. This makes Singletary a tough proposition as a GPP play even though he will get the yardage, you really will be relying on him to break a long run which is not his specialty as he ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash and does not have a carry over 23 yards this year.
Ezekiel Elliott is expensive but has upside that no other running back on this slate has due to the 0.5 PPR nature of FanDuel. The way to beat the Bills is on the ground as they often sell out to stop the pass. While the Bills run defense has looked better over the last two weeks, the competition that they faced was rather poor in Denver and Miami, so if you look further back to the four previous games they allowed 195 yards to Cleveland running backs, 133 yards to Washington running backs, 229 yards to Philadelphia running backs, and 123 yards to Miami running backs. This is a defense that is propped up by a weak schedule and has faced two running backs even in the same caliber as Elliott. In those two games, they allowed 135 yards to Saquon Barkley and 121 yards to Nick Chubb. Expect Elliott to be relied upon heavily as the Cowboys are in a must-win game and will turn to their best player to get the job done this week. Elliott will be the most popular running back on this slate.
Just avoid Atlanta running backs. It looks like Devonta Freeman is going to play, which means that it will likely be a shared backfield of some sorts between Freeman, Brian Hill and possibly Qadree Ollison getting the red-zone carries. This is a situation to just avoid as New Orleans has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and the second-fewest rushing yards.
Determining whether or not to play the Saints running back will likely determine the outcome of this slate. Let’s start with the matchup. The Falcons over the past several seasons have been the laughing stock of the league, but this season they have improved their play especially up the middle with Grady Jarrett, Adrian Clayborn, and Deion Jones. The Falcons were embarrassed in Week 1 this season by Dalvin Cook, and since that game, they have only allowed one running back to rush for 100 yards which was Derrick Henry who ran for exactly 100 yards and it took him 27 carries to do so. This is going to make it incredibly difficult for a guy like Latavius Murray to get anything going in what limited volume he sees as he has just 8.7 touches over the last three games.
Now, what do we do with Alvin Kamara? He’s likely going to be popular as he’s a safe play, based on his volume in the passing game, but on a slate where it is only a 0.5 PPR, the problem with Kamara is his price and his touchdown upside. Kamara has just two touchdowns on the season and just two carries inside the five-yard line. In cash, Kamara will be popular and makes for a safe play, but in GPP’s with his ownership going to be high, this could be a fade this week.
Cash Value Rankings
1) Ezekiel Elliott- $8,400
2) Alvin Kamara- $8,300
3) Bo Scarborough- $6,100
4) Devin Singletary- $6,600
5) David Montgomery- $5,900
GPP Value Rankings
1) Ezekiel Elliott- $8,400
2) Bo Scarborough- $6,100
3) Frank Gore- $5,400
4) Alvin Kamara- $8,300 (Lineup construction makes it very difficult to fit both Elliott and Kamara)
5) David Montgomery- $5,900
With Taylor Gabriel looking like he will miss this week, that puts a lot of focus on Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. Anthony Miller has seen his production spike over the last two weeks as he has 12 receptions over his last two games and an average of 65 yards in those games. Javon Wims will likely see some ownership this week simply because he’s minimum price, but is not someone who can be trusted, as in Weeks 4 and 5, Wims saw 94% and 95% of the snaps and with saw 1 target in Week 4, and 5 targets in Week 5. Most people are looking at that 5-target game as his upside for this week, but the problem is that the starting quarterback of that game was Chase Daniel who loves to throw to slot receivers where Trubisky has not done this nearly as much throughout his career. Wims is a bust waiting to happen this week.
There’s not a lot to love in Detroit at the moment as Kenny Golladay is too expensive based on his success earlier in the season with Matthew Stafford. The interesting play in Detroit this week is Marvin Jones Jr. Marvin Jones Jr has become the red-zone target for the Lions this season as he is 13th in the NFL in red-zone targets with 13 on the year and has shown that when he scores touchdowns he can score touchdowns in bunches as he has two 2 touchdown games on the year including a four-touchdown game against Minnesota.
Edit: With David Blough starting over Jeff Driskel, this does not change too much. Detroit's receivers are too expensive, and should only be relied upon as deep GPP plays. Marvin Jones Jr does see a downgrade as his multi-touchdown upside does decrease slightly.
John Brown will be popular this week on a short slate and for good reason, as the Bills force the ball through Brown who had his 50 yards or more streak snapped as he had just 39 yards last week. The problem with Brown is three-fold. He is going to be popular based on his game against Denver two weeks ago, he is in a tough matchup against Dallas who have allowed the fifth-fewest points to opposing wide receivers, and he has not seen enough red zone targets this season as he is 49th in red zone targets on the season. This is a clear fade this week and let others get sucked into the ownership. On the other side of Brown is Cole Beasley, who has been considered a red zone threat as he has four-touchdowns over his last six games. Here is the problem with Beasley, he has just seven red zone targets on the season and has caught every pass in the red zone. This is a rate that can not be sustained.
Dallas is in a tough spot this week, as Amari Cooper has been shut down the past two weeks against very good passing defenses and will likely see a lot of Tre’Davious White which is a tough night for just about any receiver this week. At $7,900, Cooper is a tough option that will likely get overlooked and if you are being contrarian could go with the receiver who has tremendous upside every time he touches the field. Let’s assume the likely scenario is that Cooper struggles, then the question goes to is it Michael Gallup that becomes a fantastic play?
While Gallup is a good play, the best GPP play is Randall Cobb. At just $6,000 this is a price that FanDuel has not increased as much as it should have. Cobb over the last three weeks has been tremendous as he has 85 yards or more including two 100 yard contests, as well as two touchdowns in those three games. Cobb gets to face off against Taron Johnson who has been one of the worst cornerbacks in football this season. The only concern with Cobb is that he has relied on big plays to get him to his recent production which may not be safe enough for cash.
The big question on this slate is the health of Julio Jones. While Jones is optimistic he can play with a shoulder injury, it is a tough situation for DFS players as it is the final game of the slate. If we get word that Jones is out, Russell Gage’s stock soars as Gage saw 10 targets last week and is coming in at a price of just $5,400. Calvin Ridley’s stock will also soar if Jones is out as Ridley saw 14 targets last week. Both are tremendous plays if Jones is out this week. If Jones is close to 100%, Gage is in a tough spot and isn’t playable, but Ridley should still be in the conversation.
Michael Thomas will likely be the highest owned player in both cash games and GPP’s this week and for good reason. From a yardage perspective, Thomas has been great all season as he has 89 yards or more in all but one of the games, and has 100 yards or more in six of his last seven. However, where his value has taken off is with Drew Brees back at quarterback and his touchdown upside as he has now scored a touchdown in three of his last four games which is critical for FanDuel. Thomas is a very difficult player to fade this week. Now the question is whether any of the other wide receivers are viable, the answer is Ted Ginn Jr is a deep sleeper. Drew Brees just missed Ginn on a 40-yard pass with 30 seconds to go in the game that would have completely changed the thought process on Ginn who has been disappointing this season.
Cash Value Rankings-
1) Michael Thomas- $9,200
2) Calvin Ridley- (If we know Jones is out or limited)- $6,500
3) Russell Gage (If we know Jones is out)- $5,400
4) Anthony Miller- $5,300
5) Allen Robinson- $7,700
6) Calvin Ridley- (If Jones is fully healthy)
7) John Brown- $6,600
8) Michael Gallup- $6,800
9) Randall Cobb- $6,000
10) Marvin Jones Jr- $6,400
GPP Value Rankings
1) Michael Thomas- $9,200
2) Calvin Ridley- $6,500
3) Allen Robinson-$7,700
4) Randall Cobb- $6,000
5) Julio Jones- $7,800
6) Anthony Miller- $5,300
7) Michael Gallup- $6,800
8) John Brown- $6,600
9) Marvin Jones Jr- $6,400
10) Russell Gage- $5,400
The biggest question this week is whether or not to play Jared Cook at the tight end position. The reality here is that Cook is the only tight end who sees consistent production and is on this three-game slate.
1) Jared Cook
2) No one else Jaeden Graham
EDIT- Jaeden Graham becomes interesting as a punt with the Bears becoming an elite option at Defense and needing a cost savings tight end.
1) Jared Cook
2) Jason Witten
4) Dawson Knox
1) Chicago Bears
2) New Orleans Saints
3) Dallas Cowboys
1) Chicago Bears
2) Dallas Cowboys
3) Atlanta Falcons- Save that $
4) New Orleans Saints