NFL Thanksgiving Daily Fantasy Football 3-Game Slate 11/23/17
The classic Thanksgiving football tradition continues this season in week 12 of the NFL season. That means an extra slate for both Draftkings and Fanduel for degenerates such as myself and the several others reading this article. The slate features three games all that carry their fair share of fantasy goodness. Minnesota travels to Detroit in a pivotal divisional matchup. The Chargers face off against a Cowboys team both fighting for their playoff lives. The Giants look to shock the football world again by forcing another upset against their divisional foe Redskins. I’ll breakdown each game and identify the few plays that I will be targeting from each game.
Minnesota Vikings (23.75) at Detroit Lions (20.75) o/u – 44.5
It’s worth noting that the Lions opened up as 1-point favorites at home against the Vikings who are coming off of a huge win against the LA Rams. THat line has since shifted in favor of the Vikings who are now 3-point road favorites after receiving 60% of the public bet.
The Vikings offense leaves a lot to be desired without the presence of Dalvin Cook and Sam Bradford. Nonetheless they’re 8-2 and leading the NFC north by 2 games. Their offensive production is largely carried by Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph. With those playmakers on his side, it doesn’t take much from Case Keenum to do other than force the ball to the talented trio. Keenum is a cheap way to get exposure to these offensive playmakers, while differentiating your lineup construction. Keenum is the second lowest priced QB on (Draftkings at $5,300 and Fanduel $7,500). His offensive weapons and favorable team total make him a superior play at the bottom of the barrel at the QB position over Eli Manning. The Lions rank 18th in aFPA to opposing QB so Keenum has a relatively strong chance of going 3x on Draftkings where he would only need about 17 points to reach value.
Adam Thielen (DK $7,600, FD $8,300) and Stefon Diggs (DK $6,300, FD $7,500) are perhaps the most talented receivers on this slate. Thielen has out produced Diggs since his return from injury and Thielen now has averaged the most targets per game in the NFL since week 6. The matchup also favors Thielen because he may be able to avoid having to face Darius Slay. Thielen runs the majority of his snaps from the slot, meaning he could avoid Slay on Thursday morning. Diggs always has the upside to explode for a 200-yard 2 TD game, but he will have his work cut out for him going up against Slay.
Kyle Rudolph (DK $4,100, FD $5,800) has at least seven targets and five receptions the last six games. The Lions are among the worst in aFPA to TE and Rudolph is receiving over 35% of red zone targets for the Vikings. Rudolph is a great cash and gpp play if you want to go heavy on the Vikings.
I’ll be staying away from the running backs on the Vikings. Latavius Murray (DK $4,900, FD $6,500) and Jerick McKinnon (DK $5,200, FD 6,200) split the carries almost 50-50 and don’t have much upside. Murray has been getting the bulk of the work but simply hasn’t been productive with it. While McKinnon has been involved in the passing game, but has yet to separate himself as the main back. Murray would be the better bet to score a TD on the slate, but McKinnon is the better option if you think this game could shootout or the Vikings would be trailing.
Matthew Stafford has thrown 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in his last five games. He’s exceeded his salary point expectation in each of those games and has shown that he is worth the price the Lions gave up this offseason. The issue is he’s going up against a stingy Vikings defense that is 11th in aFPA. Stafford is always a threat to have a big game because of the amount of volume he see (30+ attempts in 7 of his last 8 games).
The Lions receivers Golden Tate (DK $6,200, FD $7,300) and Marvin Jones (DK $5,700, FD $7,000) are also in a difficult spot against the 15th Vikings who are 15th in aFPA. They rank in the middle of the pack because of their dominant performances by Xavier Rhodes and lackluster performances by Terence Newman. In their first meeting back in week 4, Rhodes shadowed Marvin Jones practically all game and held him to only two catches. That figures to be the case this week which leads to more targets for Tate against Newman. Tate is a much better play on Draftkings with the PPR format.
Similar to the Vikings running back situation, I won’t be having much exposure to the Lions running backs. They have two very cheap running back options in Ameer Abdullah (DK $3,900, FD $ ) and Theo Riddick (DK $3,600, FD $5,600) but have a difficult matchup against the Vikings who rank number 2 in aFPA to running backs. Abdullah may get the more volume in the game but Riddick gets the majority of targets out of the backfield. Abdullah can be in consideration on Fanduel.
Los Angeles Charger (25) at Dallas Cowboys (22.5) over/under (47.5)
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are coming off of a dominant performance against a Bills team that started a rookie quarterback and threw 5 interceptions. When you factor that in with a Cowboys offense that has been struggling, I expect their defense to be somewhat popular.
The offense last week was led by Keenan Allen (DK $7,300, FD $8,000) who had a monster game with 12 catches and 159 yards and two touchdowns. The biggest reason for his increase in production was the increase of routes run out of the slot. The Cowboys have struggled to cover receivers in general this season (25th aFPA) and have struggled with short catches. If the game plan stays to what it was last week, Allen should have a big game again. Because of Dallas’ ranking against receivers it’s fair to consider both Tyrell WIlliams (DK $3,400, FD $5,100) and Mike Williams (DK $3,100, FD $4,700) as punt plays. Mike is coming off of a season-high snap rate (55%) and had 8 targets last week, while Tyrell only received one target. We’ve seen Tyrell explode for 100-yard games already once this season so he’s a viable tournament option at this price.
Melvin Gordon (DK $7,600, FD $7,800) will be the unavoidable chalk of the week. He’s one of two running backs that figures to get the majority of the team’s carries and has the highest ceiling out of all the backs on the slate. A nice way to differentiate your lineup would be pairing him with Austin Ekeler (DK $4,200, FD $5,800) who has seen his role continue to increase the past two weeks. Ekeler has seen seven targets and 16 carries in the last two weeks and has turned that into over 40 DK points. People would likely fade the pairing both running backs on the same team, but with Sean Lee out for the Cowboys, that could open up the Chargers running game for both backs.
The Cowboys offense has really struggled without Ezekiel Elliott and LT Tyron Smith. Fortunately they should be getting Smith back in this game which will help Dak Prescotts (DK $6,700, $8,900). Dak has failed to meet salary expectations the last two games and is coming off of a three interception game on national TV. Priced between Cousins and Stafford, he’s likely to be the lowest owned of the three and still provides a good deal of rushing upside. Dak has proven to be the Cowboys new goal line back so if the Cowboys are within the 5 yard line, that could lead to a rushing TD for Dak. Dak also has the luxury of playing in the game with the slates highest over/under. Dak is my favorite pivot off Cousins on this slate.
The Cowboy receivers don’t give a lot to be excited about but Dez Bryant (DK $6,400, FD $7,400) does provide some upside given his price range. He’s the fourth highest price receiver and has the largest percent of the team’s target share. The problem is that Bryant is going up against two pretty solid corners in Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward. The Cowboys wide receivers have tough matchups against the Chargers, especially if the Chargers pass rush can get to Dak. The recipe for success for the Cowboys might be to use Dak’s rushing ability and control the game with their running game. Bryant is viable for cash given the amount of targets he gets, but it’s difficult to see a breakout game with the matchup he has.
Speaking of the Cowboys rushing game, since Elliott’s suspension the run game hasn’t been very effective. Alfred Morris (DK $4,800, FD $6,100) and Rod Smith (DK $3,400, FD $5,300) will get the majority of the workload for Dallas. Morris has got 28 carries over the last two games, but Smith has gotten the majority of targets. The Chargers allow the third most fantasy points to opposing backfield so if the workload were to lean on one back they could have a big day. Depending on the game flow you expect, Morris could see upwards of 25 carries and Smith could get around 8-10 targets. The Cowboys have fell behind early the last two games and that has led to Smith getting over 54% of the snaps. They are 2.5 point underdogs so that very well could be the scenario this go around.
New York Giants (18.75) at Washington Redskins (26.25) over/under 45
New York Giants
The Giants have the slate lowest implied team total at less than 20 points. Last week they were able to pull off the upset against the Chiefs in an overtime win, but still failed to score a touchdown. This week they find themselves in a similar situation. Their biggest threat in Sterling Shepard has missed practice all week and is a good bet to be inactive for this game. This could funnel the production to Evan Engram (DK $6,100, FD $7,600). Engram leads the team with 44 targets and four touchdowns since Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall went down for the season. That production should continue with Shepard out. Engram is the only play worth considering for this slate.
The team with the highest implied total (26.25) and the most stable offensive production.
Kirk Cousins (DK $7,100, FD $8,800) is the highest priced QB on the slate and will be the highest owner QB on the slate. He has the highest implied total and is playing at home, which bodes well for his owners. But there is cause for caution with Cousin missing two offensive linemen (Shawn Lauvao and Spencer Long) and also pass-catching running back Chris Thompson.
The benefit of rostering Cousins is that you can predict where his production will correlate. Jamison Crowder (DK $5,400, FD $6,300) and Josh Doctson (DK $4,700, FD $6,600) are the primary recipients of Cousins targets. Crowder is averaging over 9 targets per game in the last four and Doctson has emerged as the team’s deep threat after Terrelle Pryor has seen a limited role. Crowder is a viable cash game option given the amount of targets he receives. While Doctson is the darkhorse with the higher ceiling.
Samaje Perine (DK $5,000, FD $7,600) is the only running back outside of Melvin Gordon that is a lock to touch the ball more than 20 times. Perine is a home favorite and received over 70% of the carries last week. With Thompson out for the season, this is Perine’s backfield to control. Perine should get the bulk of the carries for the Redskins and will get a lot of opportunities if the Redskins can grab a lead early. The Giants rank 26th in aFPA to running backs.
QB: Cousins, Prescott, Keenum
RB: Gordon, Perine, Murray, Morris
WR: Thielen, Bryant, Crowder, Tate
TE: Davis/Reed, Rudolph, Engram
DST: Redskins, Cowboys
RB: Ekeler, McKinnon
WR: Doctson, Ty. Williams
DST: Lions, Chargers
QB: Rivers, Manning
RB: Abdullah, Riddick, Darkwa
WR: Diggs, Beasley, M. Jones, Lewis
TE: Ebron, Gates