Thanksgiving Day DFS Slate Breakdown


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Thanksgiving Day DFS Slate Breakdown

Outside of the Super Bowl, Thanksgiving day football is arguably the best day of the year for football fans. Food, family, beer, and, well, football! And every year, DFS players attempt to grind out any and all possible edges in this annual 3-game slate of games. In essence, that’s the purpose of this article. Discussing every angle and every edge of the Thanksgiving slate, leaving no stone unturned. I’ll be discussing every relevant play on both Fanduel and DraftKings for Thanksgiving day, grouped by position, and ranked in descending order in the TLDR.

This article is going to be long, but ideally, it should be all you need to be a profitable DFS player on Thanksgiving day.

But before we dig too deep into the specific players on this slate, I did want to mention two important notes this week:

1) On a typical full-game slate, you’ll want to feel comfortable with every player you’re rostering. Ideally, even your punt-plays are strong values with good upside. On a shorter slate like this (three games, six teams) it’s okay to roster a relatively “gross” name if you feel they give you a stronger lineup overall – allowing you to pay up elsewhere.

2) Late-swap is of crucial importance on these smaller slates. If you have any tournament lineups that, after a bad game or two, seem unlikely to cash, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by adding exposure to some “riskier” lower-owned players.


Running Backs

Saints’ RBs

Last week, despite Tony Jones’ return, and the team being down both of their two starting tackles, Ingram again received a full-on bell cow workload, and again hit 3.0X value on DraftKings. He scored 16.3 fantasy points on a 22.6-point expectation (6th-most), earning 16 of 20 carries, 9 of 10 targets, and 2 of 2 10-zone opportunities out of the backfield.

Since 2019, New Orleans’ non-Kamara RB1 has averaged: 19.2 carries, 7.0 targets, and 25.3 DK FPG, hitting at least 100 YFS in 5 of 5 games (averaging 127.0).

Neither Alvin Kamara nor Mark Ingram were able to practice on Tuesday. If both are out, I’ll be all-in on Tony Jones for DFS. The allure of a Sean Payton bell cow at $4,000 is just too attractive to ignore; everything else (e.g. the risk of a committee, the matchup, the ownership, etc.) be damned.

The matchup is tough on-paper, against the Bills, but maybe only on paper — Derrick Henry dropped 35.6 fantasy points against the Bills in Week 6. Over Buffalo’s next two games, Miami’s RBs and Jacksonville’s RBs (without James Robinson) collectively averaged just 11.8 FPG, but those aren’t exactly competent backfields. In Week 10, New York Jets RBs dropped 32.3, which was 36% more than their season-long average. And then, as we all know, Jonathan Taylor scored 53.4 fantasy points against the Bills last week.

Should Ingram suit up and isn’t limited, I’d consider him roughly equivalent to David Montgomery as the 2nd-best RB play on the slate (by value), behind only D’Andre Swift (assuming Jared Goff starts for Detroit). And given Montgomery will likely see higher ownership, I’d slightly prefer Ingram in tournaments, despite the perceived tough matchup.

If Kamara plays, I’d consider him the RB3 (by value), behind Montgomery and Swift, and just barely ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the trickiest part about this situation is that the Saints are playing in the last game of the slate, so make sure you keep Kamara in your flex spot wherever possible if he ends up as a game time decision. That way, if he’s ruled out, you’ll at least maximize your opportunity to swap off - either to Ingram, or to similarly priced Stefon Diggs.

Lions’ RBs

D’Andre Swift has been dominating the Lions backfield after starting the season in a 60/40 timeshare with Jamaal Williams. In the three games the duo has played together since Week 6, Swift has handled 71% of backfield opportunities, 71% of backfield snaps, 75% of backfield red zone opportunities, and is averaging 22.9 FPG. Among slate-eligible RBs, those numbers rank 2nd, 1st, 1st, and 1st (by +3.1 FPG). And he handled 78% of the backfield XFP last week with Williams active, up from 64% over Williams’ last three games.

Now, it’s also worth mentioning that Alvin Kamara (knee) seems unlikely to play, after missing practice on both Monday and Tuesday. If that’s the case, then Swift is the clear RB1 (by projected points) and roughly tied with David Montgomery as the top value RB (assuming Goff starts) on this slate. Using those same Jamaal Williams splits, Swift would lead the slate (sans Kamara) in backfield opportunities by 12%, backfield snaps by 3%, red zone opportunities by 4%, and would average 33% more FPG than the next closest RB on the slate (Ezekiel Elliott). And Swift is 9% cheaper than Elliott on DraftKings, and 5% cheaper than him on Fanduel, clocking in as the RB3 (by salary) on both sites.

This matchup with Chicago ranks fairly neutral in the RB defensive metrics that matter to me, but this is the lowest total on the slate by 5.0-points, so the subpar scoring environment is arguably the only thing going against Swift here. Well, that, and the fact Tim Boyle could start this game for the Lions — crucial context given their gross 19.0-point implied total, and the fact Swift recorded a whopping 0 receiving yards in Boyle’s first start last week. Still, low implied team totals have done very little to slow down Swift this year, as he’s averaged 21.9 DraftKings FPG and 18.1 Fanduel FPG when the Lions are implied for 19-points or fewer this season (5 instances). Even if Kamara plays, both of those numbers lead slate-eligible RBs if extrapolated to the entire season.

So, Swift is the RB1 on this slate, a must play in cash games (if Goff starts), and should be one of the top-2 highest-owned RBs as a result.

With that said, his backfield teammate Jamaal Williams also makes for an intriguing (or at least relevant) play on this short slate, at least on DraftKings where he clocks in at the minimum price of $4,000.

Williams is the RB14 on DraftKings, and the RB12 on Fanduel after averaging just 2.9 FPG in his last three games. That’s obviously #Bad, but these are the plays we must discuss on a micro slate like Thanksgiving.

Williams will be hardly involved (if at all) as a receiver, as he’s only captured 23% of backfield targets in his 8 games this season, and just 8% of backfield targets since Week 6. Even with the reduced role relative to what we saw early on in the season, Williams can still be expected to earn around 33% of backfield rush attempts, and that could include some goalline carries as Williams has registered 2 of the Lions’ 7 inside the 5 carries in his healthy games this year. In all likelihood, the only way Williams can wind up in a tournament winning lineup is if Detroit controls this game throughout, letting their rushing attack do most of their offensive damage.

As much as that may sound improbable given the Lions 0-9-1 record and their overall QB situation, they are only 3.5-point underdogs, and Vegas gives them a 39% chance to win this game outright. So if Detoit does manage to win, or at least keep it close, there are absolutely scenarios where Williams can earn enough yardage, or potentially sneak into the end zone, to wind up on a GPP-winning team. And, Williams and Swift actually positively correlate (+0.21) in their 8 games together, so there actually is some merit to playing these two on the same roster, granted that’s only something I could recommend for those making a significant number of lineups in large field tournaments.

Small field tournament and cash game players can safely ignore Williams, but in the large field GPPs that permeate this slate, there is absolutely merit to some Jamaal Williams exposure, especially on DraftKings where he’s the minimum price.

Cowboys’ RBs

Among slate-eligible RBs (Kamara included), Ezekiel Elliott ranks 3rd in XFP per game (17.2), 3rd in FPG (17.2), and 3rd in targets per game (3.8). As the RB1 on DraftKings and the RB2 on Fanduel (by pricing), Zeke doesn’t immediately stand out as a value.

But he has a few things going for him. He leads all slate-eligible players in XTD per game (0.9 - 0.2 more than the next closest player) and Dallas offers far and away the best implied team total of the slate at 30.0 points. In his career, Elliott has averaged 22.3 DraftKings FPG and 19.3 Fanduel FPG when the Cowboys implied team total is 29.0 or more (14 instances). Both of those numbers would lead all slate-eligible RBs over the entirety of this season. And given Elliott has 92% of the Cowboys goalline carries this season, he has easily the best TD equity on the slate. With Swift so clearly the RB1, Elliott presents an exciting pivot opportunity in large-field tournaments facing a defense that’s allowed the 5th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+5.8).

But with Tony Pollard stealing 37% of backfield opportunities this season, I’m not sure I can consider Zeke a viable cash game play, especially if Kamara somehow winds up active.

Pollard himself is another intriguing play. He’s the RB7 on both DFS sites, and shouldn’t carry significant ownership given he’s somewhat appropriately priced, clocking in as the RB6 by FPG (10.3) and the RB9 by XFP per game (9.2).

Interestingly, Pollards’ four highest-scoring games this year have all come in Dallas wins, where he has collectively averaged 11.5 FPG, compared to just 7.5 FPG in losses. On this slate, that’s the difference between the RB6 by FPG (Zach Moss) and the RB12 (Khalil Herbert) — an important note given the Cowboys are 7.0-point favorites.

Arguably more interesting, Pollard is positively correlated with Ezekiel Elliott, albeit just slightly. In 31 games together, the backfield duo has a correlation of +0.04, and while that’s far from earth shattering, it does suggest that you can pair these two together in large field tournaments in lineups anticipating a Dallas win, as the Dallas backfield has averaged 63% more FPG in wins (29.1) compared to losses (17.9). Like I said, I’d only pair the two in otherwise chalky, large field tournament lineups where I need to differentiate, but it is a viable strategy.

Overall, I’m largely neutral on Pollard given he relies on strong efficiency (+1.5 PAR) and has minimal TD equity, only accounting for 8% of goalline carries and just 29% of red zone opportunities.

Livestream Notes: Dallas gets LT Tyron Smith back this week, which is big. But it’s worth noting Elliott is a little banged up, dealing with a knee injury. That may result in more work for Pollard.

Raiders’ RBs

Josh Jacobs has failed to have a big game this year, scoring no more than 16.7 points in any individual contest. He’s been historically gamescript dependent given his lack of receiving work, and that’s shown up again this year as he’s averaged 12.1 FPG in losses, compared to 16.0 FPG in wins. Or, put another way, he’s been roughly equivalent to Aaron Jones in wins, and Myles Gaskin in losses.

Now, with the Raiders as 7-point underdogs and Dallas only allowing 8th-fewest FPG to opposing RBs (20.8), Jacobs obviously needs to be dinged. He won’t be in play for cash games for that reason, but Vegas does give the Raiders a 27% chance to win this game (and, historically, Dallas’ Thanksgiving lines are almost always overly optimistic), and if they do win, Jacobs is likely underpriced, as his 16.0 FPG in wins would make him the RB4 on this slate. So in tournaments I actually like Jacobs (if we assume middling ownership), especially as a part of Raiders onslaught stacks or as a part of an RB+D/ST stack.

Similar to the RB duos discussed above, Kenyan Drake actually enjoys an impressive positive correlation (+0.54) with Jacobs in 8 games together. Granted, in one of those games (Week 1), Jacobs was limited with multiple injuries, and in another game (Week 7) Jacobs left early with a chest injury. So excluding those games, the correlation is still a very respectable 0.35, but it is worth noting that both players have exceeded 13.5 points in two of their six full games together. So there is merit to playing this backfield duo together, but like I discussed above, it’s not recommended outside of the largest tournaments on the slate.

When playing with Jacobs, Drake is averaging 7.9 FPG — good for RB11 on the slate. Somewhat surprisingly, Drake’s receiving role is actually worse than Jacobs’, as Drake averages 15.7 routes per game and 3.2 targets per game, compared to 18.0 routes per game and 4.0 targets per game for Jacobs.

Drake’s viability as a play simply comes down to ownership. If he’s projecting for ~10% ownership or less, I’ll indulge the play. If he’s not, it’s hard to argue he’s a viable tournament play given his appropriate pricing relative to how he’s performed with Jacobs healthy.

Bears’ RBs

Among slate-eligible RBs, David Montgomery ranks 1st in snap share (77%), 2nd in rush attempts per game (16.0), 4th in touches per game (17.5), 5th in FPG (12.9), and 5th in XFP per game (12.9). He’s the RB5 on DraftKings and the RB4 on Fanduel, so, in a vacuum, he’s priced appropriately.

Thankfully for Montgomery, he’s not playing in a vacuum, he’s playing against Detroit — one of the league’s worst run defenses, allowing +7.7 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (3rd-most), and the 4th-most rushing FPG to opposing RBs (17.7). And the Lions are PFF’s 6th-worst graded run defense (46.2) and the 4th-worst rush defense by Football Outsiders DVOA (-2.8%). This is a top-5 matchup, and by far the best RB matchup of the slate, anyway we choose to look at it.

Given that Montgomery has captured 93% of backfield XFP in his last 3 healthy games, we can realistically assume he should be in line for about 20.1 fantasy points against Detroit, using our schedule-adjustment. 20.1 FPG would lead all non-Kamara RBs on this slate and would easily make Montgomery the top value RB play of Thanksgiving. At least on DraftKings, that makes Montgomery an easy cash game play.

Now, this matchup is no secret, and I’d expect Montgomery to be one of the most popular RBs on the slate for that reason. For those worried about ownership, the obvious pivot would be to Josh Jacobs in tournaments, especially on DraftKings where there is only a $100 difference between the two. But that’s not to say Montgomery isn’t a great play, and if there’s a spot to eat chalk on this slate, it’s probably with Montgomery.

Outside of Montgomery, I’m not sure another Bears RB really warrants consideration. Neither Khalil Herbert nor Damien Williams (who is out this week) has scored more than 1.3 fantasy points in either of the last two games Montgomery has played. Montgomery simply dominates the snap and touch shares out of this backfield, and unless he gets hurt in practice, I don’t see a reason to entertain any other Bears’ RB.

Bills’ RBs

This backfield has turned into a complete disaster for fantasy purposes, and that’s due to the emergence of Matt Breida as a legitimate contributor. In Week 11, Breida saw a 32% snap share, compared to 38% for Devin Singletary, and just 29% for Zack Moss. And to make matters worse, the Bills gave Breida 35% of backfield opportunities, Singletary 41%, and Moss 24%. So, yeah, this is a mess.

We do have a few areas of certainty, though. For starters, Moss has dominated the backfield inside the red zone, earning 60% of backfield red zone opportunities compared to just 26% for Singletary. Breida has only played an offensive snap in 3 games, but in those games he’s captured 18% of red zone opportunities, and Moss has still largely dominated (65%). Moss clearly has the best TD equity in this backfield, an important note given the Bills’ 26.0-point implied team total — the 2nd-largest of the slate. But, even so, it’s not like Moss has a full monopoly over Buffalo red zone work, as Josh Allen has accounted for 17 red zone carries and 5 carries at the goalline, so Moss does still carry the risk of getting vultured by his QB.

But, I think the player I’m the most interested in, at least for tournaments, is Breida. He’s been ridiculously impressive in his last two games (9.9 YPC), and seems to be carving himself out a legitimate offensive role at the expense of Moss and Singletary. Over the last two weeks, Breida has 12 touches, 15 routes, and 24 snaps. That may not seem like much, but it’s an absolutely massive improvement on being inactive (coaches decision) from Weeks 2 through 9. And it compares rather well to the 14 touches, 23 routes, and 43 snaps Devin Singletary has logged the last two weeks. At the very least, it should be apparent Breida is working his way up the pecking order.

And then there is Singletary, the most expensive of the three on both sites. He actually leads this backfield in touches per game at 10.8, and at least right now, is the lead backfield receiver, averaging 3.1 targets and 19 routes per game. But, the emergence of Breida has cut into his role more so than Moss’ role, as neither Singletary nor Breida has managed to syphon off much, if any goal-line or red-zone work.

We also need to acknowledge this is one of the worst possible matchups for opposing RBs, with the Saints ranking as the toughest defense for opposing RBs by schedule-adjusted FPG (-6.7) and New Orleans ranks 1st in Football Outsiders run defense DVOA (-38.0%).

So what do we do with these three? Well, it’s safe to say none of these RBs are cash game plays. In tournaments I’d expect Moss to be the most popular, given his goalline role is just about the only thing we can have any faith in with this backfield. To be honest, I don’t really see myself rostering any of these RBs in a significant % of my lineups. But, when MMEing in large field tournaments, my preference would be Moss, then Breida, then Singletary. I imagine I’ll end up with mid-to-low single-digit % exposure to both Breida and Singletary, with low double-digit % exposure to Moss. Especially in tournaments, I do think Breida’s upside will be severely underrated. He’ll carry basically no ownership, and if he’s able to rip off a long run (which we saw him do during his time in San Francisco, and it didn’t feel to fluky as he runs a 4.38 forty-yard-dash) or score, then we may be looking at a tournament winning performance. We can’t consider that likely, but the opportunity is there.

Livestream Notes: Johnny significantly prefers Breida to Jamaal Williams and Kenyan Drake.

Wide Receivers

Expensive Wide Receivers

Much of how we approach the expensive WRs on this slate will be dependent on the status of CeeDee Lamb (concussion), who, according to Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, “is doing really well” and does have a chance to play on Thursday. But, according to FantasyPoints injury expert Dr. Edwin Porras, Lamb’s chances of clearing concussion protocol in time to play Thursday are closer to 10%, as “it’s his second concussion since college and the protocol is non-linear. He could stay stuck in phase III [of the concussion protocol] for a few days.” So, we are most likely approaching this slate from the perspective of Lamb being inactive, but I’ll still explore the possibility he could play. Should Lamb play, he’s the top expensive WR play of the slate, and a must play in cash games given Amari Cooper is leaving behind a 17.4% target share, 13.2 XFP per game, and 1.7 deep targets per game. While Lamb’s matchup with the Raiders is on the tougher end (-2.5 schedule adjusted FPG, 7th-toughest), he would be locked into the best target floor of the slate on the team with the most scoring upside on the slate.

With that out of the way, now we can discuss the most-expensive WR on this slate: Stefon Diggs.

Diggs' role isn’t what we saw last season, but it’s still quite impressive. He leads all slate-eligible WRs in XFP per game (17.4), air yards per game (127.6), deep targets per game (2.2), and targets per game (10.2). But, he’s also the most expensive WR on the slate, 14% more expensive than CeeDee Lamb on DraftKings and 8% more expensive than Lamb on Fanduel. And without Lamb, Diggs is the most expensive WR on the slate by about 25%, but he'd also be 24% more productive than the next closest WR, so his price certainly isn’t without merit.

New Orleans is a more neutral matchup for opposing WR1s, allowing +0.1 schedule-adjusted FPG. Paired with a middling scoring environment (46.5 total), Diggs just isn’t justifiable in cash games for this slate. And for tournaments, he will almost certainly be one of the top-3 highest-owned WRs, so I’m not a huge fan of this play overall, especially with Diggs only exceeding 20.0 fantasy points in 20% of his games this year, compared to 44% last season. Still, this matchup could be regarded as a strong one given Marshon Lattimore ranks 3rd-worst of 116 qualifying CBs in fantasy points allowed per route in coverage. And Diggs has slate-breaking upside unlike any other Thanksgiving WR, so, he’s still worth rostering in at least 20% of lineups if MMEing.

Mid-Priced Wide Receivers

Now, if Lamb sits, then we are looking at Michael Gallup as the top WR play of the slate. Gallup will be an every down player on the outside, and should easily have the highest target floor of any Cowboys WR, and likely the 2nd-highest target floor of any player on the slate, behind only Stefon Diggs. If adjusting for injury, Gallup is averaging about 11.9 targets and 21.7 XFP per four quarters, though just 11.5 fantasy points. The lack of production is a concern, but the volume is undeniably enticing (regardless of price). And especially now with Cooper out and Lamb potentially out. At just $5,900 on DraftKings and $6,500 on Fanduel (WR4/WR5), that would make him a free square in cash games, and likely the highest-owned WR on the slate.

Lamb playing would certainly move people off rostering Gallup, and if Lamb plays, he’s likely to draw significantly more defensive attention from this Raiders secondary than Gallup. So, Gallup would certainly jump out as a strong tournament play (at lower ownership) with Lamb active.

Darnell Mooney also jumps out as a potential cash game play if Allen Robinson (hamstring — doubtful) is inactive, which at this point appears more likely than not. Without ARob this past Sunday, Mooney recorded an insane 45% target share (14 targets), 121 yards, and 23.1 fantasy points. It was the best game of Mooney’s career, and given the Lions are PFF’s worst-graded coverage unit (33.3 team coverage grade), I’d be expecting another high-target outing from Mooney if ARob sits on Thursday. Should Robinson play, it obviously hurts Mooney, but I do think the field may overreact to the point that Mooney is still a strong tournament play. He was the Bears’ WR1 with Robinson healthy, and he managed to exceed 15.5 fantasy points in 33% of his games this season with Robinson on the field. So, even if Robinson plays, I’m still viewing Mooney as a solid GPP option, assuming his ownership is reduced by ARob being active, which is more likely than not.

Hunter Renfrow has been a solid contributor in PPR formats, averaging a career-high 13.3 FPG and 7.3 targets per game. He hasn’t exceeded 19.0 fantasy points in a game this season, so his ceiling isn’t as high as a comparably priced player like Mooney, but Renfrow makes up for it with remarkable consistency, scoring at least 10.0 fantasy points in 8 of his 10 games this season, and seeing at least 5 targets in 9 games. That consistency will keep Renfrow in the cash game conversation, but this is a tough matchup, as the Cowboys are only allowing 10.9 FPG to opposing slot WRs this season (9th-toughest). In tournaments, it’ll be ownership that determines just how good of a play Renfrow ends up being, but overall, I’d rather drift toward higher-upside players like Mooney, all else equal.

Allen Robinson could play (they’re listing him as doubtful, giving him a miniscule chance), although he did miss walkthroughs on both Monday and Tuesday as he’s still dealing with a hamstring issue. Even if he manages to play, I don’t see much value here. Hamstring injuries add tremendous volatility to players, and not in a good way. When healthy, Robinson hasn’t exceeded 11.0 fantasy points in any game this year. But, the bull case for ARob is that he led the team in deep targets prior to Week 11, and Detroit has been incredibly vulnerable to the deep ball this season, allowing the most YPG (73.4) and the 5th-most FPG (10.4) on deep passes this season. Even so, Robinson’s lack of production this year, combined with his hamstring injury means he’s only in play in the largest of Thanksgiving GPPs should he suit up as the WR2 on a team with a 23.0 implied total.

Marquez Callaway is the Saints WR1 so far this season, granted he’s only averaging 4.5 targets a game, which ranks 17th among slate-eligible WRs. But, it’s worth noting the Saints are throwing the ball more over these last 4 weeks with Trevor Siemian at QB. From Weeks 1 through 7, the Saints only averaged 25.1 pass attempts per game - by far the lowest mark in the NFL. Since Week 8 when Jameis Winston was injured mid-game, New Orleans has attempted 38.5 passes per game. Over the full season, that would rank 8th, just behind Buffalo and just ahead of Dallas.

If we take that 38.5 pass attempts per game, and give Callaway his team leading 16.3% target share, that translates to 6.2 targets per game, which would rank 9th among slate eligible WRs. However, his target share has only been 12.5% with Siemian under center (3rd-most, tied) and that translates to a meager 4.8 targets per game, which is 15th among slate-eligible WRs. And this is the definition of a brutal matchup, as Buffalo has allowed the fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WR1s (-5.0). There’s no way to justify Callaway in cash games, and I’d also stay away in smaller tournaments. Even so, with a devastating matchup and sub-par on paper statistics, Callaway is viable in large field tournaments (especially on Fanduel as the WR10 by salary) as he’s all but guaranteed to carry low ownership. But, just keep in mind, it’s an incredibly risky play and not one I’m very excited about.

Emmanuel Sanders is one of the mid-priced WRs I’m the most excited about, at least for tournaments.

He’s the WR9 (by salary) on both sites, but ranks 2nd in deep targets per game (2.0), 2nd in air yards per game (106.9), 3rd in end zone targets per game (0.9), 5th in FPG (12.0), and 7th in XFP per game (12.0). That’s led to quite a bit of volatility in his fantasy performances, as he’s exceeded 20.4 fantasy points in two games, but fallen below 7.1 fantasy points in another four games. Volatility like that is our best friend in tournaments, and assuming he isn’t one of the highest-owned WRs of the slate (which he may be), Sanders is an outstanding play in GPPs. Granted, a reasonably bearish case could be made that Sanders’ age (34) is catching up to him, as he’s averaged just 5.8 FPG over the last four weeks. In my opinion, while age could certainly be a factor, Sanders lack of production recently is due to his volatile role, relying heavily on deep passes and TDs.

The Saints are middle of the pack at defending the deep ball, and the 10th-toughest matchup for opposing WR2s (-1.7 schedule-adjusted FPG), so this is largely a neutral matchup for the veteran WR.

Cole Beasley was smashing prior to injury, averaging 12.7 FPG and 8.4 targets per game from Weeks 1 through 9. Those numbers rank 5th- and 3rd-best among slate-eligible WRs. But in the subsequent 2 games following Beasley’s Week 9 rib injury, he’s earned just 3.5 targets per game and 4.9 FPG. He’s clearly not at full health, as his route share dipped from 77% in his first 8 games, to just 49% over his last 2. And subsequently, Dawson Knox saw a career high in route share last week (95%), and a 74% route share in Week 10 - a marked improvement on his 50% route share from Weeks 1 through 9. So, there is a serious risk Beasley has been demoted while his rib injury heals. While the Saints are a plus matchup for opposing slots, giving up the 6th-most FPG (15.7), Beasley’s health, and a potentially reduced role, is the major risk here. So there’s two ways we can approach this. We can play Beasley in lineups where we are fading Knox, in the hope Beasley has returned to his role from Weeks 6 through 9, when he averaged 7.7 targets per game and 18.0 FPG. But I think I’d rather just chase Knox, hoping Beasley is still banged up, and that Knox’s W11 role stays consistent.

Livestream Notes: Beasley got in his first full practice in three weeks on Wednesday.

Since returning from injury in Week 7, Tre’Quan Smith ranks 3rd on the Saints in targets (24), 1st in receiving yards (205), 2nd in routes (167), 2nd in receiving TDs (2), and he’s led all Saints WRs in yardage market share (26%) with Trevor Siemian under center. In fact, he’s posted eerily similar lines to Marquez Callaway since returning, with the key difference being that Smith has run about 40% more routes from the slot. While this Bills’ defense is a bottom-tier matchup in every sense, they are somewhat of a slot funnel, allowing the 7th-highest target share to opposing slots (43.6%). And with Smith as the Saints’ top slot WR, and Kamara unlikely to play, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say Smith is easily the top dollar-per-target player of the week (he actually leads in XFP per dollar). In a matchup where they will likely need to throw as 4.5-point underdogs, there’s merit to playing Smith in GPPs, and I certainly prefer him in those contests to Callaway, especially on DraftKings where Smith is $600 cheaper. Still, it’s a thin play against the league’s top pass defense.

Cheap Wide Receivers
The Lions’ WRs

This is far and away the toughest spot when it comes to the cheap WRs, and that’s because every Lions’ WR falls under this category. And all of these WRs could have Tim Boyle throwing them passes. So, yeah, this is a tough spot, to put it lightly.

So far this year, Amon-Ra St. Brown (4.8 targets per game, 14.3% share) and Kalif Raymond (4.7, 14.0%) have led the way for this receiving corps. St. Brown has run 85% of his routes from the slot, and that presents him with the most favorable matchup of the Lions WRs, as Chicago has allowed the 3rd-most FPG (17.2) and the 9th-most targets to opposing slot WRs (75). I don’t think you can consider either player for cash, but St. Brown (WR13 by salary) is cheaper than Raymond (WR10) on DK, and given the PPR nature of the site, St. Brown can be considered a much stronger play than Raymond on DraftKings.

Fanduel is a bit different, with St. Brown registering as the WR13 (by salary), whereas Raymond is the WR17. Neither player has significantly better TD equity than the other, as they rank nearly identically in red zone targets and XTD per game. So, I’d view them as fairly equal plays over on Fanduel, with a slight lean towards Raymond, and I’d consider whoever projects for the lowest ownership the strongest tournament play on both sites.

Beyond those two, things get thin. Trinity Benson practiced in a limited fashion on Monday, but seemingly suffered a setback and missed Tuesday’s practice. Should he be active on Thursday, he would be expected to earn reps on the outside with Josh Reynolds. Still, I won’t be playing Benson as he has only eclipsed 3 targets in a game just once this season (Week 1), and hasn’t scored more than 5.0 fantasy points in a game. And even if he doesn’t play, Reynolds is a player who was just cut from a WR-needy Titans team, meaning he likely isn’t very good, and even if he was, no Lions WR outside of Quintez Cephus (who is out for the rest of the year), Raymond, and St. Brown have scored more than 5.0 fantasy points in a game this season. But, Reynolds did lead the Lions in route share last week (96%) and has a history with QB Jared Goff, so you could certainly make an argument there’s merit to playing Reynolds, especially with Benson out, even if it’s just to save salary.

Livestream Notes: Amon-Ra St. Brown has the matchup in his favor. Chicago is a top-2 slot funnel, ranking 4th-worst in FPG to slot WRs but 12th-best against outside WRs. Though Johnny loves Josh Reynolds as one the best value-plays of the slate. He noted his connection to Jared Goff and the fact that he led the team in routes last week.

Other Cheap Wide Receivers

Since DeSean Jackson joined the team in Week 10, it’s actually been Zay Jones, not Jackson, who leads the team in deep targets, albeit with only 2. Still, it does seem like Jones has absorbed more of the Henry Ruggs role than Jackson thus far, as Jones has seen 2.0 more targets per game in Ruggs’ absence, while Bryan Edwards’ role has remained static.

Given that Jones is the cheapest of the three on both sites, and has seen the best volume post-Ruggs, he’s the preferable play in all formats. But, a solid argument could be made that Jackson’s role will increase as the season goes on as he gains more familiarity with the playbook. Granted, that’s not an argument that holds as much weight on a short week like this. Although, few players have the single-play upside of DeSean Jackson, as he has more career 50+ yard TDs than Randy Moss (33). So, for those who plan on 150-maxing or just creating a ton of lineups for GPPs, there is still merit to including Jackson on some number of teams.

Marquise Goodwin (listed as questionable) stands to gain the most should Allen Robinson sit. We saw Goodwin earn the 2nd-most routes (29) and targets (8) of any Bears’ player in Week 11, including 3 targets of 20 or more yards that Goodwin turned into 94 yards and a TD. He offers 4.27 speed and has been an excellent deep threat in his career, and should Robinson sit, we can view him as a full-time DeSean Jackson-esque player, albeit with a significantly higher target floor. He makes for an outstanding tournament play against a Lions’ team that has allowed the most yards per game (73.4) and the 5th-most FPG (10.4) on deep targets this season.

Deonte Harris has averaged 6.0 targets and 8.3 FPG in his last 4 games, numbers that would rank 10th and 14th among slate-eligible WRs if extrapolated out for the full season. As the WR16 on both sites, that makes him a value, right? Well, probably not once we account for this matchup. Buffalo is the 3rd-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing WRs (-7.9), and they’ve allowed by far the fewest receiving yards (15.0) and FPG (2.0) to opposing WRs on deep passes - a huge knock for Harris given 44% of his fantasy production this season has come on throws of 20 or more yards. So, Harris can’t be considered much more than a risky dart throw that’s only playable in large field tournaments.

Gabriel Davis hasn’t seen much playing time this season, averaging just 15.5 routes and 2.4 targets per game. But, he does have 4 end zone targets this season, which actually ties Hunter Renfrow and Darnell Mooney for 8th-best among slate-eligible WRs. And he’s tied for 10th among Thanksgiving WRs with 0.3 XTD per game, so he does offer some sneaky TD upside. I’m fairly neutral on Davis over on DraftKings where he’s the WR17, but I think he has solid merit in tournaments on Fanduel, where TDs make a bigger difference and he costs just $4,800 (WR21).

If Ceedee Lamb is out, Malik Turner, Cedrick Wilson, and Noah Brown are likely to gain traction as low priced punt plays.

Wilson has run 89% of his routes from the slot this season, and that presents him with arguably the toughest matchup, as the Raiders have only allowed 10.2 FPG to opposing slots this year (5th-toughest). Wilson did average 9.0 FPG and in Gallup’s absence, which ranks 12th among slate-eligible WRs. He should be in line for more work given Cooper and Lamb account for a significantly larger percentage of the Dallas target share than just Gallup, and that makes him cash game viable, and an outstanding tournament play over on DraftKings where he’s the WR22 (by salary). On FanDuel, however, Wilson is the WR12, and can’t be considered much more than a mediocre GPP play.

When debating between Turner and Brown, things get a little interesting. Both should play, but it was Brown who saw significantly more playing time with Amari Cooper inactive this past week, running 31 routes (compared to 8 for Turner) while both players saw 2 targets. Brown has also been preferred by the coaching staff throughout the season, logging an offensive snap in 9 games this season, compared to just 5 for Turner. So, should Lamb be out, Brown would be close to a full-time role and likely one of the best values at WR given he’s the minimum price on DraftKings and just $4,700 on Fanduel. But, it’s still a tougher matchup facing a Raiders defense that’s been the 7th-toughest to opposing WRs (-3.2 schedule-adjusted FPG).

Tight Ends

Darren Waller had struggled this season (-3.3 PAR), but seemed to get back on track this past week with a 8 target, 116 yard, 18.6 fantasy point performance. Waller is the TE1 by salary, clocking it at 21% more expensive than the TE2 on DraftKings (Dalton Schultz) and 20% more expensive than the TE2 on Fanduel (T.J. Hockenson). Still, his 16.5 XFP per game is 35% better than the next closest TE, so a solid argument could be made that he's relatively cheap on this 3 game slate. Dallas has been a neutral schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing TEs this season (+0.5), so it’s tough not to consider Waller the top TE of this slate. Granted, I think there may be better options in tournaments, especially if Waller ends up as the most popular TE on the slate. And given the litany of solid salary-relief options available at other positions, I’d say that’s likely. When I do play Waller, it’ll primarily be in lineups where I’m fading DeSean Jackson and Zay Jones, with the theory being that if Dallas is committed to not giving up anything deep, Waller should eat underneath. A similar point could be made about Hunter Renfrow, but I digress.

In the Cowboys first game without Amari Cooper, Dalton Schultz tied his season-high for targets (8), scoring 11.3 fantasy points. Schultz has earned a 16% target share and run about 50% of his routes from the slot or out wide this season, but should CeeDee Lamb miss this game as expected, it’s reasonable to expect Schultz to see a bump in both targets and routes from WR alignments, granted by how much is anyone’s guess. Interestingly, all four of Schultz’ best games this season have come when the Cowboys’ implied team total is over 27.0, and it’s 29.25 this week. I think one of the more interesting ways to approach Schultz in tournaments is to solo stack him with Dak Prescott, thus pivoting off the cheap Cowboys’ WRs that are sure to be chalky, should Lamb be inactive.

T.J. Hockenson is averaging 14.1 FPG over his last 4 games if we exclude his Week 10 goose egg against Pittsburgh, and over the full season, that would actually lead all TEs on this slate. Granted, it’s nearly impossible to get excited about any pass catcher on a Lions’ team with a 19.0-point implied team total after Tim Boyle only managed to pass for 77 yards last week. Still, I think there is absolutely merit to playing Hockenson in tournaments given similarly-priced Dalton Schultz is sure to the higher-owned play on both sites, and with Jared Goff (oblique) seemingly likely to play, one could make a solid argument that Hockenson is actually a better bet than Schultz in tournaments. And I think I agree.

Dawson Knox is one of my favorite TE plays of this slate, at least in tournaments. While he only averages 4.8 targets per game (4th-most among slate-eligible TEs), he does see outstanding red zone and end zone usage. Knox ranks 2nd to only Darren Waller in XTD per game (0.5, +0.2 from the next closest TE). His 19 red zone and end zone targets are just 2 fewer than Waller this season, and in one less game. Plus it’s 35% more red zone and end targets than the next-closest TEs (Hockenson and Schultz). So, Knox has the 2nd-best TD equity of any TE on this slate, but is the TE4 on both sites. It’s worth noting that the Saints have only given up one TD to opposing TEs this season, and are giving up the 9th-fewest FPG to opposing TEs (9.7), so this matchup is on the tougher end. Regardless, Knox’s role is better than ever before, earning a career high in route share (96%) in Week 11 at a banged up Cole Beasley’s expense. That’s an absolutely massive 46% improvement over what we saw in Knox’s first 8 games of the year.

On FanDuel, it’s tough to argue Knox is a stronger play in isolation than either Hockenson or Schultz, given he’s priced nearly identically to both players. Still, that should further reduce his ownership in FD tournaments, and with how important it is to create unique lineups on this slate, that absolutely keeps him in play in GPPs. But on DraftKings, Knox is roughly 16% cheaper than both Hockenson and Schultz, so that’s where I plan to have the majority of my exposure.

Cole Kmet has seen solid volume lately, averaging 5.4 targets and 43.0 yards per game since Week 6. Unfortunately, he’s still been out-targeted by Jimmy Graham (2 to 1) in the end zone over that timespan. Even so, he does rank 2nd among slate-eligible TEs in deep targets per game (0.6) and 3rd in air yards per game (41.2). He’s the TE6 on both sites, but I generally prefer him on DraftKings where his lack of TD equity doesn’t hurt him as much as on Fanduel.

Juwan Johnson should absorb most of Adam Trautman’s receiving role, which has been worth about 8.9 XFP over the last 4 weeks. He’s just $100 more than the minimum price on DraftKings, and just $500 more than the minimum price on Fanduel, so he’s your best bet if you need a salary relief option at TE. He’s a top play at the position, but not necessarily because he projects well; more so it’s because his rock bottom salary enables us to pay up for better plays at other positions that offer a higher ceiling.

Jimmy Graham and Foster Moreau have both seen at least 35% of their targets come in the red zone or end zone, but Graham only has 8 targets on the year, and Moreau isn’t much better with 14. Either player’s success is completely dependent on catching a TD, and while it’s unlikely, both players should be under 5% owned, so they do have some merit in massive GPPs.


For cash games, the only two QBs I’d consider on Fanduel are Dak Prescott and Josh Allen. I lean Dak, albeit just barely and only if Lamb plays, as he has a slightly better matchup, is cheaper by $600, and has averaged a completely absurd 26.0 Fanduel FPG in his career when the Cowboys’ implied team total is over 28 points (13 instances).

On DraftKings, things are a bit tougher, at least for cash games. Derek Carr can be considered, but it’s a subpar matchup (-2.6 schedule-adjusted FPG, 4th-toughest), and he’s historically struggled when the Raiders’ implied team total is under 22.0 points (currently 21.75), averaging just 16.0 FPG in those scenarios (59 instances).

Josh Allen is also an option, but he's $900 more expensive than Dak, which actually creates an even bigger spread, percentage wise, between the two QBs than on Fanduel. And like I said above, Dak has the slightly better matchup, and has absolutely crushed these settings historically, averaging 27.5 DraftKings points when the Cowboys’ implied team total is over 28.0 points. So, I’m leaning towards Dak as my cash game QB on both sites.

Now, for tournaments, every starting QB (yes, even Tim Boyle) is in play. Ownership wise, I’m expecting Prescott, Allen, and Carr to absorb the vast majority of QB ownership, and likely in that order.

So, that leaves Andy Dalton, Trevor Siemian, and one of Tim Boyle, Jared Goff, or perhaps even David Blough as the ‘contrarian’ QB plays.

By far my favorite play in that group, and my favorite tournament play overall, is Andy Dalton. The Bears actually have the 3rd-highest implied team total on the slate (22.5), and Detroit is a strong matchup, as they are PFF’s worst-graded coverage unit (33.3). They also rank 3rd-worst in opposing passer rating (104.9) and dead-last in fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.56). The Lions are also especially vulnerable to the deep ball, as they’ve allowed the most YPG on deep passes (73.4) and the 5th-most FPG on deep passes (10.4). But, that does come with the caveat that Dalton has hardly thrown deep over the last two seasons, ranking bottom-8 in deep ball rate in each of the last two seasons. Still, this is a vulnerable secondary, and Dalton is certainly competent enough to take advantage.

Siemian is legitimately intriguing, as I noted when discussing Marquez Callaway that the Saints have been throwing the ball nearly 54% more since Week 8 when Siemian took over. He’s averaging 20.0 FPG in his three starts this season, and that actually ranks 2nd among slate-eligible QBs, ahead of Dak Prescott. This matchup with Buffalo, is, however, a huge negative for Siemian, as the Bills have allowed the fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (-5.7). But, everyone knows that the Bills crush opposing QBs and that will push Siemian’s ownership down to the point that I think he’s a solid play, specifically in large-field tournaments, especially since none of Siemian’s pass catchers will carry much ownership. I think I prefer him slightly more on DraftKings, where he’s actually $100 more expensive than Andy Dalton, which should keep Siemian’s ownership rather minuscule.

Jared Goff is “leaning towards” playing, and if he does suit up, I think I like him about as much as Siemian in tournaments as he’s $300 cheaper on Fanduel and $500 cheaper on DraftKings. Granted, that is assuming Siemian carries higher ownership, as I don’t plan on having a ton of Goff exposure overall given he’s only exceeded 15.0 fantasy points three times this season. The matchup is perfectly neutral, with the Bears giving up the 0.0 schedule-adjusted FPG this season. Regardless, this Lions’ implied team total sits at just 19.0 points, so this certainly isn’t a favorable scoring environment for Goff. I imagine I’ll be slightly overweight the field on Goff in tournaments, but like I said, I definitely won’t be going overboard here.

Should Tim Boyle or David Blough start for Detroit, I’d certainly reduce my overall exposure to the receiving pieces of the Detroit offense, but in the contests where I’m 150-maxing or even just making 20 or more lineups, I do think both players are worth some minimal exposure. In the off chance either QB produces a 16.0-point or more fantasy performance, they could absolutely wind up in winning lineups, especially given their ownership will be basically nonexistent. Granted, I only think exposure to these QBs is reasonable in the largest contests on the slate.