Thanksgiving Day, an American holiday to define them all: celebrating aspects of life to be appreciative of, gathered with family and friends while eating and drinking well, and taking three-team teaser parlays while setting early morning DFS lineups. It’s a festivity like none other, really. And with that being stated as a reflective reminder for what’s in store off of the field, I suppose it would be best now to address how we’ll be constructing rosters for on the field during this belt-busting festivity.
With a short NFL slate ahead of us to jump start our holiday week, we’re treated to an early NFC North matchup between an inconsistent Chicago Bears team visiting the Detroit Lions, who’ve been devastated by injuries, particularly on offense. And it wouldn’t be a complete 2019 Lions introduction without laying the red carpet down for yet another backup player to start for Detroit: this week being undrafted rookie quarterback David Blough, considering Jeff Driskel’s status remains in doubt with a hamstring injury.
Besides the Lions annually playing on this holiday since 1978, the 6-5 Dallas Cowboys take the field for their recurring representation as hosts to the Buffalo Bills, who find themselves in the driver’s seat for an AFC Wild Card spot with the best franchise record at this point in a season in over a decade at 8-3. In an underachieving season by his own standards, Ezekiel Elliott looks to have a bounce-back game against a Bills run defense that’s fallen from earlier season’s grace.
Finally, we’re treated to a Thanksgiving 2018 NFC South rematch of the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, which is most interesting from a daily fantasy standpoint (at least in my degenerate opinion) considering this game features several top-tier players who have each been notorious for frustratingly inconsistent seasons for production. Thus, we have some players we wouldn’t be opt to be playing on any standard-sized slate who we’ll be forced to muster the courage to roster, especially for tournament players (like myself) who have to be as different as realistically possible in hopes of solidifying any sole ownership of a top payout.
Let’s dive in!
Mitchell Trubisky, CHI ($5,300 DK/$6,800 FD)
Consideration: GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)
It’s understandable if the first reaction upon discovering Mitchell Trubisky as my quarterback write-up and cover boy is that of a cringing variety. But I’m telling you now that I’m not here to talk Cash Games on a DFS holiday centered around headlining GPP tournaments, and nor am I going to rattle on about how badly we all assume Drew Brees is going to knock around the Falcons secondary (and quite frankly, I’ve had my share of advocating NFC South players that turn out to be broken promises over the past couple of weeks). Being a multi-entry player, I will naturally be getting to Drew Brees (as I’m sure most of us will in some variety of entries) but his ownership is likely going to be something to look elsewhere because of in tournaments, at least to some degree.
The fact of the matter is this Detroit Lions defense is ripe to pick on, and Trubisky brings the well-rounded facets to pay off his meager salary tag and beyond, all while affording your top-priced players at several other positions. Detroit has not only given up the third-highest average passing yards per game on the year but also the seventh-most fantasy points on average to quarterbacks, as well as the ninth-most average rushing yards to quarterbacks (16.82).
The reason this intrigues me isn’t just that Detroit is susceptible to being thrown on with ease, but more so that this matchup is a versatile road to fantasy victory at the quarterback position for Trubisky, with no clear-cut means to succeed here, yet more of simply an open door to do so. After abandoning the quarterback scramble for much of the season, Trubisky has averaged 3.4 rushing attempts per game in his last seven outings, with his most attempts coming last week against the New York Giants with seven rushes for 17 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the season. This isn’t typically going to carve out an immediate path to cashing, but it affords you the ability to spend up elsewhere on a player who could provide slate-breaking numbers while paying off a cheap price tag in the quarterback slot.
It’s never a comfortable play, but on a day to be different and where every penny counts, Mitchell Trubisky will be among my top tournament shares at quarterback on the Thanksgiving Holiday.
[Other] Cash Game QBs:
Drew Brees, NO ($6,800 DK/$8,500 FD)
Josh Allen, BUF ($6,200 DK/$7,800 FD)
Other GPP QBs:
Matt Ryan, ATL ($6,400 DK/$7,700 FD)
Dak Prescott, DAL ($5,700 DK/$8,200 FD)
GPP Dart-Throw QB:
*David Blough, DET ($4,200 DK/$6,000 FD)
*This play is contingent on Jeff Driskel being OUT, and is extremely risky if so
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL ($7,400 DK/$8,400 FD)
Consideration: Cash Games, GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)
As mentioned prior, Ezekiel Elliott isn’t having the most outstanding season according to his skeptic investors and critics alike. He’s down to 4.3 yards per carry compared to last season’s 4.7 YPC, his targets per game are down significantly from 6.3 to 3.6 TPG, and he’s averaging 19.2 DraftKings Fantasy Points per game in contrast to last season’s 23.4 DKFP per game.
However, a Buffalo Bills reeling rush defense over recent weeks bodes to be an excellent matchup for Zeke. At his decreased [and almost crazy] salary at $7,400 on DraftKings, Elliott appears to be in a chalk “must-play” situation where a certain majority of the field will be all over him, and with very good reasoning. Buffalo’s rush defense is 26th overall according to DVOA Defensive Efficiency Rankings (per Football Outsiders) and has allowed an average of 4.4 YPC and 104.4 RU YPG. On the season, the Bills rush defense has surrendered 1,148 yards (14th) and 11 touchdowns (tied for eighth-most).
Zeke has taken advantage of his weaker matchups this season, cresting the 100-yard rushing mark against five teams all season, yet two of which who rank in the top eight against the rush per DVOA Defensive Efficiency (PHI 8th, NYJ 2nd). The Cowboys will certainly give him the volume, especially considering the stiff secondary the Bills bring to the table.
It will take quite a bit to do so, but I plan to get over the field ownership on Ezekiel Elliott come Turkey Day.
Other Cash Game RBs:
Alvin Kamara, NO ($8,100 DK/$8,300 FD)
Tarik Cohen, CHI ($5,000 DK/$6,400 FD)
Devin Singletary, BUF ($5,800 DK/$6,600 FD)
Devonta Freeman, ATL ($5,100 DK/$6,200 FD)
Other GPP RBs:
Latavius Murray, NO ($5,600 DK/$6,200 FD)
Bo Scarbrough, DET ($4,700 DK/$6,100 FD)
David Montgomery, CHI ($5,400 DK/$5,900 FD)
Frank Gore, BUF ($3,900 DK/$5,400 FD)
Dart-Throw GPP RB:
Tony Pollard, DAL ($4,900 DK/$5,200 FD)
Michael Thomas, NO ($9,100 DK/$9,200 FD)
Consideration: Cash Games, GPP (All Entry Field Sizes), Thanksgiving (Any Entrée)
Needless to say, but this dude has been lights-out. The one play on the entire slate who I wouldn’t mind getting to 100% of in my player pool, Michael Thomas is averaging over 21 DKFP over the past four games and 25.8 DKFP on the season. He faces a matchup in the Atlanta Falcons secondary that’s tastier than nearly anything that will be served at a feast on Thursday, giving up over 266 yards per game through the air along with 22 receiving touchdowns (tied fifth-most).
The Falcons pass defense sits 29th overall per DVOA Defensive Efficiency Rankings (ala Football Outsiders), while Thomas is averaging 11.27 targets per game and 9.45 receptions as a result. There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about Thomas, who also leads the league in receiving yards with 1,242 through 11 games played, with the next player behind him at 1,071 yards (Chris Godwin).
Depending on who you intend to prioritize on your roster at other positions may render your attempt to be over the field’s majority ownership on Michael Thomas, but I would recommend doing nearly anything it takes to get over that number. He’s a must-play if there ever has been on a three-game NFL slate.
Other Cash Game WRs:
Calvin Ridley, ATL ($6,600 DK/$6,500 FD)
Allen Robinson, CHI ($6,700 DK/$7,700 FD)
Cole Beasley, BUF ($4,700 DK/$5,800 FD)
Michael Gallup, DAL ($5,500 DK/$6,800 FD)
Other GPP WRs:
Marvin Jones, DET ($5,300 DK/$6,400 FD)
Amari Cooper, DAL ($6,000 DK/$7,900 FD)
Anthony Miller, CHI ($3,900 DK/$5,300 FD)
Ted Ginn Jr, NO ($3,800 DK/$5,200 FD)
*Russell Gage, ATL ($4,500 DK/$5,400 FD)
Dart-Throw GPP WR:
Isaiah McKenzie, BUF ($3,100 DK/$4,800 FD)
*Especially in play if Julio Jones is OUT (who did not practice Tuesday)
Jared Cook, NO ($4,800 DK/$6,700 FD)
Consideration: Cash Games, GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)
When it comes to certain players throughout all of sports, there are certain ones whose previous seasons’ performances distort our perception of their current productivity (or lack thereof). This tends to be the weekly scenario with Jared Cook, as people (myself included) are inundated with years worth of letdowns and over-projected outputs. In 2019, this perception has since been extinguished, at least if you’re into recency bias.
Cook has been on the uptick with targets since the return of Drew Brees, averaging 6.67 targets per game, with eight or more in two of the last three outings and six receptions in both of those games. He’s been the third-most targeted member of the Saints offense next to Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara in the three past weeks, and he’s averaging 14.82 DKFP in the past four.
It’s time to kick the notion that Jared Cook is washed up because this may be a renaissance year in the making for him. Against a Falcons defense who is 19th versus the tight end position per DVOA Defense Vs. Receivers rankings, Jared Cook is a no-brainer on a short slate.
Other Cash Game TEs:
Jason Witten, DAL ($3,300 DK/$5,500 FD)
Dawson Knox, BUF ($2,900 DK/$4,500 FD)
Logan Thomas, DET ($2,900 DK/$4,700 FD)
Other GPP TEs:
Jesse James, DET ($2,600 DK/$4,000 FD)
Blake Jarwin, DAL ($3,000 DK/$4,800 FD)
Jaeden Graham, ATL ($3,100 DK/$4,900 FD)
Dart-Throw GPP TE:
Jesper Horsted, CHI ($2,500 DK/$4,000 FD)
Cash Game D/STs:
Bears ($2,500 DK/$5,000 FD)
Saints ($3,500 DK/$4,700 FD)
Bills ($2,200 DK/$4,000 FD)
Cowboys ($3,000 DK/$4,200 FD)
Dart-Throw GPP D/ST:
Lions ($2,700 DK/$4,400 FD)