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Thanksgiving NFL DFS First Look | Top Plays for DraftKings & FanDuel

Matt Gajewski

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With 11 weeks in the books, Week 12 brings the special three-game Thanksgiving DFS slate. There are three separate start times, so the Thanksgiving DFS slate presents interesting chances to late swap and take down some massive prizes on the holiday. Here are a few first-look values to target in NFL DFS lineups on the DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy football Thanksgiving slate. We have some nice-looking bargains and a few contrarian NFL DFS picks to get into.


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NFL DFS: Week 12 Thanksgiving Slate: DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups

NFL DFS Picks: Quarterback

Deshaun Watson ($7,400 DraftKings/$8,700 FanDuel)

On a slate featuring the likes of Andy Dalton, Alex Smith and an injured Matthew Stafford, Watson stands out as the top signal-caller. Watson currently completes 68.9% of his passes for 8.5 yards per attempt. Both marks rank top six in the NFL. Last week he rebounded for 344 passing yards and a pair of scores against New England after a weather-influenced game against Cleveland the week prior. Improving matters further, Detroit allows 7.2 yards per pass attempt, which ranks eighth-worst in football. Also playing in the game with the highest total (50.5 points), Watson looks like the top quarterback play on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

Lamar Jackson ($6,800 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel)

Slumping significantly after his breakout 2019 season, Jackson hasn’t eclipsed 250 yards passing since his season debut. In fact, Jackson has only reached 200 passing yards four times this season. With that said, Jackson’s price continues to plummet to reasonable ranges, keeping him in play. Jackson has at least 45 rushing yards in all but one game this year. He also has at least 11 carries in each of his last four contests. With Baltimore running at the second-highest rate in the league, running Jackson out naked makes sense on Thanksgiving.

NFL DFS Picks: Running Back

Ezekiel Elliott ($6,800 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel)

Despite ceding a few touches to Tony Pollard on a weekly basis, Elliott has at least 20 touches in all but one game this season. Last week Elliott displayed his skillset with 21 carries for 103 rushing yards. He also turned a pair of targets into 11 additional yards and a score. The Cowboys find themselves as 2.5-point favorites over the Washington Football Team, putting them in favorable game script. On DraftKings in particular, Elliott’s price point is more than affordable.

D’Andre Swift ($6,500 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel)

Swift missed Week 11 with a concussion and is questionable for this contest. If active, Swift likely resumes his feature back role within the offense. Prior to his injury, Swift carried 16 times while adding another five targets in the passing game. Swift parlayed this volume into 81 rushing yards, 68 receiving yards and a score. Importantly, Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson only combined for six touches behind Swift. The Texans allow a league-worst 5.1 yards per attempt to opposing rushers.

Antonio Gibson ($6,000 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel)

Speaking of solid matchups, Gibson draws a Dallas Cowboys defense allowing 4.9 yards per attempt. This mark ranks third-worst in the NFL. While Gibson still cedes some work to J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber, he still averaged 14.8 touches coming into Week 11. Against the Bengals last week he added another 16 carries for 94 rushing yards and a pair of targets. Still the clear lead back in a tight projected matchup, Gibson may provide a contrarian pivot of the other slightly more expensive backs in this price range.

Duke Johnson ($5,700 DraftKings/$6,100 FanDuel)

Despite disappointing in two straight games without David Johnson, Duke Johnson still sets up for a full workload against the Lions this weekend. Last week Johnson handled 10 carries for an abysmal 15 rushing yards. However, Johnson also saw five targets in the passing game and played on 77% of Houston’s offensive snaps. Detroit allows 4.5 yards per attempt to enemy rushers, which ranks just below averages. For those looking at discounted running backs, Johnson provides a clear path to volume as a favorite.

NFL DFS Picks: Wide Receiver

Diontae Johnson ($6,200 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) 

Coming off an absurd 16-target game, Johnson enters the Thanksgiving slate mispriced on both DraftKings and FanDuel this weekend. Johnson holds a 22.6% target share in Pittsburgh’s offense, but even those numbers are depressed due to injury. The second-year Toledo product has at least 10 targets in every healthy game, equating to a 29% target share. Priced $100 and $200 above Chase Claypool and DraftKings and FanDuel, Johnson stands out as the superior target based on volume in the Pittsburgh offense.

Amari Cooper ($5,700 DraftKings/$6,900 FanDuel)

While Dalton isn’t Dak Prescott, he still is an upgrade over Ben DiNucci. With Dalton’s return to the offense, some of the Dallas skill position players returned to usable DFS assets. Cooper in particular notched six catches for 81 yards on a team-leading seven targets. Over the course of the season, his 22.1% target share paces the NFL. Similarly, Dallas continues to pace the NFL in overall play volume, providing additional targets within the context of his target share. While Washington is strong on defense, Cooper’s volume could be worth a look as a contrarian option in a popular price range, particularly on DraftKings.

Marvin Jones ($5,500 DraftKings/$6,000 FanDuel)

While Stafford turned in a brutal 178-yard performance in the Lions loss to the Carolina Panthers last week, his stat line looks a lot better without a 51-yard touchdown to Jones nullified by penalty. With Kenny Golladay still questionable to return, Jones may be set up for a sizeable workload again on Thanksgiving. Positively, Stafford appeared to escape the game without setback. Houston’s 5.7 yards per pass attempt rank sixth-worst in the NFL, setting up the Lions for a bounce-back performance.

Brandin Cooks ($5,300 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel)

Houston’s target leader on the season, Cooks enters the Thanksgiving slate woefully underpriced across DFS platforms. Prior to Week 11’s five-target outing, Cooks has at least eight targets in five straight games for the Texans. On the year, he leads this squad with a 22.3% target share while seeing 25.8% of the team’s air yards. Detroit’s secondary allows 7.3 yards per pass attempt, which ranks seventh-worst in all of football. Providing an easy stacking option with Watson, Cooks provides immense value on the short slate.

Marquise Brown ($4,700 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel)

One of the greatest wind-sprinting efforts of all time, Brown failed to reel in any of his three targets on Sunday. Positively for Brown, the second-year pro still ran a route on 83% of dropbacks, which ranked only behind Mark Andrews. He also still has 37.7% of the team’s air yards, opening big-play potential within the offense. However, Brown’s repeated poor performances render him a boom/bust DFS commodity. When these teams faced off earlier this season, Brown only secured one of two targets. For those looking at pure contrarian plays or Raven’s stacks, Brown enters the conversation.

Keke Coutee ($3,400 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel)

With both Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills leaving Week 11 with an injury, Coutee stepped up to run 23 routes for the Texans. Most of that playing time coming in the slot, and Coutee turned four targets into a pair of catches for 10 yards and a score. While the box score looks underwhelming, a full-time role in a Watson-led offense does not. Mentioned above, the Texans draw a mouthwatering matchup in a game with the highest total on the slate. Coutee’s near-minimum price allows multiple studs into lineups.

NFL DFS Picks: Tight End

Mark Andrews ($5,200 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel)

The athletic tight end turned seven targets into five catches for 96 yards and a score last week. Andrews also led all Baltimore pass catchers in snaps and routes run, paralleling his team-leading 22.2% target share. Pittsburgh is one of the best tight end defenses in football and even held Andrews to 32-scoreless yards in their first meeting. However, Andrews plays 49% of his snaps in the slot, giving Baltimore access to mismatches against opposing defenses.

T.J. Hockenson ($4,700 DraftKings/$6,000 FanDuel)

On a slate lacking tight end options, Hockenson stands out solid tight end option and a contrarian play off of Andrews. Hockenson has at least four targets in every game this year and a 19.5% target share in Detroit’s offense. Last week, Hockenson led the team with seven targets and 68 receiving yards. Outside of their weather-influenced game against Cleveland, the Texans have allowed at least four catches to tight ends in each of their last five games.

Eric Ebron ($4,100 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel)

Running a route on at least 80% of Pittsburgh’s dropbacks, Ebron actually looks like a solid price-adjusted tight end play on the Thanksgiving slate. Ebron also has at least five targets in each of his last five games, equating to a 15.7% target share within the offense. When facing the Ravens a few weeks ago Ebron turned five targets into four catches for 48 yards and a score.

Logan Thomas ($3,500 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel)

Similar to Hockenson, Thomas is one of a handful of tight ends with at least four targets in every single game. Poor quarterback play continues to hinder Thomas, allowing him to reach 60 receiving yards just twice this season. However, volume trumps all, and Dallas’s 7.2 yards per pass attempt allowed ranks bottom 10 in the NFL. With Thomas functioning as the de facto WR2 in this offense, he is worth a look on the short slate.

Jordan Akins ($2,900 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel)

With the Texans losing Cobb and Stills, the Texans increased their usage of 12-personnel. Akins only played four fewer snaps and ran four fewer routes than Coutee as he continues to work his way back from a multi-game ankle injury suffered earlier this season. In his elevated role, Akins parlayed six targets into five catches for 83 receiving yards. Looking at the Lions, Detroit has allowed at least 60 yards or a score to tight ends in three of their last four games. The fourth game occurred against a Panthers team that does not employ the services of a tight end.


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Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.

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