The best slate of the year is here, folks. We have our traditional three-gamer this Thursday, and there are plenty of big tournaments being offered around the industry, including a Milly Maker on DraftKings. This year’s Thanksgiving slate includes a couple of mainstay teams involved in the Lions and Cowboys, and also an AFC North matchup with the Steelers taking on the Ravens. The main injury concerns here fall in the Detroit-Houston game, which currently has a 51.5 over/under (Texans -2.5). Kenny Golladay, D’Andre Swift and Danny Amendola are all questionable for this game, though, and with Detroit getting shut out in their last game you do have to wonder about their ability to score points if those three remain out.
The Ravens and Steelers also have some injury concerns to keep track of. The Ravens sent two of their top running backs to the COVID-19 list this week, as Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins will now both miss this game. The Ravens have an insanely deep running back crew, though, and Gus Edwards and Justice Hill likely won’t be a huge downgrade. For Pittsburgh, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Joe Haden are also both questionable. There’s not a ton of injury news (as of writing) for Washington and Dallas. That game has a 46 over/under (Dallas -3), and the winner of this game will be in sole possession of first place in the NFC East afterwards.
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NFL DFS: Week 12 Thanksgiving DraftKings Picks + Value Grades
QB: Deshaun Watson Grades: A, Values: A
Watson projects out as the best quarterback on the slate by a wide margin. His points projection is 5.7 points higher than any other quarterback, so even though he’s projecting out with nearly 50% ownership in the early projections for Thursday, this isn’t a spot we can simply write off as a fade for ownership purposes. The Texans have played better offensively of late, with Watson coming in having thrown for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last five games. The recent form in the passing game alone would make him an enticing target here, but he’s also picked things up as a rusher. Maybe the firing of Bill O’Brien got him going because since O’Brien was let go, Watson has averaged 35.16 rush yards per game; in the Texans first four losses of the season he averaged just 14.25 as a rusher.
Whatever the motivation, Watson comes in having scored fewer than 24.0 DraftKings points just once in his last five starts — the one being a a windy, weather-afflicted game in Cleveland. Detroit is spiraling but will probably be able to run the ball against Houston’s porous run defense to make this somewhat of a back-and-forth game, forcing Watson to keep his foot on the pedal. Houston has the highest implied total on the slate, so while Watson is sure to be popular, he may not be a player you want to be underweight on in player pools this week.
Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 46.4%
RB: D’Andre Swift Grades: B, Values: B
Swift returned to a limited practice on Tuesday (concussion), so he’s trending in the right direction. Swift being active would be huge for fantasy purposes, as Houston carries one of the worst rush defenses in the league. The Texans have allowed 5.2 yards per carry this year — the worst mark in the league — and have ceded the third-most fantasy points to the position.
While normally Lions running backs might be a spot to avoid, they declared Swift as the unquestioned starter before Week 10 (about nine weeks too late), and he racked up 149 all-purpose yards and a touchdown on 21 touches. Despite getting shutout last week, the Lions carry a decent implied team total (24.13), and Swift has the highest projection of any running back on the slate. He’s also projected for high ownership, but late injury concerns could factor in. With only a couple high-end running backs on the slate, he has the best combo of matchup and potential workload of anyone at his position for Turkey Day.
Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 54.4%
WR: Terry McLaurin Grades: B, Values: C
McLaurin carries the highest salary of any receiver on the slate, which may sound a tad funny considering he’s coming off his slowest game since Week 5. McLaurin still accumulated 85 yards last week but only saw seven targets in Washington’s slow-paced, methodical win over Cincinnati. The good news for McLaurin fans, though, is that there’s nothing methodical about playing the Cowboys. Receivers have scored more touchdowns against Dallas than any other team in the league coming into this week, which speaks to the kind of upside on the table for McLaurin in this spot.
Despite not scoring a touchdown in his last two games, he does have six red zone targets over his last four starts and has the second-highest point projection in the Awesemo model. While his overall value score this week isn’t great, the pricing on DraftKings is so soft that I like weighting pure upside heavier on this slate, and McLaurin has it. His ownership also has him as just the fifth-highest-owned receiver, which makes him a great target for GPPs.
Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 35.5%
TE: Dalton Schultz Grades: D, Values: D
For a three-game slate we actually have quite a decent rotation at tight end. While T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews are the best-known names, their ownership is also starting to reflect that, and both could push for over 30% in big GPPs. We also have very flat projections for the tight ends on the slate this week with the six top players at tight end all falling in between 7 and 11 points in the projections. With tight end being such a mess this year and the projections clearly not favoring one player massively over the others, I like turning to Awesemo’s ownership projections to help us make a decision.
Schultz has emerged as a consistent target threat for Dallas during their quarterback carousel and comes into this game having seen 21 targets now over his last three games. The encouraging part, though, came last week when he led the Cowboys receivers in red zone targets with three and caught his first touchdown pass since Week 4. Clearly benefiting from Andy Dalton‘s return, Schultz now takes on a Washington team who has allowed the sixth-most touchdowns to the tight end position this year and features a strong pass rush, which could force lots of short targets to Schultz this week. At one-fifth the ownership levels of the other top tight ends, I like using Schultz this week as either a leverage play or to help balance out ownership levels in GPP lineups.
Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 6.4%
Contrarian DFS Stack: Washington/Dallas
Dallas has allowed 25 or more points in each of their last nine games and have also allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five straight contests. The Football Team is an underdog here, and so there’s a decent possibility we get a solid game environment for Alex Smith and his top target, McLaurin. McLaurin had his slowest game in a while against the Bengals, as he had five catches for 85 yards, the first time he’s caught fewer than seven passes since Week 5. Washington was out in front that entire game, though, and with Cincinnati down their quarterback, there’s wasn’t much reason to air things out.
Steven Sims ($3,200) is also back in the mix for Washington, and DFSers will remember his late-season surge from 2019 where he caught 16 passes and four touchdowns in Washington’s last four games. He’s seen nine targets over his last two games and sets up as a nice min-price flier here. Ezekiel Elliott seems likely to be heavy chalk on this three-game slate, but it’s worth noting that Tony Pollard has played over 30% of the snaps the last two games. Pollard’s projecting out at virtually no ownership and has now averaged 8.3 yards per carry over his last two games. Schultz is also in the mix here, as he has averaged seven targets over his last three games and carries small projected ownership.
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