Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate, and to us folks in the U.K, enjoy another day of football starting at a reasonable time. The column is a little different than usual, as many people will opt to play the individual showdown slates, so I’ve provided team by team breakdowns of all fantasy positions. The prices you see are for the main slate but hopefully the information helps you make decisions for all types of games. Loads of injury news to shake out here, and I’ll update whenever possible. My usual Deep Dive for the Sunday slate will be with you before the weekend, which will include last weeks recap and the Bankroll challenge will be live shortly. For any questions, I’m around all day Thursday, and my DM’s are always open for lineup advice.
It’s an ugly one for running backs and wide receivers have been depleted with injuries. I’m not against two tight end lineups with one in your flex, and I’ll also consider missing entire games in a lineup to game-stack another. I was going to get into more detail, but @FF_Engineer_ put together a great thread that you should all read shortly after following him. Great guy, very intelligent.
Our Contests for the night
Full Thanksgiving Slate – Lions v Bears Showdown – Cowboys v Raiders Showdown – Bills v Saints Showdown
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Josh Allen – $7800 – @ New Orleans
Earlier this year I was confronted by a Bills fan who told me I was wrong that Josh Allen would regress from his near-MVP play in 2020, well look who’s laughing now @billsmafia69696969. Josh Allen seems to be struggling against certain defensive looks and against the Colts he really struggled and showed some of the early career Josh Allen that made him both entertaining and a nightmare to watch, completing 60% of his passes, a markable difference from his 65.9% season average. There’s no doubt that Allen should be the best-priced QB on this slate, and with Diggs hitting form Allen will attract rostership. The Saints are no pushover though and in their own stadium on Thanksgiving, don’t expect them to roll over.
Points scored in last three: 18.16, 24.94, 12.56.
QB Points allowed by defence in last 3: 30.78 (Hurts), 18.62 (Tannehill), 31.52 (Ryan).
Dak Prescott – $6900 – Vs Las Vegas
Dak’s fantasy outlook has somewhat been limited by CeeDee Lamb’s concussion and Amari Cooper’s unvaccinated status. With Zeke Elliott also banged up, it could be a potential letdown spot for fantasy scoring, but the Raiders are a mess right now and after starting the season strong on all sides of the ball, they’ve dropped off noticeably after dealing with some of the worst off-field issues of any team in recent times. Ultimately the Cowboys fantasy day will come down to their defence and how much they seek to establish the run. With Lamb potentially out and Cooper definitely out Dak’s rostership percentage will be lower than we expected a week ago. I’m interested in less conventional stacking options like Dak, Schultz and Pollard.
Points scored in last three: 5.64, 26.34, 19.88.
QB Points allowed by defence in last 3: 10.02 (Burrow), 39.24 (Mahomes), 9.1 (Jones)
Derek Carr – $5900 – @ Dallas
Without Henry Ruggs, the Raiders lack a field stretcher to open up the passing game. So far DeSean Jackson has been used minimally as he gets to grip with the playbook. Carr looks like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and despite his best effort to keep throwing downfield, the passing game has become less productive. In the three games since Ruggs was released Carr’s touchdown rate has dropped from 4.5% to 3.7%, yards per attempt has dropped from 8.5 to 7.1 and his passing EPA (Expected points added) has dropped from 55.7 per game to -16.1. Misogynistic, sexist and homophobic ex-head coach, Jon Gruden’s decision to rip up and rebuild a good offensive line has come home to roost, whilst Gruden sits at home blaming others for most things. Carr was sacked 26 times in 2020, with 19 other QB’s sacked more often. In 2021 he has been sacked 22 times, a number only exceeded by seven other quarterbacks. The Cowboys pressure quarterbacks on 26.1% of dropbacks, the ninth-highest rate in the league and the Raiders will need to have a plan to deal with Micah Parsons. The Cowboys give up the 29th fewest points to Quarterbacks in adjusted fantasy points, meanwhile, Carr has thrown 52 attempts of 20 or more yards, eight more than any other player. If Carr can get lucky against the boom or bust Cowboys secondary, perhaps he can have a good night.
Points scored in last three: 10.6, 19.24, 13.34.
QB Points allowed by defence in last 3: 9.5 (Mahomes), 2.68 (Ryan), 21.86 (Bridgewater).
Trevor Siemian – $5600 – Vs Buffalo
Siemian has been pleasantly surprising in his four games, speaking purely from a fantasy point of view that doesn’t feel the need to watch the game live. When Trev is playing, you load up Redzone, you leave your team alone until the end of the game and then check in to see the points have materialised one way or another. Through three starts Siemian has averaged a respectable 21.01 DK points. Now if you’ve been taking my humble advice and not stayed glued to those live lineups, you might not have noticed how poor Siemian has been in the early stages of games, because in the fourth quarter’s he has scored 62.7% of his fantasy points. The highest rate in the league (Via @Lordreebs). During Jameis Winston’s time under centre, the Saints were playing slow and methodical football, with Sean Payton keeping Winston’s ride or die pass instincts down to just 23.0 per game. Under Siemian that number has jumped over 50% to 36.0 per game. The increase in pass attempts has seen better fortunes for the Saints pass catchers coinciding with Alvin Kamara missing time and the offence needing to diversify. Buffalo represent one of the toughest possible matchups in this league, allowing the fewest adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks. However, they generally represent a tougher matchup in their building, where they allow a minimal 150.0 passing yards per game but that number jumps to 213.6 in away games.
Points scored in last three: 26.16, 19.92, 16.96.
QB Points allowed by defence in last 3: 16.22,11.92, 5.12.
Andy Dalton – $5500 – @ Detroit
It truly is a shame for this mediocre slate that Justin Fields isn’t able to bring his talents to what undoubtedly looks like the worst game of the day. Dalton and Fields style couldn’t be more opposing. Fields average depth of target is 10.5 in comparison to Dalton’s 5.4. Fields electric movement in the rushing game has seen him average 31.1 yards per game, and 57.0 over the last three. Meanwhile, Stone Age Pony, Andy Dalton managed to get sacked on a Hail Mary play, seemingly unaware that doing literally anything was better than taking a game-ending sack. For all Andy Dalton’s mediocrity and long time well-earned position on The Dalton Scale, this is a matchup where he might be able to provide some fantasy output. The Lions have had some good games against quarterbacks recently, holding Baker Mayfield to just 9.94 points in week 10, but giving up an average of 19.22 points in the previous three. Even Mason Rudolph managed to put up more points than Baker Mayfield did against the Lions. The Lions allow an average of 238.0 passing yards in home games and the main obstacle to Dalton’s fantasy output will be the Bears running game stomping all over the Lions weak run defence. If you’re fading the top two priced quarterbacks, personally I’m most interested in Dalton after them.
Points scored in last three: 16.04 (didn’t start), 8.74 (injured), 7.54 (Vs. Rams)
QB Points allowed by defence in last 3: 9.94, 16.28, 11.22.
Jared Goff – $5100 – Vs Chicago (Backup – Tim Boyle – $4800)
One game of the Tim Boyle experience was enough for Dan Campbell to decide that an injured Jared Goff was possibly still their best option for now. With a two-game lead in the race for the number one pick, the Lions can afford to win a game without ruining their draft position and we know how badly Campbell wants to do that. In Sunday’s loss to the Browns Boyle averaged a truly pathetic 3.3 yards per attempt, a sizable dropoff from Goff’s own 6.3. Former teammate of Goff, Robert Quinn will be happy to pass rush either QB, coming in hot off a dominant performance against Tyler Huntley and it would be of no surprise if the Lions lean heavily on the screen and short passing game. Chicago allows the 18th most adjusted fantasy points to QB’s, and maybe you can talk yourself into playing Goff, after all, someone won the Milly Maker this week playing a Joe Flacco team, but do you really need to save salary enough to play a QB averaging 8.82 DK points per game over his last three. If so then send me a H2H.
Points scored in last three: 4.56, 8.88, 13.02.
QB Points allowed by defence in last 3: 11.76, 16.2, 30.28.
Kalif Raymond $4600
Amon Ra St. Brown $4200
Josh Reynolds $3000
Khadarel Hodge $3000
Small slates can force us to think differently and perhaps you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need to play a player under $5k… I’m not judging you, this is a safe space… maybe the Lions are interesting to you… realistically we all know that the Lions offence runs through the talents of Swift and Hockenson. The most productive Lions receiver, Quintez Cephus, currently resides on I.R and Kalif Raymond leads the room with 363 yards and two touchdowns. St. Brown was the only receiver to catch a pass this last weekend, with all of Tim Boyle’s other production coming through TE’s or RB’s. No receiver lays claim to a target rate of over 15% and even on a small slate, it’s tough to see a route to returning value on these cheap salaries. Chicago has allowed the seventh-most yards to the position, along with an average of 1.2 wide receiver touchdowns per game and allows an explosive passing play on 9% of plays faced, so maybe you can talk yourself into one of these guys getting loose in showdown. I’ve been a Josh Reynolds fan for a while and whilst he’s still new to the team, he’s probably the only one I’d be comfortable using outside of showdown.
Rankings: Reynolds, St. Brown, Raymond, Hodge.
Darnell Mooney $5700
Marquise Goodwin $3800
Damiere Byrd $3000
The Bears receiver room makes me feel slightly less depressed about life. Ideally, we’d get to see Allen Robinson return for this game but as of Tuesday, he hadn’t practised with a hamstring injury. Darnell Mooney saw a true breakout game against the part-time Ravens passing defence, as he strolled through my boys in purple to put up 121 yards and a touchdown. Whilst these stats look fantastic it’s worth mentioning that Mooney only caught 5 of his 16 targets on Sunday. Mooney is the only Chicago receiver to see over a 31% target rate on any game this year, with four over that mark. Allen Robinson hasn’t been able to get it going and after Mooney the only receiver to see regular work in Marquise Goodwin. I like the idea of taking punts on Goodwin who has 4.75 targets per game in his last four, and his speed could be tough for a weak Lions defence that has allowed the eighth-most passing plays of 20 yards or more.
Rankings: Mooney, Goodwin, Byrd.
CeeDee Lamb $6900
Michael Gallup $5900
Cedrick Wilson $3500
Noah Brown $3000
Malik Turner $3000
Much of this slate will depend on CeeDee Lamb’s availability, as the second most expensive receiver and a true difference-maker for the Cowboys, if he misses it will be a great shame for viewers and more importantly, my best ball teams. It’s worth noting that on Monday it was reported that Lamb was in the team meetings, something which is uncommon for players experiencing symptoms of a concussion so if Lamb got away with a mild one, we could be in luck. With that said, if Lamb plays I’d expect him to be the highest rostered player on the slate so it’s worth considering options for how we can be different. Gallup will almost certainly be the most rostered player if Lamb can’t play. Vegas kept the Bengals to modest days for Chase (13) and Tyler Boyd (12.3), but the game didn’t require Burrow to attack them heavily through the air. Cedrick Wilson looks the most suited to compile work from the slot if Lamb can’t go, having played 88.9% of his snaps there, and he could prove to be a productive play. Noah Brown is more suited to an outside role and if Lamb sits, Dak’s quality could see him prove valuable enough to pay off his salary. In a week where the Cowboys could be without Redzone threats, a big-bodied receiver like Brown may prove useful. Malik Turner has seen 11 targets this season, with the majority coming in garbage time against the Broncos when the first team players were sat. At $3000 he’s a punt play that would make excellent leverage off Brown and Wilson in the unlikely event he outscores them. Worth considering for multi-entry tournaments. ** Thursday Update ** CEEDEE LAMB RULED OUT.
Rankings: Gallup, Wilson, Brown, Turner.
Hunter Renfrow $5600
Bryan Edwards $3900
Zay Jones $3000
DeSean Jackson $3100
Henry Ruggs departure from this team has forced the passing game to be more focused on plays closer to the line of scrimmage. This is partly due to the lack of a deep threat, but also because the Raiders are maximising their usage of Hunter Renfrow who leads this group with 7.3 targets per game. No other receiver averages over 3.8 (Bryan Edwards). Renfrow ties Waller for Redzone targets with 12 and leads the team in receiving touchdowns. It’s no secret how important Renfrow has become and he’ll be suitably rostered despite being the fifth-most expensive WR on the slate. Edwards has been as fantasy irrelevant as expected this year, he participates on a healthy 77.0% of routes, but is targeted just 0.12 times per route run. Only two receivers in the league run that many routes and see so few targets, him and Parris Campbell. At this point, Bryan Edwards is showing up for cardio sessions and people that are better at watching the tape than I will tell you that he struggles to get open… Given his price and the slim pickings on this slate, don’t hate yourself if you play him, but don’t be surprised to see him put up a goose egg. Despite Derek Carr waxing lyrical about Zay Jones at the start of the season he has three catches for 62 yards on 9 targets, I would rather take the gamble on D-Jax against a Cowboys defence prone to seeing Trevon Diggs allow balls over his head. Through nine games Dallas has allowed 39 passes of 20 or more yards and we know Carr is willing to chuck it deep this season.
Stefon Diggs $7900
Emmanuel Sanders $4800
Cole Beasley $4800
Gabriel Davis $3600
Now we’re talking about an actual wide receiver group. When on form Buffalo’s pass catchers are up there with any in the league. Stefon Diggs will no doubt be facing a tough afternoon matching up with Saints Cornerback, Marshon Lattimore who is having his best season in a while. Diggs though is getting over his quietish start to the season and has 45 targets in his last five games, along with five touchdowns. With Diggs being the most expensive receiver on the slate his rostership levels might be slightly lower than they deserve to be. Cole Beasley is a very moderately priced $4500 as he continues to overcome a rib injury, and with 7 targets in his last two games, it may be difficult for him to find a path to more, with Dawson Knox now back in the side. Emmanuel Sanders started the season hot, but his aDot of 16.6 makes his targets highly volatile. Despite leading the team in routes run (87.5%), Sanders target share is the third-highest of pass catchers, behind Diggs and Beasley. Gabriel Davis has seen an increase in workload since the bye, as his average targets have jumped from 1.6 to 3.5 per game and despite not managing to score a touchdown, his five red-zone targets give a reason for hope. Isaiah McKenzie is also a Bill… five receptions on eight targets… 26 yards… is there such a thing as a bad play at $3000… who can say. Whilst Lattimore may be having a good season the Saints have allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to receivers (1810) and this Bills team is so reliant on the passing game, they will find a way to get there.
Rankings: Diggs, Davis, Sanders, Beasley.
Marquez Callaway $5000
Tre’Quan Smith $4400
Deonte Harris $3700
Kenny Stills $3000
Lil’Jordan Humphrey $3000
After the luxuries of the Bills, the Saints bring us back down to Earth. Smith and Callaway are by the most often seen receivers since Siemian took over, as the only receivers to have more than 80 snaps in three games (184 and 162 respectively). However, Siemian has targeted Smith 19 times, Deonte Harris 17 and Callaway 14. So whilst Harris isn[‘t out there as often his 3.7 receptions a game and 0.29 targets per route give us some hope for him. This Bills side allows just 117.1 passing yards to receivers per game, by far the fewest in the league. It’s very hard to imagine any of these sub-par receivers having a great day. If the Bills force the Saints into a pass-heavy game script it’s easier to tell yourself more than one could return value, but the Bills allow only 0.3 touchdowns per game to receivers, no other team allows less than 0.6. Realistically if you can get double-digit points from any of these players, they’ve done well.
Rankings: Smith, Harris, Callaway, Stills, Humphrey.
D’Andre Swift $7300
Jamaal Williams $4000
Over the last two games, Swift has looked a better pure runner than at any time I’ve seen him in the NFL. His pass-catching has always been elite, but his running has left question marks at times. Only four teams have allowed fewer targets to the running backs than Chicago and if Swift is going to get there, he may need to work hard on the ground. The good news is the Bears aren’t good in that area of the game, having just allowed Devonta Freeman to put up 20 PPR points on them and on the season allow an average of 4.65 yards per carry and an average of 114.2 rushing yards per game. Jamaal Williams has returned from injury but is yet to make a meaningful contribution, with Swift seeing 17 opportunities to Williams 7 in week 10.
David Montgomery $6000
Khalil Herbert $4500
I expected the Bears running game to be more of a two-headed monster when Montgomery returned after Khalil Herbert had run so well in his absence. Like many of my thoughts though it was based on rational coaching and Matt Nagy ain’t that. He joins the pile of non-rational coaches with Kyle Shanahan (PLEASE LET TREY PLAY!!!). Since Monty’s return, he has out-snapped Herbert 109-17, resulting in an opportunity share of 81.1% to Herbert’s 13.5%. The Lions have allowed the second-most rushing yards in the league with 1405 and allow 1.1 rushing touchdowns per game. The Bears should seek to lean on the running game hard here and it might not make for entertaining viewing. Fading Montgomery might be a solid way to differentiate in GPP’s.
Ezekiel Elliott $8000
Tony Pollard $5600
On Wednesday Zeke Elliott said he expects the Cowboys to use the running game extensively, and given what’s happening with their pass catchers, that seems fair. In the last four games, the Raiders have played they have allowed an average of 134.25 rushing yards, including Sunday’s big game for Joe Mixon who they failed to control all day as he put up 27.3 draftkings points. With Zeke banged up at multiple points on Sunday Pollard saw 9 touches, which he turned into 9 DK points. There are plenty of arguments on both sides of the Pollard/Zeke debate, but the fact is, Jerry Jones paid Zeke and the team isn’t going to stop using him anytime soon. Equally, with Pollard showing better burst and elusiveness, the Cowboys will continue to use him at times. I have no problem with using either of these backs in both showdown and regular games. I’m not averse to the differential idea of using both in the same lineup either as the Raiders allow the fourth-highest amount of adjusted fantasy points to running backs… Although that’s an MME strategy more than anything else. Graham Barfield noted the below on Twitter, and it’s very much worth paying attention to.
Josh Jacobs $5900
Kenyan Drake $4600
Jalen Richard $4000
Boring Josh Jacobs gets another primetime matchup to show the world his incredible ability to run for 3 yards consistently. Dallas has been strong against the rush game allowing the 7th fewest yards per game in the league and the 28th fewest adjusted fantasy points per game. With that said, in their last three games, they’ve allowed an average of 139.6 yards, up from their season average of 83.7. Even the Chiefs sustained a running game on them as the game script got out of hand. With so few options on the slate, it’s not unreasonable to fancy either Jacobs or Drake in this spot. At their prices, they should see workloads that give them every opportunity to deliver, with the Cowboys struggling under injuries. Much as I dislike Jacobs, I might…. Just might play him. Drake has seen enough work to keep him also relevant, with 26 touches in three games.
Devin Singletary $4900
Matt Breida $4800
Zack Moss $4700
This running back room is a mess and Draftkings close pricing hasn’t made it easier to take shots in the dark. The Saints give up the fewest running back fantasy points in the league, on the fewest yards per carry allowed (3.4). It’s very difficult to make an argument to play any of these backs who all saw a similar snap share between 16-21% and all saw between three and five attempts in week 10. If one of these players scores a touchdown, or even two, then it could well decide the slate but to decide who that may be might just cause spontaneous combustion. If you’re entering multiple lineups, it may pay off to use the same lineup three times with a different Bills RB in each… or it might just be better off to leave them all alone. For what it’s worth, my ranking is below. **Thursday Update** I was thinking we might get a Zack Moss bounceback, in usage at least, but beat reporters are speculating he may well be a healthy scratch. If you roster Moss make sure you have enough salary leftover to get to either one of the Bills backs, or Tony Jones Jr. would make a good swap if needs must.
Rankings: Matt Breida, Devin Singletary, Zack Moss.
Mark Ingram $6200
Tony Jones Jr. $4000
Dwayne Washington $4000
This could have been so much better if Alvin Kamara was able to play, but as of now, that looks very unlikely. To make matters worse, Mark Ingram looks like he faces an uphill battle to be healthy after two games of workhorse type touches. If Ingram plays he could have near every-down role like he’s had in two previous games, including goal-line and pass-catching work, however at $6200 if he’s not fully healthy it could be an expensive mistake. Tony Jones Jr. impressed enough over the summer for the Saints to cut Latavius Murray, and if Jones Jr. hadn’t have gotten injured perhaps Ingram would never have returned to New Orleans. The Saints rely heavily on their backs and at $4000 Jones Jr. is worth considering, despite the tough matchup against a Bills side that allows the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game. Dwayne Washington saw two touches this weekend and despite familiarity in the system, he has never really delivered. It’s very hard to see either team enjoying rushing success in this game.
T.J Hockenson $5200
The slates second-best tight end is priced nicely at $5200 in a good matchup, if it wasn’t for a questionable quarterback this could be a smash play. Mark Andrews plagued the Bears all day and if the Lions have any smarts they should take the same approach. I would expect Hockenson to be slightly less owned than people might expect as people either pay up for Waller or down for Kmet. Sometimes the middle ground can be beneficial.
Cole Kmet $3700
Jimmy Graham $2800
One of the strangest decisions of the off-season was Chicago deciding to keep Graham around on his very expensive contract. Despite Kmet’s solid season on Sunday Graham out targeted him 3-2 despite running just seven routes. That continuation would be a surprise with kmet averaging 4.6 targets to Graham’s 1.1 on the season. At just $3700 Kmet may prove to be popular, but to many, this weekend’s goose egg may push them elsewhere.
Dalton Schultz $5300
Schultz had taken control of this position group even before Jarwin went on injured reserve, and now with the lack of Cowboys pass-catchers available for this matchup, he could be in for a very thankful thanksgiving. Only five teams allow more yards to tight ends than the Raiders, who average 74.11 per game and also give up 0.6 touchdowns per game to the position. Schultz will likely rarely come off the field and is primed for a big game.
Darren Waller $6400
Foster Moreau $2900
The slate’s best tight end comes with the position’s highest pricing and no doubt will attract the most rostership. Waller’s ceiling is higher than any other tight end and with a team-leading target share of 24.3% we all know what he is. Coming off his best game since week 1 Waller will hope to capitalise on the Cowboys defence that allows the 11th most fantasy points to the position. Moreau has three games of double-digits this season and can be considered for a potential dart throw, but it’s worth noting he’s six games he’s played in this season where he failed to see a target.
Dawson Knox $4400
Tommy Sweeney $2500
Very few tight ends have succeeded against the Saints with them holding Dallas Goedert to 5-62 this weekend being the latest example. On the season the Saints allow just 48.1 yards per game to tight ends, and Goedert’s 11.2 PPR points are the most surrendered to one tight end all season. Dawson Knox has shown to be one of Allen’s favourite targets this season, coming off a season-high ten targets in week ten. As a part of Bills stacks, it’s not egregious. I like two tight end lineups for this slate and Knox with Hockenson keeps catching my eye.
Nick Vannett $2500
Juwan Johnson $2600
More injuries! Adam Trautman was finally becoming the deep sleeper we all hoped for when he injured himself this weekend and now will miss time. Juwan Johnson has been a healthy scratch at times, but the converted wide receiver should now see plenty of snaps and has the pace and size to do well with them. If you’re looking to pay down at the tight end, this is as good a punt as any.
Detroit – $2400
Andy Dalton under centre makes it worth a punt.
Chicago – $3000
Jared Goff under centre makes it desirable.
Dallas – $3300
Micah Parsons is a beast against an average OL and Diggs is a 50/50 bet for interceptions.
Las Vegas – $2400
Iffy pass catchers for the Cowboys might lead to a lower score… possible flukier turnovers.
Buffalo – $3100
Trevor Siemian under centre makes it worth a very popular play.
New Orleans – $2900
Great defence, struggling under the weight of their average at best offence. Not a bad play, but it’s hard to imagine them keeping the score too low.
Crafting a story is important for these individual slates. If you believe one team dominates early then it can be worthwhile to play four underdogs, as they try to put up points to get back into the game. Wide receivers can often be a great differential at the captain spot as more people are drawn to quarterbacks, but when receivers go off they can outdo those scores or make for better builds altogether. I’m always happy to talk over lineups and chat about what can work well. Find me on Twitter @BestballukNFL – The Week 11 Main Slate Value Plays will be out Friday. Good luck all.