In this weekly column, we will identify the best plays, values, and tournament options for your NFL DFS lineups. We’ll also offer the best “fades” at each position, indicating which players to avoid when building your lineups.
Keep in mind that some of the plays offered are better for “Cash” games, i.e. 50/50, H2H, and Double-Up formats that require a more conservative approach. Some plays are recommended for GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments where it’s necessary to take more risk in the hopes of separating from a large field. Those GPP plays can also be ideal for Best Ball formats where players with higher upside are valuable.
For those interested in the DFS Single-Game Slate contests, here’s a quick recap:
In the “Showdown” or Single-Game contests, there are five utility spots and a “Captain” slot, who receives 1.5x multiplier for all DK points accrued. Pricing differs for players when selected in the Captain spot versus the FLEX spots, with all players required to fit under a $50k salary cap. All options are in play from QBs, RBs and WRs, to kickers and D/ST from each team.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kickoff since things can change quickly in the NFL. Please note any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
NFL DFS THANKSGIVING BEST CONTESTS
Top NFL DFS Plays for Thanksgiving
There is no QB who can match Watson’s floor-ceiling combination this week. He’s second in the NFL in yards per attempt (8.4) and leads the league in completion rate (86.1%) with a clean pocket. The Lions rank 27th in adjusted sack rate (4.8%) and is allowing 281.7 passing YPG over their last 3 games. The Texans defense is equally terrible, so Watson’s volume is guaranteed and he’s been lights out with a 56:13 TD:INT ratio over 27 games under retractable roofs or domes. With David Johnson (concussion) out, Watson is likely to top 300 passing yards with multiple scores once again.
Value Play: Alex Smith ($5.4k DraftKings, $6.7k FanDuel)
The cheapest starter on the board is a fine option this week against a truly exploitable pass defense. Dallas just coughed up 305 passing yards to a Vikings team that usually posts the highest rush-play percentage in football. Smith is completing 61.7% of his passes over his last 3 starts and his receivers could pile up YAC against a team that yields 11.2 yards per completion. While his volume declined in an easy win over Cincy last week, Smith is getting plenty of opportunities with Washington posting the seventh-most pass attempts (40.8) per game.
Who is going to want a piece of the Lions offense after their dreadful showing in Carolina? Stafford is assuredly going to have low ownership on Thanksgiving, but he could provide better per-dollar value than the highest owned QB in Watson. Houston gave up 349 passing yards to an extremely run-heavy Patriots offense last week. The Texans have allowed the fourth-most yards per completion (11.9) over their last 3 games. Stafford averages 292.5 passing YPG on Thanksgiving and owns a 97.7 passer rating at home this season.
Best Play: Antonio Gibson ($6.0k DraftKings, $6.8k FanDuel)
We prefer Ezekiel Elliott ($6.8k, $8.5k) at a reasonable price tag on DK, but are wary of paying up for him on FD in a tough matchup. Gibson draws another easy matchup as he looks to add to his total of 8 TDs during his rookie campaign. He’s handled 3-plus red zone carries in each of his last 4 games and has the fifth-most goal-line carries (7) at his position this season. There are no secrets as to how Washington will try to punch it in, but the Cowboys 28th-rated run defense likely can’t stop it.
Value Play: Adrian Peterson ($4.7k DraftKings, $5.4k FanDuel)
Let’s preface this pick by stating that if D’Andre Swift ($6.5k, $7.2k) clears concussion protocol before Thursday, he becomes our top overall RB play. The Lions were using Swift as a three-down bell cow prior to his injury, but if the rookie misses, Peterson will step in and handle most of the work on early downs and at the goal line. Houston’s run defense is worst in the NFL and two-thirds of TDs against the Texans over the past 3 weeks have come on the ground.
Best Play: Terry McLaurin ($7.0k DraftKings, $7.9k FanDuel)
No receiver on this slate can match McLaurin’s workload. His 25.8% target share in the red zone is top 5 among WRs and he commands the second-highest share of Air Yards (41%) this season. McLaurin leads the NFL in YAC (481) and is becoming more involved as a runner. Dallas has no top coverage man with Chidobe Awuzie recently activated of I.R. while Travon Diggs (foot) was sent to I.R. The Cowboys were eviscerated by Adam Thielen (8-123-2TD) and McLaurin could follow with a slate-breaking line.
Value Play: Brandin Cooks ($5.3k DraftKings, $6.5k FanDuel)
Cooks and Will Fuller ($6.4k, $7.4k) have nearly interchangeable roles in Houston’s pass-happy offense, yet Cooks is far more affordable. The speedy WR draws a superior matchup this week with Fuller likely to see Desmond Trufant while Cooks faces Amani Oruwariye, who is only starting because rookie Jeff Okudah has been routinely roasted. The Lions allow the highest percentage of completions for first downs (41.6%) and have coughed up 40 pass plays of 20-plus yards this season. Also consider Keke Coutee ($3.4k, $4.5k) as an extreme value with Randall Cobb (toe) out.
GPP Play: Marvin Hall ($3.9k DraftKings, $5.1k FanDuel)
The Lions may once again be without Kenny Golladay (hip) and Danny Amendola (hip) and Marvin Jones Jr. will draw coverage from capable CB Bradley Roby. Hall should run the majority of his routes against struggling CB Vernon Hargreaves, who allows a 71.2% catch rate when targeted. Hall is a GPP play with an average target distance of 20 yards and he’s doing his part with excellent average separation (2.65 yards) on his routes.
Best Play: T.J. Hockenson ($4.7k DraftKings, $6.0k FanDuel)
There will be some production in the Steelers-Ravens game to cap this slate, but we’re staying away from high-priced receivers (including TE Mark Andrews) in what could be a defensive battle. The Lions-Texans game is ripe for fireworks with a 50.5-point implied total and Hockenson will effectively be Matt Stafford’s top target with Kenny Golladay (hip) out. The second-year TE has the third-highest target share (25%) in the red zone for his position and ranks 7th in total receptions (46). The Texans yield 54.7 receiving YPG to TEs and rank 22nd in overall DVOA pass defense.
Value Play: Jordan Akins ($2.9k DraftKings, $5.2k FanDuel)
If you have to save at the TE position, take a swing on the leader of Houston’s three-man rotation. Akins played on 51% of offensive snaps against the Patriots and earned more work by catching 5-of-6 targets for 83 yards. Daniel Fells (21 snaps) and Pharoah Brown (27 snaps) are competing for playing time and could be featured in the red zone, but Akins has a better rapport with Deshaun Watson and the speed necessary to shred Detroit’s weak pass defense.