Thanksgiving offers three NFL games -- enough to satisfy daily fantasy players. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning a holiday DFS lineup.
The opening game on Thanksgiving Day is a battle of have-nots in the NFC North. SI Sportsbook has the Bears favored by 3.5 points, with the game total coming in at 41.5.
Chicago has lost its last five matchups, which includes four teams (GB, TB, PIT, and BAL) with a winning record. Overall, their opponents have a 56-35-1 record minus the Lions (0-9-1). Every other team has a .500 or better record. The Bears beat Detroit, 24-14, in Week 4.
QB Andy Dalton, Chicago Bears ($5,500/$7,200)
With this week’s matchup coming on a short week, Dalton is expected to start after Justin Fields suffered a rib issue against the Ravens. Chicago has the worst passing offense in the league (1,832 yards with seven touchdowns). However, over the past two weeks vs. Pittsburgh and Baltimore, 13 of their 32 completions gained over 20 yards, leading to improved pass yards (291 and 280). Dalton has three touchdowns and one interception over his 73 pass attempts. His completion rate (65.8) is much higher than Fields’ (58.1), but he gained only 6.5 yards per pass attempt.
Despite allowing 8.3 yards per pass attempt, offenses haven’t drilled the Lions’ pass defense in many games. As a result, two quarterbacks passed for over 300 yards (SF – 319 and LA – 334/3). Part of Detroit's success defending the pass comes from a low number of pass attempts against (301 – 30.1 per game).
The Bears have Allen Robinson (hamstring) and Darnell Mooney (foot) listed as questionable for this week’s game. Dalton’s ceiling is relatively low, and Detroit may be starting a backup quarterback again. I have no interest in riding Dalton in the daily games this week.
RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears ($6,000/$7,500)
Since returning from his knee injury, Montgomery has been on the field for 85 and 95 percent of the plays run by the Bears. Over this span, he gained 147 combined yards with three catches on 30 touches. His season started with two productive games (118 combined yards with a touchdown and one catch and 23/106/2) over the first four weeks. His two-score outcome came against the Lions in Week 4.
Detroit has struggled with the run over its last three games (PHI – 46/236/4, PIT – 31/145, and CLE – 36/184/1) while seeing minimal damage over this stretch by running backs in the passing game (0/0, 5/37, and 2/14/1). On the year, backs scored 18 times with 1,472 yards and 37 catches.
Montgomery is fairly priced, and his matchup gives him a reasonable chance at delivering over 100 yards with at least one touchdown.
WR Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears ($5,700/$6,800)
The only Bears’ receiver with a fantasy pulse this year is Mooney. He has a touchdown in back-to-back games (three total) while shining in Week 11 (5/121/1). Despite his perceived success in his last contest, Mooney needed 16 targets (31.25% catch rate). Over the first nine games, he averaged 6.6 targets with two other playable games (5/135 vs. Detroit and 5/45/1).
Wide receivers have 115 catches for 1,629 yards and eight touchdowns against the Lions. The only team to dominate Detroit with their wideouts was the Rams (20/269/3).
The change to Andy Dalton should lead to a bump in targets if his foot issue is minor and Allen Robinson doesn’t suit up. Mooney will draw attention in the daily space, but his salary is also rising.
I don’t see any other viable option from the Bears on Thursday. Cole Kmet may offer some salary-cap relief for someone looking to cheat the tight end position.
Over the last nine games, the Lions have scored 12 touchdowns while failing to reach 20 points in any matchup. Defenses held them to six scores over the past six weeks. This week, the Bears’ defense will draw some attention, with Detroit expected to wheel out their second-string quarterback.
RB D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions ($7,300/$8,000)
Over the last two weeks, Swift struggled to make plays in the passing game (3/5 and 3/0), but he had the most success of the season running the ball (33/130 and 14/136/1). As a result, Swift moved to fourth in running back scoring (185.5 fantasy points) in PPR leagues. His salary continues to rise, making it more challenging to roster him. He scored over 20.00 fantasy points in five of his 10 games while averaging 19 touches. The Bears held him to four catches for 33 yards in Week 4.
Chicago faced a high volume of runs over their previous five contests (31, 31, 26, 32, and 34), leading to 709 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. A trailing position in games led to fewer passes going to running backs (44/317/1).
Swift has a reasonable chance of scoring, but the Lions’ offense does not. If Jared Goff starts, I will view it as an improvement in opportunity for Swift.
In the second game on Thanksgiving, Dallas is a 7.5-favorite over the Raiders at SI Sportsbook with an over/under of 50.5. The Cowboys are 4-1 at home, with each of their wins producing 36 points or more (41, 36, 44, and 43). Las Vegas has lost three straight matchups while scoring only 43 points (16, 14, and 13) combined.
QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys ($6,900/$8,200)
For the second time in three weeks, the Cowboys forgot how to pass the ball. Prescott gained 5.9 and 5.0 yards per pass attempt against Denver and Kansas City due to quiet days from his wide receivers (11/121/2 and 13/105). In these two games, his wideouts caught only 24 of their 52 targets (46.2%). Prescott has been a much better player at home (15 touchdowns and two interceptions) than on the road (six touchdowns and five interceptions).
The Raiders struggled in three games vs. quarterbacks (LAC – 222/3, DEN – 334/3, and KC – 422/5), but they allow only 6.5 yards per pass attempt with 24 sacks. Their quarterback fantasy defense (21.09 FPPG) ranks 15th.
Dallas should run the ball well if their offensive line mans up (LG Tyron Smith expected back) after getting manhandled by the Chiefs (five sacks and a short passing window). Prescott won’t have Amari Cooper, and the chance of CeeDee Lamb playing looks slim after suffering a concussion last week. Michael Gallup (5/44 on 10 targets) and Cedrick Wilson (4/36 on seven targets) struggled to catch the ball and make big plays in Week 11. I expect most daily players to fade Prescott due to his injuries at wideout. However, his home resume gives him a chance while the Cowboys have enough receiving depth to surprise passing the ball.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys ($8,000/$8,400)
Over the past three weeks, Elliott has been on the field for only 53, 49 and 69 percent of the Cowboys’ plays. His step-back in snaps in Week 10 was due to a blowout game, while he appeared to get banged up on a couple of plays last week. Elliott has two touchdowns in his previous five starts with fading value in his rushing yards (17/69, 16/50, 10/51, 14/41/2, and 9/32). Dallas has thrown him the ball more in this stretch (23/149), but he is gaining only 6.5 yards per catch. Elliott scored seven of his eight touchdowns at home while gaining 5.4 yards per rush (3.7 on the road).
The Raiders allowed over 130 yards rushing in seven of their 10 games, with runners gaining 4.5 yards per carry. Running backs scored 13 touchdowns with a combined 1,431 yards and 54 catches.
Elliott has a winnable matchup, but he does have a questionable tag next to his name. Nevertheless, I expect him to play while Dallas gives Tony Pollard plenty of chances. I’d be more inclined to fade Elliott with the hopes of creating more salary-cap space in the daily games. He’s scored over 30.00 fantasy points only once over his last 31 starts.
WR Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys ($5,900/$6,500)
Last week, Gallup appeared to be a value based on his salary and the late scratch of Amari Cooper due to Covid-19. He finished with 10 targets while leaving plenty of stats on the table. The Cowboys had him on the field for a team-high 94% of their plays. Over the last two seasons, he’s posted eight impact games (7/158, 7/113/1, 9/148, 6/109, 5/98/3, and 6/138/1, 7/86/1, and 6/121/1) for his price point.
The Raiders held wideouts to fewer than 200 yards receiving over their last eight games. Some of their success was helped by facing weaker passing opponents (CHI, PHI, and NYG). Wide receivers gain only 10.4 yards per catch, but they have a high catch rate (65.8).
Gallup should be a higher percentage own, even with a jump in salary. A third game back from his injury should help his timing with Prescott.
TE Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys ($5,300/$6,000)
Schultz played better against the Chiefs (6/53 on eight targets), but he failed to score for the sixth straight game. Over his first three games at home, he caught 18 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 23 targets. Schultz sits sixth in tight end scoring (11.11 FPPG).
Las Vegas allowed the second-most fantasy points (16.80 FPPG – 63/667/6) to tight ends. Four teams (MIA – 10/86, LAC – 9/121/2, DEN – 12/120/1, and KC – 9/120/1) had a high level of success.
The issues at wide receiver should shift more chance to Schultz. He looks overpriced based on his recent production, but he has enough game to payoff in this matchup.
For someone looking for a value at wide receiver, Cedrick Wilson, Malik Turner or Noah Brown may hit on a scoring play this week. Each player has a bottom-tier price point, while each option should see a bump in playing time with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb out. Wilson has the third-most wide receiver snaps (366) on the Cowboys, giving him the best chance to succeed of these options.
QB Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders ($5,900/$7,400)
Over his first seven games, Carr finished with more than 300 yards in five matchups (435/2, 382/2, 386/2, 341/2, and 323/2). His passing yards declined in each of his previous four games (341, 323, 296, 261, and 215), which coincides with the dismissal of Henry Ruggs. Over this stretch, Las Vegas threw more to their running backs (10/95, 16/135, 9/43, and 6/30). The Raiders scored only three offensive touchdowns over their past three games.
Dallas has the 10th-ranked defense vs. quarterbacks (20.78 FPPG), with five of their previous six opponents scoring under 20.00 fantasy points. The Cowboys didn’t allow a passing touchdown to Patrick Mahomes while dominating Matt Ryan and the Falcons in Week 10 (131/0).
The direction of the Raiders’ offense points to fading Carr this week. The Cowboys’ defense will make some mistakes, but they have enough talent in the secondary to take away the Las Vegas wide receivers. On the other hand, Carr does spread the ball around, and a chaser game does give him a chance at 300 yards and two scores, which works for his salary.
RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders ($5,900/$6,700)
Jacobs has been disappointing over his eight games of action (506 combined yards with five touchdowns and 28 catches). He averages 13.58 fantasy points in PPR leagues with no impact games. Jacobs gained fewer than 55 yards rushing in seven games with plenty of dents in his yards per rush (3.7) and yards per catch (6.2). He still has no runs over 20 yards (89 attempts).
Dallas has the fourth-best defense against running backs (21.30 FPPG). They allow 4.4 yards per rush, with offenses scoring two rushing touchdowns in four of their past seven games.
The lack of big plays by Jacobs would push me elsewhere for upside. His playability hinges on his scoring ability, something the Raiders have lacked for three weeks.
WR Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders ($5,600/$6,200)
Twice over the past month, Renfrow delivered short games (3/36 and 4/30). He averaged six catches for 57 yards and 0.50 touchdowns or 14.7 fantasy points in PPR leagues in his other eight matchups. He does most of his work close to the line of scrimmage (9.4 yards per catch). Despite his improvement, Renfrow doesn’t have a game with over nine targets.
Dallas has struggled in some games against wide receivers (TB – 17/250/2, LAC – 15/233/1, CAR – 16/224/2, NYG – 13/209, and DEN – 12/203/1), pushing them to 18th (119/1,704/9).
If the Raiders fall behind early, Renfrow may see his most targets on the season. He looks viable based on his lower salary.
TE Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders ($6,400/$7,300)
Waller is one of the few players on the board Thursday who has the talent to score over 30.00 fantasy points. His play picked up in two of his past three starts (7/92 and 7/116), but touchdowns (2) have been a problem in 2021. His floor tends to be seven targets. Waller needs 49 catches over the final eight games to reach 100 for the second straight year.
The Cowboys rank 24th defending tight ends (14.50 FPPG – 53/616/4). They’ve allowed over 20.00 fantasy points to the position in three games (TB – 8/90/2, PHI – 6/119/1, and KC – 7/90/1).
Waller falls into the must-own category on this short slate.
The Bills come into this week with three losses in their past five matchups, dropping them behind the rival New England Patriots in the AFC East. When on their game, Buffalo scored 35 points or more in five of their wins. Their defense has two shutouts while allowing 17.6 points per game. SI Sportsbook has the Bills favored by 5.5 points with the lowest over/under (45.5) on the day.
New Orleans went from contenders to pretenders after losing their last three games to the Falcons, Titans and Eagles. Their defense has allowed more than 20 points in six of their past seven matchups. However, the Saints have three wins vs. playoff-contending teams (GB, NE, and TB).
QB Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints ($4,800/$7,000)
In one of the strangest moves in the NFL, the Saints decided to sign Taysom Hill to a $22.5 million guaranteed four-year contract at age 31. His overall package has more upside if he ends up earning the starting quarterback role. This season, Hill has been on the field for only 146 plays.
Maybe fantasy managers should take his signing at a tell for his role in Week 12. New Orleans needs a win in the worst way to stay in the playoff hunt, and Trevor Siemian has a low completion rate (56.9) in his four games, with weakness in his yards per attempt (6.4). His only positive is his TD to Int ratio (8:2).
The Bills have the top quarterback defense (14.30 fantasy points) in the NFL. Their last five opponents scored fewer than 19.00 fantasy points.
Hill gets a slight bump if he does start due to his rushing ability. His salary makes sense for someone looking to gain salary cap relief at another position, and he should be a low-percentage own. Only a gamble unless the Saints name him the starter.
RB Mark Ingram, New Orleans ($6,200/$9,000)
In his two starts for Alvin Kamara, Ingram gained 221 combined yards with one touchdown and 10 catches (19.05 FPPG in PPR leagues). New Orleans had him on the field for 79.4 percent of their plays, leading to 40 touches. Ingram came out of last week’s matchup with a knee issue, leading to him being limited in practice early in the week.
Buffalo had an embarrassing performance against the run in Week 11 (46/264/4), leading to them dropping to seventh in running back defense (21.50 FPPG). In addition, the Bills showed decline vs. backs in Week 6 (TEN – 156 combined yards with three touchdowns and two catches) and Week 10 (NYJ – 153 combine yards with a touchdown and 11 catches).
If his injury is deemed minor, Ingram should have a high floor due to his value in the passing game. His salary remains under his opportunity on one side of the street.
I don’t expect any of the Saints’ wide receivers to be in play this week. Buffalo may jump out to a lead, forcing New Orleans to throw, but their wideouts only have 79 catches for 1,155 yards and 12 touchdowns on 139 targets (Cooper Kupp has 85 catches for 1,141 yards and 10 touchdowns).
Juwan Johnson falls into the flier category at tight end after the Saints lost Adam Trautman to a knee injury. Since Week 1, Johnson only has six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets.
QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills ($7,800/$8,800)
The debate for daily players on Thursday should be whether to single Allen at the quarterback position. He has a clear edge in receiving talent, with Dallas banged up at wide receiver, and Allen adds to his floor with his value in the run game. When reflecting on his performance vs. the Colts (227/2), Buffalo needs a statement game. The Bills’ passing attack fell short of expectations over the previous four weeks (1,088 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions) when considering their opponents (MIA, JAC, NYJ, and IND).
New Orleans plays well vs. the run (3.1 yards per rush), which isn’t that much of a factor in this game. Buffalo would much rather throw the ball (six games with 40 passes or more). The Saints allow 7.8 yards per pass attempt, with three offenses having success (NYG – 429/0, TB – 373/4, and ATL – 351/2).
Allen isn’t a lock to be the top quarterback on the day, but he is worth the gamble.
The running back position in Buffalo is developing into a three-headed question mark. Mark Breida doesn’t have a free price point, and his role and opportunity remain undefined. Over the past two games, he gained 117 yards on 12 touches with two touchdowns and four catches. His explosiveness puts Breida in dart mode while the Bills’ other backs look to have low ceilings.
WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills ($7,900/$8,300)
After his first impact game (8/162/1) two weeks ago, Diggs gained only 23 yards on four catches against Indianapolis, but he saved his fantasy day with two touchdowns. Over the last five weeks, he has caught 32 of his 45 targets for 399 yards and five touchdowns, lifting him to ninth in wide receiver scoring (173.30 fantasy points) in PPR leagues.
New Orleans inched up to 20th in fantasy wide receiver defense (122/1,727/10) after holding the Eagles’ wideouts to six catches for 83 yards on 11 targets. However, Philly's big lead and massive run game (50/242/3) led to minimal chances for their wide receivers. The Saints were drilled by Giants (15/271/1) and Bucs (19/314/3) wideouts.
Diggs is a player that can beat you if you leave him off of your roster. He doesn’t need 30.00 fantasy points to be an edge. With a 20-plus-point day, I have to believe he’ll be a top-three scoring wide receiver on the day. If given single coverage by CB Marshon Lattimore, Diggs would have more open field to make plays.
There hasn’t been a winning sighting for Emmanuel Sanders since Week 5 (3/54/2). Over his last four games, he only has nine catches for 118 yards on 19 targets. Sanders still leads the Bills’ wide receivers in snaps (560). However, his salary continues to slide while Cole Beasley doesn’t look healthy due to a rib issue. Beasley only has six catches for 38 yards on seven targets over the past two games. Buffalo had him on the field for 57 percent of their plays in Week 11 (16 percent against the Jets). A second Buffalo’ wideout looks viable in a Josh Allen stack due to their lower salaries. Gabriel Davis flashed two weeks ago (3/105), but his two big plays came late in a blowout win.
TE Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills ($4,400/$5,900)
Game flow allowed Knox to pick up garbage catches in the second half, leading to his best target day (10) of his career. He finished with six catches for 80 yards. Besides his low output in Week 10 (1/17) after missing two games with a finger issue, Knox has been serviceable in four other matchups (2/17/1, 4/49/1, 5/37/2, and 3/117/1). Over his first seven games, he averaged only four targets.
New Orleans sits ninth in tight end defense (9.84 FPPG – 43/371/1). However, a soft schedule has helped their success against tight ends (GB, CAR, NE, NYG, WAS, SEA, TB, ATL, and TEN). In addition, offenses have needed to chip with their tight ends to help slow down the Saints’ pass rush.
I expect Knox to draw attention this week in the daily contests. I’ll have some shares with my Josh Allen teams, but I’m going to fade him based on my research and expected ownership.