This article is part of our FanDuel Fantasy Football series.
Thanksgiving week is arguably the best on the NFL calendar because we get the benefit of essentially two main slates with plenty of content, large contest sizes and payouts as well as the excitement of games being built around a holiday. In terms of strategy, we should begin with the typical approach of targeting the best game environments and best overall offenses. But, with such a small slate it's also important to identify the few players capable of delivering a performance that will break the slate open.
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- Two spots stand out in particular with Buffalo and Dallas out-pacing the field in their implied total. Neither is particularly surprising, as the Lions and Giants rank 25th and 27th in defensive DVOA, respectively.
- Speaking of DVOA, New England, Dallas and Buffalo rank first, second and third, respectively, in defensive DVOA this season.
- The only remaining team is Minnesota, which checks in 18th overall in defensive DVOA.
- This data gives us a high-level view of the slate. My takeaway is that we don't necessarily want to get contrarian on which offenses will perform well. There's no need to stack the Giants' offense. Instead, focus on the high total offenses but find leverage. For example, if Stefon Diggs is expected to be rostered at a 50 percent rate, consider using Devin Singletary or Dawson Knox. In other words, don't needlessly predict that the Buffalo offense will fail, but build believable stories about why certain pieces of the offense will fail and build your roster accordingly.
Quarterback is one of the more straightforward positions on the slate.
- Josh Allen ($9,500) will be the chalk and is $1,500 more expensive than any quarterback. He's posted 21.6 and 12.58 FanDuel points while playing through an elbow injury, neither of which is what we are looking for at his price. The matchup is great, but he just failed (from a point-per-dollar perspective) against a poor Cleveland defense. Fading Allen is an easy place to get different and save some salary.
- Dak Prescott ($8,000) is my favorite point-per-dollar quarterback. He's topped 20 FD points in three consecutive games and found different ways to get there. Mostly, it boils down to him needing to be efficient with his pass attempts because Dallas will play relatively run-heavy. The Giants allow only 6.5 yards per attempt to quarterback, which does introduce some risk.
- Kirk Cousins ($7,400) is coming off of a horrific performance and will now head into a primetime, nationally televised game. The narrative says he'll fail, and New England's No. 1 overall pass defense DVOA says the same. The case for Cousins is his supporting cast.
- Daniel Jones ($7,500) might become a viable play because of his rushing ability. Jones has spiked two games of more than 25 FD points and only one additional performance of more than 20 FD points this season. Dallas has the second-rated defensive DVOA against the pass.
- Saquon Barkley ($8,800) and Dalvin Cook ($7,800) are my top choices at the position. They have a locked-in workload, and if there is a spot to attack the Dallas and New England defenses, it's on the ground. Barkley has seen his volume as a pass catcher dip and has only two rushes of 20 or more yards combined across his last five games. Cook has found the end zone in three of his last four games. It's narrative based, but this also feels like a game where New England will go all out on shutting down Justin Jefferson. Cook could also be a leverage play based on the name value of Jefferson.
- Rhamondre Stevenson ($7,200) is the standout value given his involvement as both a rusher and pass catcher. There are a few concerns. Damien Harris ($6,400) returned and racked up eight carries and could see more as he continues to ramp up from a two-week absence. Stevenson is likely to be very popular, but the Patriots' offense has struggled to muster much in terms of offensive production. That adds to volume concerns for Stevenson. Nevertheless, he's the clear lead back in an average matchup at a price point that's hard to rival. Meanwhile, it's difficult to make the case for Harris unless there is reason to believe his volume increases.
- Tony Pollard ($8,500) has the explosiveness to break the slate and for that alone is worth potentially rostering. But, with Elliott in the mix, it's hard to project him for more than 15 carries and a couple receptions. He'll have to maintain his otherworldly efficiency to deliver on his price point. At a low projected roster rate, that's a gamble worth taking. As chalk, I'll bet against his continued touchdown rate (six touchdowns across his last three games). Ezekiel Elliott ($7,000) has yet top 17.7 FD points in a game this season and without touchdowns, he's essentially worthless for fantasy purposes. That's a thin reason to play him.
- D'Andre Swift ($6,200) is capped at about 20 offensive snaps. Unless that changes, he's unplayable at his price. Jamaal Williams ($7,100) is the lead back in Detroit as a result, but without multiple touchdowns he's also not a great value proposition. Justin Jackson ($5,200) mixed in, but this is a backfield I'll pass on.
- Devin Singletary ($6,900) is another touchdown-dependent back. Until Week 10, he had scored only one touchdown. In two games since, he has three. That won't continue, particularly if James Cooks's ($5,500) role continues to rise. He saw a season-high 11 carries in Week 11 and would be my choice for punt play at the position, but I'd rather pay down at a different position.
- Detroit's wide receiver corps is in flux. Amon-Ra St. Brown ($7,600) is clearly the lead for targets, but the overall state of the offense has kept him from reaching his ceiling. I wouldn't expect that to change against Buffalo. The viability of Josh Reynolds ($5,600), Kalif Raymond ($5,500) and DJ Chark ($5,000) will depend on what combination of the trio plays. If Reynolds plays and Chark is out, Reynolds would be an intriguing play. If all three play, none is likely to get enough volume to stand out.
- Both Stefon Diggs ($9,300) and Gabe Davis ($7,200) are good plays. Diggs has the far safer floor, but Davis is more likely to deliver the slate-breaking type of performance. With Jeff Okudah sidelined, the entire Buffalo passing attack is in a dream spot.
- Darius Slayton ($6,400) is really the only viable Giants pass catcher. The rest of Jones' throws are likely to spread to a range of uninspiring options. Slayton has seen at least six targets in three of his last four games and topped 66 yards in his last three matchups.
- Despite the relatively strong Cowboys offense, CeeDee Lamb ($7,900) is the only viable wide receiver to roster based on results to this point in the season. It's worth noting he's returned 2X on his current price only four times in 10 games this season, so if he's popular I'd be willing to look elsewhere.
- Justin Jefferson ($8,600) is capable of breaking any slate, but this isn't the slate for him to do so on paper. No wide receiver has topped 15.7 FD points against the Patriots this season. Adam Thielen ($5,900) is actually more intriguing based on his price point. Prior to the disastrous Week 11 performance for the entire offense, Thielen was a safe bet for seven targets. If the Patriots' defense is focused on Jefferson, Thielen could benefit. I like the play because he's not likely to be particularly popular.
- The only Patriot wide receiver with a reliable target rate is Jakobi Meyers ($6,700), but he's more suited for PPR scoring.
- T.J. Hockenson ($6,300) has earned a minimum of nine targets in three games with the Vikings. The Patriots have allowed a couple spike performances to tight ends, and a stack of Cousins-Thielen-Hockenson is intriguing. Hockenson is also fine to play without correlation.
- Dalton Schultz ($5,800) has seen a minimum of five targets in the last four weeks, but I'd rather find the money to pay up for Hockenson when possible.
- Dawson Knox ($5,500) has topped out at 11.2 FD points this season. He is projected to be the most rostered tight end on the slate.
- Brock Wright ($4,600) is a touchdown-or-bust option, but is an OK punt play.
- Dallas ($5,000) is expensive but has an excellent pass rush and ability to create turnovers. The public may not be eager to pay up for defense, making the Cowboys more intriguing.
- Buffalo ($4,400) and Minnesota ($4,000) are the other intriguing defenses. Buffalo is fairly obvious given the likelihood that they dominate Detroit. Mac Jones has been sacked 16 times across his last three games, making Minnesota more intriguing than they may seem on paper.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Dan Marcus plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: marcusd91 DraftKings: dmarcus87.