Welcome to the always popular Thanksgiving Day slates on DraftKings. Thanksgiving provides that unique opportunity to play a small slate of games on one day that get treated like the major full-slate Sunday tournaments, from a prize-pool perspective. Even with only three games, there are many opportunities to build unique lineups in tournament play, which is always the goal on such a short slate. But there are also traps, like those gross yams, that should be avoided. We look at the best plays in cash games and tournaments, as well as a player to avoid.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints ($6,800)
Brees is easily the top point-per-dollar play on the board at the position and makes for a perfect last-game hammer. Yes, he had a horrible game against these Falcons two weeks ago, but I have more faith in Sean Payton making the proper adjustment than the Falcons defense striking gold twice.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons ($6,400)
At his price point, Ryan is in an interesting spot where a lot of players will either go to up to Brees and come down to Josh Allen at $200 cheaper. That will likely leave Ryan low-owned, which is ideal for tournaments. It’s super risky, which is also good for tournaments, what with Julio Jones iffy and the Falcons in a general state of disarray. But if the Falcons put a good game together, Ryan could easily be the highest-scoring QB on the slate.
Jeff Driskel, Detroit Lions ($5,500)/David Blough ($4,200)
Driskel is dealing with a hamstring issue, and is now expected to sit this weekend. Driskel was not worth starting, and David Blough is even less so. Mitchell Trubisky ($5,300) is tje better bargain tournament play in the same game.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys ($7,400)
With the season on the line and the coach in the hot seat, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the Cowboys leaned on the running game with Elliott, especially against a Bills defense that’s much more difficult against the pass. Elliott has had at least 20 carries in 5 of his past 6 games. This could be a 30-carry game.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints ($8,100)
Because Kamara is so involved in the passing game, he is always going to find a way to flirt with 20 points, if not more. Because of the price structure on this slate, it’s very easy to fit both Elliott and Kamara (and Michael Thomas, too) into the same lineup, so going heavy with the two top running backs is a fine cash-game strategy.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons ($5,100)
Finding the less-chalky plays that put up a big number is the name of the game on the Thanksgiving slate. Like his quarterback, Freeman is nestled in between some decent value plays like Tarik Cohen and Devin Singletary. Coming off an extended absence, Freeman will probably be the least-owned starting running back on the slate. But before his recent injury, Freeman was having decent success, with double-digit DK points in 5 of 6 games before getting hurt against the Saints in Week 10.
Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears ($5,000)
Cohen has turned in three solid performances in a row and should remain a focal point in the offense against the Lions. He’s been close to 50-50 in touches with David Montgomery in the past two weeks and is far more likely to pop off a big play in this one.
David Montgomery, Chicago Bears ($5,400)
Montgomery is still getting more carries than Cohen, but he hasn’t been doing much with them. What makes the Lions such a bad defense against the run isn’t so much yards allowed as pass-catching by opposing RBs, which makes Cohen much more likely to have success here.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints ($9,100)
Thomas is the top play on the slate and even as the most-expensive play, he’s pretty much a must-play in cash games. He might be a must-play in tournaments, too. Even in the Saints’ meltdown against the Falcons in Week 10, Thomas still caught 13 passes on 14 targets for 152 yards. Don’t overthink this one at all.
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears ($3,900)
If you want to play Thomas, Kamara, Elliott and Brees in the same lineup, you can, but you’re going to need to find value pieces on the rest of the board. Miller might be the best at wide receiver, having drawn 20 targets over the past two games. Miller might be even more productive in this game, with Taylor Gabriel likely out with a concussion.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys ($6,000)
You can’t do any worse than the donut Cooper threw up all over Foxboro on Sunday. Hopefully we get a healthy dose of recency bias to drive down his ownership, because, wow, talk about home-road splits. Cooper has been terrible in road games, with Sunday the most extreme example. But check out these DK point totals in his five home games: 25.6, 26.8, 42.6, 18.6, 34.7. That’s an average of 29.6, a 5X of his current salary. That’s awfully hard to ignore. Hopefully, people do.
John Brown, Buffalo Bills ($6,300)
On the other side of a game featuring two solid pass defenses is Brown, who does not appear to be intimidated by good pass defenses. Instead, he just runs past them and Josh Allen hits him in stride. Brown appeared headed for a total washout on Sunday when, boom! Touchdown. Allen will certainly launch a few Brown’s way on Thursday.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons ($7,300)
This is more about his injury status than his ability, although Jones’ worst game in his past six came against the Saints in Week 10. The more pressing issue is the AC joint sprain in his shoulder, which kept him out of practice Monday and Tuesday. Check his status Wednesday, but it’s hard to get excited about Julio if he’s less than 100 percent.
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints ($4,800)
Cook is the best tight end basically by default on this slate with Austin Hooper not expected to play. But Cook is also earning the title with his play. Cook has scored a touchdown in 4 of his last 5 games and has been in double-digit DK points in those four games. He had his best of that bunch on Sunday. No one at the position comes close to Cook’s production, and even at his elevated price point, he’s a must play in cash.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($3,400)
If we want to get away from the Cook chalk, we should probably land here. Hockenson really hasn’t done much since Week 1, so he’s really hard to trust, especially with a bad shoulder. But if he plays Thursday – and we’ll know his status well before the slate begins – he has a chance to deliver, as the Bears have not handed tight ends all that well this season. It’s not a fun play, but at his salary, he makes strategic sense.
Jaeden Graham, Atlanta Falcons ($3,100)
With Hooper and Luke Stocker both likely out, Graham is basically the last man standing at the position for the Falcons. And at first blush, that seems like a good thing, as he might play every snap and would be a needed receiver, especially if Julio sits. But with Ryan being pressured relentlessly lately, they might ask Graham to stay in and block. It’s something to consider in an otherwise obvious-looking spot.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jeffgo33) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my spersonal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.