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DraftKings NFL DFS Slate Preview: Top Picks and Strategy for Thanksgiving Fantasy Football

Matt Meiselman analyzes the top DraftKings fantasy football options for Thursday’s Thanksgiving slate and also breaks down some contrarian plays.

The Thanksgiving DraftKings NFL slate is now a two-gamer, with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens getting pushed back to Sunday. Thursday football is left to the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys, with the Texans and Lions getting things started early at 12:30 p.m. ET. Below you’ll find a breakdown of some of the highest potential scorers for the slate, along with an analysis of some of the ways to get an edge in GPPs.

Set your DraftKings Thanksgiving fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.5M Fantasy Football Millionaire [$1M to 1st] (Thu)

Passing Offenses

Houston Texans at Detroit Lions — Deshaun Watson ($7,400), Will Fuller ($6,400), Brandin Cooks ($5,300), Keke Coutee ($3,400)

With just two games on the Thanksgiving NFL DFS slate, there are only four total offenses to choose from and only a handful of viable pass-catchers. The top option at quarterback — as well as most of the top receivers — all seem to be coming from the Houston Texans. Deshaun Watson is easily the best fantasy quarterback on this slate in a vacuum, and he also has a strong matchup against the Lions’ subpar defense. The Texans own defensive struggles are likely to produce a solid game for opposing QB Matthew Stafford ($5,800), but more scoring means more opportunities for Watson, too, and he should be well-suited to take advantage.

At wide receiver, the Texans could conceivably have the two most-popular options of the slate, with Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks both contending for highest-owned individual player on Thanksgiving. The cancelled Ravens-Steelers game — as well as the Kenny Golladay (hip) injury — should move disproportionate ownership to Fuller and Cooks as most of the other places to spend substantial salary are now off the table. Additionally, Keke Coutee has a chance to emerge as salary relief with Randall Cobb (toe) ruled out for this game.

Rushing Offenses

Detroit Lions vs. Houston Texans — D’Andre Swift ($6,500), Adrian Peterson ($4,700), Kerryon Johnson ($4,300)

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Football Team — Ezekiel Elliott ($6,800)

Editor’s note: Lions RB D’Andre Swift (concussion) is inactive and OUT today vs. the Texans.

With the Texans likely to prioritize their passing offense, and the Washington Football Team likely to use more of a backfield committee approach, there are two teams on this slate that are clear favorites in terms of the potential for high scoring running backs: The Lions and the Cowboys.

D’Andre Swift sat out in Week 11 due to a concussion and he’s officially questionable for Thursday. Swift rushed for 81 yards and also had a career-high 68 receiving yards in Week 10, and it continues an upward trend in his overall usage. The Texans rank 31st in rush defense DVOA, so the matchup for the Lions’ RBs couldn’t be much better, either. If Swift ends up being ruled out, Peterson and Johnson land in a strong spot.

The Cowboys’ rushing offense doesn’t have nearly as strong of a matchup, but Ezekiel Elliott continues to be the focal point of the offense and having Andy Dalton ($5,600) under center should open some more running lanes for him. Elliott rushed 21 times for 103 yards last week, and this is also the first game in quite some time where his team is the favorite. Game flow could dictate a few more touches than usual.

Slate Strategy

Lower Owned Houston Texans

Most of the players mentioned above are going to carry high ownership, so simply building lineups with all of the good players in good matchups probably isn’t going to create much differentiation from the field. Having said that, the price and potential for Deshaun Watson and the Texans passing game is such that fading the whole thing isn’t necessarily the right move. The best way to attack the Texans in GPPs is probably to find some lower-owned parts of their offense, and that primarily means moving away from Fuller or Cooks. Secondary options like Coutee and Jordan Akins ($2,900) should both be contrarian, and are both extremely cheap, as well.

Washington Football Team’s Passing Game

Washington WR Terry McLaurin (ankle) is active for today’s game vs. the Cowboys.

On the high-end of the salary scale, Terry McLaurin ($7,000) could be as good or even better of an option than Fuller or Cooks, and his ownership probably won’t be quite as high given that his quarterback — Alex Smith ($5,400) — won’t be nearly as highly owned as Watson. McLaurin isn’t a contrarian choice by any stretch, but he’s probably as close to a must-play as there is on this slate. Sticking with Washington, J.D. McKissic ($5,100) continues to benefit from Alex Smith’s propensity for short passes, as he’s been functioning almost like the team’s second wide receiver. Even after only getting four targets last week, McKissic has seen 33 targets across his last three games and would clearly benefit if the Cowboys are ahead on Thursday.

Using Less Salary

One of the easiest ways to ensure a different lineup construction in a GPP is by using less than the full allotment of the DK salary, and this two-game Thanksgiving slate could be one where that strategy makes a lot of sense. There are only a few high-priced players and most lineups will probably contain some or all of them, so building a lineup that uses more of the cheaper options is likely to be fairly unique. Coutee is one of the best choices, especially if avoiding other Texans receivers, but some of the secondary options on other teams should be low-owned, too. Guys like Michael Gallup ($3,500), Marvin Hall ($3,900), Jamal Agnew ($3,000) and Dontrelle Inman ($3,100) should find their way into lineups, but very few people are going to be making combinations that contain multiple players from this group. Additionally, all of the tight ends on this slate are easily affordable especially with Mark Andrews off the board, so lineups with two tight ends are probably going to be pretty unique, as well.

Set your DraftKings Thanksgiving fantasy football lineups here: NFL $2.5M Fantasy Football Millionaire [$1M to 1st] (Thu)

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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.