Happy Thanksgiving! Presents are great and stuff and I have nothing against Christmas or Hanukah but Thanksgiving is the greatest holiday of all time. It’s got the best food, the chance to be grateful instead of greedy, visits with family and friends, and of course…ALL DAY FOOTBALL. Perfectly paced so you don’t have to miss a thing. Being a fan of small slates in general, I’m especially thankful for all the fun Thanksgiving Day only games on FanDuel. In that spirit, I’ll give you one bargain play at each position for Thursday only games and one for the normal Sunday-Monday slate. Pardon the change in format for this week only.
Thanksgiving Day Games
Quarterback: Look, you start Tony Romo ($8700) on Thanksgiving Day. Period. There isn’t even a bargain option here in the range I’m usually targeting for this article (under $7K). You’re not getting me to say Mark Sanchez ($7600). He’s still taking at least one step back for every two steps forward in terms of turnovers which hurts his fantasy value. If you must save, and remember, you don’t, go with Colin Kaepernick ($7400) at home vs a Seattle defense that’s far less intimidating on the road.
Running Back: I like the pass catching back in Detroit this week. It looks like Reggie Bush ($6000) is set to return, but there is a back injury on his report now, so be sure to make sure. Reggie Bush is a classic late scratch candidate. If he is out, trust Theo Riddick to fill his shoes for a couple hundred less ($5800). Detroit has faced some tough matchups lately and not performed well. They will have high expectations this weekend as they always do on Thanksgiving but Vegas has confidence as they’re seven point favorites vs the Bears. Establishing the run will be tough vs Chicago’s improved run defense (9th best per PFF) but getting Bush in space ought to take some pressure off Matt Stafford.
Wide Receiver: I’ll be using a more all-average strategy for this slate than a stars/scrubs and the big reason why is the dearth of bargain WR. I feel great about Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson, but otherwise, the passing in these games has been pretty suspect. Jay Cutler‘s struggles have finally trickled down to Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall, and the SF-Seattle game projects as a defensive battle to me. Still, if you’re going to save at WR, this is the game to target. You can use Doug Baldwin ($5900), who is still the top receiving option for Russell Wilson. A WR1 on this team is not necessarily a good thing, as last week that meant two targets, but in this range it’s what you have to work with. I’m okay with this punt play in order to afford Dez and/or Calvin.
Tight End: At least all the TEs are cheap. Jason Witten ($5700) is making something of a comeback to relevance the past few weeks, and I plan to stack him and Dez Bryant with Romo for Thursday games. Witten has scored 3 TDs in the past four weeks, with at least 9 fpts in each game. I think Martellus Bennett ($5800) is also a good bet to score a TD Thursday.
Defense: It’s the Lions at $5200. If you have money left over, sure you can go with the 49ers, but with the way the Bears have been struggling and the Lions still a top 5 defense, why spend more?
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Quarterback: Well, there are certainly options to save money at QB this week as there are 10 of them priced at $7K or less. Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick are both minimum salary. QB has been the toughest position to punt in recent weeks, but if you are going that route this week, I like Fitzmagic for $5K. Prior to losing the starting job, he had fantasy days of 11, 19, 14, and 20 fpts. This week he comes back to face a mediocre Titans defense who allowed him 227/1 in October. I don’t see him topping 20 fpts, but at $5K, 15 fpts is all you need. The other option I’m eyeing is Teddy Bridgewater, who faces the Panthers this week. He’s coming off his first multi-TD game and got back to his run game like I hoped he would when I recommended him last week. The Panthers allow the 6th most fpts to QBs.
Running Back: For the first time, I’ll consider Tre Mason ($6000) this week vs the Raiders. Between his significantly out-carrying Benny Cunningham for the Rams last week and Oakland’s 4th most generous run defense, this could be the week he pays off. His price has been creeping up, despite only the 1 TD on the year but is still low enough to pair him with a stud like Le’Veon Bell or Jamaal Charles. If you want to save even more and feel a little risky doing it, I like Jonathan Stewart ($5000) against the Vikings this week. The Vikes are susceptible on the ground, as pretty much everyone except the TB backs and STL has torn them up. I know, Stewart is a lot closer to TB/StL than a real RB, but if Carolina wants to get anything going it should be with a run heavy game plan.
Wide Receiver: There are a few cheap WR I like that either have good matchups but iffy QB play or solid QB but iffy matchup. I like Dwayne Bowe ($5600) against a generous Denver passing D, but Alex Smith throws for under 200 yards just as much as he goes over 200. Bowe is the WR1 in KC, it is a primetime home game with a nice total, but he isn’t without risk. Likewise, I like the situation everyone’s favorite would be stud WR Justin Hunter finds himself in this week. Coming off a 4/64/1 game, Hunter ($5900) should be able to put up similar numbers against Houston. Mettenberger is trying, as Hunter had a team high 10 targets last week. Both Saints receivers, Marques Colston ($6000) and Kenny Stills ($5100) had good games last week, but Stills was more involved, catching 8/98. Colston had the TD to give him the slight edge in fpts which cost me a friendly bet with my DFS podcast co-host @CoachEsser. With the salary differential, I like Stills a bit more again this week. The Saints on the road is a small concern, but if I factor that narrative in at all, it applies to paying a premium for Brees, not a bargain WR. Lastly, if Philip Rivers can get back on track, the Chargers could really take advantage of the bad Ravens secondary this week. I like Malcolm Floyd ($5400) to find the endzone in this one.
Tight End: The TE I want to use this week is Charles Clay ($5200) in a great matchup Monday night at the Jets. He was limited in practice Wednesday, so this has to be a wait and see situation. If not via Clay, I’ll be sure to get at least some exposure to the Miami Dolphins offense this week (via Landry or Tannehill). Antonio Gates ($5600) leaps off the page as a great value play this week, but again, I’m a little worried about Rivers’ recent struggles. At $5000, Kyle Rudolph makes for an interesting option. Once upon a time, he was a dominant red zone target for the Vikings. His second game back from hernia surgery was a big improvement over the first. I think and Bridgewater continue to get comfortable together and Rudolph scores his first TD this week.
Defense: I’m using the Buffalo Bills defense quite a bit this week. They’ve scored double digit fantasy points seven times this year and are tied for 3rd in the league in takeaways (per ESPN). While it doesn’t always transfer to fantasy perfectly, they are also PFF’s #5 rated defense overall. This is the single lowest point total projected by Vegas of the week, and these teams have put up some stinkers in the past. At $5100, the Bills are more of a mid-range than true bargain play, but try to fit them in if you can. At the bottom of the bargain bin, use Minnesota ($4500) at home against the Panthers. They haven’t had a big defensive game in a few weeks, but they’ve been facing some stronger offenses over that stretch. They’ve shown an opportunistic side and I like them at home for the minimum.
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