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“The Incredible Houk” NFL Turkey Day Fantasy Plays

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here’s to hoping your day is filled with great food, family, and football. As far as the football side is concerned we have an outstanding selection of divisional rivalry games to choose from, featuring some excellent match-ups to take advantage of from a fantasy standpoint.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the premium, mid-tier, and value plays for all the games on this Thursday’s slate.

*All pricing in accordance with the “Thursday Only” contests on both FanDuel and DraftKings*

 

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions—12:30 p.m. ET

Premium Play: Kenny Golladay– FD: $7,200 | DK: $6,4000

I’ll be the first to admit that I hate this pick, but I had a hard time fading the Lions completely after they proved me wrong against Carolina. There aren’t many top tier options to choose from in this particular game but if Detroit is going to hang in there against this stout Bears defense, they are going to need some production out of Golladay. With the departure of Golden Tate, number one receiver duties now rest squarely on Golladay’s shoulders, and so far, he’s rewarded those who have rostered him.

In the past two games he’s posted 16 and 21 FanDuel points against opposing defenses with the 16 point affair coming against this exact same Bears defense just two weeks ago. The Bears sport the number one rush defense in the league through the first 11 weeks of the season, and with lead rusher Kerryon Johnson dealing with a knee injury, the Lions are going to need to get something going through the air.

Golladay’s impressive athleticism was certainly on display against Carolina during Week 11 and he’ll look to continue that momentum as Matt Stafford’s number one target in this Thanksgiving match-up.

Mid-Tier Play: Mitchel Trubisky – FD: $7,900 | DK: $5,900

There aren’t many options that I absolutely love from in this particular game. But Trubisky does represent a nice value given the pricing for some of the other QB’s on the board. With the exception of its pass defense, Detroit is one of the worst defensive teams in the league overall and especially vulnerable to teams with solid rushing attacks.

Mitch Trubisky - Nam Y Huh - AP

Photo Courtesy of Nam Y. Huh – APd rushing attacks.

While I don’t expect Trubisky to necessarily dominate through the air, his ability to create with his legs adds an interesting dimension to his fantasy value in this particular match-up. His own abilities coupled with electric pass catching back Tarik Cohen and reliable short range option Trey Burton gives Trubisky a number of good check-down outlets to choose from while speedster Taylor Gabriel spreads the field.

I certainly won’t fault anyone for paying up for Drew Brees who continues to completely dominate opposing defenses, but as a valuable Mid-Tier option, I do like Trubisky in this spot to provide roster flexibility elsewhere.

Value Play: Jordan Howard – FD: $6,100 | DK: $4,100

I just got done extolling the virtues of Tarik Cohen and now here I am recommending you play the other run dominant back in the Bears’ offense, what gives? This essentially boils down to the number of opportunities I believe Howard will receive which should be plentiful against a weak Lion’s rushing defense. Through the first 11 weeks Howard has received 155 total carries at approximately 15.5 touches per game, which puts him in good company as one of the higher usage back in the league.

Now to be fair, his participation in the passing game is almost non-existent. This probably helps to justify the considerably lower price tag on DraftKings given the full point per reception received on that site vs. Fanduel. Even so, Howard does have 5 rushing TD’s on the year making him a viable option in the Red Zone and even one trip across the goal line could see him smashing value at that price tag.

By no means is Howard a sure thing given some of the other options on this slate, but between the plus match-up and the sheer carry volume this could represent a solid cash game play and potentially even an overlooked options in some tournament formats.

 

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys—4:30 p.m. ET

Premium Play: Amari Cooper– FD: $6,500 | DK: $5,700

Amari Cooper - Mathew Emmons - USA Today Sports

Photo Courtesy of Mathew Emmons – USA Today Sports

What? No Zeke? Nope, not interested. At least not against a Washington Redskins team who ranks just outside the top 5 in rushing defense. If Dallas wants to generate offense, they are more than likely going to have to do so through the air. Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean Cooper is going to have some kind of field day, especially if he draws the match-up against Josh Norman. I just don’t see the Cowboy’s having many other options.

Michael Gallup is the  up-and-comer in the Dallas passing attack but due to some unfortunate family issues, he seems unlikely to play this Thursday. This leaves Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns as the other primary targets in the passing game but neither can be considered really high upside options.

This may not sound like a glaring endorsement for Cooper, but it’s the best I’ve got. If Washington sells out to take away Dallas’ most dangerous offensive weapon in Zeke, then it’s going to be up to Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper to lead the charge if Dallas wants to win this critical NFC East showdown.

Mid-Tier Play: Jordan Reed – FD: $6,000 | DK: $4,700

The Washington Redskin’s passing game has been difficult to decipher all season. At best, it’s been a committee effort without any one receiver clearly emerging as the number one option for this Alex Smith led offense. That situation became even more unclear this past weekend when Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that will leave him sidelined for the remainder of the season.

This leaves journeyman Colt McCoy to attempt to lead this NFC East leading Washington team towards a victory over their closest opponent in the division. While the sample size is small, McCoy was able to find Jordan Reed in the end zone during their most recent loss to Houston. This could signal an early comfort level between the two and if Reed turns into McCoy’s most reliable outlet and Red Zone target this should spell opportunity  against the Cowboy’s Defense.

Tight End has been a consistently challenging position to predict this season, but with a lack of other reliable options in the Washington receiving core, Reed may be the perfect play to absorb a heavy target share this Thursday.

Value Play: Washington Redskins DST– FD: $3,700 | DK: $2,600

Had to get a defense in here at some point didn’t I? Now I think most people are going to look at the Bears dominant defense or Alex Smith being out as a good reason to play the Cowboy’s DST. That’s why I think there’s some opportunity here to sneak in Washington’s DST, especially in tournaments as a contrarian play. In general I actually think this is going to be a good football game, but not necessarily a high scoring match-up like were going to see in ATL vs NO.

Redskins Defense - Diane Chesebrough

Photo Courtesy of Diana Chesebroug

As I mentioned previously, I believe Washington’s game script will essentially boil down to selling out against the run and forcing Dak to beat them through the air. The Cowboys seemingly live and die with their ability to get Zeke going, and if Washington shuts that down, I think it’s going to be a long day for the Cowboy’s offense

Perhaps a bit of a risky play given that the Bears seem like an almost surefire lock in this spot, but if you’re looking for a bit of an edge in a GPP tourney, this could be the route to go.

 

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints—8:20 p.m. ET

Premium Play: Alvin Kamara – FD: $8,900 | DK: $8,300

No surprises here. The mantra for this game is “Don’t get cute”. If you saw any of the analysis about why Zeke was a smash play against the Falcons last week, than it shouldn’t be a stretch to convince you why Kamara make’s sense here. Not only is Atlanta’s defense one of the league’s weakest in nearly every defensive category, they are especially bad against pass catching backs out of the backfield. The only real issue with this game is deciding which one of the premium options on the Saint’s side of the ball to play. You know one of Kamara, Brees or Thomas (Or all three) is going to put up some serious fantasy points every week, the only question is who and can you fit them in your roster.

As a quick aside, I will the say the other premium option and a potential tournament pivot I really like in this game is Julio Jones, maybe even over Michael Thomas. The Eagles game notwithstanding, New Orleans hasn’t been particularly good on defense either this season, specifically against opponents WR #1. If the Saint’s defense comes back to earth this Thursday, and Matt Ryan is forced to sling the ball as much as we think he should have to in this game, than perhaps Julio is the perfect pivot off of what will undoubtedly be high exposure on the New Orleans side.

Mid-Tier Play: Mark Ingram – FD: $7,400 | DK: $6,100

I won’t hammer this point into the ground. If you’re not going to play Kamara this week,

Mark Ingram - Bill Feig - AP

Photo Courtesy of Bill Feig – AP

you should definitely consider including Ingram in your plans (if not both of them) for all of the reasons mentioned above. The Saints utilize both of these guys like crazy and while I think Ingram is definitely the riskier of the two options, you can bet with a healthy dose of certainty that either one or both these guys is going to find the End Zone.

Other options include the bevy of secondary targets on both sides of this game. Tre’Quan Smith has shown enormous upside for the Saints in multiple games now and both Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu have seen regular targets in the Atlanta passing attack.

This is undoubtedly the most robust Mid-Tier on the slate, so once you have your studs selected it shouldn’t be difficult to find some complementary pieces to stack.

Value Play: Benjamin Watson – FD: $5,600 | DK: $3,200

Hard to figure out what’s going on here. After narrowly missing a two score game against Cincinnati, and then following it up with a doughnut against Philly, it’s hard to project what the outlook is in this upcoming match-up. Truthfully, Brees has no shortage of targets so predicting when Watson will show back up in the stat sheet is a risky proposition.

That said, when Watson has gotten involved this season he has been able to post a few games with double digit fantasy production. Another potential value TE would be Austin Hooper on the Falcons side who’s seen a healthy share of targets recently. Although, after what the Saints just did to keep Zach Ertz bottled up, that may represent an even more risky proposition than Watson. Both those plays would be considered an ultimate hail marry for a slate where there’s plenty of other places to find value.

Final Thoughts:

The game of the slate is clearly the ATL @ NO contest. Another game at home for the Saints is sure to produce a plethora of fantasy point with the difficult task being to determine where they’ll all come from. Stacking this game with studs and utilizing the earlier contests to secure some value seems to be the strategy heading into Thursday. There’s always the option to play a contrarian angle by playing some of the lesser owned, high usage players from the other contests, but that strategy is best saved for GPP and Tournament formats.

As the holiday season gets kicked off this Thanksgiving I’d like to wish you and your families a very happy holiday season and as always, best of luck in your contests this week and weekend!


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Certified Sports Fanatic: Everything Cleveland sports and all the happenings around classic sports. Full time program manager in construction materials, part time fantasy sports writer. Been playing fantasy sports for close to 15 years, starting with football, and the passion only grew into other areas. Now I enjoy all manner of competition, including fitness sports. As a CrossFit coach and avid obstacle course racer, I believe that the fantasy industry will only continue to grow into these areas as well!

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