It’s hard to believe my favorite holiday of the year is nearing its arrival.
It’s hard to believe because Thanksgiving 2015 was by far the most memorable of my life and it feels like it was yesterday.
If you have followed my writing for some time, you know I have a daughter, and this weekend is her first birthday.
You see, last Thanksgiving, after Cam Newton stomped my Dallas Cowboys, my wife and I were in the midst of checking out of the hospital. After three days and two nights in the hospital, we were blessed with our sweet angel Harper, and checked out Thanksgiving night.
As we were checking out of the hospital, Harper threw a huge fit. Nurses and our doctor were telling us all of these things we needed to do when we got home. We were trying to get her dressed. My wife was in pain and exhausted, and I barely had any sleep.
It was time to get our car and park up front, our first ride with our newest addition. And it’s raining.
It was a mess leaving the hospital, but we made it through.
It was a mess outside driving home, but we made it…with a feather on the gas pedal.
When we got home, we quickly came to the realization that we were on our own now as parents.
No nurses, call buttons or doctors around. It’s me, my wife and our daughter.
Those days in the hospital and that first night home, all deeply ingrained in my memory, but since then, much of Harper’s first year has been a blur.
But I vividly remember the greatest moment of my life, something I will always cherish
And here we are nearly a year later already, and how times have changed since Thanksgiving 2015…
My daughter will be 1 and is walking, laughing, making noises and developing her own personality.
The Panthers are likely not even going to make the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys are no longer quarterbacked by Tony Romo.
The Dallas Cowboys are 9-1.
The Dallas Cowboys are in first place in their division.
The Dallas Cowboys are the best team in football with a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back.
And I am thankful for all of it – my daughter, my wife and the Dallas Cowboys!
Hey, I talked a lot about my family, it’s only right that I bring it back to football!
I hope that you have a moment or moments in your lives you can relive and be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The year 2016 has not been a great year for many and recent events haven’t seem to heal any wounds that the entire election process opened (my only mention of politics in a DFS writeup you will see, unless it’s about DFS).
With all of that said, I am also thankful for anyone reading these each week and for those who visit our website. We hope to continue to grow and be a force in the DFS industry for years to come, so thank you for your loyalty and readership.
It’s Week 12 in the NFL with huge tournaments on turkey day plus Week 12’s regular slate of games.
So as a thank you to readers, I am going to provide a few free picks for Thanksgiving’s slate and then Week 12 will be the usual premium content (and will follow Thanksgiving’s plays).
I will be doing turkey day picks a little differently. Since it’s a 3-game slate, I will provide you a few cheap options I like to help you fill out your lineups instead of picking guys I think will make value at any price.
Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs and Antonio Brown….you play them, whatever you do this week, you make sure you have one or two of these guys in all of your lineups this week. They are stone cold locks for me, it’s just too bad you can’t fit them all in one lineup.
An interesting injury note to monitor is Andrew Luck. He’s out, Scott Tolzien is in. That changes the night game big time.
Sam Bradford – QB – Vikings – vs. Detroit Lions – $5,100
Analysis: It pains me a bit to like this pick, but you need to find value on this slate and Bradford has the best matchup of the three games with the cheapest price. It was only a couple of weeks ago these two teams met and Bradford was able to put up 18 fantasy points against this paltry secondary. Hell, Blake Bortles managed 15 DK points last week and you can’t do worse than Blake Bortles, trust me.
Robert Kelley – RB – Redskins – vs. Dallas Cowboys – $4,300
Analysis: I mentioned Fat Rob in my Value Index for Week 11, but he wasn’t an official pick because there were so many value RBs that I liked (guess who didn’t play Far Rob?). I not only hate that I didn’t play him, but i hate that he went ham (yes, pun) because I liked him this week and feel that 34-point fantasy day is going to send his ownership through the roof, even if it is against the Cowboys who limit possessions. The Cowboys still allow more than 4 yards per carry to running backs, they just don’t give up a ton of fantasy points. Kelley isn’t a lock for me, but at $4,300, it’s going to be difficult to not have him in a lot of lineups this week. I like Theo too, and he will have plenty of ownership, but I like Kelley to score over Theo.
DeSean Jackson – WR – Redskins – vs. Dallas Cowboys – $4,800
Analysis: DeSean Jackson is almost as frail as LeSean McCoy, well maybe they are equally china dolls, but Jackson returned Sunday night against Green Bay and looked pretty good. He had 6 targets and caught his first TD pass in a very long time. I think DeSean goes low owned due to the recency bias of Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder who both erupted Sunday. Garcon might command more ownership because he is so cheap (and I can’t argue it). But “spending” up for $4,800 DeSean won’t completely bust your lineups. He’s a 60-yard TD away from making your day and without Morris Claiborne and Barry Church, the Cowboys secondary is susceptible to breakdowns moreso than back in Week 2 when these two teams met. This game feels like a shootout to me as neither team is the same as they were in Week 2. The game’s 51 point O/U is a good guess that you need lots of shares of Cowboys and Redskins in this one.
Eli Rogers – WR – Steelers – vs. Indianapolis Colts – $4,500
Analysis: The Colts are an injury mess this week. Andrew Luck looks doubtful as of this writing and their best corner Vontae Davis was in a walking boot at practice Monday. Not that Davis would even be on Rogers, but the Steelers look primed to roll over Indy this week. Eli is the secondary option in this passing game and has target totals of 10, 5 and 6 in his past three games. The Colts just aren’t good at covering anyone and the loss of Davis (assuming he is ruled out here) would only make things better for Rogers. I could see a scenario where the Colts try to double Antonio Brown and hope the front seven can somehow contain Bell, leaving Eli open in one-on-one coverage in high-percentage situations out of the slot.
Cordarrelle Patterson – WR – Vikings – vs. Detroit Lions – $3,600
Analysis: Patterson is not someone normally on my radar, but he has double-down potential this week. He’s been getting lots of targets starting in Week 4: Here are his target totals leading up to this second tilt with Detroit: 6, 6, 7, 3, 8, 4, 8. Quick addition tells us that’s 42 targets in his past 7 games, an average of 6 looks per game. Now, he’s only got 295 yards on 32 catches in those 7 games, but hey, it’s a 3-game slate and you need something to differentiate your lineups with. He’s also the team’s kick returner, so pairing him with Vikings DST could also help differentiate and could pay off if he runs one back. For what it’s worth, Patterson had 6 catches for 45 yards against Detroit in their first meeting, that wouldn’t be a bad value play this week if he replicated those totals again, and he’s always capable of breaking a long one.
Jason Witten – TE – Cowboys – vs. Washington Redskins – $3,200
Analysis: I don’t know what Witten’s ownership is going to look like this week, but I love this play at a ridiculously low price. Witten has commanded target totals of 8, 3, 10, 8 and 7 in his past 5 games and he has 25 catches in that span, including 19 in his last three games. He has 2 TDs in those 5 games and a 100-yard game. He’s not a huge red zone target with Dak as the quarterback, but he is a huge safety valve. The Redskins just got shredded by a guy named Jared Cook at TE, but he’s more of a burner than a great route runner like Witten, who finds open spaces in the middle of the field. I might just go all in on Witten, even though I love Jordan Reed, who is so due for an eruption (I thought it would be Green Bay myself). Witten is great value over Reed, Ebron and Rudolph who i think all might have greater ownership than Witten.
Pittsburgh – DST – Steelers – vs. Indianapolis Colts – $2,800
Analysis: Now this pick hinges on whether Andrew Luck plays. Signs early in the week are pointing to him not playing, but if he doesn’t, the Steelers are my favorite play. They are priced like a road defense facing Andrew Luck in his home territory. While I love the Vikings too, the Steelers would be facing Scott Tolzien whereas the Vikes would be facing Matt Stafford at home on Thanksgiving, a day he thrives on (but that was with Megatron). No Luck means Steelers are my Sunday night hammer.
Now for Sunday’s picks. Good luck Thursday and Happy Thanksgiving!
Derek Carr – QB – Raiders – vs. Carolina Panthers – $6,100
Analysis: Carr is my favorite cheap QB play of the week. There’s no need to pay down any lower than Carr this week as he is up against a funnel defense (stops run, forces teams to pass). The Panthers have allowed multiple TD passes 6 times this year and only one quarterback this year doesn’t have double-digit points against Carolina (Kansas City). Carr is at home, and though having to travel back from Mexico could have a “this team could come out flat” narrative behind it, I would be more likely to think that way against a less-quality opponent. The Panthers aren’t a bad team, but have had some bad breaks and can’t close out games. They are still alive and have everything to play for just like the Raiders, who are the No. 1 seed in the AFC right now and have all eyes on the division and homefield advantage. Carr has Crabtree and Cooper to throw to all day and he will be looking to them this week in a game that features a 50.5 point total.
Cam Newton – QB – Panthers – vs. Oakland Raiders – $6,800
Analysis: If I like Derek Carr a lot, I have to love his opposition at QB, Cam Newton, who is so stinking cheap, my jaw is still open. I know Cam has had some disappointing performances of late, but two of those games were against Arizona and LA and a rematch against New Orleans (there’s a case that can be made about teams facing each other a second time). Anyway, the Panthers are still alive in the playoff hunt, so there’s still something on the line here. Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen are Newton’s top receiving options and the Panthers should be able to move the ball through the air and on the ground. I like that the Panthers are playing the Raiders coming off a defensive effort on a short week in a high-elevation game that was out of the country. This might be my favorite game to target for point stacks this week.
Jay Ajayi – RB – Dolphins – vs. San Francisco 49ers – $7,600
Analysis: Ajayi is one of two recommendations that make me want to put my teeth on a curb and have a member of the DailyOverlay team come and apply hard, forceful pressure to the back of my head. People will be all over David Johnson and I actually really like DeMarco Murray this week. Ajayi, despite a premier home matchup against an East Coast team in the 49ers, who give up 179 rushing yards per game, might go under owned. The Dolphins run the ball a lot and the 49ers play up in pace of play (as you should know). The Dolphins are down a couple of key offensive linemen, but they are still facing Double A San Francisco this week (what does that make Cleveland’s affiliation?). Ajayi has had two difficult road matchups the past two weeks, so I expect him to get back on track with depressed ownership with a higher price tag.
Melvin Gordon – RB – Chargers – vs. Houston Texans – $7,000
Analysis: While Ajayi actually looks like he is a strong runner and is healthy, Melvin Gordon still doesn’t look like an elite NFL RB. I hate that I like him again this week because he’s my DFS nemesis. When I don’t like him, he goes off, when I love him, he tanks. This dates all the way back to last year. I am trying to give him chances this year since he’s had cupcake after cupcake matchup. He has another solid matchup against the Texans. This is a road game, but the Texans have had struggles in stopping opposing running backs. I still don’t know how the Raiders RBs put up 46 fantasy points on this defense, but Gordon is the San Diego offense. Coming off a bye against a mediocre team coming off a Monday Night game in Mexico City could spell an even better performance for the San Diego Super Plodder.
Carlos Hyde – RB – 49ers – vs. Miami Dolphins – $4,800
Analysis: Carlos Hyde would’ve made my list last week if I would’ve had any cheap RBs on it. This week he has a better matchup than the Pats, and as long as he stays healthy, he should be the focal point of this offense once again. Even in a blowout, Hyde had nearly 20 carries and 3 targets. Miami has allowed an average of 126 yards rushing per game, but has played much stouter run defense of late. This doesn’t worry me. Hyde is the 49ers best weapon and they are going to need him a lot to compete in this game. Cheap price for heavy volume and low ownership make Hyde a great tournament play.
Thomas Rawls – RB – Seahawks – vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $5,700
Analysis: The next two guys I expect to command the most ownership outside of David Johnson. Rawls is now the guy in Seattle after C.J. Prosise had a season-ending injury. Rawls took some punishment himself, but there’s no chatter about him missing this game against the Bucs. Tampa’s run defense is weak, allowing 6 games of 100 yards or more this season and 7 rushing TDs. The Bucs haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown in 4 games, but they haven’t faced the elite of the elite in rushing teams and/or talent in that span.
Rashad Jennings – RB – Giants – vs. Cleveland Browns – $5,600
Analysis: How much do you trust Rashad Jennings as the “main ball carrier for the Giants?” He’s in that Melvin Gordon/Ajayi group for me, but if he’s getting 20 touches, then he’s a legit play this week against the woeful Browns’ run defense. Cleveland has been a tunnel for opposing running backs, having allowed 5 straight 100-yard rushers and have given up 13 rushing touchdowns this season. Jennings has also been getting looks in the passing game, and assuming this continues, Jennings becomes one of the top RB plays on the board. But that’s a big IF. I don’t know if I can trust Jennings in cash games, but he’s a great tournament play, I would just make sure you have some Odell Beckham in some other lineups just in case the wheels fall off here.
Amari Cooper – WR – Raiders – vs. Carolina Panthers – $7,700
Analysis: Playing a funnel defense, I look for the Raiders to pass, pass, pass. Ah hell, you can just go read David Carr’s analysis again. Cooper’s love here is for the same reasons I love Carr.
DeVante Parker – WR – Dolphins – vs. San Francisco 49ers – $4,700
Analysis: While I love Ajayi, the Dolphins implied total is around 27 points this week, and I don’t think Ajayi scores 4 TDs. I think he gets a couple and Parker looks like a great bet to be the other that scores. He’s finally looks healthy and has had target totals of 8 and 10 the last two weeks and he’s got 13 catches and a touchdown in that span. Parker did some damage against a stout Rams’ secondary and gets a walk-in-the-park this week. San Francisco has actually been decent against slot receivers this year, so I like Parker to be the go-to guy in the passing game over Landry.
Greg Olsen – TE – Panthers – vs. Oakland Raiders – $5,800
Analysis: My play of Jordan Reed and Delanie Walker in my TE and flex positions last week, didn’t work out too well. But I can see that being a great idea against this week with Mr. Olsen and my last pick below. TE was really a disaster last week, so I am hopeful Olsen and Graham can put up some respectable numbers this week. If Gronk is back, he’s a great play too, but I like Olsen and Graham more right now. Olsen is up against one of the worst teams against TEs. C.J. The Texans Alphabet put 15 DK points Monday night. Olsen is one of the few major threats the Panthers have and he’s a target monster. I think Olsen eats this week and has 2 touchdown potential.
Jimmy Graham – TE – Seahawks – vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $5,300
Analysis: Greg Olsen went nuts on this team in Week 5. Jimmy Graham is better than Greg Olsen. Many lesser TEs have scored and put up points against the Bucs. Graham is a red zone threat and I think people may chase Doug Baldwin this week. While I like Rawls, Tampa struggles most in the passing game. Somehow JImmy Graham is priced at a ridiculous $5,300. He’s a No. 1 wideout with 30-point upside who garners heavy targets. He’s Gronk 2.0 and this is how you treat him? Thank you, DraftKings!