This Thanksgiving, DraftKings is featuring a three-game slate. Rather than writing about each contest individually, I thought it might be helpful to list the fantasy relevant players at the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver positions and provide a few data points for each player and a few notes on the defenses they will be facing. This information can also be used for the full Thursday thru Monday slate as well.
On Thursday, Dallas will be taking on Washington and Detroit will be squaring off against Chicago. However, this slate also features an enticing Week 3 rematch between the Saints and Falcons. As each of these contests are divisional matchups, this will be the second time each of these teams have faced one another.
Due to positive matchups in each of these games, there are a number of players that can be used to create a variety of roster combinations. What follows will hopefully help you comb through some of the data to make solid lineup selections.
Before reviewing the possible fantasy options in this game, just a couple of quick notes beforehand.
All data and statistics included in this article are provided courtesy of FantasyData.com. All points allowed, points scored, and pricing is based on DraftKings (DK) data. In addition, all positional rankings and rankings for points allowed to each position is based on a points per game basis.
With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the fantasy relevant players in this matchup.
Atlanta (@ New Orleans): Tevin Coleman, $5200 (RB3); Ito Smith, $3400 (RB55) – Game Total 60.5 (NO -13)
For much of the past several seasons, the Falcons have utilized a multi-back approach and that hasn’t changed this season, even with an injury to starter Devonta Freeman. Tevin Coleman has seen the bulk of the work since Freeman’s injury and is averaging 11.4. carries, 2.6 receptions, and 14.0 DK points per game. Coleman has received at least 10 carries in seven out of ten games and at least 2 receptions in eight of ten. Also factoring into the mix has been Ito Smith, who sees 5.9 carries, 1.9 receptions, and is sporting an average of 7.6 DK points per game. In their first meeting against New Orleans in Week 3, Coleman scored 12.7 and Smith totaled 6.5.
In 2018, the Saints have been tough against opposing running backs and are currently allowing the 5th-fewest points to the position. Over their first ten games, they have only allowed three backs to score 19.5 or more. This group includes Saquon Barkley (26.3), Latavius Murray (20.5), and Todd Gurley (19.9).
Chicago (@ Detroit): Tarik Cohen, $5300 (RB20); Jordan Howard, $4100 (RB40) – Game Total 44 (CHI -3)
Chicago offers two options at the running back position in Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. While Cohen is the more expensive option of the two, he is utilized more in the passing game and is averaging 6.3 carries, 4.0 receptions, and 14.4 DK points per game. Based on his pass catching ability and elusiveness, Cohen has three games with more than 22.0 DK points but has also scored 10.0 or less in five games.
Conversely, Howard is more of the run game specialist and is averaging 15.5 carries, 1.3 receptions and 10.4 DK points per game. Howard has seen at least 11 carries in every game but has yet to rush for more than 100 yards in a game or score more than 16.7 DraftKings points in any contest.
On Thursday, Cohen and Howard will face the Lions for the second time this year. The Lions are currently allowing the 9th-most points to running backs at 28.0 per game. This season, they have allowed seven backs to score more than 16.0 DK points. In the first meeting in Week 10, Cohen scored 16.4 and Howard totaled 4.2.
Detroit (vs Chicago): Theo Riddick, $4500 (RB50); LeGarrette Blount, $3400 (RB75) – Game Total 44 (CHI -3)
Normally, we would want to give rookie Kerryon Johnson some consideration, but he was injured last weekend against the Panthers and has not practiced on Monday or Tuesday of this week, which doesn’t bode well for his chances to suit up on Thursday. Assuming that Johnson is out this week, almost 12 carries and 3 receptions are up for grabs in this backfield. The most likely candidates to fill this gap will be Theo Riddick and LeGarrette Blount, although Zach Zenner could also see a little work as well.
Although Blount is the most likely to receive a few more carries on Thursday, this season he has averaged 7.8 carries per game and 18.3 yards rushing for an average of 1.9 yards per rush and only 4.5 DK points per game. Much like the Bears on the opposite sideline, Theo Riddick is more of a pass catch specialist, but does offer some appeal in this regard. On the year, Riddick is averaging 5.1 receptions, 33.0 receiving yards, and 8.8 DK points per game. From a rushing perspective, Riddick has only received a total of 9 carries all season long, but assuming Johnson is out, perhaps he sees a few this week.
While there may be additional opportunities for the Lions running backs on Thursday, they will be facing a Bears defense that is allowing 2nd fewest points to the position. This season, Chicago has held six opposing backs to 8.5 or fewer fantasy points. However, in Week 10 against the Lions, Johnson was able to score 25.9 against this defense. The only other back to achieve this feat was James White with 29.7 in Week 7.
Dallas (vs. Washington): Ezekiel Elliott, $8600 (RB6) – Game Total 40.5 (DAL -7.5)
Of all the teams playing on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys are the lone team that feature a backfield with a single workhorse. Although Rod Smith usually sees a few carries when Elliott needs a breather, he doesn’t see enough work to warrant roster considerations. This season, Elliott is averaging 19.1 attempts, 95.3 rushing yards, 4.2 receptions, 34.1 receiving yards, and 22.7 DK points per game. He has scored 36.0 or more fantasy points in each of the last two weeks and has scored 15.0 or more DraftKings points in nine out of ten games this season. In the Cowboys first meeting with Washington, Elliott posted his worst outing of the year when he only scored 6.2 DK points in Week 7.
On the season, Washington is allowing 11th fewest points to opposing backfields at 23.3 per game. However, they have allowed four running backs to score 20.0 or more DK points this season. This group includes Mark Ingram (21.3), Saquon Barkley (20.1), Tevin Coleman (32.6), and Jacquizz Rodgers (20.2). Three of these 20.0 point games have taken place in three of Washington’s last four games.
New Orleans (vs Atlanta): Alvin Kamara, $8300 (RB2); Mark Ingram, $6100 (RB13) – Game Total 60.5 (NO -13)
Although Ezekiel Elliott is the slate’s best workhorse running back, the tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara may offer just as much upside despite the fact that they share the Saints workload. In the six games that have been played since Ingram returned from suspension, Kamara has received an average of 13.3 carries, 3.5 receptions, and 21.1 DK points per game. Simultaneously, Ingram is averaging 13.2 carries, 1.8 receptions, and 16.1 DK points per game. Long story short, with the frequency at which the Saints put points on the board, there has been enough room for both of these backs to be fantasy relevant. Although Ingram missed the first matchup with Atlanta in Week 3, in that game Kamara totaled 37.0 fantasy points.
This season, Atlanta is allowing the most points to opposing running backs at 34.9 per game. In fact, at least one opposing running back has scored at least 20.0 fantasy points against this defense in nine out of ten games. In addition to Kamara in the first meeting, the Falcons have also allowed 30.0 point performances to Christian McCaffrey (30.9), James Conner (37.5), Nick Chubb (38.9), and Ezekiel Elliott (36.1). Atlanta has been particularly prone to giving up fantasy points to running backs that also factor into their team’s respective passing game.
Washington (@ Dallas): Adrian Peterson, $5100 (RB17); Kapri Bibbs, $3300 (RB65) – Game Total 40.5 (DAL -7.5)
Washington is currently dealing with a number of injuries in the backfield, namely to Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine, which leaves Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs as the two most healthy remaining players. Thompson has not practiced this week and is unlikely to play, but Perine was able to log a limited practice on Tuesday. With such a short week to get ready, it remains to be seen whether he will be ready to play on Thursday.
Assuming that both will be out, we can turn our attention to Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs. This season, Peterson has been either a feast or famine option. Through ten games, he has five double digit scoring games, including three over 23.5 DK points, and five others with fewer than 10.0. Peterson is currently averaging 17.1 carries per game, 72.3 rushing yards and 14.9 DK points. When Peterson needs a breather, Washington has also given Bibbs a few carries here and there, but he has only averaged 2.1 carries per game for 10.5 yards and an average of 5.6 DK points per game. Bibbs does have three touchdowns on the year which has boosted his fantasy point average.
On Thursday, Peterson and Bibbs will be facing the Cowboys for the second time this season. The Cowboys are currently allowing the 9th fewest points to running backs at 21.9 per game. This season, Dallas has only allowed three 20.0 point games to running backs. This includes Saquon Barkley (24.8), Chris Carson (23.4), and Dion Lewis (22.2). In the first meeting between these two teams, Peterson scored 11.7 DK points and Bibbs totaled 15.6.
Best of luck with your lineups this week and I hope everyone has an incredible day full of friends, family, food, and football. Happy Thanksgiving!