With six teams playing on Thanksgiving, we have 11 games to choose from on DraftKings and 12 on FanDuel. We have a handful of decent totals, but we’re also looking at some very wide spreads, so while teams may have high team totals, we’re looking at the possibility of a run-heavy approach in the second half of these games.
Let’s dive into my top FanDuel and DraftKings picks for this weekend. Keep up with the latest news via the RotoGrinders DFS Alerts app - we’ll push injury news directly to your phone for free with a DFS spin.
Cash Game Targets
Brandin Cooks vs Dolphins
With Chris Hogan expected to miss another game, Cooks becomes one of the top pass-catching plays on the slate. He’s seen 20 targets over two games without Hogan, and he’s taking on a Dolphins defense that ranks 31st in pass defense DVOA. He also happens to have Tom Brady throwing to him and plays for a Patriots team that ranks first in passing offense DVOA. Yes, this game is expected to be a huge blowout, but Brady will probably throw three or four touchdowns before the running game takes over. Cooks’ red zone usage has increased a little lately, and I like him for either a score or 100+ yards, and possibly both.
Michael Thomas at Rams
This week’s highest game total features the Rams hosting the Saints. The Vegas total is sitting at 53.5, but with the Rams missing Robert Woods and running the ball more than nearly every other team in the league, there’s really nothing to like from the passing attack on that end. The Saints, meanwhile, are also running the ball a lot, and given they also throw to their running backs plenty, there’s not much to like.
Michael Thomas is the only pass-catcher I’m targeting, and I really like him in cash games given he’s seen 10 or more targets six times this season while never seeing less than six. He’s always a safe bet for a heavy workload as the other Saints pass-catchers are not involved on a consistent basis. The issue here is that while Thomas was heavily involved in the red zone last season, he hasn’t been this season. That’s not saying he can’t score a touchdown, but given the limited looks, it’s not something I would bank on. The workload is guaranteed, he has a favorable matchup against Trumaine Johnson, and while he’s a very strong cash game play, I’ll pass in tournaments.
Julio Jones vs Buccaneers
The Falcons are heavy favorites in this one, but they’re also taking on a Tampa defense that’s getting shredded by opposing passing attacks. The Bucs rank 28th in pass defense DVOA and have allowed the most catches and yards to opposing wide receivers. Jones has been extremely frustrating this season, consistently failing to pay off his price tag while scoring only one touchdown all season. However, he’s seen nearly 10 targets per game over Atlanta’s last five games, and he’s seeing a spike in red zone usage. That hasn’t translated into touchdowns yet, but it will, and this is a great spot for it to happen. I likely won’t go here in cash games, although I wouldn’t hate it, but as a tournament play, I think you must have exposure to his immense upside.
Doug Baldwin at 49ers
The Seahawks are weird. They play down to their opponent, meaning they’ll probably win a close game against an awful Niners team. They’ll frustratingly run the ball with their poor running backs behind their terrible offensive line before letting Russell Wilson take over when head coach Pete Carroll realizes that you must score points to win football games.
The Niners rank 30th in pass defense DVOA while ranking second against the tight end position. Jimmy Graham is seeing more red zone looks than any other player in the NFL. If the Niners continue their shutdown ways against tight ends, there’s a good chance these red zone looks filter their way toward Baldwin. San Francisco has been terrible against opposing wide receivers this season. The nature of Seattle makes it tough to roster Baldwin in cash games, but he’s a strong tournament option with two touchdown upside.
Cash Game Targets
Travis Kelce vs Bills
Kelce has seen a monster workload lately, averaging 11 targets per game over Kansas City’s past three games. He’ll take on a Bills team that has struggled against opposing tight ends, and whose pass defense overall has looked bad lately. While Rob Gronkowski (who I will discuss later) has incredible upside, Kelce has the same upside with a much higher floor. He’s the the top tight end play this week, and I really like him in all game formats if you can fit him in.
Delanie Walker at Colts
Strangely, Walker has yet to score a touchdown this season despite averaging 7.2 targets per game and a similar red zone usage as last season. It’s extremely unlucky that he hasn’t scored once this season, and we should expect positive touchdown regression at some point. This is good of a week as any facing a dreadful Colts defense that ranks 26th in DVOA against the tight end position. He’s an almost guaranteed bet for at least six or seven targets, and I think he finally catches his first touchdown pass this week.
Rob Gronkowski vs Dolphins
I really liked Gronkowski last week and he responded with a three catch, 37-yard dud. His floor is simply too low to pay his hefty price tag in cash games, especially on DraftKings where pricing is much more challenging. However, Gronkowski is one of the most heavily targeted receivers in the NFL in the red zone, and with Chris Hogan out (one of Brady’s favorite red zone targets), Gronkowski’s number of looks should theoretically be even higher. Furthermore, the Dolphins rank 25th in DVOA against the tight end position. Gronkowki has ridiculous upside in such a great matchup making him an excellent tournament target, but I’ll pass on him in cash games.
Jared Cook vs Broncos
I’ve written up Cook a handful of times this season, and while he’s been a complete letdown at times, this is another favorable matchup for the Oakland tight end. The Broncos are very stout against opposing wide receivers, and they completely shut down opposing running games. However, they’ve been vulnerable to opposing tight ends, ranking 27th in DVOA against the position. The setup is there for a strong game, but he is nowhere near reliable enough for cash game use. I recommend getting exposure to him in tournaments as there is a good chance he sees seven or eight targets.