We have to really adjust our process on a three-game slate. There are not very many guys realistically “in play,” which means lineups will have a ton of overlap. A contrarian lineup could be just one play that others aren’t on. We also need to keep a close eye on the weather in Green Bay, as it’s supposed to be very ugly on Thursday night.
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The point of this column is to use the news, snap count, usage and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs. The below refers to the Thanksgiving slate only.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Matthew Stafford against a crumbling Eagles defense
Stafford needed a rushing score to salvage his Week 11 fantasy day, but he did score 20.38 DraftKings points at just $5800. Now he has another plus matchup, this time against an Eagles defense that is crumbling before our eyes. Over the last three games, they’ve given up an average of 23.66 DK points per day despite facing Matt Cassel, Ryan Tannehill and Jameis Winston. This has resulted in a meltdown in Philadelphia, where the players are calling each other out, publicly going after fans in the media and Chip Kelly rumors are swirling. On a short week, there is no time to circle the wagons. Thanks to an Eagles defense that remains well-equipped to stuff the run and a Lions’ broken run game, we know the offense will funnel through Stafford.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Matt Forte coming back from injury
One way to consistently find underowned assets is in players’ first game off injury. Matt Forte sprained his MCL during a Week 8 loss to the Vikings, an injury that normally takes 2-3 weeks to heal. He’s had nearly a month to get right and said that he could have played last week if needed. The Bears showed a bit of hesitancy on Jeremy Langford in that game against the Broncos, giving nine carries to Ka’Deem Carey before Carey left in the third quarter due to a concussion.
So with a reasonable expectation of health on Forte, we can safely project Forte around 15-19 touches against the Packers on Thursday night. That’s especially true with Eddie Royal (knee) out, Martellus Bennett (ribs) lumbering around and Alshon Jeffery (groin) iffy. Forte’s pass-catching skill set is gold in PPR and a big reason his price was $7800 in Week 1 and $7300 at the time of his injury. He’s now priced at just $6800.
CONTRARIAN GPP PLAYS
1. Terrance Williams avoiding the coverage of Josh Norman
By now, everyone should know that Josh Norman is the best corner in the NFL. He leads the league in passer rating when thrown at (38.1), allows just 49.2 percent of the passes that come his way to be completed and is PFF’s No. 1 coverage CB. Norman will be shadowing Dez Bryant Sunday. Meanwhile, No. 2 CB Charles Tillman (knee) is in doubt, leaving open the posibility Terrance Williams to run a lot of routes at Bene Benwikere – PFF’s No. 96 coverage CB. Williams’ last five lines with Tony Romo: 3-92-2, 1-38-1, 5-60-0, 5-84-1, 4-79-1.
1. Jonathan Stewart against the ball-hogging Cowboys
Given the short slate, everyone is going to want to roster a running back who has at least 20 carries in six straight games and costs “just” $5200. Not me. Although the Panthers have been using Stewart around the goal-line more often lately, he remains a threat to get vultured by keg-shaped Mike Tolbert or elite goal-line runner Cam Newton. More importantly, the Panthers have completely erased J-Stew from their pass game, as he’s caught just five passes in his last nine games.
So what’s the ceiling on a player in a full-PPR site with a middling touchdown projection and a zero reception projection? He’s going to need to get to 100 yards on the ground to pay off, which I’m very concerned about in a road game against the Cowboys. With Tony Romo/Dez Bryant healthy, this team is back to playing keepaway. They held the ball for nearly 39 minutes last week, allowing the Dolphins to get just 41 plays off – the fewest they’ve allowed since 1996 (via PFF’s Pat Thorman). The Cowboys remain the slowest-paced team in the league, taking 31.76 seconds between each play. Stewart needs volume to be successful from a fantasy perspective and it’s threatened in this spot.
WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS THURSDAY-ONLY CASH GAMES
(No particular order)
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford
RB: DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Darren McFadden
WR: Calvin Johnson, Randall Cobb, Golden Tate, Marquess Wilson (if both Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal are out), James Jones, Devin Funchess (if Philly Brown is out), Terrance Williams (if Charles Tillman is out)
TE: Greg Olsen, Brent Celek, Martellus Bennett
D: Packers, Lions, Panthers