Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Green bean casserole. Stuffing. That cranberry crap that looks like jello. Your uncle drinking too much and saying something to makes the entire family cringe. Ah, Thanksgiving traditions. Lucky for us, the NFL gives us three games that can distract us and DraftKings is kind enough to give us a three game Thanksgiving-only slate so we can scratch our DFS itch while your drunk uncle is scratching his…you get the point.


Looking for more Thanksgiving Day NFL articles? Check these out:

NFL Cheat Sheet: Thanksgiving Edition
NFL Tournament Plays: Thanksgiving Edition
NFL Consensus Rankings: Thanksgiving Edition


Lineup construction for a three game slate presents some challenges. There are only so many ways to skin the cat here. It’s difficult to spend 100% of your $50,000 salary, and by eliminating salary constraints, especially in tournaments, you’ll be able to create a more unique lineup since the probability for duplication is much higher here. Let’s dig in and look at some targets for this turkey day slate. You can find me on twitter, @RyNoonan.

Quarterback

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Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Carolina Panthers) -$5,800

I’m trying to wrap my brain around potential ownership percentages this week and I think QB is an interesting place to get lower owned players. Since the cap is essentially a non-issue I believe Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton will be extremely popular plays, and rightfully so. Tony Romo is coming off of a decent showing in his first game in two months and he faces one of the league’s best pass defenses according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. Despite that, Pro Football Focus has Romo with the highest projected point total of the week which struck me as interesting. He’s $1,500 less than he was in Week 1 and that alone presents a strong case to buy.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (@ Dallas Cowboys) -$7,100

According to the awesome resources at Fantasy Labs, Cam Newton has matched or exceeded his expected output in 84% of his starts this season which is an absolutely elite number. It validates the perception that he’s a strong cash game play because his floor is high and that makes him viable here as well. Dallas is more susceptible on the ground than through the air, but they’re far from elite in the back half.

Others to consider: Aaron Rodgers ($7,400), Jay Cutler ($5,100)

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h2. Running Back

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Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (@ Dallas Cowboys) -$5,800

You can throw out your correlation charts on a three game slate. You’re likely going to have some less than (+)EV lineup construction in a spot or two, and Cam Newton and J-Stew is likely to be common in cash games. There are few backs that consistently get 90% of the back field snaps and 80%+ of the touches who are priced under $6,000. Stewart isn’t sexy because Cam and Mike Tolbert occasionally poach his red zone opportunities, but he’s a strong play against Dallas’ bottom five run defense.

Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Carolina Panthers) -$5,500

Yes, I know that we have two other games to choose from. We’ll get there when we need to. The return of Tony Romo is good news for Darren McFadden and it’ll likely continue to help him over the next few weeks as Romo knocks the rust off with each drop back. McFadden pounded out 129 yards on 29 carries in Romo’s first game back, and is a good bet to see another 25+ touches in this one. It’s difficult to fall short of value when you touch the ball that often.

DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (@ Detroit Lions) -$6,100

The entire Eagles team fell flat on their proverbial faces on Sunday, outmatched by what was supposed to be an inferior Tampa Bay team that dominated them in every facet. Despite having a difficult matchup against the Buccaneers stout run defense, expectations were high for DeMarco Murray with Ryan Mathews out with an injury. We currently don’t know what Mathews status is for Thanksgiving Day, but if he’s out I’ll be dialing up Murray again. The Lions run defense is among the bottom third in DVOA, and Murray’s touchdown upside gets a nice bump without Mathews suiting up.

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (vs. Philadelphia Eagles) -$3,500

The Lions have one of, if not the worst rushing offense in football. That’s benefiting pass-catching maven Theo Riddick and he’s an interesting GPP play in this spot against the Eagles. His 11 Week 10 touches were a season high and per usual, the majority of them came via the pass. He has the skill set to take a short pass or screen to the house, and his home run hitting upside is something that we need to search for on a three game slate.

Others to consider: Eddie Lacy ($4,700), Matt Forte ($6,800)

Wide Receiver

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Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (@ Green Bay Packers) -$6,600

The analysis is short and sweet for the one. We don’t know Alshon’s status for this game, and he sat out last week’s matchup against the Broncos, but if he’s active he should be in your lineup. He’s way too cheap for his floor and his upside, and expected game flow and his matchup are favorable, as well. Teammate Marquess Wilson ($3,900) is worth a look if Jeffery sits.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (vs. Philadelphia Eagles) -$7,200

Calvin Johnson has been rather consistent of late, but he’s failed to land the big fantasy day that’ll win you a tournament, a skill that he’s showcased his entire NFL career to this point. He’s still showing a 6-catch-80-yard floor, and the multi-touchdown upside is still here even though we haven’t seen it this season. I can understand why some will be on Johnson’s cheaper teammate, Golden Tate ($4,700), but if I’m getting exposure to just one of their pass catchers I prefer Calvin.

Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers (@ Dallas Cowboys) -$3,900

The preseason buzz on Devin Funchess was strong, and it got a lot louder when teammate Kelvin Benjamin went down with a season-ending injury prior to opening day. It took nearly three months to pan out, but it looks as though Funchess is working himself into Cam Newton’s defecto number one target. His size is a weapon in the red zone, and if Philly Brown sits again like he did last week you can expect upwards of eight targets for Funchess here.

Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Carolina Panthers) -$3,200

It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Josh Norman isn’t shadowing Dez Bryant ($7,600) all over the field on Thursday. Dez is good enough to win some of those battles and he’s a viable tournament play, but I’d much prefer the safety of Cole Beasley in cash games. Beasley is an unusual tournament play because he lacks huge upside, but the fact that he’s just $3,200 when we’ll have an excess of salary to spend will likely keep his ownership low.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs. Chicago Bears) -$6,500

I think a lot of players will chase last week’s James Jones ($4,600) outburst or even Davante Adams ($4,700) recent spike in targets, but the value is in Cobb. He’s clearly impacted by the loss of Jordy Nelson, but he’s still a talent receiver who’s in a great spot against Chicago’s spotty secondary and he’s still catching passes from the best quarterback in the league who’s not named Tom Brady. Sorry, I had to.

Others to consider: Terrance Williams ($4,200), Jordan Matthews ($5,800)

Tight End

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Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Carolina Panthers) -$4,800

With the mindset of getting exposure to Dallas’ passing game that won’t be covered by Josh Norman, Jason Witten comes to mind. His price is back on the rise with Romo’s return, but he’s still in play since we’re all but throwing price out the window here.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (@ Dallas Cowboys) -$6,200

The best cash game play at the position is clearly Greg Olsen. Despite the recent emergence of Devin Funchess on the outside, Olsen is the top option in Carolina’s passing game. Dallas has been effective at slowing down tight ends this season though, allowing the fourth fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to the position this season.

Others to consider: Zach Ertz ($2,900), Richard Rodgers ($3,100)

Defense

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Green Bay Packers (vs. Chicago Bears) -$3,100

We’re looking for turnovers and sacks here. That’s how I approach the position, at least. Though Jay Cutler has done well at preventing the turnovers that have plagued him in seasons past, he’s struggled mightily in Green Bay during his career and is still as turnover prone as anyone on this slate.

Philadelphia Eagles (@ Detroit Lions) -$3,100

Matty ‘Meatsweats’ Stafford has a bit of DGAF to his game, just like Cutler, and is capable of making a fantasy defense shine at times. This Eagles defense is better than what they showed us last week, and the combination of playing on the road and recency bias will likely keep them on the lower side of ownership.