The NFL Tournament plays outline some of the better plays available to help you take down a big prize pool tournament on Thanksgiving. The idea of tournament plays is to not only outline the top chalk plays that are very tough to go against, but also to give you some guys who are going to be low owned due to other players looking in a different direction at that price point and position. Here are some of the guys I am looking at for this Thursday’s NFL action.
Jay Cutler ($5100) – Cutler is likely to be the lowest owned QB on the day and that in itself has merit for tournaments on a short slate with three games. He also is in one of the games that could turn into a shootout here. Dallas plays at a very slow pace with Romo under center, so that is a reason to fade the two QBs in that game. Aaron Rodgers is a great QB, but he is also about 30% more expensive than Cutler is and if the Bears get down, which Vegas thinks they will, Cutler will be the guy who may have 40+ pass attempts in this game. Green Bay has not looked good on both sides of the ball recently, so it’s not crazy to think the Bears could hang tough in this one. While I do not think Cutler is the top overall scorer at the position, he has averaged over 20 points in his last five starts. That is a return of 4 points per thousand of cost based on his price. Rodgers has only done that twice in ten games this season, so there is a big chance that Cutler is the top value option on the day when you factor production divided by price.
Mark Sanchez ($5200) – Sam Bradford is likely out again on Thursday, which means Sanchez will get another chance to start. His price is dirt cheap at only $5200 and he plays a secondary that has been lit up this season. Detroit is a slight favorite at home in this one, so they may be looking to keep the ball on the ground a tad more often. Sanchez could be playing from behind and that would lead to more passing attempts for him than Stafford and a likely bigger score. He has thrown for 300 yards and/or multiple touchdowns in most of his starts in this Chip Kelly system. While it is not a slam dunk he is the top scorer, he too is cheap enough where a solid game could make him the best value option on the day.
Darren Sproles ($3600) – Most people just dismiss Sproles because he is not the starter, but dismissing Sproles at any price is a mistake. The scat back, wide receiver, and kick returner for the Eagles has a lot of ways that he can contribute to your overall fantasy score. Linking him as the punt returner with the Eagles defense could be a nice double dip situation that gets you max points if he returns a punt. With Ryan Matthews likely out here again, he will see a few carries as the change of pace back. He gets third down work too, so he could add some points through a few catches in that role. He also occasionally lines up as a WR on the outside, so he can go and make a few plays in that role too. The icing on the cake is his $3600 price tag and likely low ownership. With all these ways Sproles can contribute, he makes a lot of sense as the guy to take a chance on at low ownership with huge potential upside.
Jonathan Stewart ($5200) – Stewart’s ownership is always low and much of that has been with his salary at the $4500 or below level. Now that it has risen over $5K, I think it might even be lower than it has been. Stewart does not catch a lot of passes, so he lacks true elite upside. With that sad though, he is a huge part of this offense and has been a very solid contributor for weeks now. He is averaging over 16 points in the last 6 weeks with five of those games being over 14 fantasy points. He has scored five touchdowns in those six games and only once has failed to reach 83 total yards. Stewart is overlooked, because guys keep vulturing his touchdowns in the red zone. Dallas has a bad run defense though and if he reaches 100 yards on his normal 20 carries and capitalizes on a chance or two in the red zone, he could be the reason someone takes down a big prize pool on Turkey day this year.
Marquess Wilson ($3900) – Wilson served as the WR1 for the Bears last week and rewarded the faith in him with his first 100 yard receiving game ever. Alshon’s status is still up in the air and Eddie Royal is likely still out, so Wilson could see a ton of targets if the Bears get down and are forced to abandon the run. GB is not the best, nor the worst pass defense in the league, so his ownership should stay low and his upside remains huge if he is the top WR option they have in uniform. Throw in the $3900 price and he is one of the best salary saving options that should have an increased role on the day.
James Jones ($4600) – The knock on Jones is that all he does is catch TD passes. While I can see some merit in that argument, I do not see any when it comes to his fantasy value. Jones had a huge game in a good matchup last week. He was very low owned then and probably will be again this week. Randall Cobb is under performing and Davante Adams sat out practice for the last two days. When you add in that little tidbit, it looks like Jones could have a big role on Thursday again. He is a legit red zone threat for Rodgers and on a three game slate, you want as many TD scorers as you can get. There is a good chance we see Rodgers throw a TD or four on Thanksgiving, so it makes a lot of sense to roster the guy who has caught the most of them for him so far this year.
Richard Rodgers ($3100) – The ideal tourney play for the TE position would be someone who is low cost, low owned, and has the upside to catch a TD pass or two. The guy who fits that description the best is Richard Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. When constructing lineups here for the Thursday games, it is not hard to have money left over to pay up and upgrade some positions. With TE being relatively cheap from top to bottom, very few people are going to stick with the low owned option here. Even if they do, Eric Ebron for $200 more and Zach Ertz for $200 less are the way most people will lean. Rodgers has quietly scored double digit fantasy points in half his games already this season. His ceiling is probably shy of twenty points, but at $3100 a 15-18 point output will be a five to six times value start and make him a top play on the day based on production compared to price.
Philadelphia Eagles ($3100) – Many people shy away from the Eagles assuming that the hot pace and large number of plays are a bad thing for fantasy purposes. Others will shy away from the Eagles because they are on the road. Others will look at how they went from a favorite to this game being a pick em and assume they are too risky to roll out. All of those different reasons may be exactly why we get them lower owned than they should be. The Eagles running more plays forces the other team to do so too. That means more opportunities for sacks and interceptions if they can get a lead. The Eagles ran the same high paced system last year and were actually one of the higher scoring fantasy defenses, despite also allowing more points than most teams did last season. Points allowed is something a lot of people look at, but in all honesty it is not that huge a deal. The ability to get sacks, picks, and fumble recoveries and the ability to convert those into points is more important. Throw in the solid return game the Eagles have and you have all the makings of a team that could put up a big tournament winning performance at much lower ownership than the numbers would dictate they should be.