FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 13 Thursday Night
Week 12 is in the books, and your first crack at redemption in Week 13 is on FanDuel's Thursday Night Football single-game slate. The salary cap remains at $60,000 and scoring is unchanged from the full roster game, but we don't have to worry about individual positions. Instead, your roster will consist of five offensive flex spots with kickers replacing team defense/special teams. One player will be designated as your "MVP," who is awarded 1.5x his total fantasy points. Making the correct choice for MVP is crucial for a top-scoring lineup but we also can't ignore the value plays that let you squeeze in your favorites.
Both the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys are coming off divisional wins on Thanksgiving, with the Saints downing the Atlanta Falcons 31-17 and the Cowboys prevailing 31-23 over the Washington Redskins. This could be a very high-scoring week for fantasy, as five games currently have an over/under above 50. It is a little surprising to see a Saints game fourth on that list at 52.5, but they have the third-highest implied team total on the week, at 30 points, and are 7.5-point road favorites in Dallas.
To score well in your contests, making the right choice for your MVP slot is crucial. Once again, we have a lot of strong options to sort through for that designation. Let's get to it!
Drew Brees ($17,000 on FanDuel): If you played Brees last week in your MVP slot, you were rewarded with four touchdowns. However, he only attempted 22 passes and connected on 15 for just 171 yards. A 21-point night seems like a letdown after averaging 30 FanDuel points per game over his previous three. Tonight, he faces a Cowboys passing defense that comes in 19th in numberFire's rankings. If we drill down further, Dallas gives up 0.13 adjusted defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, which is tied with the New England Patriots as the 14th-most favorable.
Like last week, Brees carries the highest projection of any player in this game, at 23.9 FanDuel points. The Cowboys have limited quarterback scoring this year, coming in sixth overall against the position using our advanced stats. They've only given up two 300-yard passing games, to Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz, and Brees is projected to be the third. Even if he fails to hit that mark, there's so much touchdown equity in Brees he can make up for the lack of yardage with his supreme efficiency.
Dak Prescott ($15,500): In the four games since the Cowboys traded a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Amari Cooper, Prescott has averaged 19.9 FanDuel points per game. Against the Saints, Prescott faces a defense that surrenders 22.0 points per game to quarterbacks, fourth-worst. Opposing signal callers have also scored four rushing touchdowns against the Saints, which is tied for the most in the league.
Prescott's scoring has been boosted by a return to his rushing prowess, with 18 carries in the same 4-game span. He's scored a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games, and while the Saints have the sixth-ranked rushing defense, this looks like an area the Cowboys could exploit as the focus should be on stopping Ezekiel Elliott ($16,500). Facing a negative game script as 7.5-point underdogs, Prescott will have to throw to keep his team in contention. While his scoring projection is four points fewer than Brees, he is $1,500 cheaper. He will no doubt be the lower owned option of the two quarterbacks and makes a great tournament choice.
Michael Thomas ($14,000): In what should have been a near-perfect spot against the Falcons last week, Thomas caught 4 of 6 targets for 38 yards. That's it -- 5.8 FanDuel points, his lowest total this season. Recency bias could lead you off of Thomas, or perhaps you have concerns about the pace of the game given the Cowboys ground-and-pound offense. Interestingly, New Orleans is 18th in situational neutral pace and Dallas is 20th, per Football Outsiders.
New Orleans leads the league in passing yards (2,483) to the wide receiver position. As for the Dallas D, it gives up the highest percentage of yards (74.5%) to the wide receiver position. With a high team total and another good matchup, a Thomas bounce-back game is certainly in play, making him an underrated MVP selection tonight.
Amari Cooper ($12,500): Cooper falls on the other side of recency bias if you watched the Cowboys and Redskins game between bites of Thanksgiving dinner. In the third quarter, he broke free for two long touchdowns, of 40 and 90 yards, on back-to-back drives. Overall, Cooper received 9 targets, catching 8 for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 34 FanDuel points were the most since Week 4, when he was with the Raiders and burned the Cleveland Browns for 22.8 points.
Since he joined the team in Week 9, Cooper leads the Cowboys with a 24% target share and 33% market share of the air yards. If we take a peek at our advanced stats, Cooper has the best matchup of the night, as the Saints rank dead last against the wide receiver position. If you're expecting the Cowboys to keep it close, they'll likely need another big game from Amari.
Tre'Quan Smith ($10,500): In the Saints' Week 11 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith eclipsed 24 FanDuel points for the second time this season, turning 13 targets into 10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. The rookie now seems cemented as a legitimate threat next to Michael Thomas, giving Brees another talented option in the receiving game. Due to a foot injury, he missed the Thanksgiving night game against the Falcons, but he has no injury designation this week and will play Thursday. The floor is still very low for Smith, and both big games were at home, but his upside in this salary range can't be matched.
Wil Lutz ($10,000): If Smith is too risky for you, Lutz provides a safe floor at a $500 discount. Also, his highest-scoring games have occurred away from the Superdome, averaging 14 FanDuel points per game on the road compared to just 8 at home. Lutz carries the fifth-highest kicker projection this week and should have plenty of opportunities given the Saints' high team total.
Michael Gallup ($6,000): Finding a reliable second wide receiver option on the Cowboys has been challenging all year. You could do worse putting your faith in Gallup, as he's third in overall target share since Week 9 -- 15% -- behind Elliott and Cooper. Aside from target share, his air yards profile is encouraging, commanding a 32% market share -- which trails only Cooper's 33% -- and the Saints have given up the seventh-most air yards on the season. That usage hasn't turned into fantasy points of late, securing only 3 of 11 targets for 29 yards. However, Gallup's salary is cheap and I'd rather trust the air yards data here than trying to sort out which tight end to play.
Ryan Bobbitt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan Bobbitt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Drummerinabox. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.