FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 12 (Thanksgiving Slate)
The Thanksgiving slate is finally here, and while I'm sure we all are jacked up to start building those lineups and watching the games on Thursday, you don't have to wait quite that long to get a taste of Thanksgiving (football, that is).
So, be sure to join the $25K Madden NFL 22 Thanksgiving Game Sim for a free chance to earn part of the $25,000 guaranteed prize pool. You can read up on some past Madden simulation trends and what it means for the slate in my slate primer, as well.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Let's take a look at each game and see which plays stand out.
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
A major variable in this game is the health of Justin Fields ($7,200), who left the Chicago Bears' Week 11 game with a rib injury. In stepped Andy Dalton ($7,200), who had a high-variance outing.
Dalton went 11 for 23 for a sub-50% completion rate but also a strong 8.7 yards per attempt rate. This big-play, low-success outing is easily exemplified by his 0.31 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back rate, which was roughly three times the NFL average (0.11), and his 29.2% Passing Success Rate (falling well shy of the NFL average of 47.8%).
Overall this season, Dalton has generated a Passing NEP per drop back of 0.10, in line with the NFL average. Fields is at -0.15. The expected passing efficiency could be drastically improved if Dalton gets the call unless you believe in the improvements from Fields.
Since Week 8, Fields has posted 0.04 Passing NEP per drop back (-0.03 compared to what the opponents he faced would typically allow, so still a bit below expectation). The gap may be narrowing.
With no Allen Robinson ($6,000) in Week 11, Dalton wound up throwing 11 times to Darnell Mooney ($6,800; 47.8% target share on passes from Dalton). Mooney had an 11.1-yard average depth of target, as well. Marquise Goodwin ($5,400) saw 5 of the 23 targets (21.7%) with 80 air yards (30.4%). Their roles were best on the team.
This also was the case with Fields under center in Week 11. Mooney drew 5 of 10 targets from Fields (50.0%) with a 63.9% air yards share. Goodwin had 3 of the 10 targets and was the only other Bear with more than a target from Fields.
Robinson didn't practice in Week 11, so we could anticipate similar workloads for these top options entering Week 12.
Notably, Damiere Byrd ($4,800) ran 24 of 37 routes in Week 12 and would remain in the mix for true salary-saving potential on a three-game slate.
Cole Kmet ($5,000) had 2 total targets (1 apiece from each quarterback). While we don't want to get too bogged down in one game of data, it's relevant because the team was without Robinson in his first missed game. This usage should hold more weight than prior games with Robinson, assuming he misses again.
In the backfield, David Montgomery ($7,500) held onto a majority share of carries (14 of 15 running back carries) while playing on 94.7% of the team's snaps, according to NextGenStats. He has now played 84.5% and 94.7% of the team's snaps in his two games back.
Even with minimal production in Week 11, he's a core-level option against a Detroit Lions team that ranks outside the top 20 in Rushing NEP per carry allowed to running backs.
Boyle generated a mere 77 passing yards on 23 attempts (3.3 yards per attempt) with 2 interceptions and no touchdowns. To put a single number on this, he accrued -0.37 Passing NEP per drop back, which would rank among the worst marks ever recorded over a full season.
Incredibly, Boyle lost this many points (8.47 total NEP) without taking a sack. Only 30.4% of his drop backs (7 total) increased the Lions' expected chances of scoring. It was bad.
Boyle at least fixated on a few relevant daily fantasy assets for us. Tight end T.J. Hockenson ($6,100) drew 8 of 23 targeted throws (34.8%) with a lowly 5.1-yard average target depth on them. D'Andre Swift ($8,000) had 4 targets (17.4%), the same as Amon-Ra St. Brown ($5,500).
Josh Reynolds ($5,100) came up empty on his 3 targets, though those were tied to a 20.7-yard average depth of target and 57.4% of the team's air yards. That included Boyle's lone deep pass attempt, which was picked.
Back to the Goff-versus-Boyle conversation.
Goff's Passing NEP per drop back is -0.06, simultaneously substantially below the NFL average but above Boyle's small-sample effort from Week 11. We should be hoping Goff gets right for Thursday.
That would benefit Hockenson primarily. Hockenson leads the Lions in target share (21.6%) and is second in air yards share (24.3%) behind only Kalif Raymond ($5,100; 25.2%) on the season. While we'll have other tight end options on the slate, Hockenson could very much be in the conversation for the name we click most often.
The trio of Raymond, St. Brown, and Reynolds are all relevant but still uninspiring for a three-game slate.
St. Brown lacks significant yardage upside but does have a better target share (14.2%) than Raymond (13.9%) by a tinge, and St. Brown had a better rapport with Boyle in Week 11 (4 targets on 21 routes to 1 target on 18 for Raymond).
For what it's worth, we could easily make the case for Reynolds, the big-play option of the three.
D'Andre Swift maintained a feature back role even with Jamaal Williams ($5,200) back in Week 11. Swift played on 71.7% of the Lions' offensive snaps and handled 14 of 23 running back carries and 4 of 5 running back targets. The salary of $8,000 is quite high, however, and his 133.0 rushing yards per game come with some out-over-his-skis efficiency, as his expected rushing yardage output is only 107.6.
Touchdown equity will remain low within this offense, so Swift -- while he remains a core-level play -- is not necessarily the top option at the position on the slate.
Williams played on 13 snaps (28.3%) and had 7 carries with no targets. He's merely a touchdown-vulture play.
Core Plays: D'Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, David Montgomery, Darnell Mooney
Secondary Plays: Marquise Goodwin, Cole Kmet, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Justin Fields
Dart Throws: Kalif Raymond, Andy Dalton, Josh Reynolds, Damiere Byrd, Jamaal Williams
Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys (-7.0)
Quarterback Derek Carr ($7,400) has mustered 7.1 yards per attempt with a -0.09 Passing NEP per drop back rate on his 108 pass attempts in this sample. That comes with four touchdowns and picks each. Prior to this split, Carr had recorded a Passing NEP per drop back of 0.28. He's in play because it's a three-game slate, but we should bump down expected offensive efficiency as a result.
In this three-game sample, Carr has fixated his targets on Darren Waller ($7,300; 24.8%; 8.7 targets per game), Hunter Renfrow ($6,200; 21.0%; 7.3), Josh Jacobs ($6,700; 15.2%; 5.3), and Kenyan Drake ($5,600; 12.4%; 4.3).
Waller has returned 77.3 yards per game with no touchdowns despite 4 red zone targets (21.1%), so he's a touchdown regression option as the main standout at tight end.
Renfrow has scored twice on a team-high 5 red zone targets (26.3%). Both are a big tier above the other pass-catchers in this offense right now.
Zay Jones ($4,900) and Bryan Edwards ($5,300) have sub-10% target shares in these three games, though both possess average target depths greater than 20.0 yards. They're splash-play, plug-and-pray options on a three-game slate but nothing more.
We've seen the Raiders abandon the run in negative scripts, which is what's projected for this week. In Week 11, during their 32-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Josh Jacobs had 9 carries and 7 targets for 61 total yards.
He played on 66.0% of the team's snaps. He's still the top option in the backfield over Drake (31.9% snap rate, 5 carries, 2 targets, 29 total yards in Week 11) and has been targeted plenty lately. We can still play him as a heavy underdog, and there may be some popularity leverage as a result of the spread.
The Cowboys' offense could be in trouble. Well, at least they may not be quite what we would have expected mere days ago.
Absences from wide receivers Amari Cooper (out due to COVID-19) and CeeDee Lamb ($7,000; questionable due to a concussion -- but trending up) would open up value for the pass-catchers but ultimately hurt the offense's efficiency.
Since 2018, Dak Prescott's ($8,200) yards per attempt rate has been 8.2 while Cooper has been on the field, and it falls to 6.9 without him, according to NextGenStats.
Since 2020, Prescott's yards per attempt has actually climbed from 7.8 with Lamb on the field to 8.7 without him. To be clear: 7.8 is a strong mark, and the sample with Lamb (449 drop backs) thwarts the sample without him (128).
If Lamb plays, he's in a great spot for production without Cooper.
I know we're making the sample small here, but in Week 11's second half without Lamb and Cooper (in case Lamb were to miss), Prescott went 15 of 28 for 148 yards (5.3 yards per attempt) and -0.09 Passing NEP per drop back.
The point is that this game now has legitimate red flags with each quarterback that could lead to lowered efficiency from their normal rates.
But Prescott should also be getting tackle Tyron Smith back, so despite the concerns, Dak still possesses an elite fantasy ceiling due to his rushing potential near the goal line.
Digging more into that second half, Prescott turned most often to Cedrick Wilson ($5,600; 7 targets), Ezekiel Elliott ($8,400; 4), Michael Gallup ($6,500; 3), Dalton Schultz ($6,000; 3), Tony Pollard ($5,900; 2), and Malik Turner ($4,600; 2). Those were the only players he targeted in the second half while Lamb was out.
Wilson commanded a 45.8% air yards share on these second-half targets, including 3 of 4 downfield targets. Without Lamb, he would likely be a priority-level play given the state of receiver overall. Gallup remains near the top of the second tier of receiver options, as well, regardless of Lamb's status.
Schultz would be a viable play from the standpoint of the fact that he's on the team with the highest implied team total of the week. Schultz, in three games without Blake Jarwin, has carved out a 13.2% target share, tied for second on the team. Without Lamb and Cooper, we could see some concentrated target shares. Finally. Right?
Amidst the clamoring for more Tony Pollard over Ezekiel Elliott, the usage for each player is going away from such discourse.
Elliott, in Week 11, played on 68.8% of the team's snaps to Pollard's 32.8% rate. Elliott only out-carried Pollard 9 to 7 but also ran 31 pass routes to Pollard's 8. That led to a target discrepancy of 6 to 2 in favor of Elliott.
He's the preference for sure, and if perception is low on him, then he makes for a very viable core play at lower-than-deserved roster rates.
Pollard could also pay off at a salary of $5,900, given the return of Smith and the absence of Cooper and potential absence of Lamb. A two-Cowboy-running-back lineup can hit if this game does go over the total and the other two struggle to generate points.
Core Plays: Ezekiel Elliott, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup
Secondary Plays: Dak Prescott, Josh Jacobs, Dalton Schultz, Tony Pollard
Dart Throws: Derek Carr, Zay Jones, Bryan Edwards, Kenyan Drake
Buffalo Bills (-4.0) at New Orleans Saints
For as stellar as Josh Allen's ($8,800) season may feel, he's averaging a pedestrian 7.4 yards per attempt and a solid-but-not-elite 0.21 Passing NEP per drop back. Allen has faced only two pass defenses inside the top 16 based on numberFire's metrics. He's averaged 311.5 yards and 2.0 touchdowns in those games with league-average efficiency. There's nothing to get too worried about, but he's also not an auto-lock-button play despite the overall state of the quarterback position on the slate.
We have seen a rather substantial shift in target market shares within the Bills' offense over their past two games.
Stefon Diggs ($8,300) has a 28.8% target share (9.5 per game) with a 13.5-yard average depth of target and 128.0 air yards per game in this span. He has returned to WR1 treatment after posting in-game target shares below 25.0% for four straight weeks from Weeks 5 through 9. We could see some of those targets shuffle elsewhere when he is lined up against Marshon Lattimore.
This two-game sample also accounts for the return of tight end Dawson Knox ($5,900). Knox himself is second in that span in target market share at 16.7% (5.5 per game). He's very much viable at a surprisingly strong tight end position on this slate.
Emmanuel Sanders ($5,800), Cole Beasley ($5,700), and Gabriel Davis ($4,800) have identical 10.6% target shares in this two-game sample. The best leverage belongs to Davis, whose average depth of target is 23.6 yards. Beasley's aDOT is an impossibly low 3.9, and Sanders' is close to the NFL average at 10.3.
They're all in play to some degree for lineups that assume the Cowboys lag and the Bills lead the slate in fantasy points. Sanders, Beasley, and Davis seems like the most logical ranking.
As far as this backfield goes, it doesn't typically have DFS appeal on full slates, and boy, it still doesn't on a three-game slate.
In Week 11 with Matt Breida ($5,300) more relevant than ever, this backfield totaled only 11 carries in a negative game script. Breida led with 5 of those carries, and Devin Singletary ($5,800) and Zack Moss ($5,700) split the other 6 evenly.
Singletary led the trio in snap rate at 37.0%, followed by Breida at 31.5% and Moss at 29.6%. The perfect split means no path to upside for any of them outside of multiple touchdowns breaking in their favor.
It's looking like a poor play long term to use any of these three unless the intention is simply to assume a non-running back will be the right play at the flex and that no backs put up worthwhile games. In that event, we can save salary by plugging in a Bills running back.
New Orleans Offense
The sample for Trevor Siemian ($7,000) grows, and he has three starts under his belt.
In that span, Siemian has been rather viable, though we'll have Week 11 pick-six memories to get over. He has averaged 0.05 Passing NEP per drop back with 6.6 yards per attempt and 7 touchdowns to 2 interceptions.
Note that I'm not saying he's been great. What I am saying is that this is not a Tim Boyle situation.
He has also played two of these three games without the luxury of having superstar running back Alvin Kamara ($9,000) healthy. Kamara did not practice on Thursday or Friday last week, which isn't a great sign for his Week 12 availability.
In two games specifically without Kamara with Siemian starting, he has actually been better, though: 0.08 Passing NEP per drop back. We're getting roughly NFL average efficiency from him. That's good for the state of this game.
The most relevant sample for this team at this point is the last two weeks with Siemian starting and with Kamara sidelined.
In those games, it's Tre'Quan Smith ($5,900) and Mark Ingram ($6,600) tied for a team lead in target share (21.1%) -- followed by tight end Adam Trautman ($5,300; 19.7%). Deonte Harris ($5,200) is a distant fourth at 12.7%, and Marquez Callaway ($5,700) has an 11.3% target share in these two.
Callaway does, however, have a grasp on the downfield role: 6 of the 18 deep targets have gone Callaway's way, and he's been relegated to a boom/bust option. Smith has 3 of the 18 such targets and remains the best combination of sheer volume and leverage among receivers.
Trautman certainly fits as a viable tight end play even with Waller, Hockenson, Schultz, and Knox on the table. You can talk yourself into a double-tight end lineup if you really want to, as well, if you can sell yourself on a low-scoring three-game slate with minimal yardage obtained from other positions' tertiary options while guys such as Stefon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb post monstrous games.
Without Kamara active the past two weeks, Ingram has been a focal point of this offense. He has the aforementioned 21.1% target share but also a grasp on the rushing work in the form of 30 of 43 total carries and 7 of 11 red zone carries. Without Kamara, Ingram is every bit as good a play as any back on the slate. At the salary ($6,600), he's looking like the RB1.
Core Plays: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Mark Ingram (if no Kamara)
Secondary Plays: Dawson Knox, Adam Trautman, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre'Quan Smith
Dart Throws: Gabriel Davis, Marquez Callaway, Cole Beasley, Trevor Siemian, Deonte Harris