This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.Although there are three Thursday games for Thanksgiving, we've only got two teams (Rams & Chiefs) on bye in Week 12, leaving a 10-game main slate with the Bears-Lions, Redskins-Cowboys, Falcons-Saints, Packers-Vikings (Sunday Night) and Titans-Texans (Monday Night) excluded.
Here's a quick rundown of the Implied Totals based on the point spread and over/under total for each of the Main Slate matchups:
It's jarring to see the Colts atop the Implied Totals list, but the output of Frank Reich's offense with a healthy Andrew Luck and an offensive line that has done an excellent job in protection is one of the most impressive coaching jobs of the year.
I have very little doubt about the Chargers' offense, and I'm actually tempted to take the Cardinals with the +13, since new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is channeling former head coach Bruce Arians with his David Johnson usage in recent weeks. Further, the Cards were competitive on the road at Arrowhead in a much more hostile environment two weeks ago.
Jameis Winston, TB vs. SF ($6,000) – O.J. Howard's season-ending ankle injury is a tough blow for the Bucs' passing game, but their depth at receiver with Chris Godwin capable of stepping into a larger role along with Winston's rapport with backup tight end Cameron Brate, should keep things moving for a Tampa Bay offense. The Bucs should be fully committed to evaluating Winston for the rest of the season, so the turnover-induced hooks are less of a concern after Ryan Fitzpatrick played his way out of the starting job in Week 11. As the matchup goes, the Niners are surrendering 20.6 DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, but the Bucs' defense enters Sunday's game with the third-highest FP/PG mark allowed to opposing passers (25.1 DraftKings points per game). Tampa Bay's implied total of 28.5 is the third-best mark on the slate, and the tight spread (-3.5) bodes well for a big day through the air.
Philip Rivers, LAC vs. ARI ($5,800) – Even if you're not buying the Cards as a better than expected team down the stretch capable of forcing the Chargers to have a more balanced offensive approach, Rivers has done significant damage without racking up a high volume of attempts through the air in recent weeks. He's had fewer than 30 pass attempts in six of the Chargers' first 10 games this season, but he's still found a way to eclipse 20 DraftKings points in three of those games, in part because he's thrown at least two TD passes in every game this season. For the season, Rivers is carrying a career-high 9.1 YPA, and the depth in the receiving corps with Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams in secondary roles behind Keenan Allen should give Rivers winnable matchups as the Cards have weaknesses in coverage when Patrick Peterson is avoided.
Also Consider: Tom Brady, NE at NYJ ($6,500) – With an extra week to prepare for a banged-up Jets defense, and the potential for a healthy Rob Gronkowski, Brady's slate-high price at the QB position and recent lack of touchdown output should make him a low-owned tournament play capable of going off.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. SEA ($7,900) – Maybe it's the visions of Aaron Jones shredding the Seattle run defense in Week 11 still flashing through my mind, but McCaffrey is a cash-game staple on DraftKings with Saquon Barkley priced up at $1,200 more ($9,100) and Melvin Gordon sitting $700 higher this week ($8,600). McCaffrey has at least five targets in all but one game this season (Week 3 against Cincinnati when he carried 28 times for 184 yards), and his healthy floor on a week-to-week basis appears to be his output from Week 11 against Detroit (13 carries, 53 yards and six catches for 57 yards). I'm expecting McCaffrey to top 20 DraftKings points for the seventh time this season against a Seattle defense that has allowed more than 5.5 YPC over the last four games.
Marlon Mack, IND vs. MIA ($5,500) – With the Colts at home and favored by a little more than a touchdown, Mack's projected workload should be near 20 touches. Over the last four games, he's averaged 18 carries per game, while hauling in 1.75 passes per game despite the presence of Nyheim Hines. The Dolphins have allowed 1,228 rushing yards through 10 games (third-highest in the NFL), and 509 receiving yards to opposing backs (ninth in the NFL). As Mack has shown with favorable game scripts in recent weeks, he's capable of returning 4-5x value at this price point, having topped 30 DraftKings points in Week 7 against Buffalo and in Week 8 against Oakland.
Sony Michel, NE at NYJ ($5,800) – There are several interesting sub-$6K running backs this week, and with the weekly tendency of many lineup builds to pay up for top-end talent, buying opportunities should exist in tournaments on a few of the mid-range options. I'm expecting heavy interest in Saquon Barkley and Melvin Gordon despite their high price tags, and the fair price on Christian McCaffrey as noted above will pull a larger ownership rate as well.
Before hurting his knee in the Week 7 matchup against the Bears, Michel had at least 18 carries in three straight games, while posting at least 18 DraftKings points in each of those contests. Even in a game script that got out of hand in the Week 10 loss to Tennessee, Michel had 11 carries in a blowout loss. He won't be asked to catch more than the occasional pass as long as James White is healthy, but the Patriots are a 10-point favorite Sunday, which gives him a shot at 20 carries against a Jets run defense that has allowed 4.2 YPC, nine rushing scores and 14 carries of 20+ yards through 10 games this season.
Matt Breida, SF at TB ($5,700) – Whether you want to run him out as the flex option, or go lighter with running back spending to load up on high-end receivers, Breida has a great setup as the Niners visit Tampa Bay to face off against the Bucs' porous run defense. The Bucs are tied with the Browns with a league-leading 14 rushing TDs allowed in 2018, despite a reasonable 4.2 YPC allowed, and opposing backs have been successful in the passing game against them as well, racking up 507 yards four TD on 52 catches. With Raheem Mostert on IR, Breida is contending with Alfred Morris for carries, and while that workload could be split (Week 10 without Mostert featured a 2:1 carry split favoring Breida), Breida should be on the field in nearly every passing-down situation. The hope here is that the pricing at running back this week spreads around ownership enough to prevent Breida from being a chalky tournament building block.
Mike Evans, TB vs. SF ($7,700) – Evans heads into Week 12 second only to Julio Jones in air yards this season (1,333), and I intend to use him as my primary high-priced receiver on the main slate this week with or without Jameis Winston. Through 10 games, Evans is carrying the highest yards per target average of his career (10.5) and while his catch rate is still lower than it should be (61.5%), he's only been credited with five drops this season. The Niners' best option in coverage is Richard Sherman, who has held opposing passers to a 5.4 YPA and 70.4 passer rating this season, but the rest of the secondary can be exposed. K'Waun Williams (90.3 passer rating allowed), Jimmie Ward (111.2) and Ahkello Witherspoon (119.5) have struggled throughout the season. Evans will likely be moved around to avoid having him get shadowed by Sherman, and his size-strength combo makes more physical coverage less effective.
Check out the play at ~1:15 of this video in which Sherman attempts to jam Evans.
Emmanuel Sanders, DEN vs. PIT ($5,500) – Sanders' target volume has leveled off in recent weeks, as he's averaged 6.5 targets per game since Week 7 and he enters Sunday stuck in a three-game scoring drought. It should be noted that his last two matchups have come against teams that have been top-10 defenses against wide receivers this season (the Texans and Chargers). Moreover, he's still averaging eight targets per game this season with a healthy 9.5 YPT mark thanks to his big-play ability (12 catches of 20+ yards). Joe Haden has been excellent in coverage for the Steelers, and his performance against Julio Jones in Week 5 (five catches, 62 yards) marks the only time in Jones' last seven games that he's failed to reach 100 yards. Interestingly, Haden followed Jones to both sides of the field in that matchup, but he did not cover him in the slot, where Sanders has lined up 64 percent of the time this season.
Also consider: Josh Gordon, NE at NYJ ($6,400)
Antonio Brown, PIT at DEN ($8,700) – As my weekly DFS podcast co-host Scott Jenstad pointed out during our Week 12 episode, Brown has scored in all but one game this season. Concerns about Ben Roethlisberger away from Heinz Field, along with Brown's price regularly sitting at the same level of the elite running backs should keep the ownership rate in check. For the season, Brown is averaging more than 20 DraftKings points per game at home and on the road, and with teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster priced down $1,200 less this week ($7,500), it seems likely that most of the Pittsburgh wide receiver exposure will be elsewhere. Brown was just 5.45% owned in the Slant ($9 GPP on DraftKings) last week, and it will be interesting to see if he will crack the 10% mark this week.
Alshon Jeffery, PHI vs. NYG ($5,800) – The Eagles failed miserably in what seemed like a cash-game friendly spot for the passing attack in Week 11 against the Saints. While it may seem as though the arrival of Golden Tate lowers the target ceiling for Jeffery, his snaps and targets have largely come at the expense of Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor thus far. Jeffery is second only to tight end Zach Ertz in targets per game this season (8.1), and even if the Philadelphia offense lacks the consistency of last season's unit, Jeffery has already posted three 20+ point performances this season, and one of those games was in his first meeting against the Giants in Week 6. With several viable options at the position around this price point, I'm optimistic that Jeffery will come through with a lower-than-expected ownership rate.
Also Consider: Jarvis Landry, CLE at CIN ($5,900)
Hail Mary: Kenny Stills, MIA at IND ($3,900) – Stills vanished from the gameplan with Brock Osweiler under center, maxing out with a 10% target share in the four games he played with the Dolphins' backup quarterback, and typically sitting between 5-8% of the targets. Ryan Tannehill is back for Sunday's matchup with the Colts, and while that is not exciting on the surface, it could breathe life into Stills' season. In the five games that Tannehill has played this season, Stills' target share has eclipsed 20% twice, while sitting at a minimum of 13%. DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant are hurt, leaving Stills, Danny Amendola and Leonte Carroo as Tannehill's primary weapons in the passing game. The Colts' high-tempo offense and status as more than a touchdown favorite in this matchup bode well for Stills' target volume to push back into the 5-6 range.
Cameron Brate, TB vs. SF ($3,600) – Brate shouldn't be used the way the Bucs were using O.J. Howard, because he doesn't possess anything close to the same skill set, but he's a competent tight end in a high-volume passing game, whose past rapport with quarterback Jameis Winston has led to a YPT mark around 8.0 over the previous two seasons, and nearly a red-zone target per game during that span. Look for Brate to play a season-high in snaps, and for him to see 5-6 targets on a slate where the Tampa Bay offense carries the third-highest implied total on the board.
George Kittle, SF at TB ($6,200) – Here's my thought process. Brate ($3,600) will be the frequent cheap play. Those paying up are probably going to spend the extra $200 to get to Zach Ertz ($6,400), which is understandable. The season-low price on Rob Gronkowski ($5,100) will draw in the Gronk truthers (I belong to this club, and I cannot understand how he only has two red-zone targets this season). Kittle has been targeted eight or more times in three of the last four games, including a season-high 10 times against the Giants in the Niners' last game before the bye. He's averaging a ridiculous 10.9 yards per target this season, thanks to 10 catches of 20+ yards and three of 40+ yards. Plenty of lineups will prefer Matt Breida exposure to the San Francisco offense, which is understandable, but Kittle should be in a great position for a huge day against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed a 25:1 TD:INT ratio and 8.9 YPA (124.9 passer rating!) this season.
I don't think there's much that actually separates Brate from Jeff Heuerman ($3,400) and C.J. Uzomah ($3,300) in this price range, and their ownership rates will pale in comparison. Budget permitting, I wouldn't mind having David Njoku ($3,800) as my exposure to the Cleveland offense against the Bengals in situations where you're passing on Jarvis Landry. Brate is an easy fade for tournament purposes with the inflated ownership rate, since the Bucs' offense has plenty of other weapons at Winston's disposal.
Eagles vs. Giants ($2,400) – My general approach with defenses is taking the best of what I can afford after I've built a lineup at every other position that I like. The Eagles are only $400 from the salary floor, and they've got a few things working in their favor. First, they're at home. Second, they get plenty of pressure with their pass rush. And finally, Eli Manning is the gift that keeps on giving, even with the Eagles' injury-ravaged secondary, he's capable of yielding a turnover or two. If everything else checks out under the cap, the Bengals ($2,500) at home against Baker Mayfield and the Bills ($2,700) at home against the Blake Bortles and the Jags are also on my radar.
Week 12 DFS Podcast