FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 12 Thursday Night

Michael Thomas has proven to be virtually un-guardable all year. Who else is in play for this week's NFC South showdown?

Week 11 is in the books and your first crack at redemption in Week 12 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.

On Thanksgiving, you can enjoy the entire three game slate and tonight's single-game contest. The divisional matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons should be the most exciting of the three games on turkey day, at least from an offensive standpoint. The Saints are 13-point favorites with a game total of 59.5, 15 points higher than the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. The Saints have the highest implied team total of the week, at 36.25 points, and have averaged 48 points over their past 3 games. In their earlier meeting back in Week 3, the Saints prevailed over the Falcons 43-37 in overtime.

To score well in your contests, making the right choice for your MVP slot is crucial. That's easier said than done when you have so many high-profile options to sort through. Before grandma's pecan pie settles in the depths of your already full stomach, let's review our options.

MVP Candidates

Drew Brees ($17,500 on FanDuel): Fading Brees at home when this offense is rolling seems like a losing proposition. Since scoring just 7.8 FanDuel points at Minnesota in Week 8, Brees has 31.44, 28.59, and 30.52 in his last three. He now faces an Atlanta defense that ranks 29th overall versus quarterbacks and 32nd against starting quarterbacks.

You don't need me to tell you Brees is having another great season; his numbers alone can do that. His overall passing Net Expected Points (NEP) sit at 163.60 -- second only to Patrick Mahomes -- and he leads the league in Passing NEP per drop back (0.48) and Passing Success Rate (60.93). Only the Raiders, Lions, and Buccaneers have a worse Adjusted Defensive Pass NEP per play than Atlanta's 0.26. It's no surprise Brees is the highest-projected scorer of the week at 26 FanDuel points.

Alvin Kamara ($16,500): The return of Mark Ingram ($13,000) has cut into Kamara's overall production since he returned in Week 5 after suspension. With control of the backfield, Kamara averaged 29 FanDuel points per game over the first four weeks. Since then, if we remove the Week 5 game against Washingto where Kamara was dealing with a knee injury, that number drops to 22.

In their Week 3 game, Kamara had 20 targets and 16 carries on his way to 26.5 points. The Falcons defense has been decimated by injuries and they have struggled defending both the run and the pass, ranking 30th in rush defense and 29th in passing defense. They also bleed points to receiving backs, giving up nearly 23 percent of their total receiving yards allowed to running backs. Any hesitation in using Kamara should come from the 13-point spread, but few players have the ceiling that Kamara offers, as evident by his projected 21.6 FanDuel points, tops at the running back spot.

Matt Ryan ($16,000): Brees will likely carry the higher ownership of the two quarterbacks, especially for the MVP slot, but the way Ryan has been playing we can't overlook him. On the year, he is averaging just a half-point fewer per game than Brees in FanDuel scoring. In their previous matchup, Ryan passed for 374 yards and 5 touchdowns on the way to 40.16 FanDuel points.

That may be difficult to duplicate on the road in New Orleans, but the Falcons likely need another huge game from their quarterback to have a shot at knocking off the Saints. The Falcons come in fifth in Adjusted Passing NEP per play (0.27) while the Saints rank just 21st versus quarterbacks on the season. If you're playing the ownership game, Ryan is certainly the contrarian pick of the two quarterbacks and should have plenty of opportunity.

Michael Thomas ($15,500) and Julio Jones ($15,000): The wide receivers with the two highest points projections this week face off on Thursday night. Thomas (17.6) saw just four targets Sunday in a blowout win over the Philadelphia Eagles, his lowest since Week 4. While Tre'Quan Smith was the bigger story, Thomas continues to combine elite efficiency and production. He caught all of his targets for 92 yards and a touchdown for 17.2 FanDuel points. His target share remains at 27 percent and he has 28 percent of the air yards on the season combined with a ridiculous 89 percent catch rate.

Back in Week 3, Jones had just six targets at home despite the game going into overtime. Since then, he has at least nine targets in every game while leading the league in air yards. Quietly, Julio (17.3) has five consecutive 100-yard games and after going scoreless the first seven games, has scored in three straight. With the touchdown equity, he's topped 20 points in each of those games. The matchup couldn't get much better for Jones, as the Saints come in just 31st versus team WR1's on the season. New Orleans also ranks just 22nd against the pass and as big underdogs, the Falcons will need to throw and keep their best player involved.

Value Plays

Tre'Quan Smith ($10,000): It's been a wild ride aboard the Tre'Quan train over the last few weeks. Back in Week 6 against the Washington Redskins, Smith went off for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns (24.6 points) with Ted Ginn Jr. inactive. The following three weeks he failed to break 50 yards receiving or 10 FanDuel points and wasn't targeted in the Week 10 game at Cincinnati. Sunday, in another weekly offensive clinic from the Saints, Smith caught 10 of 13 targets for 157 yards and a touchdown (26.7 FanDuel points), and really turned the slate at just $4,900.

It's easy to fit Smith into your lineups at only $10,000, but he did miss practice Monday and Tuesday with a foot injury, leaving his availability for Thursday night in doubt. If Smith is inactive, Keith Kirkwood ($7,000) and Austin Carr ($6,000) should see more snaps. Brandon Marshall ($5,000) was inactive versus the Eagles, having just signed with the Saints on November 12th, so he could be in the mix as well.

Wil Lutz ($9,500): When you select a kicker in any format, you want him to be tied to a high team total, and we get that with Lutz seemingly every week. He's scored double-digit FanDuel points in 6 of 10 games this year, including four in a row. It's no surprise he has our highest projection at the kicker position this week and is only $500 more than Matt Bryant ($9,000). The minimal savings are there if you absolutely need it for roster construction, but Lutz is a solid value with bankable production.

Austin Hooper ($8,000): The tight end landscape for both daily and season-long fantasy football has been a brutal one this year. Injuries have hampered Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Eifert and Delanie Walker are on injured reserve, and if you want a reliable option at the position, you'll have to pay wide receiver prices for Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce. Paying down to the mid-$5,000 range is usually the play but making the correct choice each week has been an adventure in futility.

Meanwhile, Hooper has filled the middle section of the tight end void quite well and is second on the Falcons in target share at 16 percent. He's only surpassed 50 receiving yards in a game 4 times this year but has 3 touchdowns. In a game where the Falcons should be throwing a lot, Hooper's salary of $8,000 is easy to accommodate and provides both a decent floor and ceiling projection.

Ito Smith ($7,000): Smith played just 36 percent of the snaps Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys and converted 6 carries into just 10 rushing yards. He did catch both of his targets for 12 yards, but Smith remains touchdown dependent for any fantasy production. Through Week 11, he has 17 red-zone carries, which is 4 more than Tevin Coleman ($11,500), and 3 goal line carries. If the Falcons can get close, Smith has as decent shot to land in the paint against the Saints eighth-ranked rushing defense and at a significant discount from Coleman.

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.