Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for the Thanksgiving Slate

numberFire has no shortage of tools -- lineup generators, fantasy projections, and more -- to help you round out your rosters, but some extra prep never hurt anyone. So, here are some notes to know about each and every game on FanDuel's main slate for the Thanksgiving Day slate.

The Slate

Chicago at Detroit
Buffalo at Dallas
New Orleans at Atlanta

Chicago at Detroit

Matchup Chicago Detroit
Over/Under | Spread 38.5 +2.5
Implied Team Total 20.5 18.0
Percentage of Bets on: Over | Underdog 28% 22%
Percentage of Money on: Over | Underdog 41% 23%
Adj. Seconds/Play Rank 9 14
Adj. Pass Defense Rank 7 24
Adj. Rush Defense Rank 6 23

Game Overview
The dud game on the slate is probably going to be this one, based on the total and betting trends, but we still have plenty of ways to stack it, and that keeps it appealing enough. To get this out of the way: just about every relevant player is fair game for a short slate like this, but you'll want to be building highly-correlated lineups for the Thanksgiving slate.

Chicago Offense Notes
- Mitchell Trubisky ($6,800) ran a season-high seven times in Week 12, which is certainly something to note on a three-game slate. He also threw for a season-high 278 yards in Week 12, as well. Detroit is a bottom-10 pass defense based on numberFire's metrics.
- Trubisky, since returning, has thrown 24.8% of his passes to Allen Robinson ($7,700), 18.2% to Tarik Cohen ($6,400), 16.4% to Anthony Miller ($5,300), and 15.9% to Taylor Gabriel ($5,400). He's narrowed the tree a bit over the past three games: 22.9% for Robinson, 21.1% for Gabriel, 20.2% for Miller, and 17.4% for Cohen. The deep targets have flowed through Robinson (13), Gabriel (12), and Miller (10). That helps for stacking purposes. With Gabriel out, Miller is an easier play than Robinson -- given their salaries.
- Ben Braunecker ($4,600) played 70.3% of snaps in Week 12 and had punt play appeal but is out. Detroit is 31st against the tight end position in terms of Target Success Rate allowed. J.P. Holtz ($4,000) will take over.
- David Montgomery ($5,900) saw his snap rate jump up to 68.1% this past week after sitting at 59.7% and 46.1% the two prior games. Montgomery's lack of heavy pass-game work keeps him a game-script-dependent play in theory, but he's not even $6,000, so he's a priority option at such a cheap salary. Cohen has value if playing the angle of a Bears loss.

Detroit Offense Notes
- Bo Scarbrough ($6,100) has played 49.2% and 52.1% of snaps in his two games with the Lions. He has had 32 of 42 running back carries in that span, good for 153 yards and 1 touchdown. The Chicago Bears do rank eighth in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs, but if anticipating positive script, Scarbrough has value. J.D. McKissic ($5,200) is the play if anticipating negative script for the Lions.
- Jeff Driskel ($7,000) has 22 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown in his three starts, generating at least 5 carries and 37 yards in all three of them. As a passer, he has struggled -- heavily -- posting -0.05 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back and a 37.9% Passing Success Rate. Chicago is a top-10 pass defense, so we could see the ceiling cave in on this offense if Driskel can't move the ball.
- However, Driskel is out, so Detroit will turn to David Blough ($6,000) will take over. Blough put up 8.0 yards per attempt as a senior at Purdue and showed some rushing ability, though his athletic marks are nothing special.
- Driskel's target distribution has been: 22 for Marvin Jones ($6,400), 18 for Kenny Golladay ($7,100), 16 for Danny Amendola ($5,400), 13 for McKissic, and 10 for T.J. Hockenson ($4,700). The deep targets have favored Marvin Jones (10), followed by Golladay (6), and Marvin Hall ($4,700; 3). This passing offense has really just been Jones and Golladay in terms of the downfield looks all season.
- Hockenson has averaged a decent 59.4% route rate over the past five weeks, good for third on the slate behind Jason Witten ($5,500; 76.2%) and Jared Cook ($6,700; 74.6%) but barely ahead of Dawson Knox ($4,500; 57.5%). Braunecker has averaged 62.0% of the routes the past two weeks. He's fine but may be the fifth-best tight end play on the board from a median outcome perspective.
- With the unknown quarterback under center, everyone gets bumped down, and this game gets less appealing.

Core Plays: David Montgomery
Secondary Plays: Marvin Jones, Anthony Miller, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola
Tournament Plays: Mitchell Trubisky, Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, David Blough

Buffalo at Dallas

Matchup Buffalo Dallas
Over/Under | Spread 45.5 -6.5
Implied Team Total 19.5 26.0
Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite 35% 37%
Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite 56% 45%
Adj. Seconds/Play Rank 12 11
Adj. Pass Defense Rank 13 18
Adj. Rush Defense Rank 28 20

Game Overview

This may be the best game on the docket in terms of pricing and targets for our fantasy lineups. Touch shares are pretty tightly distributed for each team, they aren't divisional opponents, and they both have top-12 adjusted paces.

Buffalo Offense Notes
- The Dallas Cowboys rank 18th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play allowed this year. In six games against bottom-half pass defenses, Josh Allen ($7,800) has averaged just 228.0 yards but 1.5 passing touchdowns in that split, good for a per-drop back Passing NEP of 0.18 -- compared to 0.17 for all other passers in this split. Allen has at least 4 carries in every game and has run for 56 yards in two straight, with 4 touchdowns on the ground in that sample. Dallas does rate out top-12 since Week 6, but we can't get too picky on the short slate.
- In six games without Zay Jones, we've seen John Brown ($6,600) compile a massive 29.6% target share with a 47.0% air yards share, giving him elite usage over the second half of the season. In this split, he has 22 of 40 deep targets. Nobody else on the team has more than four.
- Cole Beasley ($5,800) is at a 20.1% target share with just two downfield targets since the Jones trade. He's a high-floor, low-ceiling play, but that's not awful for a three-game set in case no receivers fully erupt.
- Dawson Knox ($4,500) ranks fourth on the team in this sample with 11.2% of the targets, including 3 downfield looks. He played 87.3% of snaps last week and is a viable tight end option on the three-game set. In fact, he may be the best option given his salary.
- Devin Singletary ($6,600) played 80.3% of snaps in Week 12 and has 56.8% of the team's running back carries since emerging in Week 8. He also has dominated targets 20 to 3 over Frank Gore ($5,400). Gore still can steal short-yardage work, but Singletary is -- at worst -- a top-four back overall on the short slate and warrants plenty of attention at a reasonable salary.

Dallas Offense Notes
- Dak Prescott ($8,200) struggled for the second time all year (relative to the NFL average in Passing NEP) last week against the NFL's toughest pass defense. The Buffalo Bills are tough, but they aren't the New England Patriots. Prescott still as tripled the NFL average in per-play efficiency on the season and looks to be the premier quarterback play on the slate.
- In four games since Randall Cobb ($6,000) has returned to elevated snaps, Michael Gallup ($6,800) has a team-high 22.6% target share. Amari Cooper ($7,900) is at 20.0%, Cobb is at 19.4%, and Jason Witten ($5,500) is at 16.1%. The deep targets have been divvied up 12 for Cooper, 11 for Cobb, and 7 for Gallup, so Cobb has some short-slate pop for the deep attempts. Those 11 deep targets actually rank him 6th among receivers in that split. Gallup has the most air yards despite that deep-target share. All things considered, the three receivers have had fairly similar workloads, so we don't have to jam in Cooper and Gallup and ignore Cobb.
- Witten leads all tight ends on this slate in average route rate over the past five weeks.
- Ezekiel Elliott ($8,400) has just 10 targets in those three games with Cobb back, accounting for 8.3% of the targets. His lack of targets have plagued his ceiling all year, but the Cowboys are 6.5-point home favorites. Buffalo ranks 22nd in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. Elliott is still a top-two running back play on the slate and possibly the best depending on how you value Alvin Kamara ($8,300), but we can feel okay not rostering him in some of our lineups if we want to go that route.

Core Plays: Josh Allen, Dawson Knox, John Brown, Dak Prescott, Randall Cobb, Amari Cooper
Secondary Plays: Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Singletary, Michael Gallup, Jason Witten
Tournament Plays: Cole Beasley

New Orleans at Atlanta

Matchup New Orleans Atlanta
Over/Under | Spread 49.5 +6.5
Implied Team Total 28.0 21.5
Percentage of Bets on: Over | Underdog 64% 13%
Percentage of Money on: Over | Underdog 85% 10%
Adj. Seconds/Play Rank 25 21
Adj. Pass Defense Rank 11 31
Adj. Rush Defense Rank 7 15

Game Overview

This is the highest total on the slate, but we are dealing with not only a divisional matchup but a rematch of a game played back in Week 10 when the Atlanta Falcons kept the New Orleans Saints in check after changing the defensive play-calling. There's a ton of action on the over, and that implies this will be the popular game stack of the three, so we should keep that in mind when trying to differentiate.

New Orleans Offense Notes
- The Saints will be down Terron Armstead, which is a significant downgrade to their offense.
- After two studly performances on defense, the Falcons let up 313 yards on 28 passes last week to Jameis Winston -- Passing NEP per drop back numbers that would rank their defense dead last on the season.
- Drew Brees ($8,500) threw 45 times for 287 yards and no touchdowns against the Falcons in Week 10 (-0.19 Passing NEP per drop back). Excluding that game, Brees has generated 0.38 Passing NEP per drop back, roughly four times the NFL average.
- Since Alvin Kamara's ($8,300) return in Week 10, Brees' target distribution has favored Michael Thomas ($9,200) at 30.8%, Kamara at 24.8%, Jared Cook ($6,700) at 17.1%, and Ted Ginn Jr. ($5,200) at 10.3%. Ginn's 21.8-yard average target depth in that span keeps him in big-play territory on the short slate. Tre'Quan Smith ($4,500) owns a 13.8 average depth of target on half as many targets as Ginn (12 to 6).
- Kamara has 57 opportunities in his three games since returning. Latavius Murray ($6,200) has 27. That includes a 29 to 5 discrepancy for Kamara in terms of targets, which are more fruitful fantasy chances than are carries.

Atlanta Offense Notes
- Matt Ryan ($7,700) doesn't always come through, and that's problematic. In his past four games, he has two outings with zero touchdowns and just three total, while throwing for 159, 182, 311, and 271 yards in those. He sat late in favor of Matt Schaub in Week 12. His Passing Success Rate in this split is just 39.0%. If it were a full slate, we could worry more. On this slate, we'll have to overlook some stuff.
- In four games without Mohamed Sanu, the target distribution has been 22.7% for Julio Jones ($7,800), 20.9% for Calvin Ridley ($6,500), 17.2% for Russell Gage ($5,400), so without Austin Hooper, the target shares have been pretty concentrated. Ridley's average target depth of 13.5 thwarts Jones' 12.2 in this sample, but both have had at least 32.1% of the air yards in this split.
- Marshon Lattimore was limited in Monday's estimated practice. If he's out, Jones' status grows immensely.
- In the backfield, Qadree Ollison ($5,800) played 29.1% of snaps in Week 12. Brian Hill ($5,500) played 64.6%. This gives Hill 50.6%, 60.0%, and 64.6% the past three games, so he's the preferred back and certainly an option on this three-game slate. Devonta Freeman ($6,200) was limited in Monday's estimated practice.
- Jaeden Graham ($4,900) played a 72.2% snap rate in Week 12 after 52.3% in Week 11. He had just two targets in each, less than 7.0% of the team's attempts.

Core Plays: Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley
Secondary Plays: Jared Cook, Drew Brees, Brian Hill, Russell Gage
Tournament Plays: Latavius Murray, Ted Ginn, Tre'Quan Smith, Jaeden Graham