FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Thanksgiving Slate

The Thanksgiving slate is one of my favorite DFS slates of the year, and we've got another three-gamer this season.

Here's what we have in store for us on the holiday. I bet you can figure out which two offenses are going to be popular.

GameOver/UnderAway Implied TotalHome Implied Total
Bills (-9.5) at Lions54.532.022.5
Giants at Cowboys (-9.5)44.517.527.0
Patriots at Vikings (-2.5)42.520.022.5

If you've got a long trip ahead of you, check out the Thanksgiving Slate Preview episode of the Heat Check Podcast.


I say this as someone who hates swallowing chalk in DFS and who is oftentimes guilty of trying too hard to be different -- you should plug in Josh Allen ($9,500).

Sure, he'll be very popular as heck. Yes, his salary is $1,500 more than any other quarterback's. But we project him for 28.6 FanDuel points -- 10.0 more than anyone else at the position. He could go nuclear on the Detroit Lions -- a team giving up the most FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks (24.0) -- and even if Allen has a meh showing, he could still lead the slate's signal-callers in scoring. He's racked up at least 19.62 FanDuel points nine times this year, doing it in every game but his most recent one. The rest of the slate's quarterbacks combined have done it 10 times all year.

The only other quarterback I can make a decent case for is Dak Prescott ($8,000). We project him to score 18.6 FanDuel points, the second-most among passers. He's put up at least 20.64 FanDuel points in three straight games, and the Dallas Cowboys' offense has the upside to match the Buffalo Bills' ceiling. On the negative, Buffalo's 32.0-point implied total is 5.0 points higher than Dallas' 27.0-point clip, and if Allen goes off, Dak would probably need touchdown luck or a big rushing day to match Allen's production.

Daniel Jones ($7,500) and Jared Goff ($6,900) deserve a mention. Jones has the running ability to pop, but he has one game with more than 20.00 FanDuel points across his past six outings, including four games with fewer than 15.00 FanDuel points. In a game in which the Lions should have to throw a lot, Goff could have a good game. However, Buffalo has the league's sixth-best D, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, and Goff has topped 236 passing yards only one time across his last six games.

I have no interest in either Mac Jones ($6,500) or Kirk Cousins ($7,400) in the New England Patriots-Minnesota Vikings game.

Running Backs

Despite this slate being a three-gamer, we've got a lot of quality running backs at our disposal.

At a projection of 16.7 FanDuel points, Saquon Barkley ($8,800) rates out at the top of the position, according to our algorithm. He's followed by -- in order -- Rhamondre Stevenson ($7,200), Dalvin Cook ($7,800), Tony Pollard ($8,500), Devin Singletary ($6,900), Ezekiel Elliott ($7,000) and Jamaal Williams ($7,100) among backs who are salaried above $6,500.

Factoring in salary, the running backs I'm most into are Stevenson, Pollard, and Singletary.

If you're fading Allen at quarterback, Singletary ($6,900) is a must unless you're counting on Buffalo's offense to totally faceplant. Please don't count on that. You can also use Singletary alongside Allen in hopes of getting every Buffalo tuddy.

Stevenson has an adjusted workload -- carries plus 2x targets -- of 26.4 opportunities per game over the past five games, which accounts for the time since Damien Harris ($6,400) returned. Stevenson has handled 44.5% of the Pats' total team red-zone opportunities, as well, which leads this slate's backs (among relevant samples). That's great volume, and the salary isn't too tough to get to. In what projects to be a lower-scoring slog, Stevenson should get fed.

Pollard has accounted for an average of 17.0 carries and 4.3 targets per game over the last three. We've all seen what he's done, and he's surely going to be popular in a favorable spot against the New York Giants. He played 39 snaps last week to Zeke's 21. Zeke is still going to be involved -- especially at the goal line -- but Pollard might have finally relegated Zeke to backup duties.

As for Barkley, he's at 29.5 adjusted opportunities per game this year, and that tops the slate. While it's easy to get excited about that kind of volume, the salary is restrictive -- particularly alongside Allen's lofty tag -- and I worry the Giants' offense could get punked by the Dallas D, taking Barkley down with it. Big Blue is severely short-handed on the offensive line, which doesn't help.

I would love to be able to use D'Andre Swift ($6,200) at his salary. I really would. I will spend the hours before lock riding in a car with my family, ignoring my kids, and trying to talk myself into Swift. I have a lot to be thankful for.

The negatives with Swift are obvious. He's played 16%, 31%, and 31% of the snaps over the past three games and averaged 4.3 rushes and 3.3 targets in that stretch. Unless he magically starts getting more playing time, Swift is nothing more than a dart throw. However, Swift's pass-game skillset should be useful in this one, and he's capable of ripping off a chunk play on any touch. I'll probably have more of him than I should.

James Cook ($5,500) is just as viable of a punt as Swift is. He tied his career high with 11 carries last week and ended with a career-best 15 adjusted opportunities. If the Bills get out to a big lead, he could see extra touches.


Our projections have Stefon Diggs ($9,300) out on his own at receiver. We forecast him to put up 18.8 FanDuel points, 4.0 clear of anyone else at the position. He and Allen make for a high-upside stack, and Diggs could blowtorch a Lions defense that has conceded the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to wideouts (31.4). The only problem with a Diggs-Allen stack is the salary it takes.

That's where Gabriel Davis ($7,200) comes in. Davis is a boom-or-bust play who can win you a slate if you get him on the right day. Over the last four games, Davis owns a 24% target share and 35% air yards share -- not that far off Diggs' clips of a 30% target share and 38% air yards share from that time.

Sticking with the Lions-Bills matchup, things set up well for Amon-Ra St. Brown ($7,600) in a game in which the Lions may be throwing early and often. ARSB has recorded a 32% target share and 30% air yards share over the past two games. The target share is nearly double that of anyone else's on the Lions. He's the obvious bring-back piece to Bills stacks.

Justin Jefferson ($8,600) and CeeDee Lamb ($7,900) are projected about dead even by our numbers. Even before accounting for the $700 gap in salary, I have more interest in Lamb, who has an easier matchup and whose offense should score more points. However, Jefferson can nuke any slate.

Kalif Raymond ($5,500) is a decent salary-saving option. He's got a 17% target share and 24% air yards share across the last two weeks. The air yards give him a chance to hit on a big play, and he should benefit from a pass-happy game script. If Josh Reynolds ($5,600) returns, that would ding Raymond's outlook.

Jakobi Meyers ($6,700) and Adam Thielen ($5,900) catch my eye in the Vikings-Pats nightcap. Minnesota's defense has been a sieve against the pass, surrendering the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to receivers (31.3). Meyers, who has a 20% target share and 25% air yards share for the season, is the top option in the New England passing game. Meanwhile, Thielen is a clear second-fiddle to Jefferson, but he could see extra looks this week if Bill Belichick schemes to take away Jefferson.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz ($5,800) and Dawson Knox ($5,500) look like the best routes to take at tight end. Our model has them ranked first and second, respectively, at the position.

Schultz has logged at least five targets in four straight games, going for 49 or more yards in three of the four. He's been running as the number-two pass-game piece for Dallas. As for Knox, he's a low-salary way to get a piece of the Bills. He's seen seven and six targets over the past two, and the touchdown equity is always decent -- although he's scored only twice all year. Detroit has given up the third-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends (12.7).

T.J. Hockenson ($6,300) might go overlooked a bit due to his position-high salary in a clash with a stout defense, but this could be a sneaky-good spot for him. Tight ends have scored 10.8 FanDuel points per game against New England, which is the eighth-most any D has allowed. Hockenson has been targeted at least nine times in all three of his games with the Vikings, accounting for a 23% target share.

After those three, it's dart-throw territory. No one else is projected for more than 3.8 FanDuel points, per our model. If I punt at tight end, it'll be with Hunter Henry ($4,900). Henry should at least be on the field a lot; he played all but 10 snaps last week. He was targeted only once, though.


The Dallas D/ST ($5,000) flexed its muscle last week at Minnesota, ripping off seven sacks and allowing just three points en route to 16.0 FanDuel points. They're rightfully the highest-salaried D/ST, and in a game in which the Giants -- whose offensive line is banged up -- may have to throw more than they want to, Dallas' defense could make life miserable for Daniel Jones. We have the Cowboys' defense scoring a slate-best 8.6 FanDuel points.

Buffalo's top-notch real-life defense hasn't resulted in many big fantasy days for the Buffalo D/ST. The Bills' D/ST has failed to top 8.0 FanDuel points in five consecutive games. They could feast on Jared Goff this week. Goff is a slate-worst -188 to throw a pick, and if the Lions have to pass a ton, it'll be an ideal setup for the Bills' defense. But, if you use the Buffalo D/ST, you're limited to just three pieces of the Bills' offense.

Both defenses in the night game make some sense. Mac Jones is -164 to throw an interception, and our algorithm projects the Minnesota D/ST for 7.7 FanDuel points, the second-most. The New England D/ST has recorded 17.0 and 26.0 FanDuel points the past two games. They've scored at least 13.0 FanDuel points in four of their last six outings. They could give Kirk Cousins fits.