Bears at Lions
Team Totals: Bears 21, Lions 18
The 5-6 Bears visit Detroit with a chance to salvage .500 against a Lions defense that’s allowed the NFL’s eighth-most points per game (26.5) and top-12 fantasy scores to 9-of-11 quarterbacks faced. Mitchell Trubisky offers matchup-based Thanksgiving-only DFS appeal inside Ford Field’s dome after logging his season-best fantasy score in last week’s win over the Giants (QB9) and his second best in Week 10 against these same Lions (QB10). Detroit will be without No. 2 CB Rashaan Melvin (ribs). … His traditional running game continuing to sputter, Matt Nagy has enlisted gadget/space back Tarik Cohen for double-digit touches in consecutive weeks (14, 13) and snap rates above 50% in three straight. In addition to upward-trending usage, Cohen stands to benefit from facing a Lions defense permitting the NFL’s third-most receiving yards per game to running backs (58). Cohen is a PPR-specific flex play who may go a bit overlooked in Thanksgiving-only DFS. … David Montgomery’s efficiency has lacked all year in a broken rushing offense, but his still-bankable usage combined with Thursday’s plus draw keep Montgomery in play on Thanksgiving-only slates and as a season-long flex. Montgomery has 15-plus touches in five straight games, his playing time improved to 64% in last week’s win, and Montgomery ran a season-high 23 routes against the Giants. Enemy backs have averaged 157.4 total yards and scored a whopping 17 all-purpose touchdowns in 11 games versus the Lions. Montgomery is tied for the league lead in carries inside the five-yard line (13).
Trubisky’s 2019 target distribution: Allen Robinson 80; Cohen 58; Taylor Gabriel 47; Anthony Miller 39; Montgomery 24; Ben Braunecker, Adam Shaheen, and Cordarrelle Patterson 11; Javon Wims 8. … In these teams’ Week 10 date, Nagy schemed Robinson away from Darius Slay enough that Robinson was targeted just twice in Slay’s coverage and emerged with a robust 6/86/0 stat line. With 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 8-of-11 games, Robinson’s floor is higher than his Trubisky-affected reputation belies. Robinson nearly reached 200 yards in last week’s win over the Giants, only to lose a 60-yard gain to penalty. … After a brutal Week 11 where he gained 57 scoreless yards on 14 targets, Gabriel dropped 1-of-3 targets against the Giants, finished with 19 yards, and suffered his second concussion of the year. Annual preseason star Wims has a chance to be a near every-down player at Detroit after logging snap rates of 94% and 93% when Gabriel missed Weeks 4-5, managing uneven stat lines of 4/56/0 and 0/0. A plus-sized (6’3/215) possession receiver with adequate speed (4.53) and contested-catch skills, Wims is arguably Thanksgiving’s top DFS punt play. … Another likely beneficiary of Gabriel’s loss, Miller has seen 20 targets over the last two games, catching 13 for 131 scoreless yards. Miller is a positive-TD regression candidate with zero end-zone trips on the year after scoring seven times as a 2018 rookie and even popped as Week 13’s No. 4 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. Fellow slot WRs Randall Cobb (4/115/1), Larry Fitzgerald (8/113/1), Keenan Allen (8/98/0), Golden Tate (8/85/0), Hunter Renfrow (6/54/1), Nelson Agholor (8/50/2), and Bisi Johnson (4/40/1) have paid dividends against the Lions’ slot coverage. … This was the Bears’ full Week 12 routes-run distribution: Robinson 41; Braunecker 31; Gabriel 29; Miller 27; Cohen 26; Montgomery 22; Wims 17; J.P. Holtz 8; Patterson 5; Jesper Horsted 4. … In Braunecker’s (concussion) absence, the Bears will resort to some combination of blocker Holtz and UDFA rookie Horsted, a catch-first tight end who dominated at Princeton. Horsted played four snaps in his Week 12 debut after being signed off the practice squad.
Update: The Lions will start undrafted rookie David Blough in place of Jeff Driskel, it was revealed Wednesday night. Small (6’0/200) and slow (4.96), Blough completed just 58.1% of his preseason passes at 6.3 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and two picks for the Browns. The Lions acquired Blough from Cleveland in exchange for a swap of conditional draft picks in 2022. Blough starting removes all clarity from Detroit’s passing game and highlights the Bears’ D/ST as an elite Thanksgiving play.
Jeff Driskel will try to gut out hamstring tightness on a short week after his season-worst game against the Redskins, absorbing six sacks and throwing three picks with a fumble. Browns 2019 camp arm David Blough is next in line. Even as the Bears’ D/ST has been among this year’s biggest fantasy disappointments, this looks like a great spot to stream them. Just 1-of-11 quarterbacks to face the Bears has tallied top-12 fantasy results, while DC Chuck Pagano’s defense has yielded the NFL’s eighth-fewest QB rushing yards (11.7 per game). The Bears will gain a major advantage if either Pagano’s scheme or the hamstring injury confines Driskel to the pocket, removing his athletic strengths. … Although Bo Scarbrough’s passing-game role remains nonexistent, he has clearly emerged as Detroit’s early-down workhorse with 153 tackle-breaking yards and a touchdown on 32 carries over the past two weeks, playing exactly 50% of the Lions’ offensive snaps. While Scarbrough’s floor is low with zero catches, his Thanksgiving matchup is favorable against a Bears run defense missing DT Akiem Hicks (elbow, I.R.) and ILB Danny Trevathan (elbow). J.D. McKissic’s touch counts during Scarbrough’s two-game hot run are 6 and 3; Ty Johnson’s are 3 and 6. The bad news is Scarbrough remains a touchdown-or-bust flex option. The good news is Chicago has allowed nine rushing TDs over its last seven games.
Driskel’s 2019 target distribution: Marvin Jones 22; Kenny Golladay 18; Danny Amendola 16; McKissic 13; T.J. Hockenson 10; Logan Thomas 5; Johnson 4; Marvin Hall 3; Jesse James 2. … Jones leads the Lions in targets and Air Yards (284) over Golladay (216) in Driskel’s three starts yet remains priced considerably cheaper than Golladay on DFS sites. Facing a Bears defense allowing the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, Jones and Golladay are both boom-bust WR3s amid wayward quarterback play. … Amendola’s stat lines in Driskel’s starts are 4/29/0 > 4/47/0 > 3/21/0. Amendola is scoreless since Week 1, unsurprising since he’s drawn just two targets inside the ten-yard line all year. Golladay has drawn ten, Jones seven. … Hockenson has six yards on four targets over the last two weeks and played a season-low 44% of Detroit’s offensive snaps in Week 12. Hockenson did run 31 pass routes, tied for his third most of the year. The Bears have allowed the NFL’s fifth-most catches (64) and sixth-most yards (661) to tight ends, giving Hockenson some long-shot Thanksgiving-only DFS-tournament hope. Considering Hockenson’s utter lack of recent productivity, he seems certain to go low owned.
Score Prediction: Bears 24, Lions 17
Bills at Cowboys
Team Totals: Cowboys 26, Bills 19
Especially as full-touchdown underdogs at JerryWorld, the 8-3 Bills should approach Thanksgiving with a chip on their shoulder and Josh Allen at the forefront with high-floor fantasy results of QB16 or better in 10-of-11 starts and top-ten finishes in each of his last three. Despite Buffalo’s low team total, Allen’s passing and rushing aggressiveness make him one of Turkey Day’s safest and highest-upside DFS quarterback options. … Devin Singletary maintained Buffalo’s No. 1 tailback job in last week’s win over Denver, parlaying 22 touches into 114 yards and out-snapping Frank Gore 70% to 30%. Singletary has run 71 routes to Gore’s 20 over the past three weeks, while Dallas has allowed the NFL’s fourth-most catches per game to running backs (6.2). Averaging 18 touches per game over the last month, Singletary is a rock-solid RB2 in season-long leagues and should soon experience positive-touchdown regression without an end-zone trip in three straight weeks. Singletary hit pay dirt three times in his four games previous to that. The Cowboys will be without critical run stoppers LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and DT Antwaun Woods (MCL). … Gore obviously lacks sexy factor but is playable on Thanksgiving-only slates based entirely on projected usage and touchdown chances. Gore has double-digit touches in three of Buffalo’s last four games and ten carries inside the five-yard line compared to Singletary’s two on the season.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: John Brown 84; Cole Beasley 69; Dawson Knox 35; Singletary 25; Isaiah McKenzie 24; Gore 11; Duke Williams, Tyler Kroft, and Robert Foster 7; Andre Roberts 5. … Averaging 8.1 targets and ranked No. 3 in the NFL in Air Yards (1,266), Brown is a bet-on-talent and fade-matchup Thanksgiving play. Just four individual receivers have cleared 75 yards against Dallas’ stingy zone this year, yet Brown has the speed to outrun any NFL defensive back, evidenced on last week’s 34-yard touchdown against Denver’s Chris Harris. … This is a revenge spot for ex-Cowboy Beasley, who logged 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five of Buffalo’s last six games. Each of Dallas’ last two opponents were led in receiving by slot WRs (Julian Edelman, 8/93/0; Danny Amendola, 4/47/0). Beasley runs 74% of his routes inside. … Knox warrants serious Thanksgiving-only DFS-tournament discussion after playing a season-high 78% of last week’s offensive snaps and now facing a Dallas defense that’s surrendered the NFL’s ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Knox’s drawback is his spotty passing-game usage with target totals of 2 > 6 > 3 > 2 in the last month. … This is how Bills Week 12 routes run were distributed: Brown 29; Beasley 27; McKenzie 25; Singletary 20; Knox 18; Kroft 6; Foster 5; Gore 3; Roberts 2. … This week’s top Bills sleeper is gadget-guy McKenzie, who’s run 26 or more routes in three straight games and clearly established himself as Buffalo’s No. 3 wideout alongside Brown and Beasley. McKenzie remains a leap-of-faith play, of course, without a game over 31 yards from scrimmage since Week 5.
Dak Prescott follows up his abysmal Week 12 game at Foxboro with another tough draw versus a Bills defense that sells out to stop the pass by literally never stacking the box with eight defenders. 10-of-11 quarterbacks to face Buffalo have fantasy scores of QB13 or worse, while Sean McDermott’s defense can make Dak uncomfortable by dropping so many players into coverage while still ranking No. 7 in sack rate (8.1%) and No. 11 in QB Hit Rate (16.5%). The good news is Prescott has destroyed in home games with 2019 fantasy scores of QB8 > QB5 > QB7 > QB2 > QB5 at JerryWorld. The bad news is McDermott’s fundamentally-sound zone can put Dak in a bind, rendering him a boom-bust fringe QB1. Dallas’ team total is 26, yet Buffalo has permitted over 21 points just once all season. … Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t looked his usual short-area bursty self this season, but the Cowboys haven’t scaled back his usage. Zeke has 22-plus touches in five of his last six games with a low of 18, while Buffalo has generously coughed up 4.62 yards per carry and 130.5 total yards per game to enemy backs. As a home-favorite bellcow, Elliott should shred the Bills’ light fronts. He’s Thanksgiving’s No. 2 running back play behind Alvin Kamara. … Tony Pollard is a Thanksgiving-only DFS-tournament sleeper with 4.42 speed and 13 touches over Dallas’ last two games. Pollard has quietly out-targeted Zeke 8 to 7 during that admittedly small-sample span.
Dak’s post-bye target distribution: Michael Gallup 35; Amari Cooper 31; Randall Cobb 30; Jason Witten 25; Pollard and Blake Jarwin 11; Zeke 10. … With Tre’Davious White likely to chase Amari, Gallup should catch the top matchup in Dallas’ pass-catcher corps. Bills No. 2 CB Levi Wallace – he of 4.63 “speed” – has coughed up 47 catches on 68 targets (69%) for 495 yards, and four touchdowns. Gallup has 55-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 7-of-9 appearances this season. … The bad Week 12 news was Stephon Gilmore erased Cooper, who finished catch-less on two targets. The good news was Cooper’s health looked intact with an 81% snap rate and 35 routes run, Amari’s fourth most this year. Unfortunately, this is another brutal matchup for Cooper; White has yielded 445 yards on 65 targets (6.8 YPA) and hasn’t given up a touchdown since last Week 14. Cooper is once again best approached as a boom-bust WR2. … On fire with seven-plus targets in four straight games and 85-plus yards in three straight, a healthy Cobb has stood up as a difference maker in Dallas’ passing attack. Cobb should find soft spots in McDermott’s zone as an underrated WR3/flex option in PPR leagues. … Not a single tight end has cleared 50 yards against the Bills this year. Jarwin is Dallas’ most explosive tight end and quietly has 35 yards and/or a touchdown in four of the last five weeks but hasn’t run more than 15 routes in a game all season. Witten is a touchdown-or-bust option who hasn’t scored since Week 2 and hasn’t cleared 60 yards all year.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 24, Bills 23
Saints at Falcons
Team Totals: Saints 28, Falcons 21
The Saints visit Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz dome having scored 30-plus points in four of their last five games to face a Falcons defense Tampa Bay exposed as a pretender by pouring 35 on Dan Quinn’s club last week. Saints-Falcons boasts Thanksgiving’s highest total after Jameis Winston dumped Week 12’s overall QB4 result on Atlanta in this same spot. Seven of the last ten quarterbacks to face Quinn’s defense turned in top-12 fantasy scores, while Drew Brees has been a top-12 finisher in 4-of-5 non-injury-shortened starts. A high-floor play with lots of ceiling in this potential shootout, Brees’ biggest concern is the absence of LT Terron Armstead (ankle) with LG Andrus Peat (arm) already on the shelf. Brees was sacked just twice and took only four hits on 41 dropbacks against Carolina’s far-more-fierce pass rush last week, however, and Brees’ ability to get the ball out quickly can offset pass-protection breakdowns. … Alvin Kamara faces Atlanta with 18-plus touches in six of his last seven games and PPR-goldmine receiving lines of 7/72/0 > 8/50/0 > 10/47/0 > 9/48/0 in his last four. The Falcons have given up a running back receiving touchdown in three straight games, while Kamara’s positive-TD regression is inevitable with zero end-zone trips since Week 3. Entering 2019, Kamara scored 31 touchdowns in his first 31 career games. An eruption is forthcoming. … Latavius Murray is a touchdown-or-bust flex option against Atlanta. Murray’s snap rates are 40% or lower in three straight games with corresponding touch counts of 7 > 12 > 7. Murray is averaging 38.3 total yards per game since Kamara returned from injury.
Brees’ 2019 target distribution: Michael Thomas 60; Kamara 37; Jared Cook 25; Ted Ginn 22; Murray 20; Tre’Quan Smith and Josh Hill 9; Taysom Hill 8. … The NFL’s most-valuable non-quarterback – yes, he’s more real-life valuable than Christian McCaffrey – Thomas has drawn double-digit targets in 9-of-11 games and cleared 100 yards in five straight. Beginning with most recent, Thomas’ seven career stat lines against Atlanta are 13/152/0 > 4/38/0 > 10/129/0 > 4/66/0 > 10/117/1 > 10/156/1 > 7/71/1. He’s Week 13’s No. 1 receiver play across slates. … Cook has 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five straight games, re-earning every-week TE1 trust. He leads all NFL tight ends in Air Yards (207) over the last three weeks. … Ginn and Smith’s Week 12 participation was nearly identical – each ran exactly 30 routes – but Ginn out-targeted Smith 5 to 3, even as Smith scored a 13-yard touchdown on his first end-zone trip since Week 1. Wideouts continue to feast on Atlanta’s secondary, most notably Chris Godwin (7/184/2), Thomas (13/152/0), Tyler Lockett (6/100/0), and D.J. Moore (8/95/0) over the last month. Only the Giants and Bucs have given up more fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Even in a plus draw, Ginn and Smith are both low-volume, dart-throw WR4s best approached as Thanksgiving-only DFS-tournament plays. As Smith runs the most slot routes on the Saints, it’s perhaps noteworthy that Atlanta has allowed eight touchdowns on slot targets this year. … Saints Week 12 routes run: Thomas 41; Cook, Ginn, and Smith 30; Kamara 27; Murray 12; Hill 7. There aren’t any standout sleepers here.
Playing through an ankle injury in a badly-struggling Falcons offense that’s lost Mohamed Sanu (trade), Austin Hooper (knee), Devonta Freeman (foot), RG Chris Lindstrom (foot), and Ito Smith (neck), Matt Ryan has completed just 57.6% of his passes at 6.6 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and five turnovers over his last four games, while Ryan has faced pressure at the NFL’s fourth-highest rate (43%) since Atlanta’s Week 9 bye. This is problematic against the Saints, who rank top ten in both sacks (31) and QB hits (72) and have allowed just one top-ten QB1 finish since Week 3. Especially with Julio Jones now gutting out a sprained shoulder, New Orleans’ D/ST is squarely in play. … Freeman is practicing on a limited basis in hopes of giving it a go, but it may not matter much. The Falcons’ running game has been broken all year and now draws a Saints defensive front that’s stymied enemy backs for 191/681/4 (3.57 YPC) rushing and the NFL’s sixth-fewest receiving yards per game (33.5). Although rookie Qadree Ollison got more involved with nine touches and repeated goal-line carries in last week’s loss to Tampa Bay, Brian Hill remained the Falcons’ lead back with 12 touches on a 59% playing-time clip and would likely lead Atlanta’s committee were Freeman to sit again. Ollison would be a touchdown-or-bust flex option and Hill a low-floor flex with an anemic 65 scoreless yards to show for his 28 touches through two starts.
Update: Coach Dan Quinn announced following Wednesday’s practice that Devonta Freeman (foot) will indeed play against the Saints. In a tough matchup with ongoing health concerns, Freeman will be a high-risk flex option on Thanksgiving.
Update: Julio Jones (shoulder) missed practice all week and was listed as questionable on Wednesday’s final injury report. Players who don’t practice at all tend to not play on game days, although Jones is the rare veteran that could. If Julio can’t go, the Falcons’ likely three-receiver set would place Calvin Ridley and Christian Blake outside with Russell Gage in the slot and Justin Hardy as Atlanta’s No. 4. Ridley and Gage would offer monster volume upside in such a scenario, and Jaeden Graham could be a quiet beneficiary, too.
Update: The Falcons promoted TE Carson Meier off their practice squad on Wednesday, suggesting blocking TE Luke Stocker (back) won’t play and Jaeden Graham will handle most of Atlanta’s Week 13 tight end work. Meier went undrafted this April out of Oklahoma, where he played fullback and graduated with 19 career catches, then ran a painful 4.96 forty at the Sooners’ Pro Day.
Ryan’s post-bye target distribution: Jones and Calvin Ridley 26; Russell Gage 19; Christian Blake 12; Hill 9; Jaeden Graham and Justin Hardy 4; Kenjon Barner 2; Ollison and Luke Stocker 1. … Julio’s shoulder injury combined with Marshon Lattimore’s (hamstring) similarly shaky health render Jones’ Week 13 matchup difficult to gauge. Julio’s stat lines against the Saints since Lattimore entered the league are a robust 11/147/0 > 5/96/0 > 7/149/0 > 5/98/0 > 3/79/0, while Lattimore seems at likelier risk of in-game aggravation considering the nature of his injury and position he plays. Still less than 100% and part of a struggling offense, I’m deeming Julio a boom-bust WR1. … Ridley’s three career receiving lines versus New Orleans are 3/28/0 > 8/93/1 > 7/146/3. With Julio hurting and Hooper and Sanu out of the picture, I like Ridley’s chances of finishing at the high end of that historical spectrum as a potential Thanksgiving DFS-slate breaker. Ridley is averaging 8.5 targets over his last four games. … Gage is a serious PPR-specific WR3 option coming off career highs in snaps (73%), routes run (56), targets (10), and receiving (8/76/0) versus Tampa Bay. The Saints have yielded at- or above-expectation stat lines to fellow slot WRs Tyler Lockett (11/154/1), Chris Godwin (7/125/2, 3/47/1), Cooper Kupp (5/120/0), Christian Kirk (8/79/0), Anthony Miller (5/64/0), and Kenny Stills (3/37/1). … Blake’s nine Week 12 targets were a mirage; six came in deep garbage time via Matt Schaub, and Blake turned the nine into only 16 yards. He was playing for injured Julio. … Stocker’s (back) absence would make Graham a more interesting punt by potentially elevating Graham into an every-down role. Stocker has played between 40% and 60% of Atlanta’s offensive snaps for the last month, while Graham set season highs in snaps (66%) and routes run (46) as Stocker left last week’s game early. Graham was targeted only twice but flashed big-play ability on a 53-yard seam ball against the Bucs, and his target competition is waning every week.
Score Prediction: Saints 35, Falcons 23