Here’s a breakdown of one-game DFS contests for the Week 6 Thursday Night Football matchup featuring the New York Giants at New England Patriots at 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX and NFL Network.
Cash Game Strategy
Tom Brady leads the way in floor, median and ceiling projection in our DraftKings Showdown Models. This is a smash spot for the Patriots against a Giants team that is without Saquon Barkley (ankle), Evan Engram (knee), Sterling Shepard (concussion), and Wayne Gallman (neck), so I would prioritize getting Patriots in over Daniel Jones and Jon Hilliman. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 191.8 passing yards, 0.0 TDs, and 2.2 interceptions against the Pats, faring only slightly better on the ground (10.6 yards, 0.2 TDs).
As such, Patriots DST has been one of the highest-floor plays in fantasy this season:
- Week 1 vs. PIT: 10.0 DK points
- Week 2 at MIA: 37.0 DK points
- Week 3 vs. NYJ: 14.0 DK points
- Week 4 at BUF: 25.0 DK points
- Week 5 vs. WAS: 14.0 DK points
Brady and the Pats defense fit along with Julian Edelman — who has the second-highest median projection on the slate as he goes against exploitable nickel corner Grant Haley — as well as Sony Michel and Mike Nugent if you punt the last spot with Giants’ No. 2 running back Elijhaa Penny.
Over the past year, the Pats D has been negatively correlated with every offensive position at -0.27 or stronger except RB2 (+0.02), making Penny the safest way to fulfill your one-Giant requirement without wasting roster slots. Penny played 24-of-68 snaps last week and is the only other healthy running back on the roster.
On FanDuel, Brady, Edelman, Michel, and Josh Gordon fit along with Golden Tate, giving you the four highest projected Patriots and the highest projected Giants skill player. The two highest yardage totals allowed to opposing wide receivers by New England came by way of JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-78-0 in Week 1) and Cole Beasley (7-75-0 in Week 4), both of whom primarily play in the slot.
This morning on The Action Network on Sirius XM Fantasy Radio, Jason Sobel and I spoke with Giants beat writer Art Stapleton, who told us not be surprised if Penny finishes with more production than Hilliman due to Penny’s familiarity with Shurmur’s system, particularly in pass protection. Penny has played 19 games and 123 offensive snaps for the Giants under Shurmur, catching 9-of-10 passes for 59 yards along with 15 carries for 55 yards.
Core GPP Plays
Note: These are in addition to the players already mentioned in the cash write-up and generally has a focus on pass-catchers. On FanDuel, QBs generally make for the top plays in the 1.5x slot because the half PPR format creates a wider gap in scoring between QB and RB/WR/TE; on DraftKings, a RB/WR/TE who hits the 100-yard bonus is the ideal play.
DST Patriots: Averaging the most DK points (19.4) on the slate after Brady (21.8). Not a typo.
RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Averages 17.6 touches for 91.4 scrimmage yards and 0.86 TDs when the Pats are double-digit favorites compared to 15.8-57.9-0.27 when they’re not. Michel edges White in those spots in PPR points per game, 15.1-14.7, when both players have been active, while White has had a 15.7-7.9 edge over Michel in games which the Pats are -9.5 or less.
WR Julian Edelman, Patriots: Including the postseason, Edelman has posted double-digit DraftKings points in 17-of-20 games since returning from suspension in October of 2018. Janoris Jenkins has come on a bit over the last two weeks, allowing just 3-26-0 receiving after getting torched for 17-282-3 over the first three weeks.
The same is true of rookie DeAndre Baker (13-294-2 in Weeks 1-3, 5-63-1 in Weeks 4-5), so the Patriots figure to prioritize attacking the Edelman vs. Grant Haley matchup in the slot more so than Gordon vs. Jenkins and Baker outside. Haley has allowed an average of 5.0 catches, 67.0 yards, and 0.5 TDs over the past two weeks.
WR Golden Tate, Giants: Tate voiced displeasure after being in on just 67% of the offensive snaps last week. He’ll likely play close to 100% tonight as the team will only dress four healthy receivers. As Tate runs the majority of his routes underneath, he has a decent shot at a high-volume — albeit, likely inefficient — stat line. He also has 43 career carries for 200 yards, so Shurmur may dial up a few looks for him on the ground in an effort to manufacture offense after watching Washington wide receiver Steven Sims race 65 yards for a score against New England last week.
Individual player correlations can be found in the player cards in our NFL Player Models. Team positional correlations can be found in our NFL Correlations Dashboard. All correlation data is from the past 12 months unless otherwise noted.
- White-Gordon +0.50
- Michel-Edelman +0.34
- QB-Opposing QB +0.33
- Michel-Burkhead +0.29
- Burkhead-Gordon +0.27
- DST-Opposing DST +0.23
- Brady-Burkhead +0.20
- Brady-Edelman +0.15
- Edelman-Gordon +0.15
- Brady-Gordon +0.13
- White-Patriots DST +0.13
- White-Burkhead +0.11
- Burkhead-Edelman +0.11
- Brady-White +0.10
- Michel-White +0.09
- Brady-Patriots DST +0.03
- Brady-Michel -0.02
- White-Edelman -0.13
- Michel-Gordon -0.27
- Michel-Patriots DST -0.32
- Edelman-Patriots DST -0.35
- Gordon-Patriots DST -0.41
I mentioned Michel pulls even with White when the Pats are huge favorites, but the data shows both to be positively correlated overall, so pairing them is squarely in play. The Pats DST has been so dominant this season and the offense is in a great spot, there’s no combination I would go out of my way to completely fade.
The closest thing to a fade would be the Michel-Gordon combo, as Gordon will likely need a big play to truly pay off, while Michel needs the Pats to drive down the field little-by-little and get in position for goal-line carries to hit his ceiling.
- QB-TE1 +0.53
- QB-Opposing QB +0.48
- QB-WR2 +0.30
- RB2-Opposing DST +0.14
- DST-Opposing DST 0.00
- RB1-Opposing DST -0.11
- WR1-Opposing DST -0.13
- WR2-TE1 -0.13
- WR2-Opposing DST -0.14
- RB1-RB2 -0.19
- RB1-TE1 -0.23
- QB-WR1 -0.27
- TE1-Opposing DST -0.27
- QB-Opposing DST -0.34
- WR1-WR2 -0.46
It’s hard to take much away from this data after the Giants just made a QB switch three games ago and are also without their workhorse RB, but particularly because the optimal lineup may end up including the minimal one Giants player, one thing to note is the WR1 correlations with Tate now in that role.
Head coach Pat Shurmur has employed high-volume WR1s over his tenure in New York, and those types don’t necessarily need to be stacked with the QB because they can rack up points on low-yardage completions where the QB gets minimal credit.
The positive QB-WR2 and negative WR1-WR2 correlations are also likely to play out in this game, as both Darius Slayton (17.3 average target depth) and Cody Latimer (17.5) figure to see looks much deeper downfield than Tate, whose aDOT was 2.8 in his first game with the team last week). and thus making better stack partners with Jones while Tate is a better standalone play who benefits if Slayton and Latimer are blanketed and Jones is forced to check down.
Players whose production would benefit owners more than expensive or highly-owned players. Kickers and D/STs generally make for strong leverage plays, but those who stand out will be highlighted below.
RB Brandon Bolden, Patriots: Has 8 carries over the last three games, one of which he converted into a 4-yard score. He also has four targets over that span, including a 29-yard TD catch last week. Bolden benefits from the questionable status of Rex Burkhead (foot), who was also questionable heading into Week 4 and ended up logging only 12 snaps and receiving one touch before sitting out altogether in Week 5.
If this stays true to the script that the outlandish 17-point spread implies, Bolden is a candidate to approach the season-high 21 snaps he played in Week 3’s demolition of the Jets. Bolden is also New England’s primary kickoff returner and thus has stack appeal with the DST. Given that he’s probably be relatively low owned, he’s probably the sharpest GPP play on the slate.
RB Elijah Penny, Giants: Penny logged 24 snaps, ran nine routes, handled four carries, and saw one target last week. As mentioned, there’s a decent chance Penny outproduces Hilliman, who has turned 71 snaps and 20 touches over the past two weeks into just 57 scoreless yards to go along with a lost fumble.
K Mike Nugent, Patriots: The Patriots have finished top-eight in kicker scoring every year since 2007 and the Giants have allowed two 13-plus-point games to kickers over their past three.
DST Giants: Opposing DSTs have the same amount of TDs (2) against the Patriots as opposing offenses. This game could feature bad weather and the Giants have nothing to lose by sending heat at Brady, who was sacked four times last week by Washington, so there’s a non-zero chance the DST could end up pacing the team in fantasy production.
Dart Throw Rankings
Ranking the low-cost, complementary players not already discussed in the leverage section by likelihood of having a worthwhile fantasy stat line.
- WR Darius Slayton, Giants: Since being activated in Week 3, the rookie fifth-rounder out of Auburn is averaging 3.0 receptions for 55.7 yards and 0.33 TDs per game despite playing just 51% of the snaps. He played a season-high 65% of snaps last week and could play close to 100% tonight. He has hauled in 75% of his targets at an average depth of 17.3 yards and has commanded a 23% air yard share since being activated, which ranks second on the team, so he is the best bet for big play on New York’s undermanned squad.
- RB Rex Burkhead: Averaged 12.3 touches in Weeks 1-3 but as mentioned, played only 12 snaps and got one touch in Week 4 before sitting Week 5. Burkhead is a true dart throw: He has multi-TD upside if he resumes his usual role but is liable to register a goose egg even if active.
- RB Jon Hilliman, Giants: It’s sad when a team’s RB1 is no more than a dart throw, but such is the state of the Giants in this matchup. As I alluded to earlier, the undrafted first-year back out of Rutgers has been the definition of replacement-level with 57 scores yards on 20 touches. Aside from snaps, the only other reason for optimism is Frank Gore’s 17-109-0 rushing line against the Pats in Week 4.
- WR Jakobi Meyers, Patriots: Dominated in the preseason and takes over the No. 3 wide receiver role from Phillip Dorsett (hamstring, out). The only worry is the Patriots went away from their usual three-wide formations last week with Dorsett leaving after four snaps, employing Matt LaCosse for twice as many routes (44) as Meyers (22).
- TE Matt LaCosse, Patriots: Played a season-high 72 of 77 snaps last week and was a targeted a season-high four times, but hard to know if that trend will continue or if they were just putting him through the ringer to determine if he is a better option than Ben Watson, whom they ultimately decided to part ways with the next day.
- TE Ryan Izzo, Patriots: Ran just eight routes to LaCosse’s 44 last week, but played 43 snaps and ran 15 routes to LaCosse’s 11 snaps and eight routes in Week 4.
- WR Cody Latimer, Giants: Averaging a similar target depth (17.5) to Slayton on the year but has played 59 snaps and drawn one target compared to 79 and seven, respectively, for the rookie.
- TE Rhett Ellison, Giants: The Pats are yet to allow more than three catches to a tight end but Ellison should see starter’s usage with Engram out.
- WR Cody Core, Giants: Will serve as the No. 4 wideout, which could get him on the field for a similar amount of snaps as Week 2, when Core caught -of-3 targets for 28 yards on 11 routes while serving as the No. 5 receiver (T.J. Jones was the WR4 in that game and was targeted four times on 21 routes).
- FB Jakob Johnson, Patriots: Recorded season-highs in snaps (32) and routes run (19) last week and has some James Develin-like vulture appeal.
- WR Gunner Olszweki, Patriots: Handles punt returns for New England and is thus stackable with the DST, but his upside is capped as he is yet to run more than three routes in a game.
- RB Austin Walter, Giants: It’s unclear if he will get added to the slate in time for kickoff, but he was called up from the practice squad earlier today, and it’s worth noting he averaged more yards per carry (3.5) and yards after contact (2.25) than Hilliman during the preseason (3.2, 1.80, respectively, per PFF). If added, his ceiling is around one-third of snaps, making him ideal in large-field GPPs.
- TE Kaden Smith, Giants: If the team hadn’t let go of Paul Perkins to claim Smith off waivers a few weeks ago, they’d be in a better spot at running back right now. Smith could see his first action of the season. The team is obviously intrigued by Smith, a 2019 sixth-round pick of the 49ers who has more pass-catching upside than Garrett Dickerson, so we could see Smith see his first NFL action.
- TE Garrett Dickerson, Giants: Has played 22 career offensive snaps but run only four routes. Moves up to Smith’s spot if Smith is inactive.
- QB Jarrett Stidham, Patriots: With the Pats 17-point favorites, the rookie could get mop-up duty against a defense not much better than the second and third-stringers he shredded back in the preseason.
Pictured: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (11)
Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports