Happy Thanksgiving! Thursday’s slate wraps up with a matchup between the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings at 8:20 p.m. ET. The Vikings are listed as 2.5-point home favorites, while the total sits at 42.5.
In this article, I’ll be using various FantasyLabs tools and other industry metrics to break down the slate.
Finally, make sure to check out all the projections available for purchase within the FantasyLabs Models. Subscribers now have the option to purchase Derek Carty’s THE BLITZ from our Marketplace. Projections from One Week Season and Establish the Run are available if you’re a subscriber to those specific sites (our optimizer is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
NFL DFS Stud Picks
Both of these teams will be looking to rebound after dismal showings in Week 11. The Patriots scored just 10 points – seven of which came on a punt return – while the Vikings managed just three vs. the Cowboys. Still, both teams are currently in playoff positions, and they’ve had excellent seasons.
The Vikings’ offense is built around alpha wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The third-year player has blossomed into one of the best players in the league, and he’s averaging a career-best 7.2 receptions and 109.3 yards per game. Those numbers would be even higher if not for a three-catch, 33-yard performance last week.
Jefferson leads the team with a 28.4% target market share, which is the ninth-highest mark in the league. That doesn’t exactly jump off the page, but he makes up for it with air yards. He’s racked up 40.8% of the Vikings’ air yards, and he’s one of the most explosive downfield receivers in all of football.
Unfortunately, Jefferson is moving from one brutal matchup right into another. The Patriots are the only team that actually rank better than the Cowboys in terms of Football Outsiders defensive DVOA. Both teams have excellent pass rushes – the Cowboys rank first in adjusted sack rate, the Patriots rank second – but the Patriots’ secondary is clearly better.
Not only are they first in the league in pass defense DVOA, but they’re also first against No. 1 receivers. Bill Belichick has also developed a reputation for “taking away” his opponent’s top option on offense, so this could be Jefferson’s toughest matchup of the year.
Still, Jefferson is an elite talent, and it’s tough to pass those up in the single-game format. He ranks first in THE BLITZ in median and ceiling projection.
Jefferson will be catching passes from Kirk Cousins, who was sacked a career-high seven times last week. Things aren’t going to get any easier for him against the Patriots, especially with stud offensive lineman Christian Darrisaw sidelined. The Patriots have been making opposing quarterbacks look silly all season, and they’ve posted an average Plus/Minus of -1.17 in that matchup (per the Trends tool).
Cousins will also have to battle an old nemesis in this spot: the dreaded 8:20 p.m. ET start. Cousins has historically averaged 20.59 DraftKings points in 1 p.m. ET games, but that figure drops to 18.37 in primetime games. In his only other primetime game this season, Cousins stumbled to just 11.84 DraftKings points vs. the Eagles.
Ultimately, it’s hard to get excited about Cousins in this matchup. Quarterbacks are always going to have value on showdown slates – especially capable fantasy QBs like Cousins – but this is not the type of situation where he’s historically thrived.