NFL DFS expert Chris Raybon breaks down the trio of Thanksgiving Day matchups with his cash game and GPP plays for each. He also reveals his betting picks then outlines his DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
Bears at Lions
After playing 85% of Chicago’s offensive snaps in his first game back in Week 9, David Montgomery logged a 95% snap rate last week. He is one of the top plays on the board on this slate against a Lions defense that is ranked 29th in DVOA against the run. Rookie Khalil Herbert has been relegated to a non-factor.
If you’re going to play a QB in the “disgusting” tier — Andy Dalton, Trevor Siemian, Jared Goff/Tim Boyle — my vote would be for Dalton. The Lions defense rates as a bottom-five unit against the pass and is 31st in DVOA on passes more than 15 yards downfield. Despite missing Allen Robinson (doubtful-hamstring), Dalton should still have opportunities to hit Darnell Mooney and Marquise Goodwin for big plays. I’m playing Mooney in cash games on FanDuel at $6,800.
The Lions defense is bad across the board, and against TEs is no exception. They rank 20th in DVOA against the position, which puts Cole Kmet into play on the small slate. Kmet has run a route on 73% of Bears’ dropbacks this season.
With all of that being said, this is still Andy Dalton we’re talking about, so I have no issue punting DST with the Lions in cash games as a short home dog in the slate’s lowest totaled game.
The top play on the Lions — the only other cash-viable play — is D’Andre Swift. The second-year pro has back-to-back 130-plus-yard rushing games and is averaging 19.0 touches for 97.5 yards per game on the season. The Bears are ranked 22nd in run-defense DVOA and 14th on passes to RBs.
The Bears play man coverage at the fifth-highest rate in the league, and the only Lions with double-digit targets versus man coverage this season are Swift (10), Amon-Ra St. Brown (15) and T.J. Hockenson (15). Those are the only members of the Lions passing game I’m touching. Josh Reynolds ran a route on 96% of the Lions’ dropbacks last week and came up catchless, while Kalif Raymond has more success against zone-heavy teams.
This is obviously a spot to fire up the Bears DST.
- Cash Plays: RB D’Andre Swift, RB David Montgomery, WR Darnell Mooney, DST Lions
- GPP Plays: QB Andy Dalton, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR Marquise Goodwin, TE T.J. Hockenson, TE Cole Kmet, DST Bears
If this game doesn’t scream “under,” I don’t know what would.
It’s the second divisional meeting between these two. Both are starting backup-caliber quarterbacks. Both are ranked 25th or lower in situation-neutral pace. And both teams are 7-3 toward the under this season.
It’s also worth noting that when the total is between 38 and 45.5 points, Bears unders are 26-15 with Matt Nagy.
Pick: Under 42 (to 41)
Raiders at Cowboys
With Amari Cooper (COVID-19) out and CeeDee Lamb (questionable-concussion) leaving early early, Michael Gallup ran a route on 96% of Dak Prescott’s dropbacks last week versus Kansas City. With Cooper ruled out, Gallup is a locked-in cash-game play even if Lamb clears protocols on the quick turnaround.
Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown each ran a route on 65% of Prescott’s dropbacks last week, but Wilson was the clear-cut No. 3 option prior. Given the small slate, he’s a cash-game punt play who would have huge upside if Lamb sits. If Lamb sits, it brings Brown into play as well. Prescott is the QB2 on this slate behind Josh Allen.
Since Blake Jarwin went down, Dalton Schultz has run a route on 114 of Prescott’s 128 dropbacks (89%) — elite usage that rivals Darren Waller’s season-long mark (90%) and bests that of Travis Kelce (85%). Schultz is in a tier below Waller, but a tier above T.J. Hockenson and Dawson Knox on this slate.
The Raiders are a solid 15th in run-defense DVOA but have struggled to contain backs in the passing game, ranking 24th. Ezekiel Elliott was removed from the injury report but has barely out-touched Tony Pollard over the past two weeks, logging 32 touches to Pollard’s 26. Both are in play in GPPs, but Pollard is the better value.
Josh Jacobs is cash-viable against a Cowboys defense that sets up as a run funnel, ranking third in DVOA against the pass but 19th against the run. His pass game usage is also encouragingly ticking up — under interim coach Rich Bissacia, Jacobs’ targets have increased every week, going 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7. That said, I’d expect him to do most of his damage on the ground, as the Cowboys are ranked third in DVOA on passes to RBs.
I’m playing Jacobs in cash if Mark Ingram (knee) is ruled out for the Saints. Given that the Cowboys are strong against Rbs in the passing game, I’m fading Kenyan Drake in this spot.
Hunter Renfrow averages 2.04 yards per route versus zone but only 1.36 against man, so he is more of a high-floor, cash-game play than a high-upside GPP play.
Darren Waller is a high-upside GPP play against a Cowboys defense that is ranked 23rd in DVOA against TEs. Waller is averaging at least 2 yards per route versus both man (2.25) and zone (2.00).
Bryan Edwards has goose-egged twice in the last three games, but this is a good buy-low spot. The Cowboys play the eighth-most man coverage, and while Edwards is averaging just 0.79 yards per route run against zone, he’s way up at 2.67 against man.
Last week, Zay Jones ran 23 routes — most among Raiders WRs — while DeSean Jackson ran 10. Jones is the preferred GPP play of the two.
Derek Carr is my projected QB3 on this slate, but he is 4-5 points behind Allen and Prescott, which puts Carr into play in GPPs by default. I still like the Cowboys DST, though, as they’ve forced the fifth-most turnovers in the NFL (19) through 11 weeks.
- Cash Plays: RB Josh Jacobs, WR Hunter Renfrow, WR Michael Gallup, WR Cedrick Wilson, TE Dalton Schultz, DST Raiders
- GPP Plays: QB Dak Prescott, QB Derek Carr, RB Ezekiel Elliott, RB Tony Pollard, WR Bryan Edwards, WR Zay Jones, WR Noah Brown (if Lamb sits), TE Darren Waller, DST Cowboys
When the casual fan thinks Cowboys-Raiders, they probably envision a potential shootout, but this is a sneaky under spot.
Both defenses are above-average in generating pressure, with Dallas ranking 11th (26.1%) and Las Vegas ranking 12th (26.0%) in pressure rates. Both will be without a top receiving weapon they had earlier in the year: Amari Cooper (COVID-19) for Dallas and Henry Ruggs (released) for Vegas. And both are on a short week after scoring fewer than 14 points on offense a week ago.
The Cowboys been impressive on defense (fourth in DVOA), so even if the Raiders can’t slow down the Cowboys offense, it’s unlikely the Raiders offense will hold up its end of the bargain as far as the total — the highest of any game in Week 12, save for Bucs-Colts (52.5 points).
Pick: Under 51.5 (to 49.5)
Bills at Saints
On what has the makings of an ugly slate, Josh Allen is the top projected QB on the board against a Saints defense that has slipped to 14th in DVOA against the pass. The Saints are 12th in DVOA versus WR1s, 14th versus WR2s and 32nd against non-WR1/2s, but fifth against TEs, so this is a spot to target Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley and even Gabriel Davis while fading Dawson Knox.
The Bills’ backfield would normally be a fade against the top run defense by DVOA, but on a small slate, it can’t totally be ignored. Last week, Devin Singletary logged 38% of the offensive snaps, while Matt Breida saw 32%, and Zack Moss saw 29%. The play here is Breida, who is trending upward and looks like the team’s most dynamic option. Head coach Sean McDermott talked up Breida this week, and the reason why he’s been active the last two weeks is to revive the team’s struggling ground attack.
Mark Ingram (questionable-knee) is averaging 15.5 carries and 7.5 targets in two starts in place of Alvin Kamara (questionable-knee), who is unlikely to go. If Ingram plays, he can be fired up in cash games against a run-funnel Bills defense that ranks first in DVOA against the pass but 12th against the run. If Ingram is ruled out, Tony Jones Jr. would likely become the lead back and would become one of the top GPP plays on the board. This game is in New Orleans and the Bills have been inconsistent on offense, so the Saints DST is in play in stacks with whomever starts at RB.
Trevor Siemian is in for a brutal matchup against a pissed-off Bills defense ranked first in both pass defense DVOA and pressure rate (30.5%). Although Siemian has thrown multiple touchdown passes in each of his three starts, this could be the spot where the wheels fall off. I’m fading Siemian and firing up the Bills DST instead. Taysom Hill is averaging 10.0 routes, 2.0 carries and 2.0 pass attempts in Siemian’s last two starts. As Hill could relieve Siemian if he struggles, he is the better GPP option of the two.
Tre’Quan Smith has overtaken Marquez Callaway as the Saints’ No. 1 WR, with Deonte Harris playing roughly 50% of the snaps. All three are in for a tough matchup against a Bills defense ranked top-five in DVOA against WR1s, WR2 and non-WR1/2s. However, Buffalo plays man coverage at the 10th-highest clip, which could give opportunities to Smith and Callaway. Smith has two scores on 11 targets versus man, while Callaway leads the Saints with four TDs against man on 19 targets.
New Orleans’ starting TE, Adam Trautman (knee), will miss time, which makes Juwan Johnson an interesting dart throw … if he’s active. Johnson leads all Saints TEs with 1.60 yards per route versus man. Trautman averaged 0.05, while Garrett Griffin (0.40) and Nick Vannett (0.00) have been similarly invisible.
- Cash Plays: QB Josh Allen, RB Mark Ingram
- GPP Plays: QB Taysom Hill, RB Matt Breida, RB Tony Jones Jr. (if Ingram sits), WR Stefon Diggs, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Cole Beasley, WR Marquez Callaway, WR Tre’Quan Smith, WR Gabriel Davis, TE Juwan Johnson, DST Buffalo Bills, DST Saints
This is yet another under play for me.
On paper, this game features two average offenses — Buffalo is 14th in DVOA, New Orleans is 15th — and two elite defenses, with Buffalo clocking in first and New Orleans in sixth. Both of these teams can stop the run, which should lead to a lot of second- and third-and-longs.
The better offense has to go into a rawkus environment on the road, and both teams should give their best effort on defense as both are desperate for a win.
Pick: Under 45.5 (to 45)
DFS Cash Lineups
- QB Josh Allen $7,800 at NO
- RB D’Andre Swift $7,300 vs. CHI
- RB David Montgomery $6,000 at DET
- WR Michael Gallup $5,900 vs. LV
- WR Hunter Renfrow $5,600 at DAL
- WR Cedrick Wilson $3,500 vs. LV
- TE Dalton Schultz $5,300 vs. LV
- FLEX Mark Ingram $6,200 vs. BUF/Josh Jacobs $5,900 at DAL
- DST Detroit Lions $2,400 vs. CHI
- QB Josh Allen $8,800 at NO
- RB D’Andre Swift $8,000 vs. CHI
- RB David Montgomery $7,500 at DET
- WR Darnell Mooney $6,800 at DET
- WR Michael Gallup $6,500 vs. LV
- WR Hunter Renfrow $6,200 at DAL
- TE Dalton Schultz $6,000 vs. LV
- FLEX Mark Ingram $6,600 vs. BUF/Josh Jacobs $6,700 at DAL
- DST Las Vegas Raiders $3,500 at DAL