Thanksgiving – DFS Recap

Thanksgiving – DFS Recap

We had a smorgasbord of games on Thanksgiving to enjoy, unfortunately only one of them was remotely competitive. On a short slate, usually one play can outscore the rest. This week that was the Philip Rivers to Keenan Allen stack. Congratulations to those of you who played it! I did have the two of them in my best of the rest section in my preview article; unfortunately, I didn’t play enough of this combination (sad trombone).

Here’s a look at how the plays I had worked out this Thursday, and what we can learn from them.


Stud – Kirk Cousins (vs. NY Giants) –  19/31, 242 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT | 3 carries, 4 yards
Value – Case Keenum (@ Detroit) – 21/30, 282 yards, 2 TD | 7 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD

Cousins ran cold the entire first half, going 8 for 13 on his attempts and only throwing for 66 yards in a 3-3 game. Obviously, the 11 for 18, 176 yards and 2 touchdowns helped him get a decent amount of points, but nowhere near enough to justify his high price tag. This is two weeks in a row we’ve seen a quarterback struggle against this Giants pass defense despite an easy matchup on paper, so this will be something to monitor moving forward.

Keenum had a really strong day, particularly with a rushing touchdown on top of his efficient passing performance. He took advantage of a Lions defense allowing 257 passing yards a game, eclipsing the mark by 25 yards. Unfortunately, his 30 attempts in this game were significantly less than the 34.7 passing attempts these Lions allow this season; given that Keenum was averaging 9.4 yards per attempt in this one, he was bound to eclipse that important 300 yard mark if the game script called for it. Given his low price, Keenum was well worth the investment in daily fantasy contests on Thanksgiving.

Running back

Melvin Gordon (@ Dallas) – 21 carries, 65 yards | 3 catches, 23 yards on 3 targets
Orleans Darkwa (@ Washington) – 11 carries, 30 yards | 1 catch, 9 yards on 1 target

Both running back picks had a bad day for me, but largely due to how usage played out for both of these players.

Gordon’s 3.1 yards per carry average underperformed his season-long average of 3.8 by 18%, which is disappointing because his season long average is mediocre enough as it is. Dallas allows 25 rushing attempts to their opponents on average, so given that Los Angeles ran 28 times (excluding Rivers’ attempts and kneel downs), team usage exceeded expectation. Unfortunately, Gordon only received 75% of the workload as Anthony Lynn called Austin Ekeler’s number a few more times than I expected on Thursday. Gordon’s inability to get into the end zone significantly limited his upside here, especially as the highest priced tailback on the slate.

Darkwa played 33% of the snaps on Thursday, his lowest snap share in the Giants’ backfield since Week 5. Wayne Gallman got most of the work, albeit neither of them did much with their opportunities. Darkwa’s efficiency took a major hit here as well, as his season-long 4.8 yards per carry dropped to 2.7 in this matchup. Ugh. This game was bad all around for the Giants, though. Washington’s opponents were averaging 66.5 offensive snaps a game, but Eli and company only managed 55 on Thanksgiving. Given that as a team they still only rushed 2 times less than opponents on average (24 vs. 26), I’m going to continue to expect running backs to have a high chance at delivering good games against Washington moving forward.

Wide Receiver

Adam Thielen (@ Detroit) – 8 receptions, 89 yards on 11 targets
Jamison Crowder (vs. NY Giants) – 7 receptions, 141 yards, 1 TD on 10 targets

Thielen’s 36.7% target share significantly over performed his 28% share year-to-date. Thanksgiving marked the fifth week in a row he’s received 10+ targets from Case Keenum, so as long as Keenum is under center, I feel very good about Adam Thielen’s floor rest of season.

Jamison Crowder was Washington’s MVP on Thursday night, and his workload increased as we expected given the injuries to Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, and Chris Thompson. What was unexpected, however, was the significant absence of a role for another player I’ll get to in a minute. Crowder’s emergence as a favorite target of Cousins’ is illustrated by looking at his volume in the last four weeks: 42 of his season long 72 targets have come in that time frame.

Tight End

Vernon Davis (vs. NY Giants) – 0 receptions, 0 yards on 1 target
Kyle Rudolph (@ Detroit) – 4 receptions, 63 yards, 2 TD on 4 targets

This was a total surprise to me, as the Giants (as we’ve well documented) have been the worst against tight ends throughout the entirety of the 2017 season. Davis was on the field for 65 out of 71 snaps or 92%. Usually at that workload, we should expect some more attention for a receiving threat. So what happened? According to the guys over at Pro Football Focus, Davis was blocking on only 30 of the snaps he played – there was plenty of opportunity for him to make something happen on his routes, it just wasn’t his day.

It was Rudolph’s day, however, as he hauled in both of Case Keenum’s touchdown passes on the day. Detroit came into the day ranked 29th against the tight end position, and given the Giants’ shut down Davis, the Lions are bound to move down in those rankings for next week’s slate. With Detroit heading to Baltimore next Sunday, Benjamin Watson may be in play as a value pick at the position. Kyle Rudolph’s schedule remains favorable as well, as next week in Atlanta he faces the league’s 21st ranked defense against the position.