• Thanksgiving is here and that means a three-game slate with some interesting matchups to make some money while we ignore all family obligations. Three-game slates can be a little tricky and require a different mindset than the typical Sunday main slates. Due to this, I will be providing a little different format for this write-up. First I will touch on the differences in strategy to think about on a smaller slate and how we can leverage the field. Then I will do a breakdown of each game and provide the projected chalk and my favorite pivot options. My goal in writing this is to give you a snapshot of the slate as a whole and hopefully guide you to thinking about constructing your rosters in a way that has a high upside for winning, without being duped. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and let’s make some money.

    Feel free to also follow me on Twitter @mlafem10 for additional info and thoughts and feel free to reach out in our Sports Ethos NFL DSF Discord channel with questions.

    Three-Game Slate Considerations:

    • Use late swap to your advantage. This isn’t really a new concept, as late swapping is an advantage to use on typical Sunday slates as well, but it is a little easier to digest on a three-game slate, but still enough people will not take it into consideration. Late swapping is more of an art than a science as each scenario is different based on your standing in the tournament, the field size of the contest you are in, and what your opponents have played/ how much salary they have remaining. A general rule of thumb is to assess where you are after each of the first two games and analyze what you need to do to give yourself the best option to win. If you are ahead of the pack after a somewhat contrarian beginning to the day, I would lean on playing a little chalkier with the rest of my lineup. If you are out of the money and have ground to make up, I would recommend getting pretty spicy with my swaps, as leaving chalky pieces in your lineup will do you no good even min cashing, let alone winning. If the swaps don’t pan out, who cares, you probably weren’t going to cash anyway. If you are heading into the final game with a real opportunity to take a tournament down, take a moment to look at what your opponents within range have used and make a decision about who to play based on whether or not you are chasing them or you have the lead.
    • Correlation is less relevant. Especially in the contest size you select. Normally we are trying to do things like avoid playing any players going against the defense we select or limiting how many pass catchers from the same team without their quarterback. However, with a limited player pool to pick from, it is nearly impossible to implement conventional wisdom from a typical main slate into this condensed version. Don’t be afraid to get weird with your roster construction. This can be leaving more salary on the table than you normally would or perhaps going a complete onslaught and rostering five or so players from the same team (which I think is a pretty viable strategy in small-field contests).
    • Take some shots on some low-owned guys. It is easy to get caught up in trying to fit in all the best plays that are conventional wisdom and before you know it, you have a lineup that looks similar to everyone else. You find yourself in a one-vs-one of a roster spot that is going to swing the amount of money you win when your lineup hits. This is not a green light to come completely off the board and fill your lineup with all pivots, but pick a couple of spots that you think are getting overlooked that STILL have upside and not being different for being different sake. For example, let’s say you are really jazzed up about playing the Cowboys’ passing attack; consider mixing in a guy like Jalen Tolbert who is starting to take work away from Michael Gallup and you are still getting exposure to a piece of an offense that everyone is trying to jam into their lineups. Also take into consideration the contest size you are in, as you need fewer dart throws the smaller the field you are in, because chances are the winning score will not be as high in those contests, and more and more ownership will be condensed on the “top plays” so you can get unique with a guy like Brandin Cooks or Jameson Williams.

     

    GREEN BAY PACKERS @ DETROIT LIONS

    Spread: Detroit -7.5

    Total: 47

    DET Team Total: 27.5

    GB Team Total: 19.5

    The 8-2 Lions look to continue their excellent season facing division rival Green Bay in their second meeting of the season. The Lions got the better of the Packers in Week 4 in Green Bay to the tune of a 34-20 win when David Montgomery rumbled his way to 121 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Green Bay remains a bottom-ten defense against the run in the league, but the biggest dynamic that has changed since Week 4 has been the emergence of rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs has out-snapped Montgomery the past two weeks since Montgomery returned from injury, but both saw an equal opportunity of touches against the Bears last week. Montgomery makes for an interesting leverage option in the first game of the day as the field is heavily leaning towards the upside of Gibbs due to his ability in the passing attack and comparable price tags as Gibbs only costs an additional $500 than his backfield counterpart. The passing attack for the Lions seems to be becoming a more clearer picture of what they want to do. First and foremost, it is Amon-Ra St. Brown who is averaging just about 10 targets per game and has been able to shed the moniker that he is not a touchdown earner, already finding pay dirt five times this season. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta has been clear-cut number two in line for targets this season and comes with a modest $5,200 price tag this week. LaPorta will come with some ownership, but certainly far less than that of the cheaper Jake Ferguson of Dallas, and could make for an interesting way to get involved with the Lions’ passing attack. My favorite contrarian play from this game however is second-year man Jameson Williams who seems to have finally grabbed a hold of the number three wideout job and is nipping at the heels of Josh Reynolds for the number two job. Williams saw a career-high in route participation rate last week and is always live to hit a big play down the field and potentially score. Things may finally be coming together for the former first-rounder from Alabama.

    Chalk: Amon Ra-St. Brown ($8,500), Jahmyr Gibbs ($6,800)

    Pivot Options: David Montgomery ($6,300), Jameson Williams ($3,400)

    On the Packers side of things, we finally saw some life from this passing attack last week with even Christian Watson being able to find the end zone. Albeit it was against the passing funnel that is the Chargers’ defense, however, the Lions are not exactly shutting down opposing offenses. First-year starter Jordan Love is the cheapest quarterback on the slate at $5,500 and can very inexpensively be paired with any receiving option you want while still being able to roster the rest of the studs on this slate. There are some injuries to monitor on the Packers offense as well. It seems as though both starting running back Aaron Jones and rookie tight end Luke Musgrave are trending toward being ruled out. This will leave us with a $5,400 A.J. Dillon who will seemingly have a huge role and get all the volume he can handle. The downside however is that he is A.J. Dillon so he is wildly inefficient with his touches and draws a matchup of the Lions who are top five in the league in fantasy points against to running back position. It is a spot I am largely looking to avoid given the probable negative game script the Packers are likely to face. At tight end, Tucker Kraft projects to be the starter and is the minimum of $2,500. I would only include him if you do decide to go the Jordan Love stack route, as there is enough value at the position that he really doesn’t make sense as a one-off in lineups. Rookie receiver Jayden Reed has my attention as someone who could see a bump in usage with fellow rookie wideout Dontayvlon Wicks likely out as well. This cements Reed as the number three wideout and as we saw last week, could be in the lineup for a couple of carries as well, given the state of the running back room for the Packers this week.

    Chalk: Christian Watson ($4,300), Jayden Reed ($4,200)

    Pivot Options: Jordan Love ($5,500), Romeo Doubs ($5,000)

     

    WASHINGTON COMMANDERS @ DALLAS COWBOYS

    Spread: Dallas -12

    Total: 49

    DAL Team Total: 30.5

    WAS Team Total: 17.5

    The Cowboys are going to be the most targeted team to attack and with lots of good reason. They carry the insane team total of 30.5 and are playing at home against a defense in Washington that just got roasted by Tommy DeVito. The Cowboys have been on fire recently and have traditionally done so against poor teams, which Washington certainly qualifies as. While last week was a little muted with just 16 DraftKings points, Dak Prescott previously had three consecutive games with at least 30 DraftKings points and will rival Christian McCaffrey as the highest-owned player on the slate with a very affordable $6,800 price tag. Coinciding with Dak’s torrid run as of late has been CeeDee Lamb, who also saw a dip on the road last week in Carolina, but previously saw two slate-winning upside performances of over 40 DraftKings points and another week with 32. The Cowboys have made a shift in offensive philosophy coming out of their Week 7 bye to throw the football and doing so efficiently as Prescott is near the top of the league in EPA/play. Another boon in Dallas’ favor is how much Washington has struggled facing the play-action where they are bottom five defending and Prescott and company run play-action at the sixth highest rate in the league. Running back Tony Pollard was able to finally find the end zone last week ending one of the longest national nightmares going for his fantasy owners. However, the workload was still a bit on the lighter side only obtaining 12 carries, but did manage four receptions on five targets, tied for the most he has seen since Week 6. Obviously, the recipe for Pollard is being able to get in the end zone when Dallas gets near the goal line, but given how explosive the Cowboy’s receivers are and Washington allowing the most 20-plus yard passes this season, I fear there may be too many big plays for Pollard to justify his ownership. Brandin Cooks is also really interesting given his ability to stretch the field on said long pass plays.

    Chalk: Dak Prescott ($6,800), CeeDee Lamb ($8,700), Tony Pollard ($6,700), Jake Ferguson ($3,900), Dallas Defense ($3,800)

    Pivot Options: Brandin Cooks ($4,500), Jalen Tolbert ($3,100)

    It has gotten a little better as of late, but Sam Howell could find himself on the ground a lot in this contest. Howell still easily leads the league in sacks taken at 51 and going against what is arguably the best pass rush in the league, it could be a long day for Howell in company. With Eric Bieniemy calling plays like he is still in Kansas City, Howell has dropped back to pass over 40 times in seven of his last eight games and has parlayed that into pretty consistent fantasy production. The problem when it comes to trying to stack Howell is we still cannot get a grip on where the ball is going on a week-to-week basis, as Washington is consistently getting seven or eight pass catchers involved. Tight end Logan Thomas and stud wide receiver Terry McLaurin are the best bets to see the most targets in a game where I fully expect Washington to throw the hell out of the ball once again, but again, we have also seen Johan Dotson and Curtis Samuel be viable options as well. Running back Brian Robinson seems like he will have the backfield to himself again this week with Antonio Gibson trending toward a “game-time decision”. I’m not sure how efficient Robinson will be able to be on the ground, especially if the game gets away from Washington, but to his credit, he has stepped up in Gibson’s absence caught 13 balls, and earned 15 targets over the past two weeks. If that is able to be maintained at all, Robinson could have some pivot appeal, but counting on somewhat fluky numbers to continue for a guy who has not done that so far in his career can be a little thin. Washington’s defense is an absolute no-go in this one.

    Chalk: Logan Thomas (kind of- $3,500)

    Pivot Options: Brian Robinson ($5,900), Terry McLaurin ($5,400)

     

    san francisco 49ers @ seattle seahawks

    Spread: San Francisco -7

    Total: 44

    SF Team Total: 26.5

    SEA Team Total: 17.5

    The nightcap sees another potent offense with a big spread in a divisional matchup, only this time on the road as the 49ers head to Seattle. San Francisco has seemingly righted the ship after a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season (largely due to key injuries). Health is not a concern for the 49ers this week, and when they are fully healthy we have seen them run like a well-oiled machine. A little similar to Washington, it can be a little unclear about who is going to have the monster game out of all of these weapons, but it is much more condensed here. Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle are all great options this week, with Kittle being my least favorite of the bunch due to his expensive price tag relative to others at his position (although he has put over over 20 DraftKings points in three straight). Brock Purdy is probably my second favorite quarterback play on the slate behind Dak Prescott and will come with half (if not more) the ownership. Seattle’s pass defense is pretty middling and Purdy continues to be one of the most efficient signal caller’s in the league. Purdy has topped 300 passing yards in two of his last three with the other game coming in at 296 yards. Obviously, Christian McCaffrey is a great play as he is every week and you could argue he is the most mispriced player in the field this week coming in at only $8,700. He has the best role in the entire NFL and continues to smash and now he gets an opportunity to face a Seahawks squad that gives up nearly 25 DraftKings points per game to opposing running backs. Other than McCaffrey, I don’t see a lot of ownership coming to this San Francisco offense because you can’t play everyone. Even though they are on the road and outdoors, I believe they possess just as much upside on offense as the other two favorites and could be used as great late swap options or leverage plays in tournaments. I also have a ton of interest in their DST coming in cheaper than Dallas and facing a potentially injured Geno Smith who has not looked like the Geno Smith of last year and maybe even a Drew Lock appearance at some point.

    Chalk: Christian McCaffrey ($8,700)

    Pivot Options: San Francisco DST ($3,600), Brandon Aiyuk ($7,000)

    Speaking of Geno Smith, it has been a rough go over it in the 2023 season from a fantasy perspective, having only scored over 20 DraftKings points once this season when he got to pepper the Washington Commanders’ pathetic defense. In turn that has made DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett pretty up and down in terms of their fantasy production, and that was before an increased target share for rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba. JSN is the only one of the bunch resembling any type of ownership due to his price tag, but I am really not interested much in this passing attack at all, especially given Geno’s injury concerns. I do have interest in rookie running back Zach Charbonnet who will be filling in for the injured Kenneth Walker. Yes, the matchup is pretty gross, but his price of only $5,300 gives him an opportunity to far outproduce given his expected role within the offense. He saw elite passing game work and elite usage once Walker went down pretty early in their loss to the Rams last week catching six of six targets and racking up 15 carries. Again, if we can get similar usage out of Charbonnet this week (especially in the passing game), he would be my Seahawk of choice to play tomorrow.

    Chalk: Zach Charbonnet ($5,300), Jaxon Smith-Njigba ($4,100)

    Pivot Options: DK Metcalf ($6,500), Tyler Lockett ($6,000)

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