Collin Hulbert is back with with another round of picks for you to use as you put together your picks for Thanksgiving week, Week 12.
Week 11 is over. The funny part is, I barely recall what happened over the weekend, because the Monday night game between the Chiefs and the Rams has taken most of the real estate in my short-term memory. The game of course finished 54-51 and it was everything we could’ve hoped for in a football game. How did this affect our weekend? It skewed so much of the DFS landscape, I’m not even sure how to grade last week’s picks.
Last week, I told you all to save your chips for Monday night’s game in LA. There’s a good reason I wrote it, and Vegas was the key. The 63-point line was the highest line in a game since the Reagan administration, and the prop lines were equally as outrageous. It had all the indicators for a shootout and it certainly was one for the ages.
As for our picks last week, we had one of those battleship weeks where most the picks were either a “hit” or a “miss”. Much of that can be attributed to two games. The first cause for the volatility was the absurd Rams-Chiefs game, giving us some stats way off the charts. The second game was the Saints-Eagles game, which had a lot of promise, but ultimately looked like a massive letdown for the Carson Wentz truthers, myself included.
What was that about anyway? Wentz had posted 20-plus fantasy points in each of his previous six contests leading up to this game. He was the staple of quarterback consistency, and yet, he fell flat on his face in a game against one of the worst passing defenses in football. As a result, the fallout was felt from those of you who started Ertz or Jeffrey in any lineup. Had you stacked them all, there was a less than 2% chance for you to have cashed in a double-up style of game format. That one game aside, we had some great picks.
Goff stole the show with 35 points, while Manning (17) was stellar, despite light usage. Aaron Jones did it again with 25 points — at another discount price — to lead our running backs picks. Melvin Gordon (19) and David Johnson (15) were good for their value, but not great. Tyreke Hill (38) and Kenny Golladay (21) came up huge, as both thoroughly outplayed their price. At tight end, Travis Kelce’s 24-point performance was the only worthy note. The Texans Defense (15) came up big against the Skins, and Vance McDonald (10) proved to be the one smart flex pick of the week for us, especially when factoring his very low price and position.
A look ahead to Week 12
Thanksgiving is upon us! Pay attention to the start times and days for this weekend. This is typically the week people screw up their entries due to the odd scheduling.
The bad news this week is that both the Rams and Chiefs will be on bye. The good news is that you’ll probably be having an eventful weekend to distract you from this little detail.
This week’s emphasis is at the running back position. There are a number of challenging matchups for receivers this week which could really rope a lot of people into a bad situation. Avoid most of the big names this week. There are so many solid matchups at running back. Following the formula, we are targeting the player matchups and the potential shootouts this week.
Good luck in Week 12.
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Drew Brees (DK-$6,700/FD-$9,000)
The MVP race is a heated one involving Drew Brees and Pat Mahomes. The big difference is the turnovers and efficiency. Brees is sitting at a 25:1 touchdown to turnover ratio while Mahomes has a 37:12 ratio. There’s no Pat Mahomes this week to make this a difficult decision. This week, Brees will host the Falcons, the same team Brees scored 42 on earlier this season. The Falcons have been terrible defensively (30th vs quarterbacks). There’s not much to think about with this one. Pay up if you want to come out big. Brees should be worth it this week as the 60-point over/under means a shootout is very likely.
Russell Wilson (DK-$5,600/FD-$7,700)
This is the type of matchup Russell Wilson should be able to capitalize on. The Panthers have a top-10 rushing defense and a bottom-12 passing defense, so the Seahawks will likely be leaning a little heavier on the pass this week than normal. The Seahawks also struggle on defense against the run, so the odds of this game script being positive for Seattle aren’t great. The amazing gambling fact for Wilson this week is his touchdown line. Typically, the standard average for a quarterback is two touchdowns at 2:1 odds. Wilson is a favorite at (-120) to throw three touchdowns this week and his odds of throwing at least two touchdowns are a whopping 9:1 or (-900). Wilson is going for a measly $5,600 on DraftKings. The outlook is bright for Wilson in Carolina.
Baker Mayfield (DK-$5,500/FD-$7,500)
Baker Mayfield is facing the 31st ranked passing defense this week, the Bengals. I know the addition of Hue Jackson to the coaching staff in Cincy might scare off some who think Hue might be able to help the Bengals exploit Baker’s weaknesses. Fear not, because there’s a much better chance Baker is licking his chops at the chance to further embarrass his recently departed coach. Expect a lot of rushing success from the Browns to translate into clear passing lanes for Baker. As long as the Browns receivers can catch the balls being thrown to them — 8th in drops — Mayfield should be in for a fine game.
Lamar Jackson (DK-$5,700/FD-$7,400)
The Bengals were a bad team to gauge the potency and success of Lamar Jackson’s first start as a quarterback in the NFL. As the 32nd ranked rushing defense, this was the perfect team for Jackson and his unique style to attack. 27 rushing attempts turned into a 117-yard rushing day for Jackson. Jackson added another 150 yards passing but failed to get into the end-zone on either front. The good news is that he plays a very mediocre pass defense this week with Oakland, but even better news is the Raiders rank 31st in rushing defense. There will be offensive success in this game for Baltimore. The question is how it happens. Lucky for Jackson, he will likely be in for more rushing and passing attempts than anyone else in the league this week. The opportunity and matchup is there, Jackson now must make the most of it.
Melvin Gordon (DK-$8,600/FD-$8,900)
Melvin Gordon has been streaking as one of my running back picks for a few weeks now. Last week, without scoring a touchdown, he still managed 19 points. He has been an absolute rock this season, as one of the most consistent fantasy performers in a season laden with offensive volatility. This week’s matchup is a juicy one against the Cardinals 29th ranked rush defense. Gordon also has the second-highest odds, according to most Vegas oddsmakers, to score a rushing touchdown (-220). Gordon is a prime candidate for a roster spot if you’re going in a double-up format, due to his consistency.
James Conner (DK-$7,800/FD-$7,900)
James Conner had a rough week last week. He had a critical drop and only 8 fantasy points last week against Jacksonville. Looking ahead, Conner faces the 27th ranked Broncos rush defense this week. Although the Broncos have been much better lately, the threat of Conner as a receiver makes this matchup safer for fantasy purposes. Last week, Melvin Gordon nearly eclipsed 100 yards receiving against the Broncos, so it appears their struggles against the running backs might have just been redirected. Conner is another high floor play this week.
Nick Chubb (DK-$6,300/FD-$7,500)
Nick Chubb’s Vegas line is 110 yards rushing. That’s high, even for the likes of Todd Gurley. With the struggling Bengals and their 32nd ranked rush defense waiting, Chubb is a very undervalued player this weekend. The Bengals have been absolutely awful against running backs this season and Chubb had a tendency to turn 12 yard runs into 50-plus yard runs. I’m starting him in all lineups this week.
Michael Thomas (DK-$8,900/FD-$8,800)
The last time Thomas faced Atlanta, he went for 10 catches and 129 yards. There’s little reason, other than a possible phasing out via blowout, that Thomas won’t be featured heavily again this time around. The Saints have been taking their foot off the gas very seldomly this season, so Thomas should have plenty of time to rack up another sizeable workload this week. He’s one of the few slam-dunks at the position this week.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (DK-$7,500/FD-$7,200)
It took almost the entire game for JuJu to get going last week, but he still managed to hit the century mark by the end of the game in Jacksonville. This week, the Steelers will travel to Mile-High to face the Broncos and a mediocre secondary. Last week, the Broncos focused much of their attention on slowing down Melvin Gordon, and left plenty of passing lances for Philip Rivers to pick them apart. Since it sort-of worked, I expect much of the same this week against the very similarly constructed Steelers offense. This team is too balanced to be hindered for an entire game. I see Smith-Schuster having another big week this week. JuJu’s yardage line is 90 in this game and he is a slight favorite (-105) to get into the end-zone here. For a receiver, you won’t get much of a better line.
Tyler Lockett (DK-$5,200/FD-$6,300)
Lockett has better than even odds to get into the end-zone this week (-115), but his yardage line isn’t the best (55). As I noted earlier, Russell Wilson is strangely propped this week as a favorite to throw three touchdowns and no one has more in this offense this season than Lockett (7). This isn’t the highest ceiling pick for the week, but you should feel really good about the odds for him to find the end-zone, especially given his $6,300 price tag on FanDuel.
George Kittle (DK-$6,200/FD-$7,500)
Kittle has been a top-four tight end all season. This week, he will be coming off a bye and facing the Bucs, who rank 30th against opposing tight ends this year. If the last few games have been any indication, things are trending in the right direction for any passing attack facing the Bucs. Actually, that’s not true. Their passing defense has been putrid all season. The really cool news is that the line for the game itself is 55 points, so we will be in for so much more offense than we deserve with two sub-par teams. I can’t wait to watch this otherwise meaningless game and cheer on these offenses. In a tight end landscape of uncertainty, Kittle is the best bet this week.
Jack Doyle (DK-$4,100/FD-$5,500)
I was expecting more from Doyle last week, despite the stellar ranking against tight ends from the Titans defense. Unfortunately, the Colts re-kindled their love affair with TY Hilton and Doyle was left with only 43 yards. Perhaps even more interesting was the fact Eric Ebron was held scoreless, so that’s nice for Doyle owners moving forward. With a 51 point over/under this week against Miami and their sour rushing defense, Doyle should get the great majority of snaps and likely get the lion’s share of safety targets from Andrew Luck. I think a big week for Doyle is on the horizon and this matchup is showing a lot of promise towards that.
Evan Engram (DK-$4,200/FD-$5,800)
Engram wasn’t bad last week. He just wasn’t very busy. As we know, Engram is among the elite tight ends in terms of athleticism. He’s also reacclimating into an offense heavily focused on Odell Beckham and Saquan Barkley. With the Eagles’ struggles as of late, Engram is on the cusp of a breakout game. Elite athletes at the tight end position only need one defensive mismatch to turn it into a big play. The Eagles are ranked 3rd against opposing tight ends, but their only two scores surrendered to tight ends were OJ Howard and Greg Olsen, who are easily two of the three most athletic tight ends they’ve faced this season. With how often Engram lines up outside, he might be a sneaky-good start this week. For the price, it’s going to be hard to find a suitable alternative.
Cowboys D (DK-N/A/FD-$4,800)
The Cowboys defense has been quietly effective this season. Their pass rush has improved since 2017 and they nearly took down the Skins in DC in their last meeting. This time, the Skins are down a few linemen and will have to rely on Colt McCoy behind center, on a short week. Fire up the Cowboys again this week as they seek revenge at home on Thanksgiving.
Texans D (DK-$3,000/FD-$4,700)
The Texans defense sure was impressive last week, in spurts. This week, the Jekyll and Hyde Titans will be forced to make a tough decision at quarterback. Marcus Mariota is currently dealing with a stinger on his elbow, suffered last week in the blowout loss to the Colts. Blaine Gabbert might be called into action as his replacement, which should scare everyone in the Titans organization. The Texans are riding an impressive winning streak, so there’s no reason to quit on them now.
Marlon Mack (DK-$5,500/FD-$7,000)
Mack has five touchdowns in the past four games. The Dolphins are 30th against the run and 27th against opposing running backs. This game’s over/under is 51. By all accounts, this has all the makings of another big Marlon Mack game. Fire him up this week. I’ll be starting him in all lineups this week.
Matt Breida (DK-$5,700/FD-$6,300)
The line for this game is 55. After Breida’s last game prior to the bye, it’s pretty clear he’s the go-to back in this offense and a looming battle with Tampa and their awful defense awaits. If you need a cheap flex or running back this week, no one has a higher ceiling at this price.
Dalvin Cook (DK-$5,400/FD-$6,300)
This is another weird one. Last week, Cook struggled against a stout Bears defense. To a certain extent, it was expected. However, you should know the Packers are 19th against the run, so Cook should be able to find plenty of opportunities to get it going on the ground at home this week. For the price, both Cook and Breida are a steal.
Gus Edwards (DK-$4,400/FD-$5,300)
Gus’s worth is mildly contingent upon whether or not Lamar Jackson plays. Edwards has familiarity running the creative plays alongside Jackson and was able to benefit from that last week, as he went over 100 yards and found the end-zone. If Jackson starts again, Edwards will be a steal at this price. The Raiders are also traveling to Baltimore, where their 31st ranked rushing defense will hope to slow down this dynamic rushing attack. Get Gus cheap if Jackson gets the nod at quarterback.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who got a little too into Football analysis. Since leaving the Army, he’s practically the Jack Ryan of football analysts. But he spends most of his days with his wife and two daughters, so he is clearly a better father than Jack Ryan.
Follow Collin on Twitter @CollinHulbert