Point/Counterpoint: DraftKings Thanksgiving Short Slate
By Megan Shoup and Steve Shoup:
We both like to play Short Slate in NFL daily fantasy. Short slates give you opportunities to play differently than you play on the Main slate.
I use it as an opportunity to do the following:
-Hedge – get exposure to players I didn’t play in the Main slate
-Be Contrarian – stack up a game that people aren’t stacking as much
-Differently lineup construction – short slates you can do different lineup constructions than I typically would on Main. Whether it’s stars and scrubs, overstack a game, or play 2 TEs, it’s an opportunity to be unique with your lineup build.
Now, we have one of the best short slates of the year, the Thanksgiving slate! Let’s analyze this slate and find the best plays!
Time to talk about one of the best slates of the year, the Thanksgiving 3-game slate! I love short slates and this is always interesting with three different start times for our 3-game slate.
At a first quick glance, the pricing differences between the “studs” at each position vs. the rest of the position are massive. Basically, those high-price players would really have to hit their ceiling. And after Week 11, we all know that those stars don’t always go nuclear. In fact, this past Sunday, most stars didn’t even have a safe floor.
Maybe it’s recency bias from Sunday, but I tend to like a more balanced build for Thursday. It’s scary to fade the true alpha stars, but if they don’t hit their ceiling, they could crush your lineup with what you need to spend on them.
Do you think those top players at each position will be lower owned because of their high price? And which stars are you willing to pay up for on this Turkey day slate?
See I see the opposite here, I think you need to make sure you find the right 1 or 2 studs that hit and then just build around them. Yes, there is a price difference between the top guys and the rest of the group, but the prices are also down on players. This is the lowest Justin Jefferson has been since week 1, and it’s a $900 difference from last week. Diggs hasn’t been under $8,200 since week 3 of the season. I think with how these prices are it’s tougher to try to avoid players above $7K. Given the recent savings from what their prices have been, their ownership will actually be higher than expected.
It’s not too difficult to fit three of Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Stefon Diggs, and Ceedee Lamb in your line-up. Or two and Josh Allen as the QB. Sure you will have to make a pivot play somewhere, but you will have to do that with a balanced build as well.
From a priority standpoint I really like paying up for the receiver position, I think Jefferson, Diggs, and Lamb can all break this slate. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Gabe Davis are strong additional options at WR but aren’t direct replacements for the studs on the slate. I probably won’t pay up for Barkley as much in this game. I do know Dallas can be beaten vs the run (Dalvin Cook had 70+ yards despite being pulled with the Vikings starters in the 2nd half), but it’s tough for me to get excited about any Giants player against this tough Dallas defense. New York might not have many scoring opportunities, which limits Barkley’s chance to pay off unless he breaks off a couple of long runs.
We don’t always agree, which makes this fun and a useful exercise to prep for the slate. For the highest-priced players, I’m interested in Dalvin Cook and CeeDee Lamb. I think I will only play the four other highest studs more sparingly and in more single-entry contests. They would be Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Saquon Barkley, and Justin Jefferson. Sure any of them can break the slate, but they will have to at their price points.
My favorite QB stack is Dak Prescott and his receivers, and mix in some Tony Pollard there too. I know you like Prescott as one of your top QBs too. I think one thing I’m going to be better about this year is limiting my QB pool. It doesn’t make sense, especially with the number of lineups I play, to try to get exposure to all or too many QBs.
So I’m limiting my QB pool as of now to Prescott, Allen (more in single-entry contests), and Jared Goff. At home in a likely negative game script is of interest to me. And I think his ownership will be relatively low and since his price is low, I can build Goff lineups I really like. If he has a game anywhere close to what Jacoby Brissett did against the Bills’ defense last week, then I’m in business.
Who is in your QB pool? And then, who are your other priority core plays at RB, WR, and TE?
So for me, I am going to be heavy on Dak Prescott and Josh Allen, with a sprinkle of Kirk Cousins. I like the Vikings’ offense in general, but I worry that the game will play slower, and Cousins doesn’t typically have the same upside Allen and Prescott have. I know Daniel Jones has had a couple of strong fantasy games over the past few weeks, but I am not going to bank on that. Jones has his own struggles, but on top of that, they have offensive issues and a complete lack of weapons beyond Barkley. Goff is an interesting way to flip the script, but I don’t know if I will get there. The Lions have had so many far better passing match-ups and Goff didn’t come anywhere close to being viable. I also worry because the Lions are so committed to running the football when they get inside the 10-yard line. It will be tough for Goff to string together 3 TDs or 300 and 2 TDs to be in the mix this week.
At RB, my favorite play is Tony Pollard, but I think overall there are a lot of ways to go here. Singletary and James Cook are both worth looking at from Buffalo. Dalvin Cook offers solid savings from Saquon Barkley at the top of the RB market. Both Patriots’ backs could be options, though it is unfortunate that they are splitting carries and not putting up enough points. It could be similar to the Commanders this past weekend, where both backs get plenty of work, but aren’t fantasy options given the lack of TD opportunities. I like Jamaal Williams as he’s the Lions’ 1st option inside the 10-yard line. I do hope they start giving him a few more targets though.
At WR I’m all in on having two of Jefferson, Diggs, and Lamb. Lamb and Diggs have the best game environment, but Jefferson has a ceiling that can’t be ignored. Amon-Ra St. Brown is getting the targets I want, but he’s not getting much in the way of Red Zone looks, or downfield shots allowing him to more easily get 100+ yards. I’m fine playing him, but it’s frustrating that the Lions aren’t utilizing their best weapon more. Gabe Davis is way underpriced, which makes me want to play him, but I also know he will be massively owned. Sometimes though it might just be worth eating the chalk.
You covered the core plays very well. I will be interested to see ownership projections to try to find ways to gain leverage. I think the only difference is I’m prioritizing ASB over one of the expensive WR (Jefferson and Diggs) because I like the balance build or being able to pay up for Dalvin Cook sometimes. I definitely agree that paying one of those three TEs makes sense because the rest of the tight ends are dusty and dart throws!
We didn’t discuss value, but its pretty limited since there aren’t really cheap tight ends. For running back, you mentioned James Cook as a good value option and I don’t mind shots on Damien Harris at a cheaper price point as well. For wide receiver value, I think it’s pretty much just Richie James Jr, D.J. Chark and Kalif Raymond as viable salary savers.
I actually like my core plays for tomorrow, hopefully, we have a profitable Turkey Day!
What do you think of these strategies for the Thanksgiving slate on DraftKings? Remember, you can be more creative with your short-slate lineups. Whether it’s onslaughting a game or team, playing contrarian cheaper options, or making major stands, these are key strategies to be unique and jump up a short slate leaderboard. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!