One team is the source of four of the half-dozen players touted below. Spoiler alert, that team is the Saints. New Orleans is a 13-point favorite at home with the slate’s highest team over/under total at 34.5 points, according to Pinnacle. Simply saying they have the highest team over/under total, however, doesn’t do it justice.
The 34.5 point over/under total is a full 10 points clear of a two-team tie for the second-highest over/under total. So, yeah, you’re going to want to get ample exposure to the NFL’s highest-scoring offense on the Thanksgiving three-game slate. They’re joined by a pair of bargain-priced wideouts who should benefit from game script playing for a couple of underdog squads.
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Drew Brees (QB – NO): $6,700 vs. Falcons
Alvin Kamara (RB – NO): $8,300 vs. Falcons
Michael Thomas (WR – NO): $8,900 vs. Falcons
Tre’Quan Smith (WR- NO): $4,700 vs. Falcons
Here it is in all of its glory. It’s a four-man stack of the Saints. Let’s start with the ringleader of the high-flying act. Brees is looking like the favorite for NFL MVP — which would be his first — at this point in the season. He’s played masterfully this year, but, as has been the case throughout his stint with the Saints, he’s otherworldly at home.
In five home games this year, he’s the owner of a 78.86% completion percentage, 138.9 quarterback rating, 16 touchdown passes, zero interceptions, 350.8 yards passing per game, 10.02 yards per attempt, and 11.85 adjusted yards per attempt, according to Pro-Football-Reference. In Week 3, he stomped the Falcons in Atlanta to the tune of 396 yards passing, three touchdown passes, and two rushing touchdowns. Football Outsiders (FO) ranks the Dirty Birds 29th defending the pass. FO also ranks them dead last in defense overall. They’ve coughed up the second-most DraftKings points per game to quarterbacks this year, and there’s no reason to think they’ll even come close to slowing Brees’ roll this week.
His top stack partner isn’t either of the wideouts highlighted above. It’s his do-it-all back. Kamara was targeted an eye-popping 20 times when these two teams met earlier in the season, and he secured 15 of those balls for 124 yards receiving. He also added 66 yards on the ground. No, Mark Ingram didn’t play in that contest because he was still serving his PED suspension. However, I’m not even the slightest bit worried about Ingram’s presence this time around.
Atlanta’s defense is a sieve defending backs in the passing game. The Falcons have coughed up the most targets (112), receptions (93), and receiving yards (815) to backs this season. They also have proven completely inept keeping them out of the end zone, yielding 10 rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns to them. FO ranks the Falcons 31st defending the run and 26th defending backs in the passing game. Kamara’s going to crush them through the air and on the ground.
Even with Kamara garnering 20 targets in the first matchup, Thomas was still able to get 10 targets of his own. He reeled in all of them for a 10-129-0 line. The third-year receiver was already one of the game’s best, but he’s in the midst of a career year and been especially hot since the team’s Week 6 bye. Over the last five games he’s scored at least one touchdown or bested 80 yards receiving in each, and he’s caught no fewer than four passes in each of those games. He’s been hyper efficient this season with a 90.1% catch percentage, and he’ll look to torch a Falcons defense that FO ranks just 26th defending No. 1 receivers for a second time this season.
Smith was a preseason favorite generating buzz in camp, and he’s stepped up in the absence of Ted Ginn. In his first game following Ginn hitting IR, Smith blew up for a 3-111-2 line on Monday Night Football against the Redskins in Week 5. That game was at home.
He was pedestrian at best in his two games out of the bye, but both contests were on the road. He didn’t have a huge line against the Rams at home in Week 9, but he made the most of his two receptions for 23 yards on three targets by finding pay dirt on one. He posted a bagel in Week 10, again on the road. Last week, he stormed back in a big way with a 10-157-1 line on 14 targets.
This week started off with a bit of a scare. The Saints didn’t practice Monday, but Smith was listed as a non-participant, meaning he wouldn’t have participated if the team did practice. A foot injury was the listed reason. He returned to practice in a limited fashion Tuesday, so it appears the Saints are just exercising caution with their explosive rookie wideout — an understandable move given the rash of injuries their receiving corps has suffered. Gamers should make sure he doesn’t suffer a setback heading into the latest of Thanksgiving’s three-game slate, and putting him in the flex spot is an added measure of caution that makes a great deal of sense. As long as he’s a go, though, he’s a high-ceiling piece of exposure to the Saints’ jaw-dropping over/under total.
Josh Doctson (WR – WAS): $4,100 at Cowboys
Alex Smith suffered a gruesome season-ending broken leg last week, and Colt McCoy relieved him. McCoy will be starting in Dallas, so you can throw out the season target numbers for Washington’s pass catchers. McCoy spiked two balls to stop the clock as two of his 12 pass attempts in relief last week, and he completed a pass that didn’t end up counting as a play because Washington accepted an offside penalty against the Texans instead. No matter how you slice it, the sample of work with McCoy in meaningful action this year is tiny.
He did have an eye for Doctson, though. As Ian Hartitz of The Action Network pointed out in this tweet, Doctson was targeted five times by McCoy. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue to pepper Doctson with targets, but the third-year receiver was his go-to target and the Redskins’ short week didn’t give McCoy much time to build practice rapport with anyone else. Toss in that Washington’s a 7.5-point underdog, and the combo of potential plus volume and favorable game script are plenty enough to encourage me to use Doctson as a bargain play to help open up the requisite salary space for the four-man stack above.
Bruce Ellington (WR – DET): $3,200 vs. Bears
Doctson’s a far cry from the biggest bargain among this week’s touted plays. That distinction belongs to Ellington. He hasn’t been with the Lions for long, but he was a busy man last week against the Panthers. The slot receiver was second on the Lions in Week 11 in targets (nine), receptions (six), and receiving yards (52). He should be busy again in the earliest of the Thanksgiving games.
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson was injured in last week’s game and Marvin Jones was already out last week. Both are almost certainly out this week, so in addition to helping pick up the slack for Jones’ absence again, Detroit might be forced to ramp up their passing game volume without Johnson. Chicago’s allowed the fourth-most DraftKings points per game to receivers. FO ranks the Bears third in pass defense, but they also rank them 16th defending No. 2 receivers and ninth defending “other” receivers. The bar’s low for Ellington to provide a positive ROI, and I like his odds of doing so while also commanding just a couple hundred bucks above the minimum salary for a receiver.
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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.