Four players from the NFL’s highest-scoring club comprise a stack on the roster below. The other stud accompanying them on the roster is a bell-cow back. On a three-game slate, I break one golden rule by including the defense/special teams (D/ST) opposing the bell-cow back. The others on the team are a backup tight end who’s still flashed in his age-34 season and a pair of slot receivers.
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Drew Brees (NO): $9,000 vs. Falcons
Brees is likely in the driver seat for the NFL MVP Award this season, and he’s at his best at home throughout his tenure with the Saints. That’s been the case this year, too. In five home games this year, he has a 138.9 quarterback rating, 78.86% completion percentage, 16 touchdowns, 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.
He’s been an unstoppable force, and he’s already pummeled the Falcons for 396 yards passing, three touchdown passes, and two rushing scores back in Atlanta in Week 3. The Saints are 13-point favorites with a huge team over/under total of 34.5 points, per Pinnacle. Atlanta’s injury-ravaged defense is tied for the second-most FanDuel points allowed per game to quarterbacks this season, and there’s no reason to overthink this pick and look elsewhere at signal caller.
Alvin Kamara (NO): $8,900 vs. Falcons
Kamara also thumped the Falcons in the earlier meeting between these two NFC South foes — albeit in the absence of Mark Ingram. Don’t sweat Ingram’s presence in this one, Kamara’s the top back on the Saints and the one best equipped to take advantage of Atlanta’s biggest defensive shortcoming. The Falcons are far and away the most giving team to backs through the air yielding the most targets (112), receptions (93), and receiving yards (815) to backs this season. They’ve also been gashed for 15 combined touchdowns (10 rushing and five receiving), and Kamara’s been a red zone monster who’s scored 15 rushing and receiving touchdowns combined.
Any concerns about Ingram cutting into Kamara’s production after his big Week 5 return have washed away since the team came out of their Week 6 bye. Over the last five games since the bye, Kamara’s reached at least 75 yards from scrimmage and scored at least one touchdown in each contest. He’s gone over 100 yards from scrimmage in three straight games and totaled six touchdowns in that three-game stretch. Kamara’s a no-brainer selection as this team’s top back.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL): $8,700 vs. Redskins
This isn’t an easy matchup for Elliott. When these two teams squared off in Week 7, Zeke was held to just 42 yards from scrimmage and zero scores on 15 carries and two receptions. He’s since exceeded 110 yards from scrimmage in three straight with 17 receptions and three touchdowns in that three-game stretch. The third-year pro is the focal point of Dallas’ offense, and the game script should be favorable for him with the Cowboys favored by 7.5 points at home.
Michael Thomas (NO): $8,800 vs. Falcons
Tre’Quan Smith (NO): $6,400 vs. Falcons
Thomas and Smith round out the stack of Saints studs. Thomas previously ripped the Falcons for a 10-129-0 line on 10 targets. He’s scored at least one touchdown in three straight and four of five games since the bye. He’s also totaled at least 69 yards and four or more receptions in all five games since the bye.
He’s been hyper-efficient this year hauling in an eye-popping 90.1% of his targets (82 receptions on 91 targets). Thomas is averaging 8.2 receptions and 104.2 receiving yards per game with eight touchdown receptions in 10 games.
Smith isn’t the model of consistency Thomas is, but the rookie receiver has had two huge games this season. Both of the rookie’s big showings have come at home since Ted Ginn was placed on IR. In Week 5, he pantsed the Redskins for a 3-111-2 line on three targets. Last week, he toyed with the Eagles in route to a 10-157-1 line on 14 targets. He’s also produced a 2-23-1 line in his only other home game with Ginn on IR.
Smith was listed as a non-participant on Monday’s injury report. The Saints didn’t actually practice, but if they had the designation indicates Smith wouldn’t have participated. Given the rash of injuries that’s plagued the wideouts on the Saints and Smith’s importance to the club, it’s possible — if not probable — the rest and no participation designation is only precautionary.
With no news of Smith having an MRI or X-ray to examine his injured foot and a return to practice in a limited session on Tuesday, I’m treating him as if he’s playing this week until further notice. Although, it is in gamers’ best interest to keep tabs on his status leading up to Thanksgiving’s third game of the day. Additionally, though I included him as a wide receiver for the purposes of analysis in this piece, I’d suggest putting him in your flex to increase roster flexibility for a late swap if that action proves necessary.
Bruce Ellington (DET): $5,000 vs. Bears
Ellington hasn’t been on the Lions for long, but he emerged as an integral part of Detroit’s passing attack in their Week 11 win. He was second to Kenny Golladay in targets, receptions, and receiving yards with nine, six, and 52, respectively. According to Ian Hartitz of The Action Network, Ellington out-snapped Theo Riddick 21-3 from the slot in Week 11.
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson is almost certainly going to miss this week’s game and Marvin Jones is also likely to miss this one. Ellington could be in store for another hefty dose of looks against a Chicago defense that’s permitted the fourth-most FanDuel points per game to receivers this year. Game script could also help his case with the Lions serving as four-point dogs at home.
Vernon Davis (WAS): $4,500 at Cowboys
Davis is another player who could benefit from game script. Washington’s a 7.5-point underdog in Dallas. Tight end is an absolute mess on the Thanksgiving three-game slate, but even paying up to the highest-priced options won’t guarantee you bankable production.
With that in mind, I’ll spin down to Davis knowing that his floor is zero fantasy points — a point total that’s equal to his fantasy scoring output over the last two weeks combined. Interestingly, all of the defenses playing on Thanksgiving are stingy at permitting fantasy points to tight ends, but Dallas is the most giving tying for the 14th most FanDuel points allowed per game to the position.
Trey Quinn (WAS): $4,800 at Cowboys
We don’t have many pass attempts from Colt McCoy to analyze, so it’s a little tricky trying to figure out who will emerge as his go-to options. McCoy attempted 12 passes, according to the box scores. However, that lacks necessary context. Two of those attempts were spikes, and a completed pass to Quinn was taken off the board when Washington elected to accept an offside penalty against the Texans. McCoy completed his only other attempt to Quinn for an 11-yard gain.
The rookie slot receiver played the second-most offensive snaps among Washington’s receivers in his first game back from IR with 53 offensive snaps, good for 71% of the team’s offensive snaps. He produced a line of four receptions on four targets for 49 yards and one carry for zero yards. If not for the offside penalty, he’d have had a line of five receptions for 57 yards. Sure, that’s not a sexy line, but it’s not a total dud.
If the game goes according to the betting line, he could see an uptick in looks and work. The bar’s low for him to provide value on a salary that’s just $300 above the minimum for running backs and receivers.
Washington Redskins D/ST (WAS): $3,700 at Cowboys
Defense/special teams selections are always limited on a three-game slate like this. With four members of the Saints already on the team, their D/ST wasn’t an option. That leaves only two other favorites, and paying over $4,500 for either of them isn’t ideal with the need to get exposure to major offensive firepower. Washington’s the best option of the underdogs.
Dallas isn’t an offensive juggernaut, ranking 25th in scoring offense (20.3 points per game), and save for their blowout win against the Jaguars, even their wins have been close and low scoring. Dallas has bested 25 points only three times this year, and their 40-point outburst against the Jags is their only game north of 30 points.
Also, there are points to be had for Washington’s defense via sacks. Dallas is tied for the third-most sacks allowed (34) this year, and Dak Prescott’s been sacked multiple times in nine of 10 games. He’s been sacked four or more times in half of Dallas’ games this year, including four sacks at Washington in their Week 7 meeting.
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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.