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DraftKings NFL DFS Lineup Picks - Thanksgiving Day Slate

Hi there, RotoBallers, and welcome to this special edition Break The Slate! The Thanksgiving Day NFL DraftKings slate has evolved into a holiday tradition for many of us DFS regulars, as each year we're excited to keep one eye on our turkey and the other on our lineups.

This slate is always unique, not just due to the day it's played, but because we only have three games to work with. From a DFS perspective, it's similar to a Showdown environment in that we're almost forced to think outside of the box in order to differentiate our lineups from the rest of the field. In this special article we'll dive into some of the subtleties of short-slate strategy, as well as my favorite DraftKings plays in the form of "Core" and "Pivot" options at each position.

These DraftKings lineup recommendations are based on matchups, projected ownership, overall upside/talent levels, opportunity, and other factors such as Vegas odds, home-field advantage, and more. There are quite a few great plays available, so read on to find out which players are the best for the Thanksgiving Day slate. Be sure to also check out our weekly FanDuel DFS lineup picks and lots of other great NFL DFS articles and NFL DFS tools to help you win big! I try to update the article on Saturdays to reflect any significant injuries or late-breaking news, as the landscape of the slate can change quickly in the NFL throughout the course of a week, so I hope that you will drop in to check those out before finalizing your lineups. Good luck with your DraftKings DFS lineups, let's Break The Slate together!

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DraftKings Quarterbacks - Thanksgiving Day DFS Picks

CORE PLAY: Josh Allen - BUF @ NO ($7,800)

This Buffalo offense - and by extension, Allen - has been puzzlingly inconsistent since coming out of their Week 7 bye, managing just six points against the lowly Jaguars and 15 points in last week's blowout loss to Indy. Despite the Bills' offense firing on less than all cylinders, Josh Allen has still demonstrated a consistent DFS floor by posting 18 or more DraftKings points in eight of Buffalo's 10 games this season. That floor - along with a ceiling that's the highest on this Thanksgiving slate - makes him a near "must play" against a Saints defense that ranks 25th in the NFL in both yards allowed per attempt (7.68) and DK points per game (20.8) to the QB position.

PIVOT PLAY: Derek Carr - LV @ DAL ($5,900)

Outside of Josh Allen, this slate is comprised of QBs that are strictly pocket passers. Translation: non-existent DFS floors. In the absence of a true rushing QB, I'm attempting to identify who on the slate will likely be forced into being aggressive and also has the talent needed to turn that opportunity into fantasy points. That thought process leads me to Las Vegas' Derek Carr. The Raiders are currently installed as seven-point underdogs to this explosive Dallas Cowboys offense and - though they'll try to slow the game down - will likely eventually be forced to put this game on Carr's shoulders. This offense's performances of the last three weeks make it easy to forget that Carr opened the season with three straight outings of 25 or more DK points and posted 23 or more DK points in five of Las Vegas' first seven games. Bottom line, when we get past Josh Allen and Dak Prescott, Carr is the QB on the slate that is both most likely and most capable of posting a tournament-winning score.


DraftKings Running Backs - Thanksgiving Day DFS Picks

CORE PLAY: David Montgomery - CHI @ DET ($6,000)

In two games since returning from IR, David Montgomery has stepped right back into his position as the alpha in Chicago's backfield, logging eye-opening snap shares of 85% and 95%. Tough matchups against Pittsburgh and Baltimore have limited his production, but Montgomery draws the mother of all smash spots on Turkey Day against Detroit. The Lions have played hard for HC Dan Campbell, but simply lack the personnel needed to win consistently at the NFL level. Their talent-deficient defense struggles in every facet, ranking 28th in the NFL in Total Defensive DVOA, and they've been especially susceptible on the ground, with their 1,147 rushing yards allowed this season ranking as the fourth-most in the league. It all adds up to an elite combination of talent, opportunity, and matchup for the reasonably-priced Montgomery.

PIVOT PLAY: Tony Pollard - LV @ DAL ($5,600)

There are some injuries at the RB position that we'll need to keep an eye on this week. I'm listing Tony Pollard as a Pivot Play with the assumption that Ezekiel Elliott will play. If Zeke is out, then Pollard would - obviously - jump into Core Play status.

Currently listed as Questionable, if Ezekiel Elliott does indeed play on this slate, many casual DFS players will automatically take Tony Pollard out of consideration. However, I'm always interested in taking a contrarian approach on these limited slates, so the Cowboys' electric back-up would remain a legitimate GPP option for me even with Zeke on the field, as there are several scenarios in which he'd receive enough work to be viable. Elliott aggravating his injury, the Cowboys getting a big lead, the Cowboys falling behind, or Dallas simply electing to rest Zeke by splitting the workload are just some ways that Pollard could receive a big usage bump. We could also consider that Pollard simply "gets there" on his normal allotment of touches, as he's a talented enough player - in a good enough matchup against the Raiders - to capitalize on his average of 11.7 opportunities per game.


DraftKings Wide Receivers - Thanksgiving Day DFS Picks

CORE PLAY: Darnell Mooney - CHI @ DET ($5,700)

We've already touched on Detroit's defensive shortcomings when discussing Chicago's David Montgomery. The Lions are just as bad at defending the pass as they are the run, ranking 29th in the NFL in yards allowed per target to opposing receivers. I'll look to exploit this weakness with Darnell Mooney, a player that's surprisingly taken the reigns in this Bears receiving corps. With Allen Robinson looking highly doubtful for Thanksgiving Day, Mooney should once again be the top pass-catching option for Chicago. The speedster was targeted an astounding 16 (!) times against Baltimore last week, snagging five balls for 121 yards and a score. With Robinson on the shelf last week, Mooney garnered an eye-popping 54.4% share of Chicago's Air Yards and he should be considered a big play waiting to happen against a Lions defense that has allowed 38 completions of 20 or more yards this season.

PIVOT PLAY: Emmanuel Sanders - BUF @ NO ($4,800)

Rostering Emmanuel Sanders requires a willingness to "buy low" on the slumping veteran. After a quick start to the season with 20-plus DK points in two of the Bills' first five games, Sanders has been a non-factor in Buffalo's last two, catching five of seven targets for just 53 yards. Despite the recent lack of production, he remains a steady piece of this Bills offense and his recent usage remains in line with his season average snap share of 80%. While Stefon Diggs tangles with New Orleans' stud Marson Lattimore, Sanders should primarily see the Saints' beatable Paulson Adebo. As a whole, this Saints secondary hasn't been one to fear, ranking 28th in the NFL in both total yards (1,810) and yards per target (9.05) allowed to opposing WRs.


DraftKings Tight Ends - Thanksgiving Day DFS Picks

CORE PLAY: Darren Waller - LV @ DAL ($6,400) 

Nothing fancy here, as Darren Waller stands head and shoulders above the other options available at the TE position. Waller serves as the de facto WR1 for this Las Vegas offense and is coming off his best performance in recent memory, a 7/116/1 stat line against the Bengals last week. His averages of 8.8 targets and 86.0 Air Yards per game lead all TEs in the NFL and he draws a matchup against a Cowboys defense that ranks 29th in the league in yards allowed per target to the TE position.

PIVOT PLAY: Juwan Johnson - BUF @ NO ($2,600)

We can't be afraid to embrace some risks on a three-game slate such as we'll see on Thanksgiving Day. Juwan Johnson certainly qualifies. The Saints' backup TE - along with teammate Nick Vannett - is set to step in for the injured Adam Trautman in this matchup against Buffalo. While we're making an educated guess as to the roles each will serve, I look for the converted WR and physical phenom, Johnson, to handle route running, while Vannett will stay in to block. The sample size is limited, but Johnson has an aDOT of 11.67 and managed to snag two of three targets for 36 yards in relief of Trautmann last week against Philadelphia. His Thanksgiving Day matchup is a brutal one - Buffalo has allowed the fifth-fewest DK points to the TE position this year - but rostering Johnson is simply an attempt to both save salary and differentiate your GPP roster builds in this limited-slate environment.

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