The Thanksgiving Slate has been combined into One slate writeup.
You will find the same information for all three games in their respective links.
however, if you’re looking for showdown strategy, xandamere provides his thoughts inside each game link
Slate Overview ::
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- This slate involves three games that carry a likeliest scenario of being more slugfest than shootout, placing a high emphasis on touchdowns for separator fantasy scores (meaning a highly variant slate – discussed more below).
- Chicago’s notable injuries include quarterback Justin Fields, running back Damien Williams, wide receiver Allen Robinson II, and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
- Detroit’s notable injuries include quarterback Jared Goff, outside linebacker Trey Flowers, right tackle Matt Nelson, and right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
- Everything the Bears try to do on offense lines up well with weaknesses in the Lions defense.
- The quarterback situation in Detroit is one to monitor, as it is likely to heavily influence the overall fantasy prospectus from the first game on the slate.
- Las Vegas is entirely broken, and I was almost hoping the game environment from last week would carry them into some level of production so we could gain solid leverage on this Thanksgiving slate by fading them.
- CeeDee Lamb is likely to miss with a concussion, while Ezekiel Elliott picked up a knee injury in Week 11 – expect Dallas to place a high emphasis on the run game here.
- Tremaine Edmunds returned to full practice for the Bills, while Star Lotulelei remains on the league’s COVID list.
- Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, Adam Trautman, Marcus Davenport, and Landon Young failed to practice Monday for the Saints – significant hits to both sides of the ball.
- The last game of the day involves two teams who suddenly find themselves fighting for the final playoff spot in their respective conferences (both the Bills and Saints currently sit in the seventh spot in the AFC and NFC, respectively).
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How CHicago Will Try To Win ::
Chicago has been the most run-heavy team in the league through 11 weeks with a 50% situation-neutral pass rate. Their pass rate with a lead sits at a laughably low 39%, while their pass rate when trailing sits at a still-ridiculously low 59%. It is no secret that this team is (was?) built around the run. That said, the vast majority of that data came with Justin Fields as the starter (has been the starter since Week 3) and the team is coming off of a game that saw them call a pass play at a 63% rate with three-quarters of the game played with Andy Dalton at the helm. In a Week 1 trouncing at the hands of the Rams (the only full game in which Andy Dalton started and finished), the Bears passed at a 60.6% clip. The bottom line is we don’t fully know what this team will look like on Thanksgiving day as far as play selection goes, assuming Justin Fields remains out (likely). What we do know is that this defense has largely underperformed to start the year, ceding the sixth-most yards per drive and points per drive, the eighth largest time of possession per drive, and the ninth highest drive success rate against. On top of that, they have forced only ten turnovers through their first ten games. Overall, the Bears have played at the league’s slowest pace with the game within seven points and the 25th-ranked overall pace of play.
The big news to follow regarding this backfield leading up to Thursday is the status of backup running back Damien Williams, who has missed the last two games with calf and knee injuries. He popped on the estimated practice report as a DNP on Monday, indicating a high likelihood that he is unable to make it back on a short week. Should that be the case, David Montgomery will have this backfield largely to himself (snap rates of 85% and 95% in the two games in which Williams has missed) against an opponent allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, including 17 total touchdowns allowed to the position (second-most in the league). The matchup yields a slightly above average 4.35 net-adjusted line yards metric and we should expect 18-22 running back opportunities from Montgomery working alone.
It’s a similar story for the pass-catchers, as WR1 Allen Robinson II missed Week 11 with a hamstring injury and was listed as a DNP on Monday’s estimated practice report. In that Week 11 game, we saw the team operate in elevated 12-personnel rates when compared to their season average, making the only near every-down wide receiver Darnell Mooney. Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd played 71% and 63% of the offensive snaps, respectively, with Jakeem Grant on hand for light package snaps. Cole Kmet operated in a near every-down role, while blocking tight end Jesse James saw 32% of the offensive snaps, and money pit red zone threat Jimmy Graham saw just 20% of the offensive snaps. Expect a similar breakdown should Robinson miss. Although the DVOA numbers for the Lions against the pass appear “okay” on the top level, they have allowed the second-most yards per completion this season (12.1). Two guesses as to which team leads the league in intended air yards per pass attempt… yup, you nailed it! The Bears! All three primary wide receivers for the Bears this season (Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, and Marquise Goodwin) hold aDOTs of 11.4 or higher, while Cole Kmet holds a high-for-a-tight-end aDOT of 8.4. Almost everything this Bears offense attempts to accomplish should fall into a “path of least resistance.” Finally, I can’t leave this section of the writeup without mentioning that Darnell Mooney saw 16 (!!!) targets last week in his first game played without Allen Robinson on the field. We shouldn’t expect another 16-target outburst here, but nine to 12 targets are highly likely should Robinson miss.
How Detroit Will Try To Win ::
It currently appears as if Jared Goff has a chance to return this week following a one-game absence, but we’ll need to see further reports out of Detroit before we can reach any conclusions. What we do know is that this Lions team was rightfully cautious in their offensive approach with Tim Boyle at quarterback in Week 11, meaning “how Detroit will try to win” depends a good deal on which quarterback we see here. Jared Goff was labeled as limited in Monday’s walkthrough injury report, an upgrade from the week of missed practices he saw last week. With Goff at the helm, this Lions team is built from the run up, meaning a good deal of what they look to accomplish is based on the run game. Their 61% situation-neutral pass rate on the season is inflated due to the routinely negative game scripts they have been forced into thus far, and, as we’ve spoken to in this space before, the Lions are willing and able to increase their second-half pace of play and pass rates to the extremes should they be trailing. Injuries and ineffective play from Goff have kept their pass game to mostly short area and low upside-generating pass work. On the season, Goff’s 6.0 intended air yards per pass attempt rank 34th of 34 qualified passers. His completed air yards per pass attempt (2.5) and completed air yards per completion (3.8) also rank dead last in the league, by a large margin (like a large margin; as in, 25% less than the next-lowest ranked player in Ben Roethlisberger). We knew coming into this season that new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has previously designed a passing game around the power run game, but he typically liked to dial-up an aggressive downfield approach through the air. That simply can’t be the case with Goff at quarterback, and we’ve seen the rest play out exactly as expected.
Lead back D’Andre Swift has seen a 71% snap rate or higher in every single game since Week 4, and regular backup Jamaal Williams has played in all but two of those games, meaning the increase wasn’t simply due to personnel necessity. Furthermore, he has seen at least 17 running back opportunities in every game since the last time these two teams played, way back in Week 4. Further, furthermore, almost 40% of his opportunities come through the air as targets in negative game scripts, keeping his weekly floor about on par with any other back in the league. Expect Jamaal Williams to fill his standard 25-30% snap rate role with minimal room for excessive fantasy productions outside of an extreme outlier game. The matchup on the ground yields an above-average 4.435 net-adjusted line yards metric against a defense allowing below-average fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, primarily due to the low receiving numbers against. Of note, the right side of Detroit’s offensive line missed Monday’s walkthrough, so keep an eye on their expected level of involvement leading up to Thursday.
As we touched on above, this passing attack is almost entirely built around the short areas of the field, due primarily to the limitations of quarterback Jared Goff. Josh Reynolds joined this pass-catching unit before their Week 11 game and immediately stepped into a featured role, playing the most snaps of any pass-catcher (90%). Expect him to be joined by Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, and every-down tight end TJ Hockenson with all three likely to see 75-90% of the offensive snaps. Chicago has allowed a poor 10.7 yards per completion and league average 65.51% completion rate against, but the big picture is this passing offense is largely limited by either a quarterback in Jared Goff incapable of attacking downfield or a quarterback in Tim Boyle that limits the overall capabilities and effectiveness of the offense.
Likeliest Game flow ::
The lowest game total (41.5) on tap for Thanksgiving comes with the lowest spread of the slate (3.5). The fantasy prospectus of this game depends largely on Detroit’s ability to return punches, as the Bears are entirely capable of generating splash plays both on the ground and through the air. The likeliest game flow sees Chicago asserting control sooner rather than later, leaving the game flow in their hands and the game environment likely reliant on the quarterback situation out of Detroit, and, thusly, their ability to turn second-half aggression into points on the scoreboard. Should Jared Goff play, we should see a boost to the overall game environment in the second half and additional offensive plays available to each team. Should Tim Boyle start for Detroit, we might be left with a second-half that could drive you to start drinking craft beer before dinner (or put you to sleep).
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XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN NOTES
- David Montgomery is the clear best overall play in this game. It looks unlikely that Damien Williams will play, but if he does, just be a little wary as he would likely steal a bit of Monty’s pass-game work.
- All of the Chicago tight ends (Kmet, James, and Graham) are viable in Showdown. Kmet is the clear best option, but either of the others could steal a touchdown.
- Mooney’s the best receiver option in the game on either side of the ball. Robinson is unlikely to play, but if he does, he would be a somewhat sneaky “bet on talent” option.
- On the Lions side, it’s “yuck” all across the board. Swift is clearly the best option, followed by Hockenson, followed by their random smattering of wide receivers. Josh Reynolds stands out as he led the Lions in offensive snaps last week but is only $1,400.
- I expect most people will build around the Bears winning the game but note this is a very close spread. The Lions have a real chance at winning this and the Bears are not exactly a great football team. Building Lions-heavy is a way to get some leverage on the field without needing an enormous outlier outcome.
- Jamaal Williams stands out to me as an interesting low-owned play (or at least I’m guessing he’ll be low-owned). Check projections, of course, but if he’s under 20% or so, he falls neatly into the “RB2 in Showdown at low ownership” bucket.
Some Groups to Consider
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain pass catchers with their QBs (or consider boosting the QB if using a captain receiver if you don’t want 100% exposure to this pairing – discussed in further detail in the 2020 update to my Advanced Showdowns course)
- If using an RB captain, apply a negative correlation to the opposing defense and kicker (you can see how to do so in my FantasyLabs tutorial video)
- Pair captain quarterbacks with at least 2 pass catchers
- At most 1 Bears wide receiver besides Mooney
- At most 1 of Graham and James
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