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 ::
By HILOW >>
- 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).
How BUFFALO Will Try To Win ::
Middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds returned to a full practice on Monday after missing the previous two games, while run-stopping nose tackle Star Lotulelei remains on the league’s COVID list. We saw the effects of their absence against the Colts, as Jonathan Taylor erupted for five total touchdowns in Week 11. With the assumption of rational coaching in the front of our minds (come on Brian Daboll, don’t do us dirty), the likeliest plan of attack for the Bills is to revert to a more pass-heavy approach against a Saints defense that has allowed only 656 rush yards and the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing backfields.
I halfway jokingly called the Bills backfield even more convoluted last week, which they ran with in Week 11. All of Devin Singletary, Zach Moss, and Matt Breida saw 29% to 38% of the offensive snaps. Yuck! The matchup, as was previously discussed, doesn’t do this team any favors this week, meaning all three would need pass game involvement and a score or two to matter for us. There’s really not much else to say regarding this backfield, as even on a short slate there just isn’t a ton to love here. The matchup creates a gross 3.965 net-adjusted line yards metric.
With everything we’ve discussed around the Bills in mind, the passing game should be where they make their money this week. Although not atrocious against the pass, the Saints should be considered a pass-funnel defense, and one that has struggled with the deep ball in above-average man coverage alignments (third highest yards allowed per completion at 11.5). This directly benefits both Stefon Diggs (11.9 aDOT) and Emmanuel Sanders (16.0 aDOT), but leaves both with a wider range of outcomes than the field is likely to give credit for. The low overall completion rate against and deep aDOT forced make Cole Beasley less intriguing, and also leaves paths for Gabriel Davis to matter here (low snap rate but 13.3 aDOT). Dawson Knox even carries some level of intrigue with a high snap rate and above-average 7.9 aDOT. All of that said, the range of outcomes for individual pass-catchers remains fairly wide for the Bills, but the field is likely to adopt a high level of certainty.
How New Orleans Will Try To Win ::
We know how New Orleans has tried to win games this season: a slow pace of play, suffocating defense, and heavy rush rates. That said, injuries are likely to have a significant impact on how this team approaches a game against one of the top teams in the league. Alvin Kamara and two starting offensive linemen failed to practice on Monday and should currently be considered on the wrong side of questionable. Another offensive lineman in Terron Armstead missed Week 11 and was a limited participant on Monday. Starting tight end Adam Trautman is likely to miss this week. Finally, edge rusher Marcus Davenport also failed to practice on Monday and should be considered questionable. That’s a lot of starting bodies likely to be out here. The biggest problem is the matchup, as there isn’t a better path to beating the Bills than on the ground, particularly if Star Lotulelei remains out. The Saints are likely to continue to push their run agenda for as long as they can here, particularly considering Trevor Siemian is their starting quarterback. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Taysom Hill involved more in the game plan as one of the team’s top available play-makers. Consider Taysom likely to see snaps at quarterback, running back, and tight end.
Man, this Saints run game is on the injury pain train currently. The three questionable linemen and injury to All-World running back Alvin Kamara significantly dent the overall effectiveness of the offense, as well as the fantasy utility of all players involved. That said, the ground game remains the likeliest plan of attack for the Saints regardless of their offensive injuries, and should be the likeliest path to volume. Assuming Alvin Kamara misses this contest, expect Mark Ingram II to see the lion’s share of snaps and running back opportunities (85% and 72% snap rates over the previous two games). The matchup is less than ideal, resulting in a below-average 4.025 net-adjusted line yards metric. Also, each side appears headed in different directions as far as run game health goes, with the Saints likely to be without at least two (and maybe three) offensive linemen, and the Bills likely to get at least one (and maybe two) of their best run-stoppers back. Expect Ingram to see 20-24 running back opportunities against a defense allowing just 22.1 fantasy points per game to the position (and that includes the five touchdowns they just allowed to Jonathan Taylor). Finally, I would expect heightened involvement from Taysom Hill after being active last week but seeing zero offensive snaps.
Tre’Quan Smith has worked his way back into the featured wide receiver role on this offense, playing 91% and 95% of the offensive snaps over the previous two games. Considering the offensive injuries the Saints have sustained this season, and their top-ranked defense, it makes sense why most of their games are being played close over the second half. With that in mind, Trevor Siemian has attempted 41, 34, and 40 passes over the previous three games against the Falcons, Titans, and Eagles (all losses). That gives us a good idea of what to expect against the Bills, even though the Saints would like to run the football for as long as they can. With Adam Trautman out, expect the primary pass-catchers to be Smith (19 targets over the previous three games), Ingram (20 targets over the previous three games), Marquez Callaway (14 targets over the previous three games), Deonte Harris (17 targets over the previous three games), and a three-way timeshare at tight end. Outside of Ingram, no single player stands out as likely to see overwhelming volume. The matchup through the air is as tough as it gets for the Saints against the team allowing the second-fewest pass yards per game.
Likeliest Game flow ::
We’re likeliest to see either the Bills assert dominance on each side of the ball early, or each team struggle to get much going here. Considering how each team is likeliest to attack, that doesn’t leave many paths for this game environment to open up, creating a scenario where each team is mostly concerned with winning the field position battle and limiting turnovers. It should be almost entirely up to the Bills to push the game environment in either direction, as the injuries and offensive makeup of the Saints are simply unlikely to generate that pressure. The one path to flip that narrative on its head is if the Saints can generate early turnovers or an early defensive touchdown, which not many players will even consider as a valid path for this game. That one simple act would completely change the dynamics of the slate, as it would simultaneously vault the Saints defense into the optimal lineup as well as generate a boost to the expected pass volume for the Bills (which boosts their pass-catchers and creates more opportunities for defensive points to pile up for the Saints). These are the things we want to be thinking through on this slate, as one simple act can completely eliminate a vast majority of the field (because we shouldn’t expect the Saints defense to garner much ownership).
TOP PLAYS OF THE WEEKEND
SORTABLE GREEN ZONE TOUCHES
TEAM & PLAYER DK POINTS
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN NOTES
- Taysom Hill is more viable than usual here (I feel like the Saints have to be getting kind of tired of Siemian).
- The Bills backfield is a disaster (and I’m now grateful that Moss didn’t miss last week because it would clearly not just have been Singletary’s backfield).
- Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have both missed practices this week. Who’s left? I thought Tony Jones would mix in more last week, but he didn’t, which makes me a bit less confident that he would just be the automatic next man up. He probably is, but there’s more uncertainty here, meaning that taking shots on Dwayne Washington, “wide receiver” Ty Montgomery, or even practice squadder Josh Adams (if he’s recalled) makes sense in tournaments. Whoever the guy is would be of tremendous value as they’re all $600 or less.
- The Saints wide receiver situation is becoming chaotic with five guys playing meaningful snaps last week. Egads. Smith and Callaway are the “safe” ones (as safe as one can be in this matchup).
- Adam Trautman is out, so it’s some combination of Juwan Johnson, Nick Vannett, and Garrett Griffin at tight end. Good luck figuring this one out, as I have no idea. It’s a volatile situation and should be treated as such, meaning I’d want to be underweight any highly owned ones and overweight any low-owned guys.
- The likeliest game flow is for the Saints to attack on the ground for as long as the game remains close, while Buffalo focuses on their passing game to avoid the Saints brutal run defense. As with the LV@DAL game, you can flip the script here and bet on the Bills touchdowns coming on the ground while the Saints score through the air, but to be frank it feels pretty low-odds (especially on the Buffalo side).
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 Buffalo running back
- At most 1 Saints tight end
- At most 1 of Stills, Humphrey, and Harris
- At most 2 Saints running backs