The Daily Spin – Thanksgiving Cash Game Edition

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 21, 2018 18:52

The Daily Spin – Thanksgiving Cash Game Edition

UPDATE: Tre’Quan Smith is INACTIVE tonight

I’ve got about two hours of battery time for the laptop while heading down south for the weekend, but I promised  some Thanksgiving Day picks so I am going to get right to it tonight without too much delay.

I’ll have a little more to say about Week 11 when I write my larger article for the weekend over the next couple of days, but for now, I am considering it a success as I managed to break into the money in all of my single entry events while falling just a catch or two short from Ertz in garbage time to sweep the board. Oh well, when 70% of my teams end up winning and I take a little profit, I am happy to count it as a win.

In looking at Thanksgiving each year, we are fortunate enough to have an interesting three game slate this year. All of the teams are at least remotely viable at this stage, though some are closer to being taken off of life support than others. I wanted to wait with my column until tonight as the injury report has been unusually active this week and some late news has thrown a little bit of a wrench into some of my initial calculations.

The biggest key to cash games on Thanksgiving each season is to make sure you do not miss out on the big chalk play that has a huge game. If you own huge shares of a player along with everyone else and they miss, it probably will not hurt your chances of cashing all that much. However, if someone is 40% owned and puts up a 40 burger on you, your day can be over in a hurry so I would say understanding where ownership is going to be will be paramount as you go through building your team for the week.

In taking a close look at the initial board, it seems to me that the obvious plays of the week that owners are looking at are: Alvin Kamara, Zeke Elliott, Drew Brees, Theo Riddick, Kenny Golladay and Michael Thomas, in that order. While there may be some arguments to be made against playing Kamara for GPP purposes just to differentiate a few rosters, this really feels like a Kamara game. Then again, any starting running back going up against Atlanta would feel like that. Were it the Ravens, we’d call it a Gus Edwards game. With Kamara, we get to take advantage of the Falcons run defense, ranked 31st, and their inability to cover running backs who catch passes (26th). We are hoping that the Falcons can make this a game, which I believe they will, but even if the Saints get out in front early, it’s doubtful that Sean Payton will take his foot off the gas pedal as he seems to be the type of coach that relishes putting his boot on the opposing team’s throat. The Saints are projected to score between 36-37 points this week so I want as much of this game as I can get and I am going to start with Alvin Kamara.

The next decision flows right off the first and sticks with our ‘all-in on the Saints’ mantra for the week. Some of you are going to be tempting into paying down for Chase Daniels this week who is making what I believe to be the second start of any substance in his career. He’s been in the league for about 10 years now, but do you know how many career NFL TD passes Daniels has to his credit? One. One single TD in about 10 years of play. It’s pretty amazing that he’s largely been the primary backup for the teams he’s played with over the years and yet has played so little. Now, if you are making some GPP teams, go ahead and mess around with some lineups that take advantage of Daniels and his minimal salary. Perhaps he can channel his inner 1994 Turkey Day version of Jason Garrett and throw for 300 yards and a couple of TDs, but with so little film to go off of, it’s hard to tell what will happen with him at the controls this week. We can’t afford to guess in cash games and a 17 for 27 effort for 183 yards and an INT would be deadly.

Instead, I think the move is to just lock up Drew Brees the way I did last week against the Eagles, We know the home and away splits for Brees and the Saints are making a historic run right now. The Falcons rank 29th in the league against the pass and have been missing several key members on defense all year. The last time these two teams met in September, it produced an epic 43-37 OT victory for the Saints and 43.54 points for Brees. If he does that and you go value, it won’t matter that the other player posts a serviceable number, you’ll be crushed with so many Brees owners out there. Matt Ryan, on the right night can compete with Brees numbers in this matchup, but if he ends up playing like the last few QBs have against the Saints, it could get ugly so for cash, lock in Brees.

The second RB position for me is an interesting decision. Obviously, the chalk play is Zeke Elliott who will look to bounce the Redskins out of first place this week. The Skins did shut him down the first time these two teams met earlier this year, but that was on a garbage field in DC. The Redskins are beat up on both sides of the ball and their run defense is ranked 28th so don’t let that first game fool you. Zeke will be the primary piece of the offense for Dallas this week even if it does not come as easily as it did against the Falcons.

There are two ways that you can go with this play. You can play Zeke with Kenny Golladay, or double stack the RB position with Kamara and Ingram and then pay up for Julio or Michael Thomas. For me, I am leaning slightly towards the Zeke Golladay pairing at this point. I like that I will have a little diversification among the games this week. Golladay is genuinely the only real offensive threat for the Lions this week and even with Marvin Jones out last week, the Panthers were still unable to contain him all day. He’s seen 27 targets over his last two games and that pace should continue this week even if the Bears try to offer help against him. He’s caught 14 balls for 191 yards and 2 TDs the last two weeks and if the Bears do get ahead, which I think they will even with Daniels out there, it will only take one big play for him to pay off his modest price.

My fear in locking in Brees, Kamara, Ingram and Thomas is that there may just not be enough to go around for the week. We’ve seen each of these players slip into the background during games where it gets out of hand in favor of the Saints. I’d be slightly more in favor of mixing in Julio if you use both Saints backs this week. The Saints should be able to roll up a lot of points which would point towards a script where the Falcons were throwing a lot against the 28th ranked pass defense in the league. If you want to work them all in, have at it. It seems pretty blowup proof at this point, but I think I will lean towards a little more of a mix and with Zeke’s expected high ownership number, that’s not a fade that I want to make in cash knowing what he is capable of when he takes over games.

The cheap plays at WR looked really easy at the start of the week. After Tre’Quan Smith had a monster game against the Eagles, his $4700 price seemed ridiculous. Unfortunately, he didn’t practice due to a foot injury until today and it was in limited fashion. I don’t know what to do with that right now. If he were 100%, he would be the lock of the week and the highest owned player in all of the games. We will have to wait until morning to see if there are any positive/negative updates here. This news also is the other reason why I hesitate to pay up for Michael Thomas as the Falcons should be able to double up on him all game and the Saints don’t really have any secondary options of any substance to work with. Brandon Marshall signed last week which is interesting, but again, more of a GPP option as we don’t know what Marshall will do in terms of snaps or how much of the playbook he knows in what is definitely a sophisticated offense.

I like what the Bears have as far as cheap WR plays this week. Darius Slay did not play at Chicago two weeks ago and Allen Robinson had a field day, but he is back now and will shadow Robinson tomorrow. I never fire away on WRs going up against Slay as he’s been one of the better shutdown corners in the league for some time now. Also, look at how Robinson did last week when shadowed by another top CB in Xavier Rhodes. He caught 3 passes for 39 yards on 7 targets. That’s called ‘Rhodes Closed’ for all of you non-Vikings fans out there. However, Detroit is awful at the other two CB positions…among the worst in the league if we are being honest. Taylor Gabriel is at $3700 and Anthony Miller is just $4200. Miller caught 5 passes for 122 yards and a TD two weeks ago against these same Lions and as the slot WR, should see plenty of short passes as the Bears adjust their offense to get the ball out of the hands of Daniels who certainly does not have the mobility of Trubisky. Both of these guys are cash worthy.

I also really like Mohamed Sanu this week at $4500 going up against PJ Williams of the Saints in a game that figures to be high scoring. Williams is a terrible slot corner and the Falcons are familiar with him from previous meetings as they targeted him 7 times in Week 3 which led to a Sanu TD and over 15 DK points. Calvin Ridley is also an intriguing option for the Falcons this week. As you remember, he went crazy in Week 3 with 7 catches for 146 yards and 3 TDs, but since then, has not eclipsed 71 yards and is very TD dependent to get his points. He’s probably more of a GPP play, but given the matchup and point total, he is worthy of your consideration.

The TE position is a mess again this week. There are really only three names that I am considering right now in Jordan Reed, Austin Hooper and Trey Burton. When the Bears announced Daniels as the probably starter, I had to elevate him a bit. The Bears don’t normally work him into the game much, but with Daniels out there, he could end up being a nice safety blanket this week for increased volume on short passes. The Lions rank 29th against TEs this year so there is more to like about Burton than usual. I like what Austin Hooper has done in recent weeks as he’s seen an uptick in volume this year. What I don’t like is that the Saints rank 4th against the TE this year and they completely shut down Zach Ertz last week. Now, in fairness, the Eagles were terrible and the Saints overall are not strong against the pass, but it was definitely not something that was encouraging to see. Jordan Reed is most likely the right play this week. He FINALLY had a good game last week and perhaps a change at QB can help spark him late in the year. He’s seen 35 targets the last four games and the Redskins will likely be playing from behind tomorrow so although he’s let us down often this year, he looks like he’s in a good spot this week.

For my flex, I am leaning towards Theo Riddick. He’s chalk, he is a pass catcher and with Kerryon out, he might see the bulk of the action out of the backfield this week. He’s also going to be chalky as he will help save cap space so if he goes off, you’ll need to own him to protect yourself.

For defense, just play Chicago this week. The matchup is strong and if you watched Stafford take 10 sacks against the Vikings, you can only imagine what the Bears will be able to unleash with Khalil Mack up front leading the charge.

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 21, 2018 18:52

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