Happy Thanksgiving! Thursday’s slate closes with a game between the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings at 8:20 PM ET. The Vikings are listed as home favorites with 2.5 points while the total stands at 42.5.
In this article, I’ll use several FantasyLabs tools and other industry stats to break the slate.
Don’t forget to check out our Lineup Builder if you want to build your lineups by hand or our Lineup Optimizer for those of you who like to enter multiple lineups in tournaments.
Finally, be sure to check out all the projections for sale within the FantasyLabs models. Subscribers now have the option to purchase THE BLITZ by Derek Carty through our Marketplace. One Week Season and Establish the Run forecasts are available if you subscribe to those specific sites (our optimization feature is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregated projections:
NFL DFS stud picks
Both teams will be looking to recover from dismal displays in Week 11. The Patriots scored just 10 points – seven of them with a punt return – while the Vikings only managed three against the Cowboys. Still, both teams are currently in playoff positions and have had excellent seasons.
The Vikings offense is built around an alpha-wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The third-year player has gone on to become one of the top players in the league, averaging a career-high 7.2 receptions and 109.3 yards per game. Those numbers would be even higher had it not been for a performance of three catches and 33 yards last week.
Jefferson leads the team with a target market share of 28.4%, the ninth highest mark in the league. That doesn’t exactly jump off the page, but he makes up for it with aerial recruiting. He has captured 40.8% of the Vikings’ air yards and he is one of the most explosive downfield receivers in all of football.
Unfortunately, Jefferson goes from one brutal match to the next. The Patriots are the only team that actually outperforms the Cowboys in terms of Football Outsiders defensive DVOA. Both teams have excellent pass rushes — the Cowboys rank first in adjusted sacks, the Patriots second — but the Patriots’ secondary is clearly better.
Not only are they first in the league in pass defense DVOA, but they are also first against No. 1 receivers. Bill Belichick has also earned a reputation for “taking away” his opponent’s best option on offense, so this could end up being Jefferson’s toughest game of the year.
Still, Jefferson is an elite talent, and it’s hard to pass up in the single-game format. It ranks first in THE BLITZ in median and ceiling projection.
Jefferson will catch passes from Kirk Cousins, who was sacked a career-high seven times last week. Things won’t get any easier for him against the Patriots, especially with offensive lineman Christian Darrisaw out. The Patriots have fooled the opposing quarterbacks all season, and they posted a plus/minus average of -1.17 in that matchup (according to the Trends tool).
Cousins will also have to battle an old nemesis at this place: the dreaded 8:20 PM ET start. Cousins has historically averaged 20.59 DraftKings points in 1 p.m. ET games, but that figure drops to 18.37 in primetime games. In his only other primetime game this season, Cousins stumbled to just 11.84 DraftKings points vs. the Eagles.
In the end, it’s hard to get excited about Cousins in this matchup. Quarterbacks will always have value on showdown slates – especially capable fantasy QBs like Cousins - but this isn’t the kind of situation where he historically thrived.