NFL DFS Picks and Analysis - Week 12: The Grind Down
Written by Notorious
Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, a fantasy football advice article for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo. This DFS breakdown is an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the projections, projected ownership, picks, targets, and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.
Every game will be broken down with a DFS-first mentality. Betting lines are shown with projected team totals, spreads, and moneyline to give you an idea of the game environment. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow. At the end of each section, we’ll deliver a DFS cheat sheet of stacks to build, players to target, and low projected ownership plays that can make an impact on your weekly success.
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Sports Betting Lines and Overview
Detroit Lions DFS Breakdown
Before we get into the first game of the slate, I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I’m a big fan of most holidays and this is no exception. I don’t agree with half of DFS Twitter that Thanksgiving food is bad, but to each their own. Even if you aren’t eating delicious turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, we can all agree that it’s a great day of family and football. While gatherings might look a little different this year, we still have our classic three-game DFS slate.
More than in any other slate during the regular season, it’s imperative to use the late swap feature. If your team gets off to a bad start in the first game, take a look at ownership of everyone from that game to see where you stand. If you are playing in a 50/50, you might need to make one swap off a chalky player to give your lineup a better chance to finish above the cash line. If you are playing a large-field tournament, you might need to make a number of swaps off the chalk to give yourself a chance to cash. Having potential swaps in mind is always good heading into the slate and you should always put your latest starting player in the FLEX spot in order to keep your options open.
Update: The Steelers/Ravens game has been postponed to Sunday. We now have a two-game slate on Thanksgiving.
Injuries to Monitor
Kenny Golladay (Questionable – No Practice Tuesday)
D’Andre Swift (Questionable – Limited Practice Tuesday)
Matthew Stafford (Questionable – Limited Practice Tuesday)
Danny Amendola (Questionable – Limited Practice Tuesday)
Marvin Hall (Questionable – Limited Practice Tuesday)
T.J. Hockenson (Questionable – Limited Practice Tuesday)
Running Game Outlook
One of the biggest injuries to monitor leading up to lock is D’Andre Swift. He missed Week 11’s game against the Panthers and has yet to pass concussion protocol. He did practice on a limited basis on Tuesday, but his availability is still in doubt. Prior to his injury, he took control of the backfield in Week 10, playing on 73% of the snaps and turning 21 touches into 149 yards and a touchdown. If Swift is eventually ruled out, Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson will split the backfield duties. Johnson led the way with a 70% snap share in Week 11, but the Lions were trailing the entire game.
Swift’s availability certainly alters the slate, as he’ll be one of the best running back options if active. On the season, the Texans are bottom three in DVOA against the run, defensive adjusted line yards, rushing yards allowed per game, and fantasy points allowed to running backs. You can’t ask for a better matchup for a running back and the Lions are playing at home on the fast-track in Detroit. If Swift is ruled out, I’ll take a stance and play Peterson over Johnson. Many will flock to the high snap rate of Johnson last week, but Peterson should draw the start and handle most of the early-down work. If this game stays competitive, there’s a path for Peterson to have 15+ carries and against this defense, perhaps he can turn back the clock.
Passing Game Outlook
Matthew Stafford missed last year’s Thanksgiving game against the Bears and is questionable this time around. He’s dealing with a partial ligament tear in his right thumb, which clearly impacted his play last week against the Panthers. I ultimately expect Stafford to suit up this week, but I do worry about his efficiency with an injury to his throwing hand. If he was completely healthy and had all of his weapons at his disposal, he would be one of the best point-per-dollar options at quarterback. This is an exploitable matchup, as the Texans are ranked 24th in DVOA against the pass this season.
A lot can change over the next couple of days, but Kenny Golladay is trending toward missing his fourth game in a row. All of the other players with a questionable tag from the Lions were able to log limited practices on Tuesday, but not Golladay. His absence hurts this offense as a whole, but it does open up targets for the other pass catchers. In the last three games Golladay has missed, Marvin Jones has led the team in targets, receptions, and touchdowns. I should note that Marvin Hall had the most air yards during that stretch and that Danny Amendola was unable to suit up last week.
There has been far too much debate about WR/CB matchups this season, but we obviously prefer our receivers to line up against cornerbacks that aren’t good defenders. That seems fairly obvious to me. Bradley Roby has done an excellent job of limiting fantasy production to opposing WR1s this season. While I won’t automatically fade Golladay or Jones because of the matchup, it’s at least worth noting. Amendola (if active) will run his routes from the slot and did see 10 targets in Week 9. T.J. Hockenson might be my favorite pass catcher in this offense. He has big-play potential and gets to face a Texans team that has given up a lot of fantasy production over the middle of the field.
High Upside Correlations: None
My Expected Team Exposure: Medium
Houston Texans Projections Breakdown
Injuries to Monitor
Randall Cobb (Out)
Kenny Stills (Questionable – Limited Practice Tuesday)
Running Game Outlook
I wrote up the Texans game last week and mentioned that they aren’t a team built to line up and run the ball down their opponent’s throats. I should have stopped there and listened to my own advice. For the second straight week, the Duke Johnson chalk took a flame to my cash game lineup. With David Johnson out again this week, we have another difficult decision to make. Duke has certainly seen an uptick in playing time, as he’s logged an 85% snap share over the last two weeks and has handled 27 of the 33 total running back touches. Unfortunately, he could only muster up 5.4 and 6.5 fantasy points in those games.
If there was ever a get-right spot for this backfield, it is against the Lions. No team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to running backs than Detroit this season. On top of that, they are ranked 24th in DVOA against the run and 28th in defensive adjusted line yards. To be fair to Duke, the Texans have had the worst run-blocking line in football this season and the coaching staff has done a poor job of getting him the ball in space. I wish he had a higher receiving floor, but maybe that changes against a team that has allowed the third most receiving yards to running backs. At the very least, Duke is a good bet for 15+ touches in an ideal matchup.
Here we go again… 🤦♂️
Passing Game Outlook:
I am typically on team #PlayWhoeverYouWant at quarterback. I use the position to build stacks and correlation into lineups. However, there’s a good chance I hit the lock button on Deshaun Watson on Thanksgiving. Every other quarterback on the board has question marks and/or a difficult matchup. Meanwhile, Watson gets to square off against a bad defense indoors. On the season, the Lions are ranked 23rd in DVOA against the pass and 27th in adjusted sack rate. Watson always brings a high rushing floor to the table and that’s generally elevated against teams that play a lot of man coverage like the Lions. He’s the most expensive quarterback of the slate, but he offers the highest floor/ceiling combination and he’s easy to build stacks with.
My current plan is to use Watson and two other Texans in my main lineup. I am debating whether I want to play Duke Johnson in hopes they get him more involved in the passing game, or just double stack Watson with Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller. These two receivers have always been known as boom or bust fantasy options, but they’ve really developed some consistency this season. Cooks has topped 13 fantasy points in five of his last six games and Fuller has scored a touchdown in six of his last eight games. Both are capable of topping 100 yards against a beatable Lions secondary and they currently grade out as two of the top four point-per-dollar plays at wide receiver.
The big knock on Johnson, Cooks, and Fuller is that they are all expected to be highly owned. If you are looking to get some lower owned pieces to the Texans, you can easily make a case to play Keke Coutee and Jordan Akins. With Randall Cobb ruled out, Coutee will man the slot. He caught 2-of-4 targets for 10 yards and a touchdown filling in for Cobb last week against the Patriots. It feels like we are chasing points by rostering Akins, but he did catch 5-of-6 targets for 83 yards last week. Perhaps he becomes Watson’s favorite target over the middle of the field with Cobb out. In terms of roster construction on the different sites, Coutee and Akins are better plays on DraftKings than they are on FanDuel.
High Upside Correlations: Deshaun Watson + 1 or 2 Pass Catchers
Strong GPP Differentiators: None – Expecting High Ownership
My Expected Team Exposure: High