NFL DFS First Look at Salaries & Matchups for Thanksgiving Slate
Is there any better combination than the three staples of Thanksgiving: Family, football and food? Yes! Family, football, food, and NFL DFS. Below you will find our higher-level thoughts on this 3-game slate, how to approach each game stack, and salary standouts at each position.
In addition to the resources in this article and our DraftKings and FanDuel picks, which will be out on Wednesday, Betz and I talked through this special Turkey Day slate on the latest episode of the DFS & Betting Podcast. You can also find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast app.
Betz and I genuinely hope all of you enjoy the holiday and want to thank all of you for support of the DFS Pass this season. Best of luck on Thursday, and Happy Thanksgiving from the Fantasy Footballers family to yours!
Game Theory & the Thanksgiving Slate
Before diving into the salary standouts and how we view these games from a pace perspective, let’s go over a couple of high-level thoughts about this slate.
Roster Construction– You’re not going to be sneaky. Everyone is going to be playing everyone this week because of the nature of a 3-game slate. The combination of your players ultimately is what differentiates you from the rest of the field. Ask yourself the question: what do I gain if this player hits? But not only in regards to their points but the leverage it allows you to gain on other players involved.
For example, rostering George Kittle at TE is essentially asking for him to be the TE1 on the slate ahead of Sam LaPorta. But you’re also asking for a scoring output that more than pays off the salary you are allocating for him. While punting the position is normally something we can do in cash, on this 3-game slate, paying up at TE (and potentially even FLEXing another) is begging the rest of the field to have low TE scores. You need Kittle to be a differentiator as his salary on both sites makes him as expensive as Tyler Lockett, the WR5.
Looking Back at 2022– Here is how the field attacked the Thanksgiving slate last year:
- Josh Allen was chalk but the other QBs were overlooked for their perceived “lack of upside”.
- The middle tier at RB won out as Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook were expensive blockades to paying up elsewhere.
- The WRs smashed. If you faded Saquon, paying up for at least two of the $6K WRs was necessary. Amon-Ra was seen as the safe play but Justin Jefferson was $1000 too cheap. I know I reference that phrase all the time but ask the question when factoring in a player’s ceiling projection: should this player be more expensive?
- Everyone and their mama played Dawson Knox. Whoops.
Salary Distribution– Three games on a slate can lead you to think about getting different from the field. I love it. But there’s a certain point where you are hindering your roster from accruing raw points. Based on our projections and historical data from these Thanksgiving slates, when you start leaving more than $600 on the table, you are also leaving fantasy points out there.
FLEX Usage– Courtesy of FantasyLabs, here is 2022’s Thanksgiving Slate in terms of how the field attacked the FLEX in the Milly Maker.
Once again WRs rule the day but it seems like the field still didn’t roster them enough. The major caveat I will give about 2023’s slate is we have two high-end WRs (Ceedee Lamb & Amon-Ra St. Brown), an expensive difference-making RB (Christian McCaffrey), and one truly elite TE (George Kittle) in the mix that will skew some of the numbers this year. FLEXing WRs is always an optimal move on DraftKings, a site with PPR scoring. You can see how the field was overly confident in 3RB builds in tournaments.
Game Stacking– This might be the most important bit to consider for tournaments this week. Normally, we employ stacking strategies to take advantage of simple correlation properties in DFS. In a 3-game slate, we are narrowing our player pool but the aspect of creating leverage is even more important. For example, if you are going overweight WAS-DAL you are saying that game will be the most valuable for DFS while recognizing a lot of the roster percentages will flow from it. If you stacked Dak Prescott with two Cowboys and brought it back with two Commanders, you are asking Dak to be the QB1 on the slate and players like Jahmyr Gibbs or Amon-Ra St. Brown to fail in tournaments. You want to create leverage situations in your stacks with three games at your disposal and everyone having some exposure to almost every team. Instead of saying I want to roster only the best Cowboy (Ceedee Lamb), attaching two more Cowboys gives your roster more routes to success (or failure) compared to just playing one of the most popular WRs on the slate.
For contrarian large-field tournament players, write out the game scripts that you think the field will be using. For instance, GB-DET likely will be played with Jared Goff or double-stacks with someone running it back with a player on the Packers’ side. Flip the script if you want assuming Detroit gets a lead through their defense and a TD on the ground. Stacking the Packers’ side gives you massive leverage, especially if you think this team can put up enough points.
For a full write-up on the subject, check out Stacking: The Strategy & Thinking Behind It.