Happy Holidays, everyone! It’s somehow Week 12, and Thanksgiving is upon us. We have a lot on our menu this week, including our usual sleepers and value plays for Sunday’s main-slate NFL DFS contests. We have one bonus player for each roster spot, just as a thanks to our readers for following throughout the season. And we have a Thanksgiving Day lineup for DraftKings, which I’ve assembled using DraftKings salary cap system. It’s a feast of daily fantasy football content ahead of the most fabulously gluttonous holiday!
We exist to pinpoint sleepers and high-value DFS picks each week by compiling a list of sleepers and/or dark-horse picks to help you win some cold, hard cash. The more value players you add, the more money you’ll have left for proven weekly studs at other roster spots.
MORE WEEK 12 DFS: Lineup Builder
If you read this column last week, you would have benefited from our advice to plug a plethora of low-cost, high-value players into your Week 11 DFS lineups. Here’s a list of a few of our hits from last Sunday, including each player’s DraftKings cost and final PPR output:
- Trevor Siemian, Saints at Eagles (DK: $5,300 | FD: $7,000): 30.16 fantasy points
- Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers at Jaguars (DK: $5,600 | FD: $7,100): 19.64
- AJ Dillon, Packers at Vikings (DK: $6,200 | FD: $7,000): 15.7
- DeVonta Smith, Eagles vs. Saints (DK: $6,400 | FD: $6,600): 10.1
- Dawson Knox, Bills vs. Colts (DK: $4,000 | FD: $5,600): 14.0
- Dalton Schultz, Cowboys at Chiefs (DK: $4,600 | FD: $6,000): 11.3
That’s not a bad list, by any means. If you plugged in any of these low-cost, high-production players, you bought yourself one or two upgrades at other roster spots. Getting the most bang for your buck has always been the name of the game in DFS, so it’s important to do your due diligence before constructing lineups.
Leave the deep-diving to us — we are here for you, from the first kickoff through the last play of the 2021 NFL season. So, let’s turkey roll right into Week 12 (and sorry in advance for any terrible Thanksgiving puns)!
All player values are from DraftKings and FanDuel. All stats are from NFL.com and Pro Football Reference.
WEEK 12 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel | Yahoo
NFL DFS Picks Week 12: QB sleepers, values for DraftKings, FanDuel
Joe Burrow, Bengals vs. Steelers (DK: $6,200 | FD: $7,100)
Burrow let running back Joe Mixon do the majority of the damage in Cincinnati’s Week 11 win over Las Vegas, but the Bengals passing game should be more active this week against Pittsburgh. We don’t expect Rookie of the Year candidate Ja’Marr Chase to post two (relatively) quiet games in a row, and the Steelers rank 30th in fantasy points allowed to QBs. Have a cup of Joe with your Thanksgiving leftovers.
Carson Wentz, Colts vs. Buccaneers (DK: $5,800 | FD: $7,300)
The Colts went from 1-4 to 6-5 in what seems like the blink of an eye, and they’re suddenly firmly entrenched in the AFC playoff race. Wentz might not be the main catalyst of this massive momentum shift — here’s looking at you, Jonathan Taylor — but the veteran QB has been more than serviceable on a fantasy production scale. Last week was a dud, as JT feasted on the awestruck Bills and left just stat scraps for his QB, but this week Wentz will have to air it out to keep up with Tom Brady and Tampa’s high-flying, top-scoring offense. Tampa Bay ranks 24th in fantasy points per game (FPPG) surrendered to the QB position, and sportsbooks project this game to reach 52 points. Fire up Wentz or forever hold your peas.
Cam Newton, Panthers at Dolphins (DK: $5,600)
Don’t touch Newton in FanDuel, where he’s listed as the third-most expensive QB at $8,000, but he’s well worth a look on DraftKings at $5,600. The veteran signal-caller has thoroughly enjoyed his homecoming, passing for and rushing for touchdowns in each of his first two games back with Carolina. He put up 26.16 fantasy points against Washington last week, and the Dolphins rank 27th in FPPG allowed to QBs. In four career games against Miami, Newton has a 3-1 record, eight total touchdowns (five passing, three rushing), and an average yardage total of 262.8 per game. Grab some Cam for Thanksgiving weekend.
*Black Friday Bonus*
Mac Jones, Patriots vs, Titans (DK: $5,400 | FD: $6,800)
Jones has led New England to five consecutive wins, launching the Patriots to the top of the AFC East for the first time since Tom Brady departed for Florida. The rookie QB has been remarkably efficient, completing 41-of-49 passes over New England’s past two games (83.7-percent completion rate) and ranking second in the NFL in season-long completion rate (70.2 percent, behind just Kyler Murray at 72.7 percent). For context, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers led the NFL with 70.2-percent completion rates last season. Surprise, surprise — Bill Belichick’s got a winner. The Titans rank 28th in FPPG yielded to QBs this season, so while the Pats might not cover the -5.5, but they should have a solid showing against a shaky secondary. And what’s a Turkey Day weekend without some Mac?
WEEK 12 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
NFL DFS Picks Week 12: RB sleepers, values for DraftKings, FanDuel
James Robinson, Jaguars vs. Falcons (DK: $6,200 | FD: $7,600)
Not everyone realizes because he plays for the Jags, but J-Rob has quietly averaged 15.9 PPR points per game this season. Now he gets a home game against the Falcons, who rank 28th against running backs in fantasy land. It’s not always going to be pretty, but nobody complains when they can get a solid PPR floor in the teens for $6,200.
Melvin Gordon III, Broncos vs. Chargers (DK: $5,300 | FD: $6,300)
Despite being in practically an even 50/50 split with rookie Javonte Williams, MG3 has been quite productive this season. He averages 13.3 PPR points per game, he has five total touchdowns over the course of his past four games, and he hasn’t had a single-digit PPR performance since Week 5. Now he gets a plus-game against one of the softer run defenses in the NFL. The Chargers rank 23rd in FPPG allowed to RBs. Break out the MG3 and get the gravy train rolling.
Miles Sanders, Eagles at Giants (DK: $5,100 | FD: $6,100)
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni sure is an odd duck. He limited Sanders’ usage in the first half of the season, never giving the third-year back more than 15 carries (and sometimes giving him single-digit touches). Then Sanders got hurt and missed three games, only to return to his busiest work week of the season. Well, Sirianni was immediately rewarded for coming to his senses. Against the elite rushing defense of New Orleans, Sanders rushed 16 times for 94 yards (5.9 yards per carry), helping Philly win 40-29 at home. Now the Eagles travel to New York to face the Giants, who rank 28th in FPPG allowed to RBs and 25th in net yards per rushing attempt. Six of the G-men’s opponents have finished with over 107 ground yards, and Sanders should make it seven now that he doesn’t have to contend with Jordan Howard (knee).
*Pot Luck Bonus*
Darrell Henderson, Jr., Rams at Packers (DK: $5,800 | FD: $7,300)
Henderson hasn’t knocked anyone’s socks off in box scores lately, but that’s mainly because he hasn’t landed in the end zone since he scored twice in Week 8. Well, the positive TD regression is coming, people! Hendo has maintained a 5.9 yards-per-carry average over the past three weeks, and he’s hauled in seven catches over the past two. He saw the field for 75 percent of LA’s offensive snaps in a road loss to San Francisco last week, and he should see plenty of opportunities in Green Bay this Sunday. Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook tallied 115 yards and a touchdown in a huge Week 11 win over the Pack last weekend. Henderson provides a PPR floor in the eight-to-14 range and a ceiling in the 18-24 range. That’s great for a guy priced under $6,000.
WEEK 12 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
NFL DFS Picks Week 12: WR sleepers, values for DraftKings, FanDuel
D.J. Moore, Panthers at Dolphins (DK: $6,200 | FD: $6,700)
Thanks to the recent return of Carolina hometown hero Cam Newton, Moore’s fantasy excellence has been revitalized. After three consecutive games of single-digit PPR production (yuck, poo, and blah), Moore erupted for five catches (seven targets) for 50 yards and a TD. That’s not exactly Player of the Week material, but his 16-point performance certainly qualifies as one of the big-budget plays of the weekend. Moore was just $5,900 last week, and now he’s just $6,200 against a Dolphins secondary that has yielded the second-most FPPG to wideouts this season. Say no more, mon a-Moore!
Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins vs. Panthers (DK: $5,900 | FD: $6,700)
Waddle was struggling without QB and 2020 first-round draft pick Tua Tagovailoa, but he’s been crushing it ever since Tua Time resumed. Since Week 6, Waddle has 42 catches on 58 targets for 391 yards and three scores. That’s good for an average of seven catches and 65 yards, and a 50/50 shot of finding paydirt. Carolina is a tough defense, ranking fifth in FPPG allowed to wideouts, but the stud rookie seems to have a matchup-proof floor. Waddle your way over to Jaylen this weekend.
Elijah Moore, Jets at Texans (DK: $5,600 | FD: $6,400)
From one rookie receiver to another (and one Moore to another)! Moore has gone from draft disappointment to fringe Rookie of the Year candidate in just a handful of games. Since Week 8, the Ole Miss product has caught 24-of-31 targets for 336 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a beast! His floor the past four games has been 13.1, while his ceiling reached 32.6 PPR points against Miami last weekend. He’s less of a value now that his DraftKings price shot up by $700, but he still yields plenty of value against a Texans D that ranks 24th in PPR points allowed to wideouts.
*Leftover Medley Bonus*
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers vs. Vikings (DK: $5,300 | FD: $6,300)
Aiyuk is another wideout who had a poor start to the season, but he sure seems to be in peak form lately. The speedy second-year receiver has double-digit PPR outputs in three of his past four games, and he just posted his best line of the season in Jacksonville last week: Seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota has been the second-most generous defense to fantasy wideouts this season in PPR formats. Dig in!
WEEK 12 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts | Start ’em, sit ’em
NFL DFS Picks Week 12: TE sleepers, values for DraftKings, FanDuel
Noah Fant, Broncos vs. Chargers (DK: $4,600 | FD: $5,900)
Fant dropped off the fantasy radar for a bit after he got COVID-19, but he returned last week to catch five-of-six targets for 59 yards against Philly. Now he gets a soft Chargers defense that just allowed Pittsburgh’s Pat Freiermuth to haul in four catches and a touchdown. L.A. has surrendered the second-most PPR points to the tight end position, so do the Fant dance this holiday weekend.
Evan Engram, Giants vs. Eagles (DK: $3,800 | FD: $5,500)
I hate advocating for this guy. He’s always such a volatile play, and he’s coming off a 3.2 point performance in Tampa Bay, but I like his chances at bouncing back this weekend. Engram had double-digit PPR points in Weeks 7, 8, and 9, and the Eagles rank dead last in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Plug Engram in and cross your fingers.
*Turkey Leg Bonus*
Dallas Goedert, Eagles at Giants (DK: $4,800 | FD: $5,900)
Goedert just inked a brand-new contract extension with Philly, assuring him big paydays — and big workloads — for years to come. He’s coming off a win over New Orleans in which he caught five-of-eight targets for 62 yards. His target average is just under five, he has a 72.3-percent catch rate on the season, and he averages 14.4 yards per reception. I’ll take Goedert against a Giants defense with average or below-average rankings against tight ends (16th vs. TEs in 0.5 PPR, 18th vs. TEs in PPR).
NFL DFS Picks Week 12: D/ST sleepers, values for DraftKings, FanDuel
Panthers at Dolphins (DK: $3,100 | FD: $4,700)
The Panthers defense has been solid this season when its offense has given it a chance. Miami has plenty of talent and athleticism, but it also struggles to protect the ball. The Dolphins have the second most lost fumbles, and third-most turnovers, in the NFL this season. Play Carolina’s D/ST with confidence this weekend.
*Brown Bag Bonus*
Bengals vs. Steelers (DK: $2,700 | FD: $3,300)
The Bengals have been less than stellar as a fantasy defense this season, but they did log 10 fantasy points in Las Vegas in Week 11. Now they get Big Ben Roethlisberger at home, which should mean plenty of dinking-and-dunking and a bunch of ducks. You don’t want ducks on Thanksgiving, you want turkey — or if you’re at my house, prime rib. Get Cincinnati into your lineup and spend the extra $500-$1,200 on upgrading an offensive position.
THANKSGIVING DFS LINEUPS: FanDuel | DraftKings
DraftKings Thanksgiving Lineup Picks
QB: Dak Prescott, Cowboys vs. Raiders ($6,900) – You want one of the best QBs available on Turkey Day, but you also don’t want to blow your stash on Josh Allen at $7,800. Dak faces a Raiders D that ranks 20th in fantasy points allowed to QBs.
RB: David Montgomery, Bears at Lions ($6,000) – The Lions bleed points, and Chicago essentially runs its offense around D-Mont. Great value here.
RB: Tony Pollard, Cowboys vs. Raiders ($5,600) – Pollard is the best RB sidekick in football, and he always makes the most of his opportunities. He’s sixth in the NFL with 5.5 yards per rush attempt.
WR: Stefon Diggs, Bills at Saints ($7,900) – Here’s our big splurge at wideout, probably the best receiver of the holiday. Diggs has scored three touchdowns in the last two weeks, and five TDs over Buffalo’s past five games. His average PPR production over those five games: 20.98.
WR: Darnell Mooney, Bears at Lions ($5,700) – Mooney has become a very busy man in Chi-town. He’s scored three TDs in the past two weeks and scored 46.7 PPR points in that span. He received an incredible 16 targets last week against Baltimore, which he turned into 121 yards and a score.
WR: Hunter Renfrow, Raiders at Cowboys ($5,600) – Renfrow has taken on a larger role since the Raiders released Henry Ruggs, and he should see plenty of volume against the Cowboys. Week 11 was a dud for the slot-man, as he caught all four targets for 30 yards, but he caught seven-of-nine targets for 46-plus yards and a score in each of his previous two games.
TE: Darren Waller, Raiders at Cowboys ($6,400) – Easily the best TE of Thanksgiving’s entire slate, Waller is the epicenter of the Raiders’ offense. He averages 14.4 PPR points per game, and the Cowboys rank 25th versus the TE position in fantasy.
FLEX: Juwan Johnson (TE), Saints vs. Bills ($2,600) – Starting Saints tight end Adam Trautman has a sprained MCL and will miss four-to-six weeks. Trevor Siemian already targeted Johnson three times last week, connecting twice for 36 yards. This is a dart throw at the flex, but all we need is one TD and/or a few long catches to make this pick pay off.
D/ST: Bears at Lions ($3,000) – This is the best defensive play of Turkey Day, in my humble opinion, and it’s somehow just the third-highest D/ST of the six. Detroit’s offense is the gift that keeps on giving in fantasy. The Lions started Tim Boyle last week, who has more career interceptions than touchdowns at every level of play since his high school graduation, but even if Jared Goff (oblique) starts, the Bears are a great play.
Remaining Salary: $300
Thanks for your loyal readership throughout the season, everyone! I’m thankful for football, family, and friends this holiday season, and I’m also eternally grateful for my small following. You’re all a part of my lifelong dream to become a full-time sportswriter. I wish you all health, happiness, and DFS success this weekend and beyond!