We have a decent matchup on deck this Thursday night between Dallas and New Orleans. Certainly better than a lot of the bottom-of-the-barrel games the NFL tends to schedule on Thursdays. This game has a reasonable total at 47.5 and a tight enough spread, with Dallas favored by four points. Let’s dig under the hood and see what we can do here DFS-wise.
It looks like Taysom Hill is finally healthy enough to start over Trevor Siemian for the Saints at quarterback this week. Although they are monitoring his health, he is on track to play, which should be a decent boost to the struggling Saints offense.
There is big injury news to monitor for New Orleans as we don’t know if their top weapon Alvin Kamara will play. He may not be fully healthy if he does, and Mark Ingram II may get a good bit of work. At Kamara’s hefty DraftKings price, he may not be the most viable play if he isn’t going to get a full workload on Thursday. If he sits, Mark Ingram becomes a top option. Ingram was also questionable coming into the week but apparently healthy, and the Q tag has been removed.
Taysom Hill is also likely to vulture some red zone touchdown equity from Kamara and/or Ingram, which is another thing to consider here. Hill himself is undoubtedly a top play on this slate at just $9,600 for a starting quarterback with his kind of upside. We all know what he can do with his feet, but he has, in fact, shown that he can move the ball downfield through the air in past starts.
The Saints receiving corps leaves much to be desired for real life and DFS alike. Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith, and Deonte Harris come with decent price tags for WRs 1 through 3 on an NFL team, but none are significant fantasy assets. There is a possibility that the introduction of Hill improves the fantasy outlook of one or more Saints wideouts with whom he may have a decent rapport. They will get a boost if Kamara does indeed sit.
The tight-end situation in New Orleans is nothing to write home about with Nick Vannett and Juwan Johnson splitting minimal work. Kickers are always viable in showdown contests, and you could take a look at Brett Maher. This is likely not a great spot to play the Saints DST, but it would be a contrarian move in big tournaments.
Alvin Kamara (if healthy and projected for close to full workload)
Mark Ingram (if Kamara is out or heavily limited)
We have some injury concerns in Dallas that would significantly alter the slate, although most appear resolved. Star wideout CeeDee Lamb was questionable coming into the week but has cleared the concussion protocol and is in line to start Thursday. Amari Cooper may or may not be available as he is still coming off the COVID-19 protocol. The Cowboys’ 4th receiver, Cedrick Wilson, is questionable and may or may not suit up. His status shouldn’t have a significant fantasy impact if Cooper plays. If Cooper sits, Wilson becomes WR3. If both are out, Noah Brown and/or Malik Turner could enter the picture.
If Cooper does not play, Lamb and Michael Gallup become even better plays with fewer targets to go around. Tight end Dalton Schultz also stands to benefit. Still, all are good plays on this showdown slate regardless of Cooper’s status. This week, Dak Prescott should be in better shape with at least two of his leading receivers healthy in Lamb and Gallup.
Star Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been nursing a knee injury for weeks and has seen his workload diminished. In contrast, backup RB Tony Pollard has picked up the slack. Zeke came into the week with a Q tag which has now been removed. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones states that Elliott should be good to go for a heavy workload this week. The talk is that his workload has been intentionally limited to keep him healthy as the season rolls along, considering his nagging injury. It stands to reason that perhaps he is rested up this week, and they let him rip.
Tony Pollard has gotten enough work all year, even with Elliott taking on his regular workload to be viable at his price in showdown contests. Still, I’d certainly be more inclined to play him if we do get word that Elliott is limited in any way.
You can always play Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein at his price in any Showdown contest as one of the best kickers in the league. The Cowboys’ DST could be in play here as well against a struggling Saints offense.
Ezekiel Elliott (barring word of a limited workload)
The apparent construction here is going to be to play a lot of Cowboys with Taysom Hill and possibly Alvin Kamara or Mark Ingram, depending on the status of Kamara. The Saints’ offense is highly questionable, and there’s not much to like in the passing game. The easiest way to get different here would be to play more Saints. A Taysom Hill stack with two pass-catchers would be an excellent start. Even if one is Kamara, assuming he is active.
Taysom Hill and whoever of Kamara/Ingram is healthy will be the go-to Saints plays. So, another option is to play none of the above and instead opt for Saints pass-catchers/kicker/DST. This would automatically help differentiate your lineups from the vast majority of the field who will stack the Cowboys with 1-2 of Taysom/Kamara/Ingram.