Welcome to the Thursday Night Showdown Breakdown. This article will focus on DraftKings GPPs, but some insights here may also apply to cash games.
The Giants will enter Thursday night without the entire cast responsible for the bulk of their offensive production to date: Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram are all slated to miss this TNF bloodbath against the Patriots’ No. 1 overall defense. On the Patriots injury front, it’s looking like they’ll be without Phillip Dorsett and possibly Rex Burkhead again.
While this game might not be fun to watch (unless you’re a Patriots fan), we can still have some fun building some TNF showdown lineups, especially given the narrowed player pool due to the onslaught of injuries.
I’ll start by going position by position, analyzing who might be viable for flex and CPT spots, and finish off by breaking down possible game scripts and how I’d build my lineups around them. Let’s dive in.
Tom Brady tops off the slate as our highest priced option ($11.8k/$17.7k CPT), and rightfully so. If we exclude the game against Washington, the Giants have allowed a minimum of 23 fantasy points to every QB they’ve faced this season. If we exclude Brady’s abysmal Buffalo outing in Week 4, he’s scored a minimum of 23 DK points in every other game this season.
He’s an obvious lock for a flex spot, and he’s in consideration for the CPT spot. I’m leaning more towards a run-heavy build in my lineups, so Brady makes more sense for me in the flex though.
On the Giants side of things, we have Daniel Jones ($8k/$12k), up against a Patriots defense that’s allowing a league-low seven DK points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which is four points lower than the second-place 49ers. Here’s what the Patriots have allowed over their last five regular-season games to opposing QBs:
Those are some spooky numbers, but if we can make a case for those numbers being somewhat inflated, it’s that they’ve faced off against Ryan Fitzpatrick / Josh Rosen, Luke Falk, Josh Allen / Matt Barkley and Colt McCoy.
Regardless, this matchup is daunting all-around, and without their top skill players, this version of the Giants is woefully overmatched. They’ll be trailing throughout, which will mean lots of passing, so Jones in the flex conversation on volume alone, with the hope or prayer that he can work some Danny Dimes magic and score a couple TDs. The Patriots have yet to allow a single passing touchdown, so it would be magical indeed if he can make that happen.
Sony Michel ($7.6k/11.4k) dropped 21 DK points last week — he averaged 5.7 yards per carry on just 16 carries, good for 91 yards and a TD. He added one catch on three targets, good for a 32-yard trot. He’s facing a mediocre Giants rush defense, as they’ve allowed the seventh-most total rushing yards so far with 571.
Before you get too excited and go locking him into your CPT spot, it’s worth noting Michel has yet to post back-to-back RB1 weeks in his short career. In fact, he’s followed up every RB1 performance with an RB3 clunker. But if he’s going to break that trend, it would be in a game like this, that should flow in his favor. He’s a safe flex play for me.
James White ($6.8k/$10.2) has posted four straight weeks of solid fantasy numbers, scoring as an RB2 in every game this season (something he has never done in his entire career). If you want to pair him with Michel in the flex and capture all (assuming Burkhead is out) of the Patriots backfield exposure, I don’t think that’s a horrible idea. White is also tied with Julian Edelman for the team lead in red-zone targets with nine.
I also don’t mind leaving White out of lineups altogether, as this shouldn’t be a situation where the Patriots need to lean on him. This should be another cruise control win for the Pats, and White should only play a minor role.
We’ll have to monitor Rex Burkhead ($3.4k) as if he’s a full go, he might be the best value play on this slate. In Weeks 1-3 (when he was fully healthy), he put up 13.5, 8.8, and 18.9 DK points. For an RB at kicker prices, I like his shot at posting useful fantasy numbers if active, and I’d lean towards a Burkhead/Michel pairing over White/Michel for the cost savings and similar upside.
***UPDATE ***- Looks like Burkhead is out. I like the obvious White/Michel stack a lot more, but if we’re building this with a Patriots blowout in mind, give me a few shares of Branden Bolden, in hopes of a late-game touchdown.
For the Giants, things are more straightforward, with rookie UDFA Jon Hilliman ($5.8k) thrust into the starting role with Gallman out due to a concussion. Regardless of what you know about Hilliman, it’s worth taking the Patriots recent play against RBs into account:
No, I didn’t just copy/paste that QB chart from earlier. The Patriots have held opposing RBs to a cumulative RB32 finish over the past five regular-season games. It’s risky to bank on an undrafted rookie to buck the trend (although it would make for a great story), but given the fact that this is looking like a windy, rainy game, he makes some sense as a flex play on volume alone. I’ve also built a super contrarian lineup with him in CPT, in hopes that he can add some value in the passing game and find the endzone.
WR is the most straightforward out of any of the skill position groups. For the Patriots, things should be funneled through Julian Edelman ($10.4k/$15.6k), and to a lesser extent, Josh Gordon ($9k/$13.5k), with Dorsett looking “doubtful” for this game. Jakobi Meyers would make for an interesting GPP punt play, but at $4.8k, he’s not punt-play cheap.
The Giants will be without Shepard and Engram, which creates a vacuum of roughly 20 targets that need to be funneled somewhere, which puts at least one of Golden Tate ($7k/$10.5k), Darrius Slayton ($6k) and Cody Lattimer ($800) in play.
I’d expect Edelman to come in as the highest owned CPT, and for good reason. He’s fresh off the heels of a 25-DK-point game, and it wouldn’t be a shock to anyone if he’s able to put up similar numbers here. He carries as high a weekly floor as any WR and is my favorite CPT option on the slate.
Banking on a Josh Gordon breakout week is a risk I’m not willing to take – he won’t be in my CPT spot. He has a solid floor with capability for WR2-3 numbers each week, but the WR1 performances are too few and far between at this point. He’s basically a poor man’s Alshon Jeffery:
Golden Tate returns at the ideal time possible for these wounded Giants, but his matchup is anything but ideal. The Giants will probably try to funnel him the ball, and his floor should be around what Cole Beasley posted in Week 4 against the Patriots (7 catches for 75 yards). If he can find his way into the end zone, he could make it work at CPT, but he’s more of a flex play for me. It wouldn’t shock me to see Belichick key in on Tate, forcing the other young Giants to step up.
Darius Slayton should be a major beneficiary of the target vacuum left by Engram and Shepard’s injuries, and he just put up 16 DK points against a tough Vikings secondary. He’s a burner, and if he can get behind the Pats’ secondary, he could find his way on the winning lineup. He’s a solid flex play.
Cody Latimer is too cheap to ignore. For just $800, I like his odds at returning value.
It should be safe to ignore both teams’ tight ends here, but let’s talk about them anyway. Ryan Izzo ($2.2k) found his way into the end zone last week for the Pats, but only saw two targets. I doubt he’ll find his way into the winning lineup, but the NFL is weird, and stranger things certainly have happened.
For the Giants, it’s Rhett Ellison time, and for only $200, maybe he’s worth a punt play where you’re just hoping he finds the end zone. I won’t be going there.
A CPT case can be made for this crazy good Patriots defense ($6.4k/$9.3k). They lead the league in:
- Points allowed per game (6.8)
- Pass yards per game (191.8)
- Interceptions (11)
- Defensive TDs (3)
- DK points per game (20)
They’re all but a lock for a flex spot, and I’ll probably build a Patriots D/ST CPT lineup for the heck of it.
If you want to be super contrarian, you can fade the Patriots defense and pray for a Giants miracle outing full of offensive efficiency. That said, it’s safe to fade the Giants’ defense here.
Both kickers are in play, with a slight edge going to Mike Nugent. But given how cheap most of these guys are on the slate, I haven’t found myself playing the kickers much in my early builds.
Game Flow Scenarios
The most likely outcome: The Patriots put up points early, with Brady spreading the ball around. Michel should find his way into the end zone at least once. The Giants should be forced to pass early and often, and the Patriots defense should do what they’ve done all year, which is dominate.
I like the idea of making the bulk of my lineups either 4/2 or 5/1 Patriots onslaughts, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that type of build ends up winning this contest. With Monday night’s San Francisco blowout, a 5/1 Niners stack did the trick.
So, if you’re building with a New England blowout win in mind, a Brady-Michel-NE D/ST stack is a good start, with some variation of Brady/Edelman/Michel in at CPT.
A contrarian scenario: The second way I could envision this playing out would involve some surprising efficiency from the Giants’ passing attack, in which Daniel Jones and one of Slayton/Tate put up fantasy numbers that make them a necessary part of the winning build. If the Giants can somehow keep this game within 10 points, and if they’re able to put up a couple passing TDs, a contrarian lineup that stacks Jones with one or more of his pass-catchers might get it done.
A somewhat predictable but boring scenario: The final way I’d envision things to shake out would be a game where the Patriots’ defense dominates, and offensively, they do all of their scoring on the ground, which would mean some combo of Michel/White/Burkhead paired with their D/ST does the trick.