Welcome to the FREE preview of the NFL Week 12 DFS Playbook for Thanksgiving Day 2023!
We have another DFS slate chock full of heavy favorites - but in a season that has been full of so many surprises, do we trust them or look to differentiate our lineups at the defensive position?
As always, the D/ST Coach is your one-stop-shop for finding the defenses you should target (or not target) in your DFS contests so you can build the best lineups possible. The same goes for our QB picks, RB picks, WR picks, and TE picks, so be sure to check out the rest of our All-Pro “Coach” articles and target the right plays, values and fades at each position.
Top Thanksgiving DFS Defense: Dallas Cowboys
They’re the most expensive option on the slate and last week was a good reminder of what they’re capable of after a dud performance against the New York Giants in Week 10. This game has the highest implied total on the slate at roughly 48 points, but the Cowboys are also 11-point favorites. Normally I’d shy away from a divisional game such as this, but all three games happen to be divisional matchups, so if I’m paying up anywhere then I’ll go with Dallas at home.
The Cowboys have a dozen sacks and three takeaways in their last two games, where they’ve allowed a total of 27 points and 359 yards of offense. Funny enough, the Commanders defense is surrendering 27.7 points per game and 372.8 yards on average. While Dallas’s defense isn’t literally twice as good as Washington’s, this shows you just how dominant Dallas has been - and we like dominant defenses in our DFS NFL games.
The Commanders aren’t afraid to let Sam Howell throw the ball 40+ times. That kind of volume is concerning for an opposing fantasy defense - but that also means Dallas may get more chances for sacks and turnovers if he sits in the pocket. Howell takes about four or five sacks per game and while defensive/special team touchdowns are unpredictable in DFS, the Cowboys have six already this year. I’ll take the Cowboys at home on this short slate over the San Francisco 49ers on the road, who just lost Talanoa Hufanga for the season.
DFS Defense Mid-Tier Play: Detroit Lions
In the mid-tier of the Thanksgiving DFS slate, you pick your poison between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The Lions are favored by 7.5 points and when these teams met in Week 4, the Lions held the Packers to just 20 points on 230 yards of offense. They also sacked Jordan Love five times and intercepted him twice. The Lions also have the luxury of playing at home, where they allow just 281.8 yards of offense and 19 points per game compared to 344.2 yards and 24.4 points per game on the road.
Jordan Love was serviceable against the Los Angeles Chargers last week, but that’s a matchup any quarterback can take advantage of. His passing completion drops about five points on the road and he’s throwing 47 yards per game fewer on the road than at home.
I expect Detroit to give Green Bay’s offense fits to kick off this three-game slate. Make your DFS defense picks accordingly.
Thanksgiving Day DFS Defense Value Play: Seattle Seahawks
This is obviously a gamble, but on a short slate and with a position of variance, anything can happen. You may even nail the optimal lineup with the Seahawks locked in as your defense while you have Christian McCaffrey in your lineup. It happens.
By recommending Seattle, I’m mostly investing in the personnel. Yes, the 49ers have absolute studs on offense. But Seattle’s run defense has gotten better since acquiring Leonard Williams, and this secondary is young and on the rise with Devon Witherspoon, Riq Woolen, and Tre Brown. Seattle hasn’t had a quarterback throw for 300+ yards since Week 3 and only Sam Howell has thrown for over 250 yards in that span - and even then he got there on pure volume.
This game has the lowest total on the slate and the Seahawks are roughly seven-point underdogs. They’ll have their hands full with CMC, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle, but I do think this defensive unit is trending in the right direction. It’s unfortunate they’re getting the 49ers on a short week, but this is the DFS value play to consider at D/ST.