Happy Thursday, FAmily! We’ve made it through hump day and that means it is the start of a brand-new week in the NFL season. As we head into the second Thursday night NFL DFS Showdown slate, it is always important to be “in the know” in terms of injuries and usage from Week 1. At FantasyAlarm we have you covered with the NFL Injury Report, the NFL Target Report, and the NFL Snap Count Breakdown. Thursday’s matchup sees the Minnesota Vikings visit the Philadelphia Eagles in a quick turnaround following Sunday’s kickoff. We have so many directions we could go with this slate featuring superstar players like Jalen Hurts, Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, and more! Let’s get into the preview for Thursday’s huge NFC matchup to get an idea of how we should construct our lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Before we dig in, it’s worth a good reminder to play these slates within your means. I had a little FOMO because I missed out on max-entering the $0.50 Mini Max and I probably saved myself $75.00 in the process because I would have been heavy on Aaron Rodgers in the Flex. Sometimes the best DFS call is just taking it easy one night and not feeling obligated to play every game heavily. The beauty of this Thursday night slate is that there are so many different ways to structure your lineups so don’t be afraid to get a little weird with this matchup and get some skin in the game!
Spread: Eagles (-6.5)
Weather: Temps will start in the low 70’s around kickoff but dip into the high 60’s as the game progresses. Winds likely won’t exceed 10mph. Overall, great conditions for a Thursday Night Football game.
- Garrett Bradbury, Center – OUT (Back)
- Christian Darrisaw, Offensive Tackle – Questionable (Ankle)
- Marcus Davenport, Linebacker – Questionable (Ankle)
- Reed Blankenship, Safety – OUT (Ribs)
- James Bradberry, Defensive Back – OUT (Concussion)
- Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle – Questionable (Ribs)
- Kenneth Gainwell, Running Back – OUT (Ribs)
Nakobe Dean was placed on IR earlier in the week. He won't show up on inactives or injury reports but he is OUT.
NFL DFS Showdown MVP/Captain
Not exactly the hardest hitting analysis needed here. He’s the most expensive player on the slate, which makes sense. He’s a premier wide receiver in this league and can go for 30+ fantasy points on DraftKings any given week. In Week 1 he caught 9-of-12 targets for 150 yards for 27 easy points on DK. If there’s one area of concern for Jefferson, it’s that Darius Slay will be his shadow Thursday night. Mike Clay of ESPN noted that in last year’s matchup, Slay shadowed Jefferson on 16-of-20 perimeter routes, but none of his 25 slot routes. Johnson finished the game with just six catches for 48 yards, but when Slay was on him he had just one catch for seven yards. I’m still perfectly fine playing Jefferson at Captain. He’s expected to be very popular and if you opted for leverage in this spot, I wouldn’t fault you. He still has massive upside regardless of who is covering him.
This should surprise none of you if you’ve read my Showdown Playbooks in the past, or even as recently as Monday. Sure, Josh Allen was a massive dud. That was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen him play. But he has rushing upside as does Jalen Hurts. Behind this offensive line I love Hurts’ upside if he gets it going with his legs. Hurts totaled 760 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns on the ground last year. In this matchup a year ago he rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 333 yards and another score. That came out to about 36 fantasy points on DraftKings, and 54 points at Captain. The Vikings run defense is pretty stout. Last week against Minnesota they allowed just 2.2 yards per carry on 33 attempts to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In general, they had one of the best run defenses in the league last year. So that does give me some concern maybe for the Philly running backs in this matchup. But I still trust Hurts to get it done in this matchup even if he was a bit of a letdown against New England on Sunday.
All the Eagles pass catchers get a plus-matchup Thursday night against the Vikings. Last week saw pretty balanced productions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against this secondary. Mike Evans caught six passes for 66 yards and a score. Chris Godwin caught five passes for 51 yards. Even Trey Palmer scored a touchdown. The Eagles clearly have a more potent offense than Tampa Bay. I’m going to end up with more shares of Smith at Captain than A.J. Brown. Smith provides a ton of salary relief and may draw less rostership at Captain simply because of that “WR2” tag in this offense compared to A.J. Brown’s “WR1” label. Truthfully, it’s more like 1A and 1B. But the Vikings played a ton of zone defense in Week 1 and that can be beneficial as this tweet from Connor Allen points out…
That’s a significant sample size. Give me Smith in this matchup and I like the upside if he is getting a minimum of eight targets against this new-look Vikings secondary.
So Addison was out-snapped by K.J. Osborn 58-to-36 but they each had six targets and it was Addison who found the end zone in Week 1. The snap share may actually keep people from rostering Addison in this matchup. And that’s fine by me because it presents a little leverage for us. And keep in mind, Addison had six targets on 36 routes. That equates to a 16.6% target per route run rate. Jefferson’s rate was 18.25% on Sunday. In time they will expand the number of routes and he’ll pass Osborn. We all know that’s coming at some point and perhaps they’ll surprise us in this Week 2 matchup. What makes Addison’s matchup even more enticing is that James Bradberry will miss this game with a concussion. Addison likely sees coverage from Josh Jobe, who is an undrafted free agent with barely over 20 career snaps. I won’t guarantee a breakout game, but the stars kind of look like they’re aligning, right?
I’m going to add a fifth MVP/Captain recommendation this week and it might surprise you that I haven’t even named A.J. Brown or T.J. Hockenson yet. So what? We’ll get there! Goedert had an abysmal Week 1. He had just one target and didn’t even bring it in. He cost many fantasy football managers a win. And you know what? He’s in that group as well. Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia quoted Goedert saying “Fantasy owners weren’t too happy with me. They were yelling at me about stuff like that… I have myself on fantasy. I didn’t win, probably because of myself. Move on to next week…” And you know what, Dallas? ‘Move on to next week’ is exactly what we’ll do and I expect a great stat line Thursday night. If you recall the tweet I attached to the DeVonta Smith section just up top, Dallas Goedert commands a 21% target share when this team faces a blitz while the secondary is in zone coverage. There are reasons for optimism regarding Goedert this week. Check out this tweet from Joe Orrico of FantasyPros…
On top of that, as Heath Cummings of CBS Sports tweeted on Tuesday, the last time Goedert produced zero receiving yards in a game, he popped off the next week for six catches, 105 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. I won’t go so far as to predict that kind of stat line, but he’ll easily be more involved this week if we’re biting at the coach speak from Nick Sirianni.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
Now we get to the meat and potatoes. And yes, you can absolutely still play A.J. Brown at Captain. I’ll mix him into some of my lineups at Captain. There are so many options in this game that I can’t write up everybody as a Captain play. While everyone zigs, I want to zag. Will I be underweight compared to the field with Brown at Captain? Yes. But I’d be a fool to avoid him entirely. A.J. Brown will get his workload. He had ten targets last week in a game with poor weather in New England. He still had seven catches for 79 yards. He should put on a show Thursday night and nobody would be surprised if he found the end zone. Remember, the Vikings secondary allowed for the Bucs to have a productive day through the air. The Eagles should blow this defense out of the water.
Cousins is fine at the Flex. Mac Jones managed 316 passing yards last week with three touchdowns yet still had just a 48.9 QBR. Cousins, while looking disastrous last week, can still have a big game. He doesn’t have the rushing upside of Jalen Hurts so I’m not as inclined to play him at Captain. But he’ll likely make it in that spot in 5% of my builds. We still have to buy the narrative that the Eagles defense is very good and they should give Cousins fits at time. Despite turning the ball over three times last week, he did manage to throw for almost 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This game script will likely invite him to throw 40+ times so the volume makes him an appealing play.
Mattison provides a good enough floor, but you can also just save some salary and pivot to the next player we’ll discuss who may have a higher ceiling. Mattison certainly gets volume. However, he’s just not very efficient. How good do you feel in this matchup against the strong defensive front of the Philadelphia Eagles? Last week he had 11 carries for 34 yards and three receptions for ten yards. Fortunately, he did find the end zone so that salvaged his day from a fantasy perspective. Philadelphia’s run defense definitely kept the Patriots in check as New England rushed 22 times for 76 yards on the ground. It’s not the best game script for Mattison but he gets volume and was on the field for 47 offensive snaps last week. I just don’t believe there’s much of a ceiling in this matchup.
Similar to A.J. Brown, I’m totally fine going with Hockenson at Captain in some lineups. He has plenty of upside and sees a ton of volume so it’s a little baffling that, even at Captain, he’s barely consuming 20% of your budget on DraftKings. Hunter Henry had five receptions on six targets for 56 yards and a score last week against the Eagles defense. Hockenson has shown he can easily top that in this offense. He only had 35 receiving yards last week. But you know what? He still had eight catches on nine targets. Hock ran 37 routes last week and was asked to block just once. He may be tasked with a little more blocking this week against Philadelphia’s dangerous pass rush, but you can’t beat this price tag if he gets at least seven targets. With Nakobe Dean hitting IR that's a slight bump up to Hockenson in this matchup.
If you buy into the narrative that that Osborn will continue to see more snaps than Addison then by all means, play him. He’s only $5,000 on DraftKings. Despite seeing the same amount of targets as Addison, Osborn had just three catches for 31 yards. He’s definitely a bargain and had a more defined role in the offense than the rookie. I still prefer the upside of Addison in this matchup especially if Osborn doesn’t do much with his targets for a second straight week.
Simply put, he’s way too cheap and becomes a very popular play now that Kenneth Gainwell has been ruled out for this matchup. Gainwell saw 41 offensive snaps last week to Swift’s 19 while Rashaad Penny was a healthy scratch. Gainwell also saw 18 touches to Swift’s two. So there are a lot of touches available in this matchup. As mentioned above, the Vikings were tough against the run in Week 1 and all of last year. Perhaps the Eagles offensive line can get the better of the Vikings’ run defense and D’Andre Swift can have a productive game. He’s viable in some lineups at Captain. But tread carefully because several DFS players could go that route with Gainwell inactive.
Time to discuss this evening’s defenses. The projected game total is quite high for this matchup but remember this is a Thursday night matchup. It’s a short week. We didn’t have this problem a week ago because the Chiefs and Lions had plenty of time to prepare for each other. These two teams have only had three days. It’s a short week for both squads and this game could easily fail to hit the over. The Eagles needed a pick six when they played the Patriots last week, but they did finish with 13 fantasy points on DraftKings. $4,400 does seem like a steal but the new-look Patriots offense was able to move the ball on them and put up some points. The absences of Reed Blankenship and James Bradberry are a bit of a tough pill to swallow and Fletcher Cox is Questionable. But this was a D/ST that still limited the Vikings to just seven points in this matchup a year ago. Downgrading the Eagles D/ST juuuuuust slightly because I didn't realize until after the article was published that Nakobe Dean hit IR.
I’m less excited to play the Minnesota Vikings. They managed just one sacks and zero forced turnovers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1. It was a pretty underwhelming performance from a D/ST nobody expected anything from. They were still pretty good against the run having allowed just 73 yards on the ground to the Bucs. No Kenneth Gainwell might be beneficial, but the Eagles also have a deep backfield. It might be easy to avoid the Vikings D/ST in this matchup if you’re only building a few lineups.
As always, both kickers are most certainly live for this slate. Jake Elliott had a phenomenal day Sunday against New England. He made four field goals, including two from 50+ yards. That is the kind of performance you need from your kicker to be optimal at Captain. So if you believe Elliott can do that again, then you can play him at Captain. Obviously by now you know that I won’t be going that route. But if playing a quarterback at Captain it’s wise to correlate the team’s kicker in the Flex. The Eagles offense should move the ball effectively and the team should get plenty of red zone opportunities but you’ll need some of their drives to stall out so Elliott can kick a few field goals. And the same applies to Greg Joseph, but his offense obviously has a taller task moving the ball against Philadelphia’s defense.
NFL DFS Dart-Throw Bargains
Watkins is a big boom-or-bust type of play. In this game last year he only had two targets, but he turned them into 69 receiving yards and a touchdown. He had the same workload last week against the New England Patriots with two targets but only turned them into 17 yards. Hence, the boom-or-bust nature of playing Quez Watkins. He is a high upside Flex play for this very reason. Watkins also has some appeal as a kick returner.
Boston Scott and Rashaad Penny, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Both running backs are expected to be active for Thursday’s game since Kenneth Gainwell will be out. D’Andre Swift is atop the depth chart with Gainwell out followed by Scott then Penny. It’s a little unclear about the workload dispersion for the whole backfield, but if either Scott or Penny get goal line work then they could be optimal at their cheap price tags.
Ty Chandler and C.J. Ham, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Hard to feel good about either play here. Chandler was a player I targeted late in several Best Ball drafts, but he had just four touches on Sunday against the Buccaneers. He had three carries for zero yards and then a catch for 18 yards. C.J. Ham is a little interesting as a complete dart throw assuming he can get a goal line carry for a touchdown. He was on the field for 22 of the team’s 64 offensive snaps even though it was mostly as a blocker.
Oliver actually isn’t the worst option for an $800 player. Oliver is primarily used as a blocker, but he was on the field for two-tight end sets. He ran a route on 13 of 30 offensive snaps and even generated three targets. I think there’s enough volume in this matchup for Oliver to possibly get three targets, but obviously he’s a dart throw that pays off in a larger capacity with a big play or a score.
Zaccheaus is an absolute longshot play, but he does have some name recognition. He was only on the field for seven snaps and in a short week it seems unlikely that his role will grow. The good news is that it looks as if he’s past the shoulder injury he dealt with during training camp. He has some appeal in the return game but likely not worth considering if building less than ten lineups.