Thursday night NFL lineup submissions are different from any other type of DFS lineup submission for several reasons. First, we don't have complete information about the other games that will play over the weekend. Who is injured and who is starting are often just good estimates at this point. Due to this uncertainty, it makes the players from the Thursday night game more appealing than those on Sunday. But since the Thursday night game is nationally televised and is the only game on, the players in this game tend to be more highly owned than we would expect given their expected output.
These high ownership levels cause a ripple effect in how we should attack the players in this game. When creating GPP lineups it is much more difficult to include these players in our lineups. This is because you should be taking a contrarian approach to GPPs and their high ownership levels don't allow you to do so. I wrote about why this is important in this article last year.
But if the players are owned more than what we would typically think we should break ties in favor of the highly owned players in cash games. This is because if the highly owned player has a big game you find yourself in a deficit right off the bat and could single handedly cost your lineup a win that week.
Based on these two key factors I will tend to recommend players from the Thursday night game for cash games more often than I will for GPPs which is in direct opposition of our normal strategy of diversifying in our GPPs. Because of these complexities the Thursday night game deserves a lot of our attention so each week I will be breaking the game down in detail. See this article for definitions of all DFS terms.
This Thursday night's game should be a great defensive showdown as the 5-3 New York Jets take on the 4-4 Buffalo Bills. The Jets are currently the favorite for the number five seed but the winner of this game will go a long way to securing that spot. The odds makers agree it should be a defensive showdown setting the over under at 43 which is the third lowest of the week. While it should be a good real football game the problem with a defensive showdown for our purposes is it limits the upside of all the players in the game. Right now I see the Bills as the slightly better team but the Jets are at home and should be able to win this game and take the lead as the heavy favorite for the wild card spot with an 18-14 win.
As mentioned in the intro the general public tend to pick players from the Thursday night game at a rate higher than should be expected. When games like this arise they are often the most profitable DFS slates of the year because there aren't really good plays from this game for the public to put on their team. The best approach to a game like this is to fade all the players in the Thursday game and pick players from Sunday's game then sit back and watch while your opponent's pick players that fail to reach value in the Thursday night game. As such I don't recommend playing any players in the Thursday game for either cash or GPP games. Plus you should get the opportunity to watch a good game between two quality teams without having to worry about your lineups. Let's still take a look at where we might find some opportunities.
When looking at the passing game there are two primary places that we could find some value. The first place would be the leader of the Bills passing game Tyrod Taylor ($7,200). Taylor started the year on fire when he passed for three TDs in two of the first three games of the season. Since then he has cooled off considerably and was injured during the Week 5 game against the Titans. Last week he returned to face the Dolphins where he passed for 181 yards and a passing TD plus 44 yards on the ground. It's this ground game that really gives Taylor the opportunity to hit his value. On the season Taylor is averaging 38 yards per game and 5.6 yards per attempt. That is essentially an extra 75 passing yards over a non-running QB. If he can break a couple of long plays or run a TD in, he will likely hit value. That's just not something I want to rely on against a defense like the Jets. None of Taylor's targets in the passing game should be considered.
On the other side of the ball your best bet for value is Eric Decker ($6,800). For whatever reason, Decker's price has stayed right in the playable range every week of the year. In fact he has been one of the wide receivers I have just plugged in as one of the last guys in on my roster several times all year long and he has typically paid off scoring a TD in every game except for the Week 7 loss to the Patriots. For the year, Decker is averaging 67 yards per game and 13 yards per catch, both of which are right on pace with last year's stats. Even with how consistent Decker has been this season this still doesn't seem like a good place to plug him into your lineup as it is unlikely the Jets score more than two TDs and counting on him getting 1-2 of those makes him a high risk play. The rest of the Jets passing game including Brandon Marshall ($7,900) and Ryan Fitzpatrick ($7,200) aren't in play for me either.
The best place to find value in this entire game is going to be Chris Ivory ($7,000). Like Decker, Ivory has been a favorite of mine all season long and was one of my favorite targets in season long leagues. While he has never blown up for a huge game he has consistently been a good value play that can fill out your roster as he has scored every week but Week 2 and eight and has scored multiple TDs both in Week 1 and last week. For the season, Ivory's yards per attempt has been the worst of his career at 3.9 but he has been making up with volume and is on pace for his career high 77 yards per game. Unfortunately Ivory typically doesn't do much in the passing game either but he is on pace for a career year there too. If you really want some exposure to tomorrow's game Ivory would be the route I would go.
Best of luck in all your games this week and remember the points from Sunday are worth just as much as those on Thursday and it's better to be ahead come Sunday than at the end of the night on Thursday. If you are losing on Thursday this week you should have increased your odds of winning on Sunday.