FanDuel: Week 13 Thursday Night Spotlight

Analyzes the game script for the Thursday night game. Examines factors to consider in setting Thursday night lineups, including injury considerations.

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 on the other games that will play over the weekend. Who is injured and who is starting are often just good estimates at this point. This uncertainty makes the players from the Thursday night game more appealing than those from 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. 

Game script

This week's Thursday night battle brings the Green Bay Packers to Detroit to take on the Lions in a game with an over under of 46.5. When thinking of the Packers and Lions we are used to totals being closer to 50 but this week's totals are low in general with an overall average of about 44.5 making this an above average scoring game for the week.

But a couple of weeks ago we thought this same matchup was juicy from a fantasy perspective and that is when the Lions went into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers 18-16 in one of the more surprising games of the season. In that game Aaron Rodgers was able to pass for 333 yards but it took him 61 pass attempts to do so for a paltry 5.5 yards per attempt. Even those yards were over stated as many of them came against prevent defense at the end of the game. James Starks was just as unimpressive in the ground game with only 42 yards on 15 carries.

Can the Lions defense hold down the Packers defense this week? The odds-makers don't think so listing the Packers as three point favorites and getting their revenge. I tend to agree with this line of thinking as the Packers really need a win this week to keep pace with the 8-3 Vikings. According to FootballOutsiders playoff odds charts the Vikings are currently the favorites to win the NFC North at 54% while the Packers are at only 45%. I still have confidence that this Packers team is the team to beat in the division and they will start turning things around this week with a win over the Lions 27-17.

Passing Game

We already talked about how Aaron Rodgers ($8,700) struggled in the last outing against the Lions but from a fantasy standpoint that was his third best game of the season. Outside of those three games he has amassed the following yard totals: 189, 249, 224, 241, 255, 77, 212, and 202. And for the year only averages 244 yards per game. If this was any other quarterback we would be benching him in season long leagues and wouldn't even be considering him at his price point in DFS. But alas Rodgers has bought some good grace over the years and I am still banking on him surpassing those averages and like I mentioned earlier wouldn't be surprised to see him use this game as a turning point for the rest of the season. That said Rodgers doesn't make a good play this week for your lineups as his price point is just too high at this point for cash or GPP games.

The rest of the Packers passing game is in a similar spot. They are simply too expensive to plug into your lineup. Randall Cobb ($7,100), James Jones ($5,500), Davante Adams ($6,400), and Richard Rodgers ($5,100) make for better plays on your opponents teams. When you see them plugging the "high flying" Packers offense just smile and nod. The one play that I think could make sense for the Packers offense is simply going all in on it and making a double stack with two of the receiving options and pairing them with Rodgers. I don't see this as a safe play but may be a way to get some high risk exposure with Rodgers in case they are able to turn the offense around this week.

On the other side of the ball the Lion's Matthew Stafford ($7,500) are coming off their second best game of the season where Stafford piled up 337 yards and five TDs on the pitiful Eagles defense. Hopefully you went with our Thanksgiving lineup advice and stacked Stafford with Golden Tate ($6,500) and Calvin Johnson ($8,500) as they combined to catch four of Stafford's five TDs.

Stafford has had a down season averaging only 267 yards but since the bye in Week 9 Stafford has been trending up by notching passing yards of 242, 282, and 337. While three games rarely makes a trend this corresponds with Jim Bob Cooter being hired as the offensive coordinator and Stafford is getting more time in the pocket so I tend to believe there is progress being made in the offense. Unfortunately the offense isn't improved enough to overcome Stafford's price and the Packers top 10 pass defense. As such I will be passing on Stafford this week.

Just like on the Packers side of the ball the Lions receivers are not priced fairly this week. That means fading Tate, Johnson, and Eric Ebron ($4,900) unless again like the Packers you want to try to pair Stafford with both Tate and Johnson. In fact, in that situation I would add a Packers player like Jones to the lineup and go absolutely all in on a game script that sees the Lions winning a shootout and Jones scoring some garbage time TDs to keep the game close.

Running game

The running game doesn't get much more interesting for ether of the teams as they are stuck in timeshares. The packers running back situation is awfully muddy right now with both James Starks ($5,700) and Eddie Lacy ($6,900) being worked in fairly heavily. I would expect a 2-1 carry split in favor of Lacy but since they have both been lead backs at some point in the season their prices are too high which makes it a near requirement to fade them this week.

The Lions situation is very similar with Ameer Abdullah ($5,700), Joique Bell ($5,300), and Theo Riddick ($5,800) all being heavily involved in the offense. I would expect a split of approximately 4-2-1 with Riddick being most heavily involved in the passing game. At these price points they scream an all-out fade for me.

Overall, despite this week's game has the outlook of an above average scoring game and pits two teams that over the last few years has had lethal passing games I suggest that you stay off players in this game. A few weeks back I mentioned that if you are losing after the Thursday night game you will likely be winning by the end of the weekend. I have a feeling this week is going to be the same and I will set my lineup with all players from this weekend's games.

As always please send any questions to Buzzard@footballguys.com or follow me on Twitter Follow @SteveBuzzard