Are the New England Patriots officially back? The Patriots have won four straight games, including last week’s rout of the Cleveland Browns by the score of 45 to 7. Mac Jones is beginning to look more comfortable in New England’s offense and Bill Belichick has his defense playing at a high level. To get Week 11 started, the Patriots will travel to take on the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football.
The Falcons aren’t considered a playoff contender with a 4-5 record and following a 43-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10. Will Matt Ryan be able to bounce back against a stingy New England defense at home on Thursday night? Ahead of the first game of the week, here are my favorite captain and flex picks for Thursday’s Showdown slate on DraftKings between the Patriots and the Falcons.
Captain Spot Considerations
Damien Harris/Rhamondre Stevenson ($13,200/$12,900)
It’s evident that the Patriots make a concerted effort to run the ball as often as they can to ease some of the pressure off of Mac Jones in his rookie season. Damien Harris has led the team in rushing throughout the season, but it was rookie Rhamondre Stevenson that stepped up in a large way in Week 10 with Harris sidelined with a concussion. Harris has cleared the concussion protocol this week and is slated to return for the Patriots on Thursday night. My guess is that Harris resumes his role as the early-down running back against the Falcons. However, following Stevenson’s 100-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 10, he could see more work, especially if Brandon Bolden is out with a hip injury. Seeing that Atlanta’s defense has given up the third-most DraftKings points per game to running backs this season, at least one — if not both — of Harris and Stevenson could explode on Thursday night. If I had to decide between the two, I’d go with Harris. But if you’re someone that plays multiple lineups, I’d make sure to get exposure to both.
Jakobi Meyers ($12,000)
It was quite something to see Jakobi Meyers finally score his first career touchdown, huh? *Proceeds to wipe a tear from my eye* There aren’t many more beautiful sights than seeing an underrated wideout like Meyers find the end zone for the first time. After getting the monkey off of his back, can the Patriots unleash him even more, please? Meyers leads New England with a 23.8% target share on the season, which is 9.2% more than the second-highest target share on the roster. While the Falcons bleed points to running backs at a high clip, they also allow the eighth-most points per game to wide receivers on DraftKings. Jones has built a nice rapport with Meyers this season, even with Meyers catching just nine passes in the past three weeks. This is a perfect week for Meyers to bounce back, especially on a site like DraftKings that favors PPR-valuable wideouts like Meyers with one full point per reception.
Cordarrelle Patterson ($15,300)
The biggest injury situation we will need to monitor on Thursday is the status of Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson exited Atlanta’s game with Dallas last week, even though the broadcast shared that his absence wasn’t due to injury. At the beginning of the week, Patterson was revealed to have an ankle ailment. The Falcons have listed Patterson as questionable for Thursday night’s contest, and it’s been reported that he will be a game-time decision. So before inserting Patterson into your lineups, make sure to confirm his status. With Calvin Ridley still out, Patterson and Kyle Pitts have become the biggest threats on offense for the Falcons. Belichick is notorious for centering his attention on containing the opposing team’s best weapon, meaning that Pitts could be a focal point for New England’s defense. Patterson is utilized in the rushing and aerial attack, making him a perfect choice at captain if he suits up. If Patterson is ruled out, then it becomes a tricky decision between Mike Davis or Wayne Gallman, so I’d replace Patterson at captain with my first selection below at the flex spot.
Flex Spot Considerations
Hunter Henry ($7,000)
During the offseason, the Patriots inked deals with Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry at the tight end position. The initial thought was that New England was going to play 12 personnel often, but Smith has struggled to get acclimated, and injuries haven’t helped his case. With Smith being quiet in the offense, Henry has emerged as one of Jones’ favorite targets, especially in the red zone. Henry has gotten 11 red-zone targets this season (4th most at tight end) and has garnered at least one red-zone target in seven straight games. In that same period, Henry has hauled in seven touchdowns. Whenever the Patriots get near the end zone, Henry is the primary option for Jones. And with us trying to play every player that scores a touchdown, we have a good chance to get a touchdown from Henry on Thursday night.
Russell Gage ($6,600)
As previously mentioned, the Patriots tend to center their attention on keeping the opposing team’s best player in check. While you can make the argument between two players (Patterson and Pitts), that leads to more opportunities for the rest of the guys in the offense. Yes, it’s not ideal to play someone that had zero points in Week 10, but Russell Gage is the No. 3 option in Atlanta’s offense. Last week’s game should be forgotten as the Falcons lost 43-3 and went down double-digits early in the first half, leading to fewer snaps for Gage and the starters. Gage has seen the second-most targets in the past two weeks with Ridley sidelined for Atlanta. I expect Gage to be included more in the game plan this week due to the Patriots trying their best to contain Patterson and Pitts. Also, the Falcons could be playing from behind, putting Gage in a spot to see more opportunities on Thursday night.
Patriots D/ST ($5,600)
Did I mention how well the defense of the Patriots has been in recent weeks? In the past four weeks combined, New England has limited their opponents to a combined 50 points. They’ve also recorded eight interceptions, 11 sacks, one fumble recovery, and two defensive touchdowns in those same four weeks. On the green site, the Patriots D/ST has averaged 14 points per game in their past four games. The offense of the Falcons isn’t one to be afraid of, and Atlanta just helped the defense of the Cowboys post a season-high 23 points on DraftKings in Week 10. The Falcons could rely on Ryan to air it out often, giving us more opportunities for sacks and turnovers. If the defense of the Patriots can get a touchdown, they’d be a nice value option on a showdown slate that lacks value options.
Younghoe Koo ($4,000)
As I said, there aren’t many viable value options that stick out in Thursday night’s game between the Patriots and the Falcons. We could have a low-scoring game between both teams, or because it’s a Thursday night contest, we could unexpectedly get a shootout between these teams. Regardless of how the game plays out, Younghoe Koo could be busy for the Falcons. If Atlanta is going to score, I envision them attempting a few field goals against a defense that is finding their identity in the latter part of the season. Koo has made at least one field goal in every game this season, and he’s only missed one attempt all season. It would be nice to get two-plus field goals from Koo, and if we can get a 50+ yarder (he’s made two this season), we can get a bonus on DraftKings that can potentially give us double-digit points from Koo.