We were treated to three Thanksgiving games last Thursday, with the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints being two of the home teams. In a weird scheduling decision by the NFL, the Cowboys will hit the road to take on the Saints on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 13. Each team has had only a week to prepare for Thursday night’s game and both teams are dealing with injuries or players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Above all, Dallas will be without Mike McCarthy on the sideline as he tested positive for COVID-19. Dan Quinn will fill in for McCarthy against a team he faced twice when he was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Ahead of a matchup of two teams that are looking to end their current losing streaks, here are my favorite captain and flex plays on DraftKings for Thursday night’s bout between the Cowboys and the Saints.
Captain Spot Considerations
CeeDee Lamb ($15,000)
One of the players that is expected to return this week for the Cowboys is CeeDee Lamb. Lamb suffered a concussion back in Week 11 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, forcing him to miss last week’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders. But after clearing the league’s concussion protocol and practicing in full throughout this week, Lamb is slated to return on Thursday. Despite missing the Thanksgiving game, Lamb still leads the team in receptions (50), receiving yards (740), and receiving touchdowns (6). While Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard could be popular plays, the Saints have a pass-funneling defense that has surrendered the fifth-most points (37.74) per game to wide receivers on DraftKings this season. Look for Dak Prescott to seek out Lamb out of the slot with Dallas looking to right the ship on offense this week.
Taysom Hill ($14,400)
New Orleans is making another change at quarterback this week as Taysom Hill will be replacing Trevor Siemian. Hill has been listed as an emergency quarterback for the Saints in the past two weeks despite dealing with a foot injury that has limited his mobility. Seeing that Hill has been named the starter, I believe his limitations have subsided enough for him to be a viable player to use at captain. Hill isn’t a franchise quarterback and he’s only attempted eight passes this season, but he brings a ton of upside with his legs. In his four starts at quarterback in 2020, Hill threw for 834 yards and four touchdowns while also adding 209 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. I envision Sean Payton wants to get Hill at least one rushing touchdown, with two rushing scores being a legitimate possibility on Thursday night. A couple of rushing touchdowns and decent passing numbers is enough for Hill to be one of the top performers against the Cowboys. If you’re someone that doesn’t trust Hill, I don’t mind either of the running backs for New Orleans, depending on the statuses of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
Amari Cooper ($12,900)
Besides Lamb, Amari Cooper is seemingly going to return on Thursday night versus the Saints. Cooper has missed the past two weeks after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Amid Cooper’s absence, the Cowboys have missed having a reliable outside option as Michael Gallup ended up being relied upon as the No. 1 guy on Thanksgiving. With the return of Cooper and Lamb, Prescott will look in the direction of his top two pass-catching options often in a hostile environment. I think either Lamb or Cooper could very well end up as the highest-scorer on Thursday night’s showdown slate.
Flex Spot Considerations
Tony Pollard ($7,800)
There have been conflicting messages from members of the Cowboys when it comes to Elliott and his knee injury. The All-Pro running back has battled a knee ailment in recent weeks that has hindered his play on the field. While Elliott has said that he can play through the injury and tough it out, there are reports that Dallas could limit his workload until he recovers, which would make sense as the Cowboys want to enter the playoffs healthy. With Elliott potentially seeing fewer snaps, Tony Pollard could be in for an increased workload on Thursday night. Pollard is a talented runner out of the backfield and he’s shown he’s a better receiver than Elliott. The idea of playing Pollard is that we can have him score a touchdown instead of Elliott, giving us leverage over those that elect to use the veteran running back over the third-year running back out of Memphis. New Orleans has given up the third-most receiving yards (214) to running backs in the past month, giving Pollard an opportunity to get some production through the air on a PPR-friendly site in DraftKings.
Dalton Schultz ($7,600)
For those that want to fade the running backs of the Cowboys, including Dalton Schultz in a stack with Prescott continues to be one way to be different than the majority of the field. While it’s tough to have a unique lineup on a showdown slate, Schultz will be one of the lower-owned receiving weapons for Dallas on Thursday night. That being said, Schultz has been a reliable option for Prescott at tight end as he’s seen the third-highest target share (15.17%) among skill players on the Cowboys. Even though the Saints have been strong to tight ends this season, they’ve surrendered the seventh-most receptions (19), the 10th most receiving yards (202), and the sixth-most receiving touchdowns (3) to tight ends over the past four weeks.
Tre’Quan Smith ($5,600)
If someone held me at gunpoint and asked me which wide receiver I’d use from the Saints — considering price because we know armed robbers are concerned with that — then I’d select Tre’Quan Smith. Smith leads New Orleans with a combined 20 targets in the past three weeks and volume remains king. If either or both of Kamara and Ingram return, that could put a damper on Smith’s value, but I believe he could still take advantage of a Dallas defense that is giving up the ninth-most points (37.02) per game to wide receivers on DraftKings. Even with Hill at quarterback, Smith can give us enough to make his $5,600 salary worth paying for.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey ($2,600)
Of the cheap options, Lil’Jordan Humphrey is someone that intrigues me just a smidge. Humphrey hasn't had a consistent role for the Saints this season, but in a what have you done for me lately league, Humphrey led the way for New Orleans with 43 receiving yards on five targets in Week 12 versus the Buffalo Bills. Yes, Humphrey could be phased out of the offense at any moment due to Kamara or Ingram returning, or the Saints just don’t deploy formations that allow Humphrey to see the field much. But on Thursday night slates, there is always an unexpected player to find the end zone. My choice is to believe that Payton saw what Humphrey did last week and gives him more snaps on offense. If we can get a touchdown or a big play from Humphrey, that alone would make him a massive value on Thursday night.