Week 12 NFL action kicks off Thursday with a three-game Thanksgiving Day slate after 12:30 p.m. EST. The first two games both have heavy favorites, as the Bills are expected to take care of business in Detroit while the Cowboys are projected to easily handle the Giants in Dallas despite the NFC East rivals' identical 7-3 records. The nightcap involves the Patriots traveling to Minnesota. Yahoo's biggest Thanksgiving Day contest is the $75K Thanksgiving Baller, which will pay out a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000 to the top 1,600 finishers, including $10,000 to the winner. You can submit up to 150 entries into this contest, which has a maximum total capacity of 8,820 entries but will still run if it doesn't fill, potentially providing you with enhanced odds of winning, also known as overlay.
Playing in guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contests is about chasing upside, while lineups geared towards head-to-head, 50/50 or double-up formats should prioritize high floors. The players you want to target for these different contest types aren't mutually exclusive, but winning a GPP tournament usually requires finding a hidden gem or going against the grain in a spot or two, while building a solid base of the same chalk plays you would use anywhere. Against-the-grain plays typically consist of big-name players in tough matchups or boom-or-bust types with uncertain roles.
Keep in mind that Yahoo DFS contests use 0.5 PPR scoring rather than full PPR, which lowers the comparative value of wide receivers and running backs (in that order) while especially affecting high-volume pass-catchers. Your NFL $75K Thanksgiving Baller lineup will consist of one QB, two RBs, three WRs, one TE, one FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and one D/ST unit. Suggested plays include a star quarterback-receiver duo, a running back taking on a team that he always plays well against and a dominant defense facing a depleted offensive line.
Josh Allen, BUF at DET ($42): Allen's by far the priciest quarterback playing Thursday, but he should be worth paying up for, assuming he avoids a setback with his elbow. Both of the other games are expected to be low scoring, while Bills-Lions has an over/under of 54.5 points, so it projects to be the most fantasy-friendly game. Allen produces value with both his arm and his legs. Among all NFL quarterbacks, he ranks second in passing yards (2,930), thirds in passing touchdowns (21), third in rushing yards (483) and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (four). The sky's the limit for Allen against a Detroit defense that's allowing a league-high 28.2 points per game.
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL vs. NYG ($17): Fellow Dallas running back Tony Pollard has been phenomenal lately, but Elliott should still command around half the touches in this backfield, which makes him an appealing value at $10 less than Pollard. If the Cowboys build a lead as expected, they'll give Elliott plenty of opportunities on the ground, and he loves to play the Giants. Since the start of the 2018 season, Zeke has reached the end zone in all but one of his eight meetings with New York, totaling nine touchdowns in those games. The only exception came in 2019, when Elliott failed to score but rushed for a season-high 139 yards
Rhamondre Stevenson, NE at MIN ($24): Stevenson has taken over as the clear lead back in New England's run-first offense, notching at least 18 touches in each of the past seven games. Over that stretch, he leads the team in rushing attempts and yards, as well as targets (40) and catches (34). That multi-faceted skillset is similar to that of Pollard, who just eviscerated Minnesota's defense to the tune of 189 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. All in all, opposing running backs have scored six touchdowns against the Vikings in the last two weeks.
Stefon Diggs, BUF at DET ($38): Both Diggs and Gabe Davis are set up for success against the shaky Detroit secondary, which has allowed 1,905 yards to wide receivers, which is the fourth most in the league. Diggs has the far higher floor though, as he's totaled 76 catches to Davis' 29 this season. While Davis relies on chunk plays, Diggs is involved on almost every Bills possession. Paying up for the Allen-Diggs stack should be worth it, as this pair has proven more than capable of carrying lineups.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET vs. BUF ($24): The Lions are expected to be playing catch-up, so a pass-heavy game plan is likely against a Buffalo secondary that's struggled to contain opposing No. 1 wide receivers recently. In the past two games, Justin Jefferson and Amari Cooper combined for 306 yards and two touchdowns against the Bills. St. Brown's the clear top option in Detroit's passing game, as he's caught 17 of 19 targets for 195 yards over the past two weeks and has at least seven catches in 11 of his last 15 appearances dating back to last season.
Darius Slayton, NYG at DAL ($16): Slayton is easily the top target in New York's banged-up offense, especially after Wan'Dale Robinson's season-ending knee injury. With 305 yards and two touchdowns over the past four games, Slayton has been a consistent contributor recently, and he just garnered a season-high 10 targets last week. At this salary, he's a nice value play against a Dallas defense that will prioritize stopping Saquon Barkley.
T.J. Hockenson, MIN vs. NE ($20): Hockenson's easily the best tight end in action Thursday, as he ranks third at the position with 544 yards this season, while the only other tight end playing Thanksgiving that ranks in the top 20 is Buffalo's Dawson Knox at 17th (310 yards). Since joining the Vikings, Hockenson has seen a noticeable uptick in usage, drawing at least nine targets in each of his first three games with his new club. He'll face a Patriots defense that has struggled to defend tight ends, as New England's seven touchdowns allowed to the position are tied with Detroit for second most in the league.
Dawson Knox, BUF at DET ($17); Dalton Schultz, DAL vs. NYG ($16); Brock Wright, DET vs. BUF ($10)
New England Patriots, NE at MIN ($19): Minnesota will be without left tackle Christian Darrisaw, and his exit early in last week's loss to Dallas had disastrous consequences for the Vikings, as Kirk Cousins was sacked a career-worst seven times. A pass rush led by league sack leader Matthew Judon (13.0) should overwhelm Minnesota's depleted offensive line, so New England should continue its strong defensive play after racking up a combined 43.0 fantasy points in its last two games and limiting each of those opponents to three points.