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Thursday DFS Preview: How to build your lineup for Thursday's New Orleans-Dallas showdown

Credit: Dallas Cowboys (Instagram)

Welcome back to week 13 of the Thursday Night Football Showdown Build here at Aaron Torres Online. I can’t believe it’s week 13 and we are in the home stretch of the season already. This week we get an explosive Dallas team heading into New Orleans to face a team that is trying to stay afloat. Both teams are coming off losses on Thanksgiving and looking to turn things around. Dallas is on a 2-game losing streak while New Orleans has dropped 4 in a row. This game has the makings of a good battle and hopefully we will get a solid game.

As you know, I come to you weekly with a column specifically focused on one type of DFS contest, the Showdown style on DraftKings. I am here every Thursday, specifically giving you players and strategy for the Thursday Night Football Showdown contests. Showdown Style is a DFS contests, also referred to as Captain Mode contests, where your roster consists of only 6 players and must include players from both teams. The positions in this type of contest are a “Captain” and 5 “Flex” players. This means that you can play a QB, RB, WR, TE, K or Defense in any of those roster spots with no minimum or maximum at any position. The player you select as the captain will score 1.5 time the standard fantasy point value for every statistic but drafting a player in the captain spot will also cost you more salary than if you were to draft them in a flex spot.

Before we get started, remember to check out my “DFS Flash” podcast, a quick whip around DFS show, that’s only 15-20 minutes and gets you ready for the full Sunday DFS slate ahead. It’s been delivering winners every week so don’t miss out! Make sure to subscribe here or listen below.

With that, let’s build out our week 13 Thursday Night Football Showdown Slate Lineup!

The Captain Spot

As I mentioned, the player you use in this spot is going to cost you more salary by being the captain, but it will also score you 1.5 times the standard point value earned. This week, we have a few big name, high salary players who have injury questions surrounding them, so it makes them hard to trust in the captain spot. Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliot, and Taysom Hill are 3 of the 5 most expensive players on the slate and are all dealing with lower body injuries. Kamara has missed the past 3 games with a knee injury but is trending towards suiting up this week. Elliot has only had 9 carries in each of the past 2 games while he nurses his own knee injury. Taysom Hill hasn’t played the past few weeks due to a foot injury, even with the offense struggling under Trevor Siemian, but reports this week say he will be back this week and could be the starting quarterback if he is ready to go.

With the injury concerns, even if those guys play, I wouldn’t trust them enough to use in a captain spot. That makes my decision on captain really between Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb. While both players can put up huge numbers, the decision will really come down to how much value you can find at the flex since there is a $2,700 difference from Prescott to Lamb as captain. I would rather use Prescott since he has a higher floor as a quarterback than Lamb does. Dak had a 5.64-point performance 2 weeks ago, but he is usually good for a consistent 20-30 fantasy points each week which is multiplied as a captain. Lamb has also had big games, even putting up a 39-point game in week 6, but he also has games with 4.4, 4.3 and 3.3 points. With that low of a floor, and some matchups against Marshon Lattimore likely, I will use Dak as my captain, Lamb in a flex and find some value at other flex spots.

Flex Spots with high salaries

Before we look for value, I want to be sure I have a couple of solid options in my flex spots to give me some upside plays and ensure some stable point scoring in my lineup. I am going to use Lamb in one spot, and I want to get another Dallas pass catcher in my lineup to pair with Dak. Amari Cooper will be back after missing 2 games on the Covid list, but he is still showing some lingering symptoms from testing positive for Covid and he may be limited a bit from it. His price of $8,600 is too much for me and I would rather pay down to Michael Gallup at $6,800.

Gallup has 18 targets in the 2 games Cooper missed and while that may go down this week, he has been productive and shows some rapport with Prescott. Last week, Gallup caught 5 balls for 106 yards and is proving to be a reliable weapon in this passing attack. Dallas tight end Dalton Schultz could also be an option at $7,600 as he has established himself as a solid tight end who gets targeted in a high-powered offense. You could use Schultz if you have extra funds but since I am paying all the way up at captain and using Lamb, Ill take the discount on Gallup to afford the other guys I want to get in my lineup.

We talked a little about Ezekiel Elliot and Alvin Kamara in the captain section. You could consider them as flex options, and either one has a good probability to score a touchdown, but I am concerned with the workloads. We have already seen Dallas limit Elliot the past couple of games and with them looking to be the best team in the NFC East, they will likely continue to take it easy on him with playoffs in mind. Kamara may return this week, but its hard to imagine they give him a full workload in his first week back. New Orleans may choose to ease him back in, let him see some game action, but limit his workload and let him have the long week to rest before ramping him up more in their next game. I don’t trust either enough to pay up for in my lineup.

The duo of possible New Orleans quarterbacks are priced too high, especially with all the uncertainty. If we knew Taysom Hill was the starter, and he was fully healthy, he may be worth the $9,600 salary. He isn’t your typical quarterback, but his rushing upside showed us last year that he could be a nice play for fantasy. The fact that we learned that he has been dealing with a partial tear in his plantar fascia gives me enough pause. An injury like that to a quarterback who is a better runner than a passer takes some allure out of what attracts us to him in the first place. I am concerned enough not to pay up. Trevor Siemian at $9,400 is not an option for me even if he gets the start this week.

Flex Spots with value

With the injury issues the starting running backs are dealing with, we get values with their backups. Both Tony Pollard at $7,800 and Mark Ingram at $5,000 are certainly in consideration in this lineup build.

Both backs are ones that we consider “plus handcuffs” as not only are they the backups to the lead backs, but they also play a stand-alone role in the team’s offense as well. Pollard is a guy who has had double digit fantasy performances several times already this season. He has 7 games where he saw double digit rushing attempts and is also involved as a pass catcher out of the backfield.

Ingram missed last week’s game with his own knee issue but has been practicing fully this week and looks ready to go. Ingram has put together double-digit fantasy performances in the 3 weeks prior to missing last week. At only $5,000 he would be a steal in our lineups if Kamara doesn’t play. Ingram has also showed us that he can be a weapon as a pass catcher as he has 15 receptions in his last 3 games. I will certainly be looking to put at least 1 of them in my lineup. If Kamara doesn’t play, it will certainly be Ingram. If both Kamara and Elliot play, then it will be a decision.

New Orleans doesn’t have a great stable of wide receivers. The duo of Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith leave little to be desired. Callaway had some hype coming into the season, but he hasn’t been able to do much on the field. In his last 3 games, he has only been targeted 4 times in each game and has only 5 receptions over those games. Smith has been the better receiver and he has more catches and targets lately as well. Over his past 3 games, Smith has been targeted 20 times and has caught 13 of those passes. What has saved Callaway has been touchdowns. Callaway has 6 touchdowns on the season including 3 in the past 4 games. Smith only has 2 touchdowns on the season in comparison.

There are 2 differences here for me that help make my decision on which I prefer. Callaway is priced at $6,400 and Smith is only $5,600, so there is a $800 savings on Smith. Callaway will also likely see a lot of Trevon Diggs in this matchup as well. I will give a lean to playing Smith for those reasons, and my final build will likely have a decision of using Smith and one of the backs we just talked about, or not using Smith and going with both backs.

Dart Throw

Using a lineup with Dak at the captain, Lamb at $10,000 and 3 players over the $5,000 mark may make you have to throw a dart. The best place to throw a dart this week would be at a New Orleans tight end. I mentioned that the wide receivers aren’t great, so the tight ends do play a role in this offense. Nick Vannett at $3,600 came back from his own knee injury last week and caught a touchdown pass on his only reception of the game. Juwan Johnson wasn’t even targeted last week but he led the tight ends in snaps and ran routes on about 55% of the team’s passing plays compared to Vannett’s 15%. Johnson is a better athlete and a better offensive weapon, so I am going to throw the dart that way, save some money, and hope he gets a red zone target for a touchdown.

Week 10 Thursday Night Football Showdown Style Lineup

Captain – Dak Prescott

Flex – CeeDee Lamb

Flex – Michael Gallup

Flex – Mark Ingram (could pivot to Pollard)

Flex – Tre’Quan Smith (could pivot to Ingram if you went Pollard above)

Flex – Juwan Johnson


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