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Thursday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Giants at 49ers

We begin Week 3 with a game that has unfortunately gotten significantly less interesting since the season has kicked off as the 49ers play host to the Giants. The 49ers are 10.5-point favorites on most sportsbooks with the total at 44.

Briefly, for those new to showdown slates, both FanDuel and DraftKings offer single-game contests for Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games, albeit with different setups. FanDuel rosters consist of five players of any position. There is one "MVP" slot, which earns a 1.5 multiplier. The MVP costs the same as the four other flex spots on the roster. The total budget is $60,000, leaving an average of $12,000 per player.

On DraftKings, the "Captain" spot on the roster receives the same multiplier, though the salary also increases. That creates more incentive to get creative and take risks in the captain spot, both to save cap and create different roster builds than will be typical for the rest of the field. There are six roster spots to fill on DK, with five FLEX in addition to the Captain. The salary cap is $50,000, leaving $8,333 per roster spot.

Quarterback

We immediately start with an interesting quirk. Based on the line and implied point totals, we'd expect Daniel Jones ($10,200 DK, $16,000) FD) to be the cheaper of the two options. That's not the case, however, due to Jones' ability as a rusher. Even in his otherwise abysmal performance against the Cowboys in Week 1, Jones racked up 43 yards on the ground. The story might be different in a tough matchup against the 49ers. Neither quarterback they've faced this season is much of a threat on the ground, but they've limited Kenny Pickett and Matthew Stafford to a combined two touchdowns and four interceptions with 5.3 yards per attempt through the air. As one final blow to Jones' potential, Andrew Thomas (hamstring) and Ben Bredeson (concussion) are out. In a one-game sample anything can happen, but on paper, this is a straightforward fade.


Brock Purdy ($9,400 DK, $14,500 FD) is at a considerable discount. He's been an incredibly effective distributor through two games, but it's clear the 49ers don't want to put games into his hands, as he's combined only 54 passes. Considering how the sportsbooks project this game, the 49ers should be able to run their offense how they want and win. In other words, if the game plays out as expected, it will be another night of limited volume for Purdy. Nevertheless, there are two viable theories to play him. The first is for those who think the Giants can keep the game close with their offense, thus pushing the San Francisco offense out of its preferred game plan. The other is with the idea that the 49ers will spread production evenly between its myriad elite offensive skill-position players, leaving Purdy with the best chance to rack up the highest score of the group even if his volume is lacking.

Running Back

If you thought the assessment of Danny Dimes was bleak, skip a few paragraphs ahead. Saquon Barkley (ankle) is out, leaving Matt Breida ($7,000 DK, $11,000 FD), Gary Brightwell ($5,000 DK, $7,500 FD) and Eric Gray ($1,400 DK, $6,000) as the projected active backs for the Giants. As their prices suggest, Breida and Brightwell project to account for the majority of the touches. While it's difficult to envision a 100-yard rushing performance (either back reaching 50 might be lucky) It is worth noting the success that Kyren Williams had as a pass catcher last week against the San Francisco defense. Both Breida and Brightwell have been involved in that role through two weeks, so that could be the path to production. Overall, Breida projects to be the lead back, but Brightwell could be a decent value if he can get some work as a pass catcher or find the end zone.

Finally, Gray has yet to play an offensive snap this season. While that will almost certainly change, it is fair to say his role is ambiguous.

For San Francisco, Christian McCaffrey ($13,200 DK, $18,000 FD) has shouldered a shockingly heavy workload in two games. We should expect to change for a few reasons. First, coach Kyle Shanahan said this week he needs to do a better job rotating the team's backs into the game. Add in that the team is on a short week and the projected competitiveness in the game and it makes sense that McCaffrey will see his work scaled back a bit. Of course, he's extremely talented and can still put up a big score on a lesser workload, particularly in a positive matchup.

That also makes things interesting for Elijah Mitchell ($2,400 DK, $6,500 FD). Perhaps due to his lack of involvement to this point, his price is extremely modest. He's a locked-in play for me.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Now we have to do some digging. Surprisingly, Parris Campbell ($4,400 DK, $8,000 FD) leads New York in routes run, though he's ultimately one of three pass catchers (excluding Barkley) to see double-digit targets in the offense. Ultimately, Campbell has an abysmal .31 yards per route run, which ruins his good role in the offense. Darius Slayton ($5,600 DK, $8,500 FD) is in a similar spot to Campbell from a role perspective, he's just been more efficient.

That brings us to my favorite two players to consider from New York. Darren Waller ($7,400 DK, $11,500 FD) is the obvious choice. If the Giants are going to keep pace in this game, he's going to have to produce. He played well in Week 2 and leads the team in both raw targets as well as targets per route run.

The other choice is Jalin Hyatt ($5,200 DK, $7,000 FD). He's been a part-time player through two games, but he delivered two long plays that were pivotal in the team's second-half comeback against Arizona, which should convince coach Brian Daboll to give him a more significant role.

Isaiah Hodgins ($6,400 DK, $10,500 FD) is caught somewhere between this group of players in terms of both role and production. He's an OK play because he has a role and has produced fairly reasonably. His price is in relative no man's land so he could also sneak by as a low-rostered player. But, ultimately if I'm playing these pass catchers, I typically will look to pay all the way up (Waller) or down (Hyatt).

The situation in San Francisco is different, as targets are narrowly distributed between Brandon Aiyuk ($8,600 DK, $12,000 FD) and Deebo Samuel ($8,800 DK, $13,500 FD). Keep an eye on the injury report as Aiyuk was limited this week with a shoulder injury and is questionable. If he's out, Samuel becomes an obvious play and Jauan Jennings ($4,800 DK, $7,000 FD) would become an interesting play — at least on FD where his price is less deflated.

If we get some assurance that Aiyuk is healthy and will play something at least close to his regular role, I'd side with playing him on DK as he fills more of a traditional top receiver role in the offense. Samuel is interesting on both sites but is a good fit on FD because he's a good bet to find the end zone either on the ground or as a receiver. Because of his work as a rusher, he very well could rack up plenty of total yards but still be less likely to hit the 100-yard bonus on DK relative to Aiyuk.

The last piece to the puzzle is George Kittle ($6,600 DK, $9,000 FD). Usage as a blocker is the primary concern, though he's actually been quite involved as a route runner this year. Of 58 dropbacks for Purdy this year, Kittle has run 42 routes. For perspective, Samuel has run on a route on all 58 and Aiyuk 48 (he played partial snaps in Week 2 due to the injury). Kittle won't draw as many targets as any of Aiyuk, Samuel or Waller, but his targets per route run mark is actually quite similar to that of Waller (22.0 to 21.4 percent). The price difference and expected game script has me leaning Kittle over Waller, which might be contrary to the field.

Kickers

After some shaky health during training camp and the preseason, Jake Moody ($4,200 DK, $9,500 FD) has quickly become a reliable option by putting up 14 points in each of his first two games. For those who believe in the implied total for San Francisco, he's a good option once again, though his price on FD is inflated significantly.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Graham Gano ($4,000 DK, $8,000 FD) has had a quiet start to the season and we should project for that to continue in this tough matchup for the Giants offense.

Defense/Special Teams

There's no compelling reason to play the Giants ($3,200 DK, $7,500 FD).

After throwing only five picks last season, Jones has already turned the ball over in the air three times in two games. Now, he'll faces one of the deepest front sevens in the league without the benefit of his star running back or two starting lineman. The problem is the 49ers ($4,800 DK, $10,000 FD) are priced accordingly.

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