Here we go again! There’s nothing quite like a Thursday Night Football stinker to help us make it to the weekend. The visiting New York Giants will be without their star running back, which hints that most of tonight’s fantasy output could be coming from the San Francisco 49ers. With fantasy glory and a whole lotta cheddar on the line, it’s crucial to assemble a winning lineup that can dominate the competition. In this DFS article, I’ve dissected key players for your lineups, offering insights on who should take the coveted captain slot, which core player should anchor your player pool, a value gem that can boost your salary cap flexibility, a sleeper pick with breakout potential, and one player to steer clear of – the dreaded bust. Strap up, as we dive into the tactical choices that could lead you to DFS victory in this Thursday Night Football primetime battle!
*Disclaimer: These picks have been constructed with the mindset of building a single lineup. When building large field/multi-entry tournaments, if the player sees the field you’ll want to have a piece of him somewhere, my “busts” included.*
DraftKings Thursday Night Football Showdown Picks
Christian McCaffrey ($19,800)
There are only two ways that Christian McCaffrey doesn’t pay off his DraftKings Captain salary of $19,800 tonight on TNF. Scenario one: The 49ers come out swinging and are absolutely beating the brakes off of the Giants, so Kyle Shanahan does the SMART THING, and benches McCaffrey for the rest of the game. Scenario two: We’re not going to breathe any life into scenario two. But you know exactly where I’m going with this. Lets just say, thank God this game isn’t being played on that MetDeath Stadium turf.
So lets talk about scenario one. If we do end up getting scenario one, then I really like my “value” option of the 49ers DST here in the captain slot. The funny thing is that we actually have some data to support the idea that scenario one is not likely to happen. Allow me to paint you a picture. It’s Week 1, the 49ers are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fast forward to the first drive of the 4th quarter where the score is 27-7! 1st play, McCaffrey rush to the left for 11 yards. 2nd play, McCaffrey up the middle for 3 yards. 3rd play, Brock Purdy pass short right to guess who? You guessed it, Christian McCaffrey, for a 3 yard gain.
While I don’t agree with Shanahan putting unnecessary miles on his star runner, I must admit that McCaffrey looks like he’s on a mission this season. In his first two games he has been fed to the tune of at least 20 carries, which has resulted in 2 games over 100 yards. McCaffrey has also recorded a rushing score in both games. It feels like McCaffrey is trying to break records this season, I for one will be right behind him riding that wave.
Captain to consider: Deebo Samuel ($13,200)
Darren Waller ($7,400)
I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that if the Giants manage to stay in this game, it’ll be because Darren Waller had a huge game. I’m not on record saying that I believe in the G-Men tonight, but you can quote me when I say that I do believe in Waller. Darren has 11 targets already in just two games and is by far quarterback Daniel Jones‘ preferred option at tight end. This week Waller gets a 49ers defense that has only given up one touchdown to a non-running back. That occurred in Week 1 when tight end Pat Freiermuth found the end zone.
Giants star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) is OUT for this Thursday Night Football matchup. The Giants are really going to need their star tight end to ball out. I know what you’re thinking, Puka Nacua feasted on this 49ers secondary last week. Maybe you should target a New York Giants wide receiver. There are two problems with that. First, what crystal ball are you gazing into that’s got the answer to which WR is going to tickle Jones’ fancy tonight? Because I haven’t the foggiest. Second, we need to realize that Rams HC Sean McVay could scheme a sumo wrestler open in a phone booth. The Giants’ play calling is nowhere near as creative. The heat is going to be on. I’ve got Danny Dimes making numerous deposits to Waller. While the yardage might not stack up, the PPR format that DraftKings deploys, paired with his first touchdown of the season, should be enough to propel Waller into the winning roster tonight.
Core play to consider: George Kittle ($6,600)
49ers DST ($5,800)
A Saquon Barkley-less Giants team is undoubtedly going to be very hard to watch tonight. In fact, if you have an account on FanDuel sportsbook, I’d recommend hammering the live “New York Giants to Punt” props whenever offered. It’s really the only way to get any satisfaction out of constantly watching a team go three and out. I see a lot of short drives in New York’s future tonight. Playing on a short week and traveling 2,900 miles across the country, the odds are already stacked up against the G-Men.
It’s only been two weeks and Daniel Jones has already thrown three interceptions, fumbled twice (recovered both), and been sacked 10 times! It has been a very tough start for Jones and it does not get any easier for him tonight. In two games the 49ers defense has recorded half a dozen sacks as well as 4 interceptions. They have yet to force/recover a fumble or score a defensive touchdown. I hate to play the “they’re due” card, but I’ve got to say all the variables are lining up for the 49ers defense to do something special tonight.
Value to consider: Jake Moody ($4,200)
Sterling Shepard ($1,000)
We haven’t seen much of Sterling Shepard yet this season. I’m not panicking, I’m going to let logic win the day on this one. Week 1 @ MetLife Stadium, playing surface, turf. Week 2 @ State Farm Stadium, playing surface turf. We all know what happened to Aaron Rodgers on that MetLife turf. Anybody paying attention in the offseason heard every Philadelphia Eagles player and his mother complain about the turf at State Farm Stadium following their Super Bowl loss. The stadium sponsors are very fitting considering you’ll need great insurance if you intend to play on either field! Neither stadium is the right place to unleash a veteran coming off of yet another brutal injury.
Sterling Shepard was on the field for 20% of snaps in Week 1 and only 15% in Week 2. Low percentages like that have Shepard firmly off a ton of people’s fantasy radars. Last season Shepard racked up 24 targets in just three games before suffering a season ending ACL tear. If Shepard happens to gets the green light tonight on Thursday Night Football, a $1,000 salary on DraftKings could be the value play that breaks tonight’s DFS slate.
Sleeper to consider: Elijah Mitchell ($2,400)
Matt Breida ($7,000)
Just because Saquon Barkley is out does not mean that his replacement is a plug and play. Replacement is actually a strong word in this scenario. “Replacement” assumes that the role and volume will be similar to that of their predecessor. I’m not convinced that Matt Breida captures either tonight. His “volume” tonight or rather the Giants’ willingness to give him carries tonight will largely depend on the game script. I envision the Giants abandoning the run early in this one as they’re likely to be playing from behind for a majority of the game.
The last time that Matt Breida received even at least 50% of snaps was Week 18 of last season. Breida played 70% of snaps and was given just four carries. He took those four totes for 28 yards. Breida, as always, did his damage through the air, recording 7 catches on 8 targets. Those seven receptions only went for 12 yards. I wouldn’t flinch if Breida ends up with a similar stat line tonight on TNF. The Giants are overmatched on every side of the ball tonight, but I especially don’t want any part of their running game.
Bust to consider: Daniel Jones ($10,200)