Prepare yourself for a star-studded Thursday Night Football showdown on DraftKings as the Minnesota Vikings bang heads with the Philadelphia Eagles. With fantasy glory 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 in, as we dive into the tactical choices that could lead you to DFS victory in this 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, “busts” included.*
DraftKings Thursday Night Football Showdown Picks
Jalen Hurts ($17,100)
First, let me begin with this. This is the first showdown of the young season where the odds of the optimal captain not having one of the top 3 highest salaries is decent. This matchup features a ton of superstars who are all capable of breaking tonight’s slate. With that in mind, this is a slate where it might be a good move to get creative here and open some salary, especially in large-field DraftKings DFS tournaments. In fact, tonight, that is my preferred build as it allows me to pack more studs in my lineup. However, just as I said in the preamble, I’m making these picks as if I were making only one lineup.
Last week Jalen Hurts completed 22 out of 33 pass attempts for 170 yards and 1 TD through the air. On the ground, Hurts added 37 yards on 9 rushes. Throw in a lost fumble and you’ve got a real forgettable season premiere, regardless of the win. Contributing only 207 yards of total offense, Hurts’ dual-threat ability was not on display. However, playing in a short week, Hurts has the chance to rebound tonight on Thursday Night Football.
Hurts’ 37 rushing yards was his fewest on as many attempts (9) since Week 18 of last season where he ran for only 13 yards. With Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell being declared out, I fully expect Hurts to have his number called early and often in the run game. The Eagles O-line struggled to protect Jalen as he was pressured 16 times last week, so some of these runs may come as “off-script” plays. In the pass game, Jalen is not hurting for weapons. Both A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith recorded double-digit targets, with Smith being the one to find the end zone. Hurts has some work to do tonight in keeping those mouths fed as his top tight end Dallas Goedert failed to haul in a single pass, and Brown is without a TD in this young season.
Buccaneers QB, Baker Mayfield had an eerily similar stat line to Hurts last week against this Vikings defense. He was able to throw for 173 yards and a pair of TDs on 34 attempts while adding 11 yards on 8 carries. Sometimes comparing two offensive schemes can be like comparing apples to oranges, but in this case, I believe that the Vikings’ poor showing against Baker and the Bucs is a daunting sign of things to come when the Eagles offense lines up across from them tonight.
Captain to consider: Justin Jefferson ($18,600)
T.J. Hockenson ($6,800)
If there was one thing that stood out to me while re-watching the Pats-Eagles game, its that the Patriots’ tight end Hunter Henry was open, a ton. In tonight’s matchup the Eagles will be without safety Reed Blankenship and cornerback James Bradberry, both significant losses for the Birds’ secondary. The Eagles will undoubtedly have some shuffling to do on defense. When it’s all said and done, everyone’s matchups are going to look a lot more winnable, T.J. Hockenson included.
Hockenson enjoyed heavy volume in Week 1 against the Bucs, corralling eight out of nine targets. Both his catch and target totals were second to only Justin Jefferson. His yardage (35), however, left more to be desired. The eight catches is very encouraging though considering that they came against a very talented group of Buc’s safeties and linebackers. As mentioned above, the Eagles will be missing Blankenship, but they’ll also be without their sideline-to-sideline linebacker Nakobe Dean, who the team placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
While the Eagles’ secondary is licking their wounds, their defensive line has got to be licking their chops. The interior offensive line for the Vikings is a mess with center Garrett Bradbury already ruled out of tonight’s Thursday Night Football contest. Not to mention that their starting left tackle Christian Darrisaw is nursing an ankle injury, which saw forced him into limited practice sessions all week. Its my belief that this Eagles pass rush will make Kirk Cousins’ life a living hell tonight, forcing him to get rid of the ball earlier than he wants. Longer developing plays to his wide receivers may not be on the table tonight, making his safety valve Hockenson look mighty appealing DFS option tonight.
Core play to consider: A.J. Brown ($10,600)
D’Andre Swift ($4,000)
“I don’t ever want to leave a game where D’Andre has only two touches.” That was the reply from Nick Sirianni when asked about the usage of his running backs. Hey Nick, seeing as you’re the head coach and all, I think you have the power to make sure that D’Andre Swift touches the ball more than a pair of times. Luckily for Nick, it won’t be hard for him to keep his word as Kenny Gainwell (ribs) has been declared out of tonight’s Thursday Night Football matchup.
Swift was only on the field for 29% of snaps last week. That’s nowhere near the usage we were expecting to come from the running back that the team traded a 4th and 7th-round pick for on draft night. To be honest, there’s no telling what’s going through Sirianni’s head, so there is no way to guarantee that Swift is the lead guy here tonight. Swift’s dual-threat ability as a runner and pass catcher figures to help keep him on the field tonight regardless of the situation.
This is an Eagles football team that is known for establishing the run first and drawing up their schemes based off of the defense’s reaction. Without Gainwell, we could be looking at a running back by committee approach until he’s back. Regardless, DraftKings has Swift listed at $4,000 which would be an absolute steal if Swift does end up replacing Gainwell tonight as the lead back.
Value to consider: Eagles DST ($4,400)
Rashaad Penny ($1,600)
I don’t have much to say about a player who was a healthy scratch last week. In my opinion, it wasn’t the right decision to begin with. I was excited watching Rashaad Penny get some run in preseason action, it looked like he had regained every step that he had last season before his injury. While he may not be nearly as flashy as Swift, it’s my opinion that Penny is the most talented back on this roster. At the very least, I figured that his size made him the most logical option to deploy as the goal line back. Needless to say, I was shocked when he was inactive to start the year.
Fast forward one week and Penny has a very realistic, if not fully guaranteed chance to be active for Thursday Night Football tonight. Penny profiles as the best option to use on early downs and in between the tackles, but his inactive status last week obviously raises concerns about how of IF he will be used tonight.
In his last nine career games where he’s received at least 10 carries, Penny has gone for 100+ yards in five of them. Running behind arguably (and who is arguing?) the best offensive line in all of football, Penny has the ability to put those numbers up in his sleep. While he’s a mega risk due to the uncertainty of his role, Penny’s $1,600 price on DraftKings is low enough to warrant a dart throw or two.
Sleeper to consider: Josh Oliver ($800)
Devonta Smith ($9,000)
I almost went with Alexander Mattison here, but the $1,400 price difference led me to go with the more expensive player. Also, I’m not one to shy away from a hot take. Recording 7 catches and a touchdown on 10 targets, Devonta Smith was anything but a bust last week against the Patriots. However a closer look at his stat line raises some concerns.
While seven catches is pretty sweet, 47 yards ain’t gonna cut it. Especially not priced at 9k. Sure the rainy conditions weren’t ideal for sustained success in the pass game, but the fact that Smith wasn’t more productive with the volume he got is concerning. It’s concerning because that volume may not be there for him tonight. As mentioned in the “Captain” portion of this article, Hurts has a lot of mouths to feed. His WR1 needs a tuddy and his TE1 needs attention as well. Not to mention that he needs to get his pass-catching RB Swift going as well. Smith’s five-yard touchdown reception saved what would have been an otherwise average performance. Once again, at $9,000 on DraftKings, an average performance would destroy us. It also can’t hurt to note that Devonta Smith has only had 2 games with back-to-back touchdowns in his career. Tread carefully.
Bust to consider: Alexander Mattison ($7,600)
Also check out our Week 2 Rankings for your season-long leagues: Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Half-PPR by Position | Flex Rankings | Positional Ranks w/ K & DST | Dynasty | Superflex Dynasty