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NFL DFS: Week 12 Thanksgiving Games Best Bets, High Leverage, and Safe Picks for DraftKings and FanDuel

The Vikings are thankful they added T.J. Hockenson to their lineup and DFS players may be too if they do the same this week.

Thanksgiving is often about tradition. But since I so rarely do things the way others do, this piece will not follow the usual format. We are definitely going to mix things up for this special Thanksgiving edition of daily fantasy (DFS) picks and best bets. 

I am going to give you my picks for each "Showdown" or "single game" slate on Thursday. For each game, I will mention my favorite MVP or Captain pick, depending on which site you prefer, followed by my favorite high-priced pick and favorite low-priced pick.

Allow me to mention a few things, however. As smart as it is to play cash Showdown games, I rarely ever do. Therefore all of my picks below reflect an eye toward GPPs. And therefore, I never have a QB as my Captain/MVP as that is a low-leverage play. On the flip side, I rarely go with a defense/special teams (DST) or kicker, as they typically don't score enough points to even keep within closing distance of the pack. If it is extremely cold blustery night I might, but there might be three of those a season.

Week 12 Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

But before we get into all the DFS decisions, lets start with my favorite bet for Thanksgiving Day this year.

Thanksgiving Best Bets: Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, and Ezekiel Elliot to combine for 2+ Rush/Rec TDs (+100)

Hopefully, this bet is still available to you. When I saw FanDuel had posted this promotional bet, I immediately rushed to bet on it. And I liked it so much, I even bet two units on it and considered more.

First off, I love that we are getting three running backs to score two touchdowns and they don't even have to be rushing TDs. Also, I think it is very likely that each one of these backs can hit this bet by themselves, let alone any combination of them.

Let's start with the least likely of the three, Elliott. Despite having a "down" year, Elliott still has half a dozen TDs, and recall he's only played in eight games. And 'Zeke tends to eat on Thanksgiving. He tied Michael Irvin for Cowboys' career TDs last Thanksgiving, which was his fourth Thanksgiving TD. The historical trends portend for a better game for Elliott than the recent trends, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a couple of goal-line carries.

Even if he doesn't score, I'm not worried. Pollard has been on an absolute heater lately, having scored six touchdowns in his last three games, including at least one in each. Not that Barkley is anything to sneeze at either. He too has half a dozen TDs, including one earlier this year against the Cowboys.

Both these teams like to hand the ball off and often score when they do. The Giants and Cowboys are each averaging 1.3 rushing TDs per game, tied for the fourth-best rate in the league. And Dallas sees that jump to 1.4 at home and New York interestingly sees its rate jump to 1.5 on the road. And remember, it doesn't even have to be a rushing TD. Pollard and Barkley have a combined 52 receptions already this year.

As I said, I am smashing this bet. Onto this week's DFS picks.

First Game: Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions 

Captain/MVP Pick: Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills

Don't overthink this. I don't care how shakey Josh Allen looked last week or how good the Detroit defense played last week. No non-QB option in our first tilt can take over a game more than Diggs.

He brings a solid floor with a mile-high ceiling. He has over 1,000 yards already on the season to go along with eight touchdowns, including one last week in a suspect Allen game.

Detroit is giving up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to WRs this season. There's nothing "sneaky" about this pick. Sometimes it does make sense to just go with the chalk and that's what I am doing.

Flex Options

Brock Wright (Lions, TE) is the high leverage-play in this game. Everyone thought James Mitchell would be the likely option to try and step into the void left by the absence of T.J. Hockenson. However, Wright has been the one logging the majority of the snaps, seeing about three-quarters of all TE snaps in the last two weeks.

With an extremely affordable Wright as my Detroit selection, I will probably go with a Buffalo stack for the rest of my options. And that means for affordability reasons, I will go with Dawson Knox (TE). Knox's targets and in turn logically his receptions on a four-week upward slope. He caught all seven of his targets last week and turned that into 70 yards. I can promise you that if Knox catches seven passes again, he will be an integral part of most of the cashing lineups.

Related: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 12 Fantasy Advice for the Thanksgiving Games

Second Game: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

Captain/MVP Pick: Darius Slayton, WR, Giants

If I was playing cashing entries, I'd probably go with Dallas-heavy lineups. But Slayton has been on absolute fire lately and I love him for a GPP. This is a bit of a contrarian pick. I realize that. But I discussed earlier in the week how much I like Slayton, so I will stay the course.

Flex Options

And since I am going with Slayton, Daniel Jones (QB) is the easy expensive flex option to team with him. Danny Dimes is having one of his best seasons yet, completing passes at his highest percentage yet but all the while seeing his highest yards per attempt versus any previous season. He has also been quite the fantasy asset this season with his legs. He's averaging more than 40 rushing yards per game, along with four rushing TDs already this season. 

However, I'm thinking this might be a high-scoring game and therefore will include Dak Prescott as well. With two QBs in my lineup, I need to save some salary, and I love the cheap flex option of Lawrence Cager (TE). Allow me to simply repeat what I said earlier this week. Cager caught two passes this past weekend for 20 yards. The week previously he caught a TD. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end can be a nightmare for defenses in the red zone. To take down a GPP, you need to pivot somewhere and I'll put my chips on Cager.

Third Game: New England at Minnesota

Captain/MVP Pick: T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson has very quietly ascended to be the No. 3 TE overall in fantasy football this season. He is averaging more than 12.1 PPR fantasy points per game. Mark Andrews is the second-best TE this season with not even 13.4 PPR fantasy points per game.

Hockenson has been targeted more upon his arrival than might have been expected. He's seen 19 targets over the last two weeks, which he has turned into a dozen catches.

He hasn't had a touchdown since Week 4, but that could change. New England is 10th overall in terms of most fantasy points allowed per game to TEs this season, but the seven touchdown catches are tied for the second-highest total. I got a feeling Hockenson owners will be very thankful when the game is over.

Flex Options

Hockenson can have a great game and the Patriots DST can still have a very strong day simultaneously. And they are a nice cheap play, having averaged double-digit DKFPs four of the last six weeks, including the last two weeks back-to-back.

They give us a wonderfully high floor with 36 sacks already this season. They also have four DST TDs so far this season, giving us a wonderfully high ceiling as well. They are one of the more affordable DSTs on the board and also give us a nice opportunity for leverage.

Furthermore, if I'm going with the New England defense, I want to correlate that with my pricier option. It makes Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson the easy choice. Stevenson is not doing a ton on the rushing side, nor is he doing a boatload on the receiving side. But that's because he is doing just enough of both to make him a fantasy monster. He is currently the eighth-best fantasy RB, averaging more than 16 PPR points per game. And that number really escalates when you discount the first two weeks of the season before the Patriots realize what they had. With Minnesota the most generous run defense playing on Thanksgiving, I'll gladly take a heaping portion of Rhamondre, please.

— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.