Week 3 Thursday Night Single-Game NFL DFS: Top FanDuel & DraftKings Plays

Sep 21, 2023
Thursday Night Single-Game DFS: Giants at 49ers

Welcome to the showdown breakdown for Thursday Night Football, where the Giants continue their road trip, heading to San Francisco to take on the 2-0 49ers, and facing an uphill battle to keep this game competitive. New York will be missing their offensive heart and soul, running back Saquon Barkley, and to make matters worse, they’ve ruled out starting left tackle Andrew Thomas as well. The second-half comeback in Arizona last week in an effort to avoid falling to 0-2 was heroic, but the price has proven costly. Meanwhile, the 49ers are rolling, particularly on offense. Their cast of superstar skill players is dominating opposing defenses, and quarterback Brock Purdy is orchestrating Kyle Shanahan’s offense with the poise of a longtime veteran. They come into this matchup as double-digit home favorites, but are also without one of their top skill players on offense. Let’s see how this lopsided total can create unique strategies for DFS players in this single-game slate.

Game Environment

This chart represents the general offensive strategies for each team when the game outcome is still in question (win probability between 20% and 80%). The final two minutes of each half are also excluded. We’ll include last year’s statistics through Week 4 of the regular season. Teams in the upper-right quadrant pass more often and play faster than the average NFL team in neutral game scripts, and conversely, teams in the lower-left quadrant play slower and run more often than the average NFL team.

Giants (+10.0,17.75) @ 49ers (-10.0, 27.75); Over/Under 44.5​

I’m not sure we can trust either of the team’s locations on the chart above as much as we typically can while determining the potential pace and passing of an upcoming matchup. The Giants, without star running back Saquon Barkley, will almost certainly be forced to lean on the pass in neutral game scripts compared to what we usually see. I also wonder if they attempt to play keep-away from the 49ers offense, which has proven nearly impossible to stop through eight quarters this season.

The 49ers’ ability to turn the game into a high-scoring affair may not be evident in the chart above, but it most certainly exists. The 49ers have found an absolute gem in Purdy, who allows the offense to maintain a level of schematic aggressiveness that others find tough to replicate. They do this all while maintaining a moderate tempo and a rush-dominant scheme.

As the team gets more and more comfortable under Purdy, we have seen increased uses of deep shots. The 49ers currently rank top-three in the NFL in points per play.

Quarterback Analysis

While there may be 22 people on the field for every play, each play and game is heavily dictated by the performance of each team’s quarterback. While efficiency isn’t everything for quarterbacks, it is the best indicator of future performance, so we use a trio of metrics to suss out top performers at the position compared to lackluster ones. xDrive Success %, or True Drive Success Rate, is a measurement of a QB’s ability to turn drives into scores weighted by sample size. EPA or Expected Points Added, is a measurement of the QB’s contribution, both running and throwing, to the team’s scoring and production vs. the average NFL team. Completion % over Expected (CPOE)represents the accuracy and efficiency of a QB’s passes compared to league expectations.

After huffing and puffing for much of the 2022 offseason, the Giants front office finally chose to pay Daniel Jones via a massive four-year contract extension with $92 million in guaranteed cash. And while Jones has had stretches of efficient play, he may have also cashed in on the old “QB wins” statistic more than Giants fans would like to admit. His efficiency metrics, charted above, are the epitome of mediocrity. He ranks just barely above league average on a per-pass, per-drive, and per-game basis since the start of last season. At the very least, Jones has carried the ball 11 times, third most among all quarterbacks, which makes him a more than viable option in DFS lineups even if it’s hard to predict a particularly efficient game against San Francisco’s typically stingy defense. Jones' current PFF offensive grade is currently exactly average for his position.

Purdy, on the other hand, still might not be getting credit for just how strong the start of his playing career has been. Since Purdy took over as a starter, only the Josh Allen-led Bills (who have had struggles of their own already) are more likely to come away from any given drive with a score. And while his completion percentage vs. expectation isn’t as sparkling as the other two metrics graphed above, that might actually be by design. Instead of maximizing completion percentage, Purdy is attempting to maximize production. With an EPA per game and xDrive Success Rate so fantastically high, it’s a clear indicator that Purdy isn’t afraid to swing for the proverbial fences—because quite often he succeeds. The 49ers have a stud at the position, and Purdy should continue to establish himself against a Giants defense that is currently ranked 29th in defensive grade by PFF and dead last in points allowed per play.

Core Plays and Auxiliary Options

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