Happy Thanksgiving Fantasy Football fans! For once in the last couple years we have some good games on Thanksgiving and we’re going to break down some possible studs and duds competing on this wonderful holiday. Whether you’re celebrating with family or hopefully relaxing and enjoying a day off from work, we hope you can partake in as much football as possible. Enjoy!
Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving since 1934, the oldest tradition in the league, and who would have thought that they would be competing for sole possession of first place in the NFC North? I personally never thought I’d see it, but the Lions have been able to finish games late and this week they have an important matchup with the Vikings, who have been on a roller-coaster all season long. How weird will it be to have Thanksgiving without Megatron?!
Sam Bradford has been a respectable player so far given the circumstances that arose at the beginning of the year. The matchup for him this week is just right. The Lions allow on average, more than 19 fantasy points per contest to opposing quarterbacks and even though Bradford isn’t the most outstanding fantasy quarterback, he may be able to put up some decent numbers.
The Lions have been surprisingly good this year against the run and have only allowed only one rushing touchdown all year. Everyone has been able to tell that with the absence of Adrian Peterson; Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon haven’t been worth a roster spot, and they’re definitely not worth a play this week. It’s hard to tell what their game flow will be and I expect the ball to be in the air more this Thursday.
If Stefon Diggs plays on Thursday he is an instant start. The Vikings have to win this game and he has been their most heavily targeted receiver all season so far. Given the fact that the Lions can’t stop anything through the air — as they allow over 35 fantasy points per game to visiting wide receivers — Adam Thielen could also have a decent flex type game even if Diggs plays. Without Diggs, Thielen is an instant start as well. As for Cordarrelle Patterson, I’d keep him on the bench. He is an explosive player as we saw with his kick-off return for a touchdown last week, but he doesn’t compete in the target category like the other two.
The Lions have given up on average 16 fantasy points per game to the tight end position alone, and last time the Vikings played the Lions, I guaranteed a touchdown for Kyle Rudolph — and he responded with the elusive 1-1-1 statline. Once again, I’m guaranteeing a touchdown for Rudolph. The Vikings would be throwing in their own towel if they don’t abuse this matchup on Thursday.
Fantasy wise, Matthew Stafford hasn’t gone over 15 points in the past three weeks, and sadly for him, Minnesota has been destroying rivaling quarterbacks all season — allowing only a little over 12 fantasy points per contest to that position. Stafford has great matchups after Thanksgiving against New Orleans and Chicago, but I’d consider other options this week. This game could either end 24-21 or 9-3 — you just never know with the NFC North.
Theo Riddick has been doing damage in the passing game all season, making him an easy start for PPR leagues. He’s been listed as limited on the injury report but it’s been like that for the majority of the season. He’s a clear RB2 or Flex option.
With how much these wide receivers flip-flop throughout the weeks, it’s hard to predict any solid fantasy points coming out of Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, or Golden Tate. Tate is coming off of a bad game where he saw his lowest number of targets since Week 4, but he is still the receiver to start out of the trio. Jones has been a waste of a roster spot since Week 8, and Boldin isn’t a consistent option in that offense. Minnesota’s secondary is no joke this year so I’d sit Jones and Boldin, but could be playing Tate if there is a lack of quality options.
Eric Ebron could have a solid game as Minnesota is allowing over 12 fantasy points per contest to tight ends. The matchup is good enough and it seems Ebron is fully healthy again, as he’s averaged over 15 fantasy points per game since his Week 8 return. Look for Ebron to have a decent game and possibly start a Thanksgiving tight end duel against Kyle Rudolph.
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
The second tradition that occurs on Thanksgiving is the home game in Dallas, which started 30-plus years after the Lions began to play on Thanksgiving. This year should be good as the Washington Redskins are coming off of a big victory against the Green Bay Packers. On the flip side, the Cowboys are rolling due to the fact that they’ve won nine straight and right now have the best record in football. This game could easily turn into a shootout.
Kirk Cousins is showing people why he got such a big contract, and last week against Green Bay he put up 375 yards and 3 touchdowns in a huge win. The last time these two teams faced off, Cousins threw for 364 yards and a touchdown. You can pass the ball on the Cowboys secondary, as they allow 16 fantasy points per week to quarterbacks and Cousins has been getting hot at just the right time.
With the Redskins continuing to scratch a healthy Matt Jones, Rob Kelley has been making the most of his chances. Coming off of a 3 touchdown performance and 137 yards on top of that, Kelly has been a pleasant surprise in the Washington backfield. However, the Cowboys have been relatively solid against the run, but with the amount of work Kelley has been seeing the past three weeks –- 20-plus carries in each of those games -– he could still put up solid numbers.
Last week against Green Bay all three of the main Redskins wide receivers caught a touchdown, but don’t expect that to be the case on Thursday. Jamison Crowder has been a target monster all season and is starting to emerge as a solid PPR fantasy receiver. It would be hard to sit a guy who has scored in three straight weeks. As for Pierre Garcon, it looks like him and Cousins are on the same page as well, as he saw 7 targets last week and had over 100 yards on 6 receptions. DeSean Jackson is the one to worry about this week — as he is typically boom-or-bust. Jackson has been dealing with injuries all year and this week is no different. Not to mention, Jackson has only gone over 10 fantasy points just three times this season.
With Jordan Reed healthy, it seems that the Vernon Davis train has stopped on a dime, as he was only targeted once last Sunday. I don’t have to say much, if you have Jordan Reed he’s an automatic play every week.
Every fantasy-relevant player has been balling in the Cowboy offense. Dak Prescott has been doing outstanding things this season, and truly deserves to be starting over Tony Romo and on our fantasy rosters. The same obviously goes for Ezekiel Elliott — one of the most explosive running backs I’ve seen in quite some time — behind that immensely talented offensive line. That boy will eat on Thanksgiving. In the wide receiver category, Dez Bryant has been doing big things in his return, averaging a touchdown a game. Cole Beasley continues to be a PPR machine, averaging 5 receptions a game since week 5 this season. And last but not least, Jason Witten is proving his consistency once again, finding holes in opposing defenses. This week should be no different for the tight end, as the Redskins fork over 14 fantasy points per contest to that position. The truth is, if you have a Cowboy on your roster, you’re probably starting them.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts
A game that could have had great primetime potential may be struck down due to a concussion that Andrew Luck is dealing with. Without the star Colt quarterback it is hard to predict a close game and this one could be very lopsided early.
Seriously? Would you ever think to not play Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown against the porous Colts defense?
The secondary pieces of the offense are a coin flip, but all possess touchdown upside. Eli Rogers has struggled in the prior two games and the two tight ends have not done much since Ladarius Green made his debut. Green has the talent and upside to breakout over Jesse James, but he hasn’t proven anything yet. With how bad the Colts defense actually is, the three stars in this offense should be able to score at will, leaving the other guys struggling to eat the leftover fantasy points on Thursday night.
This couldn’t be a worst time for Andrew Luck to get injured, as the Colts are finally starting to pull momentum in the AFC South, all signs point to Luck missing the Thanksgiving showdown versus Big Ben with a concussion and that could cause a huge problem in the Colts fantasy production. Do not play Scott Tolzien. I don’t think I should have to ever say that but still worth reiterating.
Frank Gore is the most solid play with Luck out, since he should eat up the majority of the touches. Look for the Colts to run the ball a lot more than usual and he can be used as a security blanket for the backup quarterback.
T.Y. Hilton is the play at wide receiver this week for the Colts if you’re going to play one. Hilton knows how to get open, and his speed and ability to run in the open field makes him a legit threat even without Luck. Donte Moncrief is outstanding in the red zone, but is touchdown dependent. Without Luck, his minimal targets will be even lessened. Moncrief isn’t someone I’d be starting if better options are available, but if you’re stuck with a bunch of fliers at least you know there’s a possibility of a touchdown.
Both tight ends are undesirable options this week without the likes of Luck, and even with him, these two have been unreliable and not worth starting as they combined for 1 reception and 7 yards last week against the Titans. With Andrew Luck you never know who’s going to get the ball, but without him it’s even harder to tell.