Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. This is one of my favorite holidays. Good food, football, and family to start out a four-day weekend. This is also the last week of the fantasy regular season for most of you. If you’re out of the running for a playoff spot in one or more of your leagues, please still make sure to check your lineup. This could be a week where someone who gets an easy win could slip into the playoffs when they shouldn’t. Don’t be the guy who lets that happen. Now onto the calls for the week.
This is a good week to be starting Andy Dalton if you’ve got him. Dalton has a soft matchup with San Diego, who is ranked 28th in stopping quarterbacks. Dalton’s problem has always been that he throws almost as many interceptions as he does touchdowns (10 touchdowns to nine interceptions over the past four games). Luckily for him, San Diego is one of the worst teams when it comes to intercepting the ball. They have just six on the year so far, with never more than one in any single game. They also allowed two of the last three quarterbacks they’ve faced to have three or more touchdowns against them. Starting Dalton this week would be a good call.
Philadelphia’s fast-paced offense allows opposing quarterbacks more time on the field. That extra added time of possession for those quarterbacks usually leads to more passes, more yards and more touchdowns. Eight of the 11 quarterbacks to face the Eagles have had 39 or more pass attempts. Compare that with the 28 pass attempts on average that Houston allows, the lowest in the league. This week Carson Palmer gets to be the one going against the Eagles, and he’s been playing much better as of late. He has 20-plus points in his last two games and should have no problem making it a third.
If you’ve got Drew Brees as your quarterback, I feel bad for you. He has the worst remaining schedule of any fantasy quarterback. This week he plays Seattle, then two games against Carolina, and sandwiched between the Carolina games is a trip to St. Louis. This week’s trip to Seattle is the toughest one and it will definitely be a struggle for Brees. The Seahawks have allowed an average of just 10.8 fantasy points to quarterbacks at home. Along with that, they’ve allowed just three passing touchdowns at home, and only one quarterback has more than 171 passing yards at CenturyLink Field. Brees is a top fantasy quarterback, but if you can start someone else this week, do it.
Rashad Jennings gets a little Thanksgiving present when the Oakland Raiders travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys give up the most points to running backs out of anyone in the league. Three of the last four starting running backs have had more than 30 fantasy points against Dallas. Jennings has been on a streak lately, averaging 23.3 points over his last four games. You should be starting him regardless by now, but this week you can expect a huge game from him.
Shane Vereen is the only part of the New England backfield you want right now, and that’s because of his receiving skills, not his rushing skills. Vereen has been back for two games and has had eight catches and more than 60 yards in both games. Stevan Ridley has now fumbled in three straight games, and coach Bill Belichick won’t tolerate this much longer, so Vereen could get a few more carries, but his main value right now is as a receiver. Vereen should be able to put up some solid numbers this week against Houston, which ranks in the bottom third of the league in points given up to running backs. Getting Vereen into your starting lineup would be a good call.
The Kansas City Chiefs were able to keep Knowshon Moreno in check in their first meeting two weeks ago. Moreno ran for 79 yards and no touchdowns. That game was in Denver, this week it’s in Kansas City. Moreno is going to have a tough time this week, and you should temper your expectations. You’ll probably still be starting him, since he’s a top-10 running back this season, but don’t expect a huge game from him, or you’re going to be disappointed.
Stevie Johnson has been hit-or-miss, hot-or-cold all season long. This week, he’s going to be hot. His matchup with Atlanta is something he can take advantage of. The Falcons give up the 10th-most receiving yards and their 23 receiving touchdowns given up is second worst to only Minnesota. With Johnson being the No. 1 wide receiver in Buffalo and having his own defense giving up a lot of points, should make this a high-scoring game and a good one for you if you start Johnson.
Rod Streater is another guy who’s going to have a good day in Dallas. Streater seems to have some kind of connection with new Oakland quarterback Matt McGloin, because he’s had his two best games of the season in the last two weeks with McGloin throwing the ball. Dallas’ passing defense is one of the worst in the league. They Cowboys have given up the most receiving yards in the league as well as 22 receiving touchdowns on the year. If Streater can keep his connection going with McGloin, he should be in for a good week.
Pittsburgh seems to know how to keep Torrey Smith from doing damage against them. In his five career games against the Steelers, Smith only has one touchdown catch, and averages just 6.8 fantasy points per game. In his meeting earlier this year he had just three catches for 61 yards. Pittsburgh is ranked 12th in points given up to receivers, and would be much higher if Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon hadn’t hung up a combined 78 fantasy points on them in the past two games. Smith is not a guy you want in your starting lineup this week. He’s a bad call.
Martellus Bennett had seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns in his first meeting with Minnesota in Week 2. The Vikings defense hasn’t gotten any better since then and has allowed three of the last four starting tight ends they’ve faced to get double-digit fantasy points. This would be a good week to start Bennett if you’ve got him. He’s a good call.
Jordan Reed gets his first crack at division rival New York this week, and it should be a good one for him. The Giants rank 24th in points given up to tight ends. Jason Witten was able to rack up 19 fantasy points on them just last week. Reed should have no problem getting double-digit fantasy points this week. You should definitely get him into your starting lineup.
Julius Thomas is going to have a tough game this week. Kansas City ranks as the best team against tight ends. He did have 13 fantasy points in their first meeting two weeks ago, but, again, that was in Denver. The Chiefs have held Jason Witten, Brandon Myers and Antonio Gates to less than seven fantasy points when they’ve played at Arrowhead stadium. This might be the one week you’re going to want to sit Thomas.
Good luck this week and, as always, may your starters stay healthy and I hope you make all the right calls.