Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Three games on Thanksgiving that will feature plenty of offense to keep you entertained as you find room for that second turkey sandwich and slice of pumpkin pie. The New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets will post lots of fantasy stats to tide you over until Sunday’s games.
When using this list, try and remember a couple basic rules:
1) Studs – Always play your studs. Each position will include a list of players that are considered studs and should not be benched. If you have the luxury of needing to decide between studs, check out the matchups or feel free to let the shark tank assist you in your decisions.
2) Depth – Every fantasy team is different and some have more depth than others. Only follow the recommended moves if your team depth allows you to make such a move.
Philip Rivers, San Diego at Indianapolis
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. San Diego
Drew Brees, New Orleans at Dallas
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay at Atlanta
Kyle Orton, Denver vs. St. Louis
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants vs. Jacksonville
Tom Brady, New England at Detroit
Michael Vick, Philadelphia at Chicago
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh at Buffalo
Shaun Hill, Detroit vs. New England: Hill has played very well in place of the injured Matthew Stafford. In the last two games, Hill has averaged more than 300 yards passing while throwing three touchdowns to only two interceptions. This week, he faces a Patriots’ pass defense that has allowed more passing yards than every team in the league except for the Houston Texans. The Patriots’ offense should have no problem moving the ball on the Lions’ defense, which means Hill will need to air it out to keep pace in an exciting, high-scoring Thanksgiving day game.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City at Seattle: You know things are going well for Cassel when last week’s game (193 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) was below average for him. Cassel has thrown eight touchdowns to just one interception over the past three games as the Chiefs’ offense has really been playing well. This week, he faces the Seahawks, who are ranked 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Look for Cassel to once again rank high for quarterbacks this week as the Chiefs score early and often in Seattle.
David Garrard, Jacksonville at N.Y. Giants: Garrard had a decent game last week throwing for 254 yards with two touchdowns, but the three interceptions were killers. This week, his task gets even tougher against the Giants’ stout pass defense. Even if Mike Sims-Walker can play this week, you’ll want to avoid Garrard as his numbers will be below average at best.
Jay Cutler, Chicago vs. Philadelphia: In the last three weeks, Cutler has averaged 193 yards passing with five touchdowns and five interceptions. This week, Cutler gets to face an Eagles’ defense that held Eli Manning to just 147 yards passing while intercepting him three times. The offensive line of Chicago better be ready to block as the Eagles have 26 sacks on the season and will be looking for more. Don’t expect much from Cutler this week as he won’t be able to dish out as much punishment as he’ll be taking.
Arian Foster, Houston vs. Tennessee
Peyton Hillis, Cleveland vs. Carolina
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota at Washington
Frank Gore, San Francisco at Arizona
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia at Chicago
Chris Johnson, Tennessee at Houston
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville at N.Y. Giants
Darren McFadden, Oakland vs. Miami
Ahmad Bradshaw, N.Y. Giants vs. Jacksonville
Matt Forte, Chicago vs. Philadelphia
Ray Rice, Baltimore vs. Tampa Bay
Steven Jackson, St. Louis at Denver
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Green Bay
LaDainian Tomlinson, N.Y. Jets vs. Cincinnati: While Tomlinson’s rushing totals have decreased recently, his activity in receiving has increased. In the last three games, Tomlinson has caught a total of 19 passes for 171 yards. As Mark Sanchez continues to evolve as a quarterback, it’s great for Tomlinson owners to see that he’ll check down to the running back when he’s in trouble. The newly found receiving skills of Tomlinson combined with Shonn Greene’s late game fumble last week, should add up to plenty of opportunities for Tomlinson against a Bengals defense ranked 23rd in rushing yards allowed.
Mike Tolbert, San Diego at Indianapolis: Be sure to check the injury status of Ryan Mathews later in the week, but Tolbert continues to fill in very nicely. Tolbert cracked the 100-yard mark rushing for the second time this season on Monday night as the Broncos had no answer for the big man. Even if Mathews plays this week, I like Tolbert’s chances against a Colts defense that ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. With the speed of the Colts’ defense, it’s not the end-around backs that will give them trouble. Tolbert’s smash-mouth style is exactly what the Chargers need to do some damage this week and keep the Colts’ offense off the field for as long as possible.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh at Buffalo: Although Mendenhall scored a rushing touchdown, he averaged only 2.6 yards per carry while rushing for 59 yards last week against the Raiders. Expect much better results this week against the Bills, who lead the league in rushing yards allowed, averaging 163.5 per game. Roethlisberger must stay in your lineup due to his big play ability, but Mendenhall will be the lead story this week as he punishes the Bills on the ground.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis vs. San Diego: Brown was the starter by default last week against the Patriots thanks to injuries to Joseph Addai and Mike Hart. Even though Brown caught a few passes out of the backfield (three catches, 40 yards), he wasn’t able to have that much of an impact on the game against a defense that is ranked in the bottom half of the league in rushing. This week Brown and the Colts square off against the Chargers, who have allowed only 86.8 rushing yards per game this season. Even if Addai and Hart are on the sidelines once again this week, you would be wise to keep Brown on your bench and look elsewhere for some fantasy production.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets: Benson goes from the Start list to the Bench list in one quick week. That’s how we roll here at FantasySharks! Benson lived up to expectations last week rushing for 124 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes for 22 yards. I hope you took my advice and started him and I hope you’re listening again this week when I say to return Benson to your bench against the Jets. Benson has only cracked the 100-yard mark twice this season and both times it was against teams ranked 29th and 32nd in rushing yards allowed. For the record, the Jets are ranked third in rushing yards allowed this season. Thanks for the big game last week Benson; now grab some pine.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh: Jackson has rushed for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in each of the past two games. But, it’s all about the matchups. This week, the Steelers won’t be very kind to the Bills, and it’s very unlikely that Jackson will come close to experiencing the success he’s had in the last two weeks. This points machine is about to come to a screeching halt.
Roddy White, Atlanta vs. Green Bay
Brandon Lloyd, Denver vs. St. Louis
Terrell Owens, Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets
Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs. New England
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. San Diego
Andre Johnson, Houston vs. Tennessee
Miles Austin, Dallas vs. New Orleans
Marques Colston, New Orleans at Dallas
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City at Seattle: Bowe is leading the way with the offensive surge the Chiefs are experiencing with a touchdown in each of the past six games and a ridiculous total of 19 catches for 295 yards in the last two games. I’ve been hesitant to put Bowe on the Studs list due to his inconsistency early in the season, but if you own him, you should play him this week against Seattle, who rank 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. If Bowe can avoid a letdown this week, he’s stud-worthy starting in Week 13. What a nice time of year to get hot!
Mario Manningham, N.Y. Giants vs. Jacksonville: With Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith injured, Manningham is the last man standing for Eli Manning to throw to against the Jaguars’ below-average pass defense. Even though the Giants signed former Tampa Bay receiver Michael Clayton, neither him Duke Calhoun, nor Derek Hagan will see anywhere near the amount of passes that Manningham will receive this week. Start Manningham will confidence as the Giants will be able to move the ball in the air against Jacksonville.
Steve Johnson, Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh: Johnson had one of his best games of the season last week when he caught eight passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals. While facing the Steelers’ defense is generally not something you should be looking forward to, Pittsburgh ranks 22nd in the NFL in passing yards allowed. I also expect the Bills to be playing from behind as they were last week when Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick went crazy against Cincinnati. Johnson may have trouble finding the end zone, but he’ll pile up enough catches and yards to make it worth your while to start him.
Nate Washington, Tennessee at Houston: Who would’ve thought that when Randy Moss was claimed by the Titans that Washington would be the Tennessee receiver on the start list. In two of the past three games, Washington has surpassed 100 yards receiving and he’s got a touchdown catch in each of the past two games. I’m also obligated to find whoever the Texans are playing and recommend you start a receiver that week as it’s about as easy as it gets in making a solid prediction. Moss will get some action this week too, but Washington will be the one you want in your lineup.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay at Baltimore: While the rookie has six touchdowns on the season, he’s only caught more than five passes in a game once and surpassed 90 yards receiving twice all season. Since the Ravens have allowed only 12 passing touchdowns this season, you can’t rely on a score from Williams this week. Since his catches and yardage hasn’t been solid all year, don’t expect big numbers this week from a guy that has relied on finding the end zone for his fantasy owners to make up for his shortcomings.
Brandon Marshall, Miami at Oakland: The quarterback situation in Miami hasn’t helped Marshall in his first season with the Dolphins. Marshall has only one touchdown and he’s caught more than eight passes in a game and over 100 yards receiving only twice all season. Between the hamstring injury, Tyler Thigpen at quartberack, and the prospect of facing Nnamdi Asomugha and the Raiders’ defense this week, you should look elsewhere for a starting wide receiver as Marshall won’t get it done.
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore vs. Tampa Bay: Boldin has totaled 10 catches for 107 yards and a score in the last three games. Not exactly the kind of numbers that give you the warm fuzzies knowing he’s in your lineup. Boldin and the Ravens face the Buccaneers this week, who are ranked sixth in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed and are tied for second in the league with 15 interceptions. Look for the Ravens to run early and often and for Boldin to be held in check once again this week.
Johnny Knox, Chicago vs. Philadelphia: Knox has one touchdown on the season, only one game of over 100 yards, and only one game where he caught more than five passes. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s playing the Eagles’ defense this week, who leads the NFL in interceptions with 19? Knox should be sitting right next to Jay Cutler on your bench waiting for a better matchup.
Antonio Gates, San Diego at Indianapolis
Jason Witten, Dallas vs. New Orleans
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville at N.Y. Giants
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit vs. New England
Vernon Davis, San Francisco at Arizona
Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets vs. Cincinnati
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta vs. Green Bay
Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis vs. San Diego
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans at Dallas: With Jeremy Shockey ailing from a rib injury, Graham has stepped in and played very well in his place. Graham had a touchdown two weeks ago and five catches for 79 yards last week against Seattle. With the porous Cowboys’ defense next up on the docket, look for Graham to continue to make his presence felt in the Saints offense with a big day on Thanksgiving giving Jerry Jones an upset stomach.
, Minnesota at Washington: Remember this guy? Shiancoe was supposed to be a force at the tight end position this season, but it hasn’t happened. The absence of Sidney Rice and the brief Randy Moss stint have taken Shiancoe’s effectiveness out of the Vikings offense. With Bard Childress finally cut loose, look for the Vikings to play much better this week (a la Dallas two weeks ago) and that will include Shiancoe. It helps that the Vikings are playing the Washington Redskins, who have been awful defensively, so look for Shiancoe to have his best game all season this week as Minnesota wins their first game in the post-Childress era in a big way.
Zach Miller, Oakland vs. Miami: Miller is less than 100 percent healthy and he hasn’t had more than two catches since Week 7. The Dolphins pass defense is their only saving grace this season as they are ranked fifth in the league in fewest passing yards allowed. Look for lots of Darren McFadden with a touch of Michael Bush and not much else from the Oakland offense this week.
Anthony Fasano, Miami at Oakland: You can forget all about the five-catch, 107-yard, one-touchdown performance you saw against the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago. His one-catch, 16-yard performance last week is more of what you’ll see against the Raiders this week.