It’s crunch time.
No, not that kind of crunch.
Not that kind of crunch either, although there’s nothing like some crunchy music to get you stoked for another week of NFL action.
It’s Thanksgiving Week. The 12th week of the 2017 season. And that means it’s crunch time in fantasy football.
If you’re 8-3 or better – not so much. Unless you’re playing in a fantasy league that’s ridiculously top-heavy or few teams make the playoffs (or those postseason berths are awarded based on total points), Odds are you’ve locked up a playoff spot. Sure, there’s still first-round byes and whatnot to be awarded, but you’ll be playing on at the end of the regular season.
If you’re worse than 5-6, odds are it’s all over but the crying. Nothing left to do but play out the string, maybe spoil someone else’s fun and then get down to figuring out where it all went wrong.
If you’re 5-6, 6-5 or 7-4, then the pressure’s really on. Get hot and the playoffs are still in reach. Go cold and all that will be in your fantasy stocking come Christmas time is some coal.
At least we get a full complement of players to choose from this week. No more byes. Of course, there are also some decisions that will need to be made early—there are three games on Thursday,
So, before we all stuff our faces full of turkey and pass out, let’s get down to it.
Tom Brady, New England (vs. Miami)
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (vs. Chicago)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (at San Francisco)
Cam Newton, Carolina (at New York Jets)
OFF THE LIST: Alex Smith, Kansas City (vs. Buffalo): If your team can’t find the end zone at all against a New York Giants team that couldn’t beat the San Francisco 49ers the week before, there’s exactly zero chance you’re getting on a list of fantasy “studs.”
SPOT START OF THE WEEK
Eli Manning, New York Giants (at Washington)
Running back Orleans Darkwa told Tom Rock of Newsday that Manning’s pregame speech was a big part of New York’s upset win in Week 11. “In pregame he gave a fiery speech that got everybody riled up,” Darkwa said. “To have a guy like that who has been through so much, who has those two Super Bowl rings, we follow his footsteps in everything. To have him come up there, it shows the weight that he carries on this team. He’s definitely up for it, and everybody tries to follow in his footsteps because he’s been there, he’s done that, as far as reaching the Promised Land.”
Manning did very little in that game, passing for just 205 yards against the Chiefs and failing to throw a touchdown pass. However, Manning tossed two scoring strikes in each of the two games before that, and on Thanksgiving night Manning faces a Washington team that has given up the seventh-most fantasy points in Sharks League Scoring to quarterbacks this season.
ROLL THEM OUT
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (at Indianapolis)
Mariota was awful last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, throwing four picks in a blowout loss. However, this week Mariota and the Titans aren’t playing the Steelers. They are playing the Colts. And the Colts stink defensively – sixth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2017.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. Tampa Bay)
Ryan didn’t even hit 200 passing yards Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks, although he salvaged a decent fantasy effort with two touchdown passes. He’ll do a lot better Sunday at home against a Tampa pass defense that has struggled much of the season.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo (at Kansas City)
Given how the whole Nathan Peterman experiment worked out last week (five interceptions in less than a half), I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Taylor will start Sunday against a reeling Chiefs defense. If he does he’s a valid streaming option.
SIT THEM DOWN
Josh McCown, New York Jets (vs. Carolina)
McCown’s play in 2017 has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2017 season at the quarterback position. But if McCown struggles Sunday at home against the Panthers and their No. 1 overall defense it won’t be surprising even a little.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)
Over his last two games, with Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith out, Prescott has thrown for just 321 yards and no touchdowns with three interceptions. The Chargers aren’t a favorable matchup. In large part because they have one of the best edge-rusher duos in the NFL.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs. Minnesota)
Stafford will be playing at home on Turkey Day, and he’s had some huge Thanksgiving games in the past. But this one makes me nervous – the Vikings are 26th in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks and just completely stifled Jared Goff in Week 11.