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Thanksgiving Fantasy Football Preview

This Thanksgiving the NFL has three games with the Lions/Packers, Raiders/Cowboys and the Steelers/Ravens in the night game. I look for the Lions to obliterate
Matt Flynn

’s Packers and for the Cowboys to beat the Raiders by at least two touchdowns. The night game between the surging Steelers and the struggling Super Bowl Champions has the best chance for being a good, low scoring slugfest.

Regardless of how entertaining the games are though, each of the three matchups have huge fantasy implications. After all, this is Week 13, the final week of the regular season for most fantasy football leagues. Playoff spots are going to be decided. Seasons will be ended. This is as big as it gets. Let’s take a look at the most compelling fantasy storylines of the Thanksgiving games.

12:30pm ET – Lions versus Packers

Matt Flynn

be Fantasy Kryptonite?

Nobody’s starting
Matt Flynn

this weekend, at least I hope nobody is. If things are that bad that you’re starting Flynn then you’re probably not in the playoff hunt. The point is that while nobody’s starting Flynn, he has a big impact on the fantasy fortunes of some fantasy studs, namely
Jordy Nelson

James Jones

and Eddie Lacy
If Flynn doesn’t prove that he can make some key completions and convert on 3rd down, the Lions 4th ranked rush defense is going to stack the box even more and Lacy’s day will be done, too. We’re talking about a fantasy minefield here, my friends.

Flynn was decent last Sunday, passing for 218 yards and a touchdown in only two quarters of play. The Lions have the 28th ranked pass defense so it is a good matchup on paper but I just don’t trust Flynn. The Packers are his third team in the last two seasons. He wasn’t even good enough to make the Raiders roster and they let him go. Think about that for a moment. I’m starting all of my Packers’ studs but with only Sexy Flexy expectations and I think Lacy is probably the least trustworthy of the group. Regardless of how good Flynn plays, the Lions still have a great rush defense, which has held it’s last three opposing running backs,
Matt Forte

Le’Veon Bell

and Waiver Wire Wonder
Bobby Rainey

to under 37 yards rushing. In other words, the Lions rush defense is legit and I would seek other options if I’m a Lacy owner.

Will Reggie Bush finally break out of his slump?

Reggie Bush has been in a bit of slump over the last month or so, going for double digits in fantasy points only twice in his last five games. He was decent in his last game against the Buccaneers with 100 total yards (83 rushing/17 receiving) but no touchdowns and only 17 yards receiving. The previous week he was benched for his underrated backup and only managed a season low 31 rushing yards, giving fantasy owners a measly five points. 

Up next for Bush is the Packers, who just let the Vikings run all over them for 237 rushing yards, 91 from Toby Gerhart. I expect Bush to return to form this week in a big matchup on a national stage.

4:30pm ET – Cowboys versus Raiders

Which Raider will shine against the Cowboys’ Garbage Defense?

The Cowboys have become a dream matchup as far as fantasy football is concerned. They’re the kind of team where you want to start basically every player you have that’s facing them that week. The problem with the Raiders is that they have a shortage of legit fantasy studs. With
Denarious Moore

hurt and
probably not going to play

, there’s really only two Raiders you can seriously considering starting:
Rashad Jennings


Rod Streater

. You’re starting Jennings because he’s rushed for over 400 yards over the last month and it’s Week 13 and there’s been tons of injuries and busts on premium RBs and you really don’t have the option to bench a solid RB like him at this point. 

Streater’s been on a hot streak since
Matt McGloin

took over as the Raiders’ quarterback, going for 177 yards receiving and a touchdown over the last two games. A wide receiver on a hot streak plus going against the horrid Cowboys defense means that you’re probably starting Streater. I don’t know of many WR3 options out there that look more enticing that Hot Rod.

Start all of your Cowboys players

No storyline here. The Cowboys defense might be putrid but the Raiders’ D isn’t much better so you’re going to want to start all of your studs. I’m talking e

8:30pm ET – Steelers/Ravens

Do you trust
Ray Rice

against the Steelers 23rd Ranked Rush Defense?

I wouldn’t. This is a plus matchup for
Ray Rice

but I still wouldn’t trust him in crucial Week 13 when my season’s on the line. Rice has had plus matchups all season long and didn’t perform. Let’s keep in mind that he’s only rushed for over 30 yards once in his last four games. Sure, he finally had a big game two weeks ago but he quickly followed it up with a 30-yard rushing effort last Sunday. 

Another thing to consider is that the Steelers rush defense has been playing better lately, holding their last three opponents’ leading rusher to under 27 yards rushing. That is not a misprint, my friends. It hasn’t reflected in their ranking for rush defense yet but the Steelers are once again playing hard nosed defense and stuffing the run. Based on everything I’ve seen from Rice all season long, I just don’t trust him enough anymore and he should be on owner’s benches this week, unless there are absolutely no other options.

Is Anyone Else a Must Start in the Steelers/Ravens game besides
Antonio Brown


I think you have to start
Torrey Smith

, even though it’s not a great matchup because he’s a solid WR2, and he’s been decent all season long for owners.  I’m a big believer in playing your studs, regardless of matchup, especially at this critical part of the fantasy season.  Besides Smith and
Antonio Brown
though, I’m not excited about any of the other fantasy players on either squad. This is going to be a defensive, old school football game and the score should be low. The closest player I’d think about starting is
Le’Veon Bell

but the Raven’s defense has returned to form of late and he really only has flex appeal. Owners should severely manage expectations if they give Bell a start but if no better options are around, he’ll need to be in owners’ lineups.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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