Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to Week 12. We have finally ended all the bye weeks but must now must get ready on a short week where we have 3 games on Thursday. This week is one of the hardest to prepare for because it is so easy to forget to submit a waiver claim or change your roster. Most of us are either hosting family or traveling to visit. This makes it very tough to decide who to start and who to sit so early in the week. Usually, I try to avoid players on Thursday unless it is a stud like Julio Jones or Rob Gronkowski. This week however, we have 6 teams playing that can provide you with big fantasy points before you even get to those leftovers on Friday.
Eagles at Lions
Lions and Eagles play on Thanksgiving for the 2nd time (they played back in 1968). The Lions chances at reaching the post-season are slim as they are 2-2 in the division but are 4 games behind the Vikings and Packers. The Eagles have lost two straight but have a better chance at fighting for a playoff spot as everyone in the division is even and they are 1 game behind the Giants. They will likely use Mark Sanchez again as Sam Bradford has been cleared but the Eagles have not yet indicated if he will start. Due to the short week, I expect Bradford to sit.
Sit Mark Sanchez if he draws the start. He looked awful last week looking for options such as Miles Austin and Josh Huff rather than trying to get the ball to Jordan Matthews. If Sam Bradford gets the start, I like the passing option better but think this is going to be the lowest scoring game on Thursday. The top play from Philly is going to be DeMarco Murray. He had an average day last week but look for him to go over 100 yards as the Lions are 24th in run defense and allow a league leading 15 rushing touchdowns.
We saw Golden Tate come back to life last week with 8 catches but neither Tate nor Calvin Johnson saw the end zone. Stafford scored the lone touchdown on a run but this offense is pretty bad. They Eagles defense has been bad as they are 17th against the pass and 27th against the run but I don’t think the Lions take advantage here. Other than Calvin Johnson, I wouldn’t start any other Lion.
Panthers at Cowboys
Tony Romo returned after missing 7 games with a broken collar bone. They ended the losing streak and all the talk is about the matchup against the undefeated Panthers. The Panthers have been on a roll scoring 27 points or more in every game since Week 3.
You have to start Cam Newton as he has been the #1 quarterback the last 4 weeks and is averaging 26.8 fantasy points. Newton, Greg Olsen and Jonathan Stewart have been consistent fantasy options and should do well this week. I look for the Panthers to score over 30 in this game.
The Cowboys season may have been saved with a win but they still have a lot of work to do at 3-7. Losing this week will certainly put them on the outside looking in. Romo showed some rust as expected with 2 touchdowns and two picks. He will have a tough time against a Panthers pass defense ranked 7th and giving up just 13.4 fantasy points. It is a tougher matchup for Darren McFadden as the Panthers have held starting running backs to just 24.7 rushing yards over the past 3 weeks with no touchdowns.
Bears at Packers
The Packers opened the season with a 31-23 win over the Bears and look to sweep the season series at home. It is going to be very cold and rainy for this game. Could we see snow? it might get cold enough. This will be the Packers 2nd home game on Thanksgiving since 1923. They have played 35 games on Thanksgiving. The Bears have played in 33 Thanksgiving games.
In the first game against the Packers, the Bears were without Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery did not play last week but is expected to play as is Matt Forte who missed the last 3 games with an injury. With that said, this game is hard to predict with the weather concern. Teams generally like to run the ball more when it is cold. If Forte plays, you have to put Jeremy Langford on the bench. Even though the Packers are 23rd in pass defense, I don’t like Jay Cutler this week. I think he turns the ball over 2+ times in this game.
Aaron Rodgers hasn’t put up his MVP numbers this season but he can still win you games. In the first game against the Bears he failed to throw for over 200 yards but he did have 3 scores. Chicago surprisingly has played well on pass defense as they rank 4th and are averaging 16.5 fantasy points against. Everyone is jumping back on Eddie Lacy after he posted his first 100-yard game of the season. I expect they will run the ball as much as possible and if they do, Lacy will be worth the start. If using Lacy, be cautious as they can go back to James Starks at any time.
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.
Thomas Rawls– 30 carries for 209 yards 1 touchdown, 3 receptions for 46 yards 1 touchdown. Rawls got the start for the injured Marshawn Lynch as Lynch was declared inactive on game day and could miss two more weeks. In two games this season, Rawls has rushed for over 169 yards and scored in each game. He has a tough matchup this week against the Steelers who rank 5th against the run.
DeAndre Hopkins– 5 receptions for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hopkins was able to get off Revis Island in a matchup everyone felt would be difficult. Hopkin continues to see a ton of targets each game as he is averaging 13.5 targets per game. He is on pace to break the season record for most targets since 1990 with 216. The record held by Rob Moore is 208 set back in 1997.
Doug Martin– 27 carries for 235 yards. He didn’t score but he ran up and down the field all over the Eagles. It was Martin’s 4th 100-yard game this season but he hasn’t scored since Week 5. He gets another good matchup this week against the Colts.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well you know.
Amari Cooper– 1 reception for 4 yards. This matchup looked to be the best fantasy option this week but it came up very short. Cooper had his worst game as a rookie and gets a very under-the-radar matchup this week against the Jaguars who rank 3rd in pass defense.
Philip Rivers– 178 passing yards and 1 interception. The injuries to the receiving corps. have caught up with the Chargers and Rivers had a tough time finding players to make plays. The offensive line isn’t giving him time to throw. Even though he has a better matchup this week. It may be time to avoid using Rivers for the rest of the season.
Jordan Matthews– 4 receptions for 13 yards. The change at quarterback has not helped Matthews’ fantasy production. Unlike last season where Mark Sanchez was throwing the ball his way, Matthews is averaging just 4.5 targets over the last two games. Will see if he can bounce back against the Lions.
DraftKings Market Value Report
Week 11 was brutal on so many levels. I had lineups with Devonta Freeman and Charcandrick West who both left the game with injury. Add in a bad game from Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead and it is a week you don’t want to look back at. This week is very different than we’ve seen all season. We now have a game slate that is a stand alone and no Thur-Monday tournaments. I think this is a good spot to go back to Blake Bortles. He was a popular play for Thursday games and he finished with just 12.58 points. Thomas Rawls will be one of the highest owned running backs this week but I would look to fade him against the Steelers.
Top 5 Plays for Thursday
In a short slate you have to disregard ownership percentages and just play the best players you can fit into your lineup. If you use the Packers defense, this lineup will leave you with about $4,700 per slot remaining to spend. Value plays such as Theo Riddick, Ted Ginn and Nelson Agholor could help fill the gap
Good Luck to everyone this week and have a safe holiday.