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Week 13: Be Thankful for Thursday Matchups

Happy Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Black Friday or whatever else you will be celebrating this week. This week officially kicks off the holiday season as well as the end to the 2013 fantasy season for some leagues. For some teams, this is the last week they can win to get into the playoffs. This is also the week where plenty of owners mismanage their teams by forgetting to submit waiver claims or set their lineup. Don’t be the guy that has Knowshon Morano in your lineup who might not play and forget to play LeSean McCoy who was on your bench last week because of the bye.

There is a lot riding on the games being play on Thursday. Some of us could even be eliminated from the fantasy playoffs come Black Friday.

Thursday Matchups

Green Bay at Detroit 12:30PM ET

This is the second meeting between these two teams. They met back in Week 5 with the Packers winning that game 22-9. That game was pretty much all field goals as both Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford had subpar games tossing one touchdown each. This rematch is going to be a different game since Aaron Rodgers is still out due to his collarbone injury. Matt Flynn, who had his best game of his career against the Lions in 2011 when he threw for over 400 yards and 6 touchdowns, will be starting.

On the Packers’ side, I will be looking for Jarrett Boykin to continue to play with success. In the past three weeks he is 9th among wide receivers while averaging 17 fantasy points per game. Jordy Nelson is 19th and has taken a big hit in stats since Rodgers went down but he is still the best receiver the Packers have. Eddie Lacy is coming off his 3rd 110 rushing yards or better game this season and has remained a consistent fantasy running back. He’s averaging 20 fantasy points over the past three weeks. I think he will be one of the top fantasy players on Thursday as the Packers will look to control the clock.

On the Lions’ side, they have lost nine Thanksgiving Day games in a row since 2004. They have lost three to Green Bay during that span. Calvin Johnson leads the way averaging 26.3 fantasy points and is the No. 1 receiver in fantasy. He missed the first meeting between these teams. Nate Burleson in his first game back after missing seven games with an injury played well and could be in for some good fantasy stats the rest of the way. Reggie Bush has not looked as dominant as he did earlier in the season and is averaging just 13.3 fantasy points over the last three weeks with only two rushing touchdowns all season. In his first game against the Packers, Bush managed just 44 yards rushing.

Who will win:

Without Aaron Rodgers and coming off a short week to prepare, Matt Flynn as the starter is going to be the team’s downfall. There should be a lot more points scored than in Week 5. The Lions will end their nine year streak of losses.

Lions 28 – Packers 24.

Oakland at Dallas

4:30pm ET

Dallas has had an up and down season but with a big division win last week against the Giants, they control their playoff chances. The Raiders have had a quarterback carousel all season as Matt Flynn, Terrelle Prior and Matt McGloin have all seen time at quarterback with Flynn going to Buffalo and now Green Bay.

The Cowboys have lost two of the past three Thanksgiving day games and could lose this one at home. Dez Bryant has been held scoreless over the past three games and is averaging just 11.3 fantasy points per game during that stretch. The back issue has to be a factor in that and owners should really be concerned about his health. Miles Austin and Terrance Williams haven’t picked up the slack as Austin had just one catch last week and Williams’ fantasy production has dropped over the past three games. Jason Witten provided the scoring last week and has four of his six touchdowns this season against the Giants. DeMarco Murray has been decent averaging 15 fantasy points per game over the past three games.

The Raiders will be without Denarius Moore but Rod Streater is coming off two good games and will play well against the Cowboys secondary. After Streater, the Raiders don’t have much as Rashad Jennings and Marcel Reece were the next best receivers with Reece catching the only touchdown. Jennings well be a decent play this week but not have a big game.

Who Will Win: The Cowboys know their margin for error in the division is small so they will go out and take care of business this week in a very unexciting matchup that could feature a ton of field goals and perhaps a big game out of DeMarco Murray.

Cowboys 17 –  Raiders 10

Steelers at Ravens 8:35pm ET

These teams have battled for the division title for years but now each stands at 5-6. These teams met in Week 7 with Pittsburgh edging out Baltimore 19-16. Not a ton of fantasy production in that game. For this matchup, it’s going to be cold in the low 30s, so I expect a ton of running in this game.

For the Steelers who have won three in a row, it has been Antonio Brown that has been the dominant player. Brown has been the second best receiver over the past three weeks behind Calvin Johnson averaging 23.3 fantasy points per game. Despite the cold, I think Brown will do well but don’t expect 140 yards like he had two weeks ago. Jerricho Cotchery put up a dud last week as he saw just one target. In the previous three games he scored five times while averaging 19.3 fantasy points. In the first game against the Ravens he posted four catches for 41 yards, which is what I expect in this game. Le’Veon Bell is finding his stride late in the season. He’s posted 15 or more fantasy points over the past five weeks and we are still waiting on his best game yet. He ran well in the first meeting rushing for 93 yards on 19 carries. With cold weather in store, I expect the Steelers to feed him the ball at least 25 times giving him an opportunity to break 100 yards for the first time this season.

The Ravens offense has looked bad at times this season but they have an opportunity down the stretch to put up better stats. Joe Flacco, over the past three weeks, has produced an average of 12.3 fantasy points which hasn’t helped Torrey Smith but at least he’s thrown two touchdowns to him in those games. Ray Rice, who woke up in week 11, fell back asleep last week with another 30-yard performance. He has been very inconsistent all season and like Trent Richardson, unstartable most weeks. The Steelers run defense has dropped to 23rd overall so hopefully this week will get some decent stats.

Who Will Win:

The last four games between these teams were won by a margin of three points in every game. I’m going to stick with that trend as the Steelers will win on the road in another down to the wire game.

Steelers 23 – Ravens 20

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