Fantasy Breakdown for the Thanksgiving Gamesby Mike Fanelli November 26, 2020 0 comments
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hopefully, you can spend today with family and friends while stuffing your face full of food, and most of all, watching football! Unfortunately, the NFL rescheduled tonight’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers because of multiple positive Covid-19 cases in the Ravens’ organization. However, we still have two great games today.
In the early window, we have the Houston Texans taking on the Detroit Lions. That’s followed by the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys in a battle for first place in the NFC East division. All four of these teams have star fantasy players on their roster, but who else besides them should you play? Let’s dive into it!
Quarterback – Deshaun Watson
After a slow start to the season, where he scored under 21 fantasy points in four straight games, Watson has scored 24 or more fantasy points five of his last six games, including 31.4 fantasy last week against a tough New England Patriots defense. Today he takes on a Lions defense that gave up 258 passing yards and a touchdown to P.J. Walker in his first career NFL start. Furthermore, they have given up two or more passing touchdowns to quarterbacks 60 percent of their games this season. Watson is a plug and play QB1 every week. He has the chance to finish the week as a top-five quarterback.
Running Back – Duke Johnson
In the two games David Johnson has missed, Duke has failed to earn the trust of his fantasy owners. Despite averaging 13.5 touches per game over the last two weeks, Johnson has a total of 11.9 fantasy points. Furthermore, he is averaging only 2.9 yards per carry over the past two weeks and hasn’t found the end zone. However, if he can ever earn a spot in your starting lineup, it’s today against the Lions. They are giving up an average of 34.2 fantasy points per game to running backs this season. While Johnson has played 86 percent of the snaps the last two weeks, his 27 total touches is a concern. The matchup is great, but the limit work the past two weeks make him a risky flex option.
Last week, both Fuller and Cooks bounced back from their disappointing Week 10 performances. Fuller caught six of his eight targets for 80 yards and scored 14 fantasy points, while Cooks caught four of his five targets for 85 yards and scored 12.5 fantasy points. Last week’s game marked the fifth time in the past six games where both wide receivers scored at least 12.5 fantasy points. With DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona, both Fuller and Cooks have turned into solid top 24 wide receivers this season.
Not only have Fuller and Cooks been consistent for fantasy owners over the last six weeks, but they have a great matchup today against the Lions. Last week, the Lions gave up 21 or more fantasy points to both D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel while also giving up 11.6 fantasy points to Robby Anderson. Furthermore, the trio scored a total of 54.8 fantasy points, with a former XFL quarterback making his first career start. With Randall Cobb out this week with a toe injury, Keke Coutee will see an uptick in snaps. However, except for deeper and larger sized leagues, he shouldn’t be in your lineup. Both Fuller and Cooks are WR2s this week with plenty of upside thanks to their matchup and big play ability.
The Texans have used all of their tight ends at times this season. However, there is no consistent week-to-week option. Akins scored 11.5 or more fantasy points in each of the first two games this season, then had a season-high 13.3 fantasy points last week against the Patriots. In the other four games he has played this season, Akins has scored a total of 17.8 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Fells is a touchdown or bust kind of tight end. In the three games this season where he has found the end zone, he is averaging 14.8 fantasy points per game. By comparison, in the seven games this season where he didn’t score a touchdown, Fells is averaging 2.9 fantasy points per game.
Meanwhile, the Lions are holding tight ends to 10.6 fantasy points per game this season. They have held tight ends under 11 fantasy points in half of their games this season. Furthermore, they have held tight ends to only five touchdowns this year, including zero in six of their last eight games. It’s hard to predict which, if any, Texans’ tight end will be used in the passing game each week. With no teams on a bye this week, fantasy owners should avoid all Texan tight ends.
Some might think it’s smart to play the Texans D/ST this week against the Lions after the Carolina Panthers D/ST scored 15 fantasy points last week. However, the Texans D/ST has scored a total of five fantasy points this season. They have scored negative fantasy points in half of their games this season, including three of their last five games. Meanwhile, D/STs are averaging only 5.5 fantasy points per game against the Lions this season. Furthermore, D/STs have scored four or fewer fantasy points in half of their games against the Lions this season. Don’t get cute, and don’t play the Texans D/ST this week or ever.
Quarterback – Matthew Stafford
Despite suffering a partial ligament tear in his throwing hand’s thumb, Stafford played last week against the Panthers. However, he struggled, throwing for a season-low 178, zero touchdowns, and scored only 7.6 fantasy points. More importantly, he completed only 54.5 percent of his passes, and the injury clearly hindered his performance. Meanwhile, the Texans are giving up an average of 19.4 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Furthermore, they have given up 12 passing touchdowns over their last six games. Hopefully, Stafford gets some of his weapons back this week; however, even with the good matchup, the thumb injury is a concern. Fantasy owners should consider Stafford a high-end QB2 with the risk that the injury impacts him similarly as it did last week.
Last week Swift missed the Carolina game with a concussion. He is currently listed as questionable to play today, so keep an eye on the injury report between now and kickoff. However, if he plays, Swift is in line for a big day. The last time we saw Swift on the field, he had a career day with 21 touches for 149 scrimmage yards, a touchdown, and 25.9 fantasy points. He played 73 percent of the snaps in that game after playing more than 45 percent of the snaps in only one other game this season.
While Swift’s recent success is great for his fantasy value, his matchup today is just as critical. The Texans are giving up the third-most fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up 30 per game. They have given up at least one rushing touchdown in all but one game this season. Furthermore, the Texans have given up 100 or more rushing yards to running backs in 70 percent of their games this year. Assuming Swift plays, he is a low-end RB1 with the potential to have a top-five finish.
However, if Swift misses this game, the Lions’ backfield becomes muddy. Last week against the Panthers, Johnson played 70 percent of the snaps compared to 30 percent of Peterson. Despite the great matchup against the Panthers, the duo combined for only 7.6 fantasy points. Between the two, Johnson is the better option as he has out-snapped Peterson 73-44 over the last three games. However, both are risky flex options you should avoid if possible.
The matchup this week is fantasy-friendly for whichever Lions wide receivers play. Unfortunately, the Lions have been hit hard by injuries in the wide receiver room. However, the Texans are giving up just under 40 fantasy points per game to wide receivers. They have given up 44 or more fantasy points to wide receivers in five of their last six games. Furthermore, the Texans allowed the Patriots’ wide receivers to scored 44.7 fantasy points last week despite holding Jakobi Meyers to only 6.8 fantasy points.
Golladay has missed the last three games with a hip injury, and at the time of writing, was listed as questionable to play today. He practiced limitedly last week and again on Monday. If he is active, Golladay belongs in your fantasy lineup. In the games Golladay has played start to finish, he is averaging 16.5 fantasy points per game, good for the WR11 on a point per game basis this season. If he plays, Golladay is a high-end WR2, with the only concern being the health of Stafford’s thumb.
In the last three games that Golladay has missed, Jones scored 13.3 fantasy points in Week 9, 23.6 in Week 10, but only 9.1 last week. The difference is in the first two games Jones scored a touchdown in each contest while he failed to score last week. However, in the five games Golladay has missed this season, Jones is averaging 13.6 fantasy points per game compared to 8.9 in the five games Golladay has played. If Golladay plays, Jones is a low-end WR3 with upside thanks to the matchup. However, if Golladay misses the game, Jones is a mid WR2 with a safe floor, thanks to his expected volume.
Last week Amendola missed the game against the Panthers with a hip injury. He was a limited participant on Monday’s practice estimate report. Assuming he plays, his fantasy value depends on if Golladay plays or not. Amendola has scored double-digit fantasy points in two games this season. Both came in games that Golladay missed. By comparison, Amendola is averaging 6.6 fantasy points per game when Golladay plays. If Golladay is out, Amendola is a risky WR3, thanks to the matchup. However, if Golladay is active, Amendola belongs on the waiver wire.
*** Editor’s note: Golladay has been ruled out for this game. ***
Tight End – T.J. Hockenson
In case you haven’t caught on yet, the theme of the week for the Lions is injuries. Hockenson was dealing with a toe injury entering last week’s game, then suffered a shoulder injury during the game. However, despite being a limited participant on Monday’s injury report, Hockenson is expected to play. Assuming he is active, Hockenson belongs in your fantasy lineup. Hockenson is the TE4 on the season, averaging 11.6 fantasy points per game. He has scored 9.3 or more fantasy points in all but one game this season. Furthermore, he has five or more targets in 70 percent of his games this year.
Meanwhile, the Texans are giving up 12.6 fantasy points per game to tight ends. However, they gave up 7.9 fantasy points to Ryan Izzo last week. The Texans have given up 14 or more fantasy points to tight ends in just under half of their games this season. If Golladay or Amendola miss today’s game, Hockenson’s value only goes up. However, even if both play, Hockenson is a top-five tight end this week.
Over the first 10 games this season, the Lions D/ST is averaging 1.6 fantasy points per game. They have scored four or fewer fantasy points in five straight games and all but two games this season. Furthermore, the Lions D/ST has scored zero or negative fantasy points in half of their games. Meanwhile, D/STs have scored five or fewer fantasy points against the Texans in 70% of their games this season, including six of their last seven contests. Furthermore, even with the return of Stephon Gilmore last week, the Patriots D/ST scored negative fantasy points. Avoid both D/STs in this game at all costs.
Washington Football Team
Quarterback – Alex Smith
Coming off back-to-back games with over 325 passing yards, fantasy owners had high hopes for Smith against the Cincinnati Bengals. Entering last week, they had given up an average of 268.6 passing yards and 20.2 fantasy points per game this season. However, Smith threw for only 166 yards and scored 8.3 fantasy points. The good news is the Cowboys are giving up an average of 20.2 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. They have given up 22.5 or more fantasy points to the position in three of their last five games. Furthermore, the Cowboys have given up 23 passing touchdowns since Week 1, including at least two in all but one game. Smith should bounce back this week with a mid QB2 finish.
Gibson didn’t practice Monday and is dealing with an ankle injury, so be sure to keep an eye on the injury report between now the kickoff. However, he should play against the Cowboys. Assuming he does, Gibson belongs in your lineup. Despite being out-snapped by McKissic this season, Gibson has scored 12 or more fantasy points in seven of his last nine games. Furthermore, Gibson is averaging 15.8 touches per game over his past four games, averaging 17.8 fantasy points per game during that span.
To start the season, McKissic was a target in deeper PPR leagues thanks to his role in the passing game. However, in the last three games with Smith under center, McKissic is averaging 11 targets per game compared to 4.7 per game over the first seven games of the season. Furthermore, over the first five games this season, McKissic averaged 3.8 rushing attempts per game compared to six per game over the last five games. McKissic’s role in the offense has grown with Smith on the field. He is averaging 67 scrimmage yards per game over the past three weeks after averaging only 42 over the first seven games this season.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have struggled at times to slow down running backs this season. They are giving up an average of 23 fantasy points per game to the position. However, they have given up nine rushing touchdowns this season and at least 25.5 fantasy points to the position in half of their games this season. In their Week 7 matchup, Gibson scored 18.8 fantasy points while McKissic had 7.1 despite playing with Kyle Allen. Gibson is a low-end RB1 this week, while McKissic is a safe floor RB2 in PPR.
Wide Receiver – Terry McLaurin
Usually, I cover at least two wide receivers for every team. However, Washington has had a merry-go-round as their WR2 this season. None of them have consistently proven to be worth putting on your watch list, let alone your roster. While Washington lacks depth at wide receiver, they have a star in McLaurin. However, he didn’t practice earlier this week and is dealing with an ankle injury. While McLaurin should play, keep an eye on the injury report between now and kickoff. Assuming he plays, McLaurin is in line for a big game.
When these two teams played in Week 7, McLaurin caught seven of 11 targets for 90 yards, a touchdown, and scored 22 fantasy points. He has scored 11 or more fantasy points in all but one game this season. Furthermore, McLaurin has at least seven targets in every game this year and seven or more catches in four of his last five games. Meanwhile, the Cowboys gave up two touchdowns and 32.3 fantasy points to Adam Thielen last week and are giving up an average of 44.2 fantasy points per game to wide receivers. McLaurin finished their Week 7 matchup as a top 12 wide receiver, and he should have a similar finish this week.
Tight End – Logan Thomas
After scoring 10.5 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games, Thomas had a great matchup against the Bengals; however, he only scored 2.8 fantasy points. The good news is Thomas ranks third on the team with 57 targets this season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have struggled to slow down tight ends this season. They have given up 10 or more fantasy points to the tight end position in 70 percent of their games. When these two teams played in Week 7, Thomas had a season-high 16 fantasy points. Even with all 32 teams playing this week, Thomas is a low-end TE1.
In large part to the drafting of Chase Young, the Washington D/ST has turned into a solid fantasy option, averaging 7.3 fantasy points a game. They have four or more sacks in just under half of their games this season. However, that hasn’t translated into week-to-week consistency. They have three games this season with 13 or more fantasy points, but in their other seven games, they haven’t scored more than six fantasy points in any game. However, in the five games without Dak Prescott this season, D/STs are averaging 12 fantasy points per game against the Cowboys. When these two teams played in Week 7, the Washington D/ST scored 17 fantasy points. They are a mid D/ST1 this week.
Quarterback – Andy Dalton
After missing the last two games because of a concussion and Covid, Dalton had a good performance against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing for three touchdowns and scoring 19.3 fantasy points. He completed 68.8 percent of his passes and threw the game-winning touchdown. However, Washington has done a good job stopping quarterbacks this season. They are giving up an average of 13.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over their last five games. They have held quarterbacks to a total of five passing touchdowns during that span. While Dalton has plenty of weapons and is coming off his best game of the season, the matchup makes him a mid QB2 this week.
Running Back – Ezekiel Elliott
Last week the Cowboys made a change on their offensive line, moving All-Pro right guard Zack Martin to right tackle. With the change, Zeke had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. He averaged over 4.2 yards per carry for the first time since Dak got hurt and had more than 20 rushing attempts for the first time since Week 2. While Zeke had scored a total of 23.3 fantasy points in his previous three games, his performance last week should give his fantasy owners confidence starting him.
Washington has done a good job stopping running backs this season, giving up an average of only 20.4 fantasy points per game to the position. However, before last week’s game against the Bengals, without Joe Mixon, Washington was giving up an average of 27.2 fantasy points per game to running backs since their bye week, including back-to-back games with over 100 rushing yards. Furthermore, Washington has given up 88 or more rushing yards in 70 percent of their games this season. While Zeke only scored 6.1 fantasy points in their Week 7 matchup, he is still a must-start RB1 every week, especially after his performance last week.
Despite playing with four quarterbacks this season, Cooper has been consistent for fantasy owners. He has scored 12.5 or more fantasy points in all but two games this season. Furthermore, Cooper is averaging nine targets and 73.6 receiving yards per game this year. He has at least five catches and 65 receiving yards in four of his last five games. Furthermore, in the Week 7 matchup, Cooper caught all seven of his targets for 80 yards and scored 15.5 fantasy points. Meanwhile, his running mate on the other side has been just as productive this season.
The rookie is in the offensive rookie of the year conversation, and rightfully so. Lamb has at least four catches in all but one game this season. He also has a touchdown in back-to-back games, including a highlight-reel catch last week against the Vikings. More importantly, Lamb has at least five targets in every game this season, averaging 7.4 per game. Unfortunately, Lamb’s success has come at Gallup’s expense.
After averaging 15.2 fantasy points per game last season, Gallup is averaging only 8.7 per game this season. Furthermore, he has only three games this season with more than eight fantasy points. In their Week 7 matchup, Gallup had a season-low two targets and zero fantasy points. Most fantasy owners dropped Gallup weeks ago, and he hasn’t done anything to make them regret the decision.
Meanwhile, Washington has given up the fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. They have held wide receivers to an average of only 29.1 fantasy points per game, 7.2 fantasy points fewer than the league average. Furthermore, they held the Cowboys’ wide receivers to a season-low 15.6 fantasy points back in Week 7. However, over the last two weeks, Washington has struggled to slow down wide receivers. They gave up 43.7 fantasy points to the Detroit wide receivers without Kenny Golladay two weeks ago. Then 40.7 fantasy points to the Bengals’ wide receivers even though Joe Burrow left the game early with a knee injury last week. Cooper is a mid WR2 this week while Lamb is a high-end WR3, and Gallup shouldn’t be anywhere near your lineup.
Tight End – Dalton Schultz
When Blake Jarwin suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, Schultz stepped up for the Cowboys. Over his next three games, Schultz had 17 catches for 208 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and 47.8 fantasy points. Unfortunately, Dak got hurt the following week, and Schultz has scored under nine fantasy points in four of his last six games. However, Schultz has three straight games with six or more targets and is averaging 10.9 fantasy points per game during that span. Meanwhile, Washington is giving up an average of 13.5 fantasy points per game to the position. Furthermore, they have given up six touchdowns to tight ends this season. With his recent success and the return of Dalton, Schultz is a safe floor high end TE2 against Washington.
In case you’ve been living under a rock this year (not that I would blame you), the Cowboys’ defense is awful. The Cowboys D/ST has scored a total of 11 fantasy points this season. They have scored two or fewer fantasy points in all but one game. Meanwhile, D/STs have scored four or fewer points against Washington in three of their last four games. When these two teams played in Week 7, the Cowboys D/ST had only two sacks, zero turnovers, and scored one fantasy point. Don’t be cute, as there is no reason why you should play the Cowboys D/ST.
Watson: Plug and Play QB1
Johnson: Risky Flex Option
Fuller: WR2 with Upside
Cooks: WR2 with Upside
Texans D/ST: Avoid
Stafford: High-End QB2
Swift: Low-End RB1
Golladay: High-End WR2
Jones: Low-End WR3
Hockenson: Top-Five Option
Lions D/ST: Avoid
Smith: Mid QB2
Gibson: Low-End RB1
McKissic: Safe Floor RB2 in PPR
McLaurin: Low-End WR1
Thomas: Low-End TE1
Washington D/ST: Mid D/ST1
Dalton: Mid QB2
Elliott: Plug and Play RB1
Cooper: Mid WR2
Lamb: High-End WR3
Schultz: Safe Floor TE2
Cowboys D/ST: Avoid
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