TNF Fantasy Preview: Thanksgiving Edition

TNF Fantasy Preview: Thanksgiving Edition

by November 24, 2021 0 comments

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Tomorrow we have a triple header in the NFL. With that comes not one, but three games in which fantasy owners struggle with which players they should put in their starting lineups. To help them decide which players they should start and which they should sit, let’s dive into this week’s Thanksgiving edition Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.

All stats are based on four-point per passing touchdown and PPR scoring.

Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions

Quarterbacks – Andy Dalton, Jared Goff

Unfortunately, Bear fans will have to enjoy Thanksgiving without watching their franchise quarterback as Justin Fields will miss tomorrow’s game because of a rib injury. Replacing him will be the veteran Dalton. In his two starts this season, Dalton averaged 131 passing yards and 7.1 fantasy points per game. However, Dalton had his best game of the season replacing the injured Fields last week. He finished the game with two touchdowns and 16 fantasy points on only 23 pass attempts. Tomorrow, Dalton faces a Detroit defense that has slowed down quarterbacks recently. Over the past three games, the Lions have held quarterbacks to only two passing touchdowns and 11.6 fantasy points per game. The only fantasy lineups Dalton should start in this week are in super flex leagues.

Last week Goff missed the game against the Cleveland Browns because of an oblique injury. Head coach Dan Campbell told reporters yesterday that Goff was trending towards playing. However, regardless if Goff or Tim Boyle start tomorrow, neither belongs in your fantasy lineup. Goff has averaged only 12.4 fantasy points per game this season, scoring under 9.5 fantasy points in over half the games. Last week Boyle threw two interceptions and scored negative 0.9 fantasy points in his first career start. Meanwhile, the Bears have held quarterbacks not named Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford to 15.1 fantasy points per game this season. Unless Stafford is traded back to Detroit before kickoff, fantasy owners have no reason to start a Lions quarterback this week.

Running Backs – David Montgomery, D’Andre Swift

Montgomery played a season-high 95 percent of the snaps against the Baltimore Ravens last week. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, the Ravens limited Montgomery to only 0.5 fantasy points per touch. However, Montgomery has a great matchup against the Lions tomorrow. They have given up an average of 28.4 fantasy points per game to running backs this season, including 22.4 fantasy points to Nick Chubb last week. Despite playing only 62 percent of the snaps against the Lions in Week 4, Montgomery scored a season-high 22.6 fantasy points before leaving with the knee injury. Fantasy owners should expect another massive performance from Montgomery against the Lions.

After averaging 67.5 scrimmage yards and 14.6 fantasy points per game as a rookie, Swift has averaged 97.5 scrimmage and 18.4 fantasy points per game as a sophomore. More importantly, Swift has been one of the most consistent running backs this season, scoring 16.5 or more fantasy points in 70 percent of the games, including five of the past six. When these two teams last met in Week 4, Swift had only 8.9 fantasy points. However, the Bears have struggled to slow down running backs recently. Since that game against Detroit, the Bears have allowed running backs to average 24.2 fantasy points per game. Last week the Bears gave up 20 fantasy points to Devonta Freeman. Swift should finish tomorrow’s game with a similar fantasy performance.

Wide Receivers – Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Amon-Ra St. Brown

Unfortunately, it appears Robinson won’t play tomorrow after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury. Even if he plays, fantasy owners have struggled to trust him this season. Robinson has averaged a career-low 7.8 fantasy points per game this season, scoring under 11 fantasy points in every game. However, the second-year wide receiver has stepped up for the Bears. Mooney has averaged 14.6 fantasy points per game since Week 4, scoring 15.5 or more fantasy points in 57.1 percent of those games. He also had five catches for 125 receiving yards and 18.5 fantasy points earlier this season against the Lions. Last week, Marquise Goodwin stepped up in place of Robinson. He finished with a season-high four catches for 104 receiving yards and 20.4 fantasy points.

Whichever wide receivers do play for the Bears tomorrow, they have an average matchup against the Lions. They have given up an average of 33.5 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. However, the Lions held the Bears wide receivers to only eight catches for 188 receiving yards and 27.9 fantasy points in Week 4. They have also held wide receivers to only 23.7 fantasy points per game over the past three games. Assuming Robinson doesn’t play, Mooney is a borderline must-start wide receiver this week. After seeing a career-high 16 targets last week, Mooney should get the volume needed to finish the week as a mid WR2 or better.

On paper, the Lions have the worst wide receiver core in the NFL. The best of their unit is St. Brown. The fourth-round rookie has averaged 7.8 fantasy points per game this season. He has also scored 10 or more fantasy points in three of the past seven games. Alongside him are Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond. Despite both playing at least 71 percent of the snaps last week, neither caught a pass on their combined four targets. Unfortunately for the Detroit wide receivers, the Bears have held wide receivers to 29.9 fantasy points per game over their past three games. In deeper PPR leagues, St. Brown is a flex option this week, given his target share. The rest of the Detroit wide receiver core belongs on the waiver wire.

Tight Ends – Cole Kmet, T.J. Hockenson

Despite Robinson missing last week’s game against the Ravens, Kmet had only two targets. However, in the previous three games, Kmet had at least six targets in every contest. He averaged 9.8 fantasy points per game in those games despite not finding the end zone. While he only scored 1.6 fantasy points against the Lions in Week 4, fantasy owners can trust Kmet this week. The Lions have slowed down tight ends, giving up only 9.9 fantasy points per game to the position over the first five games of the season. However, over their past five games, tight ends have averaged 11.6 fantasy points per game. Kmet is a low-end TE1 this week with the expectation he sees at least six targets in this contest.

For the Lions, Hockenson is the focal point of their passing attack. His 72 targets lead the team, 24 most than any wide receiver on the roster. Aside from the heavy rain game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hockenson has averaged 9.8 targets per game over the past four contests. Furthermore, Hockenson has at least eight targets in 70 percent of the games this year. While the Bears have shut down tight ends, giving up only 6.7 fantasy points per game to the position over the first eight games of the season, they have struggled lately. Over their past two games, tight ends have averaged 18.9 fantasy points per game against the Bears. Hockenson should have a strong performance, finishing the week as a top-five tight end.

Defense/Special Teams

Even with Khalil Mack out for the year because of a shoulder injury, the Bears D/ST has played well recently. Over the past two games, they have averaged one turnover, five sacks, and 12 fantasy points per game while holding their opponents to only 22.5 points per game. In their Week 4 matchup against the Lions, the Bears D/ST had two turnovers, four sacks, and eight fantasy points. Meanwhile, opposing D/STs have averaged 8.2 fantasy points per game against the Lions this season. Over the past three games, opposing D/STs have averaged 11.3 fantasy points per game. Given how the Bears D/ST has played recently, they have top-five upside this week against a terrible Lions offense.

The same can’t be said for the Lions D/ST, as they have averaged only 2.6 fantasy points per game this season. While they scored 10 fantasy points last week against a banged-up Cleveland offense, the Lions D/ST scored a total of 16 fantasy points over the first nine games. Meanwhile, opposing D/STs have averaged only 5.7 fantasy points per game against the Bears over the past three weeks. Regardless of which players the Bears are missing on offense this week, fantasy owners have no reason to start the Lions D/ST.

Las Vegas Raiders vs Dallas Cowboys

Quarterbacks – Derek Carr, Dak Prescott

Carr started the season on fire, scoring at least 21 fantasy points in each of the first three games. However, he has averaged only 14.2 fantasy points per game since, scoring under 19.1 fantasy points in all but one contest. Furthermore, Carr has struggled since the team released Henry Ruggs III. He has averaged only 1.3 passing touchdowns and 12.4 fantasy points per game in the three games without Ruggs. Carr has also thrown 44.4 percent of his interceptions this season in those three contests. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking up for Carr this week as the Cowboys have shut down quarterbacks recently. Over their past four games, the Cowboys have held quarterbacks to only 10.4 fantasy points per game. Fantasy owners need to leave Carr on the bench this week.

Unfortunately, the fantasy outlook this week for Prescott isn’t much better than it is for Carr. Last week Prescott had a season-low 2.6 fantasy points against the Kansas City Chiefs as he threw a season-high two interceptions. While he won’t be that awful this week, Prescott will likely be without his top two weapons in Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Cooper will miss the games because of Covid-19, while Lamb is doubtful to play with a concussion. Furthermore, the Raiders held Joe Burrow to only nine fantasy points last week. They have also held quarterbacks not named Patrick Mahomes to only 15.7 fantasy points per game this season. Without Cooper or Lamb, Prescott is far from a must-start fantasy quarterback.

Running Backs – Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard

Despite a great matchup last week, Jacobs and Drake combined for only 15 fantasy points. However, Jacobs has been consistent this season, scoring 10.5 or more fantasy points in all but one game. More importantly, Jacobs had earned a role in the passing game, catching four or more passes in five of the past seven contests. After scoring 16 or more fantasy points in three straight games, Drake has severely cooled off recently. Over the past two weeks, he has averaged only 4.5 carries, 1.5 catches, and 4.5 fantasy points per game. Tomorrow they face a Dallas run defense that has held running backs to only 21.1 fantasy points per game this season. Fantasy owners can trust Jacobs as a mid RB2 this week while Drake belongs on the bench.

On the other sideline, the Cowboys have one of the best set of running backs in the NFL. Zeke has averaged 17.2 fantasy points per game, scoring 17.5 or more fantasy points in 60 percent of the games this season. By comparison, Pollard has averaged 10.3 fantasy points per game this season, averaging 12.4 fantasy points per game over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, the Raiders have surrendered 26.7 fantasy points per game to running backs this season. However, they have given up an average of 107 rushing yards and 33.3 fantasy points per game over the past two weeks. Despite a minor knee injury, Zeke will play without any restrictions tomorrow. This week, fantasy owners can trust Zeke as a plug and play RB1, while Pollard is a flex option.

Wide Receivers – Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson

Renfrow has been one of the most consistent fantasy players this season. He has scored 11.5 or more fantasy points in 70 percent of the games. While he had a down performance last week with only 7.5 fantasy points, Renfrow has averaged 14.3 fantasy points per game since the Raiders bye week. His teammate, Edwards, has been far less consistent this season. Since the team released Ruggs, Edwards has scored zero fantasy points in two of the three games. Until he shows some sign of consistency, fantasy owners can leave him on the bench. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have given up 35.2 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. As long as Renfrow remains Carr’s go-to wide receiver, he remains a weekly low-end WR2 option for fantasy owners.

With the two star wide receivers out, fantasy owners will be excited to start Gallup. However, they should do so with caution. Last week without Cooper for the entire game and Lamb for the second half, Gallup had only 9.4 fantasy points on 10 targets. Gallup has also scored under 9.5 fantasy points in all three games this season despite averaging 7.3 targets per game. Wilson, however, has averaged 8.4 fantasy points per game this season, averaging 10.4 fantasy points per game since the bye week. Unfortunately, neither Cowboy wide receiver is a top-24 option this week after the Raiders have held wide receivers to only 28.4 fantasy points per game over their past seven contests. If Lamb plays, he is the only Cowboys wide receiver fantasy owners should start.

Tight Ends – Darren Waller, Dalton Schultz

This game will feature two of the better fantasy tight ends this season. Waller is the TE3 on the year, averaging 13.8 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Waller has averaged 8.7 targets per game since the Raiders released Ruggs. He has also scored at least 16 fantasy points in two of those three games. Tomorrow Waller has a great matchup against the Cowboys. They have given up an average of 14.5 fantasy points per game this season to tight ends, giving up 22 or more fantasy points in 30 percent of their matchups, including last week. Since the bye week, the Cowboys have allowed tight ends to average 63 receiving yards and 13.7 fantasy points per game. Fantasy owners that have Waller should plug him into their lineup like every other week.

In the six games before the bye week, Schultz averaged 14.2 fantasy points per game, scoring 10.5 or more fantasy points in all but one contest. However, he has averaged only 6.6 fantasy points per game since the bye week. The good news is Schultz got back on track last week against the Chiefs, finishing with 11.3 fantasy points on eight targets. Without Cooper and Lamb, the Cowboys will have to lean on Schultz all the more this week. Furthermore, the Raiders have given up 16.8 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, third-most in the NFL. They have also given up 27 or more fantasy points to tight ends in three of their past seven games. Schultz has top-five upside this week against a struggling Raiders defense.

Defense/Special Teams

Two weeks ago, the Raiders D/ST scored a season-low negative seven fantasy points against the Chiefs. However, removing the game against the Chiefs, the Raiders D/ST has averaged 7.3 fantasy points per game since Week 6. Despite getting blown out at home by the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders D/ST had three sacks and scored six fantasy points. Tomorrow they face a Dallas team that will likely be without its top two wide receivers. Last week the Chiefs D/ST scored a season-high 16 fantasy points against the Cowboys, with Cooper out of the lineup and Lamb missing the season half of the game. The Raiders D/ST should have a solid performance against the Cowboys, making them a potential streaming option for those who need a bye week replacement.

Surprisingly, the Cowboys D/ST is the fourth-highest ranked unit this season, averaging 8.1 fantasy points per game. They have scored at least six fantasy points in six of their past eight contests. Over the past two weeks, the Cowboys D/ST has averaged 2.5 turnovers, 2.5 sacks, 11 points allowed, and 14 fantasy points per game. Meanwhile, opposing D/STs have averaged only 4.9 fantasy points per game against the Raiders this season. However, since the Raiders released Ruggs, opposing D/STs have averaged 10.3 fantasy points per game, scoring at least nine fantasy points in every game. Between the Raiders’ recent struggles and the dominating play by rookie Mich Parsons, the Cowboys D/ST is a mid D/ST1 this week.

Buffalo Bills vs New Orleans Saints

Quarterbacks – Josh Allen, Trevor Siemian

Not only have the Bills struggled lately, but so has Allen. Over the first five weeks, Allen averaged 25.5 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Allen has averaged 21 fantasy points per game over the past five games, scoring under 21 in three of those contests. Furthermore, Allen has averaged only 15.6 fantasy points per game over the past three weeks, scoring under 16.5 fantasy points twice. He has also thrown five of his eight interceptions this season over the past three weeks. Fortunately for Allen, the Saints have struggled to slow down quarterbacks at home this season. Since Week 1, the Saints have allowed quarterbacks to average 26.9 fantasy points per game in New Orleans. Expect Allen to bounce back tomorrow against the Saints.

On the other sideline, Siemian has played well since taking over as the starter. He has averaged 20 fantasy points per game, throwing at two touchdowns in each of his three starts. More importantly, Siemian has gotten better each week, improving his fantasy production by roughly four points each week. Since taking over as the starting quarterback, he has been a top-five quarterback, ahead of players like Mahomes and Allen. Unfortunately, Siemian’s hot streak will come to an end tomorrow. The Bills have held quarterbacks to only 10.8 fantasy points per game this season, the fewest in the NFL. They have also given up over 11 fantasy points to quarterbacks only once in the past month. As great as Siemian has played lately, this week, he belongs on the waiver wire.

Running Backs – Zack Moss, Devin Singletary, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram

Earlier this season, Moss appeared to have earned the lead role in that Buffalo backfield. However, things have changed over the past two weeks. After playing 12 total snaps this season, Matt Breida played 26 snaps over the past two games, including 18 snaps last week. By comparison, Moss played 16 snaps last week while Singletary led the way with 21. Over the past two weeks, Moss has played 38.6 percent of the snaps compared to 37.7 percent for Singletary and 22.8 percent for Breida. Meanwhile, the Saints have held running backs to only 16.6 fantasy points per game and one touchdown over the past five weeks. The Buffalo backfield has turned into a three-headed monster. It is a backfield fantasy owners should avoid if possible.

After missing the past two games because of a knee injury, fantasy owners shouldn’t hold their breath in hopes of Kamara playing tomorrow. However, if he is active, Kamara belongs in your fantasy lineups. If he misses his third straight game, Ingram is a low-end RB1 this week. Over the past two games, Ingram has averaged 18.1 fantasy points per game, scoring at least 15 fantasy points in both contests. Tomorrow the Saints face a Buffalo defense that has been killed by running backs lately. Over the past two weeks, the Bills have allowed running backs to average 45 fantasy points per game, giving up at least 32.3 fantasy points in both games. Whichever Saints running back starts tomorrow, they are a must-start fantasy option.

Wide Receivers – Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith

Coming off a career year in 2020, many spent a top-20 draft pick on Diggs this year. However, Diggs got off to a semi-slow start, averaging 15.6 fantasy points per game over the first nine weeks of the season. Over the past two weeks, Diggs has averaged six catches on 9.5 targets for 92.5 receiving yards, 1.5 receiving touchdowns, and 24.3 fantasy points per game. While he will see plenty of Marshon Lattimore in this game, Diggs remains a plug-and-play WR1 for fantasy owners. However, fantasy owners should avoid the rest of the Buffalo wide receivers this week as the unit has become very inconsistent.

Last season Beasley averaged a career-high 13.8 fantasy points per game. By comparison, he has averaged 11.1 fantasy points per game this season, his lowest outing since joining the Bills. Beasley has also scored under eight fantasy points in half the games this season, including two straight. While he started the season strong, averaging 15 fantasy points per game before the bye week, Sanders has struggled lately. Over the past four games, Sanders has averaged only 5.8 fantasy points per game, scoring under 7.5 fantasy points in three of them. Behind the veteran duo is Gabriel Davis. In the offseason, many thought Davis would be a fantasy sleeper. Unfortunately, he has been very inconsistent, scoring five fantasy points in 67 percent of his games this season.

Their opponent tomorrow allowed wide receivers to average 37.3 fantasy points per game this season. However, the Saints have shut down wide receivers over the past few weeks. After giving up 68.4 fantasy points to Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers in Week 8, the Saints have held wide receivers to only two touchdowns and 24.6 fantasy points per game since. Until Beasley or Sanders break out of their slumps and prove to be consistent fantasy players, it’s hard to trust either of them in your fantasy lineups. The only Buffalo wide receiver fantasy owners should start this week is Diggs.

After missing the start of the season, Smith has picked up his play recently. He has been the WR21, averaging 11.6 fantasy points per game over the past four weeks. More importantly, Smith has led the Saints in targets (15) over the past two weeks, six more than any other wide receiver on the team. Meanwhile, Marquez Callaway has also picked up his play lately, scoring a touchdown in three straight games. Unfortunately, the Bills have held wide receivers to only 25.1 fantasy points per game this season, the fewest in the NFL. They have also given up only three touchdowns to wide receivers all season. Smith is a mid WR3 option this week while the rest of the Saints wide receiver core belongs on the bench.

Tight Ends – Dawson Knox, Juwan Johnson

Before suffering an injury, Knox was one of the best tight ends in football. He averaged 14.8 fantasy points per game over the first five games, good for the TE3 during that span. In his first game back from the injury, Knox had only one target on 49 snaps played. However, he finished with a team-high 10 targets and 14 fantasy points on 55 snaps played last week. While the Saints have held tight ends to only 9.8 fantasy points per game this season, they have struggled recently. Over the past three weeks, the Saints have allowed tight ends to average 13 fantasy points per game, scoring at least 11 fantasy points in every contest. Between the number of targets last week and the matchup, Knox has top-five upside this week.

During the preseason, Adam Trautman was a popular fantasy sleeper. After starting the year slowly, Trautman picked up his play recently. He has averaged 6.8 and nine fantasy points per game over the past month. Unfortunately, Trautman suffered a knee injury last week that could potentially end his season. Replacing him will be some combination of Johnson and Nick Vannett. Johnson has been a healthy scratch in two of the past three games. Last week, Vannett made his season debut. Meanwhile, the Bills have held tight ends to only 8.7 fantasy points per game this season, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. They have also given up only two touchdowns to tight ends all season. Fantasy owners have no reason to start any Saints tight end moving forward.

Defense/Special Teams

The Bills D/ST has been a top unit this season, averaging 9.7 fantasy points per game. Over the first nine games of the season, the Bills D/ST scored 11 or more fantasy points in over half of their matchups, including two of the first three games after their bye week. Unfortunately for them, the matchup tomorrow is far from fabulous. Opposing D/STs have averaged six fantasy points per game this season in the three games Siemian has started. However, removing the pick-six Darius Slay had last week, opposing D/STs have averaged only 3.3 fantasy points per game against Siemian this season. While the Bills are still a top-12 option this week, they are not a must-start D/ST.

Over the first seven games of the season, the Saints D/ST averaged 8.9 fantasy points per game. They scored double-digit fantasy points in over half of those contests. However, they have scored a total of eight fantasy points over the past three weeks, allowing their opponents to average 28 points per game. Fortunately for the Saints D/ST, the matchup tomorrow is appealing. While they have held opposing D/STs to only two fantasy points per game this season, the Bills have struggled on offense recently. Over the past three games, opposing D/STs have averaged 7.3 fantasy points per game, scoring 10 or more fantasy points twice. Starting the Saints D/ST comes with some risk. However, they could finish the week as a top-five fantasy unit.

Star/Sit Recap

Quarterbacks

Starts: Prescott, Allen

Sits: Dalton, Goff, Carr, Siemian

Running Backs

Starts: Montgomery, Swift, Jacobs, Elliott, Pollard, Kamara, Ingram

Sits: Drake, Moss, Singletary

Wide Receivers

Starts: Mooney, Renfrow, Gallup, Diggs, Smith

Sits: Robinson, St. Brown, Edwards, Wilson, Beasley, Sanders

Tight Ends

Starts: Kmet, Hockenson, Waller, Schultz, Knox

Sits: Johnson

Defense/Special Teams

Starts: Bears, Raiders, Cowboys, Bills, Saints

Sits: Lions


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