Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and hopefully, you can spend it with family and friends. As much as we all love the food, the thing we are most thankful for today is football. Usually, with only one game a week on Thursday, there is only one article. However, with two games on because of Thanksgiving, I am doing a separate breakdown for each game. In the first game, we have the Houston Texans taking on the Detroit Lions.
While these two teams have a combined seven wins this season, but the teams have some firepower on offense. With the fantasy playoffs starting as soon as next week, it is more critical than ever to get a win this week. However, which players from this game should you play and which should you avoid? 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. Tomorrow 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 tomorrow 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.
Wide Receiver – Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks
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 tomorrow 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.
Tight End – Jordan Akins, Darren Fells
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.
Running Back – D’Andre Swift, Adrian Peterson, Kerryon Johnson
Last week Swift missed the Carolina game with a concussion. He is currently listed as questionable to play tomorrow, 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 tomorrow 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.
Wide Receiver – Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola
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 tomorrow. 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.
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 on Thanksgiving. 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 tomorrow’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.
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
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