Mike Fanelli | November 27th, 2019
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hopefully, you are getting ready to spend time with family and friends while eating turkey and enjoying some NFL action. Like every year, we have three games on Thanksgiving. First up at 12:30 pm EST is the Chicago Bears at the Detroit Lions, followed by the Buffalo Bills at the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 pm EST, and to close out the night is the New Orleans Saints at the Atlanta Falcons at 8:20 pm EST. While only one of these games offers serious playoff implications, all three offer some interesting fantasy options.
To recap last week, the Indianapolis Colts’ passing attack fell apart. Jacoby Brissett failed to push the ball downfield and despite taking on an awful secondary, the Colts called 10 more run plays than pass plays. Because of the limited opportunity and coming off an injury, T.Y. Hilton flopped, scoring just 4.8 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson had a solid game, scoring 18.9 fantasy points, good for the QB10 on the week. DeAndre Hopkins scored 27.4 fantasy points, his most since week one, in large part because of two touchdowns while Will Fuller came back from injury to score a season-high 21 fantasy points as he led all players with 140 receiving yards. My performance from last week was solid but not great. Hopefully, I’m better this week.
Before I get started, normally I would break down both teams in depth at each position, but with three games to cover I’m switching up the layout. No one wants to read a 7,000-word article and I didn’t have the time to write an article for each game. Therefore, this week I’m breaking down all three games together, just briefly covering the critical fantasy players and will give my opinion on how I view them this week based on a 12 team, one quarterback, PPR scoring league. Let’s see how I do this week.
Mitchell Trubisky, Jeff Driskel, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan
Over the last few weeks, Trubisky has been solid, scoring 18 or more fantasy in two of his last three games including against the Lions in week 10. The Lions give up 20.3 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, 3.9 points more than the league average. While they gave up just 4.9 last week to Dwayne Haskins, the Lions have given up 18 or more fantasy points to quarterbacks in nine of their previous 10 games. Trubisky isn’t a good quarterback but the matchup offers some value.
Matthew Stafford is expected to miss this game as he deals with his back injury. More than likely his season is over as Lions’ playoff chances are as close to zero as possible. Driskel is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury and if he can’t play, David Blough will make his first career start. The Bears give up the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, giving up 13.5 per game. While Driskel scored 18.1 against them a few weeks ago, a lot of that came in garbage time and I wouldn’t expect it to happen again if he plays.
Since his bye week, Allen has been excellent for fantasy owners, averaging 22.4 fantasy points per game. He has scored at least two touchdowns in 82% of his games this season, including seven on the ground. However, the Cowboys give up the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at 14.1 per game. Furthermore, the Cowboys have held quarterbacks to just 12 fantasy points per game at home this season. Allen’s rushing ability and touchdown production offers fantasy owners a safe floor.
Before last week against the Patriots, Prescott had scored 20 or more fantasy points in eight of his 10 games this season. While he doesn’t face the Patriots again this week, the Bills give up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks at 11.5 per game. Furthermore, the Bills have held quarterbacks under 10.5 fantasy points in nearly half their games this season including Tom Brady (3.7 fantasy points) earlier this season. Dak has been good but this matchup isn’t fantasy-friendly.
Since returning from the thumb injury, Brees has been very good for fantasy owners, scoring 21 or more fantasy points in three of the four games. However, the one game he didn’t, he scored just 11.5 fantasy points (with no touchdowns) against the Falcons. I’m going to call that game a fluke as the Saints were coming off their bye and the Falcons had made some coaching changes. The Falcons give up sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks at 21.2 per game. Furthermore, they have given up 23 or more fantasy points in about half their games this season. Expect Brees to have a big game.
Despite playing an awful Buccaneers’ defense on Sunday, Ryan scored just 7.6 fantasy points. Since returning from injury, Ryan has averaged just 12.9 fantasy points per game including 14.6 against the Saints a few weeks ago. While the Saints give up 18.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, the defense has played better of late, holding quarterbacks under 15 fantasy points in three of their last four games. However, Kyle Allen scored 23.1 fantasy points last week against the Saints and if Marshon Lattimore is out again Thursday, Ryan should have a good fantasy outing.
Trubisky – Mid QB2
Driskel – Low end QB2
Allen – Mid QB1
Prescott – Mid QB1
Brees – Top-five QB
Ryan – High end QB2
Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery, Bo Scarbrough, Devin Singletary, Frank Gore, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman
The Bears backfield has been a frustrating one this season. Cohen had a stretch where he scored single-digit fantasy points in five of seven games but has since scored 12 or more in three straight games. Meanwhile, Montgomery hasn’t lived up to his preseason hype, scoring 14 or more just twice while scoring 17.1 total fantasy points over the last three weeks despite averaging almost 15 carries per game. The matchup is good as the Lions give up the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs at 29.5 per game. However, they have held running backs under 20 fantasy points in two of their last three games including 19.7 against the Bears a few weeks ago. Given their recent play, I’d feel much better playing Cohen than Montgomery this week.
Until three weeks ago, very few knew who Scarbrough was, now he’s the lead back in Detroit and has looked solid. While he is averaging just 9.7 fantasy points per game during his two-game span this season, Scarbrough is averaging 16 rushing attempts and 76.5 rushing yards per game so he’s getting the volume. The Bears give up a little more than the league average in fantasy points per game to running backs at 24.6 per game but have held running backs under 20 fantasy points in two of their last three games including 18.5 against the Lions a few weeks ago. However, Scarbrough didn’t play in that game and the Lions seem more focused on the run over the last two weeks. The volume makes Scarbrough an interesting flex option but the lack of fantasy points worries me.
Gore has been one of the best running backs of this generation but his days as a fantasy relevant player are over as he has scored under nine fantasy points in seven straight games despite averaging 9.4 carries per game during that span. The rookie Singletary has taken over as the lead guy, averaging 13.4 fantasy points per game over his last five games. He is coming off his first 100-yard rushing game and a career-high 21 rushing attempts. Meanwhile, the Cowboys give up around the league average to running backs, giving up 24.3 fantasy points per game. Over their last six games, the Cowboys have held running backs under 21.5 fantasy points five times. The Bills want to run the ball and Singletary very well could see his second straight 100 plus yard game on the ground.
Despite averaging just 14.5 fantasy points per game since the Cowboys’ bye, Zeke is still a stud and a must-play every week. He is averaging 22 touches per game during that span, compared to 22.5 for the season, so his workload remains the same despite the dip in production. The Bills give up a little more than the league average in fantasy points to running backs, giving up 24 fantasy points per game. With the Bills being easier to attack on the ground and the Cowboys wanting to protect their defense, I expect Zeke to see close to 30 touches on Thursday and he has the upside to finish as the top running back this week.
To start Sunday’s game against the Panthers, it looked like Murray was going to have a big day while Kamara watched. However, Kamara finished with 20 touches and 19.2 fantasy points compared to seven touches and 12.4 fantasy points for Murray. Meanwhile, the Falcons give up about the league average to running backs, giving up 23.6 fantasy points per game. However, since their bye week, they have held running backs under 22 fantasy points in two of their three games and have given up just one rushing touchdown during that span. Much like Zeke, Kamara is a stud and you’re starting him every week but I would avoid Murray unless you are really hurting at running back.
Reportedly Freeman practiced in full on Tuesday, the first time since he injured his foot against the Saints a few weeks ago. While it appears Freeman will play on Thursday, if he doesn’t I am staying away from the backfield mess of Brian Hill, Kenjon Barner, and Qadree Ollison. The Saints give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs, only giving up 19 per game. However, since their bye week, the Saints have given up 25.3 fantasy points per game, including 23.1 to the Falcons a few weeks ago. If Freeman plays, more than likely he should be in your lineup, if he’s out, avoid everyone else in that backfield.
Cohen – Safe floor flex option
Montgomery – Risky flex option, outside top 36 RBs
Scarbrough – Low end flex option, offers safe floor though.
Singletary – Low end RB2 with volume upside
Gore – RB4 at best, shouldn’t be in your lineup
Elliott – Stud, must start
Kamara – Stud, must start
Murray – Risky flex option, outside top 36 RBs
Freeman – Low end RB2 with risk coming off injury (if he plays)
Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, John Brown, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley
The Bears offense has been a mess this year and it’s hurt Robinson’s fantasy value. He has scored over 15 fantasy points just four times this season and just once since week seven. However, he scored 25.1 last week against the Giants, including a season-high 131 yards. Over the last two weeks, Miller has caught 12 of 20 targets for 131 yards and 25.1 fantasy points. Both guys have value this week against the Lions who give up 36.9 fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Furthermore, they have given up 44 or more fantasy points to wide receivers in three of their last six games, while giving up seven touchdowns during that span. If Taylor Gabriel, who is questionable with a concussion, misses the game, Robinson and Miller’s value goes up a fair amount.
Without their starting quarterback, fantasy owners have to be concerned starting Golladay or Jones against the Bears this week. The Bears give up the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers at 27.6 per game. Furthermore, the Bears have held wide receivers under 22.5 fantasy points in four of their last seven games. With Stafford out of the lineup, Jones has been the better fantasy receiver, outscoring Golladay 12.7 to 9.7 fantasy points per game. However, when they faced the Bears a few weeks ago, both receivers scored a little over 14 fantasy points. If Driskel plays, I have some faith in both receivers but if Blough is starting, I won’t be starting any Lions’ receiver.
Brown has been very consistent this season, scoring over 11.5 fantasy points in nine of 11 games. Until last week, Brown had gone for over 50 yards receiving in every game this season. However, against the Broncos last week, Brown had just two catches for 39 yards but his fantasy day was saved with a touchdown, giving him 11.9 fantasy points. Now he faces the Cowboys, who give up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers at 28 per game. However, they have given up 23 catches for 340 yards, three touchdowns, and 74.6 fantasy points over the last two weeks to the Lions and Patriots’ wide receivers. On paper the matchup is tough but given the Cowboys’ recent struggles to slow down receivers, I think Brown has a good game.
On the other side of the field in this game, it doesn’t get much easier for Cooper and Gallup. The Bills give up the eight-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, giving up 29.4 per game. However, before last week against the struggle Broncos’ offense, the Bills had given up an average of 47.7 fantasy points per game to the Browns and Dolphins’ wide receivers over their previous two games. Cooper and Gallup scored a total of 9.5 fantasy points (all by Gallup) against the Patriots but I expect them to play much better against the Bills.
I’m going to be short, sweet, and straight to the point; start Thomas. He is the WR1 on the year, averaging 23.9 fantasy points per game and he faces a defense that gives up the third-most fantasy points per wide receivers, giving up 40.4 per game. Furthermore, the Falcons gave up 53.4 fantasy points to the Panthers’ wide receivers last week, with Allen under center. Will Thomas top 23.9 fantasy points by halftime? He very well might.
Julio left Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with a shoulder injury and is questionable to play. While he is expected to be ready to play, keep your eyes on the inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff to make sure. If he plays, he belongs in your starting lineup. If Lattimore is out, Julio has the upside to finish as the WR1 for the week but either way, he’s a top 10 guy. Meanwhile, Ridley is coming off his second straight game scoring 22 or more fantasy points. He has 14 catches for 228 yards, two touchdowns, and 52.3 fantasy points during that span. I expect him to keep up the hot play against a Saints’ secondary that has been known for giving up plenty of fantasy production.
Robinson – Mid WR2 with some risk
Miller – boom or bust WR3/flex option
Golladay – Low WR2 with Driskel, bench with Blough
Jones – Low WR2 with Driskel, bench with Blough
Brown – Safe mid WR2
Cooper – Low end WR1 due for a bounce back game
Gallup – High end WR3/flex option with a safe floor
Thomas – Stud, start him
Julio – Stud, start him
Ridley – Mid WR2 with plenty of upside
T.J. Hockenson, Dawson Knox, Jason Witten, Jared Cook, Austin Hooper
Simplest thing first, there is no tight end on Chicago that is fantasy relevant in any league size or format this week. Since his 25.1 fantasy point outing in week one, Hockenson has scored over nine fantasy points just once while averaging 4.8 fantasy points per game during that span. The Bears give up the seventh-most fantasy points per game to tight ends at 14 per game. However, they have given up a total of 12 catches for 113 yards and just one touchdown over their last three games. Hockenson scored just 7.7 fantasy points against the Bears a few weeks ago and since he is questionable with a shoulder injury, fantasy owners should look elsewhere despite the good matchup.
Knox has had some good moments this year but is averaging just 5.8 fantasy points per game. He has scored under 10 fantasy points in seven of his last eight games, scoring under five fantasy points in over half of those games. The Cowboys give up the eight-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season at 13.5 per game. However, the Cowboys have held tight ends to a total of 3.1 fantasy points over the last two weeks. Knox is going to need to score a touchdown to have a chance to finish the week as a top 12 tight end.
Old man Witten has been a solid part of the Cowboys’ offense but lately, he has struggled for fantasy owners. Over his last five games, Witten has scored more than 8.3 fantasy points just once despite seeing at least four targets in every game. Meanwhile, the Bills give up the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends at 6.5 per game. Furthermore, the Bills have held tight ends under nine fantasy points in nine of their 11 games this season including eight of their last nine games.
After a slow start, Cook has been very consistent for fantasy owners, scoring 11 or more fantasy points in five straight games. Since returning from an injury, Cook is averaging 15.5 fantasy points per game including 13.4 against the Falcons a few weeks ago and is coming off a season-high 21.9 fantasy point against the Panthers. The Falcons give up about the league average in fantasy points to tight ends, giving up 11.2 per game. However, they have allowed tight ends to score 10.5 or more fantasy seven of their last 10 games. Coming off a good game combine with his recent success, I feel very good starting Cook this week.
After missing the last two games with a knee injury, there is a chance Hooper plays against the Saints, though he didn’t practice Tuesday. Despite missing the last two games, he is still the TE3 on the season. Hooper scored 11.7 fantasy points against the Saints three weeks ago despite leaving the game with an injury, making the seventh straight game he scored 11 or more fantasy points. If Hooper plays he belongs in your lineup but if he doesn’t there isn’t a Falcons’ tight end I would play instead.
Hockenson – Low end TE2
Knox – Mid TE2
Witten – Low End TE2
Cook – Mid TE1
Hooper – Top-Five TE (if he plays)
Of the Thanksgiving games D/STs the Bears jump off the page as they will either face a backup quarterback or possibly a third-stringer making his first career start. The Lions are a solid option because they face a struggle Bears’ offense but lack a lot of talent on defense to call them a must play. However, they are probably the best streaming option on the waiver wire. While the Bills have a good defense, I want to avoid playing them against the best fantasy offense.
Surprisingly, the Bills’ offense isn’t as friendly to D/STs as many would think, giving up just two total fantasy points over their last three games; leave the Cowboys D/ST on the waiver wire. The Saints D/ST is much better with Lattimore playing but either way, I would rather pick on a less explosive offense. If you are thinking about playing the Falcons D/ST, just don’t. In fact, leave the D/ST empty instead.
Bears – Top option with Blough starting, otherwise top-five option
Lions – Solid mid D/ST1
Bills – Low end D/ST1, would rather avoid
Cowboys – Mid D/ST, would rather avoid
Saints – Mid D/ST2, would need a crazy turnover game from Ryan
Falcons – Bottom three D/ST, stay the hell away
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