Fantasy Football Intelligence: Giving Thanks

If you are reading this blog and still have something to play for you can give thanks wherever appropriate – thanks for having had a good or excellent draft, for the moves you made or didn’t make, and for the fortune to avoid debilitating or horribly timed injuries. Even if you had some uncomfortable weeks and unfortunate outcomes, if you are still in the hunt, you’ve gotta be thankful.

So here’s Natalie Merchant.

Here are some things to be thankful for heading into week 13:

The byes are over.

Thanksgiving games.

CHI @ DET: I’m thankful we are getting this one over with. Unless Matt Stafford talks his way into the lineup, this will be a defensive game with limited production from the offenses. We can be thankful for Kenny Golladay and Allen Robinson along with Bears defense. Be thankful if you don’t have to start anyone else from this game.

BUF @ DAL: Thankfully both teams are in the playoff hunt and it should be a fun game. Dallas’ skill players are likely starts and the defense at home against Buffalo has some potential. Josh Allen is playing much better and his rushing offers a good floor. Readers of the blog have had Singletary on the radar for a while, though I’d like to see him get more red zone play. Even so, he is a low end RB2/Flex. John Brown is in the WR3 conversation. I’d be thankful if I didn’t have to start Bills defense in Dallas.

NO @ ATL: I think the Saints are thankful for this rematch after the butt-kicking a couple weeks ago. In that game, the Falcons sacked Brees seven times and last week NO lost LT Terron Armstead which could be a problem. Even so, New Orleans in a revenge game against a team heading for a coaching change seems like fantasy opportunity. Start all the regulars including Jared Cook who has shot up to 85% owned. Falcons offense will have to throw to keep up so Ryan, Julio and Ridley are good. Freeman is supposed to practice this week and we await word on Hooper.

Thankful Thoughts on Sunday Games

SF @ BAL: Interesting matchup between two teams that look dominant. If you are starting either of these defenses, I’d consider streaming Carolina (33% owned, vs. WAS). You have to start your offensive stars, but both teams should be below their scoring average. I would not start Hollywood Brown or Emmanuel Sanders and I’d feel better about Ravens D than 49ers D.

WAS @ CAR: I’m thankful that my call on D.J. Moore two weeks ago was right on. You should give thanks if you are not facing Christian McCaffrey. Greg Olsen is streamable, Terry McLaurin is WR3/4 and as stated, if I’m rostering SF or BAL, I’d stream Panthers D.

NYJ @ CIN: The Jets are thankful that the freefall has stopped. Winners of three in a row, they have scored over 30 points each of the last three and Darnold seems to have exorcised the ghosts. They look like the team I thought would be .500, even with C.J. Mosley still out. Darnold is spreading out the passing, but Crowder, Anderson and Griffin are reasonable dart throws at WR/TE. Start Boyd, but if you have a better option than Mixon, I’d consider it. I would start Darnold before Wentz, Rivers, Mayfield or Cousins this week.

TEN @ IND: Huge division game for both teams. Tannehill is playing surprisingly well but Henry is likely the only offensive starter you want on TEN. The receivers are not consistent. Indy’s starters are workmanlike and Jack Doyle (33% owned) adds value as Ebron goes to IR. Hilton is a good start, but don’t expect as much from the running game as we saw against Houston last Thursday.

TB @ JAX: Be thankful if you jumped on the Godwin bandwagon early. This game could be a shootout, start your Bucs and Jags. Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley both got nine targets against the Titans so if you are looking for a streaming WR, I’d consider them in that order.

OAK @ KC: Another potentially high scoring affair. Oakland must try to slow the Chiefs down and that means running the ball, but we saw what happened this week when the Jets got the Raiders out of their game script. If the Jets can do that to Josh Jacobs (10/34, one 2 yd. catch), what do you think Pat Mahomes’ Chiefs will do to them? (If you’re impatient, skip to the 1:58 mark to get my point.) That said, the Jets have a much better run defense than KC, so I’m saying there’s a chance.

PHI @ MIA: The Eagles have lost two in a row but they remain in the division race thanks to the forgiving Cowboys. The Eagles can give thanks that their schedule gets much more favorable starting with this visit to Miami. Stream the defense (39% owned) if you are looking for three weeks of plus matchups. The RB/WR situations are muddled so spot starts will be a dart throw. Wentz is likely to improve, but with so many options at QB on a week to week basis, I’d wait to see a good game first.

GB @ NYG: GB offense gets healthy, but the Giants offense can hurt the reeling GB defense. There should be plenty of fantasy gold for Rodgers, Adams and Jones. Golden Tate is in the concussion protocol and Engram remains injured. Shepard and Slayton are what’s left (besides Saquon), but GB will be focused after getting housed by SF, so this could be a beatdown. The Giants will also be missing Jabrill Peppers.

LAR @ AZ: The Ravens took the Rams behind the barn and shot them. Their season is effectively over, but expect them to play for pride in a winnable game. I am not excited about anyone on the Rams offense in particular, production will be spread out. Gurley is a RB2 and Kupp a WR2 and Woods might be a WR3 this week. Rams defense is also playable. Kyler Murray should pick up numbers while running for his life. The Cardinals’ RB/WR distribution is spread out and while you might have to start David Johnson, we remain bearish on the AZ backfield.

LAC @ DEN: Be thankful if you held on to Hunter Henry through his injury. He is at worst a top 5 TE. Gordon and Ekeler are RB2/flex plays and the Chargers defense is usable in this game. Lindsay is in the RB2/flex hunt as well and Sutton is a risky WR3 as long as Allen remains at QB.

CLE @ PIT: Great storylines – one team has a ton of talent and weak coaching, the other is decimated by injury but is well coached. Benny Snell will be a hot waiver pickup this week and it wouldn’t surprise me if Conner sits another week. On the heels of the Thursday Night Brawl in week 11, emotions will be high. (Another smart move by Tomlin – if he starts Hodges, he takes it down a few degrees by not having Rudolph on the field.) I’d expect a smashmouth game with both defenses acquitting themselves well and the offensive players not doing as well as expected.

NE @ HOU: Not the greatest matchup for the Patriots defense because Bill O’Brien and Deshaun Watson are smart and don’t make a lot of mistakes, but I’m still starting them. The Texans o-line is better, but still not great. The game will turn on whether the Texans can hit big plays. You have to start Hopkins, but don’t expect him to go off. Watson may end up okay with his arm and legs. If you have a better option than Hyde, use him. Other than Edelman and Michel, I wouldn’t start any other Patriots. You probably have a better option than Brady, at least until Sanu and Dorsett return.

Monday Night Football is no turkey.

MIN @ SEA: Right now these are the NFC wild card teams, but they are on the heels of GB and SF respectively. You still start Wilson and Lockett. Rashad Penny out-touched Chris Carson 14-12 and looked like the better back. Carson has been a good runner all year, but fumbling remains a problem. Expect a time share, and against a stingy defense, you may have a better option (but put a claim in for Penny either way). DK Metcalf only had six targets last week. Starting him means you are gambling on a big play or a score. He is a mid-range WR3 this week. Jacob Hollister is emerging at TE, but is now 76% owned. You are starting Cook and Diggs, but there are better options than Cousins. Keep an eye on Thielen’s status. Kyle Rudolph has been TE8 for the last month, but the Vikings may not spend a ton of time in the red zone, where he thrives. I would start the Seahawks defense over the Vikings, but neither is likely to put up a big week.

In closing, happy Thanksgiving to all. FFI’s holiday tradition is to watch this feel good video every year. Enjoy.