Week 13: TNF Fantasy Preview – Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving!  You know what that means, right?  Family, food, and (most importantly) football.  Thanksgiving Day ranks right up there as one of my favorite holidays.  This Thursday, we’ll see six teams duke it out before, during, and after we stuff our faces with as much food as possible.  The hapless Bears visit Detroit to face the toothless Lions, the Bills visit the Cowboys who may soon be out of a head coach, and the Saints march into Atlanta to battle the underwhelming and injured Falcons.

Even though these teams have a very different identity than we imagined at the beginning of the year, each of these games has fantasy implications with decisions to be made.  

Let’s take a look at the matchups and hopefully give you a turkey leg up on your opponent in Week 13.

Bears @ Lions – 12:30 pm EST

This may be the easiest game to break down for fantasy purposes, considering we don’t have a lot of options here.  You’re not starting Mitch Trubisky and the Lions aren’t even sure they are starting Jeff Driskel. They may turn to David Blough, who, in addition to sounding like a loud sneeze, took his first first-team reps this past Tuesday.  The only Lion I would consider starting in this case would be Bo Scarbrough and that’s only if I’m desperate with no one else left. That whole situation is a mess and facing the commanding Bears’ defense makes it even worse.

As I mentioned before, you’re not starting Trubisky unless you are purposefully tanking your week.  Ergo, the only WR I would consider starting is Allen Robinson. However, the Lions are atrocious in the run game and Trubisky shouldn’t be throwing in the first place, so this may be a run game for the Bears.  FantasyPros has Allen Robinson as the WR15 ahead of players like Keenan Allen, John Brown, and Jarvis Landry.

The RB situation is a little muddier, with David Montgomery running directly into brick walls for fun and Tarik Cohen underwhelming for anything other than PPR.  I blame head coach, Matt Nagy, but that doesn’t help for fantasy.  

Montgomery and Cohen are RB23 and RB36 for this matchup, which I think is generous, until I remember they are playing the Lions.  If I had options such as Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders, Devin Singletary, or Jonathon Williams, I would start all of them over David Montgomery this week.

Unless you’re in a full PPR and desperate, you can stay away from Cohen.

Bears’ Starters: Allen Robinson… DST.  (Montgomery and/or Cohen if you’re desperate.  Now watch them score 4 touchdowns)

Lions’ Starters: No one if you can make it happen.  Bo Scarbrough if you have to. Like I do. You may also have to start Kenny Golladay.  In that case, I am sorry.

Bills @ Cowboys – 4:30 pm EST

I still think it’s crazy the Bills are 8-3 and them Boys are 6-5.  Normally, this would be a gimme game for the Cowboys, but Buffalo has been packing some heat this year.  Josh Allen has improved his passing and rungame with designed runs and deep threat, John Brown, stretching the field.  

Despite the Cowboys’ offensive woes and poor play calling, the defense has been keeping them afloat.  They are 9th vs QB, 18th vs RBs, 4th vs. WRs, and 25th vs TEs.  

The two players I like for the Bills in this matchup are John Brown and Devin Singletary.  FantasyPros has Singletary as the RB20 in half-PPR ahead of players like Miles Sanders, Ekeler, the aforementioned Montgomery, and Ronald Jones.  He is behind Jonathan Williams, Tevin Coleman, Joe Mixon, and Philip Lindsay.

I am fading Josh Allen this week against a tough defense in favor of a high upside streamer Sam Darnold or Jameis Winston.

Obviously, you’re starting Ezekiel Elliot, so we’ll just leave that alone.  The real questions are starting Dak Prescott and his pass catchers. Prescott is the QB9, but the Bills have kept opponents to 7 passing TDs, created 7 INTs, and have only allowed 2 rushing TDs to QBs.  Again, I think I would feel better streaming the position, if possible. Jason Garrett’s coaching job is on the line and I don’t trust the matchup.

The Bills are also 8th best against WRs, allowing only 4 receiving TDs to WRs all season.  That is second-best in the league behind only the New England Patriots who have allowed one.  Yes, that’s correct. Only one receiving TDs to WRs. Wow. Amari Cooper is the WR20 in half-PPR scoring coming off a goose-egg performance in Week 12.  Michael Gallup is WR26 and Randall Cobb is WR50.

I made a personal vow to never, ever draft Amari Cooper.  Ever. So, I don’t have the issue to start or sit him, but if you’re in this predicament, I’m sure this sucks.  If you are in a position where you absolutely have to start either Cooper or Gallup, fill the rest of your roster with high upside guys to help pull you out of a deficit.  Remember where there is high upside, there is high risk, so weigh your options.

Bills Starters: John Brown, Devin Singletary

Cowboys Starters: Zeke.

Saints @ Falcons – 8:20 pm EST

This should be the matchup of Thanksgiving if the Atlanta Falcons were the Falcons of old.  I have no idea what’s going on with Matt Ryan, but it has gotten to the point where he is droppable.  I cannot believe that’s where we are, but you can stream a better option for the rest of the season, such as Winston, Darnold, and Daniel Jones.

I almost feel like I’m blaspheming by saying you can sit Matt Ryan.  It feels weird to type it and it feels like bizzaro world to read it, but here we are.

To add insult to injury for the Falcons, Julio Jones is questionable after last week’s injury and did not practice on Tuesday (as of this article date).  He may very well end up a game time decision, so keep your eye on Jones’ status while you stuff your face with turkey and pie. Set a reminder, if you have to.

Although I’m not a fan of starting Matt Ryan if you have a better streaming option, I do like starting Ridley, especially with Jones out or limited.  This also boosts Russell Gage’s opportunity if you are in need of an option at WR. Gage is only 7% owned in Yahoo! Leagues and caught 8 receptions on 10 targets for 76 yards in Week 12.

But… what’s this?  Devonta Freeman is back, practicing in-full!  Yay….oh wait. Despite the Courtyard commercials that make Freeman look like a Minotaur, running through defensive players, he’s still only averaging 4 yards per carry and facing the 5th best defense vs. RBs in the league.  If you have to start Freeman, I don’t hate it, just temper your expectations. If Jones misses, Ryan may need to rely on the run, so at least you’ll be looking at volume.  

On the other side of the ball, I’m diggin’ the Saints in this matchup.  The Falcons’ defense turned on the heat in the past few weeks, but then came crashing down to earth when they got torched by Jameis Winston.  I expect Drew Brees to carve up Atlanta’s defense and spread the ball around. If you need a flex play, take a look at Ted Ginn Jr. Or Tre’Quan Smith as deep sleepers.

Falcons Starters: Jones (if healthy), Ridley, Gage, Freeman

Saints: Brees, Kamara, Michael Thomas, Jared Cook, DST – Ginn and Smith are optional deep sleepers.

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