With three games on Thursday, fantasy football players need to get their lineups in place before scarfing on turkey and pie.
This week looks to have less potential than previous weeks for scoring, with the Falcons-Saints game on Thursday night shaping up to have the most fantasy upside.
Playoff time in most fantasy leagues is looming, which makes this a make-or-break week for many teams.
START: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: Questions about his hamstrings were emphatically put to rest when he torched the Titans with nine receptions for 138 yards and two scores last week. After recording just 15 targets in a three-game span, Hilton has 16 in his last two games and faces a Dolphins pass defense that is 29th in the league in average yards allowed per reception. A dialed-in Andrew Luck (seven straight games with at least three touchdown passes) will have no problem finding his featured pass catcher.
SIT: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: Take away his five-TD performance against the Dolphins in Week 8, and Watson has just six touchdown passes in his past five games. That doesn’t bode well against a Titans defense that still ranks fourth in fewest fantasy points allowed per game despite being lit up by the Colts last week. Watson no longer offers the bonus of running the ball, which makes him sideline material for fantasy players this week.
START: Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Browns: He’s once again RB2/flex viable in PPR formats after catching all 13 of his targets for 109 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Expect the good times to continue for Johnson and his fantasy owners, who get a plum matchup against the Bengals, who are 31st in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs. Cincinnati is also 31st in receiving yards allowed and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is improving.
SIT: Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: Collins is too touchdown-dependent to garner much value and has seen his touches decline since getting 19 carries in Week 6, falling to just seven last week against the Bengals. The unexpected rise of Gus Edwards makes an already-crowded Baltimore backfield more cramped, which means Collins will see limited touches against a Raiders defense that is 31st in rushing yards allowed.
START: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles: Don’t be discouraged by Wentz’s poor effort in the loss at the Saints. With the Eagles ranked 25th in rushing and their chances of defending their Super Bowl crown beginning to slip away, expect Wentz to throw at will against a Giants defense that he lit up for three touchdowns in Week 6. There’s little chance of Zach Ertz catching just two passes or Golden Tate being a nonfactor in consecutive weeks, so bank on Wentz rebounding.
SIT: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos: After consecutive 100-yard games in Weeks 6 and 7, Sanders has flattened to a combined 160 yards in his last three games. He has suffered without having Demaryius Thomas taking coverage away. And with rookie Courtland Sutton starting to see more targets in his direction, Sanders has fallen from a solid WR2 to a borderline flex. Although the Steelers are 28th in receiving yards allowed, Sanders’ recent struggles aren’t encouraging enough to take the gamble.
START: Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints: The 13 targets he had in the win over the Eagles was the same number he had in his previous three games combined. Smith won’t have to wait long to exploit a vulnerable secondary, as the Falcons defense he’ll see Thanksgiving night is 29th in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing receivers while giving up 21 touchdown passes. He’s a strong flex option who is another good game or two away from being a legit WR2.
SIT: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers: There’s little debate that Jones is now Green Bay’s lead back. However, he has yet to record more than 15 carries in a game this season and his matchup against the Vikings appears to be the splash of cold water that stalls him after scoring four times in the last two games. Minnesota is fourth overall against the run and has allowed only five touchdowns on the ground, meaning Jones will need to deliver as a pass catcher to justify having him in the lineup.
START: Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: His production perked up once Colt McCoy replaced the injured Alex Smith at quarterback, resulting in Reed catching his first touchdown since Week 1. The Cowboys are middle of the pack when it comes to stopping tight ends, although the memory of Ertz pulling in 15 catches for Philadelphia against Dallas two weeks ago should be a good reason why Reed’s fantasy numbers will continue to swing upward.
SIT: Anthony Miller, WR, Bears: With Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) unlikely to play against the Lions on Thanksgiving, Miller’s run of two straight games with a touchdown catch has a strong chance to end, especially if Chicago focuses its attention toward Detroit’s 22nd-ranked run defense.
START: Eli Manning, QB, Giants: The Eagles secondary is in worse shape than when Manning passed for 281 yards against them in the first meeting this season. With Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr putting up solid numbers of late, Manning should have a field day on a Philly defense that is 27th in fantasy points allowed per game.
SIT: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: Don’t count on McCoy putting up 110 yards and two scores against the Jaguars, whose run defense is stouter than the Jets run D that McCoy ripped up in Week 10. Even with a big workload, that’s a matchup fantasy owners should avoid.
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