Family, friends, food, and football; Thanksgiving isn’t quite the same without those four “Fs”. Hopefully all of you will be able to have all of four of those in some capacity. It won’t be the same, nothing is this year, but do what you can to make it happen, for yourself and for others.
It isn’t safe to travel or get together in big groups right now, especially indoors, but there are still ways to be connected to your family and friends during Thanksgiving. Put aside time on Thanksgiving Day to call those you care about. If you’re thinking of holding a Zoom dinner, be sure to invite people who might otherwise be celebrating alone due to the pandemic.
If you aren’t used to cooking the whole Thanksgiving meal talk to your friends, family, and neighbors about arranging a food trade. Each person or family makes enough of one dish for everyone and delivers a portion to everyone else involved. That way everyone can have a full Thanksgiving meal. If you are making a full Thanksgiving meal, think about what you can do for others as well. If you are able to, donate to a food pantry or to someone you know who is struggling right now. We should all do what we can so that everyone has something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
One thing will stay the same this Thanksgiving, football. Three games, starting at 12:30 and going till the tryptophan wears off and you can family get off the couch. COVID-19 has, of course, already impacted at least one of these games. The Ravens reported multiple positive tests Monday so keep an eye on that leading up to game time. Really though, do your best to set your lineup before Thursday. Don’t waste time Thursday tinkering with your lineup, put your phone down and be with the ones you love.
Have a happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving everyone. Happy Thanksgiving!
QB: Justin Herbert (@ BUF) - Despite a talented defense, Buffalo has struggled to contain opposing passers this season, so Herbert should have no trouble maintaining his elite production this week. The Bills have allowed two or more passing touchdowns in six of their ten games this season. Herbert has passed for two or more touchdowns in seven of the nine games he has played in, and the last time he failed to do so was Week 3. Even more impressive, since Week 4 Herbert has racked up 3 or more touchdowns in five of seven games. The rookie phenom has even rushed for three touchdowns this season, which the Bills should be wary of since they have allowed six rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this season. Herbert’s wide receivers will have to deal with shutdown cornerback Tre’Davious White, but Herbert doesn’t lack for pass-catching options, so that shouldn’t be a major worry. There is also a chance Austin Ekeler returns for Los Angeles this week, giving Herbert another dynamic weapon. Coming off just his second career NFL win, Herbert has plenty to be thankful for, and so will you if you start him.
Also consider: Derek Carr (@ ATL) – Yes, Atlanta’s defense is still abysmal, thanks for asking. Carr is coming off a valiant, three touchdown effort against the Chiefs and this game has the makings of a high-scoring affair. Philip Rivers (vs TEN) – Since returning from the Colts’ Week 7 bye, Rivers has thrown seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. Rivers went for 308 passing yards and a touchdown against the Titans in Week 10. Rivers makes for a solid but unspectacular streaming option this week.
RB: David Montgomery (@ GB) – Starting Montgomery is completely contingent on his clearing the NFL’s concussion protocol in time for Sunday’s game. This seems likely since he had extra time to recover over the bye week. If Montgomery suits up he should definitely be in your lineups, mostly because he has a fantastic matchup. While Montgomery has yet to pass 100 yards rushing in a game, the Packers have allowed 100 or more yards on the ground in six of the ten games, so he has a good chance to pass the century mark this week. Green Bay has also allowed 11 rushing touchdowns through ten games. Montgomery is in a prime spot to find the end zone for just the third time all season, one rushing and one receiving touchdown so far, and for the first time since Week 5. Despite his astounding inefficiency on the ground, the sophomore running back has been given plenty of opportunities all season long. He’s averaging 14.6 carries per game, along with 3.3 catches per game. Chicago’s running game was practically non-existent without Montgomery, so if he plays this week he should continue to see an abundance of opportunities. If he plays, Montgomery will produce, and if he puts up season best numbers, well that’s just gravy.
Also consider: Kalen Ballage and Austin Ekeler (@ BUF) – This could be a tricky situation. If Ekeler doesn’t play, Ballage is definitely start-able. However, if Ekeler returns from injury both will be risky plays since we don’t know how the backfield will be split. Will the Chargers ease him in and still give Ballage the bulk of the carries? Or will Ekeler take a majority share right away? Keep an eye on this situation throughout the week because the Bills defense struggles against the run. Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin (@ NYJ) – This situation is almost identical to the Chargers, with Gaskin eligible to return off of IR this week. Ahmed is definitely a good option if Gaskin remains out. If Gaskin returns there is some added risk playing either one but either one or both could run all over the Jets defense.
WR: Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller (@ DET) – This duo doesn’t get nearly the attention they deserve. As the newcomer to the Texans it took Cooks a few games to get going, but he’s become a consistently, highly effective part of Houston’s passing attack. Starting in Week 5, Cooks has caught six passes or more in four of six games, and has at least 60 yards in five of those six games. Fuller has four 100 yard receiving games this season to go with six touchdowns. He’s actually gone over 80 yards through the air or had a touchdown in eight of ten games this season. This Thursday, both Cooks and Fuller should have plenty to be thankful for, as they face off against a sketchy Detroit secondary. The Lions have allowed over 200 yards receiving to wide receivers in six of their ten games this season. Cooks and Fuller could actually see more opportunities than usual this week, due to injuries to their fellow Texans wide receivers. Start Cooks and Fuller and then sit back and enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie.
Also consider: Michael Pittman Jr. (vs TEN) – If Rivers does have a good showing; Pittman is the likeliest candidate to be the biggest benefactor. Against the Titans in Week 10, Pittman caught seven passes for 101 yards, both are career highs for the talented rookie. DeVante Parker (@ NYJ) – With Tua Tagovailoa under center Parker’s production has been volatile, but he is still the best receiving option for Miami and gets a great matchup this week.
TE: Hunter Henry (@ BUF) – In each of his last four games, Henry has caught four passes, resulting in at least 30 yards in each of those games. The tight end position is so barren this season that Henry actually looks pretty good compared to some of the other options. The veteran is developing a more reliable connection with his rookie quarterback. Herbert has targeted Henry six or more times in seven of the rookie’s nine games. Henry has also found the end zone in back to back games. Week 12 is a great opportunity for Henry to increase his yardage output. Buffalo has allowed 59 receiving yards or more to tight ends in six of their ten games. They have also allowed multiple touchdowns to tight ends twice this season. The Chargers wide receivers could have some trouble against the Bills’ secondary, so this could amount to a big day for Henry. Don’t let his recent totals worry you, Henry is one of the best tight ends around, he’s a must-start, be thankful you have him.
Also consider: Mike Gesicki (@ NYJ) – Gesicki has been a disappointment for much of the season but he has recorded 40 or more receiving yards in three straight games, and has seen five targets in back to back games. While Gesicki put up zeroes in the first matchup against the Jets, his backups combined for 55 yards and two touchdowns, so there’s a chance Gesicki capitalizes this time around. Austin Hooper (@ JAX) – Prior to his appendectomy, Hooper had caught five passes in three straight games. The production hasn’t been great since his return but he’s still averaged 11 yards per reception in the last two games. A game against Jacksonville could be the ticket to getting Hooper back on track. The Jaguars have allowed eight touchdowns to tight ends this season.
QB: Ryan Tannehill (@ IND) – In Week 10, Tannehill traveled to Indianapolis and posted a meager 147 yards and a touchdown. Even though that was just the second time Tannehill recorded one or zero passing touchdowns this season, he doesn’t make a strong case as a fantasy starter in Week 12. The Titans prefer to grind their opponents down under the force of Derrick Henry’s powerful running. At 7-3 and battling for first place in the AFC South, that strategy appears to be working, at the expense of Tannehill’s fantasy football viability. The veteran has just three games this season with more than two touchdowns and just two games with over 260 yards passing. His ceiling is pretty firmly capped, and that won’t change against the Colts. Through 10 games, Indy has allowed quarterbacks to throw two or more touchdowns just four times. Three times their opponents have failed to throw a touchdown and in half of their games they have allowed 173 or fewer passing yards. No doubt about it, the Colts have one of the most dominant defenses in the league. Tannehill does have some easier matchups coming up, so he may be worth holding on to instead of dropping, but this week he should next to you on the couch.
Be wary about: Lamar Jackson (@ PIT) – In a home matchup against the Steelers in Week 8, Jackson passed for just 208 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Now he’ll be travelling too Pittsburgh, on a short week, while the Ravens deal with COVID protocols due to multiple positive tests, including to his running backs, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins. Not a lot for Jackson to be thankful for in this one. Ben Roethlisberger (vs BAL) – The other half of this matchup also didn’t play too well in Week 8, accumulating just 182 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens have held opponents to two or fewer passing touchdowns in nine of 10 games, and three times no touchdowns have been thrown against Baltimore.
RB: Los Angeles Rams RBs (vs SF) – There is no joy in the Los Angeles backfield, again. The Rams trio of running backs combined for 40 rushing yards on 16 carries against Tampa Bay last week. Rookie Cam Akers, who some thought would lead the backfield this season, has rushed for over 40 yards just once all season. Veteran Malcolm Brown gets the occasional touchdown, but has single digit carries in back to back games. Not too long ago second year back Darrell Henderson Jr. appeared ready to take over as the bell cow back, but his yardage totals have decreased in each week since Week 6. Who can you trust? No one, at least this week, because San Francisco’s rushing defense is just that good. Henderson did rush for 88 yards against the 49ers in Week 6, but the next highest rushing total is just 63 yards by Frank Gore. In the last two weeks the Niners stymied Aaron Jones and Alvin Kamara, holding them to a combined 23 carries for 73 yards. As long as the Rams maintain this three-headed monster, all three are matchup dependent fantasy options. You can’t depend on them this week, there just aren’t enough potatoes to go around.
Be wary about: Melvin Gordon III and Phillip Lindsay (vs NO) – Both of these running backs can shoulder the load but instead this timeshare, as part of a less than stellar Broncos offense, is difficult to predict. This week they face a Saints defense that has been among the best in the league since their Week 6 bye. If you can, avoid this duo. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (@ TB) – No team has rushed for 90 or more yards against Tampa Bay this season. CEH has only rushed for 70 or more yards twice this season. The rookie will likely need to score to make starting him worth your while.
WR: A.J. Brown (@ IND) – Well if the quarterback is a sit it becomes a bit harder to trust his wide receivers, even the incredibly talented Brown. Facing the Colts plays a big part in this, as Brown caught just one of his four targets for just 21 yards against Indianapolis two weeks ago. Tennessee’s wide receivers combined for just 96 receiving yards and no touchdowns in that Week 10 game. Brown’s season-long boom or bust nature also plays a big role in considering sitting him this week. Since Brown returned from injury (and a bye week), he hasn’t posted consecutive weeks of at least 60 receiving yards. Touchdowns have really helped to maintain Brown’s standing as a top-tier fantasy wide-out. The sophomore wide receiver has scored at least once in six of his last seven games. That’s pretty insane, and pretty unsustainable in an offense that thrives on its ground game. Meanwhile the Colts have only allowed multiple touchdown passes to wide receivers twice all season, and have allowed just nine total, among the best in the league. If you’re in a situation where you have to start Brown, be extra thankful if he scores a touchdown but don’t hold out hope. Keep him on the sidelines if you can.
Be wary about: Pittsburgh Steelers WRs (vs BAL) – Trying to guess which of the Steelers trio of starting wide receivers will have a big game is remarkably difficult, especially against the always problematic Ravens defense. Justin Jefferson (vs CAR) – Carolina’s secondary has come back down to earth somewhat, but they still pose a difficult matchup for the rookie, epecially if Adam Thielen (currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list) is unable to play and draw attention away from the rookie. Plus, the Vikings are still a low volume passing attack, making the pass catchers riskier options.
TE: Jonnu Smith (@ IND) – Smith’s season has been a wild ride. In the first three games of the season he had an impressive 13 catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Then the Titans went had their bye week in Week 4. Since then, Smith hasn’t had more than 40 yards receiving and has caught two or fewer passes in five of the last seven games. Three times in those seven games he only saw two targets come his way. Smith does have four touchdowns since the bye week, including one rushing touchdown, but, with so few opportunities, it’s tough to rely on Smith scoring each week. To make matters worse, this week Smith faces the Colts defense. No team’s tight ends have totaled more than 88 receiving yards against Indianapolis this season, and it took until Week 11 for a tight end to score against the Colts. The matchup is brutal and you just can’t trust Smith. If you have no better options, think of Smith when you break the wishbone.
Be wary about: Jared Cook (@ DEN) – Over the last three weeks Cook has totaled just three catches for 36 yards. Denver hasn’t allowed a touchdown to a tight end since Week 1. Mark Andrews (@ PIT) – When Andrews faced the Steelers in Week 8 he caught three passes for only 32 yards, and Pittsburgh hasn’t allowed a tight end to score since Week 2.
Follow Moshe Kravitz on Twitter @MosheKravitz