Thanksgiving is finally here and while as excited as you are no doubt to catch up with friends and family before sitting down for a nice holiday feast, don't forget you have some important business to attend to — setting your fantasy football lineup!
It's Week 12 and with the fantasy football playoffs just around the corner, it’s crunch time for all who are fighting for a playoff spot. A win this week could go a long way in your quest to win a championship. In fact, this week could determine if you will even get the chance. And don't forget — there's no Todd Gurley, Patrick Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Jared Goff or Travis Kelce (among others) to plug into your lineup this week.
So with three games on Thursday, which players can you trust to get you off to a good start for Week 12 and which ones should you consider leaving on your bench?
Teams on bye: Kansas City, Los Angeles Rams
Start These Guys
Jordan Howard, RB, CHI (at DET)
The Lions have allowed the ninth-most rushing yards along with 4.8 yards per carry to opposing RBs this season. Howard out-snapped Tarik Cohen 48-30 last week and out-touched Cohen 19-10. When Chicago is in the lead Howard is leaned on, and as a road favorite with the possibility that backup Chase Daniel will start because of Mitchell Trubisky's shoulder injury, the Bears could try and ride Howard. He should easily finish the week as a solid RB2.
Kenny Golladay, WR, DET (vs. CHI)
The vaunted Bears defense has a secret, and it’s that they can’t stop wide receivers. The Bears have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season, along with the most receptions. Chicago has faced the sixth-most pass attempts, but their struggles against receivers are the clear weakness of this unit. Their strength is in a trio of elite linebackers and a stout run defense. Golden Tate is gone, and both Marvin Jones Jr. and Michael Roberts are banged up. Golladay is the Lions’ undisputed No. 1 receiver and he should see plenty of targets in this game.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, ATL (at NO)
Over the last two weeks, Sanu has had more snaps, targets, receptions and receiving yards than Calvin Ridley. Ridley also has been limited in practice with a thigh injury. While Ridley will probably play, he may be limited. Sanu is the veteran target that Matt Ryan trusts. In a potential shootout, we want every piece of this game we can afford, and Sanu is a great value considering the matchup.
Jordan Reed, TE, WAS (at DAL)
Reed finally had a great game last week, catching seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s 23-21 loss to Houston. He has been shockingly quiet this season given his excellent health, but he has had at least six targets in five of his last six games, including each of his last four. He saw 11 targets last week, his second-highest total of the season. And the touchdown came from Colt McCoy, who is now the starter following Alex Smith's season-ending injury.
Sit These Guys
Dak Prescott, QB, DAL (vs. WAS)
Prescott flopped in a dream matchup last week, throwing for only 208 yards, zero touchdowns while averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt in the Cowboys’ 22-19 win over the Falcons. Redskins-Cowboys could be one of the slowest-paced games of the week, with both teams at their best when they’re leaning on their rushing attacks and defenses.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, DET (vs. CHI)
Blount looks to be in line for more work in Week 12 due to Kerryon Johnson's knee injury, but he hasn't averaged more than 1.6 yards per carry in any of his last four games. This week Blount faces a Bears defense that is first in the NFL against the run (77.8 ypg) and has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.
Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL (at NO)
Coleman is averaging a robust 5.6 yards per carry on 43 rushing attempts over the past four games, but he'll face a stiff test on Thanksgiving night. The Saints are second in the league at 77.9 rushing yards per game allowed and have surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. With only two teams on bye this week, you should have better options available.
Benjamin Watson, TE, NO (vs. ATL)
Watson has had big games this season, but because he plays in such a high-powered offense with so many weapons, he often gets lost in the shuffle. In Week 9, he caught three of four targets for 62 yards and a score. Two weeks before that, he had six receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown. But in three other games in the Saints' last five he has totaled one catch for one yard (and two targets). There’s always some value in taking a shot on a guy in an elite offense, but Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram dominate the touches for New Orleans. And with rookie Tre’Quan Smith emerging, Watson’s role in the passing game could be reduced even more.
— Rankings by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.