While there are plenty of things to be thankful for, one of them for football (and fantasy) fans is three games on Thanksgiving Day! And speaking of these three, oh-so-tasty matchups, what is a fantasy owner to do?
While some decisions, like starting Aaron Rodgers vs. the Bears or Calvin Johnson vs. the Eagles, are along the lines of do you want that second helping of mashed potatoes or another piece of pumpkin pie, there are some others that are a little more difficult.
So let me help you with a couple of those decisions by offering up a couple of guys I think you should start and a couple you should strong consider leaving on your bench. Dig in!
Start These Guys
Sam Bradford, PHI (at DET)
Believe it or not there were some people out there that thought that Mark Sanchez would seize his opportunity and light it up last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and thereby steal the starting job away from Bradford. After all, it’s not as if Bradford was lighting up before he got a concussion and sprained his AC joint in his shoulder in Week 10.
It looks as if Bradford will be back this week and that’s good news as this is a must-win game for the Eagles if they are going to salvage their season. It also helps that Bradford is going up against the lowly Detroit Lions defense, which is currently giving up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season (even though they stymied Derek Carr last week). Look for Bradford and the Eagles to air it out in this one and Bradford should finish the day with 300 passing yards and at least two touchdowns.
Eddie Lacy, GB (vs. CHI)
Talk about a big-time gamble, but hopefully Lacy started the smell the roses with all the talk about him being out of shape, overweight and losing his starting job to James Starks. Finally, Lacy had a good game, rushing for 100 yards for the first time this season last week. That’s pretty crazy when you consider the fact that Lacy was easily a first-round pick in almost all fantasy drafts this year.
Just like last year, Lacy is going to come on strong during the stretch drive and if you were smart enough to keep him or trade for him, you’re about to reap the rewards. The Packers host the Bears in prime time on Thanksgiving night and even though the Bears have a decent run defense (currently giving up the 14th-most fantasy points to RBs on the year), the Packers need to run the ball successfully if they are going to be able to set up the pass. Look for Lacy to have another 100-yard rushing game this week.
Brent Celek, PHI (at DET)
It looks like Zach Ertz is going to miss the Thanksgiving game with a concussion because he might not have enough time dealing with a short week to pass all the necessary tests to be cleared to play. That makes Celek an easy must-start. Just look at his numbers the last two weeks. In Week 10 he had four catches for 134 yards and last week he caught seven more passes (on 10 targets) for 79 yards. Getting 10 targets means he’s being featured in the game plan and this week the Eagles visit the Lions. Detroit's defense is currently giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends. If you stream tight ends or just want to be cheeky, start Celek this week.
Sit These Guys
Matt Forte, CHI (at GB)
Forte appears likely to return to action this week after missing the last three games due to a knee injury. That’s the good news, the bad news is that even though he gashed Green Bay for 166 total yards and one touchdown in Week 1, the Packers are playing excellent run defense right now, just ask Adrian Peterson (13 att., 45 yds., TD. Throw in the fact that Forte probably isn’t 100 percent and backup Jeremy Langford has played extremely well in his absence, and it’s likely that Forte will be eased back into the fold. There also is the possibility that Aaron Rodgers lights it up and put the Packers so far ahead that the Bears have to abandon the run all together. There’s just too many variables in play this week to trust Forte for much fantasy production.
Dez Bryant, DAL (vs. CAR)
Of course this sounds crazy. Who in their right mind would sit Bryant with Tony Romo back? Well no one is actually going to sit Bryant of course, but you should. Why? There’s only one reason really and he goes by the name of Josh Norman, Carolina’s No. 1 shutdown corner. Norman has shut down the elite of the elite this year and will lock down Bryant this week who probably still isn’t playing at 100 percent. The Cowboys desperately need to win this game to have any chance of making the playoffs, and they know how dominant Norman is. Look for the Cowboys to use Bryant as a decoy and nothing more this week.
— Written 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.