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Thanksgiving Thursday Matchups Analysis - Week 12 Starts/Sits

Happy Thanksgiving to all! It was Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks' dominant ground game that carried the day on Thursday Night Football in Week 11. In a rematch of the 2014 NFC Championship, the Seahawks managed to pull out the 27-24 victory in a thriller over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Fantasy owners were certainly happy about Rodgers 332 passing yards and two touchdowns, leading to great fantasy days for Aaron Jones and Davante Adams. For Seattle, Chris Carson managed to convert 17 carries into 83 rushing yards and a score while Doug Baldwin hauled in his first touchdown of the 2018 season.

The day that all Thursday Night Football fans have been waiting for has arrived. November 22 will feature a triple-header with plenty of playoff contenders going head to head and fantasy owners hoping their players can give them a push to make it to the playoffs. Let's not waste any time getting into Thursday Night Football Matchup Analysis for Week 12!

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions

Date and Start Time: Thursday, November 22 at 12:30 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Bears Lions
Passing Yards 21st 18th
Rushing Yards 10th 24th
Pass Defense 11th 13th
Rush Defense 1st 24th


Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys

Date and Start Time: Thursday, November 22 at 4:30 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Redskins Cowboys
Passing Yards 25th 28th
Rushing Yards 12th 4th
Pass Defense 24th 10th
Rush Defense 6th 5th


Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Date and Start Time: Thursday, November 22 at 8:20 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Falcons Saints
Passing Yards 3rd 6th
Rushing Yards 29th 6th
Pass Defense 29th 27th
Rush Defense 23rd 2nd


Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup

Drew Brees (QB, NO)

Other than the obvious fact that Atlanta is a bottom-four passing defense, Brees has been balling as of late while averaging 10.7 yards per pass attempt and throwing 11 touchdown passes over his last three games. His hot streak will be easy to ride into Thursday night.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

While Elliott might have been held in check when Dallas and Washington met in Week 7, the Redskins rushing defense has struggled since then and Elliott has posted 112, 187 and 201 total yards across his last three games. With the Cowboys likely to dominate time of possession, Zeke is guaranteed to be fed.

Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram (RBs, NO)

The entire New Orleans Saints offense is firing on all cylinders, but it is especially the case with their running backs. Kamara has 100 total yards in his last three games and Ingram has over 100 yards rushing across his last two games. In a potential shootout at home, these two should be heavily utilized and capitalize on a struggling Atlanta Falcons defense.

Kenny Golladay (WR, DET)

It took one dud in Week 9 after Golden Tate's departure for Golladay to become the featured wide receiver in Detroit with a combined 14 receptions, 191 receiving yards and two touchdowns on a league-high 27 targets over the previous two weeks. Marvin Jones Jr. is out for Thursday and the hype train will continue to roll with Golladay's ridiculous 35-percent target share in the Lions' offense.

Julio Jones (WR, ATL)

The stigma behind Jones of his play being defined by a complete lack of touchdowns has completely reversed with a touchdown in each of his last three games and over 100 receiving yards in his last six. The scoring streak may face a slight hurdle with New Orleans Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore on the boundary, but his WR1 production easily makes him a must-start.

Michael Thomas (WR, NO)

Much like the No. 1 receiving option on the other sideline, Thomas has been a fantasy point factory thanks to his sure hands. 90.1 percent of his targets are resulting in completions and he has nearly as many touchdowns as incompletions thrown his way, meaning his presence in your lineup should be locked and loaded.


Consider Sitting

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup If Possible

Matthew Stafford (QB, DET)

Fantasy owners really need a special reason to start Stafford given how middling to awful his fantasy production has been this season. A tilt with the Chicago Bears 11th-ranked passing defense is no such opportunity.

Colt McCoy (QB, WAS)

That McCoy hasn't played in a game since 2014 and Washington's passing attack isn't going to inspire fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators should be enough red flags to stream elsewhere.

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

Prescott's fantasy success is largely dependent on his ability to run, which has been less than stellar over his last three games with a total of 25 rush yards. Expect Dallas to lean on the ground game for success in this game and limit Prescott's passing totals.

Jordan Howard (RB, CHI)

While Howard hasn't received less than 11 touches in a game this season and it is definitely possible for him to find the end zone, he struggled against the Detroit Lions in Week 10 with only 32 total yards. Volume alone makes him a low-end RB2 play, but it is hard to see Howard finish on the higher end of his range of outcomes on Thursday.

LeGarrette Blount (RB, DET)

The Chicago Bears boast the best run-stopping unit in the NFL that has only allowed one running back to reach 60 rushing yards in a game this season. As we all know, Blount derives all his value from production on the ground and has an awful floor for fantasy purposes in this matchup.

Washington Redskins Running Backs

The battered Washington Redskins offensive line isn't likely going to hold up against a stingy Dallas Cowboys defensive line headlined by Demarcus Lawrence. Adrian Peterson should once again retain a bulk of the touches, but game script will phase out any hope of a rushing attack early in the contest.

Ito Smith (RB, ATL)

Single-digit touches in three of his last four games is hardly enough to get excited about in fantasy football, meaning Smith should settle on fantasy owner's benches until an injury to Tevin Coleman or a change in the running back snaps.

Washington Redskins Wide Receivers

Washington's passing attack was not potent before the downgrade to Colt McCoy under center. It was hard to trust the likes of Josh Doctson, Trey Quinn, and Maurice Harris before Alex Smith's horrific injury, let alone after it.

Austin Hooper (TE, ATL)

Hooper's name is definitely in the tight end streaming conversation given his eight targets last week, but the New Orleans Saints have been particularly effective in limiting the scores for tight ends with only one on the year.

Josh Hill (TE, NO)

At the bottom of the New Orleans Saints receiving pecking order is Hill, who has one game with over two receptions this season. Even though a heavy-passing battle could happen, it doesn't guarantee anything in the way of production for Saints tight ends.


Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option: Mitch Trubisky (QB, CHI)

Fantasy owners will instantly remember the thrashing Trubisky gave to the Detroit Lions already this season to the tune of 36 fantasy points. Unfortunately, the uncertainty surrounding his shoulder is a reason to be cautious about listing him as a must-start candidate despite the Lions ranking in the bottom-two in touchdown rate and yards per attempt.

Solid Option: Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

Ryan dropped 374 yards passing and five touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints back in Week 3, but this defense is no where near the same to the one he is going to have to face on Thursday after it demolished Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz's fantasy production. That being said, Ryan is averaging 304 passing yards per game in road matchups and there is certainly no lack of weapons in the Falcons receiving core to help his lofty average continue.

Solid Option: Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI)

The rushing efficiency hasn't been there for Cohen in recent weeks, though he has had at least three receptions over his last two games and the Detroit Lions have given up six receptions in that span. Cohen should have a low floor and solid RB2 ceiling in PPR formats.

Solid Option: Theo Riddick (RB, DET)

Without Kerryon Johnson, Riddick been thrust into a role where his receiving abilities out of the backfield could provide fantasy owners with a great PPR option in Week 12. While the Chicago Bears halt opposing running backs on the ground, 62.8 percent of the fantasy points that they allow to running backs comes through the passing game (the most in the league).

Solid Option: Tevin Coleman (RB, ATL)

Atlanta appears to still be hesitant to treat Coleman as their No. 1 running back with only 12.6 touches per game over his last six, but the efficiency of 6.9 yards per touch is particularly enticing when you consider how the New Orleans Saints have given up a touchdown on the ground in seven straight games.

Solid Options: Allen RobinsonAnthony Miller (WRs, CHI)

Both of Chicago's top wideouts are going to have significant drop offs in production if Mitch Trubisky isn't the man under center, but the matchup on its face is a juicy one. The fear of defensive back Darius Slay being 100 percent should be alleviated with news of Slay's injured knee and the Lions are allowing the seventh-most points per game to slot receivers. Either wide receiver should make for a good play contingent on the quarterback situation.

Solid Option: Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

Dallas' 28th-ranked passing offense is never going to turn Cooper into a consistent WR2, but his 23 percent target share is a noticeable improvement over those he had back in Oakland. He isn't likely to dazzle while being covered by Josh Norman, but he could return some value for fantasy owners.

Solid Option: Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL)

Ridley doesn't appear to be hobbled by the thigh injury that kept him limited in practice this week and a bounce back game could come against the same cornerbacks he torched in Week 3 for 146 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Solid Option: Tre'Quan Smith (WR, NO)

After catching no more than three passes leading up to Week 11, he was targeted on 43.3 percent of his routes against the Philadelphia Eagles and converted those targets into 10 receptions for 157 receiving yards and a touchdown. To say he is the obvious No. 2 wide receiver with guaranteed production each week might be going a little too far, but he could definitely be a factor in a high-powered New Orleans Saints offense taking on a vulnerable Atlanta Falcons defensive unit.

Solid Option: Trey Burton (TE, CHI)

The low fantasy point floor that is characteristic of the tight end position in 2018 shouldn't be too much of a deterrent in deciding whether to start or sit Burton, who has 10 receptions on 12 targets in his last four games. Although his yardage totals haven't been stellar, the low end TE1 tier hasn't been doing much in the way of receiving yards regardless.

Solid Option: Jordan Reed (TE, WAS)

Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy connected with Reed for his second touchdown catch of the season in Week 11 and I would fully expect that relationship to continue into Thursday against a Dallas Cowboys defense that has given up multiple big games to the tight end position.

Sleeper: Bruce Ellington (WR, DET)

Detroit's wide receiver core has dealt with a number of significant injuries, opening the door for Ellington to receive nine targets one week ago. If Marvin Jones sits once again, Ellington could surprise on Thursday.

Sleeper: Mohamed Sanu (WR, ATL)

Sanu's history of scoring in three of six career games against the New Orleans Saints is one positive indicator of how he could perform, but it is hard to imagine he gets the volume to be more than a WR4 option.

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