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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 7

The last Thursday Night Football battle featuring two NFC East squads was clearly a one-sided affair.

The Philadelphia Eagles completely outpaced the New York Giants in a game where quarterback Carson Wentz threw for three touchdowns, including two to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and new lead rusher Corey Clement managed to punch in a touchdown in the first quarter. Running back Saquon Barkley's fantasy owners won't remember Philadelphia's dominance though, as he managed to put 229 total yards of offense.

The Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are under the spotlight in this week's edition of Thursday Night Football Matchup Analysis. This game is sure to feature plenty of rushing attempts, as both teams rank in the bottom-two against the run and have exceptional players in their backfields. Without further ado, let's dive in!

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Denver Broncos @ Arizona Cardinals

Date and Start Time: Thursday, October 18 at 8:20 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:


Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Broncos Cardinals
Passing Yards 16th 31st
Rushing Yards 10th 32nd
Pass Defense 11th 12th
Rush Defense 32nd 31st


Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup

Emmanuel Sanders (WR, DEN)

In what should be a low-scoring affair between two teams who will look to exploit each other's suspect run defenses, Sanders is the lone must-start wide receiver for Thursday Night. With at least five receptions over his last four games and the typically strong Arizona Cardinals secondary being vulnerable in the slot (allowing Trent Taylor to finish as WR-15 and Adam Thielen to finish as WR-5), fantasy owners shouldn't overthink plugging Sanders into their lineups.

David Johnson (RB, ARI)

Johnson hasn't quite lived up to his average third overall pick in fantasy drafts, but a juicy matchup with the Denver Broncos 32nd ranked run defense that just allowed 200-yard rushers in back-to-back games will keep his stock trending upward. The volume will undoubtedly be there if nothing else, as Johnson bumped up from averaging 14 touches per game over the first three weeks of the season to 21 over his last three games.


Consider Sitting

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup If Possible

Case Keenum (QB, DEN)

The way to beat the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 has been simple: develop an early lead and run out the clock. While Keenum has looked sharp across his last two games when the Denver Broncos have been playing catch up, it's hard to derive any streaming appeal from a quarterback who is playing the 12th ranked passing defense in the NFL.

Demaryius Thomas (WR, DEN)

Those fantasy owners who still believe Thomas can be an every-week starter need to change that conception quickly. In the three games where he has scored, he has been the WR-18, WR-9, and WR-28. In his other three games, he has been the WR-77, WR-41, and WR-72. With cornerback Patrick Peterson shutting down perimeter wideouts and the Arizona Cardinals defense as a whole only allowing two touchdowns to opposing wide receivers on the season (both from the slot), it will undoubtedly be another disappointing week for Thomas.

Josh Rosen (QB, ARI)

Arizona ranks smack dab in the bottom of the league in total offense, including a 31st ranked passing offense. The Denver Broncos rank as the 11th best defensive unit against the pass. Rosen's highest-scoring week in fantasy football so far has been QB-25. Are those enough reasons to avoid him?

Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI)

Fitzgerald has struggled in the health department as well as in fantasy production, finishing as the WR-51 or lower in each of his past five games. The fall from grace will have a tough time turning around against one of the league's best slot cornerbacks in Chris Harris Jr. and fantasy owners would best look elsewhere for a flex play.


Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Options: Phillip Lindsay/Royce Freeman (RBs, DEN)

Anytime you face a team with a defense that is extremely porous on the ground and struggles to keep their offense on the field, you have a recipe for any running back's fantasy success. The Arizona Cardinals have allowed the most rushing attempts to gain five or more yards, are tied in allowing the most carries of 10 or more yards, and have allowed the most touchdowns to running backs in the league. With enough volume to support Lindsay and Freeman, fantasy owners are all but guaranteed to get production.

Solid Option: Christian Kirk (WR, ARI)

As quarterback Josh Rosen's favorite target, Kirk leads the team in targets and has been effective with the looks he has received. Having caught 15-of-19 targets for 209 yards from Rosen, expect WR3-type production as the Arizona Cardinals are forced to play from behind.

Sleeper: Ricky Seals-Jones (TE, ARI)

As tight end Jermaine Gresham continues to deal with an Achilles injury, Seals-Jones has carved out a decent role in the Arizona Cardinals passing attack. He has received 21.4-percent of the team targets over the past two weeks and is coming off a season-high five receptions against the Minnesota Vikings. Fantasy owners can consider Seals-Jones a potential streaming option with the Denver Broncos allowing 10.6 receiving yards per target to opposing tight ends, the third worst in the NFL.

Other Notable Sleeper Candidates: Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

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