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NFL fantasy football: Week 12 Fantasy 101

Whether you're a fantasy beginner or don't have as much time to devote to your fantasy team during the week, I'm here for you with the newest edition of Fantasy 101 - all your fantasy needs in 15 minutes or less. Because that's how long you'll need to digest this column and make your appropriate moves. This week is Thanksgiving, so make sure you have your players set for the three games that day: Texans/Lions, Redskins/Cowboys and Patriots/Jets. There are likely only two weeks left in your regular season and as long as you are hovering around .500, you still have a chance at the fantasy post-season. So here's your list for this week to take care of before you fall into a turkey coma.

Big injuries to watch


Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: He had successful surgery Monday morning but is still expected to be out 4-6 weeks, or just about the entire length of the rest of the fantasy season. Brandon Myers is a viable replacement and is likely available on the waiver wire. Some other choices could include Jermaine Gresham, Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley.

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Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: His head and neck injuries compound an already frustrating season for Bowe, who right now regardless of health, should be on your bench.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: If his head injury means he's unable to go this week, pick up his backup Bryce Brown. Don't expect McCoy-type numbers, but he could be a nice add against the Panthers this weekend.

Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos: He's out 6-8 weeks after getting hurt against San Diego, which is absolutely the rest of your fantasy season. Pick up Ronnie Hillman right now as he becomes a decent flex option.

Free agents to pick up


Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers: He's a big, physical receiver with a desire for the football. San Diego's WR corps is underwhelming, and he's emerging as Philip Rivers' favorite target lately. He's your top WR to target this week.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Yes, Cecil Shorts is getting all the attention, but might Chad Henne's favorite receiver turn out to be Justin Blackmon? He's worth at least owning to see what happens.

Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: They're going to throw the football a ton while Maurice Jones-Drew is out, so if your QB has a bad matchup or is injured, Henne has games against Buffalo and Tennessee the next two weeks to put up monster numbers in the passing game.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: With Donnie Avery's injury, Hilton claims the number two WR spot behind Reggie Wayne. Andrew Luck trusts Hilton, a deep threat, so if you're looking for production out of your flex, he's a pretty good pick up.

Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders: If by some reason he's still out there, go get him. He'll carry all the load while Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are out, and will still have a big role when they return. He's been fantastic in both the running and passing game.

Other notes of note


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1) It looks like Jalen Parmele has taken over the role of lead back in Jacksonville while Maurice Jones-Drew recuperates. Don't expect a ton of production from him, but if you have a spot on your bench? Why not pick him up just to see.

2) Watch out if you're trusting anyone on the Carolina Panthers to give you fantasy production the rest of this season. It's been an ugly campaign with players sniping at each other and this has the possibility of a complete and total meltdown with the team mailing it in the final few weeks.

3) I liked the way Jonathan Dwyer took over running the football for the Steelers Sunday night. He'll get every chance to unseat Rashard Mendenhall, and it may happen quickly. Mendenhall looks pedestrian, while Dwyer has breakout potential.

4) The Jets defense had a good outing against the Rams, and they are getting better by the week. They have an extremely favorable stretch run after Thanksgiving night (AZ, JAC, TEN, SD, BUF) so they could be your fantasy defense for the remainder of the season.

5) Despite Matt Schaub's big day, he's still a marginal fantasy starter. Don't expect huge games like he had against the Jaguars. It's an anomaly. They'll be back to running exclusively the rest of the season. Ditto for Andre Johnson, who at best is a flex for you right now.

Jason Smith hosts NFL Fantasy Live on the NFL Network and writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to his Fantasy Podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on nfl.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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