Thanksgiving Day Week 12 fantasy matchups preview

With three games set for Thanksgiving Day, we're splitting up our fantasy matchups preview into two parts this week. Below you'll find start/sit advice for each of the three Thanksgiving offerings, while we'll post the rest of the Week 12 preview in short order. For now, take a look at your lineup and dive into the analysis below to make sure your turkey day dinner isn't spoiled by a poor fantasy football lineup.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions: 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS


Sam Bradford, QB -- SIT: Unless you're desperate for a streaming option at the position (Detroit allows 20.69 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks), Bradford should be left on the bench.

Vikings, RB -- FLEX:Jerick McKinnon is earning more volume (16 attempts in Week 11) but still isn't doing much with it (just 44 yards). He'll be tough to trust against a Lions front allowing just 3.32 yards per carry over the last month. Those in need of touchdown-upside could flex Asiata, but if he doesn't get into the end zone he quite literally offers nothing fantasy-wise.

Stefon Diggs, WR -- SIT (INJURY): Head coach Mike Zimmer didn't have an update on Diggs (knee) on Wednesday after the star wide receiver missed practice Tuesday, which is a worrisome sign. He couldn't escape Patrick Peterson last week, but draws a much more favorable matchup on Thanksgiving if he plays, however, that seems increasingly unlikely per reports. Monitor his status pre-game closely.

Adam Thielen, WR -- START: Thielen has emerged as a semi-trustworthy fantasy asset over the last month, with 194 yards and two touchdowns in that span. He's a low-end flex primarily in PPR formats, but will become a near must-start if Diggs sits out.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR -- FLEX: Patterson is a better start if your league awards points for return yardage and scores, but he'll be a flex-worthy option Thursday given Diggs' knee injury. Just be prepared for the possibility of a frighteningly low floor if Diggs does suit up.

Kyle Rudolph, TE -- START: Rudolph is tied for the league-lead in touchdowns among tight ends (five) and facing a defense tied for the most touchdowns allowed to the position with nine. He's a top-10 play this week.


Matthew Stafford, QB -- START: Stafford has 11 passing touchdowns and just one interception in his last six games. The Minnesota defense is still ferocious, but has allowed two passing touchdowns to each of the last three quarterbacks to face them. Stafford is a fine start at home now that he has his full complement of weapons back and healthy.

Theo Riddick, RB -- START Riddick might not be doing much in the ground game, but his role as a pass-catcher makes him a fine start in both standard and PPR formats. Among running backs he's fourth in the league in targets (56) and tied for first in receiving touchdowns (four) despite missing two games with injuries.

Dwayne Washington, RB -- SIT: Per Next Gen Stats, Washington ran 11.64 yards per yard gained last week, the worst mark among qualified backs. This helps explain how he rushed for six yards on 13 carries against the Jaguars, as well as why he should be on your bench this week.

Golden Tate, WR -- FLEX: Tate enjoyed a nice mini-resurgence from Week 6 to Week 9, but that could have been tied to Eric Ebron's injuries. In 2016, Tate owns a 31.8 target share in games without Ebron, but just a 19.2 target share when Ebron plays. That makes Tate a riskier start than we'd hope on Thanksgiving.

Marvin Jones, WR -- SIT: In the seven games since his Week 3 explosion against the Packers, Jones is tied for fourth on the team in targets with Theo Riddick, and Riddick missed two games. Jones' usage is simply too inconsistent to trust at this point, especially against a formidable defense.

Eric Ebron, TE -- START: Since he returned from injury in Week 8, Ebron is the TE7 even though he had his bye in Week 10, and trails only Antonio Gates (11.7) and Jimmy Graham (10.3) in fantasy points per game with 10.1. He owns 21 percent of the targets in that time, too.

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX


Kirk Cousins, QB -- START: Cousins is heating up in fantasy with 300-plus passing yards in three of his last four games and multiple touchdowns (rushing included) in each of his last four games. Dallas' defense has just two sacks and no turnovers in the last two weeks, so Cousins should be able to move his offense with ease. There is concern his ceiling will be depressed with Dallas' clock-killing ways, but Cousins has been too good of late to bench here.

Rob Kelley, RB -- START: Dallas has seen the fewest rushing attempts (164) in the league, but that's because they control the clock and often have a lead. Fat Rob should be able to get going early, though, and is the goal-line back in a high-powered offense. Dallas also allows 4.45 yards per carry to running backs on the year.

Chris Thompson, RB -- SIT: Even in last week's shootout with the Packers, Thompson saw just two carries and three targets come his way.

Jamison Crowder, WR -- FLEX: With DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed healthy, Crowder's playing time dropped to 56 percent last week, his lowest figure since Week 5. Crowder might carry more risk than usual this week given his decreased playing time and Dallas' penchant for slowing down games, but he can still be trotted out as a flex, especially in PPR.

Pierre Garcon, WR -- FLEX: Garcon is the safest play of the bunch, with five-plus catches and 51-plus receiving yards in seven of his 10 games in 2016, and four of his last five. His touchdown in Week 11 was his first since Week 5, though, so he's a better play in PPR.

DeSean Jackson, WR -- FLEX: Jackson came back and immediately provided a boost to the Washington passing attack. He has the highest ceiling of this bunch, but veteran fantasy owners know DJax is just as likely to put up a disappointing outing as he is to hit a home-run shot.

Jordan Reed, TE -- START With Vernon Davis fading to the background thanks in part to the healthy return of DeSean Jackson, Reed can now be trusted once again as a weekly TE1. He leads all tight ends with 6.1 receptions and 8.6 targets per game.


Dak Prescott, QB -- START: Prescott cemented himself as a fantasy stud last week tossing three touchdowns against the vaunted Ravens defense. He's a virtual must-start in a plus-matchup against a Washington defense allowing just shy of 260 passing yards per game.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB -- START: We'd expect Zeke to eat up yards faster than he eats cereal against Washington onThanksgiving. Washington allows over 4.5 yards per carry to running backs on the year and has conceded 11 rushing scores to backs as well.

Dez Bryant, WR -- START: Even if he sees a fair amount of Josh Norman, Bryant should take advantage of his other matchups. Back in Week 2 he racked up all 102 of his yards against Washington while facing quarterbacks not named Josh Norman.

Cole Beasley, WR -- FLEX: Beasley is PPR gold in 2016, with four-plus catches and 53-plus yards in eight of 10 games. Randall Cobb stung Washington for 84 yards on four catches last week, and the unit was burned for 144 yards from the slot on the day. Beasley is in a good spot to produce.

Jason Witten, TE -- START: Witten is a stronger start in PPR formats as he's seen seven-plus targets and had four or more catches in four of his last five games, but he can be looked at as a low-end TE1 in standard, too. Washington allows 64.3 yards per game to the position in 2016.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts: 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC


Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- START: Ben had a rough week against the Browns but that's because the Steelers' game plan was Le'Veon Bell from the get go. This week, look for Roethlisberger to attack a Colts defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks through the air. This could easily be another four-touchdown game for Big Ben.

Le'Veon Bell, RB -- START: The Colts run defense has toughened up recently, allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs over the last four weeks. That shouldn't keep you from starting one of the most versatile and elite fantasy backs in the game though. If Bell can't get it done on the ground, he'll get it done as a pass-catcher.

Antonio Brown, WR -- START: The Colts have surrendered 35.97 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts over the last four weeks. Brown has absorbed 10-plus targets in four straight games and is a legitimate WR1 no matter who he's going up against.

Eli Rogers, WR -- FLEX:Rogers is basically the Steelers de facto No. 2 wideout. He's collected 165 yards and a touchdown on 21 targets over the last three games and makes for an upside flex play against a struggling Colts secondary.

Steelers TEs -- SIT: We're still waiting for Ladarius Green to be a thing. With just three catches in two games, we're not banking on him to breakout in Week 12. Jesse James has had fewer than 20 receiving yards with no touchdowns in four of his last five games, so he's not a recommended play either.


Andrew Luck, QB -- SIT (INJURY): Luck (concussion) has officially been ruled out.

Scott Tolzien, QB -- SIT: You'd have to be a crazy person to even think about starting a backup quarterback who, in three career starts, has never thrown a touchdown pass.

Frank Gore, RB -- FLEX: With Andrew Luck likely out, Gore is the only Colts offensive player you can really trust. The workload will be there, and he can catch passes too, which elevates his floor to a safe-ish territory.

T.Y. Hilton, WR -- FLEX: If you think Scott "No Touchdowns" Tolzien can successfully get the ball to Hilton, well go ahead and throw him in your flex. If not, you probably have other options with zero teams on bye in Week 12.

Donte Moncrief, WR -- FLEX: Moncrief has scored in each of his three games since returning from injury. He's a big body in the red zone, and if the Colts can get into scoring position he might be the bright light Tolzien sees first.

Colts TEs -- SIT: When you can't trust Dwayne Allen nor Jack Doyle with Andrew Luck under center, what makes you think starting either Colts tight end is a good idea with Tolzien calling the shots?

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