It’s getting down to the wire for most fantasy leagues; the playoffs are a week or two away. This is it.
So be ready to explain to your grandmother, through gritted teeth, why you’re sitting in the living room to eat as opposed to the finely furnished dining room.
It’s because watching Kirk Cousins is more appetizing than watching my chubby cousin sneeze in the stuffing, Grandma.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee @ Indianapolis: Mariota has sneakily had one of the league’s most disappointing seasons, as evidenced by his 8:10 TD/interception ratio. Last Thursday’s debacle against Pittsburgh was a low point, but a matchup with Indianapolis’s 27th-ranked pass defense presents an opportunity to keep both his team’s playoff hopes alive and the narrative from shifting to “Are Hawaiian-born men capable of leading?”. We wouldn’t want that to happen (again).
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas (Thursday): As the 12th-ranked quarterback in fantasy, Rivers is just on the edge of eligibility for Flex On ‘Em, but a matchup with the Cowboys’ regressing defense is worthy of an additional endorsement to trot the perennial sex-haver (eight kids!) out there on Thanksgiving. Dallas has given up 6 passing touchdowns in the past three weeks, and Morris Claiborne ain’t walking through that door.
Alfred Morris, Dallas vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Speaking of the Cowboys, and whatever your feelings are about their meddling owner and gaudy style, fantasy owners should be thankful for Garrett and Co.’s clear backfield strategy in the absence of Zeke Elliott. Instead of going with the committee approach, as most expected, they deactivated Darren McFadden last week and gave Morris nearly the same number of carries as they would have given Elliott. Morris looked like vintage Morris, and I fully expect the trend to continue against the league’s 27th-ranked run defense.
Adrian Peterson, Arizona vs. Jacksonville: I have beaten the anomaly that is the Jacksonville defense to death: the best pass defense is saddled with the worst run defense, but still somehow ranks as the top overall defense. The funny thing is, since the trade for Marcell Dareus, the Jaguars have jumped up to the 24th-ranked run defense, but stepped back to the 2nd-best overall defense. Stats are fun and weird! So, why the Rack? Well, mostly because the Cardinals are starting Blaine Gabbert against that aforementioned pass defense, and Bruce Arians isn’t an idiot (despite his love of Kangol hats).
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans: The New Orleans pass defense is not one a smart fantasy owner would normally target, but the Robert Woods injury should shift a few targets Kupp’s way.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver @ Oakland: Oakland’s defense has been so bad they fired their coordinator on Thanksgiving week. I’m surprised anyone was even in the office to process the paperwork.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay: The Bucs’ secondary has been roasted over and over again this season. Julio Jones will get a ton of the meat, but Sanu will have plenty of scraps to catch.
Rishard Matthews, Tennessee @ Indianapolis: Corey Davis is starting to catch more looks, but it’s Matthews who gets the most consistent slice of the pie, and now gets to surf on the Indy turf.
Drew Brees, New Orleans @ Los Angeles Rams: Brees can win a game if you need him to, but the 2017 Saints focus on running the ball and playing defense. Sure, you likely don’t have a better option, and Brees is a known commodity, but if you do have options, then go with the cranberry-infused bourbon turkey instead of the more traditional baked, salted and peppered one.
Blaine Gabbert, Arizona vs. Jacksonville: The best part about Thanksgiving is that it’s the first 4-day vacation since last Thanksgiving. The only time pretty much everyone (sorry, Best Buy employees) has nothing to do for such a long period of time. That being said, don’t get comatose and bored and start talking yourself into how good Gabbert has looked the last couple of weeks.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans: I expect a heavy dose of Todd Gurley and a few passes to Kupp in an attempt to keep the Saints from stacking the box. There just isn’t going to be enough volume for Goff to have anything but the lowest of ceilings this week.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati vs. Cleveland: Cleveland will get its first win this week, likely because their run defense will shut down Mixon and Bernard and force Dalton to throw.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit vs. Minnesota (Thursday): He had another great spin move last week, in case you, like the rest of the country, have been ignoring SportsCenter. That one highlight will now cause Abdullah’s 2018 draft position to be 20 spots higher than it should be, despite the fact that he turns 17 touches a game into a measly average of 8 points.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets vs. Carolina: That Carolina defense is so good I wonder if other teams are thinking about filling head coaching vacancies with their defensive coordinator. I’m sure that has never resulted in complete ridicule.
Jaron Brown, Arizona vs. Jacksonville: If you’re thinking of starting Brown, with Gabbert as his QB and his matchup being the Jaguars, I have a super expensive diet plan I want to sell you. It starts on the third Thursday of every November. Trust me, it works*.
Will Fuller, Houston @ Baltimore: Joe Flacco might not be elite, but the Baltimore secondary is. Even Deandre Hopkins is going to have a hard time being Rackable this week.
Golden Tate, Detroit vs. Minnesota: Xavier Rhodes and WR1s go together like green beans and pecan pie.
Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia vs. Chicago: Like my aunt’s deviled eggs, too inconsistent for my tastes. Agholor might score a couple of TDs, or he might end up with a single target. My aunt my put too much mayonnaise in this year and forget the paprika. No thanks.
(Future) Fantasy Ghost Of The Week
Each week I’ll highlight a typical fantasy star that will likely under-produce. This doesn’t mean they’re automatic “Rests” – but be prepared to be disappointed.
Deandre Hopkins, Houston @ Baltimore: On the road against the league’s best overall defense and 2nd-best pass defense armed only with Tom Savage at quarterback? Not thankful.
Tweets Of The Week
As always, a pair of tweets to sum up the week that was in the football world and out.
So y’all just gone sit here and ignore how # 80 disappears????!!?? https://t.co/5Iw1bvCKjr
— Julian Barnett (@_OfficialJB1) November 21, 2017
Primetime Picks – THANKSGIVING-ONLY EDITION
*Pick In BOLD
Last Week (0-2-1)
Cowboys +2.5 vs. Chargers
Vikings -3 @ Lions
Giants +7.5 @ Redskins
Have a good weekend, everybody.
*ALL DEFENSIVE RANKING REFERENCES PER FOOTBALLOUTSIDERS.COM
**PLAYER STATISTICS VIA PROFOOTBALLREFERENCE.COM
Fantasy football is won and lost in WR2/RB2 and FLEX spots and therefore the primary function of this column is to help you secure the bottom half of your starting lineup. I’m not here to tell you to start Julio Jones. You should be able to figure that out on your own.
Racks: Players that are in a good position to outperform their typical projections. If they’re on your squad, Rack them into your lineup and don’t look back.
Rests: Players facing tough weeks, whether due to matchup or other circumstances. Rest them for this week.