Fantasy Football with Tom and J (Week 12): Thanksgiving Special

by Thomas Russo and Jason Li

**Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with the NFL in any way and this article simply contains the opinions of select students.

Start ‘em, Sit ‘em

Top 3 QBs to Start

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Colts (Thanksgiving): The Steelers finally managed to get back to playing like the Steelers in Cleveland last week, aside from the fact that Big Ben failed to throw a TD. That should be corrected on Thanksgiving night when a Colts’ defense that has been hapless when it comes to stopping opposing passing attacks lines up against Ben. With the Colts giving up over 20 points per game to opposing QBs, Ben is a must start.

Russell Wilson vs. Buccaneers: It’s such a beautiful thing to see Russell Wilson back to running around doing Wilson things. The Seahawks are red-hot and Wilson has a lot to do with that, having put up at least 24 fantasy points in each of the last 3 games. The fact that the Seahawks just lost C.J. Promise for the foreseeable future means they’ll be throwing the ball that much more often, and this is a Buccaneer defense who just gave up 19 points to Alex Smith.

Marcus Mariota vs. Bears: It is safe to say Marcus Mariota is the hottest QB in football right now. Mariota has thrown for 19 TDs against 3 INTs since Week 5, and has thrown for at least 2 TDs in every game going back to Week 5, chalking up 5 outings of at least 20 points in 7 games. He also is on a streak of 3 straight games with at least 22 fantasy points. Now he gets a Bears’ defense who has struggled to stop anyone this season. Ride with Mariota again this week.

Top 3 QBs to Sit

Jameis Winston vs. Seahawks: Jameis Winston has had a very up-and-down season this year. This is because he is prone to turning the ball over. Even when he doesn’t throw an interception, he seems to lose a fumble to make up for it.  Now he gets to play a Seahawk defense that prides itself on both going after the QB and forcing turnovers. Everything about this matchup screams “down week”, so leave Winston on the bench.

Blake Bortles vs. Bills: Everyone is wondering what happened to the Jaguars. Last year, this was one of the best offenses in football, but that did not continue into this year. With the Jaguars struggling to move the ball, or win games, Bortles has had to drop back and throw it.  A lot. This is NOT good if you have a habit of throwing INTs, which Bortles does. A date with a Bills’ defense that lives to put pressure on the QB and force turnovers spells big trouble for Bortles.

Alex Smith vs. Broncos: Oh Alex Smith, why must you do this to us? On the surface, Smith is coming off a solid 19 point outing that has made people think they can start him going forward. However, without his TD run, he would have scored only 13 points, and he is averaging only 14 points a game. Now he plays a highly talented Broncos’ defense coming off its bye, and ready to come after Smith. Smith never seems to play well against his division rivals, so don’t play with fire.

Top 3 RBs to Start

DeMarco Murray vs. Bears: DeMarco Murray averages 120 yards and 1 TD every week. He is a monster at being super versatile. There really is not much he can’t do. He runs like a man, catches like a man, and throws TDs like a man. He is simply an athletic monster. The Bears’ defense on average allows 5.2 yards per rushing play, which is really good for Murray owners.

Jay Ajayi vs. 49ers: Although the Jay Ajayi hype train has died down a little bit, he is still a great RB getting a minimum of at least 80 yards a game, even in terrible conditions. The 49ers’ defense has been getting exposed all year long as shown in their last game against the Patriots giving up 4 or so TDs. They cannot stop the run if their life depended on it, teams averaged 6 yards a carry against the weak 49ers’ run defense.

David Johnson vs. Falcons: Although David Johnson’s O-line is not the best, he is still consistently putting up crazy numbers. Getting around 110 yards every week and around 1-2 TDS, he is amazing for fantasy. The Falcons’ defense also allows a lot of yards and a lot of points–their defense have a very hard time stopping the run against good RBs.

Top 3 RBs to Sit

Isaiah Crowell vs. Giants: Crowell has been on a slow decline since the beginning of the year. Since his explosive beginning in the earlier games, he has gotten less and less yards every week. The Giants’ defense has greatly improved from last year and they can sure stop the run. They stopped experienced running backs such as Jordan Howard and Todd Gurley in previous games.

Doug Martin vs. Seahawks: Very, very hard to start anyone against the tough Seahawks’ defense. I think Doug Martin will be held to less 65 yards rushing. He is just coming off his injury and has not hit the ground running, and we do not expect him to explode in this tough matchup.

Spencer Ware vs. Broncos: Spencer Ware has been under-performing lately, consistently failing to get above 90 yards a game. It is doubtful he can do good against the best defense in the NFL.

Top 3 WRs to Start

Antonio Brown vs. Colts (Thanksgiving): To all who drafted Antonio Brown 1st overall–RELAX. Brown’s quiet 7.6 point outing last week was just the 3rd time this season Brown has scored in the single digits this season in 10 games.  The last two times he bounced back with over 100 yards the following week. Remain calm. Brown can beat the Colts.

Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Browns: Odell Beckham owners have reverted to early season form. After a quiet outing against the Bears, OBJ owners are again complaining he is not doing enough, despite having 6 TDs over the 5 games prior to this one.  He will produce, especially if he plays a Browns defense averaging 25 points allowed to opposing WRs.

Doug Baldwin vs. Buccaneers: Doug Baldwin is back ladies and gentlemen. After his torrid finish last year, Baldwin may have gotten off to a slow start this season, but over his last 2 games he has caught 3 TDs and over 100 yards respectively. While it’s not likely that he is going to throw another TD pass to Russell Wilson, he should have the opportunity to catch a few from his QB against a Buccaneer defense allowing almost 26 points to opposing WRs

Top 3 WRs to Sit

Mike Evans vs. Seahawks:  It is worth noting that the Seattle defense is very good at stopping opponents. They have this man named Richard Sherman who loves to cover big wide receivers who only line up out wide, and he’s pretty good at doing that.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what Mike Evans is. While it will be difficult to sit Evans, you should definitely temper expectations for him.

Brandin Cooks vs. Rams:  Inconsistency, thy name is Cooks. Every time it looks like Cooks is going to go on a tear, he suddenly drops a dud. Next up is a date with a tough Rams’ defense that has not been allowing opponents to score many points.  This game could be surprisingly low scoring, so Cooks is likely in for a rough day.

Terrelle Pryor vs. Giants:  Every time you expect Terrelle Pryor to have a bad day, he shows up with a solid outing, surprising everyone. This looks like it may be one of those days. However, the Giants have been on fire in recent weeks, and Landon Collins has been intercepting everything, having at least one interception in each of the last 4 games. That is going to make throwing the ball much more difficult, which does not bode well for Pryor.

Top TE to Start

Delanie Walker vs. Bears:  It is time to remind Delanie Walker owners to not lose faith in their TE. Walker may be coming a slow day with just 36 yards, but he had 2 TDs in the 2 games prior to that and has been one of the safest plays at his position. He should have a great chance to rebound against a Bears’ defense who has been unable to really stop anyone.

Top TE to Sit

Coby Fleener vs. Rams: Coby Fleener may well be the greatest disappointment in Fantasy Football this season. He was expected to be the successor to Jimmy Graham and capitalize on the always-productive New Orleans TE position, but it just hasn’t happened.  He’s only cracked double-digit points twice, the hundred-yard mark once, and has scored a mere 3 TDs on the year.  Because of the inconsistency, we would not trust him against a stout Rams’ defense.

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