By Pat Pitts
It’s Thanksgiving week in the NFL. While managers gather around the table with family and friends, NFL teams step on the field looking to make a playoff push. Fantasy playoffs are approaching, which means every decision matters. Here are a few players to make your life easier by deciding to start or bench for the holidays.
Jalen Hurts @ NYG
Hurts walks into this week as the QB1 across all fantasy platforms. He scored three touchdowns last week on the ground and the Giants defense just allowed 40 points to the Bucs, making this seem like a slam dunk play.
Derek Carr @ DAL
Carr continues to be a weekly start for me, especially with his Turkey Day game against the Cowboys. He faces a Dallas defense that struggles to defend the pass, setting this game up to feature a lot of points with Carr leading the charge for Vegas.
Cam Newton vs MIA
Cam Newton established his rightful place in the Panthers offense after his stellar performance against Washington, throwing for two touchdowns and running one in as well. The Dolphins have allowed the most passing yards in the league to opposing QBs, making Newton a Top-5 QB this week.
Joe Mixon vs PIT Since Week 6, Mixon has finished with at least 24 PPR points in each game except for one. The Steelers allowed the most yards by a defense this season against the Chargers. I expect much of the same against the Bengals.
Javonte Williams vs LAC
Williams did not play his best game in Week 10 against the Eagles, finishing with just 48 yards rushing. He has a shot at redemption this week, coming off a Bye, against the worst run defense in the league. He has followed up his single digit performances with a double digit one almost every time this season making the odds, on paper, in his favor.
Mark Ingram vs BUF
Ingram has tapped into the fountain of youth since returning to New Orleans, and with Alvin Kamara being ruled out this week, Ingram has a chance to gash a Bills defense that allowed Jonathan Taylor to set records against them in Week 11. You’ll have to monitor Ingram’s status leading up to Thursday night’s night cap as he drew a questionable tag on Tuesday, but if he plays, he’s a solid low-end RB1 option as a clear bell cow.
Jakobi Meyers vs TEN
The Titans have allowed the most receiving yards to fantasy WRs this year. Meyers continues to be the number one option for Mac Jones, leading the team in targets and yards. He should be a WR1 on fantasy rosters too.
Terry McLaurin vs SEA
McLaurin ended last week with over 100 yards for the first time since Week 6. His matchup against the Seahawks weak secondary launches him into a Top-5 receiver realm for the week.
Diontae Johnson @ CIN
Johnson has seen 13 targets in four of his last five games. He dominates the target share among Steelers pass catchers, slotting him in as a lock for the WR1 spot in fantasy lineups.
Hunter Henry vs TEN
Henry only saw three targets last week against the Falcons, failing to score for the first time since his game against the Chargers. He has a better matchup this week against the Titans, and I guarantee a touchdown from the Patriots’ TE.
Evan Engram vs PHI
Kyle Rudolph suffered an injury against the Bucs, making Engram TE1 this week. The Eagles have allowed the most yards and touchdowns to fantasy TEs. Let the stats make the decision for you, especially with Engram being rostered in only 27% of leagues.
Ryan Griffin vs HOU
Need a TE this week? Griffin is your guy since Tyler Kroft remains on the IR. He lines up against the Texans who have allowed an average of 11 fantasy points per game to fantasy TEs. All he needs is a touchdown to make it worth the start and I have a feeling he’ll find the end zone at least once.
Noah Fant vs LAC
The Chargers have allowed almost 12 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs this season. Fant is second on the Broncos roster this season in touchdowns, only behind Tim Patrick. He’s a startable TE with huge touchdown upside.
Trevor Siemian vs BUF
Siemian has to deal with the number one passing defense in the league on Thursday night and is coming off one of the weirdest starts of the season against the Eagles where he had decent numbers, but was also prone to mistakes. If you need a QB to stream, there are better options still left on waivers.
Ryan Tannehill @ NE
Tannehill stunk against the Texans throwing four interceptions on the Titans way to an embarrassing loss in Week 11. His matchup in Foxborough gives off the same energy, as the Patriots defense ranks as the number one defense across fantasy platforms. He can enjoy the holiday week on the bench with a turkey leg.
Carson Wentz vs TB
Wentz has a tough matchup against the defending champs and their stellar defense. He’ll need to rely on Jonathan Taylor for another week to give the Colts any hope of a win and you need to rely on another QB for your matchup this week.
D’Andre Swift vs CHI
Swift is the victim of being a talented player in a talentless offense. The Bears defense plans to wreak havoc on the Lions on Thursday afternoon. This game will be boring with limited scoring. If you play Swift, lower your expectations beyond belief.
Antonio Gibson vs SEA
J.D. McKissic has forced Antonio Gibson to be a side character in the Washington offense. His numbers drop, while McKissic’s soar, so he can finish the season on the sidelines.
Dontrell Hillard @ NE
The Patriots defense struggles to contain opposing ball carriers, but the uncertainty surrounding the Titans backfield does not give me confidence in which RB they need to worry about. Hillard played well last week and will see more volume after Adrian Peterson hit real life waivers. If you claimed him off of the wire, keep him on the bench until there are more answers than questions pertaining to his role.
Giants WRs vs PHI
Jason Garrett just got canned, the Eagles have allowed the third-lowest amount of fantasy points per game to fantasy WRs, and Daniel Jones is Daniel Jones. Any other explanations needed?
Jaylen Waddle vs CAR
The Panthers are a Top-5 defense against fantasy WRs. Tua’s inconsistent play only adds to that, making Waddle a player who can spend a week on the bench instead of a starting lineup.
Brandon Aiyuk vs MIN Don’t let Aiyuk’s performance against the Jags fool you. It was the second time all season he finished with over 15 fantasy points. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are the top receivers in that offense. I do not trust him as a FLEX option, which speaks volumes about Aiyuk’s 2021 campaign.
Jared Cook @ DEN
Cook deserves a spot on the bench until further notice. Since the Chargers Bye week, he has totaled a combined 23.1 PPR fantasy points (~5.78 PPR points per week). Donald Parham Jr. is far more involved in the offense than Cook and is the Chargers TE to roster.
Rob Gronkowski vs IND
Gronk has the pleasure of being the Maniac Sit of the Week, matching up against Darius Leonard this week. The Colts defense has been playing well over their winning streak, making fantasy managers question Gronk’s usual status as a set and forget. After the waiver rush, there will be a plethora of TEs to replace him.
T.J. Hockenson vs CHI
The Lions offense has more questions surrounding it than a standardized test. Jared Goff starting again does not make a difference, forcing me to make the difficult decision to bench Hockenson for the Thanksgiving matinee.