Wed Nov 24 9:47am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Mooney should remain hot
This is always one of my favorite “Lineup Prep” columns of the year. It is the Thanksgiving edition. I tell you all the things I’m thankful for with a fantasy spin. Here is to hoping you have a great Thanksgiving!
I’m thankful for in-depth stats. There are so many stats you access now. It is so helpful when it comes to analyzing fantasy football. You can get snap counts, target shares, red zone targets, fantasy defense stats. You name it and you can likely get it. The information for fantasy football users is off the charts this day and age.
I’m thankful for the running quarterback. The advent of the mobile quarterback has changed the landscape of the position, especially in fantasy land. Guys like Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray have such a high weekly floor because of their ability to make plays with their legs. It makes targeting them come draft day the smart move for fantasy teams.
I’m thankful for the parity in the NFL. This league has been so crazy this year, seeing so many teams play erratic football. You just never know what you are going to see any given week. This is causing fantasy leagues to be a lot more crazy as well, having erratic point totals from week to week. I think this makes for more excitement in fantasy leagues, which is never a bad thing.
I’m thankful for rookies. Every year there are a handful of exciting, young players that take the fantasy world by storm. This year is no different with Najee Harris and Ja’Marr Chase leading the way. You never know how a rookie will pan out, but when you hit, it sure is exciting. These guys can be fantasy difference makers.
I’m thankful for players like Deebo Samuel. There are players every year that are picked in the middle or so rounds of drafts that end up being fantasy superstars. This is exactly what has happened to Samuel, who is second overall in fantasy receiver scoring. Preseason rankings don’t always go as planned, so seeing a player ranked lower really outperform their draft spot is exciting. Hopefully, you hit on a few of these guys in your league this year.
I’m thankful for the easy access of information these days. It is so much easier than when I first started in the industry. My job used to be scouring the local newspapers, reading all the practice reports from the previous day. These days all you have to do is get on Twitter or search the internet for the latest practice news. The stuff is reported as it happens. This makes it so much easier for fantasy owners, having so much more information at their fingertips.
I’m thankful for the craziness at the tight end position. I know it might drive some crazy but I think it makes for some great strategy, especially come draft day. The position is just so top heavy. Do you use an early pick on Travis Kelce or Darren Waller? Or do you wait and pick two players like Noah Fant and Jared Cook to platoon on a weekly basis? It would be a lot easier if there are 10 surefire fantasy tight ends, but no one ever said fantasy football was easy, right?
I’m thankful for the NFL RedZone channel. Is there a better way to watch football as a fantasy football fan? I don’t think so. I mean you get to see all the scores and all the action when teams are close to scoring. It is a fascinating way to watch the games. And it makes for some real excitement as you are trying to see what you are doing in your fantasy games. The highs and lows come real quick when watching the NFL RedZone.
Lastly, I’m thankful for all of our users. We truly have the best users in the fantasy world that are on RealTime Fantasy Sports. It is so great to be a part of. It truly feels like a community on our site and I’m proud to be just a small part of that. So I want to thank all of you out there for helping make this place the best to play fantasy sports.
News and Notes: The Texans released running back Phillip Lindsay on Tuesday. Lindsay saw his playing time dip in recent weeks, so this move isn’t a complete surprise. Rex Burkhead and David Johnson should handle most of the running back duties going forward. . . . .The Bears reportedly will fire head coach Matt Nagy after their Week 12 game. . . . .The Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett on Tuesday. You could see this coming with the way the offense had played recently. Tight end’s coach Freddie Kitchens will take over the offensive coordinator position going forward for the Giants. . . . .The Titans released Adrian Peterson on Tuesday. This might be the end of the line for Peterson, who did little with his chances in Tennessee.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers. Aiyuk has finally become a factor in the 49ers offense once again. He had his best game of the season last week, catching seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He has scores two of three games and double-digit fantasy points three of four games. He is finally getting more consistent targets and producing with those chances. He should keep up his hot play this week against the Vikings, a team that allows the third most fantasy points to receivers.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos. You can be frustrated all you want about rookie Javonte Williams not playing more, but at this point, it doesn’t looking like things are going to change in the backfield. Gordon is going to be a big part of the offense every week. And as long as he is on the field, he has fantasy value. Gordon has touchdowns four straight games and double-digit fantasy points five straight. He seems setup for at least another score this week against the Chargers, a team that is dead last against the run and has allowed 13-rushing touchdowns.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Bears. Mooney is eighth in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He has taken over as the No. 1 receiver in Chicago and is playing great in that role. He had his second 100-yard game of the season last week and has touchdowns two straight. He had a season-high 16 targets last week. Mooney has moved into must start territory for fantasy teams, especially this week against the Lions. Detroit has allowed more than 30 points in a game four times this season.
James Robinson, RB, Jaguars. Robinson didn’t have a great game last week but was still able to find the end zone. He has scores two straight games and seems to be getting a little healthier every week. He seems ready to have one of his big performances. And a matchup this week against the Falcons gives him a good chance for that huge game. Atlanta is a mess defensively and allow the fourth most fantasy points to running backs. The Falcons allow 123.3-rushing yards per game and have given up 10-rushing touchdowns.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys. Schultz had his best game in a few weeks in Week 11, having six receptions for 53 yards on eight targets. All the injuries at receiver for the Cowboys opens the door for Schultz to get more targets. It should be more of the same this week for Schultz against the Raiders. Las Vegas also struggles to stop the tight end, allowing the second most fantasy points to tight ends.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins. Gaskin has been getting his most work of the season lately, having a season high 23 carries last week. He has 20 or more carries two of three games. The Dolphins have made it a point to get him more involved in the offense. But even with that said, his producing hasn’t been great. He has fewer than 40-rushing yards three of four games. He might get a lot of work again this week but that might not lead to much production once again. Gaskin plays the Panthers, a team that allows the second fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Giants. Golladay has been a big disappointment much of the season. He caught just a pass for 12 yards on two targets last week. He has three receptions for 40 yards on four targets his last two games. He has a few big games this year but you can’t bank on that right now with his recent play and the struggles of the Giants offense. Plus, he has a tough matchup this week against the Eagles, a team that has allowed the second fewest fantasy points to receivers.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill had a season high 52 pass attempts last week but that didn’t lead to al to of fantasy production. He scored just a touchdown and finished with fewer than 17 fantasy points. He has fewer than 17 points two of three games. The loss of Derrick Henry has really impacted the entire offense, including the passing game. Tannehill just hasn’t looked like the same quarterback from the past few years. Plus, he is dealing with a lot of injuries at the receiver spot, which isn’t helping. He gets the Patriots this week, a team that allows the second fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. If you have better options, go with them.
Damien Harris, RB, Patriots. The emergence of rookie Rhamondre Stevenson is a concern for Harris owners. Harris still had double-digit carries his last time out but that total was his lowest since Week 4. We aren’t giving up on Harris just yet but he might be a little more hit or miss going forward, especially against teams with good run defenses. He gets a tough matchup this week against the Titans. Tennessee is a mess against the pass but do well against the run, allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to running backs. Tennessee is fourth overall against the rush, allowing just 97.2-rushing yards per game.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos. Sutton just signed a big contract extension this week, but that doesn’t mean you just plug him into your fantasy lineup. He has really struggled lately, having six or fewer fantasy points three straight games. He has 40 or fewer yards all three of those games. His production has really been up and down all year, especially with Jerry Jeudy is healthy and in the lineup. Things won’t be much easier for him this week against the Chargers, a team that allows the third fewest fantasy points to receivers.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. Garoppolo is playing his best football right now. He has multiple touchdowns three straight games and has just one interception during that stretch. He also has 300-yard games two of four games. Garoppolo can have another good showing this week against the Vikings. Minnesota allows the seventh most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 21st overall against the pass. He is a good streaming play for Week 12.
Robby Anderson, WR, Panthers. Anderson is having a really disappointing season, but starting to show a few signs of life. And the addition of Cam Newton to the starting lineup should be a good thing for Anderson. He has six targets each of his last two games and has nine receptions on those 12 targets. He is finally getting a little more work and helping fantasy teams. He might be worth a shot this week against the Dolphins, a team that has allowed the second most fantasy points to receivers this season.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Ravens. Latavius Murray returned to the lineup last week, but Freeman still started and got the most carries for the Ravens. This should continue to happen going forward because Freeman has done well in this role. He had a season-high 20 fantasy points last week. He has double-digit fantasy points four of five games. His numbers aren’t off the charts but consistent, making him a good weekly flex play. He can do well again this week against the Browns, a team that has allowed at least 22 fantasy points to running backs five straight games.
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington. Heinicke had a tough matchup against one of the best defenses in football last week but still managed to have a three-touchdown game. It was an impressive performance. He has three three-touchdown games this season and five games with 24-plus fantasy points. He has become a good spot play for fantasy teams. And a Week 12 game against the Seahawks might be a good spot to play him. Seattle has allowed 285-plus passing yards two straight games.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, Patriots. Bourne had four more receptions last week, giving him at least four receptions four of five games. He has become a consistent factor in the Patriots passing game. He also has 14-plus fantasy points three of six games. He can help fantasy teams as a No. 3 receiver. Bourne has a matchup for more good things against the Titans this week. Tennessee allows the most fantasy points to receivers.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Raiders/Cowboys, Bills/Saints, Bucs/Colts, Rams/Packers.
Low Scoring Games: Bears/Lions, Falcons/Jaguars.
Bye Weeks: Cardinals, Chiefs.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III (hip, shoulder) is 50-50 to play on Sunday night against the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs, according to head coach Vic Fangio. Gordon injured his hip on his first carry of the game in the Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, but he returned immediately and finished out the game. But the 28-year-old missed practice on Wednesday, won't practice Thursday and is looking iffy to play in Week 13. Gordon is averaging a solid 4.5 yards per carry and has seven total touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving) while sharing touches pretty much down the middle with impressive rookie Javonte Williams through 12 weeks. If Gordon is limited at all or out entirely against KC, Williams would become a must-play in fantasy.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin has seen four or more targets in three of his last four games. Sadly, Griffin has only surpassed 30 receiving yards in one of those contests. The good news is, his workload has increased with Tyler Kroft (chest) unavailable. Although, the lack of yardage does make Griffin a tough fantasy option. He should be able to find some success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. However, Griffin isn't anything more than a deep league option. It's unlikely that he gets heavily involved in the passing attack.
New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (oblique, quadriceps) was working on a side field again on Thursday with a trainer and seems doubtful to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. It's Toney's second straight day of missed practice after he was inactive in the Week 12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The first-round pass-catcher has looked electric with the ball in his hands at times this year, but the problem is the Giants offense as a whole has mostly been beat up this year and has never really hit its stride. Fantasy managers should obviously look to pivot away from Toney this weekend, especially with Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) trending towards playing after a long layoff. In his first nine games, Toney has 35 catches for 392 yards and no touchdowns on 48 targets.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios put together a couple surprisingly solid performances to begin the season. However, his fantasy appeal has disappeared since then. In fact, Berrios has three or less targets in every game since Week 3. Last week, Berrios hauled in two receptions for 47 yards in the win over the Houston Texans. He could be involved with Corey Davis (groin) banged up and Keelan Cole Sr. (Covid) sidelined. That being said, Berrios could see more action than normal during the Week 13 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. At the moment, Berrios isn't someone worth starting in almost any formats. Berrios should be more involved, assuming Davis sits out alongside Cole. However, it sounds like Davis should suit up, which means Berrios might only see a handful of targets at best.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) is doing light work at practice on Thursday and has an outside chance to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. Shepard was listed as not practicing on Wednesday, so this represents some progress. But it's also not a ringing endorsement to consider him in fantasy lineups this weekend, since Shepard has been out since suffering his quad injury in Week 8. The 28-year-old was involved heavily in the passing attack in his first five games of the season, but there's a good chance that he'll have his snaps limited if he's back on Sunday against the Dolphins. That'll make him a pretty risky WR4/flex if he's active this weekend.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder is coming off his worst game of the season. Last week, he hauled in his lone target for five yards in the win. To be fair, it's not all his fault with quarterback Zach Wilson only targeting him once. Possibly, the chemistry between the two isn't there yet. That being said, Crowder could have a tough time finding success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wideouts this season. Wilson appears to be in line for another start, so Crowder could be looking at another dud. At this point, Crowder is basically a desperation flex option in PPR formats.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (heel, knee) did not practice on Thursday after he was limited on Wednesday. It's unclear yet if the Jaguars were just resting Robinson on Thursday or if he actually had a setback with heel and knee injuries that he's been managing in recent weeks. Regardless, fantasy managers should be on the lookout for an update on his status, but if he misses another practice on Friday, it will likely be Carlos Hyde time on Sunday in the Week 13 meeting with the Los Angeles Rams. If Robinson is active, he'll be on the RB1/2 borderline against Los Angeles, a defense that has allowed just over 100 yards rushing per game to their opponents. Hyde had a season-high 21 carries in Week 9 when Robinson sat out, but he gained just 3.19 yards per carry and has a low fantasy ceiling even with a starter's workload.
New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore has been much more involved in the offense since the Week 6 bye. In fact, Moore has seen six or more targets in each of his last five games. That trend should continue against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that ranks 23rd in pass DVOA this season. This certainly appears to be a favorable matchup for Moore despite him and quarterback Zach Wilson having little playing time together. That being said, Moore is worth a look as a flex play in most fantasy formats for this Week 13 matchup.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed linebacker Robert Spillane on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. Spillane has played in 10 games for the Steelers this year, with just one start. He's recorded 17 tackles (one for a loss). Offensive lineman Joe Haeg and linebacker T.J. Watt were placed on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. The 25-year-old Spillane has also been dealing with a knee injury, so even if he clears the league's COVID-19 protocols, he may not be available to return in Week 14 next Thursday when Pittsburgh takes on the Minnesota Vikings. If Watt ends up missing this Sunday's game against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers defensive unit in fantasy could struggle.
New York Jets running back Ty Johnson saw only six carries despite Michael Carter (ankle) being out last week. Although, those six carries were actually Johnson's highest total since Week 2. Despite that, Johnson wasn't able to do much with his chances with Tevin Coleman and Austin Walter getting a majority of the carries. It's uncertain if Walter will play during the Week 13 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. His absence could mean more chances for Johnson. Although, there's not a lot of upside for Johnson with Zach Wilson under center. Fantasy managers should consider him a low-end flex option in deep leagues. There's PPR value here with Johnson, but his workload is uncertain.
Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (ankle) was not seen at practice on Thursday at the portion open to the media. Lindsay was a limited practice participant on Wednesday, so this would represent a downgrade if he in fact is listed as missing Thursday's session. Friday will be big for the former Houston Texan and Denver Broncos as the Dolphins head into their Week 13 game against the New York Giants. The 27-year-old played 20% of the offensive snaps in his team debut in the Week 12 win over the Carolina Panthers, seeing a season-high 12 carries for 42 yards. That's a good sign for Lindsay, but Myles Gaskin remains Miami's lead back. If Lindsay cannot play this Sunday, Salvon Ahmed, who played 18% of the snaps and had five carries, will see more playing time as Gaskin's backup.
New York Jets running back Tevin Coleman took over the lead back job for last week's matchup against the Houston Texans. He rushed 11 times for 67 yards and hauled in two receptions for three additional yards. It was surprisingly a decent outing from Coleman, but fantasy managers shouldn't get too excited. The Jets offensive line is horrendous and it was tough for Michael Carter (ankle) to have any success when he was healthy. His absence should mean another start for Coleman, but it doesn't guarantee success. The Philadelphia Eagles are ranked 16th in rush DVOA this season. This isn't a favorable matchup, but Coleman does have some deep league flex appeal for this Week 13 matchup. The touches should be there without Carter available, but the results are tough to predict.
Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (concussion) is in the league's concussion protocol and didn't practice for a second straight day on Thursday. McKissic scored the team's only two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the Monday night win over the Seattle Seahawks, but he suffered a head/neck injury late in the game and is now seriously in danger of missing the Week 13 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. Antonio Gibson would be in line for a huge workload against a vulnerable Raiders run defense if McKissic is unable to play, giving him easy RB1 upside. Rookie Jaret Patterson would see a bigger role behind Gibson if McKissic is unable to play, but it's debatable whether he'll have standalone value. Friday's practice will be big for McKissic's weekend status.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) said he feels good and expects to play on Sunday in a plus matchup against the Jets. With Jalen Hurts (ankle) also battling an ankle injury, head coach Nick Sirianni had mentioned that Hurts would likely run less this weekend. That would likely mean more carries for Sanders and Boston Scott, especially with Jordan Howard still banged up and unlikely to play. Given the strong matchup, both Sanders and Scott could be started this weekend, with Sanders being a risky RB2 option with clear upside.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) was able to fully practice on Wednesday. That means, Wilson should be in line to start against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. Last week, Wilson put together a lackluster performance against the below average Houston Texans pass defense. It's unlikely going to get better against the Eagles despite them being ranked 23rd in pass DVOA this season. There should be better streaming options in just about every fantasy format. Wilson is a desperation option, but it's hard to imagine many worse options right now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) was not seen at practice on Thursday as he continues to struggle coming back from an ankle injury. At this point, it would be safe to assume that Brown will miss Sunday's game against the Falcons, which will mean Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski continue to hog almost all of the receiving work. The Bucs have another good matchup against the Falcons this week and with the passing game taking a backseat in last week's win, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bucs come out and allow Tom Brady to sling the ball around the field. As with every week, you should start Brady and all three of receiving options with confidence.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (neck) looks like he may be trending towards playing on Sunday against the Dolphins. Interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens said he expects Jones to practice today "like regular times." Obviously, we'll need to monitor practice to ensure that's the case, but Jones was able to finish the game last week, so it's entirely possible. With Sterling Shepard also working himself back from injury, Jones could be a playable option in two-quarterback leagues against a Miami secondary that has been friendly to opposing passing games despite playing better of late. Still, with Jones likely not 100% and Miami's defense playing much better lately, Jones wouldn't be a streaming option outside of deeper leagues.
The New Orleans Saints ruled out Alvin Kamara (knee), offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk (knee), and Terron Armstead in Thursday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Kamara was initially listed as questionable, but the Saints ultimately decided to play it safe and rule the star running back out. The 26-year-old will miss his fourth consecutive game with a knee sprain. His next chance to return will be next Sunday against the New York Jets. This week, Mark Ingram II (knee) was a full participant in practice and will lead the Saints backfield against the Cowboys. The 31-year-old was cleared to play after he missed the Thanksgiving game loss to the Buffalo Bills with a knee injury. Ingram is a mid-range RB2 against a Dallas defense that ranks fourth in rush DVOA this season.
New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara (knee) has been ruled out for Week 13.
Fantasy Spin: Mark Ingram had 16 rushes for 88 yards and six grabs for 25 yards last week. He'll be an RB2 again this week.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen has just eight catches for 135 yards and no touchdowns in the last three games against the Detroit Lions the last two seasons.
Fantasy Spin: This could mean absolutely nothing as Thielen is seventh in fantasy points at the position in PPR leagues. He's going to start for you no matter what, but it's worth investigating if he's bottled up again.