(Editor’s Note: This article was completed before kick-off for the Thanksgiving games. Due to technical difficulties with the site, the editors were unable to have the piece posted in time. We sincerely apologize to both Mike and our readers)
Every week fantasy football owners have to make decisions on who to start, who to sit and who potentially to go pick up off the waiver wire to play. Sometimes those decisions can be tough. For help with that, check out my weekly rankings. In addition to that, I will be giving my weekly take on starts, sits and sleepers.
Each week I will be giving you two players I like starting, two guys I would like to bench, and one sleeper per position (except for D/STs, there will only be one start and sit). Now, of course every week you will start Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown, among others — assuming they play. This weekly article is to help fantasy owners decide on their “non-elite” players. If you have more specific questions regarding fantasy football or your team, ask me on Twitter. And as always, happy hunting fantasy friends!
Matt Ryan at Saints: Despite what should have been a shoot-out, Matt Ryan struggled against the Cowboys, scoring just 13.7 fantasy points; his lowest since week one. However, this week Ryan should return to his 20-plus fantasy point habits. The Saints are the fourth-friendliest team against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 22.1 FPPG, and have allowed opposing quarterbacks to scoring 26.5 or more fantasy points four times this season. That includes 40.2 to Ryan back in week three.
Last week’s game was a fluke, expect Ryan to score 27 or more fantasy points against the Saints.
Baker Mayfield at Bengals: Prior to their week 11 bye, Baker Mayfield has a career high three passing touchdowns and 22.6 fantasy points against the Falcons. This week, Mayfield faces the Bengals, who are the second-friendliest team against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 23.3 FPPG. The Bengals defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to score 28 or more fantasy points in three of their last four games.
Former Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson is now working with the Bengals defense, so expect them to be even worse and for Mayfield to have another great game this week.
Philip Rivers vs Cardinals: As great as Philip Rivers has been this season, averaging 19.8 FPPG, his match-up this week isn’t fantasy friendly. The Cardinals are the second-toughest team against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of just 14.8 FPPG. They have held opposing quarterbacks under 16 fantasy points in three of their last four games; the exception was Patrick Mahomes.
In addition, the Cardinals are one of the worst teams against the run, so expect this to be a heavy Melvin Gordon game, limiting Rivers’ upside even more.
Deshaun Watson vs Titans: Last week I said to start Deshaun Watson against the Redskins and he scored just nine fantasy points; my bad guys. Watson has just been too inconsistent lately, failing to throw for over 250 yards in five straight games.
Additionally, Watson has thrown two or fewer touchdowns in five of his last six games. Meanwhile, the Titans are the sixth-toughest team against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of just 16 FPPG. Opposing quarterbacks have scored fewer than 15 fantasy points in four of their last six games against the Titans.
Eli Manning at Eagles: Surprisingly, ever since the Giants have hinted at giving rookie Kyle Lauletta some game reps, Eli Manning has played better. Over his last four games, Manning has scored 17 or more fantasy points in three of them, while averaging 17.5 FPPG.
This week Manning faces the Eagles, who are the sixth-friendliest team against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 20.5 FPPG. The Eagles secondary is all banged up and has given up at least 19.7 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in four straight games.
Marlon Mack vs Dolphins: For the last two weeks I said to bench Mack and over his last two games, he is averaging 10.9 FPPG. That was because of two bad match-ups. This week all that changes. The Dolphins are the fourth-friendliest team against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 29.5 FPPG. and have allowed at least one rushing touchdown to opposing running backs in 70% of their games this season. I have all three Colts’ running backs in my top 40 running backs this week.
Mark Ingram vs Falcons: Coming off the bye week, Mark Ingram struggled, averaging just seven FPPG in the first three games after the bye. However, over the last two weeks, Ingram has 32 touches for 265 scrimmage yards, three touchdowns and 47.5 fantasy points.
As great as Ingram has been, the match-up this week is the best he will see all season long. The Falcons are the friendliest team against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 33.3 FPPG. The Falcons have allowed opposing running backs to score 30 or more fantasy points in 70% of their games this season. For the love of…start Ingram.
LeGarrette Blount & Theo Riddick vs Bears: With Kerryon Johnson expected to miss the Thanksgiving game, LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick will handle most of the workload. However, I don’t want to have anything to do with either. The Bears are the second-toughest team opposing running backs, giving up an average of just 17.8 FPPG.
Furthermore, the Bears have held opposing running backs to under 18.5 fantasy points in three of their last four games. The lone exception was two weeks ago against the Lions where Johnson had a career high 24.9 fantasy points. The Bears followed that up by holding Dalvin Cook to just two fantasy points last week.
Jalen Richard at Ravens: Last week, Jalen Richard had 12.3 fantasy points, his highest since week one. However, I believe it’s a one-week-wonder and not something fantasy owners should expect entering the playoffs.
Doug Martin didn’t play in the second half of last week’s game with an ankle injury, but he is expected to play this week. Meanwhile, the Ravens are the toughest team against opposing running backs, giving up an average of just 17.6 FPPG and held Joe Mixon to just 1.2 yards per carry last week.
Austin Ekeler vs Cardinals: Earlier I mentioned how the Cardinals were tough on quarterbacks but struggled against running backs, well the Cardinals are exactly what the doctors ordered for Austin Ekeler. Over his last three games, Ekeler has struggled, averaging just 5.1 FPPG.
However, the Cardinals are the fifth-friendliest team against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 29.4 FPPG. The Cardinals have a history this season of allowing multiple opposing running backs to score double-digit fantasy points in the same game, meaning both Melvin Gordon and Ekeler should have good performances on Sunday.
Calvin Ridley at Saints: Currently Calvin Ridley is battling a thigh injury, so fantasy owners need to keep their eye on the injury report. However, assuming Ridley plays he has a great match-up this week. The Saints are the friendliest team against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of 47 FPPG. Furthermore, the Saints have allowed opposing wide receivers to score 55 or more fantasy points in 40% of their games this season.
Ridley had his career high 40.5 fantasy points in week three verse the Saints. Assuming Julio Jones draws Marshon Lattimore, look for Matt Ryan to target Ridley a ton in this game.
Bears’ Wide Receivers at Lions: During their four-game winning streak, the Bears’ wide receivers have all played well. The Bears can all but lock up the NFC North title if they can beat the Lions on Thanksgiving, and that shouldn’t be too difficult. Two weeks ago, the Lions gave up a season high three passing touchdowns to the Bears’ wide receivers.
For the season, the Lions are the 13th friendliest team against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of 37.2 FPPG. However, over their last two games, the Lions have given up 112.6 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Golden Tate vs Giants: For some reason, since Golden Tate joined the Eagles, their offense has fallen apart. After averaging 16.8 FPPG in Detroit, Tate is averaging just 6.5 FPPG in Philadelphia. Despite a good match-up was last week, Tate scored just nine fantasy points.
The match-up this week isn’t very promising. As bad as the Giants have been this season, they are the ninth-toughest team against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of just 33.4 FPPG. The Giants defense has also held opposing wide receivers under 26 fantasy points in two of their last three games.
Packers’ Wide Receivers at Vikings: Obviously this doesn’t apply to Davante Adams, as he is a must start despite the match-up with Xavier Rhodes. However, Randall Cobb, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. and Equanimeous St. Brown should all be buried on fantasy benches.
The Vikings are the fourth-toughest team against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of just 30.6 FPPG. Cobb can’t stay healthy, missing five of the Packers’ last seven games. Valdes-Scantling had just one catch on three targets last week, and St. Brown has scored more than 5.1 fantasy points just once this season. Don’t play any of them if it can be avoided.
Tre’Quan Smith vs Falcons: Fantasy owners need to keep an eye on the Saints’ injury report, as Tre’Quan Smith was listed as a non-participant on Monday with a foot injury. However, assuming he plays, Smith is an excellent high-upside FLEX play this week.
Last week against a banged-up Eagles secondary, Smith had a career day across the board with 10 catches for 157 yards and 31.7 fantasy points. This week, the Falcons come to town for a Thanksgiving shoot-out. The Falcons are the seventh-friendliest team against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of 40.2 FPPG.
David Njoku at Bengals: Over the last three weeks, David Njoku has been disappointing to say the least for fantasy owners, averaging just a shade over four FPPG. However, in the previous four games, Njoku averaged 14.2 FPPG. Hopefully the Browns fixed whatever issues were in the offense and will start getting Njoku the ball more for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, the match-up this week is excellent for Njoku, as the Bengals are the fourth-friendliest team against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of 15.8 FPPG. The Bengals have allowed opposing tight ends to score 19 or more fantasy points in 50% of their games this season.
Vance McDonald at Broncos: Vance McDonald has scored a touchdown in back-to-back games, while averaging 13.1 FPPG during those two games. McDonald is now clearly the fourth option on offense behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner.
Meanwhile, the Broncos are the 12th-friendliest team against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of 13.8 FPPG and allowing opposing tight ends to score 19 or more fantasy points in two of their last three games, including 19 fantasy points to 38 year old Antonio Gates last week.
Evan Engram at Eagles: Like many fantasy experts predicted, Evan Engram has seriously regressed this season. On Sunday, Engram scored just 8.6 fantasy points despite a great match-up against the Buccaneers. Things don’t get better this week against the Eagles, who are the fourth-toughest team against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of just 8.3 FPPG.
Furthermore, the Eagles have allowed opposing tight ends to score more than 11 fantasy points just once this season, and have given up just two touchdowns to opposing tight ends all season long. Engram is outside my top 15 tight ends this week.
Jimmy Graham at Vikings: Despite breaking his hand last week against the Seahawks, Jimmy Graham is reportedly going to try to play through the injury. However; I don’t think he will be able to, so I wouldn’t start him this week.
The Vikings give up near the league average to opposing tight ends, but recently they have shut them down. Over their last three games, the Vikings have held opposing tight ends to just 3.7 FPPG and have given up just three touchdowns to opposing tight ends all season long.
Nick Vannett at Panthers: This sleeper comes with some risk, as the Seahawks are unpredictable with their tight ends. Nick Vannett has a touchdown in two of his last three games and has a good match-up this week. The Panthers are the friendliest team against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of 18.5 FPPG.
Furthermore, the Panthers have allowed opposing tight ends to score 18.5 or more fantasy points in 70% of their games this season. Both Vannett and Ed Dickson are nice, cheap DFS options this week at the tight end position.
Ravens vs Raiders: Despite scoring just three fantasy points last week against the Bengals, the Ravens D/ST has a great match-up this week against the Raiders. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they have to travel across the country for a 10 am PST kick-off game. Teams who have to do as much tend to struggle.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are the seventh-friendliest team against opposing D/STs, allowing them to score an average of 7.6 FPPG. Opposing D/STs have scored double-digit fantasy points in 50% of their games versus the Raiders’ offense.
Saints vs Falcons: Last week’s 15 fantasy point game against the Eagles wasn’t a fluke, as the Saints D/ST has scored 11 or more in three of their last four games. However, the other game was against the Rams, where the Saints D/ST scored negative six fantasy points.
While the Falcons’ offense isn’t as good as the Rams’ is, they are still the sixth-toughest team against opposing D/STs, allowing them to score just 2.5 FPPG. Opposing D/STs have scored negative fantasy points against the Falcons’ offense in 50% of their games this season, including these Saints in week three.
Colts vs Dolphins: Surprisingly the Colts are making a playoff push, and as well as their offense has played during their four game winning streak, their defense has also stepped up. During their four-game winning streak, the Colts D/ST has scored 14 or more fantasy points twice.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are the fourth-friendliest team against opposing D/STs, allowing them to scored 8.7 FPPG. Furthermore, the Dolphins offense has allowed opposing D/STs to scored 25 fantasy points over their last two games.