Fantasy Football Week 12: Thanksgiving Day game previews, injuries, plus the latest news from around the league
Chris Towers catches up on the latest news from around the NFL, and takes a look at the three-game Thanksgiving slate.
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Minnesota at Detroit
Luckily, the first game on the schedule today doesn't give us much to worry about with regards to injuries. The key matchups in this game feature the Vikings' surprisingly high-flying offense against the Lions' defense, specifically with regards to Darius Slay and the Vikings' pair of potential Pro Bowl receivers, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. If you're worried about these two receivers, it's worth noting, they line up all over the field, so one player isn't likely to see all of Slay all day. I would still start both.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings will probably match Xavier Rhodes up with Marvin Jones. Jones has been one of the most prolific deep ball receivers in the league racking up four touchdowns on passes 20-plus yards down the field; Rhodes hasn't allowed a catch on a pass more than 20 yards down the field since Week 2. Jones .
San Diego at Dallas
Fantasy players have never been so happy to see an offensive lineman get back from an injury. Tyron Smith is expected to play after missing two games in a row, and not a moment too soon, because the Cowboys' offense has looked abysmal without him. Smith will try to slow down Joey Bosa, who has been one of the best pass rushers in the league since entering the league last season.
The Cowboys' top receiving target will also face a tough matchup, going up against ProFootballFocus.com's No. 1 rated corner this season, Casey Hayward. You can feel pretty confident that Bryant will continued to get peppered with targets (he has 91 on the season, the sixth-most in the league), but it could be a long day trying to shake free of Hayward.
Melvin Gordon could have a big game in this one, as the Cowboys' defense has been vulnerable anytime Sean Lee has been sidelined. They were gashed for 198 yards on 26 carries by the Eagles' top three backs last week.
New York Giants at Washington
Giants: Sterling Shepard (illness) Questionable; Olivier Vernon (shoulder) Questionable; Justin Pugh (back) Out
Washington: Jordan Reed (hamstring) Out; Trent Williams (knee) Questionable; Samaje Perine (finger) Questionable
Kirk Cousins lost Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in the offseason, and replaced them with… well, it turns out, not much. Jordan Reed has been a non-factor this season, Terrelle Pryor was invisible before his season-ending injury, and now he's down Chris Thompson, who suffered a season-ending injury last week. And yet, he's on pace for more touchdowns than last season, after last week's three-touchdown gem against what had been a terrific Saints' defense. The Giants defense has been… less terrific this season, so Cousins should keep rolling.
Samaje Perine should see a ton of work yet again this week, with Thompson and Rob Kelley (ankle) on IR. He hasn't been great this season, but showed a lot of burst last week, and has to be considered a solid starting option, if for no other reason than the bounty of touches he's likely to get from here on out.
On the Giants' side, the biggest question is Shepard's health, as he missed last week with migraine issues. He was limited throughout the week, and seemed to suffer a setback when he tried to attempt some light running this week, so he looks more on the doubtful side of things. There isn't anyone who is really worth relying on in this passing game with him out, though Evan Engram should continue to see plenty of opportunities, making him a viable tight end play.
- Devonta Freeman (concussion) still isn't practicing… Freeman's recovery from his second concussion of the season has been slow, and he's looking less and less likely to play in Week 12.
- Carson Palmer (arm) and David Johnson (wrist) are unlikely to come back this season… Bruce Arians told reporters Wednesday none of the players on IR have made the progress they hoped for, meaning none are expected to return this season. That isn't exactly surprising – the team has expressed skepticism about Johnson and Palmer coming back this season – but it's another sign that stashing Johnson may not work out for you.
- Greg Olsen (foot) practiced yet again… He is still officially on IR, but don't be worried about that at this point; all signs point to Olsen making a full return in Week 12. I'm starting him.
- Kelvin Benjamin (knee) was not at practice… Benjamin is considered day to day, and doesn't have ligament damage after being carted off in Week 11, but it still isn't looking great for his chances to play this week.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) didn't practice Wednesday… Mike Tomlin downplayed the injury earlier this week, but this isn't a great sign. He still has a few days of practice to get healthy, so keep an eye specifically on Friday's reports.
- Jacoby Brissett (concussion) practiced in full… The bye seems to have helped, as Brissett looks on track to play this week.
- Tyrod Taylor will start in Week 12… No surprise there, as Nathan Peterman was a disaster in his start in Week 11. Taylor is always a solid Fantasy option thanks to his rushing ability.
- C.J. Beathard will start in Week 12… I still get the feeling we'll see Jimmy Garoppolo at some point this weekend, but Beathard earned another start with his solid play in Week 11.
- Matt Forte (knee) didn't practice… At this point, I'm not expecting to see Forte in Week 11, so consider Bilal Powell a low-end starting RB option.
- Chris Hogan (shoulder) still hasn't practiced… He hasn't practiced since Week 8, and you can't plan on having him help you this week.
- Jay Cutler (concussion) is still in the concussion protocol… If healthy, Cutler will start for the Dolphins, but it's starting to look like this might be a Matt Moore week. Not that this makes much of a difference for the Dolphins' offense, as Moore and Cutler have most of the same flaws. You might give a boost to Kenny Stills if Moore plays, as the two have had a connection since last season.
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