Fantasy Football Week 12: What you missed Thursday, as the Cowboys' offense flopped again
Is it time to panic about the Cowboys offense? Chris Towers takes a look at everything that happened on Thursday.
What's this? Every Tuesday through Friday, Chris Towers will catch you up on the previous day's biggest news first thing in the morning. Here's what you missed Thursday:
The Cowboys offense continues to struggle
We hoped the return of left tackle Tyron Smith would give Dallas' offense a boost, but that just wasn't the case. They struggled for the third week in a row, and that was particularly true of Dak Prescott, who passed for 179 yards and two interceptions in the 28-6 loss.
Prescott has no more than 179 yards in any of the three games since Ezekiel Elliott began serving his suspension, and is 58 for 88 for 500 yards, no touchdowns, and five interceptions in that span. We didn't expect Prescott to fall off this bad, and it's going to be awfully tough to trust him moving forward. Dez Bryant seems to have lost more than a step, and can't consistently beat good coverage anymore, and nobody else in the receiving corps has consistently stepped up. It's going to be hard to expect anything from this passing offense next week against Washington.
One thing to keep an eye on moving forward is how Dallas splits work in the backfield. Alfred Morris dominated touches in Week 11, but Rod Smith had the same number of carries (nine) as him Thursday, and has outsnapped Morris in two of three games since Elliott's suspension began. With Darren McFadden entirely out of the picture, Smith's role in pass protection means he isn't going anywhere, and if he continues to split work with Morris, he should be owned in all Fantasy leagues.
Case Keenum really doesn't want to lose his job
I don't quite buy the idea that Keenum is this much-improved passer, but he's definitely not giving the Vikings any reason to go away from him. He tossed a pair of touchdowns Thursday, and rushed for another, giving him two games with at least three touchdowns in his last three. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are doing a lot of the heavy lifting in this offense, but Keenum is avoiding mistakes and won't lose this job to Teddy Bridgewater if that's the case. With the Falcons on the schedule in Week 13, Keenum could continue to be a solid streamer.
Marvin Jones' breakout continued
With just five games left, Jones needs 199 yards and two touchdowns to match his career-best numbers, and you have to like his chances at this point. After a slow start that saw him fail to reach 60 yards in any of the first five games, Jones has been on fire of late, hauling in 30 of 54 passes for 547 yards and six scores in his last six games. That includes two touchdowns Thursday, including one where he just went up and beat to defenders for a jump ball. That one wasn't a 50-50 ball; it was 33-67, at best, and yet he scored.
We've seen stretches like this from Jones, but never for this long. At this point, it's hard to view him as anything but a must-start Fantasy WR.
They needed most of the game to finally topple a punchless Giants team, but Crowder and Perine more than carried their weight. Perine was steady, rushing for 100 yards on 24 carries (while adding three catches for 30 yards), while Crowder was explosive, hauling in seven of 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.
Crowder has been on fire of late, catching 27 passes for 412 yards over the last four games, with at least eight targets in each; he didn't have more than seven targets in any game over his first six. Perine, meanwhile, has 217 yards over his last two games, and showed Thursday he can be a factor in the passing game with Chris Thompson out. We haven't seen enough from Perine to say he's a must-start option moving forward, but you probably want to find room for both he and Crowder in your lineup in Week 13 against the Cowboys.
- Sterling Shepard (migraine) was still unable to play… This has been a tough situation for Shepard, who was a late addition to the injury report in Week 12, and then got just three days to recover before Thursday's game. Hopefully the extra time off before Week 13 helps, because the Giants really need him…
- Eli Manning threw for just 113 yards… That's the fifth-fewest passing yards Manning has ever managed in a start. He has just 318 yards and no touchdowns in the last two games without Shepard.
- Matthew Stafford suffered an ankle injury… Stafford was able to keep playing, and told reporters he never considered leaving the game despite staying on the ground for several minutes after a Vikings' defender fell on his leg. With the extra days off before Week 13, he should be fine, but it'll be something to watch.
- Vernon Davis was held without a catch… Every tight end seems to dominate the Giants. If you had me running up the seams against them, I might come down with a touchdown. And yet Davis, who had at least 58 yards in seven of his previous eight games, was held without a catch Thursday. He was targeted just once, in what will go down as one of the more disappointing performances by any player this week.
- Latavius Murray outperformed Jerick McKinnon again… McKinnon came on strong in the first few games after Dalvin Cook's injury, but Murray has emerged as the better Fantasy option. While McKinnon had just 13 carries for 23 yards, Murray ran the ball 20 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. He has double-digit Fantasy points in four of his last five games, while rushing for at least 84 yards in three of those.
- Kenny Golladay could be on the verge of a breakout… Injuries derailed his season, but Golladay is still showing flashes of the potential that made him so exciting in the preseason. Despite no more than three targets in any of his last three games, Golladay has 50-plus yards in each. His big-play potential may not pay off for Fantasy players this season, but if he's out there in a keeper league, you might want to stash him.
- Janoris Jenkins was in a walking boot after the game… Jenkins injured his ankle on an interception return, and will need the extra time off before Week 13 to heal.
- Mike Williams was carted off with a knee injury… Williams has had trouble with his knee in recent weeks, and it looks like this time it could be a serious issue. We don't know much yet, but Williams looks like he won't have any impact for Fantasy players in re-draft leagues this season.
What else you need to know from around the NFL
- Tom Brady (Achilles) was upgraded to limited in practice… He'll play. Hopefully, playing through this injury doesn't lead to more serious issues, but if Brady's working in practice, he's playing. We don't know much about Bill Belichick, but I feel comfortable betting on this one.
- Kelvin Benjamin (knee) continues to miss practice… Benjamin has been termed "day to day" by the coaching staff, but it doesn't look like he's going to play in Week 12, unless he makes a quick recovery Friday.
- Matt Forte (knee) sat out practice again… Forte got a bit of work in on the side, but was still officially hit with a "did not practice" label. We'll see if he can recover enough to practice Friday. His return would hurt Bilal Powell, obviously.
- Jay Cutler is still in the concussion protocol… The Dolphins haven't ruled Cutler out, and coach Adam Gase said he would be comfortable with Cutler playing without practicing, so this one could go until Sunday. Not that you want to play Cutler or Matt Moore if you can help it.
- Devonta Freeman got in a limited practice… This is a good sign after Freeman was held out most of the last two weeks. He still must be cleared through the concussion protocol, but this is a good first step.
- Rishard Matthews (hamstring) was added to the injury report… Matthews was limited, so this doesn't look like a huge concern yet, but mid-week additions to the injury report are never a good sign. Keep an eye on his status Friday, because Matthews could have big things in store for Week 12 against the Colts.
- Ty Montgomery (ribs) continues to miss practice… He hasn't been ruled out, but at this point, you have to expect Montgomery to sit out again.
- Jake Elliot (concussion) practiced in full… Elliott still needs to clear the protocol, but it looks like he's going to play in Week 12.
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