Thanksgiving. The beautiful marriage of food, football, and family time. Yes, even seeing that awkward uncle is nice (we all have one) when you have the other elements as a buffer. By 5 pm. Thursday, I plan to be on my fourth plate of food with my second dad nap of the day to follow.
This season has been a blessing. Writing this weekly article is something I cherish. Without your support, I have no clue what I would be doing these days as the daily 9-5. I hope everyone has a wonderful day to recoup, rest, and really enjoy the time with those they love.
Onto Week 12 and the Thanksgiving Primer.
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Thanksgiving Day Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice: Week 12
Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions
- BUF -9.5, O/U 54.5
- Bills vs. Lions Player Prop Bets via BettingPros
Pace and playcalling notes
- Buffalo continues to move quickly (11th in neutral pace) while relying on Josh Allen‘s arm (fifth in neutral passing rate).
- Detroit is middle of the pack regarding pace (17th) while they have leaned on their ground game more (24th in neutral passing rate).
Josh Allen: Over the last two weeks, Allen has still been good but not at his usual fantasy god status. Since Week 10, Allen has ranked tenth in PFF passing grade, 16th in yards per attempt, 16th in adjusted completion rate, and seventh in big-time throw rate (minimum 20 dropbacks). Even a less than 100% Allen is still a must-start weekly stud especially facing the hapless Detroit secondary. Since Week 5, the Lions are giving up the sixth-highest success rate per dropback and tenth-highest EPA per dropback. Allen should have no issues churning out big plays downfield when he fires it deep. Allen is third in deep ball attempts and sixth in deep completion rate. The Lions are seventh in deep completion rate and second in deep passing yards allowed.
Jared Goff: Goff hasn’t sniffed a QB1 performance since Week 4. Over his last six games, he has only one game inside the top 16 for fantasy quarterbacks (QB14, Week 8 vs. MIA). Since Week 5, he’s been woefully mediocre and risk-averse, ranking 35th in PFF passing grade, 26th in big-time throw rate, and 37th in aDOT (minimum 20 dropbacks). The Bills have relented some in pass defense, permitting the 11th-highest success rate per dropback and EPA per dropback since Week 5. This is better news for Goff’s pass catchers and the offense overall than a trend that could push Goff into the fringe QB1 conversation. Goff is a weekly QB2.
Devin Singletary: The team traded for Nyheim Hines and he hasn’t remotely been a threat to Singletary’s workload. Since Week 9 he’s played at least 72% of the snaps in every game averaging 15.3 touches and 64 total yards. Singletary has finished as the RB24, RB12, and RB10 in those weeks. Singletary is a volume play on one of the league’s best offenses. Singularly he has been woefully inefficient all season ranking 41st in yards after contact per attempt, 31st in breakaway rate, and 38th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 rushing attempts). The Lions have improved their run defense since Week 9. Over their last three games they are 20th in run defense DVOA holding running backs to 3.3 yards per carry. Singletary is an RB2.
James Cook: Last week Cook saw his second-highest snap count (16) of the season with 13 opportunities (11 carries) and 86 rushing yards. Cook has quietly been one of the most explosive rushers in the NFL when he’s been called upon. Among all rushers with at least 25 carries, he’s sixth in yards after contact per attempt and first in PFF’s elusive rating. Cook is a desperate deep league flex who could break a big run and payoff or easily finish with fewer than five fantasy points.
Nyheim Hines: Hines can be dropped in all formats. Last week he saw a season-high in snaps with the Bills with just ten. Hines hasn’t recorded more than two opportunities in any game since arriving in Buffalo.
Jamaal Williams: Since Swift returned to the huddle, Williams has remained the Lions’ primary back. He’s averaged 17.6 touches and 70.1 total yards. His value is entirely based on touchdowns and early down work. He hasn’t drawn a target since Week 8. Williams has been a touchdown monster who leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns and carries inside the five-yard line. He’s scored in six of ten games with five multiple-touchdown outings. Williams has been this season’s James Conner as a touchdown-vulturing fantasy superstar. He’s 48th in yards after contact per attempt, 46th in breakaway run rate, and 60th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 carries). The Bills remain an above-average matchup for running backs despite shutting down Nick Chubb last week. Since Week 5, Buffalo has allowed the tenth-highest rushing success rate and 13th-highest yards per carry while holding backs to the fifth-lowest EPA per rush.
D’Andre Swift: Over the last two games, Swift has settled into a complementary role averaging 20 snaps, 7.5 touches, and 22 total yards. He’s saved his fantasy days in both weeks, with touchdowns pumping him up to RB30 and RB19 for those weeks. The reality is Swift’s fantasy usage is a dangerous tightrope to walk despite his five red zone opportunities over the last two games. Since Week 8, among 54 running backs with at least 15 rushing attempts, Swift ranks dead last in yards after contact per attempt and 48th in PFF’s elusive rating with only two missed tackles forced. Swift is a dice roll RB3/flex.
Stefon Diggs: After seeing a season-low five targets last week, Diggs could get he squeaky wheel treatment this week. Diggs is the WR1 in fantasy with a 29.4% target share (sixth-best) and 35.6% air yard share (14th). He’s top-three in receptions, receiving yards, and total touchdowns. Diggs remains behind only Tyreek Hill in PFF receiving grade and yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). When Allen winds up downfield, Diggs will be part of the plan as he’s eighth among wideouts in deep targets. Diggs is a WR1 that will run about 63% of his routes against Jerry Jacobs (41.7% catch rate, 64.6 passer rating) and Amani Oruwariye (75% catch rate, 137.1 passer rating).
Gabriel Davis: Davis is the WR25 in fantasy points per game with top 36 finishes (WR1, WR18, WR9, WR31) in four of his last six games. Davis has a 17.2% target share and 29.5% air yard share while ranking tenth in deep targets. In the last two games, he has seen three of his five red zone targets this season. Since Week 5, Davis ranks 37th in PFF receiving grade and 16th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Davis is a WR2 that will run about 89% of his routes on the perimeter against Jacobs and Oruwariye.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: The Sun God has been burning up the usage reports. He’s tenth in target share (28.5%) and first in target per route run rate (35.1%). After seeing his red zone usage dry up, he’s seen red zone targets in back-to-back games and ranks 26th among wide receivers. St. Brown is ninth in PFF receiving grade and sixth in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Since Week 8, he’s played 53% of his snaps on the outside as the Lions’ depth chart has been banged up. Over that span, he’s still drawn 45.9% of his targets from the slot. When on the perimeter, he’ll match up with Dane Jackson (since Week 7: 65.2% catch rate, 103.7 passer rating) and Christian Benford (since Week 7: 57.9% catch rate, 76.0 passer rating). It would be wise to move him inside more this week against Taron Johnson (since Week 7: 82.6% catch rate, 145.6 passer rating), who has been struggling mightily. St. Brown is a weekly WR1.
Kalif Raymond: Raymond is a WR4/5 with three games as a WR4 or better. Raymond has a 12.1% target share and 15.9% of the team’s air yards. He’s garnered ten deep targets (28th). He’ll run about 56% of his routes against Jackson and Benford.
Dawson Knox: Knox is fully healthy, and it’s showing. He has played at least 81.9% of the snaps in every game since Week 6, with at least six targets in three of his last six games. Since Week 6, Knox is 21st in PFF receiving grade and 20th in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). He has red zone targets in three of his last five games. Knox is back as a strong TE1. The Lions are 22nd in DVOA against tight ends allowing the most receiving touchdowns (tied), fifth-highest catch rate, and sixth-highest yards per reception.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
- DAL -9, O/U 45.5
- Giants vs. Cowboys Player Prop Bets via BettingPros
Pace and playcalling notes
- Dallas is up to sixth in neutral pace (full season) while they have dropped to 18th in neutral passing rate since Week 9.
- The Giants will go as far as Saquon Barkley‘s thighs can take them. They are third in neutral rushing rate (19th in neutral pace).
- New York is fourth in red zone rushing rate.
Daniel Jones: Jones is coming off his third top-ten QB performance of the season as the QB4 last week. Danny Dimes is a weekly game manager with the rushing upside to pop off for some big games. Jones is 24th in PFF passing grade, 22nd in yards per attempt, sixth in adjusted completion rate, and 42nd in aDOT (minimum 20 dropbacks). Dallas is no pushover on defense, holding passers to the tenth-lowest success rate per dropback and third-lowest EPA per dropback since Week 5. This season, they have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. A big reason has been the Cowboys’ ability to generate pressure, as they are seventh in blitz rate and first in pressure rate. Jones is 24th in PFF pressured passing grade and 17th in pressured yards per attempt (minimum 20 pressured dropbacks). Jones is a QB2.
Dak Prescott: Prescott has been playing at a high level since returning from injury. Since Week 7, he’s been the QB10 in total points, ranking fifth in PFF passing grade, seventh in adjusted completion rate, and eighth in yards per attempt (minimum 50 dropbacks). The Giants’ pass defense started the season on a roll, but they have faltered over their last two games. Since Week 9, they are 14th in success rate per dropback and 13th in EPA per dropback and now face 4-6 weeks without Adoree Jackson in the lineup (MCL sprain). Prescott is a top-end QB1 with top-five upside in any week.
|Weeks||Yards after Contact per attempt (rank)*||Breakaway Rate (rank)*||PFF elusive rating (rank)*|
|1-5||3.81 (11th)||50.7% (7th)||73.0 (24th)|
|6-11||2.09 (59th)||23.1% (30th)||22.7 (57th)|
*minimum 15 carries*
Saquon Barkley: Barkley had a dud game last week, but he’s still averaging 24.4 touches and 116.3 total yards as the RB6 in fantasy. Since Week 6, Barkley has slowed down as his efficiency metrics have taken massive dips. The hulking volume he’s been shouldering could be catching up with him. Barkley still has massive touchdown equity and a high-volume floor that keep him in the RB1 conversation. He’s first in opportunity share, second in weighted opportunities and ninth in red zone touches. Dallas has allowed the ninth-most rushing yards to running backs and ranks tenth in yards per carry and 14th in EPA per rush.
|Player||Snap %||Rushing attempts||Targets||Routes||Red zone opportunities|
Ezekiel Elliott: Last week, Elliott played 29% of the snaps with 16 touches and 47 total yards as the Cowboys’ early down volume slug. Elliott is an aging running back living off touchdowns with five scores and ten red zone opportunities in his last three games. The wheels have rusted as he’s 45th in juke rate, 37th in evaded tackles, and 54th in yards created per touch. Eliott is a touchdown-or-bust RB2/3. The Giants are 28th in adjusted line yards and 31st in open field yards allowed. They have given up the tenth-most fantasy points per game to running backs.
Tony Pollard: Last week, Pollard exploded with 54% of the snaps, 21 touches, and 189 total yards (two scores). Pollard is a high-end RB2 in a smash matchup. There’s an easy case to be made that Pollard is the most efficient running back in the NFL. He is first in yards after contact per attempt, fifth in breakaway rate, and 18th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 carries). Don’t his receiving prowess get lost in the shuffle, as he’s also eighth in PFF receiving grade and seventh in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). If Pollard is fed 15-17 touches consistently, he’ll be a top 15 running back weekly.
Darius Slayton: Since Week 5, Slayton is 14th in PFF receiving grade and 11th in yards per route run as the WR34 in fantasy points per game. Overall he has a 15.8% target share and a 24.8% air yard share. The biggest knock for Slayton outside of the Giants’ run-heavy offense is he only has five deep targets, and three red zone looks this season. The lack of high-value usage and capped volume in many weeks keeps him in the WR3 realm. Last week Slayton handled a season-high ten targets as the Giants were in catchup mode. That could easily be the case again against a high-powered Dallas offense this week. Slayton will run about 66% of his routes against Trevon Diggs (60.8% catch rate, 77.9 passer rating) and Anthony Brown (56.7% catch rate, 96.0 passer rating). Slayton could be shadowed by Diggs, who followed Allen Lazard and A.J. Brown on 62-67% of their routes, limiting them to four targets, two receptions, and 20 receiving yards.
CeeDee Lamb: Lamb might be coming off a quiet game, but he’s still a super stud. Lamb is the WR10 in fantasy with a 30.6% target share (fifth-best) and 33.1% target per route rate (third-best). Lamb is 12th in PFF receiving grade and 11th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). He’s tenth in deep targets. Lamb is a WR1 that will run about 55% of his routes against Darnay Holmes (62.2% catch rate, 80.5 passer rating).
Michael Gallup: Gallup has been invisible this season. He’s still waiting for his first game above 50 receiving yards. He hasn’t finished as a WR3 or better since Week 4, which was his only time this year accomplishing that feat. Gallup has a 16.7% target share with 23.2% of the team’s air yards. Gallup will run about 95% of his routes against Fabian Moreau (53.5% catch rate, 88.2 passer rating) and Nick McCloud (62.5% catch rate, 80.7 passer rating) as a WR5/6.
Dalton Schultz: Last week’s trouncing of the Vikings was Schultz’s first game outside the top-12 tight ends since Prescott’s return. Over the previous three weeks, he was the TE12, TE5, and TE3 in fantasy. Since Week 7, Schultz has been fifth in targets, fifth in receiving yards, and 18th in routes among tight ends (minimum 15 targets). Over his last four games, he’s eighth in PFF receiving grade and four in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). Schultz is a top-five tight end this week against a Giants secondary that’s 30th in DVOA against tight ends. New York has allowed the position’s sixth-highest catch rate, fifth-most receiving yards per game and seventh-highest yards per reception.
New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings
- MIN -2.5, O/U 42.5
- Patriots vs. Vikings Player Prop Bets via BettingPros
Pace and playcalling notes
- The Vikings continue to rock the highest red zone passing rate in the NFL.
- Kevin O’Connell loves to operate speedily (fourth in neutral pace) and put the game in Kirk Cousins‘ hands (sixth in neutral passing rate).
- New England has made Rhamondre Stevenson the focal points of their offense. The Patriots are 29th in neutral pace and seventh in neutral rushing rate.
Mac Jones: Jones is an interesting QB2 this week. Jones had easily his best game of the season last week against a talented New York Jets secondary. His 65.7 PFF passing grade isn’t electric, but it’s his best of the 2022 season. Jones also logged an 85.2% adjusted completion rate and 9.1 yards per attempt, while his aDOT was still insanely low (4.6). The Vikings’ pass defense has been abysmal. Since Week 5, they have surrendered the eighth-highest success rate per dropback. Over their last three games, they are seventh in yards per attempt and passing yards per game. Jones peppering the short and intermediate is exactly how you attack this team. They are 30th in DVOA against short passing, giving up the 11th-most YAC.
Kirk Cousins: Cousins is coming off a dreadful game against the Cowboys, and his prospects don’t look any better in Week 12. Cousins’ struggles against pressure are well known. He’s 20th in PFF pressured passing grade, 26th in pressure-adjusted completion rate, and 25th in pressured passer rating (minimum 30 pressured dropbacks). New England’s secondary is stout and suffocating, ranking first in pass defense DVOA with the lowest EPA and success rate per dropback since Week 5. Their pass rush is second in pressure rate. Cousins is a scary QB2.
|Player||Snap %||Rushing attempts||Targets||Routes||Red zone opportunities|
Rhamondre Stevenson: This is Stevenson’s backfield. Over the last two games with Harris back, Stevenson has averaged 75% of the snaps with 19.5 touches and 76 total yards. Stevenson is the RB9 in fantasy this season and has been an RB1 in each of his last five games. Stevenson is a tackle-breaking Hulk ranking fourth in juke rate, third in evaded tackles, and 12th in breakaway runs. Stevenson will have trouble getting going on the ground against a Vikings run defense that’s allowed the sixth-lowest rushing success rate and third-lowest EPA per rush since Week 5. Overall, Minnesota has allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards to running backs, but they can be beaten through the air. The Vikings are 20th in DVOA against receiving backs giving up the sixth-most receiving yards per game and seventh-highest yards per reception. Stevenson is a weekly RB1.
Damien Harris: Harris is an RB3/4. Over the last two games, he’s averaged 32.5% of the snaps with 11.5 touches and 73.5 total yards per game. The big problem for Harris is he has nearly zero pass-game involvement (two targets per game) and has had zero red zone touches since Week 8. This week’s matchup is abysmal for a back whose value is tied to early down work. Harris has remained efficient with his touches ranking third in juke rate and 26th in yards created per touch.
Dalvin Cook: Cook has averaged 17.8 touches and 94.5 total yards as the RB13 in fantasy. Cook could be leaned on heavily this week with Cousins under pressure. Cook has only three games this season with at least 20 carries, but he could easily sniff his fourth in this matchup. Cook’s efficiency numbers have been climbing as the season has moved along. He’s sixth in yards after contact per attempt, seventh in missed tackles forced, 21st in breakaway rate, and 16th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 25 carries). Cook’s biggest obstacle is a Patriots’ run defense that’s found its legs. Since Week 6, they are seventh in rushing yards per game, first in EPA per rush and seventh in explosive run rate allowed. They have allowed only two touchdowns to running backs all year. Cook is a bet on talent and volume in this matchup. He remains an RB1.
Alexander Mattison: Before last week’s blowout, Mattison had crested 20% of snaps played only once in his last four games averaging 3.3 touches and 15.8 total yards. Mattison is just a premier handcuff.
Jakobi Meyers: Meyers is the WR19 in fantasy points per game, remaining a quiet stud this season. Meyers has a 24.5% target share (7.1 targets per game) with a 26.6% target per route run rate (20th). All five of his red zone targets have come in the last three games. Meyers is 23rd in PFF receiving grade and 19th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Meyers is a WR2 that will run about 70% of his routes against Chandon Sullivan (83.3% catch rate, 115.8 passer rating).
Justin Jefferson: Jefferson is a weekly must-start. It doesn’t matter the matchup. He’s the WR5 in fantasy with a 29.3% target share (eighth) and 38.6% air yard share (eighth). Jefferson is fifth in PFF’s receiving grade and fourth in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). He is also 18th in deep target and first in red zone looks. Since Hockenson’s arrival, Jefferson has seen his aDOT rise from 8.9 to 15.2, and his deep target rate climb from 13.2% to 23.3%. Jefferson will run about 74% of his routes against Jonathan Jones (41.4% catch rate, 44.0 passer rating) and Jalen Mills (57.5% catch rate, 77.7 passer rating). Since Week 8, the Patriots have deployed their corners in zone coverage on 55.9-61% of their snaps. Jefferson is second in PFF receiving grade and yards per route run against zone coverage (minimum ten zone targets).
Adam Thielen: Thielen is a WR3/4 that needs a touchdown to pay off. Thielen is the third fiddle in this passing attack behind Jefferson and Hockenson. He has an 18.7% target share (44th) and a 24.1% air yard share. While he’s ninth in red zone targets, he’s only ranked 76th in yards per route run. Thielen has seen 49% of his target volume against zone, ranking 42nd in PFF receiving grade and 51st in yards per route run (minimum ten zone targets). He’ll run about 66% of his routes against Jones and Mills.
Jonnu Smith: Smith is my random matchup-based tight end streamer of the week. Since Week 8, Smith has played at least 54% of snaps in every game running a route on 51% of passing attempts. He is second on the team with a 12.5% target share, leads the team in yards per route run (1.69), and is second with a 26% target per route run rate. Minnesota has allowed the eighth-highest catch rate, 13th-highest yards per reception, and 11th-most receiving touchdowns (tied) to tight ends.
T.J. Hockenson: Since joining the Vikings, Hockenson has had a 23.9% target share, 20% end zone target share, and a 26% target per route run rate (79% route run rate). Hockenson has finished as the TE5, TE7, and TE11 with at least nine targets in each game. Since Week 9, he’s 17th in PFF receiving grade and yards per route run (minimum eight targets) with six red zone looks. New England is tied for the most receiving touchdowns allowed to tight ends while ranking 17th in yards per reception. Hockenson is a mid-range TE1.
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*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, SharpFootball Stats, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and Playerprofiler.com unless otherwise specified.*