Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Thanksgiving edition


Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Thanksgiving edition

Food, family and (fantasy) football. That's what we think of when we picture Thanksgiving. 

But since we aren't cooks and likely aren't your family (although we'd like to consider our readers our family), let's just talk about what we are thankful for with fantasy football:

1. The Waiver Wire

2. Stud receivers

3. Quarterbacks outperforming where we drafted them back in August/September (Take some extra turkey this year, Carson. You deserve it). 

4. Tyler Eifert's health.

5. And, of course, Cam.

We could go on and on about what we are thankful for but we'll keep it at that list for now. 

We will have more starts and sits for this Sunday's slate of games on Friday but here are a few bits of advice for Thursday's games.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


James Jones, WR, GB (vs. CHI) - Welcome back, James! After going utterly silent for about a month following a red-hot start Jones was back in the mix Sunday in a win over the Vikings, picking up six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. The Packers offense may have turned a corner (Eddie Lacy, still alive after much doubt) in that win over the Vikings, and a home primetime game against the Bears secondary should yield more results. Jones scored twice last time the Bears and Packers played, and I'm betting on him finding the end zone again Thursday night. (Mark Strotman)

Zach Miller, TE, CHI (at GB) - Miller is kind of like that dish at Thanksgiving that nobody really knows about but when you taste it you're like "OH MY GOD I NEED MORE." Miller has a great opportunity on Thursday to break out again on a national stage (anyone remember his sick one-handed grab against the Chargers?). The Packers just aren't that great at covering tight ends (check out last week's gashing by Kyle Rudolph) and with Martellus Bennett out, Miller will be in more of a full-time role. Factor in Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte not being 100 percent and Miller may have a large role in the offense come Thanksgiving night. He's worth the start on a short week. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. PHI) - Tate has been a complete and utter disappointment this season, failing to top 80 yards in any game with only one score. However, he turned in his second-best fantasy day of the season in PPR leagues last week (8 rec, 73 yds) and if ever there was a time for him to break out, it would be against the horrendous Eagles defense. The Lions offense and Matt Stafford are starting to show signs of life and the Eagles have given up seven tuddies and 578 yards to opposing WRs over the last three games. Sure, it's a gamble to play Tate, but it's the holidays. Take a chance. (Tony Andracki)


Dez Bryant, WR, DAL (vs. CAR) - There's just something about Carolina. Josh Norman is making himself quite the salary next year with the way that he's been playing this year. He's been taking on some of the best receivers in the NFL and has really slowed them down. Dez could (and likely will) be the next. Bryant hasn't been spectacular in his last two games (90 yards and a touchdown combined) and this game has a low-scoring feel to it. I'd keep away from Bryant this week on short rest. (Paschall)

Devin Funchess, WR, CAR (at DAL) -  It's good to be on Cam Newton's side these days. The Panthers are rolling and showing no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, Devin Funchess is heating up, scoring in two of his last three games. It's what we expected all along after Kelvin Benjamin's torn ACL. And while it's easy to chalk him up as a rookie who's finally having the game slow down for him, this may not be an ideal match up for him. The Cowboys have been sneaky good against the pass this year, and a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will only keep Cam and Co. on the sidelines longer. I expect this to be a grind-it-out game, which would make Funchess a TD-dependent play. Avoid him tomorrow. You'll have use for him down the stretch. (Strotman)

Tony Romo, QB, DAL (vs. CAR) - Look we all know the Cowboys are going to need to rely heavily on Romo if they're going to truly stay in the postseason race. But don't expect a big fantasy day from the embattled QB against a fantastic Carolina defense. The Panthers are the third-best fantasy defense at limiting opposing QBs and they're even better on the road - allowing just four passing TDs total and 224 passing yards per game. Romo can never be counted out for a big fantasy day, but if you have other options at QB, that's probably the way you'd want to roll. (Andracki)

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

(For a bonus film review, check out the video above of Akiem Hicks' forced fumble on the one-yard line)

When Eddie Jackson didn’t stay on top shoulder of Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ season opener, there was a clear coaching point from that 75-yard backbreaking touchdown. The Bears’ defensive mantra the week after was to focus on “plastering” receivers, which this defense did a good job of over the next three weeks. 

There surely are coaching points leveled by Vic Fangio and his assistants after the Bears were carved up by Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s 31-28 loss in Miami. But maybe the over-arching though here is this: The Bears didn’t, during the off week, go from being one of the league’s more sure-handed tackling teams to one of the worst. 

A defense that swarmed to the ball over the first four weeks looked a step slow and frequently out of position on Sunday. The more likely explanation for that development isn’t the plot to Space Jam 3, where a group of cartoon aliens steal the athletic power of an entire defense to use for their own. More likely, it was the heat in south Florida that sapped this team’s energy over the course of a long afternoon.

In this week’s film breakdown, we’re going to look at Albert Wilson’s 75-yard touchdown, which was wildly uncharacteristic of this defense. 

Image 1: the Bears are in nickel man coverage with Wilson (red circle) lined up in the slot across from Bryce Callahan. Danny Amendola goes in motion to the boundary (green arrow), with Danny Trevathan (green arrow) following him, though safety Adrian Amos will be the guy covering the Dolphins receiver. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard are the two down linemen in the interior, with Leonard Floyd rushing from the left and Khalil Mack from the right. 

Image 2: Mack is chipped by tight end Nick O’Leary (yellow circle), with Roquan Smith (yellow arrow) responsible or covering him. Trevathan (green circle) is in space with Amos (blue circle) picking up Amendola. With Mack chipped, the Bears have three pass rushers to go against five offensive linemen. 

Image 3: There’s about 10 yards of space between Mack and Osweiler (yellow arrow) after Mack comes free of O’Leary’s chip. Trevathan (green circle) is in a good position here, with Amos (blue arrow) closing on Amendola. Wilson works into space ahead of Callahan (red arrow), while both Dolphins outside pass-catchers run go routes to clear cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Kevin Toliver II out of the play. 

Image 4: First, the white circle — Hicks had his helmet ripped off, with right tackle Jesse Davis the apparent culprit. He still manages a good pass rush against a double team that could’ve hit home, or forced Osweiler to Mack (who’s about five yards from Osweiler when the ball is released) or Floyd, had the play extended longer. Meanwhile, when the ball is released, Callahan (red arrow) and Trevathan (green arrow) are in good position to bring down Wilson, while Amos (blue arrow) is there for help if Wilson were to turn upfield to the far sideline. 

Image 5: Wilson catches the ball and goes to the far sideline, away from Callahan (red arrow) and toward Trevathan (green arrow). After O’Leary and Smith engaged, the rookie linebacker is the farthest back from the play of these three when the ball is caught. 

Image 6: Trevathan (green arrow) seems to over-commit, giving Wilson a lane toward the boundary to cut upfield. 

Image 7: Amos (blue arrow) still has a chance to bring down Wilson short of the sticks.

Image 8: Amos misses the tackle, and Trevathan is blocked by O’Leary. That leaves Jackson (yellow arrow) as the last guy who can stop Wilson from breaking this play open. 

Image 9: In missing the tackle, Amos tripped Wilson a bit, which Jackson admitted threw him off (“but that’s not an excuse for it,” he added). Wilson re-gains his balance, cuts inside, and Jackson whiffs on the tackle. 

“Probably just try to shoot my shot on the tackle instead of just guessing, just probably should have shot my shot,” Jackson said of what he felt he should’ve done differently. 

Wilson goes to the house, and the Dolphins tie the game one play after the Bears took the lead. The last image here is Wilson’s route chart from NFL Next Gen Stats, which shows just how much running he did after the catch on that play — yardage-wise, it was 71 yards, but by distance it was much further. 

“We talked about how many tackles we missed,” Jackson said. “Some of that could have really changed the momentum of the game if we would have made some of those tackles. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in big play touchdowns.”

No members of the Bears defense were willing to use the heat as an excuse, instead opting for thumb-pointing instead of blaming teammates, coaches or the sun. But there’s a good chance we look back at Week 6 in Week 10 or 11 and can say with some confidence that the Bears beat themselves more than the Dolphins did, and it’s something that hasn’t happened since. 

“We know we made mistakes, that don’t kill our confidence,” Jackson said. “That don’t kill our swagger. We know what we gotta do, we know what we gotta correct. So we come in here, we’re going to play Chicago Bears football that we’re used to playing.”

Bill Belichick sees "overlap" between the Bears and the Chiefs, and who are we to disagree with him

Bill Belichick sees "overlap" between the Bears and the Chiefs, and who are we to disagree with him

If Bill Belichick talks football, it's probably worth listening to. 

Talkin to reporters ahead of this weekend's Bears-Patriots matchup, Belichick mentioned how similar he views the Bears and the Chiefs: 

“Well, I mean they have a lot of good players,” Belichick said. “They have good skill players, good receivers, big offensive line, good tight end, athletic quarterback, good backs. I mean there’s some movement and some motion and shifting. I wouldn’t say it’s an extraordinary amount. They get the ball to a lot of different people and they’re all pretty effective when they get it. That’ll be a big challenge. They throw the ball down the field and have a lot of catch-and-run plays and have a good running game.”

Statistically speaking, Kansas City ranks 2nd in offensive DVOA while the Bears are down at 17th. But otherwise they're identical! We're with you, Bill.