Hopefully your Thanksgiving was filled with friends, family, food, and a heaping pile of fantasy points as we had an exciting three game slate to digest along with our favorite holiday dishes. Let’s dig right into the fantasy action from Thursday, so clean up that gravy and wipe the cranberry sauce off your face as we highlight all three Thursday games and other news from around the NFL.
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Detroit 34, Chicago 17
The great Megatron was at his best once again on Thanksgiving, dropping an 11 catch, 146 yard, two score performance on the Chicago Bears as the Lions won 34-17. Matthew Stafford targeted Calvin Johnson a season-high 16 times and the Detroit stud finally delivered for fantasy owners after two-straight down weeks. Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and a rematch with Chicago is how the fantasy playoff slate stacks up for Johnson and the Lions, so let’s hope the fantasy fireworks continue.
Alshon Jeffery led Chicago in the fantasy scoring department, as he hauled in nine passes for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This effort gives Alshon four touchdowns in his last three games and was his third game in this month with a dozen or more targets. With Brandon Marshall still suffering from various ailments, Jeffery is the most reliable fantasy receiving option in Chicago.
Bears at Lions Quick Slants
Golden Tate continued his strong season with eight grabs on 10 targets for 89 yards and has become the perfect complement to Calvin Johnson. Owners are raking in profit on Tate’s mid-round draft slot from last summer. … Martellus Bennett had a nice outing with eight catches on 11 Jay Cutler passes for 109 yards and remains one of the few trustworthy tight end options after the “Big Three.” … Joique Bell capitalized once again on the absence of Reggie Bush, running for 91 yards and two scores on 23 carries and adding 16 receiving yards. While Bush is out, Bell remains a solid RB2.
Philadelphia 33, Dallas 10
The Philadelphia Eagles provided all the fantasy excitement in this NFC East battle, with LeSean McCoy leading the way to a 33-10 stomping of the Dallas Cowboys. McCoy was outstanding on the ground for the second consecutive game, as he totaled 159 yards on 25 carries. This gives McCoy 289 yards over the last four days and he appears to be hitting his peak as the fantasy playoffs storm into town. The playoff schedule for McCoy isn’t too cushy, but a rematch with Dallas is looming in Week 15.
Mark Sanchez turned in yet another serviceable fantasy outing, throwing for 217 yards and one touchdown and also adding 28 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Most importantly, Sanchez protected the ball in this game, but the real test will come next week as Philadelphia hosts the suddenly hot Seattle Seahawks. Quarterback streamers who have been capitalizing on the recent solid play of Sanchez may want to find another option for Week 14.
Eagles at Cowboys Quick Slants
Jeremy Maclin stacked up eight catches on 10 targets for 108 yards as his fine season continues. Maclin has now cracked the 1,000 yard mark for the year and has averaged nine targets per game in four Mark Sanchez starts. … DeMarco Murray turned in his lowest rushing total of the 2014 season, but fantasy owners are lucky Murray raised the bar to ridiculous heights over the season’s first 12 weeks. Murray still tallied 72 yards on 20 carries and did manage to find the endzone, and sits at a healthy 1,427 rushing yards on the year. … Dez Bryant wasn’t involved as much as expected given the game script of this contest, only receiving seven targets from Tony Romo. Dallas insisted on continuing to pound the ball with Murray, which left Dez with just four catches for 73 yards. This ended Bryant’s streak of four consecutive games with a score.
Seattle 19, San Francisco 3
As expected, not many fantasy flames emerged from this NFC West dogfight with Robert Turbin scoring the lone touchdown in this contest. Russell Wilson was his normal, efficient self on Thursday as he threw for 236 yards and a score while adding 35 rushing yards. The running game contributions of Wilson have become his fantasy calling card in recent weeks, although his 35 yards was his lowest output since Week 9. Week 14 should be another solid fantasy week for Wilson as Seattle travels to Philadelphia, but the remainder of the fantasy playoffs won’t be as kind with matchups with San Francisco and Arizona upcoming. Wilson will need to keep chipping in with his rushing skills to keep fantasy teams advancing to title town.
Marshawn Lynch was huge for Seattle as they melted the clock against San Francisco, running for 104 yards on 20 carries and his third 100+ yard game over the last four weeks. As the fantasy playoffs approach, Beast Mode’s workload has been ramping up with Lynch averaging 20.2 carries per game over the last five games, compared to 15.9 per game over Seattle’s first seven games. Two more slugfests with NFC West foes await Lynch over the next three weeks, so hopefully he and the Seattle offensive line can keep rolling with fantasy championships hanging in the balance.
Seahawks at 49ers Quick Slants
Colin Kaepernick was terrible on Thursday, throwing for just 121 yards with no scores and two interceptions. Kaepernick has completed only 54.6 percent of his passes over his last four games and hasn’t thrown more than a single touchdown pass in a game since Week 6. … Carlos Hyde was the leading receiver for San Francisco in this contest, catching three passes for 38 yards and highlighting the passing ineptitude of the 49ers. … After a 10 carry, 28 yard night, Frank Gore is now averaging 3.9 yards per carry on the season. Gore has never averaged under 4.1 yards per tote for a season in his impressive 10-year career.
In Other News…
Houston coach Bill O’Brien now expects running back Arian Foster (groin) to play on Sunday against Tennessee, putting Foster back in the RB1 mix. Foster owners should keep Alfred Blue nearby in case of a late scratch situation, but if Foster is active he needs to be started in this buttery matchup. … The recently signed Michael Bush is not expected to get any carries for Arizona this week, leaving Stepfan Taylor as Andre Ellington’s backup. Once Bush gains a better feel for Arizona’s system, he will likely see goal line work as the fantasy season wraps up. … The Washington Post stated that sources indicate it is “highly unlikely” Robert Griffin III returns to Washington next season, in the least shocking news of the day. Coach Jay Gruden is obviously looking to move in a new direction, so it will be interesting to see where Griffin ends up in 2015. With his redraft value buried, dynasty owners would be wise to hold until Griffin’s landing spot is announced rather than sell for pennies on the dollar.
Julius Thomas (ankle) returned to practice in limited fashion on Thursday, and has a chance to return to game action on Sunday. Friday’s practice will give fantasy owners a better idea of whether to start Orange Julius this week or not. … Rookie tight end Jace Amaro (concussion) will not play on Monday night against Miami, and will hope to return in Week 14 against Minnesota. … Roddy White (ankle) sat out Thursday’s practice, but Friday will be telling as to the extent of White’s injury. Stay tuned for more information. … Rookie Davante Adams (undisclosed) missed practice on Thursday for unknown reasons and could be a dicey bet to play on Sunday. Adams has recently fallen off the fantasy radar in Green Bay but could have been useful in a potential shootout with New England. … Jordan Reed (hamstring) got in a limited practice on Thursday and should be ready to roll on Sunday. Niles Paul flopped in Reed’s absence in Week 12, but Reed could be a streaming option for teams in need. … Latavius Murray (concussion) practiced again on Thursday and can be started in all leagues this week as he should continue to be Oakland’s lead back. … Larry Fitzgerald (knee) missed practice again on Thursday and looks likely to miss a second-consecutive week.