I’m usually here on Saturday mornings to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners, but the three-game Thanksgiving slate seemed pressing enough to drop by for a Part One a few days early. The rest of Week 12 will be discussed in a separate piece this weekend. As always, the sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. You can also catch last-minute thoughts leading up to lineup lock at @notJDaigle.
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Bears @ Lions
*Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) is doubtful and reportedly “more likely” to sit, all but locking Chase Daniel into a primetime spot-start. He’s a tantalizing DFS option and season-long bye-week filler given his overlooked price, but reminder his only good performance in the preseason occurred against the Chiefs’ historically bad pass D. An awful quarterback can still support any receiving option if he’s right in front of him, though, making Tarik Cohen and his 3.5 aDOT seem like the safest play in Chicago’s passing game.
*Darius Slay’s (knee, questionable) and Bruce Ellington’s (back, questionable) availabilities need be monitored in the morning. The latter ran the third-most routes (23) in his first active game for the Lions Sunday, which would propel T.J. Jones into a full-time role if he’s out. Expect Ellington to be the highest-owned WR in DFS Thursday if active. The stars still align for Kenny Golladay to continue his torrential on-field usage no matter Ellington’s status since Marvin Jones (knee) remains out. Golladay not only accrued the fifth-most air yards (182) in the league last week sans Jones, he also recorded a season-high 14 targets. Sharp coaching would play Zach Zenner heavily in place of Kerryon Johnson (knee, out), but Matt Patricia isn’t quite that. Never forget that LeGarrette Blount averaged 9.5 carries until the rookie was finally reluctantly involved full-time in Week 8.
Redskins @ Cowboys
*Trent Williams (thumb, questionable) is closer to doubtful, but his status will ultimately come down to how much he can do with a cast on. His presence would certainly help Adrian Peterson, who should stay on the the field in a competitive game script without Chris Thompson (ribs, out). It’s still an extremely tough matchup on paper against a Dallas defensive unit that ranks No. 7 in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA metric and has allowed just 3.7 YPC on the year. Jamison Crowder (ankle, questionable) didn’t practice, so feel comfortable setting lineups as if he’s out. That means slot wideout Trey Quinn should again work as the team’s primary No. 2 receiver and run a significant number of routes against Anthony Brown in the middle of the field.
*LT Tyron Smith (neck) is listed as questionable but practiced in full on Wednesday and will play. On defense, Dallas is guaranteed to be without DL David Irving (ankle) and Sean Lee (hamstring). The Cowboys secondary is still allowing 7.2 YPA without Lee in the lineup this season, but it hasn’t mattered since their offense essentially strips the opposition of excessive opportunities with their ninth-highest run play rate (44%) and sluggish pace. Even so, note Skins backup Colt McCoy is all too familiar with Washington’s offensive scheme and has completed 69.3% of his passes for an average 7.9 YPA in the preseason since 2014. With Tavon Austin (groin) already ruled out, the Cowboys’ three-wide set will undoubtedly stay Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Cole Beasley, with Allen Hurns mixing in every so often. You would think Blake Jarwin or Rico Gathers would be an option since Geoff Swaim (wrist, out) was playing 89% of offensive snaps, but that play is still so thin since Dalton Schultz would likely be involved in some kind of three-headed chihuahua (they’re not a monster, even when combined). The position will reportedly be a non-linear “tight end by committee” rather than simply one snaphog.
Falcons @ Saints
*Calvin Ridley was limited to start the week, but was promptly removed from the team’s final injury report. He’ll have the best matchup among all of Atlanta’s receivers in the slot against P.J. Williams, who’s allowed 27-of-37 targets to be hauled in for 309 yards and two scores. The big news of the day is still stud MLB Deion Jones’ (foot) surprising absence, basically smash-buttoning Alvin Kamara as the week’s top running back if this game stays close.
*Rookie Tre’Quan Smith (foot) was upgraded to limited participation on Wednesday, suddenly throwing a wrench into lineups that initially thought he was as good as out. It’s still worth nothing the team not only activated WR Tommylee Lewis, but are also expected to have Brandon Marshall involved this week. If Smith is out, it’s still likely Keith Kirkwood and Austin Carr who would split reps in his stead. Kirkwood’s run two fewer routes than Carr (22 to 20) since being active the past two games, but has averaged a whopping 3.90 yards per route run in that stint. He’s the tourney DFS tourney dart to consider if given additional opportunity.