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Matchups

Silva's Thanksgiving Matchups

by Evan Silva
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Thanksgiving Football

12:30PM ET Game

Philadelphia @ Detroit

This year's Thanksgiving opener has a 45.5-point Vegas total with a Pick 'Em line. Host Detroit's team total is just below 23 points. ... The Eagles played underrated pass defense in the first half of the season. Over its last three games, however, DC Billy Davis' unit has been carved up for 65-of-103 passing (63.1%), 762 yards (7.40 YPA), and a 10:1 TD-to-INT ratio by Matt Cassel, Ryan Tannehill, and Jameis Winston. Hemorrhaging missed tackles in last week's loss to Tampa Bay, Philadelphia was so non-competitive in the 45-17 blowout loss that anonymous Eagles players ripped their teammates' effort to the media after the game. Matthew Stafford now gets them on a short week in a home game at domed Ford Field. Quietly the No. 7 overall fantasy quarterback in per-game scoring over the last six weeks, Stafford should be fired up confidently as a QB1. ... Philly's run defense has collapsed to an even greater extent, ceding 632 yards on 115 carries (5.50 YPC) to enemy backs over its last four games. Doug Martin and Charles Sims combined for a whopping 278 rushing yards against the Eagles last week. After pacing Detroit's backfield in touches (13) in last Sunday's win over the Raiders, Ameer Abdullah is worth a look as a lower-end flex play on Thanksgiving. Joique Bell (7 touches) was limited to closer-back duties versus Oakland, salting the game away in the fourth quarter. Theo Riddick (11 touches) still led the backfield in playing time (51%) and is always in play as a low-ceiling PPR option.

Stafford's target distribution since Detroit's Week 9 bye: Calvin Johnson 18; Golden Tate 15; Eric Ebron 10; Riddick 9; Lance Moore 8; Brandon Pettigrew 5; Bell 4; Abdullah 3. ... The Bucs didn't need to throw much to beat the Eagles last week -- Tampa Bay amassed 42 rushing attempts compared to 29 passes -- but Mike Evans (4-63-1) and Vincent Jackson (4-56-1) both paid off as fantasy starts against struggling perimeter corners Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll. Winston completed every pass he threw into Maxwell's coverage, while Carroll was beaten for three touchdown passes. This is a good-looking matchup for Megatron. ... With Stafford's trust in Ebron seemingly-and-understandably waning, Tate stepped up for an 11-target Week 11 against the Raiders. Tate will run most of his Week 12 routes at Eagles slot CB E.J. Biggers, who had a difficult time with Bucs UDFA sub-package receiver Adam Humphries (4-50) last week. With Detroit's passing offense showing signs of improvement, Tate is back to warranting every-week WR3 treatment in PPR. ... No. 3 wideout Moore has caught four touchdowns this season, but he's hit 30 yards in 2-of-10 games and isn't a legitimate fantasy option. ... Ebron leads all NFL tight ends in dropped passes (6) despite ranking 23rd at the position in targets (43). After Ebron dropped an early-game touchdown in last week's win over the Raiders, there were noticeable instances where Ebron was open but ignored by Stafford. Ebron is a tough sell as a TE1 against an Eagles defense yielding the second fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends.

 

Wednesday Update: The Lions surprisingly listed Megatron (ankle) as questionable on Wednesday's injury report. He practiced on a limited basis this week. Tate went HAM when Johnson missed games and was used as a decoy in others last season, and would experience a significant boost in target projection were Megatron announced as inactive. Moore would likely join Tate in two-wideout sets.

Like the Lions, the Eagles' team total is just below 23 points at Ford Field. ... With Sam Bradford (shoulder) still ailing, Mark Sanchez is expected to get another start after last week's turnover-filled loss. Although Sanchez's real-life performance was dreadful, he finished as the fantasy QB13 for Week 11 as the up-tempo Eagles ripped off 74 plays. The Lions' defense has played much better since its Week 9 bye, but still ranks 22nd in pass-defense DVOA and Sanchez gets the benefit of playing indoors. He's in play as a QB1 streamer. ... Detroit's run defense has turned a small-sample corner since the open date, limiting Packers and Raiders RBs to 84 yards on 34 carries (2.47 YPC) over the last two weeks. While the improvement suggests DeMarco Murray's matchup is short of ideal, Murray's workload keeps him in the RB1 hunt. Even in a Week 11 game where the Eagles lost time of possession 36 to 24 against the Bucs, Murray showed a safe floor of 17 touches and 91 yards. Ryan Mathews (concussion) will miss another game. ... With Mathews out against the Bucs, the Eagles promoted Kenjon Barner (7 touches) into a rotational change-up role along with Darren Sproles (9 touches). Barner is more of a breather/garbage-time back. Desperate PPR owners can give Sproles a Week 12 look.

Sanchez's target distribution the last two weeks: Sproles 12; Brent Celek 11; Murray 10; Zach Ertz 7; Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor 6; Miles Austin 4; Riley Cooper 3; Josh Huff 2. ... In play as a TE1 streamer, Celek has turned in consecutive receiving lines of 4-134 and 7-79 and will be the Eagles' primary tight end in Detroit with Ertz (concussion) expected to be inactive. The Lions are giving up the ninth most fantasy points to tight ends. ... Slot receiver Matthews played 100% of Philadelphia's Week 11 snaps, but you wouldn't have known it from watching the game. Matthews was silent until pass-heavy garbage time, finishing below 25 yards for the second straight week. Recent performance and inconsistent usage are the strikes against Matthews. The one positive is matchup, as J-Matt will run his routes at Lions sixth-round rookie slot CB Quandre Diggs. ... Agholor, Cooper, Huff, and Austin continued to form a four-way rotation at outside receiver against the Buccaneers. Agholor played the most (75%), but finished below five targets for the sixth time in seven games. Cooper, Huff, and Austin are lightly used role players. The Eagles' perimeter wideouts will have to contend with emerging Lions shutdown CB Darius Slay, whose stingy coverage played a major part in holding Amari Cooper to four yards on four targets last week. Slay caused James Jones to goose egg the week before.

Score Prediction: Lions 24, Eagles 20

4:30PM ET Game

Carolina @ Dallas

Game two on the Thanksgiving slate has a 46-point total with Carolina favored by one. The Cowboys' team total is 22.5 points. ... Darren McFadden gutted out a groin pull to parlay 32 touches into 149 yards in last week's win over Miami. Now playing on a short week, McFadden will do battle with a Carolina team that's played shutdown run defense over the last month, holding enemy backs to a combined 200 yards and one TD on 70 carries (2.86 YPC). Having logged 20-plus touches in five straight weeks, McFadden's extreme-volume usage raises his fantasy floor and locks him in as an every-week RB1 in season-long leagues, even in difficult matchups like this one. ... Through ten games, Carolina has permitted just one top-12 fantasy quarterback week (Aaron Rodgers) and ranks No. 2 in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA with a league-low 70.6 passer rating allowed. The Panthers lead the NFL in interceptions (15) and rank third in sacks (31). In his Week 11 return from a fractured collarbone, Tony Romo shook off early-game rust at Miami to complete 13 of his final 16 throws for 172 yards (10.75 YPA) with two touchdowns and an interception. Although Thursday's matchup will pose a major challenge, Romo is a respectable QB1 play whenever he is active. Dating back to 2014, Romo has thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven straight games he's played start to finish.

Romo's Week 11 targets: Dez Bryant 9; Terrance Williams 4; McFadden, Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, and Cole Beasley 3; Robert Turbin 2. ... Especially with RCB Charles Tillman (knee) likely to be either inactive or limited, expect Panthers top CB Josh Norman to shadow Dez whenever he aligns outside. Norman has been the best cornerback in football this season and is a serious candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Norman does not travel into the slot, however, and Bryant is running over 20% of his routes inside. He caught a touchdown pass on a slot route in last week's win over the Dolphins. Although Bryant's box-score ceiling may be limited by the tough draw, he's at worst a WR2 play in season-long leagues. ... Witten disappointed in Romo's return game (2-27), but he could be the primary beneficiary if Norman holds Bryant in check against a Panthers defense that allowed eight catches to Redskins tight ends last week. With five or more receptions in all but three games this season, Witten is best viewed as a high-floor, low-ceiling TE1 play. ... Straight-linish body catcher Williams is never a high-volume target, but his Week 12 matchup is attractive on paper, particularly if Norman sticks to Dez. If Tillman is again inactive, usual Panthers slot corner Bene Benwikere will be forced onto the perimeter. Stretched thin outside, Benwikere ran 4.63 coming out of San Jose State and could be attacked on designed shot plays by Dallas' passing game. As usual, Williams is a boom-bust WR3 play.

Favored by one at JerryWorld, the still-undefeated Panthers' team total is 23.5 points. ... The top concern for Carolina skill players in this matchup is the Cowboys' insistence on playing keepaway. Dallas was unable to consistently execute its approach with Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel under center, but successfully resumed playing ball-control football with Romo back in Week 11, dominating time of possession (39:21) and piling up 68 snaps to the Dolphins' 41. As a result, no Miami running back exceeded seven touches, and no Fins pass catcher caught more than four balls. Cam Newton has also been a better fantasy quarterback at home than away this year, posting an average weekly finish of QB5 across six home games versus a QB13 average in four road affairs. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth fewest passing touchdowns in football (11). Even after his monstrous, five-touchdown Week 11, Newton's fantasy ceiling is very likely lowered for Week 12. ... Dallas' keepaway methods are also a concern for Jonathan Stewart, but on paper his matchup is appealing. Over their last eight games, the Cowboys have coughed up 880 yards and seven touchdowns on 188 carries (4.68 YPC) to opposing running backs. Dallas is 25th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. Stewart doesn't score a lot of touchdowns or catch many passes, but his workloads are bankable with 21 or more touches in all six games since Carolina's Week 5 bye. Stewart is a mid-range RB2 play on Thursday.

Newton's target distribution since the Panthers' Week 5 bye: Greg Olsen 49; Ted Ginn 42; Devin Funchess and Jerricho Cotchery 23; Corey Brown 18; Ed Dickson 10; Stewart 7; Mike Tolbert 5. ... The Cowboys have posed a tough challenge for tight ends, yielding the ninth fewest fantasy points to the position. Individually, they did give up 7-75-0 to Jimmy Graham in Week 8, but also contained Rob Gronkowski (4-67-0) in Week 5. Olsen is always a top-three option in season-long leagues, of course, and his floor is generally safe with a 9.2-target average across his last nine games. Olsen's matchup is also improved by RCB Morris Claiborne's (hamstring) absence, which forces sometimes-tight end stopper Byron Jones to play boundary corner full time. ... Boosted from 30% to an 81% player with Brown (shoulder) out of the lineup in last week's win over the Redskins, Funchess now has 11 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns on his last 16 targets. He tied Ginn with a team-high eight targets against Washington. If Brown is declared inactive before this game, Funchess will enter the fantasy WR3 conversation and run most of his routes at the aforementioned Jones. ... Always a hit-or-miss fantasy investment, Ginn's usage has at least stabilized somewhat with seven or more targets in four of Carolina's last five games. On Thanksgiving, look for Ginn to run his routes at inconsistent Cowboys RCB Brandon Carr.

Score Prediction: Cowboys 23, Panthers 20

8:30PM ET Game

Chicago @ Green Bay

The Thanksgiving nightcap has a 46-point total with Green Bay favored by nine. The Packers' team total is juicy at 27.5 points. ... Although Aaron Rodgers' efficiency has dipped during Green Bay's offensive slump, he still has an 8:1 TD-to-INT ratio and 305-yard average over his last three games, finishing as the weekly QB2, QB7, and QB11 in fantasy. Chicago ranks 24th in pass-defense DVOA and 22nd in sacks (20), while yielding a combined 19:5 TD-to-INT ratio to enemy quarterbacks. Further improving Rodgers' matchup will be the absence of Bears field-general FS Antrel Rolle (ankle, knee). In Rolle's three missed games this season, Chicago has been pasted by Brock Osweiler, Matthew Stafford, and Alex Smith for a combined 63-of-99 passing (63.6%), 791 yards (7.99 YPA), seven touchdowns, and one interception. ... Eddie Lacy's Week 11 reemergence gave Green Bay's offense a huge lift, particularly in the second half of its crucial win over Minnesota. Although James Starks got the start, Fat Eddie out-touched him 23 to 9 and logged a 53% snap rate to Starks' 44%. At the most injury-riddled position in fantasy, Lacy has arguably regained high-end RB2 value taking on a Bears run defense that ranks 31st in DVOA and is generously allowing 4.49 yards per carry to running backs. Chicago was gashed for 161 yards on 33 carries (4.88 YPC) by Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson last week. For what it's worth, Lacy has scored a touchdown in each of his five career meetings with the Bears. ... Always more effective off the bench, look for Starks to become the "two" portion of the Packers' "one-two punch" moving forward. Starks is a low-floor flex option Thursday night.

Rodgers' target distribution since the Packers' Week 7 bye: Randall Cobb 40; Davante Adams 38; Richard Rodgers 23; James Jones 21; Starks 18; Justin Perillo 7; Lacy 5. ... Cobb's effectiveness has been poor for nearly two months, but his target totals have been consistent (9, 12, 10, 9) since the open date, and he has the best Week 12 matchup in Green Bay's pass catcher corps. Running 90% of his routes in the slot, Cobb will do battle with Bears slot corner Bryce Callahan, an undrafted rookie out of Rice. ... Adams has the toughest draw among Green Bay wideouts, squaring off with steady LCB Tracy Porter. PFF has charted Porter with just seven catches for 82 scoreless yards allowed on 17 targets over the last month. The Packers' high team total and strong probability of Thursday night passing success do keep Adams squarely in play as a WR3 in season-long leagues. ... Ostensibly energized by a hoodie beneath his pads, Jones (6-109-1) busted a month-long slump in last week's win over Minnesota. Funneling him 11 targets, Rodgers showed trust in Jones on improvised passes thrown late in the down. It's conceivable Rodgers was so proactive about pushing the ball to Jones because he's lost some confidence in struggling Adams. On Thanksgiving night, Jones has an above-average matchup against shaky Bears RCB Kyle Fuller, whose confidence seems to come and go. ... TE Rodgers has settled in as a five-target-per-game, touchdown-dependent streamer. He'll help you if he scores, and hurt you if he doesn't. The Bears have allowed two touchdowns to tight ends through ten games.

As nine-point underdogs at Lambeau Field, the Bears' team total is a lowly 18.5 points. ... Jay Cutler has faced the Packers 12 times since Dom Capers took over as Green Bay's defensive coordinator, completing 204-of-368 throws (55.4%) for 2,497 yards (6.79 YPA) with a 14:23 TD-to-INT ratio. Cutler was again stymied when the Packers and Bears met in Week 1, finishing as the overall fantasy QB19 that week. Cutler has arguably played the best football of his career under first-year Bears OC Adam Gase, but he's a better Week 12 target for Green Bay's D/ST than as a QB1 streamer. ... The Packers' up-and-down run defense has come around lately, holding Vikings, Lions, and Panthers backs to a combined 164 yards and one touchdown on 60 carries (2.73 YPC) in Weeks 9-11. Jonathan Stewart (20-66-0) and Adrian Peterson (13-45-1) were both shut down during that stretch. Matt Forte is expected to return from his three-week MCL injury on Thanksgiving night, but he may lose significant work to impressive all-purpose rookie Jeremy Langford in a challenging matchup. Until Forte reestablishes himself as the Bears' full-time feature back, he should be approached as a mediocre RB2 in season-long leagues.

We are unlikely to get definitive word on the availabilities of Chicago's slew of banged-up pass catchers until roughly an hour and a half before kickoff. Martellus Bennett (ribs) did not miss a snap in last Sunday's loss to Denver, but he did miss practice on Monday before returning to a "limited" session Tuesday. Alshon Jeffery (shoulder, groin) turned in a limited work week, while Eddie Royal (knee) was held out and seems highly unlikely to play. Particularly if Jeffery and/or Bennett are announced as inactive, No. 2 tight end Zach Miller would be set up for a big workload. Miller has logged snap rates of 79% and 84% over the past two weeks, drawing target totals of 5 and 6. A quarterback at Nebraska-Omaha, Miller ran 4.53 coming out of college and has always possessed pass-catching upside. The Packers' defense is getting destroyed by tight ends, giving up 9-133-1 to Vikings TEs in Week 11, 5-30-1 to Lions TEs in Week 10, 5-72-1 to Panthers TEs in Week 9, 6-105 to Broncos TEs in Week 8, and 12-130-1 to Chargers TEs in Week 6.

 

Wednesday Update: The Bears ruled out Bennett (ribs) on Wednesday. Zach Miller is in a prime spot for TE1 streamers, and is an attractive DFS play on the Thanksgiving-only slate. Jeffery (groin, shoulder) practiced on a limited basis this week, is listed as questionable, and is tentatively expected to be active. Jeffery posted a 5-78 receiving line on 11 targets when the Bears and Packers played in Week 1.

Score Prediction: Packers 30, Bears 17

Evan Silva
Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .