Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Thanksgiving: Calls on Jamaal Williams, Kirk Cousins, More
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images. Pictured: Jamaal Williams.
Some lineup decisions, like starting Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, Rhamondre Stevenson, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, et al. are easy. Before the turkey coma sets in, make sure to get those lineups set.
Below are some fringe players at each position who you may be on the fence about starting on Thanksgiving.
Week 12 Start ‘Em
Quarterback to Start
Daniel Jones, Giants (at Cowboys)
Jones is coming off his second-best game of the season against the Lions’ hapless defense. He completed 27-of-44 attempts for 341 yards, one touchdowns, two interceptions and rushed seven times for 50 yards and a touchdown. He finished as the QB3 and is the QB10 on a per-game basis this year.
Although Jones will face a much more legitimate adversary this week, I am still starting him because of his rushing upside. For what it’s worth, the Cowboys are more pedestrian against the run, which should give Jones a higher floor.
He was passable in Week 3 when these two teams first met and completed 20-of-37 for 196 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception and rushed nine times for 79 yards — good enough for 15 fantasy points. He is a high-end QB2 with QB1 potential.
Wide Receivers to Start
Darius Slayton, Giants
Slayton had another solid fantasy game in Week 11. He hauled in 5-of-10 targets for 86 yards and finished as the WR22 in half-PPR scoring.
This was Slayton’s fourth game (of seven) this season in which he finished as a WR2 or better. He will have significantly more opportunities now that rookie Wan’Dale Robinson is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Even in this tougher matchup against the Cowboys, who rank No. 2 in pass DVOA, I am starting Slayton based on opportunity as a WR3/flex option in Week 12.
Jakobi Meyers, Patriots (at Vikings)
Meyers has been a bit quiet of late following a six-game hot streak to start the season. He was the WR14 on a per-game basis in half-PPR scoring through the first eight weeks.
Last week, he caught 4-of-6 targets for 52 yards and finished as the WR45 in what was a horrendous offensive showing by both the Jets and the Patriots.
I like Meyers’ chances to bounce back this week against the Vikings, whose defense ranks 19th in pass DVOA and has allowed the sixth most fantasy points to wide receivers. Start Meyers as a WR3/flex.
Running Backs to Start
Jamaal Williams, Lions (vs. Bills)
Williams shined once again in Week 11 against the Giants. He rushed 17 times for 64 yards and three touchdowns and finished as the RB4 in half-PPR scoring.
Williams is everything we hoped D’Andre Swift — who has been dealing with injuries all season — would be. He is the RB10 on a per-game basis and has just three games with single-digit fantasy points.
The Bills are tough against the run and rank fourth in rush DVOA, though the unit has been more pedestrian in fantasy points allowed to RBs. Williams is the alpha in Detroit’s backfield until further notice and should still see significant carries. He is a RB2 with upside in Week 12.
Devin Singletary, Bills
Singletary has turned in back-to-back solid fantasy games. In Week 10, he rushed 13 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns and finished as the RB12 in half PPR. In Week 11, he rushed 18 times for 86 yards and a touchdown and finished as the RB10.
He has been up-and-down at times this year, but I suspect this will be a good matchup for him against the Lions, who rank 27th in rush DVOA and have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs this year.
This should be a fairly positive game script for the Bills as well, who enter this game as 10-point road favorites. Singletary should be a considered a RB2 in Week 12.
Tight Ends to Start
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys
Schultz has been a disappointment this season due to lack of production and injuries. He was drafted as a top-six tight end according to ADP, but has missed two contests and has one or fewer fantasy points in three more games. He struggled in Minnesota and caught 3-of-5 targets for 22 yards, finishing as the TE21 in half-PPR scoring.
In spite of those struggles, Schultz should be a solid TE1 against the Giants, whose defense ranks 24th in pass DVOA and has been average against tight ends for fantasy.
Dawson Knox, Bills
Knox had his second-best fantasy game of the season in Week 11 against the Browns. He logged season highs in targets (seven), receptions (seven) and yards (70) and finished as the TE6 in half PPR.
After a slow start, this was Knox’s fourth game in the last five with at least eight fantasy points and finishing as a top-13 tight end. He should be a low-end TE1 against Detroit’s 23rd-ranked pass defense, according to DVOA, which has allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Week 12 Sit ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Sit
Jared Goff, Lions
Goff has had moments of fantasy relevance this year — just not of late. He completed 17-of-26 attempts for 165 yard, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions and finished as the QB26 in Week 11.
I have major reservations starting him against the Bills, whose defense ranks seventh in pass DVOA and has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Goff is a QB2 with downside in this brutal matchup.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings
Cousins had — by far — his worst game of the season against Dallas in Week 11. He completed just 12-of-23 attempts for 105 yards and zero touchdowns and finished as the QB29 with four teams on bye.
This is Cousins’ third difficult matchup in a row after facing the Bills and Cowboys in back-to-back weeks. The Patriots rank No. 1 in pass DVOA (one spot ahead of the Cowboys), which could boot Cousins out of top-12 consideration for Week 12.
Wide Receiver to Sit
Adam Thielen, Vikings
Thielen has been pedestrian over the last few weeks. He saw a season-low three targets in Week 11 against the Cowboys and caught two passes for 25 yards, finishing as the WR66 in half-PPR scoring.
I am benching Thielen for the same reason I am sitting Cousins: the matchup. The Patriots are incredibly stingy against the pass and have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.
Running Backs to Sit
Damien Harris, Patriots
Harris had his best game since suffering an injury in Week 5 against the Lions. He rushed eight times for 65 yards and caught two passes for 28 yards, finishing as the RB22 in half-PPR scoring.
He is clearly the No. 2 to Rhamondre Stevenson, who has been nothing short of phenomenal. Stevenson out-snapped Harris 49 to 15 in the team’s Week 11 win over the Jets.
Harris is a desperation RB3 at best this week against the Vikings, whose defense is actually above average according to rush DVOA. I would still start Stevenson without hesitation, but Harris’ workload is the major wild card.
D’Andre Swift, Lions
Swift salvaged an otherwise pedestrian fantasy day in Week 11 by falling into the end zone. Otherwise, he had five carries for 20 yards and caught three passes for 12 yards and finished as the RB20 in half-PPR scoring — his best finish since Week 2.
Since returning from injury, Swift has just 42 rushing yards, but has been kept afloat with three touchdowns in four games. It appears he’s lost his starting job to Jamaal Williams, who has out-snapped Swift 95 to 50 over the last three weeks. Justin Jackson was also in the mix — he outsnapped Swift 25 to 21 — and saw nine carries for a team-high 66 yards.
Swift’s role in this offense is very much up in the air. Toss in the matchup against the Bills, who rank third overall in defensive DVOA and it’s a recipe for disappointment. Swift is a risky RB3 in Week 12.
Tight Ends to Sit
Hunter Henry, Patriots
Henry was a complete dud in Week 11 against the Jets. He caught one pass (one target) for 20 yards and finished as the TE30 in half PPR. Jonnu Smith, meanwhile, caught all four of his targets for 40 yards.
This remains a TE-by-committee situation as long as both are healthy. Even in this soft matchup against the Vikings, Henry is a risky TE2.