Thanksgiving fantasy football

Thanksgiving games week 12 fantasy turducken MVPs

Thanksgiving is now here. It’s time for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie and most importantly, football.

That’s right, it’s time for the tradition of the Thanksgiving games.The first two are hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions will host their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings, and the Cowboys will play the Los Angeles Chargers. Then the late game is an NFC East battle where the New York Giants head to play the Washington Redskins.

One part about the Thanksgiving games that I miss is John Madden and the turducken award. So for this article, it’s time to bring the turducken award back and predict who will have big fantasy days in each game.

Vikings-Lions MVP: Adam Thielen

The Vikings have been red hot, winning their last six games. That is partially due to their players stepping up with injuries, like Case Keenum playing well and the run game executing without rookie Dalvin Cook. One guy that has been having a surprise season and dominating the last two weeks is receiver Adam Thielen, who is my pick to be the first fantasy turducken winner against the Lions.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Adam Thielen (Photo from vikings.com)

Over the last two games, Thielen has caught 14 passes for 289 yards. He has caught a touchdown in the last three. The last time the Vikings played the Lions, they lost 14-7, and Stefon Diggs was the better receiver. This time it’s a different Vikings team, and I also expect Thielen to outperform Diggs with the possibility of having Darius Slay on him for the entire game.

Thielen is second in the NFL, only behind Antonio Brown, in receiving yards. He is also tied for fifth in receptions. Thielen is currently on a three-game streak of scoring over 20 points. He’s also only one of five wide receivers with at least four fantasy games in the 20s or higher.

The Lions have allowed the ninth most passing yards to the slot since Week 4. Expect the Vikings to throw some deep shots to Thielen as he’s tied with Brandin Cooks for the most deep (15-plus yards) receptions.

At this point, Thielen is a must-start receiver every week as he has become a favorable target for Keenum.

Chargers-Cowboys MVP: Alfred Morris

The Cowboys have struggled the past two games without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith. They played the desperate Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, possibly the best team in the NFC. This week is the time for them to turn it around against an inconsistent Chargers team. For this game, this is when the run game will pay off, and Alfred Morris will have a monster game.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Alfred Morris (Photo from cbssports.com)

Last week, Morris ran for 91 yards on 17 carries. In fact, Morris had more rushing yards than Dak Prescott had passing yards before the fourth quarter. His performance was especially impressive since the Eagles entered the game having allowed just 3.6 yards per attempt.

Morris has gotten better as he has seen more carries and is only getting better. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the two games since Elliott got suspended. With Darren McFadden a healthy scratch and Rod Smith not performing, Morris should only get more carries until Elliott comes back.

Dallas is at home against a Chargers team that is allowing a league-high 138.9 rushing yards per game and the second-most yards per carry (4.93). Playing against the 30th ranked team against running backs means Morris will be getting the ball a ton early in the game.

Giants-Redskins MVP: Vernon Davis

Even with injuries to Chris Thompson and Terrelle Pryor, the Redskins should still be efficient on offense. The turducken award in this game goes to tight end Vernon Davis.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Vernon Davis (Photo from sports.yahoo.com)

When it comes to the tight end against the Giants defense, it’s the worst in fantasy. They have given up a touchdown every game but last week. However, they still gave up 120 yards to the position.

During Jordan Reed’s three-week absence, Davis has averaged 8.7 targets, 5.3 catches and 71.7 receiving yards. Last week he had six targets and 67 receiving yards. Dating back to Week 6, Davis leads the Redskins in receiving yards (367), is tied for second in receptions (25) and is second in targets (38). With Reed missing practice, it’s likely Davis will get the start again against the Giants.

The Giants have yielded a league-high 19.6 PPR points per game to this position. With this matchup, he has to be a must-start, even at the flex position.

 

Featured image from sbnation.com.

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Week 10 DFS don'ts

Week 10 DFS don’ts: Wide receiver

Earlier this week, I hinted at a philosophy change in how I’m approaching lineups this year. It started with the kicker and defense positions, and now it has shifted to the wide receiver position.

This week, my lineup construction is focusing on mid-priced wide receivers. Let’s dive into which players we need to fade in order to cash this week in the wide receiver edition of Week 10 DFS don’ts.

T.Y. Hilton: FanDuel Price $7,500

It pains me to do this because T.Y. won me a lot of money last weekend, but he’s almost unplayable in my eyes. That may be a strong assertion, but let’s really examine his performance last weekend. Hilton was targeted eight times. That’s good. He converted nine of those targets into five catches. That’s a 63 percent catch rate, which is not so good.

He started off hot with a 45 yard touchdown catch. Big plays are something he’s known for, so that’s not unusual. So on his other four catches, he averaged 32.5 yards per catch. This includes a play in which he was not touched down by a defender so he was able to recover and run into the end zone. 32.5 yards per catch is absolutely unsustainable, especially, when examining his matchup this week.

Hilton will face the Steelers at home this Sunday. This defensive unit is second only to Jacksonville in terms of pass defense. This is a combination of their pass rush and improved play in the secondary. There is no way the Colts will be able to fend off this Steelers pass rush long enough for Hilton to get open down the field.

He of course has the ability to make a big play, but it hasn’t come against a single top 15 pass defense. Hilton in my mind is the easiest fade of the week at the wide receiver position.

Stefon Diggs: FanDuel Price $7,000

Week 10 DFS don'ts

Can Stefon Diggs overcome a season of inconsistencies and injuries and produce on Sunday against Josh Norman and the Redskins? (Photo from ESPN.com)

This season has been a series of highs and lows for Stefon Diggs and this entire Vikings team. Diggs started off great in their win against the Saints and followed that up with a single-digit performance against Pittsburgh in Case Keenum’s first start.

Since Week 2, Diggs has one game above 30 points, one game above 10 points, and two games below five points. Sprinkle in a few missed games with an injury, and this paints a picture of an incredibly inconsistent season.

Diggs and the Vikings will travel to Washington to play a depleted Redskins team. He will likely see Josh Norman for the majority of the afternoon.

This season, Norman has not shadowed an opposing wide receiver. However, he will see a lot of Diggs at the left corner position. Norman is surrendering a catch on 47 percent of the times he is targeted. This should be a great matchup for the viewers, but one we should consider fading.

The last reason you should consider fading Diggs is the fact that Adam Thielen is being targeted more by Keenum. Given Digg’s health issues, the last two games the two receivers have played together were against Chicago in Week 5 and Cleveland in Week 8. In those two games, Thielen was targeted a total of eight more times than Diggs.

Since they are both the same price, the choice between them depends on your contests. If you’re playing a cash game, Thielen is your player. If you’re a tournament player, use Diggs for his upside.

DeSean Jackson: FanDuel Price $6,300

At this point, we know exactly who DeSean Jackson is. In seasonal fantasy, you play him every week as a fringe wide receiver or flex and deal with the down games, because when Jackson hits it’s great.

However, DFS is a different story. I only consider Jackson when I know exactly which corner he will face, and if that corner has a tendency to give up big plays. That’s why he was a great option against the Cardinals in Week 6 because he was matching up with Justin Bethel.

Sadly, his matchup and quarterback make Jackson a shoe-in for the Week 10 DFS don’ts list. Jackson will likely be facing Morris Claiborne. Since leaving Dallas, Claiborne is playing incredibly well, and the Jets are deploying him in shadow coverage. Here is a record of Claiborne’s performance so far when shadowing a wide receiver according to Pro Football Focus.

week 10 DFS don'ts

There are some impressive names on this list that he’s covered. Claiborne is allowing a 56 percent catch rate. But, he’s only being targeted on 15 percent of routes ran against him. Jackson could overcome this tough matchup and score a long touchdown, but I like plenty of more reliable players in his price range.

 

Featured Image from Sports Bank

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Dalvin Cook injury fantasy football

Fantasy football injury: Dalvin Cook

The Minnesota Vikings can’t seem to get the monkey off their backs. Last year, running back Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus in week 2. This Sunday in week 4 against the Detroit Lions, the Vikings fear that rookie running back Dalvin Cook has damage to his ACL.

In the third quarter, he tried making a cut, but his left knee gave out. He was helped off the field where he was able to walk on his own. However, an update reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero saw Cook leaving the locker room in crutches and with his knee in a brace. This most likely means that his season looks to be over.

This is a big blow to the Vikings’ offense. He was a huge factor who benefited from an upstart passing game. In fantasy, it’s a bigger blow trying to replace Cook, a RB2 or flex on most teams.

First Look: Replace Him with Latavius Murray

After Cook’s injury, running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon led the rushing tandom. Let me say this first: don’t expect them to be phenomenal starters for your fantasy team.

Dalvin Cook injury fantasy football

Latavius Murray (Photo by: fanragsports.com_

But in hindsight, Murray has more fantasy appeal then McKinnon. Murray will be the guy that will get more looks to run the ball. Last year, he was a touchdown-heavy back behind a terrific offensive line with the Oakland Raiders. Murray had seven carries for 21 yards on Sunday after the injury.

Murray can’t play every down like Cook, but expect him to get most of the early-down and goal-line work. He is capable of handling this type of workload as he scored 12 touchdowns last year with Oakland. He can excel behind this offensive line as they have been surprisingly good.

McKinnon can be looked at, but mostly for PPR leagues if you’re desperate. He will be in the mix as the feature back, but not as much as Murray.

McKinnon hasn’t had the opportunity to run the ball much. Even though he had a career-high 159 carries last year, he only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. McKinnon will handle most of the pass work, whether as the running back or in the wildcat.

I expect Murray to be the most sought player added to fantasy teams, not just to those who have Cook, but to those who need any running back help because of his role down at the goal-line.

Other options

For those who like to play the best matchups, give Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers a look. He plays the Dallas Cowboys next week, who were torched by Todd Gurley this past Sunday. Even though Dallas is in the middle of the pack in rushing defense, they aren’t the best defense. If Ty Montgomery (ribs) isn’t badly injured, Jones could get the majority of snaps, even if the original back Jamaal Williams (knee) plays.

Jones had a solid outing against the Bears, running for 49 yards and a score on 13 carries. Both him and Williams could be decent pickups this week if Montgomery misses a couple of weeks.

Another guy to look at if you need a flex filler is wide receiver Will Fuller V of the Houston Texans. He will be a popular pickup after his performance coming back from a broken collarbone. He found the end zone twice in week 4 against the Tennessee Titans on four catches for 35 yards. He’s off to a good start, matching his touchdowns from last season. With the Texans’ offense looking confident, he could be a guy you give a crack on.

Fantasy Outlook on Vikings players

As I mentioned, this has a big affect on all Viking players. Cook created a solid game, which helped create the passing game. Now with him and Bradford both hurt, the Viking offense won’t be the same. After his injury, it all went downhill for the Vikings on Sunday.

Dalvin Cook injury fantasy football

Case Keenum and Sam Bradofrd (Photo by: sportingnews.com)

As for Murray, who I expect to start, he is a RB3 in week 5 against the Chicago Bears. If Bradford plays, receivers Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph are must starts.

For future reference, if you have Viking players on your fantasy team, have quality backups. They have bad luck when it comes to non-contact knee injuries. First Teddy Bridgewater in 2016, then Bradford and now Cook.

 

Featured image from tomahawknation.com.

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

This class of wide receivers is deeper than it has been in years for fantasy football. You can win your league with two stud running backs in the first round and take one of these wide receivers as your number one, so pay attention to this list if you’re going to take two running backs.

 

40. Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers): In 2015, when Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury, the demand for Randall Cobb was high. He was the No. 1 wide receiver on a high-powered Packers offense, but he didn’t live up to expectations.

He followed up his disappointing 2015 season with an even more disappointing 2016 season. Cobb had 610 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and less catches per game last season than any season since 2014.

Mike McCarthy wants Cobb to get more involved in the Packers’ offense, but with a healthy Jordy Nelson, an emerging Davante Adams and a recently acquired Martellus Bennett, targets are going to be hard to come by. Don’t draft Cobb too early, but if the price is right take him.

39. Jeremy Maclin (Baltimore Ravens): The Chiefs made the surprising move to cut Maclin this offseason. He ended up signing with the Ravens on a two-year deal. Jeremy Maclin had a disappointing season with the Chiefs but is in line for a lot of targets this season with Baltimore.

After losing their core of receivers and recently losing tight end Dennis Pitta, Jeremy Maclin is the new No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. He’s playing with a reliable (and elite, debate that in the comments if you must) quarterback in Joe Flacco, but there are some things that make Maclin unreliable.

He ranked in the bottom half of production and efficiency last season and has dealt with his fair share of injuries. He ranked 62nd in receptions and 69th in receiving yards. I have high hopes for Maclin given his current situation in Baltimore, as he has a chance to regain his No. 1 wide receiver status.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

http://prod.static.ravens.clubs.nfl.com

38.  Pierre Garçon (San Francisco 49ers): Pierre Garçon had a bounceback season with the Washington Redskins last year. Quietly, he was one of the most productive receivers in the league last season. He ranked 16th in the league in receiving yards with 1,041 and 17th in receptions with 79. He’s now joining a revamped 49ers team led by quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Not only was Garçon one of the most productive receivers, he ranked in the top half in efficiency. Pierre Garçon was the 13th-ranked receiver in terms of yards per target and that number can increase during Garçon’s tenure in San Francisco.

All in all, I didn’t agree with his choice to leave Washington, but I do think Garçon will surprise people and keep up his production next season.

37. Devante Parker (Miami Dolphins): The long awaited breakout of Devante Parker came last season, kinda. Parker had a nice year, with 744 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He has drawn criticism from head coach Adam Gase and hasn’t fully emerged as the big receiver everyone thought he would be.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Parker should be catching more touchdowns than he did. He had only seven end zone targets which ended up as four touchdowns, which is weak for his size and role in the offense.

With Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry on the Dolphins’ roster, there’s limited space for targets for Parker. He needs to emerge as a big end zone threat to make some noise in fantasy this season.

36. Eric Decker (Tennessee Titans): I don’t think Decker would make this list if he was still on the Jets. Riddled by injuries last season, Eric Decker never got the chance to do anything noteworthy for the Jets. But in 2015, we saw the Eric Decker that we expected. He was one of the most productive receivers in the league ranking in the top half in categories such as receptions, receiving yards, total touchdowns and fantasy points per game.

Now he heads to Tennessee to play alongside Demarco Murray and Marcus Mariota. The up-and-coming Titans offense has their new No. 1 receiver and Decker has the opportunity to regain his status from 2016.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

https://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com

35. Willie Snead (New Orleans Saints): Willie Snead has found success early in his career in the NFL. Snead has eclipsed 850 yards and 65 receptions in both of his seasons in the NFL so far. Playing with elite quarterback Drew Brees, Snead was the number 2/3 wide receiver for the Saints but now things have changed.

Brandin Cooks is gone but the emergence of Michael Thomas has put Snead as the No. 2 receiver. Snead won’t flash anything special in terms of efficiency and production, but one thing he is, is reliable. His reliability is what makes him so intriguing, as he’s a lock to gain 900 yards and five touchdowns. Take him as a No. 2 receiver or flex and love the numbers.

34. Desean Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Another old face in a new place. Desean Jackson almost played a full season last year and was as explosive as ever. Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for Kirk Cousins and has the opportunity to be even better this year.

Most likely lining up in the slot and returning punts, Jackson has big play ability written all over him. Playing with Mike Evans and Jameis Winston, the new look Bucs have a high-powered offense and a lot of potential.

When healthy, Jackson can put up big yardage, but the only issue with him is he won’t have the touchdowns that the stud wide outs will have.

33. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants): From one New York team to the next, Brandon Marshall finds himself in a good situation with the New York Giants. He is the No. 2 wide receiver behind the top tier, two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning.

Last season didn’t go as planned for Brandon Marshall but he’s a big bodied, reliable receiver with something left in the tank. The Giants pass on 62 percent of their plays and Marshall has the opportunity as the No. 2 receiver to see tons of targets and big plays in the red zone. The Giants weren’t great in the red zone last season, as they were successful on 51 percent of their plays, but Marshall will help in that category. Expect double digit touchdowns from Marshall this year.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

http://prod.static.giants.clubs.nfl.com

32. Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina Panthers): Everyone is down on Kelvin Benjamin this season and I don’t know why. He missed his sophomore season with a torn ACL, and didn’t quite rebound like everyone thought he would. He still had 941 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers were only slightly worse than his impressive 2014 rookie campaign. Keep in mind that the entire Panthers offense was out of sync last season.

Now the revamped offensive line and a healthy Cam Newton makes KB an intriguing fantasy player this year. Still the No. 1 receiver in Carolina, Kelvin is a monster and has the opportunity to be a stud this year.

31. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings): Diggs broke out as the No. 1 receiver for Minnesota last season. He had 903 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Stefon Diggs ranked in the top 15 players in the league in terms of receptions with 84 and fantasy points per game with 13.

The Vikings did a lot to revamp their offense by bolstering the offensive line and adding rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Teddy Bridgewater won’t be under center for the Vikings this season, as he recovers form his a knee injury. Diggs won’t have double digit touchdowns due to a lack of looks in the red zone, but 1,000 yards is very possible as he is a clear WR2.

 

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Five Instant Impact NFL Fantasy Players for 2016

elliotcropped

Ezekiel Elliot transitions from one of the best teams in college football to one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

It’s the beginning of May and life in the NFL is boring. The draft is over, OTA’s don’t start until late May (as if anyone cares), and I’m left rooting for my sorry baseball team that’s worse at baseball than Johnny Manziel is at staying sober.

It’s never too early to look ahead to the 2016 season (those rankings were published in the beginning of January, so they don’t reflect my feelings now). If you’re looking for some rookies to draft for your fantasy team next season, take a peek at these five future stars.

For the record, you won’t see a quarterback on this list, as I feel as comfortable with any rookie quarterback as I do going to a pool party hosted by Jerry Sandusky. As I sit at my computer listening to the rain fall, I can only assume it’s Joe Paterno crying profusely at my terrible joke.

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott is the most obvious choice out of all rookies. The best running back in the draft will go run behind the best offensive line in the NFL. Elliott can run, catch, and block, proving he’s a three-down back. The OSU product can be a huge find in PPR leagues, as he could catch three balls a game or so.

This is a no brainer pick, but since he’s a rookie, I don’t want him until round two at the earliest. If you can grab Elliott in the third round, he’ll be a great value and a great starter for your fantasy team.

Laquon Treadwell

Dubbed the most NFL-ready receiver in the draft, Laquon Treadwell has a chance to be a true number one receiver in his first NFL season. Stefon Diggs will be the the other starting wide receiver for the Vikings, so Treadwell could easily become the best receiver on the team. Questions about Treadwell’s explosiveness, speed, and durability caused Treadwell to fall to the 23rd pick of the draft, but I’m not concerned about that. Don’t expect Treadwell to take the top off defenses. Treadwell will make his money running quick slants and other double move patterns.

You have to make sure you get a top wide receiver before drafting Treadwell. I’m not confident that Treadwell will break out as a star this season, but he’ll be a quality WR3 at the worst. A team with Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, and Laquon Treadwell won’t have to worry about the position all season.

Michael Thomas

The second player out of #THE Ohio State University, Michael Thomas should be a solid find in fantasy world this season. Thomas is a great all-around player, who really doesn’t lack any skill sets. The one knock against him is that he isn’t the biggest vertical threat around, but that has never kept him from being successful. Thomas is a great route runner, has spectacular hands, and has the tools to be an elite receiver to just about anyone who watches him (Our very own Dan Taylor has a different opinion, go to 2:56:25 to hear him and myself get #heated. It gets better as it goes on, trust me.). It’s Thomas’ time to take over and lead the New Orleans wide receivers, and he’s more than capable.

I trust Thomas more than I trust Treadwell when it comes down to just skill and potential, but Thomas has more competition in New Orleans. With a talented third-year receiver in Brandin Cooks, Thomas will compete to be the number one threat on a rebuilding Saints team. I’m taking Thomas as my number three wideout, but Thomas has more upside yet more risk than Treadwell.

Will Fuller

Easily the most enticing deep threat in the draft, Will Fuller is capable of putting up huge numbers in any game. Fuller’s only disadvantage is his small frame, but Steve Smith and Wes Welker (in his prime, of course) scoff at silly scouts who think small receivers can’t be true threats in the NFL. Fuller joins forces with DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, which could be the makeup of an elite one-two punch of wide receiving for years to come.

Fuller reminds me of DeSean Jackson, as he could put up 10 or 100 yards in any game. I’d only use the Notre Dame product as a spot starter for the first half of the season before I trust him fully as a starter for my team.

Roberto Aguayo

Here lies Tim Miller, who demanded that #SpecialistsArePeopleToo be etched into his tombstone.

Maybe my death will bring justice, but until the day I die, I will go to bat for long snappers, punters, and kickers. Roberto Aguayo has been the highest graded kicker in 20 years according to some scouts, and he was the most accurate kicker in college football history. I’m no kicking expert, but it shouldn’t be hard to translate the success he’s had in college to some 1o-plus point performances in the NFL.

Although I love specialists, I believe kickers are basically interchangeable in fantasy football. I’ll never draft a kicker before I draft my second tight end, but Aguayo will be a starting kicker in fantasy football until he turns 40. If you must reach for Aguayo, reconsider your life choices and cross your fingers. Either way, Aguayo could become the next Stephen Gostkowski.