Start ’em Sit ’em Week 12 Thanksgiving Day: Should Managers Trust Jamaal Williams and Tony Pollard?

In Week 12, Thanksgiving football returns with three games across the day. Here are the top fantasy start/sit plays for the matchup.

Week 12 of the fantasy football season is upon us, as is the annual tradition of Thanksgiving football. This week we get a three-course service of games with the Bills at Lions, Giants at Cowboys, and Patriots at Vikings. With no time to waste, here are the top start/sit plays for Thanksgiving Day in Week 12.

Week 12 Thanksgiving Fantasy Football Start ’ems

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

UCL or not, Josh Allen is good at football. Even over the last two weeks, where he’s ranked 16th in yards per attempt, Allen has finished outside the top 12 once it is about to face the lions on Thanksgiving. I think we all know where this one is going.

Despite the improvements, the Lions remain one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL, and since Week 5, are 22nd in EPA per dropback. Buffalo comes in the game nearly 10-point favorites, and much of that is due to the presence of Allen under center. There’s no other quarterback you would start over top of Allen in Week 12.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Since returning in Week 7, Dak Prescott has the ninth-highest points per game average at 20.1 PPR and last week threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings.

And his five career starts on Thanksgiving, Prescott averages 278.6 yards and has nine career touchdowns. However, he’s trying to make it three straight with 350 passing yards. The Giants are banged up defensively and have dropped off from an efficiency standpoint. Start Prescott as a top-10 QB for Week 12.

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

All the attention was on James Cook last week, but Devin Singletary also had a good game, rushing for a season-high 86 yards, and has finished with 90+ scrimmage yards in three of the last four road games.

MORE: Week 12 Fantasy RB Start/Sit Recommendations

Since Week 9, he’s averaged 15.3 touches per game while finishing as the RB24, RB12, and RB10. It’s a good matchup in a game with a favorable game script — start Singletary as an RB2 in fantasy football this week.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions

There’s certainly a chance that D’Andre Swift is still injured, but right now, it’s the Jamaal Williams show. He’s averaged 17.6 attempts and 70.1 total yards since Swift returned to the field. His value is wholly based on touchdowns, but he’s been really good at that.

Williams leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns and carries inside the 5-yard line. He’s scored in six games, and on Sunday, his three-touchdown performance meant Williams became the fourth running back with 5+ games of multiple touchdowns in his team’s first ten games of the season since 2000, joining Sean Alexander, Priest Holmes, and LaDainian Tomlinson.

It will certainly be more difficult against the Buffalo Bills, who shut down Nick Chubb last week. But Williams is a high-end RB3 for Thanksgiving that needs to find the end zone to make it worth it.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Last week was a smash spot for Saquon Barkley, but he swung and missed and put up a dud last week. Even then, he is still the RB6 in fantasy and averages 24.4 touches and 116.3 total yards.

His efficiency numbers have dropped just a touch, but by no means anywhere near levels fantasy managers should be alarmed. Barkley’s averaged 124.3 yards per game in his four road contests the season, and the last time these two teams met, he had 126 scrimmage yards (81 rush, 45 receiving) and a rushing touchdown in Week 3. Throw in 100 yards in two of his three games against the Dallas Cowboys, and Saquon Barkley is a top-10 running back for Week 12.

Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Despite everything Jerry Jones says, Tony Pollard is the better running back. Last week, Pollard became the fourth player since 1990 with 75+ rushing yards (80), 100+ receiving yards (100), and two receiving touchdowns (two) in a single game last week.

Pollard rushed for 105 yards in Week 3 and had 103 scrimmage yards the last time these teams met in Dallas. He’s looking to make it his fourth game in a row with a touchdown and his fifth game with 100 or more scrimmage yards. Even though Thanksgiving has been the day for Ezekiel Elliott to jump into the Salvation Army bucket in the end zone, Pollard remains a top-15 running back.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota, Vikings

Dalvin Cook is finding the end zone as of late. He has a touchdown and five of his last six games and needs 55 scrimmage yards for his fourth straight 1000-yard season.

If his historical performances on Thursday are any indication, that won’t be an issue. Cook is looking to make it his third in-a-row game on Thursday with 170 or more scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown. He’s great out of the backfield as well and had a career-high eight catches and 106 yards the last time these teams met and is a surefire starter once again.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

Diggs recorded his eighth touchdown of the season in Week 11 and, in the process, recorded his fifth straight 1000-yard season. While Diggs might’ve been a little upset about his target share, that hasn’t been a problem.

Diggs is the WR1 in fantasy and has the sixth-highest target share (29.4%) with a 35.6% air-yard share (14th). He’s also top three in most major statistical categories and is No. 1 in our Week 12 fantasy WR rankings.

Gabe Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills

Gabe Davis is exactly what everyone said he was. He’s a boom-or-bust receiver with a vast valley between the two. Davis is the WR25 over his last six games, and after two disappointing performances, he has back-to-back double-digit games.

You have to favor him again against the Detroit Lions, as they’ve been known to give up big plays quite often. There’s certainly instability and his weekly performances, but in this plus matchup, Davis is a mid-WR2.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

Amon-Ra St. Brown led the team with seven receptions for 76 yards last week and has seven or more receptions in six of his past seven home games. He’s top-10 in target share and sits first overall in targets per route run.

It’s more than likely the Lions will move him inside to matchup against Taron Johnson, but there’s no matchup that you would be benching St. Brow. He’s a low-end WR1 on Thanksgiving.

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

After catching five-of-five for only 45 yards, CeeDee Lamb had a significant performance drop compared to his 150-yard, multi-touchdown game of Week 10. I’m not concerned. Lamb is the WR10 in fantasy and sits inside the top five in both target share and targets per route run rate.

He has five receptions or more in eight of his last nine games and had a touchdown in the last time these teams met at home and again in Week 3. Lamb is a must-start receiver for fantasy this week.

Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots

Jakobi Meyers remains arguably the most underrated receiver in the NFL. Myers is the WR19 in points per game, averaging 7.1 targets (24.5%) with a 26% target for route run rate.

MORE: Week 12 PPR Fantasy Football Rankings

Myers hopes to make it his third game in a row against the NFC North with a touchdown and his sixth straight on the road with 50 or more yards. Thanks to increased usage in the red zone over the last few weeks, Meyers is a low-end WR2.

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

I mean, it is Justin Jefferson. Do I really need to add more to this?

Jefferson enters Week 12 with 4,109 receiving yards and can pass Randy Moss (4,163) and Odell Beckham Jr. (4,122) for the most by a player in the first three seasons. Since 2020, Jefferson is second in the NFL with 20 games of 100 or more receiving yards, which is the most by a player in the first three seasons. Yeah, he falls into that good at football category.

Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills

Dawson Knox started the season banged up, and while he will never be consistent, at least he’s trending in the right direction. He’s had six or more targets in back-to-back games and caught all seven targets for 70 yards against the Cleveland Browns last week, playing on 82% of the snaps.

The Lions are 22nd in DVOA against TEs and have allowed the fifth-highest catch rate, sixth-highest yards per reception, and the most receiving touchdowns to the position.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys

Dalton Schultz came back down to Earth in Week 11, catching three of his five targets for 22 yards, which snapped a streak of three straight top-12 outings, including two inside the top five.

Since Week 7, Schultz is No. 5 in both targets and receiving yards and is inside the top five again this week against the Giants, who are 30th in DVOA and sit inside the bottom seven in catch rate, receiving yards, and yards per reception.

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Minnesota Vikings

Ever since his surprising move at the trade deadline, T.J. Hockenson has a 24% target share, which is second most on the team. He’s finished as a T5, TE7, and TE11 with at least nine targets in each game. However, it would be nice if he averaged more than 50 yards per game on nearly double-digit targets. Hockenson is a must-start top-four tight end for Week 12 fantasy.

Week 12 Thanksgiving Fantasy Football Sit ’ems

Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions

In all fairness to Jared Goff, he’s actually been pretty decent this year, but this is the matchup I want nothing to do with for fantasy.

Goff only has one game inside the top 16 over the last six games and gets the Buffalo Bills, who will be all over him all game. With so many quality options at quarterback in 1QB leagues, there’s no reason to start Goff in Week 12.

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Daniel Jones cracked the top 10 for the third time this year while passing for a season-high 341 yards and two touchdowns last week. It’s also the first time he’s thrown for over 220 in a game.

Jones is the QB10 because he’s number five in rushing attempts and yards and has four rushing touchdowns. That’s going to have to help him against the Dallas Cowboys, who have the speed to run sideline to sideline and have one of the best corners in the NFL shadowing his only quality receiver. Jones is a QB2 I would sit in Week 12.

Mac Jones, New England Patriots

At this point in the year, no one should be starting Mac Jones. And that’s even coming off his 23-of-27 outing last week, where he threw for 246 yards with a career-best 85.2 completion percentage with a season-high 104.6 rating.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a decent matchup for Jones. Minnesota has been awful against the quarterback position, especially in short to intermediate passing games, but Jones brings just such a little upside to your fantasy roster.

James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills

James Cook was one of the hot names of the waiver wire this week thanks to his 11 carries for 86 yards. He’s explosive once on the field. Among running backs with 25 more touches, Cook sits sixth in yards after contact per attempt.

The issue is consistency. He has yet to score double digits in a single game and has more games below five PPR points than he has above it. If you picked him up off the waiver wire, great, but I would wait before you put them in your starting lineup.

Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots

Volume-wise, Damien Harris should be a low-end flex option. Over the last two games, he’s averaged 11.5 touches and 73.5 total yards on 32.5% of the snaps. But he’s basically nonexistent in the passing game and hasn’t seen a red zone touch since Week 8.

Bill Belichick can decide he wants to flip the narrative and give Damien Harris more touches any given week. I much prefer Rhamondre Stevenson, who sits inside the top 10, but we know we’re playing with fire with his organization. I’ve got Harris in the RB4 range, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he punches in a touchdown to salvage his day.

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants

Darius Slayton is darn near the last man standing in this wide receiver room. Slayton saw a season-high ten targets last week as a team tried playing catch-up, but in the process, the Giants lost rookie Wan’Dale Robinson for the season.

Slayton has 60 yards or more in three straight games, but his upside is capped due to the lack of deep targets or red zone looks. There’s also a decent chance Trevon Diggs shadows him, despite not typically traveling across the field. With that possibility in mind, and a run-heavy approach likely, I’m inclined to sit Slayton and try again next week.

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

The contract Michael Gallup received and the results on the field need to match up. He’s yet to record 50 yards or more in a game and hasn’t finished as a WR3 or better since Week 4.

Gallup has 16.7% of the target share but is the third option in this passing offense. I’m sure next year will be better over an entire year removed from the ACL tear, but for the moment, Gallup is a WR5 I don’t want anywhere near my lineup.

Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

With Hockenson on board, Adam Thielen has fallen down in the passing progression. Although he has an 18.7% target share (44th) and is ninth in red-zone targets, Thielen is just 76th and YPRR and hasn’t crossed the 70-yard since Week 4.

Thielen’s volume is perfectly fine. In fact, he has seven or more targets in eight of ten games, but after scoring double-digit touchdowns in the two previous seasons, he’s only found paydirt twice. Those were also two of the three times he finished inside the top 24.

With finishes as a WR44 and WR68 in his previous two games, Thielen is a low-end WR4 that’s nothing more than a final flex option in 12-team leagues.

Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, TE, New England Patriots

Realistically, none of these players should be sniffing starting lineups. We knew this was going to be a disaster from the moment they signed both of these guys during free agency when Bill Belichick was still on his depressed spending spree after Tom Brady left him.

Henry has one reception or fewer in three of his last four games and hasn’t found the end zone since Week 6. That’s a problem for someone who is touchdown-dependent.

Jonnu Smith is more intriguing because of what he can do after the catch. Since Week 8, he has led the team in YPRR and has a 12.5% target share and 26% target per route run right.

If I give the edge to anyone, it would be Smith against the Vikings, who’ve allowed the eighth-highest catch rate. But I’m not starting either. I would sit in both New England tight ends for Week 12.


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