There are a few guarantees in life: death, taxes, and the Lions and Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving. This year, due to a last-minute schedule change, there will only be two games to feast your eyes on between naps on the couch. From a fantasy football perspective, the two games left on the schedule for Thursday have some players with some question marks around them, causing fantasy managers to ask: “Who should I start for fantasy football?” Here are some of my top Thanksgiving fantasy picks to help your team gobble up as many points as possible.
Who should I start for fantasy football? – HOU vs DET
HOU – WR Brandin Cooks
Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been somewhat hot and cold this season. For example, he scored a season-low 0 PPR points in Week 4 and then scored a season-high 30.1 PPR points in Week 5. His Consistency Score (CS) of 3.52 puts him as the 40th most consistent producer in fantasy on the year, meaning he’s very boom or bust, but his stats rank him as WR29 with 128.4 PPR points on the season. This discrepancy leads me to believe that Cooks has the ability to singlehandedly win you your matchup or lose it for you, making him a prime flex candidate for teams that need a spark.
This week, Cooks faces a pretty stout Detroit Lions defense who is 22nd against the WR position in Defensive Points Against Consistency (D-PAC). This means that the Lions don’t tend to give up a lot to opposing wide receivers, making some managers think about benching Cooks this week. I disagree. I think Cooks will have a fine outing, thanks in part to the lack of a solid running game, fellow WR Randall Cobb being ruled out, and the fact that the Texans are going to have to score to stay in this one. If you’re wondering “Who should I start for fantasy football?” about Cooks, he’s a fine WR3/flex option for your lineups if you’re hungry for upside.
DET – WR Marvin Jones
On the other side of the ball, Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones has been somewhat inconsistent as well, with a CS of 3.12 (WR49). This is due in large part to the availability of his teammate, WR Kenny Golladay. When Golladay plays, Jones’ production goes down, but when Golladay misses time, as he is expected to do this week, Jones sees WR1 numbers. Over the last four weeks, Jones has averaged 13.2 PPR points per game with Golladay on the sidelines, so he’s definitely capable of putting up numbers for fantasy purposes as well.
Jones makes my list of Thanksgiving fantasy picks for a similar reason that Cooks does: the team needs him to produce this week. The major difference between Jones and Cooks is that the Texans defense is much more lenient to opposing WRs. This season the Texans are ranked 10th easiest in terms of D-PAC, meaning Jones and the entire Lions offense should be able to produce well this week. Look for Jones to finish as a solid WR2 option in Week 12, making him an excellent option for your lineup as well.
Thanksgiving Fantasy Picks – WAS vs DAL
WAS – RB JD McKissic
Managers have been asking, “Who should I start for fantasy football?” at the running back position all season long. One of the best answers to that question as of late has been RB JD McKissic. McKissic’s CS of 2.81 (RB27) may not be that impressive as a whole, but that includes a lot of games when he was playing with quarterbacks not named Alex Smith. It’s clear from the past few weeks that Smith loves checking down to McKissic, and it’s hard to imagine that game plan changing this week, even with the emergence of rookie RB Antonio Gibson.
Dallas is better against the run than the pass in terms of D-PAC, ranking 27th easiest for RBs, but McKissic isn’t really a running back in this offense. Smith often finds McKissic out of the backfield, helping McKissic eat up those PPR points with catch after catch. He saw 14 targets in Week 9 and 15 targets in Week 10, and while his Week 11 total of only four targets might look bad, I fully expect him to get over 10 targets again this week, making him one of the easier Thanksgiving fantasy picks for me here.
DAL – WR CeeDee Lamb
Last but not least, we come to Cowboys rookie WR CeeDee Lamb. If you have Lamb on your roster and you’re still asking, “Who should I start for fantasy football?” I don’t blame you for being a little nervous about Lamb’s potential. With veteran QB Andy Dalton back under center, look for Lamb to return to his high scoring ways. For the season, Lamb has a CS of 4.25 (WR26) and is WR23 in PPR scoring for the season. This all points to Lamb being a terrific WR2 option for your team if you have him on your roster.
The only downside this week is that Washington has been terrific on defense. They’re ranked 31st in terms of WR D-PAC, meaning receivers tend to struggle against them, so perhaps it’s best to temper your expectations a little bit to be safe. Regardless, I’m looking for Lamb to put up at least 13 PPR points this week, which is right about his average of 13.9 ppg on the season. Start him with confidence, and go grab an extra slice of pie when it pays off.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.