Thanksgiving day football is almost here and we've got some excellent games on this year's slate. We're going to dive into each matchup and look for the best players to start and sit -- sleepers and busts for all three of the games.
Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.
It's too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.
We'll go through every Thanksgiving day game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Justin Jefferson). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.
Dawson Knox TE
BUF Buffalo • #88
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Normally Knox is a touchdown or bust tight end, but with Josh Allen's elbow issues potentially altering his decision-making on downfield throws, Knox becomes more appealing as a modest-volume pass-catcher. I'd start him over Greg Dulcich, Hayden Hurst and Mike Gesicki.
LAST WEEK: Was a reliable safety valve for Josh Allen, chipping Cleveland's defensive ends and turning around to catch a throw when Allen was pressured. That led to a 28% target share, his highest mark of the season (previous high: 17.6% in Week 4 against Baltimore).
KNOX: Does have at least six targets in each of his past two games. It shouldn't go unnoticed that his uptick in work has been in conjunction with Josh Allen's elbow issues and the ensuing sub-9.0 ADOT he's continued to have in most of his games.
LIONS: Didn't have to defend any tight end targets last week because the Giants didn't bother throwing to any, but in the three games prior they gave up a touchdown to a tight end in two of them. If you're setting a nine-point PPR bar, then you should know the Lions have allowed at least that much to a tight end in 8 of 10 games.
NYG N.Y. Giants • #86
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
If you start Slayton, you're hoping he cashes in on a big catch or picks up numbers after blown coverage or a missed tackle. He's done a little bit of that lately, but the real reason to be OK with Slayton is that the Giants will play from behind, forcing Daniel Jones to throw, and Slayton's had a target share of 22.2% in his past four. He's flex worthy, though not as attractive as he was last week against the Lions.
SLAYTON: Has led all healthy Giants players in targets in each of their past four games (Wan'Dale Robinson had more targets against the Jaguars and Lions but he's done for the year). Slayton has posted at least 11 PPR in each of his past four.
SLAYTON: Has seen a rise in slot snaps over his past two games, bumping to over 45% of his overall snaps in consecutive weeks. Considering Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs hardly lines up as a nickelback, it's a safe bet the Giants will deploy Slayton there a bunch.
COWBOYS: Allow the second-most YAC/reception to receivers who line up in the slot (6.44). Slot guys have also accounted for 5 of the 11 total receiving touchdowns Dallas has allowed.
COWBOYS: Nine wide receivers have found at least 11 PPR points this year against them, including three in the past four matchups.
DAL Dallas • #21
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Elliott's Fantasy outlook will always revolve around whether or not he can score. If he doesn't score, you're looking at five Fantasy points or so. If he does, that balloons to 11 or more. It's always a tough task to hit the road on a short week, and the Giants figure to allow plenty of rushing. He's not a must-start but will work as a flex in non-PPR ahead of Kenyan Drake, Brian Robinson and D'Andre Swift
LAST WEEK: On an alleged snap count, Elliott handled 15 carries and caught a target. Those 16 total touches came on 21 snaps, so he may have indeed been on a snap count, but it didn't stop him from seeing lots of work. Elliott averaged 2.8 yards per rush and was saved by a pair of one-yard touchdown plunges.
TOUCHDOWNS: All but one of Zeke's six touchdowns this year have come from one-yard out. And of his 22 rushing touchdowns since 2020, only five have been from six yards or further away.
ELLIOTT: While he's not racking up the yards per carry you'd like, he does have a minimum of 15 carries in 6 of 8 games and a minimum of 47 total yards in every game.
GIANTS: Entered last week with only four rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs, and only one from five yards or closer. Then they ran into Jamaal Williams and the Lions, and now the defense has given up eight TDs to RBs on the season with five from five yards or closer.
Kirk Cousins QB
MIN Minnesota • #8
Age: 34 • Experience: 11 year
I'm worried about Cousins' potential to get to 20 Fantasy points, much less exceeding 20 Fantasy points. Deploying a quick-game passing approach might help set up an efficient game, but it figures to keep Cousins from finding three scores or 300 yards. Because the upside is capped and the downside is scary, you should strongly consider going with Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill or even Jacoby Brissett (22-plus Fantasy points in two of his past three!).
LAST WEEK: The Cowboys pass rush was unstoppable, especially once starting left tackle Christian Darrisaw left with a concussion. When under pressure, Cousins completed 4 of 11 passes for 40 yards and was sacked seven times.
THIS SEASON: Cousins has been equally miserable when under pressure, totaling a 42.3% completion rate, a -0.42 EPA/dropback, a 3.3% TD rate and a 64.4 QB rating over 155 dropbacks. The Vikings have allowed pressure on 37.7% of their dropbacks this season, the fifth-highest in football.
PATRIOTS: Are ninth in blitz rate (30.6%) and second in pass rush pressure rate (37.6%), so Cousins should expect some heat. It does not help Cousins' cause that the Patriots have allowed multiple passing scores to just three quarterbacks all year -- and two of the three had exactly 20 Fantasy points.
HISTORY: Cousins has seen Belichick's defense twice before in his career, and he threw at least 40 passes both times. He threw one touchdown in each game, he had at least one interception in each game and he failed to get even 225 yards in each game.