Start/Sit: Thanksgiving Edition

Erik Smith, Aaron Rader, and Matt Bevins provide start/sit recommendations for all fantasy relevant players in the Thanksgiving games, and debate notable players where they disagree.

(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Thanksgiving provides a wonderful opportunity for NFL fans to stuff themselves full of food while watching more than nine hours of football. While this is one of our favorite days of the year at QB List, it can be a challenging day for fantasy owners. The three early-week games force us to make earlier than usual start/sit decisions, which can be difficult when waiting on injury news for your Sunday players.

Erik Smith, Aaron Rader, and Matthew Bevins give you the players they would start and sit from the three Thanksgiving games. When they disagree, they will give you both sides of the debate. Starts are based on PPR scoring. Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck this week.

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Chicago @ Detroit

Erik Matt Aaron
QB Mitch Trubisky Sit Sit Start*
QB Chase Daniel Sit Sit Sit
QB Matthew Stafford Sit Start Sit
RB Jordan Howard Sit Sit Start
RB Tarik Cohen Start Sit Start
RB Theo Riddick Start Start Start
RB LeGarrette Blount Sit Sit Sit
WR Allen Robinson Sit Sit Start*
WR Anthony Miller Sit Sit Start*
WR Taylor Gabriel Sit Sit Start*
WR Kenny Golladay Start Start Start
WR Marvin Jones Sit Sit Sit
WR Bruce Ellington Sit Sit Sit
WR TJ Jones Sit Sit Sit
TE Trey Burton Start Start Sit
TE Michael Roberts Sit Sit Sit
K Matt Prater Sit Sit Sit
K Cody Parkey Sit Start Sit
D Chicago Bears Start Start Start
D Detroit Lions Start Sit Sit

*Depending on QB Mitch Trubisky’s health

Up For Debate

Tarik Cohen

Start: With QB Mitch Trubisky looking unlikely to play this week, Chicago’s fantasy outlook takes a big hit. I expect Bears QB Chase Daniel to struggle, especially when targeting his wide receivers. However, if the Bears defense can dominate against a Lions team missing several key offensive weapons, RB Tarik Cohen should have plenty of opportunities to touch the ball. I expect the Bears to find creative ways to get him the ball, and his six to eight catch upside gives him a big boost in PPR leagues.  With five touchdowns in the last seven weeks, Cohen is even holding his own in the red zone. -Erik Smith

Sit: I like Cohen, actually a lot. But I worry about the potential absence of Trubisky, or at the very least a Trubisky that’s somewhat broken. During the three weeks played from weeks 4 through 7 (their bye was inserted here), Cohen and Trubisky found their match, as Cohen caught 22 passes to the tune of just shy of 94 yards per game average. If Chase Daniels starts for Trubisky, I’m already shading almost all of the Bears offense, but I would lean to RB Jordan Howard, if only because he profiles more as a prototypical ground and pound back. Cohen is reliant on passing schemes, and Daniels well, uh, he hasn’t passed in a regular season game all year. Cohen could break off a long pass or two, he’s dynamic just a level below a player like James White or Kareem Hunt, but I’d rather not risk it if you have the options. -Matthew Bevins

Trey Burton

Start: This says more about the tight end position as a whole than anything else, but I would start TE Trey Burton this week unless I had a second legitimate TE1 on my roster. While the offense will struggle with Daniel at quarterback, it would make sense to feature the running backs and tight ends this week. Two weeks ago, Burton put up a respectable four catches on four targets for 40 yards and added a two-point conversion against the Lions. Burton is regularly used in scoring position, with seven of his ten red zone targets coming within ten yards of the end zone. I would be comfortable starting him this week as opposed to dropping solid depth for a one-week tight end streamer. -Erik Smith

Sit: Burton is coming off his worst game of the season. He recorded one target and one reception last week against the Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions have held all but one tight end to four receptions all season. There is question about whether QB Mitch Trubisky will get the green light this week as well. If he is out, Burton’s upside is extremely limited. -Aaron Rader


Washington @ Dallas

Erik Matt Aaron
QB Dak Prescott Sit Sit Start
QB Colt McCoy Sit Sit Sit
RB Ezekiel Elliott Start Start Start
RB Adrian Peterson Start Start Start
RB Chris Thompson Sit Start* Sit
RB Kapri Bibbs Sit Sit Sit
WR Amari Cooper Start Start Sit
WR Cole Beasley Sit Sit Sit
WR Michael Gallup Sit Sit Sit
WR Josh Doctson Sit Start Sit
WR Maurice Harris Sit Sit Sit
WR Trey Quinn Sit Sit Sit
TE Jordan Reed Start Sit Start
TE Blake Jarwin Sit Sit Sit
K Brett Maher Sit Sit Sit
K Dustin Hopkins Sit Sit Sit
D Dallas Cowboys Start Sit Start
D Washington Redskins Sit Start Start

*Depending on RB Chris Thompson’s health

Up For Debate

Dak Prescott

Start: In the last meeting with the Washington Redskins, QB Dak Prescott threw for a season-high 273 passing yards and a score. He also added 33 yards on the ground and rushed for a touchdown. He has had four rushing scores in his last five games and thrown for at least 200 yards in the last four games. The Dallas defense should be able to take advantage of backup QB Colt McCoy in Jerry World. This should also put Dak in plenty of positions to score. -Aaron Rader

Sit: While I think Prescott is a decent play, I rank him just outside of starting range in most leagues. Prescott has been propping up his fantasy production on his rushing touchdowns, but his rushing volume hasn’t changed much. Prescott’s high rushing yardage over the last three weeks is 11 yards, and outside of week 6 against Jacksonville, his yardage has been mediocre all year. If Dallas can take care of business against a Washington team being led by a backup quarterback, I would expect the Cowboys offense to lean heavily on RB Ezekiel Elliott. If Prescott is not needed in the passing game, fantasy owners will be counting on another rushing touchdown just to reach fantasy relevance. -Erik Smith

Amari Cooper

Start: Over the last 3 games since joining the Dallas Cowboys, the need for Dak to have a gifted wide receiver who can shake coverage and get looks has been incredibly apparent. In those 3 games, WR Amari Cooper has seen 23 targets.  To put this in perspective, in those 3 games, which you’d also be inclined to give Cooper a bit of a break to fall into a role and learn the Cowboys playbook, he’s seen almost 25 percent of Dak Prescott’s passes. That’s immense. Ezekiel Elliott may remain his number one target, and number one option overall, but I find Cooper to be his clear number two. The CB Josh Norman matchup doesn’t scare me much, as even with Norman, per Football Outsiders, the Skins secondary is barely above average. Jason Garrett is not the best coach by any means, but he will try to find Cooper in this game. -Matthew Bevins

Sit: Cooper has been up and down all season. Of course, he has had a limited sample size with the Dallas Cowboys, but last week was a disappointing showing. He had only three receptions for 36 receiving yards against one of the worst defenses in the league. Now he will get shadow treatment from CB Josh Norman. This is also a game that Dallas should get ahead quickly and coast in. This means lots of rushing attempts from RB Ezekiel Elliott and QB Dak Prescott. If you start Cooper, limit expectations. -Aaron Rader


Atlanta @ New Orleans

Erik Matt Aaron
QB Matt Ryan Start Start Start
QB Drew Brees Start Start Start
RB Tevin Coleman Start Start Start
RB Ito Smith Sit Sit Start
RB Alvin Kamara Start Start Start
RB Mark Ingram Start Start Start
WR Julio Jones Start Start Start
WR Calvin Ridley Start Start Start
WR Mohamed Sanu Start Sit Start
WR Michael Thomas Start Start Start
WR Tre’Quan Smith Start* Start* Start*
WR Austin Carr Sit Sit Sit
WR Keith Kirkwood Sit Sit Sit
WR Brandon Marshall Sit Sit Sit
TE Austin Hooper Start Start Start
TE Ben Watson Sit Start Start
K Matt Bryant Start Start Start
K Will Lutz Start Start Start
D Atlanta Falcons Sit Sit Sit
D New Orleans Saints Sit Start Sit

*Depending on WR Tre’Quan Smith’s health

Up For Debate

Ito Smith

Start: When Atlanta and New Orleans last played this season, they combined for 80 points. I expect Thursday night’s affair to look the same. RB Ito Smith has had at least eight touches in the last five games and is someone the Falcons have used a ton in the red zone. Ito is also a target in the passing game and the Falcons will be forced to sling it in order to keep up with the Saints. Ito is one of many pieces I want a part of in this one. -Aaron Rader

Sit: QB Matt Ryan and his high flying Falcons have seen their wings clipped recently, as they head into this game with a 4-6 record. RB Tevin Coleman was creeping up on RB DeVonta Freeman even before he got hurt, and has showcased at times he’s a speedier, more elusive option than even Freeman. So, when Freeman went down this season, the consensus of fantasy fans clutched their keyboards and snapped up Ito Smith expecting that he would do the same as Coleman when given the opportunity. The sad truth is at least as of now, Ito is not on Coleman’s talent level. He’s a goal-line back at best, who at times can make some defenders miss, or make a mistake. He maxed out at 64 all-purpose yards against the Redskins, so he, in my opinion, is a completely touchdown dependent backfield option. There’s talent there, but until Coleman leaves in free agency, or gets injured, I am willing to wait it out and play someone from my Sunday matchups. -Matthew Bevins

Mohamed Sanu

Start: With the Saints defense in the top five in limiting opposing running backs and tight ends in fantasy scoring, this matchup sets up well for all Falcons wide receivers. WR Mohamed Sanu may not be an exciting play, but he should provide a solid floor with a chance at a big game in this projected shootout. When these teams met earlier in the year, Sanu posted four catches on seven targets for 36 yards, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion. With 19 targets over the last three weeks, Sanu has had some nice usage lately, and if the Saints run away with this one expect him to see a similar amount of targets. The Saints have allowed the most points to the wide receiver position this year, making all of Atlanta’s pass catchers in play. -Erik Smith

Sit: Why everywhere I read is Mohammed Sanu always brought up as some offensive darling? The man who’s been in the league for decades despite being just 29 years old, Sanu has only eclipsed 100 yards once and has only made 6 catches twice this season, as a max output. The Falcons have some other options on offense you may have heard of, such as Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, exciting rookie Calvin Ridley, and Tevin Coleman all vying for touches. While he has had brief flashes of potential, most of that was in Cincinnati, where only WR A.J. Green could save QB Andy Dalton from his pocket misery. In Atlanta, there’s plenty of mouths to feed around the Thanksgiving table, and Sanu may only get the leftovers. -Matthew Bevins

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