What We Saw: Week 12 Thanksgiving Edition

If you missed either of these games because of a nap, well, you didn't miss too much

WFT @ Cowboys

 

A huge Thanksgiving NFC East encounter between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys was decided ultimately by a number of poor coaching decisions from the Cowboys staff. The Cowboys tried to fake punt on a 4th and 10 at their own 24-yard line at the end of the 3rd quarter – it failed miserably and on the very next play Alex Smith handed the ball off to rookie sensation Antonio Gibson, who ran in uncontested for a 23-yard touchdown to establish a two-score lead for Washington going into the final quarter.

A disastrous 4th quarter for the Cowboys, including an interception that was returned for a defensive touchdown by Montez Sweat, meant Washington blew out to a 41-16 win.

 

 

Washington Football Team

 

Quarterback

 

Alex Smith: 19/26, 149 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 3 sacks | 3 carries, 1 yard

 

It is both satisfying and inspiring to see Alex Smith (9.06 fantasy points) back on the field winning football games. For the second straight week, he did not have to do too much as Washington’s premier defense ran riot in the 4th quarter to seal the win for Washington. Smith did enjoy some creative playcalling from Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner. Check out this fumblerooski trickery!

 

 

The nearly game changed on a horrible decision from Smith late in the 3rd quarter. He had McLaurin wide open on a 3rd and 10 in Dallas territory up 20-13, however, he threw the ball straight into the arms of Jaylon Smith who returned the ball inside the Washington 10 for the Cowboys. Luckily the defense held the Cowboys to a field goal.

 

 

Smith is starting to find a groove in this offense and with weapons like Gibson, McLaurin, and Thomas, he can be effective as a game-manager. Unfortunately, it is hard to justify talking him up as a relevant or productive fantasy QB at this stage.

 

Running Backs

 

Antonio Gibson: 20 carries, 115 yards, 3 TDs | 7 targets, 5 receptions, 21 yards

Peyton Barber: 11 carries, 57 yards

J.D. McKissic: 1 carry, 6 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards

 

By notching his 9th, 10th, and 11th rushing touchdowns of the season in this game, 3rd-round rookie phenom Antonio Gibson (36.60 fantasy points) is making a name for himself in Washington. On a career night, where he became the first rookie with 3 rushing TDs on Thanksgiving since at least 1948, Gibson gave his team a 1st quarter lead after a 12-play, 70-yard drive in which he contributed 7 touches and 30 yards plus the score.

 

 

Gibson has sent his stock value into the stratosphere this year and has shown all the attributes of a 3-down back that teams covet in the NFL. Further to that, he is perfect for the short passing game Smith loves to deploy. Gibson now has at least 1 rushing score in 5 straight games, which is the longest streak by a rookie back in the team’s history.

 

 

Gibson has catapulted himself into the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation with this performance. He is a set and forget RB1 the rest of the way. Peyton Barber (5.70 fantasy points) and J.D. McKissic (4.70 fantasy points) were hardly used when it mattered tonight, only picking up late, garbage time production. McKissic has some value as a bench stash for fantasy but nothing more.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Terry McLaurin: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 92 yards

Logan Thomas: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 20 yards, 1 TD | 1 carry, 3 yards | 1/1, 28 yards

Dontrelle Inman: 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards

Steven Sims Jr.: 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

 

Playing with 5 different quarterbacks so far in less than 2 NFL seasons, Terry McLaurin (16.20 fantasy points) has established himself as a legitimate WR1 contender. Averaging over 9 targets per game this season, he is currently 4th in the NFL for receiving yardage after another productive showing against a banged-up Cowboys secondary. He was too good for them all night.

 

 

McLaurin also went full D.K. Metcalf to save a touchdown in the 3rd quarter after Smith threw an interception. It told you all you needed to know about this young man. A huge fantasy asset in dynasty leagues and a true WR1 for Washington going forward.

 

 

Like a good Thanksgiving side dish, Logan Thomas (13.42 fantasy points) took a slice of everything today – rushing, receiving, passing, and hitting paydirt on a productive day for the QB-turned-TE who never leaves the field for this team. First, he showed off his arm…

 

 

Then he showed off his catching ability to put Washington ahead 17-10 before the half.

 

 

Thomas has emerged as a nice high-end TE2 option at the position this season.

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

Quarterback

 

Andy Dalton: 25/35, 215 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 4 sacks | 3 carries, 17 yards

 

A spark of life from this offense last week in Minnesota was in part because of Andy Dalton‘s (13.30 fantasy points) superb outing, his first meaningful contribution since joining from the Bengals. With his offensive line falling apart in front of him during the 1st quarter, Dalton threw a perfect deep ball down the sideline to Amari Cooper for a 54-yard score. That was about as good as it got, however.

Under constant pressure from an impressive Washington pass rush, Dalton struggled to progress his reads and the biggest disappointment was not converting Jaylon Smith‘s interception into a score.

 

 

If we are praising the creativity of Scott Turner, then we also need to mention the mistakes by Dallas’ OC Kellen Moore. Dalton got no help from Moore for most of the evening. Mike McCarthy decided to go for it on 4th and 1 at Dallas’ own 34-yard line. Moore called a passing play that went incomplete. Maybe he forgot he has Elliot and Pollard in the backfield?! The turnover on downs led to a Washington touchdown for Logan Thomas.

Dalton is only valuable in Superflex leagues as it stands.

 

Running Backs

 

Ezekiel Elliot: 10 carries, 32 yards, 1 FUM | 3 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards

Tony Pollard: 4 carries, 12 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards

 

We finally saw glimpses of the old Ezekiel Elliot (2.90 fantasy points) last week in Minnesota against a poor Vikings run defense. This week was a different kettle of fish, however, against a Washington defensive front that is loaded with talent. Elliot looked pedestrian at best and once again he fumbled in the 3rd quarter – his 5th this season compared to 5 in the previous 4 seasons combined. There is not much confidence in this offense or Elliot right now, not a good sign for those who have him rostered and face the playoffs in a couple of weeks. Can you flip him for a more productive back? It may be prudent.

 

 

We did see again evidence that Tony Pollard (4.20 fantasy points) is probably a better running back than Elliot. A tough run on 3rd down to move the sticks embodies the heart Pollard brings to his power running game. Opportunity remains limited for him, however.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Amari Cooper: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 112 yards, 1 TD

Michael Gallup: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 41 yards

Dalton Schultz: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 24 yards

CeeDee Lamb: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 21 yards

Cedrick Wilson: 1 carry, -1 yard

 

It is safe to say that Amari Cooper (23.20 fantasy points) is the only Cowboys player to come out of this game unscathed. Cooper tied Michael Gallup (10.10 fantasy points) for team-highs in targets and receptions but made big plays downfield to set up a fantastic fantasy day. Cooper breezed past Washington cornerback Bradley Roby down the right sideline for a 54-yard score, just his 3rd of the campaign. He remains the receiver to roster in Dallas.

 

 

Gallup, meanwhile, has failed to emerge as a solid WR2 option this season and also has ceded red zone looks to rookie CeeDee Lamb (7.10 fantasy points). I dropped Gallup in a couple of leagues this week and after this showing, I have no regrets. After his spectacular catch last week against the Vikings, Lamb came crashing back down to earth this week with a bad drop in the end zone. It effectively ended any hopes of a Dallas comeback. A big day in the film room ahead for the rookie but Lamb still holds strong value as a FLEX play in the run-in.

 

 

Dalton Schultz (7.40 fantasy points) couldn’t follow up his touchdown performance last week as Washington continued their solid run against opposing tight ends. Schultz has seen at least 5 targets in 8 of his 11 games this season and remains a low TE2 option.

 

— Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

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