By Mark Ackerman, CBS4 Fantasy Football Pro
It’s Thanksgiving week so set your lineups early. Who can you expect to shine on Turkey Day?
After a horrible losing streak on Thanksgiving, the Lions have won the past two Turkey Bowls. I expect Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson to put up big numbers.
Besides DeMarco Murray, I’m not sure there is anyone else for the Eagles worth considering in this one.
Every week Cam Newton and the Panthers continue to surprise us. This time, the undefeated Panthers have a chip on their shoulder, only being a one point favorite against the 3-7 Cowboys. I like Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Greg Olsen and Carolina Defense. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant (shadowed by Josh Norman) have tough matchups, but would be hard to sit.
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I think Darren McFadden will be relied upon heavily if the Cowboys have a chance.
After righting the ship last week, the Packers should roll over the Bears at Lambeau. Expect big things from Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb and the Green Bay Defense.
If healthy, Matt Forte is a must-start for the Bears. If, and only if, Forte is inactive, Jeremy Langford is a must start, but he isn’t much of an option otherwise. Alshon Jeffery will probably sit, but could put up significant numbers if he suits up and is truly healthy.
The Broncos host the Patriots this week with Brock Osweiler at QB. What can we expect from a fantasy perspective?
Brock Osweiler: I expect moderate production from the reigning AFC player of the Week in his second start. Perhaps a couple of turnovers, and a Broncos loss, will open up the Peyton Manning debate again.
Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders: The Pats have a way of shutting down the top WR. Look for a big game from Sanders, not Thomas, this week.
CJ Anderson/Ronnie Hillman: The Broncos running game looked far more efficient with Osweiler under center. I expect the Broncos to try to lean on the run, but have a hard time against the Pats defense. I lean towards Hillman, but neither back is a strong option.
Owen Daniels/Vernon Davis: If the Broncos hang with the Patriots someone else is going to have to step up and make plays. Perhaps one of the TEs will be that guy?
Denver Defense: Typically a must start, I would look for other options against the Patriots.
Tom Brady: He’s the highest scoring player so far this season. Even amidst a rash of injuries, on the road, against a good defense – he’s a no brainer.
Rob Gronkowski: Brady’s No. 1 weapon (and the only big name that remains healthy) is the best TE in the game. Another no-brainer.
LeGarrette Blount: Expect a steady dose of Blount especially if the Patriots can post an early lead. He picks up a lot of his points in the second half of games as the Patriots close out opponents.
New England Defense: The real reason the Patriots remain undefeated. They could force sacks and turnovers this week.
A number of backup running backs had big games last week. Who should you target on the Week 12 waiver wire?
Thomas Rawls: When he has played, he’s been phenomenal (255 yards, 2 TDs last week). Rawls has a tough matchup this week against the Steelers, but he should take over the lead back role with Marshawn Lynch expected to be out for a month.
Spencer Ware: If you pick up Ware, monitor Charcandrick West carefully. Ware performed admirably (101 yds, 2 TD) for the resurgent Chiefs when West went out with a hamstring injury.
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Javorius “Buck” Allen: There’s no starter to monitor. Justin Forsett is done for the year after suffering a broken arm. But do you want to start Allen playing for the Ravens who are now without Forsett, Flacco and Steve Smith, Sr.?
Tevin Coleman: During the middle of the season DeVonta Freeman was the best back in football. The largely ineffective Coleman will get first team carries if Freeman can’t pass the concussion protocol this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw: A new offensive coordinator seems to favor Bradshaw (2TDs) over the hobbled Frank Gore.
With a few weeks left in the season which big names can you finally drop?
Jimmy Graham: Time after time, I keep waiting for Graham to have a break out game. Whether the Seahawks win or lose, he just doesn’t seem to be a part of their game plan. You can move on.
Marshawn Lynch: A hernia could force him out for a month, if not the season. I think Rawls establishes himself as the lead back. You can cut Lynch now.
Peyton Manning: The term “walking boot” sure doesn’t sound good. If Osweiler performs against the Patriots, Peyton is an easy drop (if you haven’t already).
Andrew Luck: No firm timetable has been set for his return. But, he could be back for Fantasy playoff time when the games could really matter for the Colts. Now that bye weeks are done, it shouldn’t be difficult to keep him stashed away.
Mark Ackerman’s credentials: CBS4 Producer. AFC North Expert. Childhood ruined by Drive & Fumble. Drafted Adrian Peterson and still won it all last year.