Fantasy Football Week 12: Houston Texans vs. Detroit Lions
One of the long-standing traditions of the NFL is that every Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions and a random opponent are called upon to cram a week's worth of planning into three short days so they can suit up and play on Thanksgiving Thursday.
My guess is that the players and coaches are mixed on whether they like it or not, but it certainly spices up the week for the majority of fans—especially those who play fantasy football.
Not every owner will have a player from the game on their team, but there are usually a few fantasy-relevant players that might be going against you, so every game is worth reading up on.
With that in mind, here is the analysis of each of those players and what they might do for (or against) your fantasy team during this Thanksgiving Day game.
Quarterback: Houston Texans
Schaub is coming off of a career game last week in which he passed for 527 yards and five TDs.
The most impressive stat on his day wasn't that he hadn't even thrown for 300 yards in a game this season, but his accuracy as he completed 43-of-55 passes he attempted (78.2 percent).
With the Texans being a run-first team, it's not a tremendous shock to see Schaub having a relatively disappointing fantasy season—but he obviously still has the potential for these sorts of outbursts.
Matt will be facing a Detroit defense that has been pretty tough on quarterbacks, only yielding an average of 17.3 fantasy points per game.
Schaub will try to ride the momentum of his last game into this match-up, but I expect the Texans to try and control the clock and emphasize Arian Foster more in this game.
Still, after what happened last game, don't be surprised to see "Count Chuckula" take some deep shots with Andre Johnson and connect for a TD or two against this decimated Lions' secondary.
Quarterback: Detroit Lions
Stafford has been very disappointing this season with only two multiple-TD games and has a horrible ratio of 12 TDs to 10 INTs.
These are not the numbers owners were expecting of him when he was consistently going in the first round of fantasy drafts.
Stafford has plenty of weapons to throw the ball to on offense, but he needs to be more precise with his passes of more than 20 yards as he flat out missed Calvin Johnson on two sure-fire TD grabs against the Packers last week.
Stafford has a tough match-up to start the Thanksgiving festivities.
The Texans had been a stingy defense all season, but then allowed also-ran Chad Henne to come in and scorch them for four TDs at home last week. Strange, eh?
Stafford will be a bit behind the eight-ball here as he'll be working without WR Titus Young, who was suspended by the team for conduct detrimental to the team.
That being said, Stafford should have to throw in this game and throw the ball a lot, so the potential is there for some real nice numbers.
The only question is, can he actually throw more than one TD?
Running Backs: Houston Texans
Foster has been held without a rushing TD in each of the past two weeks, though he did have a receiving TD in Week 10 against the Bears.
In fact, Foster has had a real tough go of it over the past three games, putting up a mere 3.6 yards per rush average and long run of 21 yards, though he did manage to have two 100-yard rushing games in the process.
This has really been the story pretty much all year for Arian, as he is averaging only 3.8 yards per carry on the season, though he still ranks second in the league in fantasy points per game.
Foster is still an all-around dominant player being both the Texans goal-line back and a viable option in the passing game.
I expect Houston to establish their bell-cow early in the game in order to open up their league-best play-action offense and in doing so, Foster should accumulate a good 25 to 30 touches by the final whistle.
With a national audience watching this early Thanksgiving game, Foster will undoubtedly be looking to bust a long one, something he's had trouble doing pretty much all season.
Forsett had his finest game as Foster’s backup last weekend, running for 59 yards on just seven carries.
Still, he’s without a touchdown on the season and isn’t likely to see one this week against a Lions team that has allowed the second-fewest rushing TDs (3) this year.
Don't even think of starting him. Not even as a flex.
Tate hasn’t played since Week 7 and has been deemed a “game-time decision” this Thursday.
Even if he were to come back this week, you can’t risk playing him just yet.
Running Backs: Detroit Lions
Leshoure has definitely cemented himself as the lead back for the Lions at this point putting up 19 carries for 84 yards and TD last week against the Packers.
The TD run was his first since that crazy three-TD outburst in Week 9 at Jacksonville.
Mikel showed some good burst against the Packers, but failed to break a big run yet again as his longest run on the season thus far is only 16 yards.
Don't expect much from the big RB out of Illinois today as this looks to be another tough match-up for Mr Leshoure.
The Texans boast the best fantasy defense in the league against running backs and Mikel doesn't get involved enough in the passing game to be effective.
He might steal a goal-line TD somehow, but I wouldn't even expect that, considering the Texans have yet to allow a rushing TD this season.
He's a flex-play at best this week.
Bell has only had one carry in each of the last two games and looks like he is no longer a fantasy option.
If the amount of snaps Kevin Smith played compared to Bell last week is any indication, then Smith has supplanted Bell as the third-down back in this offense.
If that is indeed the case, then Smith will actually have a bit of fantasy juice left in him this season as Bell was putting up some decent fantasy points on a semi-regular basis in the role.
Whatever the case, you can’t even think about using him against this Texans' defense.
Wide Receivers: Houston Texans
Johnson is coming off a career day (yeah, you could call it that) in which he had 14 catches for 273 yards and a game-winning 48-yard TD catch to top it off.
The performance not only gave Andre his third 100-yard game of the season, but also just his third TD on the year.
The good news is that Johnson has seen at least 10 targets a game over the Texans' last five games, so there's always the potential for something like what happened last weekend.
'Dre showed that he still has that game-breaking ability he displayed early on in his career and with the targets he's getting, you could expect better numbers going forward.
Johnson will definitely see a lot of attention in this match-up after his performance last week.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of coverage rolled over to his side of the field as the Lions try to take away the big play.
Johnson has disappointed in his two previous games following a 100-yard performance, putting up three catches for 21 yards and four catches for 35 yards in those games.
Either way, even if the Lions try to bracket him with their safeties, he should still be able to sneak out low-end WR1 numbers, though you won't see a repeat performance of last week.
I'll admit I'm not completely confident in him this week, but I wouldn't dare think of benching him.
Walter saw the most targets that he has seen all season in Week 11, though he's only had three games all season in which he put up more than 50 yards.
Being the fourth or fifth option on a run-first team doesn't do much for fantasy purposes and since the Lions are a good defense against wide receivers, I wouldn't really even consider him for a flex-play this week.
Martin caught his first career touchdown last weekend against the Jaguars, but it was only his seventh catch on the season.
He’s a pretty good play in return-yardage leagues, but that’s about it.
Wide Receivers: Detroit Lions
Johnson has found the end zone during each of the last two weekends and overall has been quite impressive with 17 catches for 350 yards over that span.
Then you can think about the two long TD catches he would have had against the Packers had Stafford not overthrown him badly both times and you realize that the Megatron from last year is back in full force.
Johnson is finally seeing more targets from Stafford after not being looked at enough earlier in the year and at this point, is really the only reliable option in the passing game.
All-Pro cornerback Johnathan Joseph is iffy for the Texans this week and if he ends up being out for the game, Johnson should be able to find openings to make some big plays.
With Titus Young suspended for the week and the only other options at WR being Ryan Broyles and Mike Thomas, Johnson should be a very busy man throughout the day and put up some nice WR1 fantasy numbers because of it.
Young has been suspended for this game for behavior detrimental to the team.
At least his unrealized fantasy potential can’t hurt you this week
Broyles has not been much of a fantasy factor over the past three weeks with just nine catches for 93 yards and no TDs.
However, Ryan is going to be thrust into the spotlight this week with Titus Young suspended, so his production will almost certainly be in for an uptick.
Broyles has his best chance of the season to make an impact in this game.
Megatron is going to get the attention from the safeties, so Broyles should see a lot of one-on-one coverage for most of the game.
I wouldn’t risk more than a WR3/flex spot on him this week, but he certainly has the upside of a WR2 if Houston decides to triple-team Johnson.
Hi, I'm Mike Thomas…remember me when I was on Jacksonville?
Thomas has been an underachieving wide receiver throughout his career, mostly due to his problem with actually catching the ball.
However, with Young out for the game, Thomas will see his first action for Detroit and should line up as the starter in his place with Broyles handling the slot.
Despite his starter status, Thomas is still not the greatest of options in this game.
I expect him to be used as more of as a decoy and thus not worth playing as more than a desperation flex this week.
Tight Ends: Houston Texans
Daniels has been pretty consistent all season, averaging about five receptions, 60 yards and half a TD per game.
He's not the type of player to break out and go for big yardage, but he is always a threat in the red-zone and is a very reliable target for Schaub.
Daniels should be able to find room to work underneath against this Lions' defense and has a chance to finish with better than his average numbers of five catches for 60 yards and a TD.
Graham had a breakout game last week with eight catches for 82 yards and two TDs.
It will be interesting to see if he can carry this momentum going forward.
I would not expect to see a repeat performance from Graham and would not start him unless you're in a league that starts two tight ends.
Tight Ends: Detroit Lions
Pettigrew has been pretty awful over the past three weeks, totaling just eight receptions for a whopping 65 yards. He did have a TD catch, however, which was his only saving grace.
At this point, Pettigrew is only averaging 9.5 yards per catch (which is unsurprising) while his reception totals are down, so suffice it to say, he's having a bit of an off season.
Pettigrew has never been a game-breaker and has only found the end zone twice all season, so I wouldn't expect any miracles this week, especially in a tough match-up with a Texans team that has allowed the fourth-fewest receptions to tight ends this year.
After becoming known as a touchdown-vulture to Brandon Pettigrew owners last season, Scheffler has been relatively non-existent so far in 2012 catching just 19 passes and zero touchdowns on the year.
Don’t get sneaky here.
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