One of the long-standing traditions of the NFL is that every Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys 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, 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.
Robert Griffin III
Though he may have looked a little prettier in previous weeks, RGIII is coming off his best game as a professional.
He only threw for 200 yards, but he also tossed up four TD passes of six, 17, 49 and 61 yards while completing 14 of his 15 pass attempts in the game. The bonus that usually comes with Griffin is that he also ran for 84 yards and as has become the norm for the youngster, he did not throw an interception either.
RGIII has been having a very nice rookie campaign, even though it seemed he was slowing down before his latest lights-out performance last week.
From a fantasy owner's standpoint, it's nice to see Griff avoid the type of big hits he endured earlier in the season as well.
Griffin will be facing the fifth-best defense against quarterbacks in Dallas who are yielding a meager 14.3 fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
DeMarcus Ware is going to be a factor that may limit the amount of running opportunities Robert will have in this game, so I wouldn't expect another big rushing day like he had last weekend.
That being said, the Cowboys seem to be in disarray this season, and if they fall apart on Thanksgiving at the hands of RGIII, Jerry Jones just might have to fire himself.
As I’ve said for ages now, Tony Romo is NOT an elite quarterback, whether it be real life or otherwise.
However, he is very very good at home and has the (fantasy) numbers to back it up.
In the 41 games he’s played from start to finish since he became a starter for the Cowboys in the middle of 2006, Romo has had 19 300-yard games and 27 games where he’s thrown for at least two touchdown passes.
I know we’re all used to fantasy studs like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, but the numbers you just read are actually pretty rare otherwise and need to be considered when you’re talking about your starting fantasy QB down the stretch.
His record on Thursday’s is 6-1 and could easily be considered his favorite day of the week to play.
In fact, in seven career Thursday games (which are mostly on Thanksgiving), Romo has thrown for 18 touchdowns (2.6 TDs per game) and just five INTs, so if you were ever going to think about starting this guy, Turkey Day might be the best time for you to do it.
He’s a QB1 this week for sure this week, especially against a Redskins pass D that allows the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year.
Alfred Morris has been slowed over the past three games in which he has failed to rush for more than 76 yards as well as being held without a TD in the past four.
However, Morris has certainly been effective this season as he's currently fifth in the league with 869 rushing yards (86.9 per game), but he's having trouble finding the end zone as of late and is not an option in the passing game with only six receptions all season.
Alf will have a chance to break off a couple of nice runs against a Dallas defense that hasn't been as strong against the run since LB Sean Lee went down for the season.
That being said, there's still the problem of him not being a part of the passing game, and as could have been expected, he might be hitting the infamous rookie wall right now.
If he is, which is certainly possible, it could show itself in a short week following a game in which he had 20 carries, the most he has had in the past three weeks.
He's still an RB2 this Thanksgiving, but don't depend on him doing too much for your fantasy team.
Royster may be the backup running back in name, but you wouldn’t know it looking at his stats for the year.
Felix has been OK the past handful of weeks filling in for DeMarco Murray, but by no means has he been as dominant as Murray could have been.
His current 3.6 yards-per-carry is far below what he put up over the first four years of his career and by no means is he even close to being able to handle 20 touches per game.
Throughout his career, Felix has actually been pretty darn good against the Redskins when they play in Dallas, so he could be worth a shot as a flex play with low-end RB2 upside for fantasy teams this week.
Washington’s defense is obviously down in the bottom third of the league this year and continues to be decimated by injuries, so if Murray is ruled out again and Felix is deemed healthy enough to go, feel free to get “Fragile Felix” in there one last time.
Will DeMarco Murray give his fantasy owners something to be thankful for and actually get back on the field this Thursday?
“Doubtful” is the reigning call right now.
Doubtful because the Cowboys want him completely healthy for the stretch run into the playoffs… if they can stay in contention at all, that is.
The latest word on DeMarco is that he’ll be held out at least one more week in order to make sure his foot is OK to face the Eagles on Sunday night in Week 13.
Lance Dunbar / Phillip Tanner
The third-string job here has been a revolving door all year, but neither guy has stepped up to make enough of a difference to be considered a legitimate backup just yet.
It looked like Phillip Tanner was going to be the backup RB this week with Dunbar going in for a minor procedure on his knee after the Week 11 game.
However, Dunbar was actually splitting first-team reps with Tanner in practice this week and could end up starting if Felix Jones turns out to be inactive.
Either way, neither is worth starting as more than a flex in larger leagues.
Garcon made his return to action last week and was unimpressive with three catches for a grand total of five yards.
"The Waiter" has a ton of talent, as he showed in the first quarter of the first game of the season, but he was struck with the dreaded turf toe in the middle of that quarter and has been completely incapacitated ever since .
The problem for fantasy owners is that turf toe is an injury that always seems to linger and can resurface at any time, thus keeping owners in limbo as to whether he's worth a roster spot.
Garcon is probably the biggest risk/reward guy in the league at this point.
He is still getting back into game-shape as he was not able to run while he was recovering from the turf toe injury, so it will be tough to actually start him before he shows anything.
He'll get some passes thrown his way, but the amount of production he will produce will be limited, especially in a short week with less time to rest his foot.
Moss only had one catch last week, but it was a 61-yard TD bomb in which he had to out-duel two Eagles defenders to score.
Santana has only seen a total of three targets in the past two games, and other than a nine-target game a few weeks ago, he hasn't had more than five targets in any other game.
Moss has had a lot of success in his career against the Cowboys and should see more targets in this game than he has seen in the past two weeks, but he is still not a strong play this Thanksgiving.
Morgan has actually caught 14 passes over his last three games, but his lack of playmaking ability has kept him to gaining just 117 yards on those receptions (8.4 YPC).
There’s not a single dependable WR you can play on this team right now, including Mr. Morgan.
Robinson may be fast as all hell, but this ain’t a track and field competition.
Wait until next year.
I can’t tell if Hankerson is the WR1 on this team or the WR5.
Being a former third-round selection, you’d think he would have taken over some sort of role by now… but he hasn’t.
Hankerson hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1 and is completely undependable.
Did Dez Bryant just make himself the most sought-after wide receiver in the league with his performance against Cleveland last week?
Nah, but the kid is definitely better than he had been playing over the first half of the season.
Grabbing 12 balls on 15 targets is nothing to sneeze at, but with Joe Haden sitting on the sidelines for the Browns during that game, be wary of what just happened.
He’s a dominant force when he wants to be, but the question is—when can fantasy owners count on him to be that guy?
This week might be a good one going up against a Redskins defense that allows the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, but then again, Dez hasn’t shown up on Thanksgiving for a couple of years now, so which way do you go?
I think he’s a must-start this week, especially with Washington’s defense being hit by the injury bug lately (and all year for that matter).
I’ve never been a big fan of Miles Austin—though from the hate mail I’ve sent him over the years, I’m guessing he’s not the biggest fan of mine either.
However, the fact that the kid has stayed healthy all year says a lot to me, as I didn’t expect it in the slightest.
His big games have been a little too few and far between for my liking and I’m sure there are plenty of owners out there who agree with me, but at least he’s been healthy.
Like I said for Bryant, the Redskins defense can be scored upon, so when you combine the fact that Tony Romo loves these Thursday/Thanksgiving games with a decimated Washington defense, there’s no reason to think that Austin won’t be able to at least put up low-end WR2 numbers.
Ogletree took all the first-time fantasy players for a ride earlier in the year, but I’m guessing most of them have smartened up since then.
Anyway, it looks like Kevin might have himself a concussion, so if you were thinking about catching lightning in a bottle this week, think again.
Ogletree has now officially been ruled to be OUT for the Cowboys Thanksgiving game.
Cole Beasley / Dwayne Harris
Either one of these guys is capable of stepping into the WR3 role on this team, but how often Romo actually looks in their direction remains to be seen.
Keep an eye on these two guys because you never know when or who will step into the hole created by Laurent Robinson’s departure.
This week it looks like Dwayne Harris will get the call, so if you're desperate for a flex play this week, he'd be the guy to take a chance on.
Paulsen had been quietly effective in the three games before last week’s performance against the Eagles.
In those three games, Logan had 13 catches on 20 targets for 178 yards, but even though he only caught one pass for 17 yards last week, he still had the most fantasy points he's had all year because it happened to be good for a TD.
Paulsen has a tough matchup this week as the Cowboys are in the bottom third of the league in tight end fantasy points per game allowed.
If you have a better option, you might want to look elsewhere this week.
Despite his early-season spleen situation, Jason Witten currently leads all tight ends with 96 targets and 73 receptions.
His 636 yards on the year isn’t what makes him tenth on the fantasy points per game list, though—it’s the lack of touchdowns, a problem he’s had throughout his entire career.
Lucky for Witten owners, the Redskins have allowed the second-most TDs to tight ends this season as well as the second-most fantasy points per games, so there’s no reason to think Witten won’t dominate the field this week.
He seems to be very fond of the Thanksgiving Thursday game anyway, so make sure you have him inserted as your TE1 this week.
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