You cannot celebrate Thanksgiving without a turkey, and unfortunately for fantasy football owners, there should be plenty of turkeys on the field this holiday week.
Fantasy owners will not be thankful for these six players, unless these guys are on the opponent’s fantasy squads. If you own any of the players mentioned below, you would be better off benching them for a week so you can actually enjoy your holiday weekend.
Here are six must-not-starts this weekend in fantasy football:
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Fantasy football’s most popular game manager is coming off two of his three best games of the season, throwing for 242 yards and a score against the New York Giants two weeks ago and 267 yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals last week.
The fun stops for Smith on turkey night, though. He is up against a Baltimore Ravens defense that has allowed a league-low seven passing touchdowns. Smith is primed to have one of those 155-yard, two-INT games he used to have regularly before Jim Harbaugh took over as his head coach.
Do not feel too bad, Smith owners. He should be okay after his holiday hellfest with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Four of San Fran’s last five games are against teams in the NFL Worst (West). Just find another option this Thursday.
Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants
2011 has been a year for trash-talking underachievers. Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson, Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh, New York’s Santonio Holmes, San Diego’s Philip Rivers and Miami’s Brandon Marshall have all had a lot to say despite putting up numbers below expectations fantasy-wise.
Jacobs is another one who never shuts up and has not been putting up. Even though he weighs 265 pounds and should barrel though most linebackers or defensive backs, he is only averaging three yards per carry and is running like Jamal Lewis did during his Cleveland Browns years.
Jacobs only mustered 21 yards on 12 carries against the undersized Philadelphia Eagles last week, so the New Orleans Saints’ similarly structured defense should be just as difficult for him to run on, especially since his offensive line is falling apart quicker than someone suffering from leprosy. And New Orleans might build up a big early lead that could take Jacobs out of the game plan by the second half anyway. Find a smaller, faster RB to play if you can.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns
You gotta love his name, and you gotta love the numbers this third-stringer has been posting lately. Ogbonnaya has rushed for a surprising 205 yards and a touchdown over his last two games while subbing for the injured Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.
But the Jim Brown impersonation will be put on hold this weekend when Ogbonnaya runs into the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy is only allowing backs 3.4 yards per carry and is ranked third in the NFL in rushing defense.
The last two times Ogbonnaya was up against top-five run defenses he did diddly-squat, rushing for 37 yards against the San Francisco 49ers and 28 yards against the Houston Texans. Expect more of the same from him against a Bengals team desperate for a win.
Tyler Palko, Kansas City Chiefs
Palko looks like a guy high on gumption and heart and short on talent. His arm strength is very Chad Pennington-like, so he has to rely on completing passes within a 10-yard-range. Once he starts throwing farther downfield, however, things go awry.
He was decent when checking things down to backs, tight ends and Dwayne Bowe against the New England Patriots, but once he tried making bigger plays, the interceptions started coming (three INT in all).
Palko is scheduled to toss against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, a team that is ranked third in pass defense but is last in the league with a lowly four interceptions. Pittsburgh should be healthier and more prepared than normal since they are coming off a bye. That cannot bode well for Palko.
Chicago Bears Defense
I know the Bears defense has become a must-play in recent weeks due to all the defensive touchdowns and the Devin Hester special teams scores, but there are a couple humongous reasons to bench them this week in fantasy leagues.
Chicago’s pass defense has been leakier than a cheap diaper this year, ranking 30th. With Chicago slated to play Carson Palmer and his track-star receivers out in Oakland, I can smell the 275-yard passing game from here.
Also, with Jay Cutler out and Caleb Hanie in at quarterback, the Bears defense will probably be on the field a lot more than they are used to. In the fourth quarter they will likely be worn down and dealing with Michael Bush pounding into them. Plus, Hester cannot return a punt or a kickoff for a TD every week, right? Pick another defense if possible.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Three things always used to be certain—the sun would rise first in the east, Regis Philbin would be on television and Fitzpatrick would falter against the New York Jets. Thanks to Regis, only two of those things hold true now.
Fitzpatrick was doing fine until he played against the Jets three weeks ago. Darrelle Revis and Co. held Fitzy to 15-of-31 passing for 191 yards, one TD and two INT. The funny thing is that this was a Pro Bowl performance compared to Fitzpatrick’s past starts against Gang Green.
In 2009, Fitzpatrick completed 19-of-48 passes for just 214 yards in TWO games against the Jets. In 2010 he went 12-of-27 for 128 yards in his one start against them. For some reason when Fitzpatrick plays the Jets he transforms into Heath Shuler.
Things should stay the same this weekend when Fitzpatrick plays his archenemies. He has been downright dreadful recently—two TD, seven INT over his last three contests—and has a receiving corps that is more banged-up than Taylor Hawkins’ drum kit.
Bench Fitzpatrick and you will digest your Thanksgiving leftovers a little easier on Sunday evening.