News & Analysis

Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Week 12 Thanksgiving doubleheader

Nov 26, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) runs for a first down against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the United States! And happy day with extra football for everyone else.

The early matchup between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions featured running backs who were in a very giving mood, with three fumbles early in the game. Both teams were without their top running back and two of their top four receivers, leading to some offensive struggles.

The second matchup between division rivals will determine who is in first place and who is last in the NFC East, at least for a few days.

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As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action.

Houston Texans at Detroit Lions

Houston Texans Detroit Lions
WR WR
Brandin Cooks – 49 snaps Marvin Jones Jr. – 68 snaps
Will Fuller V – 47 snaps Marvin Hall – 49 snaps
Keke Coutee – 28 snaps Mohamed Sanu – 39 snaps
Steven Mitchell Jr. – 8 snaps Jamal Agnew – 25 snaps
Quintez Cephus – 24 snaps
TE TE
Pharaoh Brown – 30 snaps T.J. Hockenson – 60 snaps
Darren Fells – 28 snaps Jesse James – 38 snaps
Jordan Akins – 26 snaps Isaac Nauta – 8 snaps
Kahale Warring – 4 snaps
HB HB
Duke Johnson Jr. – 42 snaps Kerryon Johnson – 39 snaps
C.J. Prosise – 10 snaps Adrian Peterson – 22 snaps
Buddy Howell – 4 snaps Jonathan Williams – 21 snaps
Scottie Phillips – 4 snaps
Total – 56 snaps Total – 82 snaps

Winner: WR Will Fuller V, Houston Texans

Fuller has been one of the most dependable receivers this season — he even had a six-game stretch with a receiving touchdown in every game.

He was held without a touchdown in his previous two games, but he more than made up for it today. His 171 receiving yards are a new season-high, and this was his first two-touchdown game of the season. He could have scored a third, too, but that score was called back due to a penalty. Houston didn’t have Randall Cobb or Kenny Stills, which helped both Fuller and Brandin Cooks see a little more of the target share than usual.

Loser: WR Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions

The Lions didn’t have Kenny Golladay or Danny Amendola, so they needed a big game out of Jones. He led the way in targets at 12, but he only converted those into six catches for 48 yards, with a lot of those happening once the game was out of hand. He suffered an injury on the Lions' last offensive play of the game.

Detroit used a rotation of four players behind Jones. Mohamed Sanu played his second game with the Lions, and he moved up to third on the depth chart among healthy receivers, leading to the Lions' only receiving touchdown of the day. Detroit wide receivers should probably be avoided until Golladay returns.

Injury Replacement: RB Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions

D’Andre Swift had a breakout game two weeks ago but has now missed the last two due to a concussion.

The Lions' running back usage was pretty predictable today, with Kerryon Johnson and Peterson splitting time on early downs and Johnson taking the third-down snaps.

Both players put up good numbers, with Peterson scoring two touchdowns and Johnson gaining 98 yards between his rushing and receiving work. Jonathan Williams also played on some early-down passing plays as well as seeing time at the end of the game. He could have been a larger part of the game plan, but he fumbled his only carry in the first quarter and didn’t see another run snap after that point.

Swift should be back by next week, but the Lions' running backs should be avoided if not. It could be a three-person rotation against the Bears‘ defense. Chicago’s run defense will give these backs a bit more trouble than Houston did.

Dynasty Watch: TE Kahale Warring, Houston Texans

Warring was a third-round draft pick out of San Diego State for the Texans in 2019. He spent all of his rookie season on injured reserve, and after a few special teams snaps in Week 1, has spent most of 2020 on injured reserve, as well.

He was activated to return earlier in the week and played his first career offensive snaps today. All four of his snaps came in the passing game, and he dropped his only target. All four were from two-TE sets with Jordan Akins, a grouping they use more often with the injuries they have at wide receiver. If he can stay healthy, he could become a bigger part of the Texans' offense in 2021, too.

Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys

Washington Football Team Dallas Cowboys
WR WR
Terry McLaurin – 62 snaps Amari Cooper – 50 snaps
Cam Sims – 55 snaps Michael Gallup – 45 snaps
Isaiah Wright – 17 snaps CeeDee Lamb – 42 snaps
Steven Sims – 13 snaps Noah Brown – 13 snaps
Dontrelle Inman – 11 snaps Cedrick Wilson – 12 snaps
TE TE
Logan Thomas – 67 snaps Dalton Schultz – 51 snaps
Jeremy Sprinkle – 20 snaps Blake Bell – 18 snaps
Temarrick Hemingway – 9 snaps Sean McKeon – 4 snaps
HB HB
Antonio Gibson – 45 snaps Ezekiel Elliott – 39 snaps
J.D. McKissic – 28 snaps Tony Pollard – 21 snaps
Peyton Barber – 17 snaps
Total – 69 snaps Total – 59 snaps

Winner: RB Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

Gibson’s fantasy value continues to rise as the season goes on. He ran the ball 20 times for 115 yards and three touchdowns tonight — it was the second time in three weeks that he's scored multiple times. It was his fifth straight game with a rushing touchdown.

His rush attempt total tied for the most in his career, while his yardage total was second best. That alone was impressive, but today was also one of his most promising days as a receiver. He saw a career-high seven targets, leading to five catches and 21 yards. While he wasn’t all that effective as a receiver, the fact that Washington is attempting to give him the ball more is promising for the rest of the season. 

On the flip side, J.D. McKissic was tasked with one carry and two targets. He was effective on his touches, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make fantasy managers happy. If Washington’s next game is similar to this one, then McKissic can be dropped.

Loser: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Elliott ran the ball 10 times but managed only 32 yards and another fumble — his lowest ever output in a game where he was given double-digit carries. He was leading all running backs in fumbles before the game with five, but he extended his lead with a sixth one.

Elliott’s had plenty of fantasy value as a receiver this season, with the fourth-most targets and catches coming into the game at 48 and 38, respectively. He caught one pass on three targets for 7 yards in this game.

Tony Pollard wasn’t given many opportunities today but has outplayed Elliott throughout the season, including grading higher than him through 10 games. Ideally, Pollard would be given more opportunities in these last five games.

Buy Low: WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

Lamb had an excellent start to the season, with six straight games with five or more catches and 50 or more yards, though he had tailed off in recent weeks.  He hadn’t reached five receptions in a game since that streak until today.

Lamb has had a few things working against him this season. He almost never plays in two-receiver sets, which has been true throughout the year, while Dak Prescott‘s season-ending injury also played a big role in his decline. Another reason is that he started to play less often in 11 personnel — he was playing 88.5% of 11 personnel snaps over the first four weeks, and that fell to 74.9% over the following five. This corresponded with some of the backup receivers earning more playing time and taking some of the targets away from the top three receivers.

Lamb played 94.7% of 11 personnel snaps tonight while the backup receivers barely played. None of the backup receivers were targeted today, while the three starters had seven or more. The increased amount of playing time should help his targets for both the rest of this year and next season. Ideally,  he has Prescott back next year, and there is a chance he could start playing in two-receiver sets, too. I would expect this to be the lowest his value will be in dynasty for a while.

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