By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Every year, when I write this column during Thanksgiving week, my intro is typically a laundry list of people I’m thankful for.
This year, in 2020, things have gone a little off the rails, so let’s not go about changing too much.
I have a lot to be thankful for. While this pandemic left me unemployed for four months, I had a lot of great people in my life that helped me get through it and keep me focused on the task at hand. It wasn’t always easy — mental stability isn’t easy when faced with instability like that — but I made it through.
So before I get into my Week 12 picks, I want to let a bunch of people know how thankful I am to them:
- First and foremost, I’m thankful to have everyone that’s a part of the Club Fantasy FFL team. Seriously, this site isn’t much without them and I’ll forever be grateful to all of them for their immense hard work in putting out quality work:
- To Faith Enes (@FF_LeapOfFaith on Twitter). Some of you have gotten to know her over the last six months as her presence on Twitter has boomed. But before all of that, she was someone I met in a Facebook group geared around sports. Not only has she become our editor here at Club Fantasy FFL, as well as the co-host of our Women of Fantasy Football initiative and host of The Speakeasy (exclusively on our YouTube page), but she’s become one of my best friends. She is definitely someone who helps keep me focused on the task at hand and keeps it real with me. One couldn’t ask for a better friend.
- To Joe Zollo (@joe_zollo). For the last three years, Joe has been the engine that keeps Club Fantasy going. The work he does with our social media account, graphics, podcast, and website has been invaluable. There honestly wouldn’t be a Club Fantasy without him. Joe is my dude and despite him being a Patriots fan, he’s my guy and I love him like a brother.
- To Maggie Byrd (@maggiebee04). She was the only graphic designer we had for the better part of two years. All the fire graphics we have were inspired by her. If not for Joe, there is no Maggie on this team. She’s one of the hardest workers I know and she puts up with all my meticulous nitpicking and still over-delivers on everything. I love her like a sister and I’ll be a fan for life and one of her biggest cheerleaders.
- To Ryan Weisse (@TheFantasyFive). Inviting you onto our podcast last year was probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done. You have so much going for you, inside and outside of the Fantasy Football industry, and yet, when I asked you to be a part of the Club Fantasy team, you didn’t hesitate to say yes. Your drive and hard work inspires me every day to churn out the best product I can and I can’t wait for the masses to see what we’ve been cooking up behind the scenes. You’re a rock star and I’m happy I can call you a friend.
- To Chris Molina (@ChrisMo2413). You were the first person I invited to contribute to Club Fantasy as a writer and I’m happy I did. We’re in a number of Fantasy leagues together now and I’m sure that number will continue to grow. You’re great to talk sports with, and an even better friend. Now, if only I can get you to write some more articles instead of utilizing that fresh new law degree…
- To Drew Metcalfe (@drewmet89). Thanks to Chris, I’ve gotten to know you better over the last year. I’m glad I could talk you into trying your hand at writing about fantasy football because you’re honestly great at it. I can’t wait to see how you continue to grow as a writer, and I’m glad I could publish your first piece.
- To Kyra Wiaterowski (@PhantasyFFkyra). You’re one of the rising stars of Fantasy Football Twitter, and for some reason, you agreed to write with us. I couldn’t be prouder of you, not only as a writer but as a person. I’ve gotten to know you well over the last few months and you’re something special, Kyra. We’re going to make some fucking magic over the next year, and the people have no idea how great it’s going to be. Love ya, girl!
- To Lauren Carpenter (@stepmomlauren). You were the first guest we ever had on No Punt Intended. Your profile is HUGE, but you decide to slum it with us little people anyway. As I’ve gotten to know you more over the last year and a half, I realize now why you did — you’re one of the most humble people I’ve ever met and you’re one of the GREATEST people I’ve ever met. When we decided to launch the Women of Fantasy Football initiative, next to Faith, you were the only other person I wanted to be involved. I knew I’d find a way to work with you! You’ve become a great friend and I can’t wait to continue to build the WOFF brand with you. I’m so excited for what the future holds for you!
- To Christian Lily-Crum (@christy1er). You’re certainly not the biggest name in the Twitter-sphere, but it’s okay. When it comes to college scouting, there are few people I trust more. If there was anything good that came out of my last romantic relationship, meeting you was easily it. You’ve been one of my best friends for almost five years now and helping out with video editing and other production-related projects is always appreciated. Maybe one day you’ll take the dive into Devy Twitter, and others can see what I mean.
- I’m thankful to all the guests we’ve had on No Punt Intended this year — Gary Haddow (@garyhaddow1; SFB9 champ and our first guest of 2020), Zach from Fantasy Football Pizzeria (@ffpizzaman), Angelo (@angelo_fantasy), Jon Helmkamp (@DynastyBeard), Kyle M from Dynasty Nerds (@DynastyFF_KyleM), Frank B from Fantasy Wire HQ (@FantasyWireHQ), Tommy Garrett (@tommygarrettPFN), Stoner (FantasyFBStoner), Mark Drumheller (@x_drumheller), Paulie (@PauliesSleepers), Sam Wallace (@SWallace_FF), Joe Redemann (@TheIDPGuy), Aaron Larson (@aalarson), Matthew Betz (@thefanatsypt), Mike “The Fantasy Hitman” Wright (@ffhitman), Dave from FantasyGO.com (@fantasyGOnfl), Nate Hamilton (@DomiNateFF), Troy King (@TKingMode), Rob Wilson (@TheFFGator), Linda Godfrey (@lindellions), Eric Ludwig (@ff_gouge), Samantha Previte (@SamanthaNFL), Jake Trowbridge (@JakeTrowbridge), and Mike Faiella (@DaddysHomeFF).
- I’m very thankful to all the wonderful women we had on for our Women of Fantasy Football shows — Liz Loza (@lizloza_ff), Kate (@ffballblast) & Michelle Magdziuk (@BallBlastEm), Rosalie Michaels (@RosalieMichaels), Jen Piacenti (@jenpiacenti), Lindsey Ok (@lindseyyok), Linda Godfrey, Kacey Kasem (@thekaceykasem), Jen Ryan (@FFdeJENerate), Brandon Marianne Lee (@BrandonHerFF), and Sam Holt (@SamanthaRHolt).
- I’m also forever thankful to all the people that support us by tuning into our show on a weekly basis and interact with us across our social media platforms. It’s great to make the connections throughout this ever-growing industry, but at the end of the day, what I do and what we at Club Fantasy do is for you. It’s to entertain you; it’s to provide you with great fantasy advice, and it’s to continually better our process when we make bad calls. We know we’re not perfect. We’re not going to get every call right. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work hard to try and get every call right going forward.
Since it’s the week of Thanksgiving, you had to know you were getting some Thanksgiving-themed jokes, right? Because I know you read this for them instead of fantasy advice.
And with that, I’ve taken up enough of your time, so here we go with my Week 12 picks. For reference. I bounced back in a big way — remember when I said to fade Alvin Kamara? Yeah, not even an RB2 last week — getting 62.5% of my calls correct last week. Hopefully, there’s no dip in sight because these next two weeks are crucial. Maybe you have a playoff spot locked up, but if you don’t, these picks are for you!
If you read this column last week or in the preseason, you have a good idea as to what my Confidence Plays represent. It’s essentially a start/sit column featuring players I think will boom (play) versus those I think will bust (fade). I try to focus on some middle-of-the-road and streaming options, as you’re likely playing your top guys regardless of the matchup, but some of those top guys may land on the Fade side. (Some matchups suck — what do you want me to do?) Don’t interpret this as “I have to sit Patrick Mahomes to play Derek Carr because Carr is a Play this week.” Don’t be that fantasy player. But maybe put some of them in your DFS lineups to maximize upside or play them as your RB2 or WR2 or in your FLEX. Or, you know, stream them.
QB Philip Rivers (IND) – Why did the farmer have to separate the chicken and the turkey? He sensed fowl play.
Against TEN in Week 10, Rivers was QB14. He has four top 15 finishes in his last five games. TEN has allowed four straight top 16 performances to QBs. With T.Y. Hilton healthy and the emergence of Michael Pittman, Jr., coupled with a running game that is humming, Rivers has a safe floor as a low-end QB1 this week in what is sure to be a tough divisional game.
QB Daniel Jones (NYG) – What key has legs and can’t open a door? A turkey.
Cincinnati is tied for the 2nd most passing touchdown allowed to QBs (22). Daniel Jones has three games this season with at least two touchdown passes. The Bengals have allowed at least two passing touchdowns in seven of their 10 games this season. Any other QB would be a top 5 lock against the Bengals this week, but for Jones, we’ll settle for a low-end QB1 finish — something he should get with ease this week.
RB D’Andre Swift (DET) – Why did they let the turkey join the band? Because he had his own drumsticks.
It’s actually criminal how many rushing yards the Texans have allowed to RBs this year (145.8 rushing yards/game). I know Swift hasn’t been cleared from the concussion protocol yet, but I’m hopeful he’s able to play Thursday because this is a matchup no one wants him to miss. Those turkey legs the announcers give out on Thanksgiving? Yeah, Swift is earning all of them this week. **Editor’s note: Swift was ruled out prior to game-time.**
RB Jonathan Taylor (IND) – What happened to the turkey that got in a fight? He got the stuffing knocked out of him!
This is clearly a hill I’m willing to die on. JT is my drug of choice and I get high AF every Sunday. He had a great game last week against one of the worst run defenses in the league (Green Bay), so why am I excited to fire him up this week knowing he’s not likely to repeat that success? Well, the Titans have allowed the 8th most fantasy points per game to RBs since Week 7, including 37.0 to the Colts RBs in Week 10. Maybe Nyheim Hines is the go-to again for the Colts this time around (28.5 fantasy points), but I think Frank Reich saw what he needed to see from Taylor to keep him more involved going forward. Please, Frank. Please. Make this happen! **Editor’s note: Taylor was ruled out for Sunday’s game after being placed on the COVID/IR list on Saturday afternoon.**
RB Salvon Ahmed (MIA) – What do you call a running turkey? Fast food.
The Jets allow the 2nd most receptions to RBs on the year (69). The Dolphins have proven to want to play one RB most of the time and they’ll do it all. Matt Breida returned to the lineup last week and saw all of seven snaps. Ahmed is their guy until Myles Gaskin returns from injury and Ahmed saw six targets last week (5 catches) to go with 12 carries. Ahmed’s volume alone should keep him as an RB2 at minimum this week. **Editor’s note: Ahmed was ruled out for Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury. Batting .000 on these RB picks, huh?**
WR D.J. Moore (CAR) – What’s the best song to play while cooking a turkey? All about that baste.
The Vikings allow the 2nd most touchdowns to WRs on the year (17). Moore has over 200 yards the last two weeks on 11 catches and one touchdown. It seems like Joe Brady is finally realizing Moore is a stud and deserves the football more often. He should see it plenty against the Vikings’ porous secondary.
WR Will Fuller V (HOU) – Why did the turkey cross the road? He wanted people to think he was a chicken.
As much as I love Brandin Cooks, Fuller has been that dude for Houston this year. (It’s amazing what happens when he stays healthy.) Detroit allows the 6th most yards to WRs on the year and while they’ve only allowed eight receiving touchdowns, Fuller has the ability to buck that stat. He’s scoreless in his last two games, but before that, had six straight games with a touchdown. I’d look for Fuller to easily put up top 20 numbers on the week. (I also like Cooks this week, so if you’re trying to decide between the two, the answer is both.)
WR Jakobi Meyers (NE) – How come the turkey didn’t eat dinner? He was already stuffed.
Over the last four weeks, Meyers has run more than half his routes out of the slot. That tells me he’s not going to see as much of Patrick Peterson as we might initially believe. With N’Keal Harry back in the lineup, Meyers could see more Dre Kirkpatrick as well, which bodes very well for his potential output. Last week was a Damiere Byrd game. We want to believe Sunday is set up to be a Byrd Revenge Game. But really, it’s a Meyers game. The Cardinals allow the 5th most receptions and are tied for 6th in most touchdowns allowed to WRs. Cam Newton hasn’t thrown many touchdowns this year, and Meyers doesn’t have one yet, but this should be the week he gets one.
TE Hunter Henry (LAC) – What do you get if you cross a turkey with a ghost? A poultry-geist.
Henry is 6th among TEs in receiving yards (435). He’s TE4 over the last three weeks. Buffalo has allowed the 3rd most fantasy points per game to TEs so far this year. With Justin Herbert absolutely dominating the league this year, I fully expect him to get everyone involved against one of the more overrated defenses in the league. Henry should easily exceed 10 fantasy points in this favorable matchup.
TE Eric Ebron (PIT) – What kind of weather does a turkey like? Fowl weather.
Ebron scored against Baltimore in Week 8 and has three touchdowns in his last four games. With James Conner being inefficient of late (RB16 since Week 7), Ebron’s target share has increased. He has 32 targets since Week 7 and is TE4 over that time. Even if he doesn’t score this week, he has a shot to hit 10 fantasy points on receptions and yards alone.
QB Lamar Jackson (BAL) – What role do green beans play in Thanksgiving dinner? The casse-role.
Against the Steelers in Week 8, Jackson had his lowest completion percentage in a game this season (46.4%). In a game where both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins topped 80 rushing yards, and Jackson himself had 65, he had only 18.82 fantasy points (QB16). Jackson is down both Mark Ingram and Dobbins this week due to COVID and the Steelers haven’t gotten any easier to play against, with only Joe Burrow finishing in the top 20 against them the last three weeks. Jackson has only one top 15 finish in the last three weeks. Easy fade for me this week. **Editor’s note: Jackson was placed on the COVID/IR list and is out for this week’s game, that was pushed back to Tuesday.**
QB Carson Wentz (PHI) – What’s a turkey’s favorite dessert? Peach gobbler!
We know all the reasons why Carson Wentz and the Eagles should have a great game: the Seahawks allow the most passing yards per game and the 5th most points per game on defense. But in Week 9, Seattle saw S Jamal Adams return from injury and DE Carlos Dunlap made his debut after acquiring him from Cincinnati. Over the last three weeks, the Seahawks, as a team, have 15 sacks, 38 hurries, and have allowed only five passing touchdowns. On the season, the Eagles have allowed the most sacks (40) and Wentz is tied for 3rd in interceptions thrown when under pressure (5). He also has only four touchdown passes when under pressure. This isn’t as good of a matchup as it may seem, and with the state of the Eagles offense, Wentz doesn’t have the upside this week as some may want to believe.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) – Why was the Thanksgiving soup so expensive? It had 24 carrots.
In Week 11, the Rams had 37 yards rushing against the Bucs. In Week 10, the Panthers RBs had 49. In Week 9, Kamara and Murray combined for 79 yards on 19 rushes. The Bucs run defense is ELITE. Edwards-Helaire has only 150 rushing yards in his last four games (37.5 per game). Oh, but he’ll make up for it in receptions, you say? If there’s a week to do it, it’s this week — TB allows the most receptions on the season to RBs. But over his last three games, CEH has faced three teams in the top 10 in receptions allowed to RBs. He has seven receptions in those three games. Andy Reid doesn’t seem as willing to throw to CEH now as he was early in the year (27 targets over the first five games, 18 over the last five).
RB Miles Sanders (PHI) – Why did the cranberries turn red? Because they saw the turkey dressing.
Of RBs in the top 30 in total fantasy points, Sanders has the 5th fewest receptions (17). Last year, Sanders was one of 13 RBs to have 50 or more receptions and of those 13, he was behind only Austin Ekeler in yards per reception (10.2). Of anyone in the NFL with at least 100 rushing attempts, Sanders has the highest yards per carry this year (5.7). Sanders is currently the RB13 in fantasy points per game among RBs with at least six games played (14.7). Yes, this is an indictment on Doug Pederson’s horrendous play calling. Seattle gives up a ton of passing yards, but have allowed the 4th fewest rushing yards per game (91.2). They have also allowed the 4th most receptions to RBs on the season (66). This is me telling you Pederson isn’t smart enough to take advantage of a needed mismatch. You’re starting Sanders because we know what he’s capable of. But you probably won’t love the end result.
RB Melvin Gordon III (DEN) – What do you wear to Thanksgiving dinner? A har-vest.
Last week, Gordon found the end zone for the first time since Week 7. And for as great as he was, Phillip Lindsay still had one more carry. The Saints allow the 2nd fewest fantasy points per game to RBs on the year — fewest since Week 7 — so no matter how you slice it, this matchup isn’t a good one for Gordon. Before last week, Gordon had three straight games under 11 fantasy points. His saving grace will be his involvement in the passing game, but I’m not convinced he’ll do enough to be relevant.
WR Allen Robinson (CHI) – Why didn’t the cook season the Thanksgiving turkey? There was no thyme!
Since Week 6, Robinson has three of five games under 15 fantasy points. With the QB position being uncertain heading into Sunday night’s game — both Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky are banged up and Matt Nagy hasn’t announced a starter yet — Robinson becomes even more difficult to trust. The Packers have allowed the 7th fewest yards to WRs on the year and have allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points per game to WRs since Week 6. I’m not saying bench Robinson, but don’t be shocked if he puts up less than 15 points this week, which makes him more of a WR3 this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) – Which holiday is Dracula’s favorite? Fangs-giving.
Smith-Schuster had the most yards and catches against the Ravens back in Week 8, but Diontae Johnson left early and Chase Claypool caught a touchdown. Over the last three weeks, JuJu has seen the fewest targets of the three and doesn’t offer the yardage upside that Johnson does. He’s also dealing with a foot/toe injury he suffered last week. The Ravens have allowed only five touchdowns to WRs on the year, tied for the fewest in the NFL. They also haven’t allowed a touchdown from the slot this year, a place where JuJu is running 82.8% of his snaps. The upside just isn’t there for JuJu this week.
WR D.J. Chark (JAX) – What’s the best dance to do on Thanksgiving? The turkey trot.
On paper, this is a great matchup, especially since Denzel Ward is out this week with a calf strain. But honestly, how can you get excited about Mike Glennon as Chark’s starting QB? The last time Glennon started a game was in 2017. No pass catcher had over 70 receiving yards and Glennon had only one game over 300 passing yards (301). He had exactly one touchdown pass in each start. In fact, he targeted his RBs and TEs more than his receivers. And when he targeted his WRs, he threw to the slot with regularity. That role in the Jaguars offense of late has gone to Keelan Cole. Chark is a massive downgrade for me.
TE Noah Fant (DEN) – What kind of music did the pilgrims listen to? Plymouth Rock.
Remember when the mantra was “start your TEs against the Saints”? I miss those days. The Saints have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to TEs since Week 7 — only Jordan Reed has hit double digits against them in that span. Fant is tied for 6th among TEs in targets since Week 7, but he’s topped 10 fantasy points only three times this year. I doubt it’ll be a fourth this week.
TE Rob Gronkowski (TB) – Your grandma made mashed potatoes from a box. That’s it. That’s the joke.
Since Antonio Brown arrived in Tampa Bay, Gronk has five receptions over the last three games. His saving grace in Week 10 was a touchdown. Covering TEs isn’t something the Chiefs are great at — they’ve allowed five touchdowns to TEs on the year — so there’s a chance this backfires. Gronk is tied for 8th among TEs in receiving touchdowns, so the only way Gronk is relevant this week is if he scores. Hard to bank on that with how the Bucs offense has performed of late.
Good luck as you march towards the playoffs! As always, remember to tip your bartenders, take care of your take out specialists, and if you use valet when you go out, take care of them too. Give thanks to health care and other essential workers, and please wear a mask when you are out and about.