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Avoid the Thanksgiving Day Massacre

Matthew Stafford

I’ve been there – you’re going into Turkey Day, locked in the heat of a lethal fake football playoff battle with your buddy or coworker or college friend who snuck his way into your keeper league and has proven a genuine douche bag over the first 11 weeks of the NFL season.

Matthew Stafford

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

You’re ready to unleash your fantasy squad’s big guns on Turkey Day, to watch your score tick up and up and up as you pour gravy straight from its boat into your big, fat gullet. You want to build an insurmountable lead, one big enough to kick back on Sunday and read The Iliad while listening to Chopin. No football in sight. You’ve already won.

Like you though, I’ve been massacred on Thanksgiving Day. Not by my opponent, but by my own brash or cautious decisions. It’s important not to throw everyone out there, but it’s also critical to avoid sitting guys slated for big days.

So don’t massacre yourself on Thanksgiving. There’s already too much massacring intermingled with the holiday.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions – You hate him. He was supposed to be who we thought he was, or who Dennis Green thought he was, or something like that. But last week, like so many weeks this season, he laid a cracked, leaking egg on your pretend football team. Stafford, once again, was throwing off his back foot, dropping his arm into that unsightly sidearm motion, resulting in two ugly interceptions. Even his touchdown toss to Calvin Johnson was, almost inarguably, pure luck.

I think, after all that ugliness, that Stafford is still a top-6 quarterback plays against the Texans on Turkey Day. Houston, only four days removed from be torched by Chad Henne, will be without top cornerback Jonathon Joseph. The Lions are entering desperation mode – they should’ve switched to that
mode a month ago – so I don’t see any reason they won’t throw early and often.

Even in Stafford’s crappy games this year, he’s put up gaudy numbers. Against the Rams in Week 1, he played like garbage and ended with 355 yards and a score. Same thing happened at Philadelphia, when he threw for 311 and a touchdown. And again at Minnesota, finishing with 329 yards and three touchdown tosses.

Stafford’s fantasy floor is still among the highest in the league. Leaving him on your bench will require a good amount of Wild Turkey to numb the pain, I think.

Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions – Far from a must-start, Broyles is, at worst, a fine flex play for owners in deep leagues. He won’t start Thursday’s game because Jim Schwartz has a weird thing for Mike Thomas, who will take the place of temper tantrum artist Titus Young (suspended by the Lions for one game).

Numbers and anecdotal evidence support Broyles against the Texans. Broyles has caught a whopping 15 of 18 balls thrown his way this season, creating consistent separation and fighting off defenders on throws in traffic.

His quarterback doesn’t hate him either.

“Every time I throw him the ball, he makes a play,” Stafford said in an interview this week. “Maybe I should throw it to him some more. I’m sure he’d like that.”

Broyles may get fewer snaps than his vastly inferior counterpart, Thomas, but I think he could snag five or six passes against Houston’s depleted secondary, and Stafford hasn’t shied away from him in the red zone.

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans – The two touchdowns Garrett Graham caught last week in Houston’s overtime shootout freaked you out. I get it.

It hurts – a searing pain, the kind that stings for hours afterward – when your tight end doesn’t grab the gimme touchdowns from the one yard line. Graham played less than half of the Texans’ snaps, however, while Daniels played almost 90 percent of the team’s offensive plays.

Detroit is seventh worst against tight ends this year, allowing 8.2 fantasy points per game. Tight ends have picked apart the Lions’ suspect safeties of late, scoring a combined 25 fantasy points in their past two games. The Lions have allowed more than 10 fantasy points to tight ends five times this year. Daniels is a crisp route runner with sure hands who, I think, has a nice shot at a handful of catches on Thanksgiving.

Daniels, the No. 4 fantasy tight end this year, is a locked-in top-10 option in Week 12. Check my rankings if you’re a tortured fake footballer who owns a couple solid tight ends.

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