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Breaking down fantasy football start/sit options for Thanksgiving

It’s turkey day and that means the annual NFL triple-header. We break down the best and worst fantasy football options to open Week 13.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott hands off the ball to running back Ezekiel Elliott during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday’s Thanksgiving NFL schedule has three games: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m. ET), Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys (4:30 p.m. ET) and New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (8:20 p.m. ET). Because of the three-game Thanksgiving slate, fantasy owners may need to make some start/sit decisions a little sooner this week.

The Bears are 4-point favorites over the Lions in what is projected to be a low-scoring game, as the total points of 37 on DraftKings Sportbook ranks as the lowest scoring game on the Week 13 schedule. The Cowboys are 6.5-point favorites over the Bills, and the total points on DraftKings Sportbook sits at 47, tied for sixth highest on the Week 13 schedule. The Saints are 6.5-point favorites over the Falcons, and the total points of 48 on DraftKings Sportbook ranks third in Week 13.

The Lions are heavily banged up at QB, as in addition to Matthew Stafford (back) remaining out, the team has also ruled backup QB Jeff Driskel (hamstring) out. David Blough is now set to start at QB for the Lions. In addition, Lions TE T.J. Hockenson (shoulder) is questionable. For the Bears, WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion) and TE Ben Braunecker (concussion) have been ruled out.

There are a few other notable names on the injury report that fantasy owners will need to monitor leading up to the game. The most notable name is Falcons WR Julio Jones (shoulder), who did not practice all week and is listed as questionable. Falcons TE Luke Stocker (back) also did not practice this week and is questionable. The good news for Atlanta is that RB Devonta Freeman (foot) is set to return after missing time due to injury, as he does not carry an injury designation heading into the game. Fantasy owners will get the list of inactives 90 minutes before game-time, so check back in around 6:50 p.m. ET for the status of Jones.

There are some obvious must-start players this week, including Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Saints WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara and QB Drew Brees, and—if healthy—Falcons WR Julio Jones. Here are some other players fantasy owners can consider starting or sitting in their seasonal leagues:

Start QB Mitchell Trubisky in deep leagues, sit otherwise

Trubisky is having a poor season, posting an 80.5 QB rating, significantly worse than the 2019 league average QB rating of 91.0 while averaging just 12 DraftKings fantasy points per game. This game also does not project to be high-scoring, and passing volume could be limited with the Lions down to their third-string QB. However, Trubisky draws a soft matchup against a Lions defense that has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to QBs and has allowed opposing QBs to post a QB rating of 98.0, ninth highest. While being the road team on a short week is a difficult task, the matchup is taking place indoors, a better passing environment than Chicago. In his previous game vs. the Lions this season, Trubisky had one of his best fantasy outings of the season, tossing three TD passes and recording just under 20 DraftKings fantasy points. Trubisky is an unappealing and risky fantasy option in most weeks but is a start candidate in deeper leagues this week for fantasy owners in need of a QB.

Start WR Allen Robinson

Robinson has been Chicago’s best fantasy asset, averaging 15 DraftKings fantasy points per week, and he lands in a good spot against the aforementioned Lions pass defense. The Lions have allowed more fantasy points per game than average to WR and have allowed the third most passing yards per game. Robinson leads the Bears in both total red zone targets and targets inside the 10-yard line, making him the primary option near the end zone.

Start WR Anthony Miller

With Taylor Gabriel (concussion) ruled out, Miller is a candidate for a role upgrade this week. Miller has seen strong target volume over his last two games, getting 11 and nine targets, respectively, and scoring double-digit DraftKings fantasy points in each contest. A matchup against a poor Lions pass defense is a soft one.

Start RB David Montgomery

Montgomery’s rushing efficiency has been brutal this season, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, one-yard worse than the league average of 4.3 yards per carry. Montgomery has also failed to surpass 6.0 DraftKings fantasy points in each of his last three games. That said, a matchup against the Lions is appealing given the Lions have allowed the second most fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. Detroit has also been burned through the air by RBs, allowing the third most receiving yards to RBs, which makes Bears pass-catching RB Tarik Cohen an option in deeper leagues as well. Cohen’s 70 targets out of the backfield rank third highest among all RBs.

Start WR Kenny Golladay and WR Marvin Jones in deeper leagues, sit in shallow leagues

There are issues for Golladay and Jones this week. The Lions are down to their third-string QB and are projected to be one of the lowest scoring offenses this week due to their QB situation along with a difficult matchup against the Bears, who have the league’s fourth best defense by points and yards allowed. In three games since Stafford went out of the lineup, Kenny Golladay’s production has fallen, and he faces a Bears defense that has been very tough on WR, holding WR to the second fewest fantasy points per game. In Golladay’s previous game vs. the Bears with Driskel under center, he caught only three of his nine targets for 57 yards, but did get into the end zone. Marvin Jones’ production has been better than Golladay’s since Stafford’s injury, but also draws a tough matchup. Still, despite all those issues, Golladay and Jones are quality receivers and remain start candidates in deeper leagues.

Start RB Bo Scarbrough

Detroit’s backfield was led by Scarbrough last week with 18 touches, and Scarbrough could be in line for more touch volume with Detroit down their top two QBs. While he draws a difficult assignment against a Bears rush defense that ranks fourth best by yards allowed per carry, the Bears have been prone to allowing TDs to running backs, allowing 10 rushing TDs in 11 games, tied for third most. In two games with Detroit, Scarbrough has received three touches inside the 10-yard line.

Sit Cowboys passing game in shallow leagues, start in deeper leagues

The Cowboys’ passing attack of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup draws a tough assignment against a Bills defense that ranks third best at preventing fantasy points to QBs and WRs and has allowed the third fewest passing yards. In addition, the game plan may not favor passing volume, as Buffalo has been mediocre against the run, which could result in Dallas giving Ezekiel Elliott a heavy dose of touches on the ground.

Start RB Devin Singletary

After a light role to begin the season, Singletary has emerged as the primary option in Buffalo’s backfield. Singletary recorded 22 touches while playing on 71% of the Bills’ offensive plays last week, and potential 20+ touch volume makes him an appealing start candidate against a Dallas run defense that has been mediocre.

Start QB Josh Allen

Allen’s ability to rush the ball gives him a second means of fantasy production, boosting both his floor and ceiling each week. Allen’s 83 rushing attempts ranks second among QB behind only Lamar Jackson, and his 35 rushing yards per game ranks third.

Start WR Calvin Ridley

Ridley is in a good spot regardless of whether Julio Jones (shoulder) plays, as the game is projected to be one of the higher-scoring ones on Week 13 and could have favorable passing volume indoors. If Jones is ultimately ruled out, Ridley could be in line for expanded target volume, and WR Russell Gage would become a more appealing start option. Gage played on a season-high 74% of snaps last week and saw a season-high 10 targets.