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Ranking Thanksgiving day D/ST units for Week 12 fantasy football

We go over who you should start and who you should sit on your fantasy football teams for Week 12’s Thanksgiving day matchups.

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and safety Marcus Allen react to an interception during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.  Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s update: Prior to Ravens-Steelers getting moved, the Steelers D/ST was No. 1 and the Ravens D/ST was No. 3 in these rankings.

There are three games slated for Thanksgiving Day and fantasy owners will be eager to add a little extra happy to their holiday by way of a great start to their Week 12 fantasy matchup. We have six teams facing off and within that handful of teams there are a few viable starting options for your D/ST position in your lineups. Who will provide the biggest upside of the bunch? We break down the fantasy analysis and rank your Thanksgiving Day team defense options in order from best to worst below.

1. Washington Football Team D/ST

The Football Team’s D/ST has been hit or miss so far this season, as they can have negative points one week while going on to score 17.0 points the next week. This type of volatility may make some fantasy owners nervous, but they can take solace in the fact that the last time Washington faced off against the Cowboys in Week 8 they managed to put up 13.0 fantasy points. The Cowboys showed a spark in Week 11 as they managed 31 points against the Vikings, but the Football Team has a much stronger unit than Minnesota and can be expected to put up a better fight.

2. Dallas Cowboys D/ST

The Cowboys will welcome Washington into town this week, as they battle for the top spot in the NFC East. Somehow the top spot can be obtained with a record of 4-7 and the Cowboys hope to obtain the title of the best of the worst. The Football Team is far from a formidable opponent, as Alex Smith has taken over in the wake of Kyle Allen’s injury and has failed to knock anyone’s socks off just yet. The Cowboys have been beaten badly through the air all season and Alex Smith is not as likely to destroy them with his arm as some of the other quarterbacks Dallas has faced this season. The Cowboys aren’t advisable as a fantasy starter, but with the Ravens and Steelers off the list, they manage to come in second in this particular competition.

3. Houston Texans D/ST

It was a tight race for fifth place, but the Texans D/ST seems to have a slight edge on their Week 12 opponent, the Detroit Lions. They have been unimpressive all year, averaging only 0.6 points per game and finishing with negative point totals on five separate occasions. Fifth place here isn’t so much about the caliber of the Texans D/ST, but more about the caliber of the Texan’s offense and its ability to beat up on a Detroit D/ST that has also been a weekly underachiever this season. Don’t start Houston D/ST if you can help it, but if it comes down to it, you can start them over the Detroit D/ST.

4. Detroit Lions D/ST

The writing is on the wall at this point, and the Lions are the Thanksgiving Day D/ST losers. They have averaged only 1.2 points per game this season and have finished with negative point totals on three separate occasions. The Lions have a tough matchup this week, in which they take on DeShaun Watson and a Texans offense that just put up 27 points against a tough Patriots defense in Week 11. A weak track record and a tough opponent make for a bad outlook. Leave the Lions D/ST on the waiver wire this week.