An annual Thanksgiving tradition returns once again in 2022 with the NFL kicking off its Week 12 slate on the holiday. There will be a triple-header on display with the Buffalo Bills taking on the Detroit Lions, followed by the New York Giants traveling to face the Dallas Cowboys, and the nightcap featuring the New England Patriots playing the Minnesota Vikings. The volume of games on the holiday means a number of choices to make for fantasy football managers.
We’ll take you through some starts and sits for the Thanksgiving tripleheader.
Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Pollard is coming off an explosive 30.9 PPR fantasy performance in Week 11 that saw him finish with 189 combined yards from scrimmage to go along with two touchdowns. Even with fellow backfield mate Ezekiel Elliot seeing 16 touches, Pollard has managed to put up RB1 fantasy numbers alongside him, with is an encouraging sign for fantasy managers. He is arguably RB 1A in a Cowboys offense that should provide tremendous upside in a Thanksgiving showdown versus the Giants, who allow the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions
Williams had his best fantasy performance of the season with a 24.4 PPR fantasy point performance last week in a win over the Giants, and better yet the box score showed how much of a hold he has on the RB1 spot for Detroit. He out carried D’Andre Swift 17-to-5 while also finding the endzone three times to Swift’s lone score. Buffalo allows 17.0 fantasy points to opposing running backs, and Williams’ level of production over recent weeks makes him a strong play in what could be a shootout versus the Bills.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Hockenson had just 3.4 PPR fantasy points last week in what was a dismal three-point scoring performance from the Vikings' offense, but his impact in Minnesota’s offense arguably makes him a lock-in TE1. In the past three games he’s seen a total of nine, 10, and nine targets respectively, so he’s clearly becoming the second favorite target of Kirk Cousins, behind Justin Jefferson. His opponent in the Patriots this week gives up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and Minnesota should be motivated to put on a commanding offensive performance after last week’s blunder.
Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants
Slayton didn’t see a target the last time he matched up versus the Cowboys back in Week 2, but that will surely change due to recent events. The Giants’ receiving room has taken a significant hit to their depth, and the latest loss came by way of Wan’Dale Robinson suffering a season-ending MCL injury. Simply put, Slayton is one of, if not the only, trustworthy option left for Daniel Jones to target through the air. Dallas gives up an average of 20.9 fantasy points to opposing receivers, with Slayton having an excellent chance of seeing the majority of receiving targets on Thanksgiving.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Cousins had an absolutely miserable performance in Week 11 that resulted in a season-low 2.2 fantasy point performance. Granted, the veteran signal-caller was not alone with Minnesota’s offense as a whole having a performance to forget. Now they play host to a Patriots’ defense that held the Jets to just 103 total yards of offense last week, and Bill Belichick has a reputation for putting together a sound defensive scheme versus his opponents. The Patriots also allow the 11th-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, which could set up a game script that favors Minnesota’s ground game.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Gallup has yet to surpass five receptions in a game this season as he continues to acclimate himself back from ACL surgery. His best fantasy performance came in his season debut with 10.4 PPR fantasy points, but since then he has yet to surpass double-digits in a single game. At best he’s a fringe WR3 or WR4 heading into this Thanksgiving matchup, given that it’s clear he’s still working his way into playing like the receiver he was prior to last season’s injury.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
At this point in the season, it’s clear that Swift is a touchdown-dependent fantasy option, which is mind-boggling given the expectations of him heading into the season. In scoring a rushing touchdown last week he finished with 12.2 PPR fantasy points, which helped offset just 20 rushing yards on five total carries. For whatever reason, he’s clearly behind in the pecking order with Williams, as well as Justin Jackson, now ahead of him in carries in the backfield. He’s too much of a fantasy risk at this point, meaning fantasy managers should keep him on the bench for his Thanksgiving showdown.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Thielen was held to just 25 receiving yards in last week’s loss to the Cowboys, and prior to Week 11, he was contained with just 49 receiving yards in a highlight-worthy contest with the Bills. The gradual dip in production illustrates how he’s arguably becoming the odd man out in a pass-heavy offense that is slowly boosting Hockenson into a WR2 option. At best he presents some flex appeal for needy fantasy managers but sitting behind the pecking order with Jefferson and Hockenson ahead of him gives reason for caution.