Thanksgiving games feature good, bad and ugly fantasy picks

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 08: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 08, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The 2020 coronavirus version of NFL Thanksgiving Day games feature some “good” (Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson), “bad” (Houston defense) and “ugly” (Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson’s inconsistent play) fantasy football picks.

The Good

  • Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans quarterback, has scored 69.72 fantasy football points (FFP) in the last 3 games.  His best week was week 11 against the New England Patriots as Watson completed 28 of 37 passes for 344 yards and scored 31.36 FFP.  He also ran for a touchdown and threw 2 touchdown passes.  In the Thanksgiving Day opening game against Detroit, expect Watson to throw for 300+ yards and score 25-30 FFP.
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, has quietly put together another strong season which helps to explain the Steelers’ perfect 10-0 record. He is No. 5 among quarterbacks in touchdown passes with 24. He has averaged 302 yards passing In his last 3 games.. Roethlisberger will be tested in the evening Thanksgiving game against archrival Baltimore ‘s top 10 defensive secondary, but he should be good for 15-20 FFP.

The Bad

  • Three (Dallas, Detroit and Houston) of the six teams playing on Thanksgiving Day have defenses and special teams that are ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL.  The Cowboys are No. 24; the Lions are No. 27, and Houston is No. 31 in yards surrendered to the opposition per game, according to the Pro Football Database.  Baltimore,  Pittsburgh and Washington ironically have  defenses and special teams ranked in the top 1 of the NFL.  Houston and Detroit’s 1 pm game on CBS should be a high-scoring contest given the weak state of their respective defenses.
  • The running games of the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans are Nos. 29 and 31, respectively, in the NFL.  Both teams average less than 100 yards rushing per game.  Don’t expect a breakout performance by a running back in the Houston-Detroit game.

The Ugly

  • Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens quarterback, has played “ugly” (meaning “inconsistent”) football this year.  Last year’s NFL MVP has struggled to reach 20 FFP per game since Baltimore’s “Bye” in week 7. He has a 5:2 ratio in TD passes to interceptions and has yet to break the 300-yards passing barrier this season.  Jackson has 3 rushing touchdowns compared to Kyler Murray’s 10 and Cam Newton’s 9 TD’s.  With his production down, don’t expect more than 15 FFP from Jackson.
  • Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys running back,.finally topped 100 yards rushing in a game as he ran for 103 yards against Minnesota in week 11.  HIs productivity has not significantly improved since Dak Prescott was lost for the season due to an injury.  Elliott is suited for the “Flex” player role, but Washington’s stingy defense may hold him to 15 FFP in Thursday’s midday game on Fox.

Sleeper on Thanksgiving Day

  • Terry McLaurinWashington wide receiver, is one of the most underrated pass catchers in the NFL.  Given the defensive woes of the Cowboys, Washington quarterback Alex Smith should be able to throw more passes to McLaurin, which should put his output around 20 FFP.

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