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Thursday Night Football Preview and Fantasy starts of the week

A fantasy outlook for tonight’s game and the whole week’s slate

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday Night Football:

Carolina Panthers:

-After a couple of down weeks of options, we have a good game tonight where both sides could have multiple good fantasy options. For the Panthers their top options are clearly Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. Both players have a huge market share in yards and touchdowns and McCaffrey remains the most consistent receiving threat for the Panthers as well. Carolina does spread the ball around overall so it is tough to feel confident about any of their other options, but Greg Olsen is in a good spot. He’s not getting a ton of volume, but the Steelers have struggled versus tight ends this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

-Steelers at home is always a great fantasy spot as they typically have really good home/road splits. Roethlisberger has far better numbers at home and this is the type of game that could become a shootout. Don’t be surprised if Big Ben puts up 300+ yards with at least 3 TDs. With that kind of yardage you have to love Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but don’t forget about Vance McDonald in the passing game. The Panthers have been terrible versus tight ends this year, and McDonald can do some damage even if he only has 6 or 7 targets.

James Conner remains one of the top fantasy backs of the year and that shouldn’t change this week. The Panthers have done a nice job overall versus opposing running backs, but Conner gets so much usage both running and receiving and has a very high TD equity that he’s an auto play at this point.


Start ‘em:

Ryan Fitzpatrick:

Mitch Trubisky:

-After a couple of blowout games, the Bears could possibly be in a back-and-forth game this week which should make Trubisky playable. He’s had multiple big fantasy games on the year so the upside is real. With his rushing ability the floor is pretty safe for Trubisky as well.

Andrew Luck:

-The Jaguars defense isn’t as scary as they were a year ago, and Luck will be at home in a game with finally all of his weapons healthy. The Colts offensive line has done a great job keeping Luck upright and it’s allowed him to be extremely efficient of late. Look for a 300 yard 3 TD type of game.

Andy Dalton:

-Dalton is playing in the game with the highest over/under on the week and he should be behind for most of the game. The Bengals are without A.J. Green which is scary, but the Saints passing defense has struggled this year. With the volume Dalton will have he should be a solid play this week.

Sit ‘em:

Alex Smith:

-Opposing QBs versus the Buccaneers this year have been auto plays in fantasy, but playing Smith this week is extremely risky. Even coming off his highest volume week and first 300 yard game it’s tough to get excited about Smith given his level of play this year. On top of that the Redskins will be missing 3 starting offensive linemen and multiple offensive weapons. There is still a chance Smith could have a decent fantasy game due to volume alone, but there have to be better options out there.

Dak Prescott:

-I know a lot of people want to make excuses for Prescott and this Cowboys offense, but honestly it’s just not good right now, and Prescott hasn’t really played well for the last 15-20 games of his career. Amari Cooper looked fine last week, but Prescott couldn’t get him the ball enough for it to make a difference.

Blake Bortles:

-People want to consider Bortles this week because the Colts play a Tampa Two defense that allows a ton of yards through the air and a number decent QB fantasy weeks, but I can’t do it. Not only has Bortles been really bad of late, but with Leonard Fournette back the Jaguars are going to try to feature him in the offense again. It’s possible they get behind and Bortles throws 40+ times, but I’d let someone else make that call.

Running backs:

Start ‘em:

Aaron Jones:

-Jones is such an explosive weapon, that is still getting criminally under utilized in this offense. He’s averaging 6.0 yards per carry this year on 58 carries (remember he was suspended to start the year), and he averaged 5.5 ypc a year ago. Jones’ usage is starting to tick up, and he’s even starting to see some targets in the passing game (though still pretty few). What makes him interesting this week is this match-up. The Packers are home favorites versus a Dolphins team that can’t stop backs on the ground. Miami is allowing 4.6 ypc this year and with the exception of their two games versus the Jets, every other team has gained at least 100 yards on the ground this year.

Duke Johnson:

-The Falcons are terrible versus running backs out of the back-field, and the Browns new offensive coordinator finally showed us that they know how to utilize Johnson. He had a great week last week and is in line for another big game this week. He might only get 2-5 carries, but expect 10+ targets this week.

Dion Lewis:

-Lewis is clearly the top option in the Titans offense, and while it’s not running on all cylinders it did show some promise last week versus the Cowboys. The Patriots have struggled versus backs all year and expect Lewis to be heavily featured in the passing attack.

Sit ‘em:

Kerryon Johnson:

-Johnson has had a good rookie year so far, but this is just a bad spot for him. The Bears have the best running defense in the league right now and they are playing at home. Typically road underdog running backs are easy fades. Johnson is also dealing with an injury so he could see his day cut short if the Lions get behind early (as expected).

Nick Chubb:

-Chubb has done well replacing Carlos Hyde and he’s getting 60-80 yards a game. The issue is he’s got almost no passing game involvement (which is where the Falcons’ struggle) and he’s solely TD dependent. The Browns figure to be behind in this game so even if they get in the RZ they might look to throw more rather than a ground and pound approach. Atlanta has totally shut down Peterson and Barkley the past two weeks on the ground, since the return of Grady Jarrett so I have little faith in Chubb to have a big week.

Adrian Peterson:

-The Buccaneers have given up plenty of fantasy points to running backs, but Peterson doesn’t fit the archetype of backs who succeed versus them. A lot of the point production by running backs have been through the air, which is an area Peterson really doesn’t contribute. Also, the backs who have succeeded on the ground are speed backs who have gotten to the edge. Peterson still has that ability somewhat, but not on the level you’d likely want. Backs also typically do well in games where the game script is in their favor, that might not be the case this week. Finally, with all the issues on the offensive line, it’s tough to see Peterson having a big day.

Wide Receivers:

Start ‘em: (a ton of great guys to start this week)

Golden Tate:

-Tate will make his debut with the Eagles this week so look for them to try to get him involved early and often. Tate has already faced the Cowboys once this year and he smashed them for 8 catches, 130 yards and a TD. Look for him to potentially put up a similar line this week.

Josh Gordon:

-Gordon has had 2 100 yard games in the last three weeks, and is showing to be New England’s best weapon behind James White. In a game versus Malcolm Butler who has struggled mightily this year, I like Gordon to post another 100 yard game and get in the end zone again.

Larry Fitzgerald:

-The Chiefs should be comfortably ahead in this game, which should mean that Fitzgerald will rack up 10-15 targets in this game. With Kansas City likely playing soft coverage with a big lead, look for Fitz to rack up some big numbers.

Sit ‘em:

T.Y. Hilton:

-It’s typically easy to love T.Y. Hilton and at home with a healthy Luck I will still play him some in DFS, but when I can I might pivot away from him. The Jaguars could focus their attention on Hilton and generally have still done well versus receivers. Tight ends and backs typically do better versus Jacksonville so I could see Hilton seeing more limited targets this week. The upside is still there, but the floor is pretty low as well.

Alshon Jeffery:

-Not a lot of guys I really think you have to stay away from this week, one guy I don’t have much interest in is Jeffery. Cowboys have been far better versus perimeter wide receivers this year, and Dallas typically slows the game down as well. I think Tate will cut into Jeffery’s market share here as well, so I’d expect a more limited game from their number 1 WR.