You always want to get your fantasy start ’em, sit ’em decisions started off right when there’s only one Thursday night game. That notion gets tripled during the three-game midweek feast offered by the NFL on Thanksgiving in Week 12.
Starting with the Bears-Lions matchup (12:30 p.m. ET, Fox), continuing with the Raiders-Cowboys matchup (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS) and finishing with Bills-Saints tilt (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC), there is plenty of fantasy football intrigue to digest with your turkey and stuffing. For some, the action might be casual to avoid talking to annoying relatives; but in fantasy, it’s a critical Week 12 ahead with the season-long playoffs just around the corner.
There are plenty of injuries to navigate, with the passing games of the Bears (Justin Fields, Allen Robinson) and Cowboys (Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb) affected most. Meanwhile, the Saints have a backfield concern likely without Alvin Kamara (knee) again and also with Mark Ingram (knee) not at 100 percent.
Keeping all that in mind, here’s your special holiday start ’em sit ’em — plus a bonus DFS lineup — to help you with those tough Thanksgiving lineup calls.
Bears vs. Lions Fantasy Start ’em, Sit ’em (12:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
Bears starts and sits
Start: RB David Montgomery, WR Darnell Mooney, Bears D/ST
Sit: QB Andy Dalton, TE Cole Kmet, K Cairo Santos
Sleeper: WR Marquise Goodwin
—Fields (ribs) is hurting too much to play. Dalton helps the offensive skill players, but he can’t be trusted too much as QB2.
—Mooney, ascending to WR2 floor and WR1 ceiling, has taken over as a dynamic top target for both QBs. His target share is boosted by Robinson (hamstring) being on the short-term shelf.
—Montgomery has scored twice in the past two meetings and also had a big game in Detroit on Thanksgiving in Detroit in 2019. He got immediate volume upon his return, and Damien Williams (calf) is also no longer in the picture.
—Kmet let down with his usage last week, and the Lions’ matchup actually isn’t great for tight ends.
—The Bears will be without edge rusher Khaill Mack (foot), but they have plenty of playmakers to go after either Lions QB.
—Goodwin went off playing off Mooney with no Robinson, and the downfield connection with Dalton is there to consider him in deep leagues or DFS tournaments.
Lions starts and sits
Start: RB D’Andre Swift, TE T.J. Hockenson
Sit: QB Jared Goff/Tim Boyle, RB Jamaal Williams, all wide receivers
Sleeper: Lions D/ST
—Swift is getting massive RB1 volume post-bye as Detroit’s obvious top offensive asset, turning into a running workhorse on top of a receiving dynamo. The Bears are weaker against the run than you think, allowing plenty of yardage and scoring chances.
—Hockenson woke up a little with Boyle upgrading their aggressive downfield throwing last week, so let’s hope he doesn’t disappear from the game plan again despite a tricky matchup.
—Williams is getting complementary touches after his return from a thigh injury, but Swift is the main man with no more committee city.
—Kalif Raymond is WR56 in half-point PPR this season. Rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown is WR71. Quintez Cephus, out for the season, is down to WR84. Where have you gone, Megatron?
—The Lions’ defense played pretty well in holding the Steelers and Browns under 20 points with their limited passing games. Dalton is always a candidate for a pick-six, too.
Raiders vs. Cowboys Fantasy Start ’em, Sit ’em (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
Raiders starts and sits
Start: TE Darren Waller, WR Hunter Renfrow, K Daniel Carlson
Sit: QB Derek Carr, RB Josh Jacobs, RB Kenyan Drake, Raiders D/ST, WR DeSean Jackson
Sleeper: WR Bryan Edwards
—Waller and Renfrow is where the passing game flows most with limited downfield pop from Carr of late.
—Carlson, despite the Raiders’ recent struggles, is still checking in at K14 for the season, making him playable with Harrison Butker and Matt Prater on byes.
—Carr can be started, but he comes with plenty of volatility riding a three-game cold streak after the bye. Keep in mind the Cowboys just caused Matt Ryan and Patrick Mahomes to flop against Dan Quinn’s defense.
—Jacobs and Drake also have been awful the past two weeks, as the Raiders’ running and dump-off passing effectiveness has disappeared, too, and the Cowboys’ matchup doesn’t help them at all.
—If you’re looking for a deep ball dart throw, Edwards would be the guy who can burn Trevon Diggs better in garbage time, not old NFC East foe Jackson.
Cowboys starts and sits
Start: QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Schultz, RB Tony Pollard, Cowboys D/ST, K Greg Zuerlein
Sit: WR Malik Turner
Sleeper: WR Cedrick Wilson
—Prescott won’t have Cooper (COVID-19) or likely Lamb (concussion) but Gallup, more versatile in their offense now, can be effective top target. The matchup is also spectacular for Schultz, who should also see a bump in key targets through the red zone.
—Prescott has a 250-yard-and-two-TD floor to rebound from Kansas City and has a sneaky 300-yard, three-TD ceiling. Gallup and Schultz should score for him along with at least one of the backs.
—Elliott (knee) keeps playing through a tough injury, but the Cowboys should lean on him and Pollard more as the Raiders’ run defense is starting to wilt big-time.
—Greg the Leg should be busy, as the Cowboys are bound to add tack-on field goals in a projected blowout.
—Diggs might give up a big play or two, but he should be licking his chops for a pick-six from Carr. Micah Parsons gets in the QB’s face a few times, too.
—Wilson also has flashed often for Prescott, and he would the other WR choice ahead of Turner, who flashed only for late garbage against the Broncos at home.
Bills vs. Saints Fantasy Start ’em, Sit ’em (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC)
Bills starts and sits
Start: QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs, TE Dawson Knox, Bills D/ST, K Tyler Bass
Sit: WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Cole Beasley, RB Matt Breida, RB Devin Singletary, RB Zack Moss
Sleeper: WR Gabriel Davis
—Allen has been letting down of late, as his big pass and running plays have been contained. He should improvise and grind to sufficient back-end QB1 numbers against a usually tough Saints run defense and sometimes suspect secondary away from cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
—Diggs has been helped by the Bills not getting reliable playmaking from other skill players, as Allen is going back to basics and trusting his best buddy and go-to guy everywhere again. Diggs will see a mix of Lattimore and double-teams, but he should stay hot with his route-running, hands, and quickness. He also gets to play the team he once burned for the “Minneapolis Miracle” TD as a Viking.
—The Bills’ defense and Bass have been money in fantasy for most games, and they will get right against the Saints in a favorable indoors environment.
—Knox has been another key safety-valve player because of his athleticism and intermediate work. It’s been timed with deep shots to Sanders being taken away and Beasley battling through battered ribs. He can put up a nice game a la the Eagles’ Dallas Goedert vs. New Orleans.
—Breida has looked like the Bills’ best back of late, but he’s made their committee even messier. Despite the Eagles running all over the Saints, they still stop the run well when it’s not Jalen Hurts getting involved. Allen will probably lead the team in rushing.
—Davis should get involved more in the offense with Diggs getting attention, and there’s a good chance he can make a scoring play in spread-the-field single coverage.
Saints starts and sits
Start: RB Alvin Kamara or Mark Ingram
Sit: WR Marquez Callaway, WR Deonte Harris, TE Juwan Johnson, QB Trevor Siemian, QB Taysom Hill, Saints D/ST, K Brett Maher
Sleeper: WR Tre’Quan Smith
—Ingram has filled in well for Kamara (knee) after reuniting with the Saints. He was much better against the Titans than the Eagles, however, and despite Jonathan Taylor running all over the Bills, they have been stout all season. Kamara would still be a back-end RB1 if he plays. If Kamara is out, Ingram is a back-end RB2 based on the tough matchup.
—Siemian is putting up some multiple-TD efforts, but it’s coming with big mistakes. Hill might be thrown more into the mix as a wrinkle, too. Tight end Adam Trautman might have had appeal after lighting up the Eagles, but he’s out for a while after suffering a knee injury.
—Even with the emotional home prime-time bump and the Bills recent struggles, playing the Saints defense here isn’t appealing compared to many other better D/ST options this week.
—Between Callaway, Harris, and others, Smith, since his return from IR, has been the most viable on some level trying to replace Michael Thomas (ankle). The numbers as a whole aren’t huge, but they have added up to consistent WR3 and flex consideration in deeper leagues.
DraftKings NFL Thanksgiving cash game lineup
QB: Dak Prescott, Cowboys ($6,900)
RB: David Montgomery, Bears ($6,000)
RB: Tony Pollard, Cowboys ($5,600)
WR: Stefon Diggs, Bills ($7,900)
WR: Darnell Mooney, Bears ($5,700)
WR: Tre’Quan Smith, Saints ($4,400)
TE: Dalton Schultz, Cowboys ($5,300)
FLEX: Dawson Knox, Bills ($4,400)
D/ST: Cowboys ($3,300)
There’s a sneaky Cowboys stack here of Prescott, Schultz, and Pollard, and we also got in the two best parts of the Bills’ passing game. Here’s also another direct message that Montgomery and Mooney will get it done in Detroit. The Cowboys’ defense is the icing on the pumpkin pie. We’re totally fine not having any Lions representation, with Montgomery being a nice pivot from Swift.