by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Thursday games are often tricky as it is, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week). Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups? Who should be sat down? Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:
- Kirk Cousins – Quarterback – Over the past two weeks the Dallas Cowboys have allowed 602 passing yards (third most in the league), 5 TD and 0 INT against opposing quarterbacks (Carson Wentz & Philip Rivers). With Cousins himself playing well, he’s a Top 5 option this week.
- Samaje Perine – Running Back – Perine has carried the load over the past two weeks, taking 47 carries for 217 yards and 1 TD (he’s been at 100+ yards in each game). With little reason to think he won’t maintain the workload and given a matchup against a team that’s in freefall, the production should be there once again.
- Jamison Crowder – Wide Receiver – He torched the Giants for 7 receptions, 141 yards and 1 TD. While this was his first TD during this streak, Crowder has clearly become the go to receiver as he has 8+ targets in four straight games (10.5 targets per game). He’s also delivered results, with 27 receptions and 412 yards.
- Vernon Davis – Tight End – It was a disastrous Thanksgiving night performance, especially coming against the Giants and with Jordan Reed sidelined, as he was targeted once and failed to convert it into a reception. However, before you simply write him off keep in mind that he had averaged 8.67 targets over the previous three weeks and this is another favorable matchup (especially for his QB). He’s not a must start, but he’s a potential TE1 depending on your alternatives.
- Josh Doctson – Wide Receiver – Sure he had a TD reception in Week 12, but he’s clearly behind Crowder, Perine is going to get his touches and the Redskins could look to get Davis going once again. That’s going to mean limited opportunities for Doctson, who will be a TD dependent borderline WR3. Early in the week, though, the risk far outweighs the potential reward.
- Alfred Morris – Running Back – He’s actually been productive in general, and over the past three weeks he’s averaged 4.9 yards per carry. The problem is that things could be moving to a timeshare with Rod Smith, and if the Cowboys fall behind Morris’ lack of production in the passing game (as well as inability to find the end zone) is going to make him a near lock to be a bust. He’s a viable RB2/FLEX, but it would depend on your alternatives as to whether or not you utilize him.
- Rod Smith – Running Back – He had the exact same number of carries that Morris had in Week 12, turning 9 carries into 41 yards and 1 TD. He’s been trending to a heavier involvement in the offense, and he also could be more of a factor in the passing game (should the Cowboys fall behind). He’s not a lock to receive carries though, and that makes him more of a high risk FLEX play (with more certainty in his workload we’d be more comfortable using him).
- Dez Bryant – Wide Receiver – It’s unthinkable that he’s not in the must play class, but he’s now gone five straight games without a TD and has a quarterback who has struggled badly. Bryant has under 40 yards in three of his past five games and has crossed 75 yards just once all season. He’s still a viable WR3 because there’s enough upside, but in shallower formats he’s impossible to trust.
- Dak Prescott – Quarterback – If you play in a two-quarterback format than maybe you start Prescott, but with the way he’s been going even that isn’t a given. Over his past two games he has 0 TD vs. 5 INT and has been at 179 yards or fewer in four of his past five games (he hasn’t thrown for more than 268 yards in a game this season, and that came in Week 1).
- Terrance Williams – Wide Receiver – If Dez Bryant isn’t a must start, how is there any way that you’d trust any other Cowboy receiver?
- Jason Witten – Tight End – Sure he’s had a few 7 reception days of late, but he’s also had a pair of 1 target days in his past four games. Throw in 1 TD in his past nine games and a quarterback who’s struggling, this is a hands off situation.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings:
|1)||J.T. Realmuto||Philadelphia Phillies||Realmuto benefited from a better lineup around him, setting career highs in both runs (92) and RBI (83) in 2019. That's not about to change and he'll continue to play in a hitter friendly ballpark, so there's little reason to think he won't remain the one true elite catcher.|
|2)||Gary Sanchez||New York Yankees||While he's unlikely to maintain last year's power pace (34 HR over 396 AB) and could see his AVG plummet (concerns in his strikeouts, flyball-centric approach and "luck metrics), considering he hit .194 on the road, he still brings more than enough to consider him one of the best at his position.|
|3)||Will Smith||Los Angeles Dodgers||Smith arrived with a bang, hitting .253 with 15 HR over 196 PA. While the power will likely slow down, he brings a strong approach and should be able to hit .250+ with 25 HR.|
|4)||Yasmani Grandal||Chicago White Sox||He bet on himself when he signed a one-year contract with the Brewers, and it paid off in a big way. He should entrench himself as a fixture in the middle of a strong lineup, and with his power and approach that should yield another impressive season.|
|5)||Mitch Garver||Minnesota Twins||There's risk that he's not going to play every day, especially after the team added Alex Avila, but there's no questioning the power and approach. He's not going to maintain the pace he set last season, with 31 HR over 359 PA, but he's establishing himself quickly.|
|6)||Omar Narvaez||Milwaukee Brewers||Narvaez was acquired to replace Yasmani Grandal, and while he can't be expected to match that production he should be a solid option even in a platoon role (.227 with 2 HR against LHP).|
|7)||Carson Kelly||Arizona Diamondbacks||Fantasy owners have been waiting for Kelly to get out from under Yadier Molina's shadow, and this looks to be the year he gets his opportunity. He showed the signs last season (.245 with 18 HR over 314 AB), and with a full-time role should take the next step forward.|
|8)||Willson Contreras||Chicago Cubs||Will the be traded? Won't he be traded? The rumors are going to continue and where he calls home could ultimately impact his perceived value (especially with his poor 15.1% SwStr% hanging over him).|
|9)||Salvador Perez||Kansas City Royals||There's going to be questions after he missed all of 2019, but Perez also could spend significant time at 1B and that adds value. Can he quickly rediscover his power after Tommy John surgery, though? Hopefully his return goes smoother than Didi Gregorius' a year ago.|
|10)||Sean Murphy||Oakland A's||Overshadowed by the debut of Will Smith, Murphy hit .245 with 4 HR in 60 PA in the Majors (after hitting .308 with 10 HR in 140 PA at Triple-A). He has a strong approach and the power is developing, and he has the potential to mature into an elite option.|
|11)||Christian Vazquez||Boston Red Sox||Was the power breakout for real? He saw a downturn in the second half (9 HR in 228 AB), though even at that pace there would be value.|
|12)||Wilson Ramos||New York Mets||There are going to continue to be questions about his ability defensively, and the issues catching Noah Syndergaard could limit his playing time, but Ramos has proven he can handle the bat and make an impact. That's enough to make him a viable option, but it does drag him down a little bit.|
|13)||Travis d'Arnaud||Atlanta Braves||He's going to be part of a platoon with Tyler Flowers, though if healthy he has significantly higher upside. That's the million dollar question, and has been for some time.|
|14)||Kurt Suzuki||Washington Nationals||He's a platoon player, and that's not going to change. His power outbreak is for real, though overall his second half pace (.256 with 6 HR over 117 AB) is a fair expectation.|
|15)||Danny Jansen||Toronto Blue Jays||He fell flat in 2019, so it's fair to be down on Jansen. However we have to give him time to adjust and learn how to hit while also managing an MLB pitching staff. The underlying metrics support so much more, though.|