Welcome to the Fantasy Football Forecast! My goal with this weekly column is to get you actionable information as quickly as possible, regardless if you're playing season-long fantasy, DFS, or are grinding player props. If you're just looking for fantasy football rankings and only have 10 minutes to skim through for your sit/start decisions, then head over to the "Forecast" sections below where I project each player's PPR finish based on a 12-team league. But if you want to get your research on, then I have full player breakdowns. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have questions.
Saints (28.5 projected points, -7 spread) @ ATL
Drew Brees has 2, 3, 0, 3, and 3 touchdowns in his healthy games this season with the zero performance coming against these Falcons three weeks ago. Atlanta regressed mightily last week against the Bucs allowing 35 points with zero sacks, and I’m struggling to see why they’d limit the Saints this week. Vegas agrees (28.75-point team total). Brees should continue passing with tremendous volume (at least 35 attempts per game) and with reasonable efficiency (7.7 YPA), especially with Atlanta in the bottom 16th percentile against fantasy quarterbacks. Brees is a mid-range QB1 and projects for the most points of Thanksgiving quarterbacks. … Alvin Kamara has 6, 7, 8, 10, and 9 receptions over his last five games. His pass volume is quite secure with Brees throwing the ball underneath more often than he was in previous seasons. Kamara also projects for 10-16 carries as 7-point favorites, locking him as a high-end RB1. I’m not putting any much weight into his outlier four-carry performance against the Falcons three weeks ago. … Latavius Murray has 5, 10, and 7 carries in his three games since Kamara’s return. I’m viewing those totals as his floor moving forward because the Saints lost a game, barely won a game, and played a top-end run defense over that span. When the Saints get back to beating teams handily, Murray should slide into the 10-15 touch range. I’m expecting that to happen this week. The Falcons have allowed the sixth-most rush attempts this season, and Murray should have positive game script as touchdown favorites. His run-heavy role makes him a boom-or-bust asset, but he’s an upside flex and quality mid-priced Thanksgiving DFS tournament option.
Michael Thomas continues to pace for the single-season receptions record and has established an unprecedented floor with his worst PPR game checking in at 16.4 points. He’s the WR1 overall every week, but this Thanksgiving matchup makes his outlook even better. The Falcons are 30th against fantasy receivers this season and just allowed 7-185-2 to Chris Godwin. Thomas is a building block in DFS. … Ted Ginn didn’t have a big Week 12 stat line, but he did set a new season-high with 160 air yards and is a positive regression candidate because of it. Brees hasn’t been completing deep passes at his usual clip this season, but Ginn can still reach a ceiling as a mildly priced DFS tournament option. … Tre’Quan Smith is in a similar situation to Ginn, as he just needs one long play to pay off as a dart throw. Smith is running a route on 71% of dropbacks -- that’s the good news -- but is only seeing 0-3 targets per game. I’d rather roster Ginn but will likely have exposure to both receivers in DFS tournaments. … Jared Cook is clearly the top tight end on the Thanksgiving slate (full rankings below) after posting 10, 2, and 8 targets since returning from injury. Cook is filling a void as a pass-catcher down the seam and in the red zone (0.77 red-zone targets per game). With New Orleans projected for 28.5 points and with Atlanta allowing the sixth-most passing yards per game, Cook needs to be viewed as a mid-range TE1 with upside in season-long leagues.
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Cowboys (25.75, -7) vs. BUF
As you saw in the column’s very first graph, the Cowboys are the only team on the slate to play in an up-tempo offense. They should run the most plays on the slate, thus increasing their floors and ceilings relative to the rest of the DFS field. Dak Prescott has also been sensational this season (except for last week’s rain fest in New England), ranking as the QB2 overall. This week’s matchup against the Bills’ No. 3 defense against fantasy quarterbacks is likely worse on paper than in reality. Buffalo’s schedule has been exceedingly easy (seriously, look it up), thus inflating all of their defensive numbers. I’m expecting Dak to rebound from last week’s rainy game and definitely want leverage on the field in DFS tournaments. … Like I just mentioned, this is a nice spot to bet on Ezekiel Elliott with others unreasonably scared of the matchup. Even with the Bills’ defensive metrics skewed by soft opponents, the Bills are in the bottom 19th percentile in run defense DVOA. Zeke could easily reach the 100-yard bonus since he’s averaging 19.3 carries per game, not to mention his 2.9 receptions per game. I’ll be buying Zeke’s lowest price tag of the year on DraftKings. … Tony Pollard is averaging 2.5 carries and 2.0 receptions in the four games since the Week 8 bye. I don’t see a reason to change those projections this week.
A rainy matchup in New England held the Cowboys receivers down. Amari Cooper didn’t catch either of his targets with the best CB in the league draped all over him. This week, Cooper should rebound – he has at least five targets in 9-of-11 games – but his individual matchup against CB Tre’Davious White (PFF’s No. 14 coverage corner out of 88 qualifiers) is by no means easy. Cooper is a boom-or-bust WR1/2 while playing at less than 100% health. Cooper has fewer than 7.0 PPR points in four of his last six games but is priced down in DFS because of it. … Michael Gallup has at least six targets in all four games since the Week 8 bye, averaging 15.5 PPR points per game to Cooper’s 11.25 over that span. This week, Gallup’s individual matchup against CB Kevin Johnson is easier than Amari’s, so it’s possible Gallup sees 7-10 targets this week. The gap between Gallup and Amari is narrower than what the public thinks while Amari battles through injuries and tough matchups. I will try to be overweight on Gallup, who is a strong WR2, in Thanksgiving DFS tournaments. … Randall Cobb is also very involved in the offense, seeing at least seven targets in every game since the bye. Cobb’s 10.6-yard average depth of target keeps his upside tied to very random yards-after-catch plays, but he’s a candidate for 3-6 receptions while catching CB Taron Johnson in coverage. Cobb is on the flex radar. … Jason Witten’s best fantasy game has been 12.5 PPR points. He only has 91 yards after the catch this season – that’s one more yard than Vernon Davis who hasn’t played since Week 4 – and is only seeing 0.73 red-zone targets per game. Witten’s upside is obviously very limited, but he does have between four and eight targets in every game this season. Unlike the other tight ends on the Thanksgiving slate, Witten has some level of a floor. In season-long, Witten is a low-upside TE2 with the Bills ranking No. 2 against fantasy tight ends. … Blake Jarwin has averaged 5.6 PPR points in his last three games while seeing four, two, and four targets. He’s a DFS punt-play option.
Falcons (21.25, +7) vs. NO
Update: Devonta Freeman "looks great" and will be the starter ... Julio Jones is a game-time decision. ESPN writes, "Jones has made a 'big improvement' and has put in the work to make sure he's 'ready to roll,' but the team wants to make sure he has enough strength to absorb contact. Jones participated in walk-throughs, but that obviously didn't simulate the contact he would absorb in a game." It sounds like Jones will gut it out and play, although there is obvious re-injury risk. That takes him out of cash lineups and should keep his DFS tournament ownership low. Julio is the ultimate pivot option if you're chasing points heading into the night game.
The Saints Defense is the third-largest pass funnel in terms of volume. They’ve allowed 37 pass attempts to just 21 rush attempts per game this season. That, of course, lines up with the Falcons’ pass-heavy identity, so we can safely project Matt Ryan for at least 35-45 pass attempts as 7-point underdogs. There are issues here, however. Ryan arguably isn’t playing at full health. The Falcons offensive line was truly awful on tape last week. He doesn’t have Austin Hooper or Mohamed Sanu. And the Saints held him to 5.2 YPA three weeks back. I have Ryan as a low-end QB1 in season-long and in a tier below Brees and Dak for DFS. … Devonta Freeman (foot) practiced in full on Tuesday, so he’s likely back as the starter. Freeman was seeing 11.9 carries and 4.2 receptions per game before his injury, which are solid projections for this week’s matchup. It’s likely that Freeman struggles as a rusher -- he’s averaging 3.5 YPC and the Saints have a top 20% percentile run defense -- but he can catch 4-8 check downs while the Falcons play catch up on offense. Freeman is a mid-range RB2 in PPR leagues and is reasonably priced in DFS.
Julio Jones is one of three players with at least seven targets in every game this season, and nobody is close to having Julio’s 98 air-yard floor. Even when he missed snaps (shoulder) in last week’s blowout loss, Julio had elite WR1-level usage. Assuming he’s healthy, Jones is a high-floor, high-upside DFS play against a Saints secondary that has missed PFF’s No. 29 coverage corner Marshon Lattimore (questionable). The Saints are currently 24th against fantasy receivers and just allowed 31.4 PPR points to D.J. Moore last week. … Calvin Ridley set a new career-high with 14 targets and 189 air yards in Week 12, but he “only” walked away with a 6-85-1 receiving line while barely missing on a long touchdown. Ridley is a positive regression candidate as a boom-or-bust WR2. This season, Ridley has at least 16.4 PPR points in six games and fewer than 7.8 in four. It’s a small sample, but Ridley has absolutely crushed the Saints in his career, averaging a 6-89-1.3 line on 8.7 targets. I’ll certainly have Ridley exposure in DFS tournaments. … Russell Gage has 8, 5, 4, and 10 targets in the four games without Mohamed Sanu. His snaps have been scattered over that span, but Gage was on the field for 56-of-67 dropbacks last week with Julio ailing. Gage’s outlook would be much improved if Julio’s shoulder were to act up once again, although he can reach a modest upside even as the No. 3 receiver in the Falcons’ pass-heavy offense. Gage is a boom-or-bust WR4. … Jaeden Graham was left uncovered for a 53-yard catch and run last week, but he only was targeted one other time. Graham’s four total targets and 42 total air yards in his two games without Austin Hooper leave a lot to be desired.
Bears (19.75, -1) @ DET
Mitchell Trubisky set a new season-high with 278 passing yards last week (lol) and had a season-high three passing touchdowns (lol) against these Lions three weeks ago. Trubisky has (by default) been playing his best football of the year in recent weeks. With that said, Trubisky’s best football equates to an 87 MPH fastball, even against Detroit. Those three touchdowns against them a few weeks back were set up by fantastic field position, not by Trubisky exploiting a matchup. Trubisky is a QB2/3 and a lower-ceiling DFS play compared to other quarterbacks on the slate. … David Montgomery is showing “Jerome Bettis in a Geico commercial” level burst right now, averaging 3.3 yards per carry behind PFF’s worst run-blocking offensive line. Montgomery’s 14.2 carries and goal-line role keep him in the low-end RB2 mix, however, especially against Detroit who is the 31st-ranked defense against fantasy running backs this season. For what it’s worth, Montgomery had 17 carries for 60 scoreless yards with zero receptions against the Lions earlier this month. … Tarik Cohen’s pass-game involvement has slightly increased recently. He’s has had his second- and fourth-most routes run totals of the year in his last two games, which has led to five and seven receptions. With Taylor Gabriel likely out, Cohen has a 4-8 catch projection and could even flirt with a new season-high for total yards (75). In PPR formats, Cohen is an RB2/3.
The floor can fall out from underneath Allen Robinson at any time in this offense, but A-Rob has had strong WR2 usage since the Week 6 bye (8.3 targets and 93 air yards per game). Over that span, Robinson has two games with at least 24 PPR points, two games with 11-14 points, and two games with under six. This week, I like Robinson to have a good to great fantasy game against PFF’s No. 50 CB Darius Slay and the Lions’ below-average defense against fantasy receivers. A-Rob is an upside WR2/3 in season-long and is someone I’ll use on the Thanksgiving DFS slate. … Anthony Miller’s usage has been all over the place this season (see above), but his recent target spike is tied to the injuries to Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, and Adam Shaheen, all of whom will be out Week 13. That means Miller should see 5-10 targets this week as a decent WR4 option, just remember his best game this season equated to 13.7 PPR points. …. Gabriel’s replacement is Javon Wims, who has 113 career yards on 19 targets. The 2018 seventh-rounder had moderate production at Georgia and showed average athleticism at the combine (4.53 speed). Wims had four, zero, and one receptions in the three games Gabriel missed earlier in the season, making him a zero-floor punt option in DFS. … Fill-in TE Ben Braunecker had one, three, and four targets in his last three games, averaging 4.5 PPR points over that span, but he’s in the concussion protocol. The next man up is “Jesper Horsted” who had his first career reception last week. Horsted likely sucks, but he did set receiving records at Princeton as a receiver/tight end hybrid. If there’s a min-priced, zero-owned tight end I like as a DFS tournament punt, it’s him.
Bills (18.75, +7) @ DAL
Aided by 35.2 rushing yards and 0.64 rushing touchdowns per game, Josh Allen has developed a reasonable floor with a reachable ceiling even as one of the league’s worst passers. The Cowboys haven’t faced a dual-threat quarterback this season, but LB Leighton Vander Esch’s potential absence would help Allen’s rushing ceiling. As a passer, Allen will have to take check downs with Dallas taking away deep passes this season, but he only has 13 20+ yard completions so that’s largely irrelevant. Allen, who is fantasy’s QB6 this season, should have a normal game against a largely normal defense as a low-end QB1. … Devin Singletary has averaged 16.0 carries and 2.0 receptions over his last four games, setting new season highs in snaps in the last two weeks. Being a 7-point underdog hurts his carry projection a little bit, but Singletary should still see 12-18 touches as a low-end RB2. The issue with Singletary is his upside. The Bills are only projected for 18.75 points, and Frank Gore (10) and Allen (4) have had more goal-line opportunities than Singletary (2) this season. … Frank Gore has 11 and 15 carries the last two weeks, but those numbers are inflated by multi-score victories. Gore only had five carries in the Bills’ last loss and only projects for 6-12 carries as a touchdown underdog on the road.
John Brown’s worst PPR game this year is 9.5 points, which is the second-best mark of the season only trailing Michael Thomas. Brown is doing so with awesome playmaking ability and WR2-level usage (see above). Even in an impossible matchup against elite CB Chris Harris last week, Brown managed to create separation with high-end burst to score an over the top touchdown. Essentially matchup-proof now, Brown deserves high-floor WR2 love even with the Cowboys doing an excellent job of taking away deep passes. … Last week was Cole Beasley’s first game with over 15.0 PPR points (19.6). Beasley isn’t likely to reach a ceiling this week, but he has at least 9.0 PPR points in all but two games while averaging 6.6 targets. Beasley has a slightly higher floor than other WR4/5 options on the slate since he should take advantage of the Cowboys’ softer coverage on underneath passes. … Isaiah McKenzie (3 targets last week) will likely be on the field for a respectable amount of snaps if you’re looking for a WR punt play. … Tyler Kroft returned to the field a couple of weeks ago and has brought down rookie TE Dawson Knox’s targets to three and two. They are splitting playing time, making both zero-floor tournament options. Knox, who has averaged 5.3 PPR points since the Bills’ Week 6 bye, does get a friendly matchup, however. The Cowboys are 24th against fantasy tight ends this season, and LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) is questionable.
Lions (18.75, +1) vs. CHI
David Blough was an average Power 5 quarterback at Purdue. His senior season passing numbers were greatly inflated by elite WR Rondale Moore (remember the name folks), and Blough offers nothing as a rusher. The move from Driskel to Blough isn't a big one in terms of passing. Neither of them have NFL arms, but it's fair to question if Detroit will move the ball as well without Driskel's rushing ability. Blough is by far the worst Thanksgiving quarterback and makes the Bears Defense a near lock in DFS. … The Lions have lost the last two games, but that hasn’t stopped big Bo Scarbrough from seeing 14 and 18 carries as the clear-cut lead back in Detroit. Scarbrough also gets the goal-line carries but is an absolute zero as a receiver -- that’s where Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic mix into the rotation. The lack of receptions limits his ceiling, but the Bears have allowed 115 rushing yards per game in their last four contests. Scarbrough is a flex option.
Driskel’s CFL-level arm has completely tanked Kenny Golladay’s and Marvin Jones’ fantasy floors. Golladay has seen his air yards drop in five-straight games, bottoming out at 26 air yards last week, which has put even more pressure on him to create big plays and touchdowns. Those big plays are harder to come by with his average depth of target lowering multiple yards with the quarterback change. Catching the Bears’ No. 2 defense against fantasy receivers on a short week certainly makes things worse for Golladay, who is a boom-or-bust WR3 right now. … Marvin Jones had Stafford-level air yards last week but had a three-week decline in air yards prior to last week’s outlier game. I’m not putting too much faith into Jones’ 17.2 PPR point average over his last four games because he’s a negative touchdown regression candidate tied to a terrible passing quarterback. Jones belongs in the boom-or-bust WR3 range despite the recent production. … Danny Amendola has averaged 6.45 PPR points with a high of 8.7 in his last four games. Amendola will be on the field and should see 3-6 targets, but it’s hard to envision upside with Driskel at quarterback. … Since T.J. Hockenson’s huge Week 1 game, the rookie is averaging 4.8 PPR points and only has one game with over 10. Last week’s zero-burger was the latest reminder of Hockenson’s nonexistent floor as the No. 4 target in a below-average passing offense. The good news is the Bears are 26th against fantasy tights.
1. Drew Brees
2. Dak Prescott
3. Matt Ryan
4. Josh Allen
6. David Blough
1. Alvin Kamara
7. Tarik Cohen
9. Frank Gore
10. Tony Pollard
1. Michael Thomas
2. Julio Jones
4. John Brown
5. Amari Cooper
9. Marvin Jones
10. Randall Cobb
11. Anthony Miller
12. Russell Gage
13. Cole Beasley
14. Ted Ginn
15. Danny Amendola
1. Jared Cook
2. Jason Witten
3. Dawson Knox
5. Blake Jarwin
The rest of the Week 13 Fantasy Forecast will be posted on Friday, likely at a later published time than normal. Not only is it Thanksgiving on the day I usually write the Forecast (Thursday), but I also spent all day Monday traveling back to California after doing the Rotoworld Live Show. Sorry in advance for the delay and sorry if it’s shorter than normal. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday and good luck in your DFS tournaments! Let’s cash this!