Thanksgiving Fantasy Football Preview: Lions-Packers, Cowboys-Commanders & 49ers-Seahawks

What a great Thanksgiving Day slate of games to enjoy between helpings of turkey and stuffing. And pie, don’t forget the pie! Three intra-divisional games, three heated rivalries, one among the oldest in NFL history. With two of the games indoors and the third forecasted with clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s in Seattle, Mother Nature will not be a factor. All three games involve at least one team with playoff aspirations.

The action on the field will likely light up your Yahoo Fantasy app with plenty of scoring alerts, so let’s preview these games for fantasy purposes to hopefully kick off your Week 12 with a feast of points.

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

After so many years of playing on a national stage and giving football fans reason to go into a tryptophan-induced nap instead of watching some bad football, the Lions are one of the NFL’s “it” teams and belong on a national stage in 2023. And with this game being at Ford Field, expect some points. The Lions have scored an average of exactly 30 points per game when home this season.

The Detroit running game should be front and center in this one, as Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery have both been top-10 running backs the past two games. Gibbs, in particular, has been on a heater in his last four outings. He’s put up 522 scrimmage yards for an average of 130.5 per game and five touchdowns. The last time these teams played in Week 4, Montgomery posted 141 total yards and three touchdowns, his 32.10 fantasy points putting him at RB2 on the week. The Packers are allowing 103.0 rushing yards per game to running backs, which is seventh highest in the league. Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris combined for 206 scrimmage yards in Week 10. Start both Detroit running backs with confidence.

Amon-Ra St. Brown is the WR6 on the season, averaging 17.3 fantasy points per game. His greatness has already been declared, and the matchup could become even better if Packers ace cornerback Jaire Alexander misses another game with a shoulder injury. Sam LaPorta has had two quiet weeks for fantasy (less than five points), and if he’s quiet another week it will be because the Lions prioritize the running game after this game gets out of hand (they’re 7.5-point favorites). Jameson Williams can be left on benches in a week with no byes, as he has over three targets in a game just once this season.

Jared Goff is the QB13 on the season, and at home is averaging 262.0 passing yards and has thrown for 10 touchdowns in five games. The formula is that, when he’s home, just start him.

On the Packers’ side, the running back touches got pretty consolidated to AJ Dillon after Aaron Jones suffered a knee injury on Sunday. Jones confirmed that he did not tear his ACL, but he has been ruled out. Dillon may not have much room to run, as the Lions are fourth in fewest rushing yards allowed to running backs. It’s hard to sit a running back likely to get volume, but the recommendation here is to sit him unless the reserve options on your roster are vastly inferior.

If the Lions get out fast, it could mean the Packers have to pass, which would further limit Dillon’s effectiveness. If that means more pass attempts for Jordan Love, could that be a good thing? He’s coming off his first 300-yard game of his career, and the Lions are No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. This is where the 47-point over/under could get challenged.

Jayden Reed has emerged as a top playmaking option for the Packers. In the past two games, Reed has 84 and 92 total yards, respectively, and has scored in both. Monitor his status, as he’s battling a chest injury. Christian Watson has proven that he might not be a No. 1 receiver, so Reed is making his case. With Luke Musgrave going to the hospital with what head coach Matt LaFleur said is a “significant injury,” that’s likely to open up some targets for the receivers. Reed could benefit, with Romeo Doubs (23 targets in last four games) also an option in the passing game.

With no teams on bye, in only the deepest leagues should Watson be a starting option, even against a Detroit defense that saw DJ Moore go for 7-96-1 and Keenan Allen explode for 11-175-1 the past two weeks. With the Packers likely needing to pass to catch up or keep up, Reed is a must-start and Doubs is another good option.

Washington Commanders @ Dallas Cowboys

If Tommy DeVito could throw for 246 yards and three touchdowns in a QB7 performance against Washington, what is Dak Prescott going to do in a home game? The Commanders’ secondary could be his first feast of the day. His 189-yard outing against the Panthers may be just a blip, following a four-game run where Prescott gave the box scores a workout with a minimum of 24.88 points in those games. He takes aim against a Washington defense that is second in passing yards allowed at 2,999 and has given up the most touchdown passes (24). In the past four games the Cowboys have passed 163 times while rushing the ball 107 times.

Talk about leaning into the passing game. Prescott has a chance to give fantasy teams a big Thanksgiving boost to their scoring.

And when Prescott passes, he’ll likely have eyes for CeeDee Lamb, the main beneficiary of the increased passing rate. Before last week’s nine targets, Lamb drew 44 targets in three games that he turned into a cumulative 34-500-3. He also added a rushing touchdown. Lamb is a great contender for WR1 on the week against a defense that’s allowed six receivers to surpass 100 yards, and three others to hit at least 90.

Could another pass catcher get home for the Cowboys? Jake Ferguson has run the second-most routes over the past four games for Dallas with 140, and the Commanders are 12th in the league in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Ferguson is second on the team with 22 targets the past three games, and needs to be in lineups.

If there is a third option in the passing game, it’s going to be Brandin Cooks. He’s the only other member of the Cowboys to hit triple digits in targets (128) and turned 10 looks into 9-173-1 in Week 10 against the Giants.

Fantasy managers have made a big deal out of the Tony Pollard touchdown drought being broken last week (he hadn’t scored since Week 1). Andy Behrens even renamed the Coping Corner in the weekly Panic Meter episode of the Yahoo Fantasy Football podcast to "Pollard’s Playground." Still, his touches — between 13 and 21 the last five games — and the matchup say he’s very much a start this week and could get back into the end zone. The last three weeks the Commanders have been bleeding scrimmage yards to running backs: Saquon Barkley 140-2, Kenneth Walker III 127-1, Rhamondre Stevenson 129-1. It’s a great matchup for Pollard, and even Rico Dowdle could get into the act if the Cowboys, as 12.5-point favorites, dominate this game. When Dallas blew out the Giants, 49-17, Dowdle posted 12-79-1 rushing in garbage time.

The Commanders will need to answer back, though it will be tough against a Dallas defense that’s the No. 27 fantasy matchup against quarterbacks and running backs, and 30th for wide receivers. Sam Howell should be passing early and often though, as before he threw for 255 yards last week he had three straight 300-yard games. Two of those games were high-scoring losses, so he’s familiar with playing catchup. There could be interceptions and sacks, but Howell will keep slinging it.

Ideally, the targets would be consolidated with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson outside and tight end Logan Thomas inside — all three have over 150 routes run the past four games. It just hasn’t worked out that way, and the wide receivers are in play in hopes the Commanders have to air it out to keep up. Thomas is a definite start, with 26 targets in his past four games; the Cowboys lead the lead with six tight end touchdowns allowed this year.

Brian Robinson could have the backfield to himself again if Antonio Gibson misses another game with a toe injury (he was limited in practice Tuesday). The last two games Robinson has 14 and 24 touches, respectively, and has gone over 100 scrimmage yards each time. Since James Conner rushed for 98 yards in Week 3, no running back has run for more than 69 yards against the Boys. If Gibson is out again, Robinson is a start in fantasy, but don’t be surprised if most of his points come in the receiving game. Points will be aplenty here.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

The 49ers are back to their rollicking ways on offense since they returned from their bye in Week 9. Do you need any more incentive to start Christian McCaffrey? In his last two games, he had 26 and 22 touches, respectively, and well over 100 scrimmage yards in each. Now look on the other side of the ball, where the Seahawks had Brian Robinson stick them for 157 scrimmage yards and Keaton Mitchell explode on the national scene with 138 rushing yards. CMC is a great DFS play on the day, as well.

Brock Purdy will have to navigate with Seattle’s 12s, one of the loudest fan bases in the NFL, though he has six touchdowns the past two games. Howell went into this den two weeks ago and dropped 312 yards and three scores on the Seahawks. With McCaffrey opening things up on the ground and in the receiving game, Purdy could live up to his QB10 ranking this week by our Yahoo analysts.

It will not be an easy game for 49er WRs. The Seahawks are No. 16 in fantasy points allowed to receivers, and since Amari Cooper compiled 89 yards on them in Week 8, no wideout had surpassed 70 yards until Puka Nacua last week. Brandon Aiyuk is an every-week starter, and has 100-plus yards in two of his last three games. Deebo Samuel ran the most routes (30) for the 49ers last week, and it figures he could get some carries as well. So while it’s a tough matchup, it’s hard to sit either San Francisco wide receiver.

George Kittle ran the second-most routes on the 49ers Weeks 7 to 11, at 107, which was three fewer than Aiyuk. It sure looks like he’s not being kept in to pass block too much, and he’s going against a Seattle defense that has given up 80 yards to Mark Andrews and 4-77-1 David Njoku. Kittle has gone over 100 yards twice in the last three games, scoring twice.

On the Seattle side, Geno Smith was a limited participant in practice on Tuesday after suffering an elbow injury on a big hit from Aaron Donald (Geno's got some company in that club). Pete Carroll said that Smith is trending toward playing, and the 49ers have lost safety Talanoa Hufanga for the season with a torn ACL. That could hurt deep coverage on DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. However, the 49ers’ pass rush got a boost at the trade deadline with Chase Young, and they have registered nine sacks the past two weeks. There are few greater silencers to a home crowd than a sack on the quarterback. Fantasy managers who have Smith can consider Love, Gardner Minshew, Matthew Stafford and Baker Mayfield as alternatives, as all have matchups far better than the 49ers, who are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

If the pass rush doesn’t get home, wide receivers have done so against the 49ers. Since Week 6, Amari Cooper, Ja’Marr Chase, Jordan Addison and Christian Kirk have put up 100 or more receiving yards against the 49ers, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. So if Smith has time, Metcalf and Lockett are in play.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a sleeper here. He has run 61 routes out of the slot the last three games, which is more than twice the amount of Lockett (30). If the pass rush is giving Smith a hard time — or his elbow is limiting big shots — JSN is a flex play who could deliver on short shots with some YAC.

Noah Fant has six targets in three weeks, so no Seattle tight end is startable.

Zach Charbonnet will probably have the lead running back role to himself, as Kenneth Walker III suffered an oblique injury and will have a hard time returning four days later. Charbonnet may not find much running room, as the 49ers are allowing just 60.1 rushing yards per game to running backs, which is second-best in the league. They’re 13th in allowing 345 receiving yards to receiving backs, so if Charbonnet is going to get loose, it’s most likely in the passing game.