The Dallas Cowboys are attempting their first NFC title since 2002, and the Oakland Raiders have a glimmer of hope in the AFC wild card race. Tony Romo is out to prove that he's the franchise quarterback that can lead the Cowboys deep into the playoffs while the Raiders are yet again trying to sort out who their franchise quarterback actually is. After an emotional win on the road against their division rival, the New York Giants, the Cowboys have a much easier match up at home. Over the years, Dallas has shined on Thanksgiving Day.
They are 28-15-1 on the holiday. Regardless of how Thursday's game ends, many fantasy owners are making decisions that will make or break their playoff hopes. As always, we're here to discuss what owners can anticipate as they assemble their rosters.
Matt McGloin: With only two NFL starts, McGloin will be facing a Cowboys defense that has allowed the most points to fantasy quarterbacks this season. McGloin isn't putting up huge yardage totals and could be very touchdown dependent for owners wanting to gamble on him. Week 13 is a week where the stud quarterbacks are playing tough defenses, and the low-end QB1 options are facing softer match ups. Because of this, McGloin isn't worth risking with fantasy playoffs on the line for a lot of owners.
Running backs: Darren McFadden is returning on Thursday, but Rashad Jennings has played well in his absence. Jennings has averaged just over 100 yards per game since McFadden's injury. He has also been an integral part of the passing game. Add four touchdowns to Jenning's past four weeks, and it's a shaky situation with McFadden creating a probable timeshare. Because of Jenning's success, he'll likely get more of the workload on Thursday, but will be a low-end RB2 until the situation sorts itself out. McFadden is a dicey flex play for owners hoping he'll break off for a few big gains against Dallas' generous defense.
Wide receivers: Denarius Moore won't be traveling to Dallas on Thanksgiving. Rod Streater is banged up with a hip injury, but is expected to play. Streater is a WR3 option for Week 13. McGloin will continue to target Streater heavily in Moore's absence, and the Cowboys should allow for the occasional big play from the second-year receiver.
Tight ends: Mychal Rivera suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Tennesse Titans. However, Rivera has been a full participant in practices leading up to Thursday's game. He's a desperation TE2 play, but could capitalize on his 54 yards and a touchdown from Week 11.
Defense/ Special teams: Oakland is arguably better defensively than they have been over the past several years, but they're far from being a consistent fantasy option. Dallas is giving the second fewest points to fantasy defenses this season. There are better matchups of which to take advantage.
Tony Romo: He's rolling through a string of soft matchups for the rest of the season. Oakland is below average against fantasy quarterbacks, and Romo has been a QB1 for the majority of the season. He should be started in all formats unless owners are fortunate enough to have a stud fantasy quarterback on their roster.
Running backs: DeMarco Murray has been playing well since his return from injury. Over the past two weeks, Murray has surpassed 80 rushing yards in each appearance. He's still a factor in the passing game and will likely put up strong numbers against Oakland, who is average in limiting fantasy running backs. Murray is a top RB2 in Week 13. He creeps into the RB1 discussion in PPR leagues.
Wide receivers: Expect the Cowboys to throw early and often against Oakland's 25th ranked passing defense. As usual, Dez Bryant is a must-start fantasy receiver. As concerning as his slow start was on Sunday, he was heavily relied upon as Romo orchestrated Dallas' game-winning drive against the New York Giants. Start him with confidence on Thursday. Things didn't turn out so well for Miles Austin on Sunday. He caught one of his three targets for 17 yards. Because of his underwhelming production with just one week back from a hamstring injury, Austin is too risky to consider despite the matchup. Austin's return has hindered Terrance Williams' involvement on the offense. He was targeted just two times in Week 12. Both he and Austin aren't worth starting outside of desperate owners in deeper leagues.
Tight ends: Jason Witten will be a TE1 as always against Oakland. He's coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Giants in Week 12. If the Cowboys are going to take advantage of their easier schedule for the remainder of the season, Witten will likely be a big part of the game plan. Continue plugging him into your lineup.
Defense/ Special teams: Dallas is an intriguing start this week. Oakland is giving up the fifth most points to fantasy defenses this season, but Dallas hasn't been a consistent option all season. That said, they are a borderline top-10 start this week because they seem to be a stronger unit as of late. The fact that Dallas is facing a relatively unproven quarterback adds to their value.