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It’s Thanksgiving which means not only do we get 2 NFL games live on Sky at a half decent hour on Sunday, but we also get 2 more on Thursday this week. Unfortunately, the 2 bonus games we get feature 4 teams with a combined record of 13 – 27. But damn it, it’s more football so I’m not complaining.
Houston Texans @ Detroit Lions
The festivities begin at 5:30 with Houston Texans heading North to take on the Detroit Lions. Since going a respectable 3-3 to open the season, the Lions have lost 3 of their last 4 and suffered the ignominy of a shut out last week at the Carolina Panthers. By contrast, the Texans have won 2 of their last 3 after an ugly 1-6 opening which included the removal of GM and Head Coach Bill O’Brien. Romeo Crennel took over on an interim basis, making him the oldest HC in the league, and will be eager to earn himself the job full time. To do that, the will have to beat fellow ex-New England Defensive Co-ordinator Matt Patricia and mount even more pressure on the 3rd year Detroit Head Coach.
Money line: Texans 8/15 Lions 6/4
Points Spread: Texans -3
I reckon the Texans being odds on and 3 point favourites is generous, especially if the Lions have Swift in the line-up. While Golladay is a big loss, Stafford can still win this game with Jones and Hall. TJ Hockenson is good value for 1st TD at 10/1.
Fantasy Football Outlook:
Luckily for Houston, their offense is led by QB Deshaun Watson which provides the receiving corps a good chance to make plays. His recent form has improved and had his 2nd best fantasy performance of the season last week against New England.
Of course, that group of receivers no longer includes DeAndre Hopkins, but Will Fuller has done a respectable job of stepping into his spot. Kenny Stills misses out with injury so Fuller is joined by Brandin Cooks and Keke Coutee. The Lions secondary have been far from impressive, so Houston’s receivers have potential for big days.
One of the biggest disappointments this season for the Texans is the lack of a run game. The combination of David and Duke Johnson have only 5 total TD’s between them, and 4 of those were by David who is in a position he has found himself in all too often in his career, IR. I’ve always been a believer that Duke Johnson has enough talent to be a good NFL RB but it’s clear Houston have been unable to get the best out of him.
Jordan Akins and Darren Fells have been battling it out for the no.1 Tight End spot in the Texans ranks and it’s still hard to know which one, if either, can provide a decent fantasy option.
As per usual, ex Georgia Bulldog, Matthew Stafford is under Center for the Lions. He has generally been a really good fantasy qb throughout his career, but this hasn’t exactly been a vintage year for Stafford. And last week’s game at Carolina marked the first time this season he failed to register over 200 passing yards or a TD. Stafford is not one you should write off too easily though.
Stafford will be without the services of his primary weapon Kenny Golladay and veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola. So, the 2 Marvin’s, Jones and Hall have to carry the threat in the air alongside 2nd year Tight End TJ Hockenson. Hockenson was a 1st round pick last year and definitely has everything a Tight End needs to succeed. His production has been OK this year and if he can start adding more TD’s he has high end TE potential.
Rookie RB is in a race against time to get cleared for this game as he is still currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He has shown himself to be a good fantasy RB so far this year and if he plays, he is worth starting if you have him in your squad. Should he be out, expect Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson to split carries. If you’re stuck for a Running Back, you can check in before kick-off to see if Swift is playing. If he isn’t, I’d highly consider picking up Peterson.
At full strength, I’d expect the Lions to win this one with reasonable comfort but the absences of Golladay and Amendola, and the questions surrounding D’Andre Swift, make this much closer than it should be. However I’m sticking with the Lions to squeeze out a Thanksgiving win.
Lions by 4.