Cleat Geeks

Cover 3: Thanksgiving Edition


Happy turkey day ladies and geeks! In honor of the holiday season, along with the three Thursday games, we decided to do a special Thanksgiving edition of Cover 3 for you this week. In this article, I will preview the three Thanksgiving games for you, and label them as the “Fantasy Jackpot”, “Bad Blood”, or “Must-Watch Showdown.”


Fantasy Jackpot Game of the Week— Philadelphia Eagles vs Detroit Lions


This isn’t the “Bad Blood” game, definitely not the “Must-Watch Showdown”, so it will have to be the “Fantasy Jackpot.” No, neither offense has played well, but these two defenses are not great either.

The Eagles have some fantasy options on their team, they just have to get the offense going. I think they will be able to put together a better performance on Thursday. The Lions have shut down their past two opponents, but I feel this is more of a fluke than a reality. I wish I could tell you which quarterback will be under center for the Eagles, but it is a mystery right now. Bradford was out hurt last week, but he was medically cleared for this game. Sanchez started in place of him and was terrible. It sounds like they want to go with Sanchez again this week, but I not sure if even Chip Kelly knows yet. Whoever starts has a good matchup since Detroit gives up the eighth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Pass-catchers of note would be Jordan Matthews, tight end Brent Celek, and Darren Sproles out of the backfield. Celek has actually been great the past two weeks by gaining 213 yards, and now Zach Ertz will be out for this game. I do think Cooper and Huff have good chances at a couple big plays, but you’re not playing them this week. Since the quarterbacks have struggled for the Eagles so far, DeMarco Murray should see plenty of touches in this game. He will receiver even more carries with Ryan Mathews out again, so he will most likely finish as a top-ten running back this week.

There are more fantasy options on the Lions with a great matchup as they go up against a defense that gave up five passing touchdowns last week. Stafford should be able to pass IFWT_calvin
fairly easily this game, and this seems like a huge Calvin Johnson game. He’s been good, but not great, and the Eagles struggle against big number one receivers. I think they might cheat over to his side, but I don’t see them full-out double teaming him. Other pass-catchers are Golden Tate and Eric Ebron, even after a zero-catch game last week. Eagles also struggle in run defense at times, like last week when Doug Martin ran for 235 yards. Bell has the best chance at a touchdown, Abdullah has the best chance to lead the team in rushing, and Riddick will be the top pass-catcher out of the three. You could maybe use them as a flex, but you should avoid them if you can.


“Bad Blood” Game of the Week— Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers


The oldest rivalry in the NFL will meet once again on Thursday. These teams have met a total of 191 times, and Chicago has the slight lead in the all-time series at 93-92-6. Even though they have played 191 times, this will actually be the first time the two have met on Thanksgiving. The teams previously met in week one where the Packers pulled out the win 31-23.

The Bears have been playing much better lately. They are 4-3 in the past seven games, and have lost by a total of only eight points between the three games. They are expected to get running back Matt Forte back from his knee injury for this game, but will not be getting the full workload that he has been used to. Given his injury, his age, and the play of Langford, they are expected to split the snaps. Receiver Alshon Jeffery is also expected to play after missing last week, but is still listed as questionable. The defense has also played a bit better lately. They have held the opposing teams to less than 20 points in the past three games, and they have also held opponents to less than 400 total yards, which is an improvement for them. They will have a tough task against the Packers in Lambeau, but their success will all be based on the play of Jay Cutler. He has been known to struggle against the Packers, and that is especially true in Green Bay. In his four games at Lambeau, he has a total of only 843 passing yards with three touchdowns and 12 interceptions.


This will be a very memorable day for the Packers. Not only is it an important divisional game, but they will be retiring Brett Favre’s No. 4 as well. Since it is such a special occasion, they decided to make it even more special. Not only will Brett be there, but Bart Starr will also be there. Starr, Favre, and Rodgers together at Lambeau…it will be a evening to remember. On the field the Packers have struggled offensively lately, but they did show some good signs last week. Eddie Lacy finally showed up and had his best game of the year by rushing for 100 yards for the first time this season. This will be something that he will need to continue against a weak Bears defense. If he runs well, it’ll set up the passing game for Aaron Rodgers. It sounds like Ty Montgomery will be inactive again this week, so the pass-catchers for Rodgers will be Cobb, Jones, Adams, R. Rodgers, and possibly Jeff Janis a little more. Given the two Packer legends that will be in attendance on Thursday night, I think Rodgers will be extra motivated to perform, and he will also get back on track. His completion rate has been poor lately, look for him to get back in the 60+ percentage rate.


Must-Watch Showdown— Carolina Panthers vs Dallas Cowboys


The unbeaten Panthers aren’t favored? I don’t know what to tell you, but that’s the case as they travel to Dallas. We will see if Romo got all the rust off last week, because the Cowboys are in must-win mode every single week.

thanksgivingWithCowboysThe Panthers have surprised pretty much everyone this season, but are they overrated? The defense is clearly very good. They don’t really have a clear weakness defensively since they have playmakers at each level. To beat the Panthers, you have to be very efficient, because the defense will capitalize if you’re careless with the ball. Offensively, their identity is an old school, ground-and-pound type of team. They look to run first, soften you up, then look for the big play down the field. Clearly it has been working. The thing is, their only real playmaker on offense is Cam Newton. He is not the greatest passer, but you have to respect his arm strength, and he will extend drives with his feet. He is also clearly their goal line back. As the weather gets colder and the more hits Cam takes, you wonder how long he will be able to keep this up. Luckily for him this week, he is playing inside in Dallas. The way to beat the Panthers is to stop the run first, force Cam to beat you with his arm, and end their drives early. If you allow the Panthers to grind their way to first down after first down early, you’ll be pretty worn down towards the end of the game.


The Cowboy get Romo back last week, pull off the ten-point win, and now they are favored against the top team in the NFC. Romo and the Cowboys have struggled the past two Thanksgiving games, but he looks to channel the Tony Romo from Thanksgiving 2012 when he passed for 441 yards against the Redskins. For the Cowboys to win this game, the offensive line will need to show up to eat. The Panthers will bring pressure early and often, and the Cowboys will need to keep Romo off the turf. As good as the Panther’s pass rush is, they are not very deep. The way to take these guys out of the game will be to run the ball well. These pass rushers don’t like it when guys are running right at them, and it will wear them down towards the end of the game. You saw this when the Panthers played the Seahawks. We will see early how effective Darren McFadden will be in the game, and I think he actually could hurt Panthers. I would think Dez Bryant will be shadowed by Josh Norman, who has been amazing this year, but it is still Dez Bryant. He will find himself open at times throughout the game. Even if he’s not open, just throw it up and he’ll come down with it.

This game really does seem like a toss-up. I know this is a family holiday and all, but make sure you’re huddled around the TV, you won’t want to miss this.


If you’re over on Twitter, how about you give @FantasyFlurry a follow? If you tell me you read this week’s “Cover 3”, you’ll obviously get a shout-out! From all of us “Geeks”, we want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are! Remember what Thanksgiving is all about: turkey, pie, and football.


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