With a shortened week of practice and preparation, Thursday night football games have earned a bad reputation of being sloppy and not well executed. That being said, the Dallas Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving is one of the greatest traditions in sports and the Cowboys know a whole nation of stuffed bellies are going to be sitting on their couch expecting something a little more special than usual.
For fantasy football players with Dallas Cowboys on their roster the Oakland Raiders are a welcomed sight. The Raiders have given up the the 7th most points to quarterbacks and to wide receivers. As well as the 6th most points to opposing defenses. On most levels this is a great match up for fantasy Dallas Cowboys. Where the Raiders do show some resistance is in the run game, as they give up the 9th fewest fantasy points to running backs. However I do not think that’s any reason to worry about Murray in your starting lineup
Since returning from injury Murray has put up over 12 points in both games, including last week against a Giants team that gave up even fewer fantasy points to running backs than the Raiders. What should worry Murray owners is not who’s playing for the other team, it’s the guys on his own team. Lance Dunbar is finally healthy and against the Giants showed some great potential and was explosive taking hand offs and catching the ball. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Murray’s starting job is at risk, as so long as he’s healthy he will see the majority of he carries. Because of this Murray needs to stay in your starting lineup. There’s no reason not to expect Murray to produce against the raiders defense and in a Thursday night game against an opponent that will have Matt McGloin starting at quarterback Murray could see a heavy workload.
The passing game is where fantasy owners should be excited and with the playoffs around the corner this is the kind of matchup that could mean all the difference. Tony Romo becomes a must start in this game. The Raiders offense is almost completely done through the running game. The best way to get the Raiders out of the comfort zone would be to score enough points that they are forced to start passing it. Tony Romo should have a big game this week and could feast on a weak Raiders secondary.
As if you needed any motivation to have Dez Bryant in your starting lineup, it appears as though former Dallas Cowboys Mike Jenkins is going to be lining up opposite Bryant. Given that Cowboys fans have very few fond memories of when Jenkins was on the team, it’s a welcome sight to see one of the most dangerous wide recievers in the league being covered by him. Last week Bryant saw 16 targets and when they needed it most Romo kept looking Bryant’s way. It’s difficult to see exactly what kind of difference it made that Jason Garrett was the one to relay plays to Tony Romo. However, whatever the reason the increase in targets Bryant saw last week is the best thing for Dez Bryant owners.
With more drops than catches last week its getting harder and harder to see much positivity coming from Miles Austin. He did come up with the huge 17 yard catch late in last weeks game, but that is definitely not enough to get him in your lineup. If you have the luxury of free space on your bench, or are in a 16 team league it may be worth it to keep Austin on your bench little while longer just in case. Even with the matchup Austin simply has not been productive enough to be in any starting lineup.
With Austin’s inability to produce, Terrance Williams continues to be a solid flex option. With the match up this week Terrance Williams could be the difference maker you need for the last playoff push. Williams does suffer a little with Bryant’s increased targets, but that also means he will draw even more attention from the defenses, leaving Williams with the opportunity to take advantage of a mismatch.
Jason Witten owners were treated to two touchdowns last week and there’s no reason not to at least expect a lot of targets in the red zone. Bryant is sure to see double coverage when the Cowboys get close to scoring and Jason Witten should continue to see a lot of targets in the end zone. Against a Raiders defense that is in the middle of the pack in giving up points to tight ends Jason Witten should be in your starting lineup.
So long as Sean Lee is out it’s going to be really hard to trust the Cowboys defense in your fantasy lineup. They continue to get turnovers and once against scored a touchdown against the Giants. The match up against the Raiders makes the Cowboys defense a much less risky start this week. If you don’t have any other viable option I would not worry too much about playing the Cowboys defense as the only time they’ve been under 8 points was against the offensive juggernauts of the Saints and Broncos. The same goes for Dan Bailey who continues to be consistent. It’s not safe to expect a huge day from Dan Bailey but he should be a safe bet and is a decent option against the Oakland Raiders.