There were two types of people across the nation on Thanksgiving 2011: there were those who had a wonderful time with their families and friends, enjoyed copious amounts of food and watched good football. Then there are those who are still cursing the day they started Kevin Smith.

But don’t worry, there’s still time to make up for the points that Smith took with him into the bowels of fantasy football hell. But whether the Thursday games were a joy or an atrocity for your squad, we’ve got plenty of football coming up on Sunday.

Same deal as usual here: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys they’ll be better than this week.


Carson Palmer vs. Chicago

Yahoo: 64 percent owned, ESPN: 59 percent owned

This guy simply needs to be owned in more places. The dude has averaged nearly 23 standard fantasy points per week since becoming the Raiders’ starter. Do you really need more than that to consider adding him? Is 23 points per week really not good enough for you? Stop being so greedy, bro. Chicago’s defense has been playing better of late, but Carson’s got seven total touchdowns in his past three starts. Start the ginger-man, OK?

Guys he’s better than this week: Philip Rivers

Matt Hasselbeck vs. Tampa Bay

Yahoo: 59 percent owned, ESPN: 50 percent owned

If the Titans are starting Hasselbeck, you should be starting Hasselbeck. The Buccaneers are allowing just about a billion points per week against opposing quarterbacks, and Matty-Hass has been successful in good matchups this season. He’s no Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, but 60 percent of them ain’t all that bad. He left with an injury last week but he’s probable in Week 12, so it would behoove you to start the man.

Guys he’s better than this week: Mark Sanchez

Vince Young vs. New England

Yahoo: 17 percent owned, ESPN: 4 percent owned

Vince Young is a testament to the idea that you can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it. In just one game last week, he showed us that, even if you’re not a good quarterback, you can be a productive fantasy player, win a football game and prove how mediocre the Giants are. What an inspiration. New England’s defense is still a travesty, so VY should be able to poorly throw and run scared to another solid fantasy day.

Guys he’s better than this week: Josh Freeman

Running Backs

Joseph Addai vs. Carolina

Yahoo: 42 percent owned, ESPN: 59 percent owned

Have you ever been tempted to go to a really bad restaurant just because they offer you a really good deal? That’s what starting anybody from Indianapolis is like. The Colts’ offense is the gas-station burrito of the food world, but this week, it just might be sanitary enough to divulge in. The Panthers recently gave up 200+ total yards to a running back that had been unemployed two weeks before, and Brown could find similar truck-sized rushing lanes on Sunday.

Guys he’s better than this week: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Jacobs

Toby Gerhart vs. Atlanta

Yahoo: 13 percent owned, ESPN: 6 percent owned

Toby, white people need you. We had our one white running back in Peyton Hillis, but he’s hurt and kind of jerk. Now, we’re putting all of our eggs into your basket. Don’t ruin this for us. The great Adrian Peterson looks to be out for sure this weekend, making Gerhart the guy the Vikings will hand the ball to when they remember that Christian Ponder doesn’t know how to play quarterback yet. Make us proud, son.

Guys he’s better than this week: C.J. Spiller, Mike Tolbert

Monterio Hardesty vs. Cincinnati

Yahoo: 18 percent owned, ESPN: 22 percent owned

After missing a good portion of the season with a calf injury, Monterio Hardesty is back. And player-health be damned, the Browns looked poise to give him starters’ carries in his return. That’s good news. The Browns have been opening up decent-sized holes for Chris Ogbonnaya in the past few weeks, and Hardesty is a far more explosive player. Seeing as the Browns can’t pass, Hardesty will get plenty of touches this week.

Guys he’s better than this week: Chris Ogbonnaya, Mark Ingram

Wide Receivers

Antonio Brown vs. Kansas City

Yahoo: 78 percent owned, ESPN: 53 percent owned

If you play Yahoo, move on. If you play ESPN, march over here and sit down. We’re going to have a little talk about Antonio Brown, the guy who has been in this column every week for the past month. In his last four games, the Steelers’ No. 2 receiver has averaged nearly nine catches and 91 yards. That’s more than enough. If it comes to this, I have no qualms about coming to your house, eating your leftover turkey and adding him to your team myself.

Guys he’s better than this week: Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson

Jerome Simpson vs. Cleveland

Yahoo: 32 percent owned, ESPN: 34 percent owned

You would think that six pounds of marijuana would slow a guy down, but Jerome Simpson is here to break the stigma. Filling in for an absent A.J. Green, Simpson pulled in eight catches for 152 yards against a good Baltimore defense. Simpson should get similar attention from Andy Dalton this week, because even if Green returns, he’ll be matched up on Joe Haden, who’s been very good this year. He’s a solid play, mon.

Guys he’s better than this week: Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson

Greg Little vs. Cincinnati

Yahoo: 16 percent owned, ESPN: 10 percent owned

The loss of cornerback Leon Hall has left a gaping hole in the Bengals’ pass defense, evidenced by Torrey Smith’s 165-yard and a touchdown performance last week. And as bad as he looks, that’s something that even Colt McCoy should be able to take advantage of this week. Big Greg Little has been the No. 1 option in McCoy’s passing ventures, so he stands to benefit the most from a weak secondary.

Guys he’s better than this week: Mike Williams, Riley Cooper

Tight Ends

Brent Celek vs. New England

Yahoo: 35 percent owned, ESPN: 24 percent owned

Mediocre quarterbacks love hurriedly dumping the ball to tight ends. Vince Young is perfectly mediocre. Brent Celek has been much more involved in the offense in the past few weeks, no matter which athletic and inaccurate quarterback is throwing the ball in his general vicinity. The Patriots have been giving up some solid numbers to opposing TEs recently, so B-Cels should continue to produce.

Guys he’s better than this week: Owen Daniels, Fred Davis

Heath Miller vs. Kansas City

Yahoo: 46 percent owned, ESPN: 36 percent owned

In case you missed it because anything in the universe sounded more exciting than watching Tyler Palko quarterback the Chiefs against the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski went H.A.M. on the Kansas City defense. That fits with a particular trend, because the Chiefs are in the bottom-3 in the league against opposing tight ends, and Heath Miller is next on schedule. Kansas City has another primetime game for some ungodly reason, but you’ll enjoy it more if you start Miller.

Guys he’s better than this week: Dustin Keller, Jake Ballard

Defense/Special Teams

Seattle vs. Washington

Yahoo: 14 percent owned, ESPN: 12 percent owned

When people use the phrase, “The gift that keeps on giving,” they are always, always referring to Rex Grossman. Sexless Rex commits turnovers at the same rate as the Ryan brothers make stupid statements, so you can imagine how much opposing defenses love him. The Seahawks have caused six turnovers in the past two games, so as nice a Rex is, you just know he’ll just keep gift-wrapping giveaways this week.

Defenses they’re better than this week: San Diego, Chicago

St. Louis vs. Arizona

Yahoo: 13 percent owned, ESPN: 6 percent owned

You almost had us fooled, John Skelton. Almost. After averaging 250+ yards and two touchdowns a game in his first two, Skelton showed his true, ugly, colors last week, bombing with a 99-yard, four turnover performance. Welcome back, John. Now he, or possibly a fresh-off-injury Kevin Kolb, will get a Rams defense that has surprisingly averaged 16 fantasy points per game over its last four. That matchup is the Black Friday deal of the century. Stream away.

Defenses they’re better than this week: New England, New York Giants

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshVitale.

  1. herschel says:

    @Josh: ppr flex help, who do you like this week?

    tate @ jac
    bjge @ phi
    v. brown vs den
    r. cooper @ ne (assuming maclin is out)

    also, who do you like between tebow and rothlisberger this week?


  2. Alex says:


    I see you have both Palmer and Young on this list. Those are the two I’m deciding between right now for this week. Would you go with Palmer (CHI) or Young (NWE)

  3. Josh Vitale says:

    @herschel: I go Tate. With Leinart as the QB (god save them) the Texans are going to run on literally every play. I think Tate could come up like he did a few weeks ago and have a lot of success coming in as the No. 2 RB to Foster.

    And as for that QB decision, I’m in the exact same conundrum. I’m going with Big Ben, simply because he’s playing the Chiefs.

    @Alex: Carson. I like Young this week, but I’m not ready to trust him yet.

  4. zandercage says:

    Hey Josh –

    Who should I start at Flex (Standard scoring) –

    Jonathan Stewart
    Percy Harvin
    Antonio Brown


  5. Cole says:


    CJ vs Tampa or Sproles vs NyG in. PPR this week?

  6. Nick says:

    Would you say a healthy Julio Jones is a better play this week than Dwayne Bowe vs. the Steelers secondary (non-PPR)?

  7. Benny says:

    Hey Josh – your blurb references Donald Brown but you have Addai spotlighted… which guys should I be targeting this week? My RB situation is terrible!

  8. Josh Vitale says:

    @zandercage: I like Stewart. The Colts will stop absolutely nobody on defense. Ever.

    @Cole: As much as the world hates him, CJ. The Bucs defense has been awful recently, and he could finally have a big day.

    @Nick: Definitely. I wouldn’t start Bowe again until Orton takes over the offense.

    @Benny: I originally had Brown in there until it looked like Addai was coming back. If Addai is healthy, he’ll be the guy for Indy.

  9. FDS says:

    Couple of questions…and thanks for these articles, really helps us in some deeper leagues.

    1. Am I crazy for considering benching Sidney Rice for Riley Cooper or Vincent Brown in an 18 team PPR?

    2. Same league, who’s the better RB option: McKnight, Tate, or Battle?

  10. Nick says:

    @Josh: So I Have Best and K Smith. They just announced that Best will be sent to the IR next week. Do you drop him for Keiland Williams (someone has Maurrice Morris in my 10 team league…). Or go for Burleson, Breaston, Baldwin, DeAngelo Williams, Torain (I have Helu), Addai or Simpson

  11. Nick says:

    Thanks Josh! Much appreciated.

  12. Josh Vitale says:

    @FDS: I think you still have to roll with Rice. He’s got a better shot at scoring this week than does Cooper. And of those 3 RBs, I like Tate. With Leinart as QB, both he and Foster will get a lot of touches.

    @Nick: I would obviously hold Smith and drop Best for Addai. When he returns (should be this week) he’ll be the starter in Indy.

  13. DB007 says:

    Hey Josh,

    I have flex question. 12 Team PPR league

    Who should I roll with,


    Or should I stick to WR’s

    AJ Green Or Julio Jones.

    I see that you don’t like any of my RB’s in your article.

    My RB1 is M.Bush.

  14. Josh Vitale says:

    @DB007: I do like Bush. Dude is a truck. I like Spiller, and I don’t care for Tolbert or OGB now that Hardesty/Hillis are back. And I like Green a lot this week.

    I’d rank the options you have there Green, Spiller, Julio, then the rest.

  15. Frank Rizzo says:

    Hey Josh,

    Do I start Matthews or McGahee this week, week 12 in a ppr league?
    Also do I start plax or Andre Johnson lol?

  16. Josh Vitale says:

    @Frank Rizzo: McGahee and Andre.

Comments are closed.