At my house for Thanksgiving, we have your standard delectable turkey and three consistent side dishes every single year. We started the tradition of adding a wild card side item each year in the hopes it’s a winner. For 2021, I’m doing a grilled corn and bacon dish to go with the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cheesy green bean casserole.
Just like our Thanksgiving meals need a shake-up, so do those fantasy rosters as we hurtle towards the postseason. The following players could be a hit and smash it in Week 12 — or they can fall flat like those creamy peas we tried a few years ago.
Cedrick Wilson, WR - Cowboys
With Amari Cooper out with COVID-19 and CeeDee Lamb sidelined with a concussion, Wilson was thrust into a prominent role in the Cowboys’ offense last week. Dallas sputtered as a whole, but the third-year wideout put up a 4-36-0 line on seven targets, which is respectable on the volume front.
Wilson could get a seat at the starting WR table this week if both Cooper and Lamb are out (Cooper is already ruled inactive). The matchup with the Raiders isn’t exactly a cushy one, but Dak Prescott will be looking to bounce back from a disastrous performance in Week 11 and Wilson may be the beneficiary on Thanksgiving.
Rex Burkhead, RB - Texans
I can’t believe it’s come to me writing up Burkhead as a possible starter in 2021, but apparently, we’re here. The 31-year-old appears to have passed Phillip Lindsay (who just got released by the Texans) and possibly David Johnson on the Houston-backfield totem pole over their last three contests, with 27 touches to Johnson’s 26 and Lindsay’s 12.
While trusting any member of this RB trio hasn’t been recommended up to this point, a battle with the Jets in Week 12 could change that tune. Houston is a favorite for the first time all season, while New York ranks dead last in fantasy points allowed to RBs. They’ve yielded the most touchdowns (17) to rushers so far and surrendered the third-most yards on the ground to backs (117 per game). Burkhead’s number may be called this week in a plus matchup, or the Texans could return to their typical 2021 ways and he could be game-scripted out.
Hopefully, it’s the former for those in need of a desperation play at RB.
Austin Hooper, TE - Browns
The target leader in the Cleveland TE room over the last five weeks, Austin Hooper is certainly not a sexy fantasy player but could have a nice outing in Week 12. It’s a triage unit at WR for the Browns right now with Jarvis Landry dealing with a knee issue, Donovan Peoples-Jones nursing a groin injury and Anthony Schwartz recovering from a concussion.
That leaves Hooper to swoop in and target hog in Week 12 against a Ravens defense that’s allowing the fifth-most half-PPR points to opposing tight ends in 2021. With Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz both enjoying a break like most of America, you may need a desperation play at TE. Hooper could be that guy.
Nelson Agholor, WR - Patriots
With all the recent attention on Kendrick Bourne, Agholor has become the forgotten WR in an emerging offense. The 28-year-old personifies boom-or-bust as he teeters between fantasy relevancy and obscurity from week to week.
Sunday’s matchup is against a Tennessee defensive unit that is allowing 35.6 half-PPR points per game to enemy wideouts, the highest in the league. New England boasts an implied team total of 25 in this contest, which is the fifth-largest on the Week 12 slate. Someone in this WR corps is probably going to have a big day but figuring out which one is the key here. Both Agholor and Bourne are around the same in rostership at 21% and 20% respectively, with Jakobi Meyers at 70%.
Flip a coin, roll the dice, play rock paper scissors — whatever method helps to decide, but both Agholor and Bourne are in play as wild cards this week.
DeeJay Dallas, RB - Seahawks
Pour one out for Chris Carson, as he had season-ending neck surgery last week. Alex Collins has struggled in the lead-back role with just one double-digit half-PPR day in his last seven contests, and it’s no secret that Seattle is fond of establishing the run. Rashaad Penny got the start last week and was injured before he could get anything going. That leaves sophomore DeeJay Dallas.
The 23-year-old had four carries for 25 yards and a score last week and is involved enough in the passing game to deem him relevant for Monday’s contest. Seattle travels to Washington to face a defense that allows the 12th most half-PPR points to RBs this season. They may lean on Collins to start the game, but Dallas could earn his way to more work as the game progresses.