This seems like an excellent time to give thanks for fantasy football. Sure, the NFL provides plenty of entertainment as it is, but watching football on Sundays is so much better (or, of course, more infuriating at times) with the extra layers of intrigue that fantasy provides.
After all, how many folks outside Ohio will give a hoot about this week’s Browns-Bengals matchup? All the owners of A.J. Green, Joe Mixon and Corey Coleman, that’s who.
The fact is, our fake teams offer us a cornucopia, to use a seasonally appropriate term, of reasons to be highly interested in most, if not all, of the NFL’s weekly slate. So I would hope that Roger Goodell is also giving thanks for fantasy, because his league needs all the scrutiny of strictly on-field events it can get.
Now on to situations of particular interest in Week 12, starting with, ahem, the least overtly compelling Thanksgiving matchup.
Matchup: vs Giants, Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
Samaje Perine got some early-season run but almost literally fumbled away that opportunity. Now, with Rob Kelley out, the fourth-round rookie is the main man in Washington’s backfield, and he looked the part last week against the Saints, rumbling for 117 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, good for a 5.1 average.
Perine needs to prove that he can be consistently effective, and the Giants’ up-and-down run defense, coming off a strong game against Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs, could provide a tough test. It won’t help Perine that the Redskins will trot out an almost ludicrously banged-up offensive line, but if he still manages to succeed, that will make it all the more impressive.
Speaking of ludicrously banged-up, Washington’s RBs have been dropping like flies, as well, with Chris Thompson joining Kelley on injured reserve. Perine is not a pass-catcher, so that figures to thrust recent roster addition Byron Marshall into some version of Thompson’s role. The question will be how much of that role goes to Marshall, or to others, and how well he approximates Thompson’s level of performance, which was mostly stellar.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills
Matchup: at Chiefs, Sunday, 1 p.m.
After some hemming and hawing following Nathan Peterman’s meltdown for the ages, Buffalo Coach Sean McDermott finally made the exceedingly obvious decision to reinstall Taylor as his starter. In just a half of play last week, the mobile veteran finished with the 11th-most fantasy points at his position, and now he gets a Kansas City squad desperate enough for secondary help that it signed 32-year-old Darrelle Revis, last seen looking horrendous for the Jets in 2016.
Taylor has tasty matchups in the fantasy playoffs with the Colts and Dolphins, but first we need to see him get through a game or two without being pulled for Peterman. McDermott’s decision to demote Taylor last week indicates that the QB is on a very short leash, making him a risky start until we have more confidence that he has fully banished his backup to the bench.
Matchup: at Raiders, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Devontae Booker appeared to have passed C.J. Anderson in the pecking order last week, getting more snaps, carries and receiving looks. But any notions we have built about Denver’s backfield, including a third committee member in Jamaal Charles, may have been blown up this week, when Paxton Lynch was promoted to starting QB and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was replaced by QB coach Bill Musgrave.
Lynch has good mobility, a trait the Broncos say they will put to use, which often helps RBs. But which RB will be helped the most? Of course, it’s more than possible the status quo will more or less hold, and Booker will remain the leader of a somewhat frustrating group, but it would be useful, especially for Anderson owners who probably need to move on, to have even that level of confirmation.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Matchup: vs. Packers, Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Big Ben broke out last week, tossing four TD passes in what was easily his best fantasy output of the season. While that was happening, some observers declared that the Pittsburgh offense, featuring the likes of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant, was finally performing up to expectations, and it will be expected to do so again at home versus Green Bay.
It will be important for Roethlisberger owners to see him light it up for a second straight week, after throwing no more than two TD passes in any of his first nine games, with just two outings of more than 263 yards. If he disappoints again, it will be tough to start him with confidence over the following three weeks, when he faces the Bengals, Ravens and Patriots.
Read more from The Post: