I'm not here to give anyone a history lesson on the genesis of Thanksgiving. I assume we all know it dates back to at least 1969, when Led Zeppelin released its second record. (Hat tip to you, lads. Give my regards to Gerrod Street.)
Today's assignment is thanks with a fantasy spin: who are the fake football players most worthy of a hearty Thursday salute? We've collected the Fantasy Staff and we're in a friendly, positive mood. Raise those glasses high and let's appreciate the gladiators who sacrifice their bodies for our pretend glory.
It's time to say thank you.
Which fantasy quarterback are you most thankful for?
Brandon — ANDREW LUCK. He was a vanity waiver grab (I already had Tom Brady) for me early on in my "buddy" league. A rough start forced me to deal Brady for WR help (Demaryius Thomas), and since the trade, Luck has had my back as I've won four straight games to move into a tie for my division lead.
[Related: The 2012 NFL All-Turkey team]
Brad — ROBERT GRIFFIN III. Talked him up endlessly preseason. Such a special blend of intelligence, athleticism and accuracy. Went out on a rather long limb predicting he would finish as the No. 8 QB in Fantasy. So far, so damn good. It may sound nutty, but once in a blue moon the Noise actually makes a spot on forecast.
Andy — MATT RYAN, no doubt. I'm even willing to overlook the five-pick game that cost me, like, six wins in Week 11. Ryan remains on pace to throw for 4,900 yards with 30-plus TDs, and he has a few friendly match-ups ahead.
Dalton — I have Andrew Luck and RG3 in multiple leagues, but I'm most thankful for CARSON PALMER (I didn't draft a QB in the first 6-7 rounds in any league this year). Palmer's YPA is way down from last season, but his TDs and yardage are way up thanks to increased volume while playing for an Oakland team that can best be described as a circus. He's on pace to finish with 4,856 passing yards, which would be the seventh most in NFL history.
[Related video: Niners' QB controversy]
Scott — Let's give DREW BREES a bushel of credit for holding the Saints offense together while the coaching staff took a holiday. New Orleans is a team with problems, but they're not on offense. And I also appreciate JOSH FREEMAN's comeback year; with very little fanfare, he's back in the Top 10 at his position.
Which fantasy running back are you most thankful for?
— MARSHAWN LYNCH. It doesn't hurt that I'm a Seahawks fan, but I'm also an invested fantasy owner, and Beast-Mode's week to week consistency from the RB position is refreshing at such a volatile spot. Also, he's been an inspiration at Halloween, as a dread-lock wig, a Lynch jersey, some eye black and a fake grill has been my go-to costume the past few years.
Brad — TRENT RICHARDSON. T-Pain slipped in drafts after undergoing a clean-up procedure on his knee in August, yet has still delivered a Round 1 value (No. 7 RB in ppg). With 37 receptions on the year, his value is even higher in PPR settings. Should be a top-five lock in 2013.
Andy — Well, I might have said Willis McGahee, but he broke. ADRIAN PETERSON is probably a better answer anyway. I own him in a few places, drafted at a discount. The NFL's leading rusher is less than a year removed from what seemed like a career-threatening knee injury. Incredible.
Dalton — I'm not exactly going out on a limb saying so, but I'm most thankful for ARIAN FOSTER purely because I randomly got a bunch of early picks in drafts this year. Even as a disappointment (Foster has gotten 3.8 YPC and has completely fell off the map as a receiver), he's been a solid option, especially when you compare him to the other first round running backs.
Scott — DOUG MARTIN didn't do much in September, and soon after that OG Carl Nicks was lost for the season. No problem, gamers. Anyone who stayed the course with the rookie has been rewarded with a Top 5 fantasy season, consistency mixed with weekly upside.
Which fantasy wide receiver are you most thankful for?
Brandon — RANDALL COBB. Even if I wasn't a Cobb owner, I'd still be thankful for the exciting brand of football he brings to the field. Green Bay's version of Percy Harvin has been PPR gold most weeks, and the semi-regular 2-3 extra fantasy points from rushing yards is always a nice little bonus.
Brad — DANARIO ALEXANDER. Admittedly, this is a bit of a wildcard selection given his recent rise, but over the past two weeks he's been virtually unstoppable catching 12 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns. If his knees don't explode, could be that critical out-of-nowhere WR3 that proves to be a playoff difference-maker.
Andy — A.J. GREEN, easy. He seems to have taken consistency to a new level, finding the end zone in each of his last nine games. Green may not be at Megatron's level, but he's as close as it gets.
Dalton — It's REGGIE WAYNE for me. He was a mid-round pick and has been targeted 130 times so far this year, which is 20+ more than any other wide receiver in the league. More touchdowns should come.
Scott — While most of the Denver credit goes to their ballyhooed quarterback, let's give some props to the primary receivers, DEMARYIUS THOMAS and ERIC DECKER. Thomas has refined his craft nicely (he basically didn't run routes in 2011), and Decker has turned into a red-zone monster. No matter where you took these guys, you're enjoying a handsome profit.
Which fantasy tight end are you most thankful for?
Brandon — TONY GONZALEZ. Don't own him anywhere. Was convinced this would be the "cliff" season in his career. I was wrong, obviously. But I'm thankful that I get to continue to witness a Hall of Famer make his case for the title of greatest tight end to ever play the game.
Brad — BRANDON MYERS. Grabbed him in multiple formats several weeks ago after Kyle Rudolph's string of donuts became too unbearable. I'm more than pleasantly surprised. He was good for 8-10 points per week in PPR settings prior to Week 9. Now scoring TDs with consistency, he's also money in standard leagues. True diamond in the rough.
Andy — This year's crop of active tight ends hasn't done me any favors, so...DITKA. Be well, Coach. (OK, if you make me pick a tight end who's currently producing, then it has to be TONY GONZALEZ. Just a ridiculous campaign for him, in what was supposed to finally be a decline year).
Dalton — As someone who heavily invested in Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis, this isn't an easy answer. I'll go with BRANDON MYERS, who's quietly on pace to finish with 80 catches and 886 yards
Scott — The HEATH MILLER career year has been a blast, though Ben Roethlisberger's injury might derail the party for a few weeks. And let's give JERMAINE GRESHAM an honorary Wiggy - he's been readily available in a few leagues when I've desperately needed him.
Who else would you like to thank this holiday week?
Brandon — I would like to thank my buddy Ryan, who benched Matt Schaub (42.58 points in our league) against me last week. And, of course, I can't forget Lance Easley, the replacement side judge who awarded Golden Tate a game-winning TD catch because of simultaneous possession on the final play in Week 3. Lance, if you're ever in the Pacific Northwest, you won't have to worry about buying a drink. Cheers!
Brad — Whole Foods. Appreciate you squeezing every last dime out of my bank account for your overpriced produce and wonderful selection of high-ABV beers. Your $50 free range turkey better gravy itself.
Andy — Not DeMarco Murray, I'll tell you that. (Ed. Note - Thanks, Mr. Grinch.)
Dalton — I'd like to thank Jim Harbaugh for completely rejuvenating an entire franchise. The change from him taking over has been remarkable. Colin Kaepernick also went to high school about 20 minutes from where I live, so I'm also thankful for him quite possibly looking like a legit QB of the future. Both in real and fantasy football.
Scott — I'm thankful for all of the readers, especially the ones who thoughtfully add to the discussion. I'm thankful for Pro Football Reference and Pro Football Focus and Fantasy Pros … thank you, Internet. I'm thankful for Doug Farrar and Greg Cosell, handing out knowledge every week. I'm thankful for … okay, they're shooing me off the stage. Back to the kitchen, amigos.
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