What We’re Thankful For 2013: Roto Arcade

You know the theme by now - Thanksgiving Day is all about counting blessings, appreciating what we've got (and eating like there's full caloric immunity). With that in mind, let's have a rundown of the fake footballers pushing us to playoff berths and championship parades in 2013. These heroes can have as much pie as they want.


Nick Foles – As of this writing, the kid has 16 touchdown passes, two rushing scores and zero interceptions. We found him on the waiver wire in Week 5, then again in Week 9. Two of my playoff-contending fantasy teams would have flat-lined without him. - Andy Behrens

Russell Wilson – Could it be anyone else? As the signal caller of my real-life team and three of my virtual squads, Wilson completes me. He's been a top 8 fantasy QB (points per game) to this point, and take a look at his line for the past 16 regular-season games: 3,429 passing yards, 28 TD passes, 8 INTs, 671 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs. - Brandon Funston

Philip Rivers – He was drafted as a middling QB2 but has returned top-five value among fantasy quarterbacks. Rivers leads the NFL with a 70.8 completion percentage, and his 8.5 YPA mark is the fifth highest in the NFL. He’s done so with San Diego’s projected starting wide receivers out for most of the season as well. - Dalton Del Don

Nick Foles – Always love the rags-to-riches story of largely undrafted fantasy players. An afterthought playing behind Michael Vick, many believed he would eventually get an opportunity, but no one anticipated him posting an impeccable 16:0 TD:INT when he did. For those who had a revolving door at QB earlier in the year he’s been a waiver wire godsend. - Brad Evans

Peyton Manning – He's having the best or second-best year of his career, sparked by the seven-pack he threw at the Ravens on opening night. And Manning's heroics have spilled over to just about the entire Denver offense; everyone grateful for Julius Thomas or Knowshon Moreno needs to thank Peyton along the way. (Sorry it went down like this, Decker Youth). - Scott Pianowski

Running Back

Pierre Thomas – Illinois roots aside, the PT Bruiser has been and always will be one of my pet players. His break-tackle ability, reliable hands and shiftiness in the open-field have always been attractive, particularly for the PPR enthusiast. Finally getting the attention he deserves, he’s saved my season in a number of leagues. A turkey day toast in his honor will most certainly occur at the Evans household. - Evans

Giovani Bernard – Anyone that can make plays that evoke the memory of Barry Sanders has a place at my Turkey Day table. I own him in a few of my PPR leagues, where he's delivered a top 12 fantasy RB return. Also, I got my wife into a fantasy league with all her friends this year, and (because of his affable performance on HBO's Hard Knocks) she too made Gio a draft-day must-have. So we've been able to share in the delight of Gio's success, which means he's actually made our marriage stronger. Who needs Dr. Phil when you have Gio Bernard? - Funston

Eddie Lacy – The rookie back is on pace to finish with 1,402 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns despite missing essentially two full games while having to play in another two+ without Aaron Rodgers. Lacy’s 41 broken tackles are the third most in the NFL, and he’s also graded as a plus blocker. He’ll be a first round fantasy pick next year. - Del Don

Matt Forte – Marc Trestman promised to make Forte the fulcrum of the Chicago offense, and everything's been a smash – Forte's on pace for his best receiving season, and he's going to score double-digit touchdowns. If you examine the common-link players that form the best Yahoo fantasy teams in the land, Forte is the No. 1 hit at running back. - Pianow

Jamaal Charles – Back in August, Charles was selected after Doug Martin (ADP 2.9), Arian Foster (5.8) and CJ Spiller (6.0) in a typical Yahoo draft. He's now on pace for 1,953 total yards and 15 TDs. Give credit to Andy Reid for coming up with the radical idea of GIVING THE BALL TO HIS BEST PLAYER NEAR THE GOAL LINE. Who could have ever imagined that would work? - Behrens

Wide Receiver

Josh Gordon – In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of fantasy football, how can I not give this spot to the guy who literally put my top-priority fantasy team on his back in Week 12, securing me a playoff berth. Of course, this wasn't the first time Gordon has wore the cape for my fantasy squad(s), as he's finished among the top 15 fantasy wideouts in six of his nine games played, including four times placing in the top 7. - Funston

Alshon Jeffery – Drops are still an issue, sure, but Jeffery's breakout campaign has been a gift, both for the Bears and for fantasy owners. Alshon has terrific size (6-3) and a ridiculous catch-radius, and he's been getting open with ease in his second season. He's seen at least seven targets in nine of 11 games this year. It helps, of course, that Chicago really only throws the ball to four players. - Behrens

Josh Gordon – Due to a two-game suspension, the former supplemental pick was arguably the biggest draft day steal among WRs. Picking up where he left off his rookie year, he’s adjusted to new quarterbacks (Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell) without a problem and churned out high-end WR2 numbers in 12-team formats, including last week’s ridiculous 14-237-1 annihilation of Pittsburgh. - Evans

Antonio Brown – Are there any doubters left? Brown might not look like a game-breaking wideout at 5-10 and 186 pounds, but he leads the league in receptions and he's second in receiving yards. Delicious returns for the No. 23 wideout off the board in August. - Pianow

DeSean Jackson – He’s fit into Chip Kelly’s system perfectly, as Jackson is in the midst of a career year. His 985 receiving yards rank sixth most in the NFL, while his 89 targets are outside the top-20, as DJax has been highly efficient. - Del Don

Tight End

Jimmy Graham – This may seem obvious, but I still think Graham may be a bit underrated right now. Put differently, if a draft were held today, I’d strongly consider him with the No. 1 pick. - Del Don

Vernon Davis – I know all the Gronkowski sympathizers want to tell me what a wonderful value they scored in Round 5 or 6. I hear you. But for essentially the same price, you could have landed Davis's 623 yards and nine touchdowns, and not played a man short for the first two months (Week 3 to the side). I appreciate you, 85. - Pianow

Charles Clay – I'm in a few TE-heavy leagues, so I jumped in on Clay after a 54-yard Week 1, knowing that he'd be Miami's TE1 after Dustin Keller tore up his knee late in the preseason. Since then, he's been a top five fantasy tight end in terms of points per game, scoring five touchdowns, including a goal-line rush for a TD. - Funston

Anyone facing the Arizona Cardinals defense – Wrap your head around this: In an average week, Arizona allows 14.4 standard fantasy points to the tight end position, easily the highest number in the league. Jimmy Graham, our game's top-scoring TE, averages 14.6 points per week. That's crazy. The list of players who've posted big stat lines against this defense includes such luminaries as Jared Cook, Zach Miller and Coby Fleener. The Cards D is solid overall, but it's been incredibly generous to tight ends. - Behrens

Jordan Reed – Due to a concussion, the rookie has contributed minimally over the past couple weeks, but for a midseason stretch he was absolutely monstrous. Anytime you can unearth a viable PPR asset in challenging format, it's pure fantasy ecstasy. If RGIII starts to show consistency down the stretch, he could state his case as a TE1 in 2014 drafts. - Evans

Wild Card

Danny Woodhead – Happiness is Danny Woodhead in a PPR league, and I've been four times blessed in that department this fantasy season. Like Gio Bernard, and Maurice Jones-Drew, and Barry Sanders, etc., I've always had a particular fondness for the little running backs that could, and Woodhead, at 5-foot-8, certainly fits in that world of minions. That he's a dead ringer for my mop-headed little nephew makes owning him all the better. - Funston

Tito’s Handmade Vodka – The weekly trials and tribulations of making endless, most times inaccurate, predictions would push any person to the bottle. Thank you a million times over, Mr. Tito, for numbing the pain on those many unwanted occasions. - Evans

Knowshon Moreno – Let's just hope he can recover from Sunday night's 37-carry adventure, a game that left Knowshon in a walking boot. I've been relying on Moreno in multiple leagues, and the end-of-season schedule is plenty friendly (KC, Ten, SD, Hou). - Behrens

Reggie Bush – I drafted Bush in the second round in a handful of leagues this year, and so far, so good. Despite missing a game, Bush is on track to finish with 1,629 total yards and has remained relatively durable despite a workhorse role. - Del Don

Mike McCoy – Philip Rivers looked all but unfixable the last couple of years, but the arrival of crafty and creative McCoy changed the story in San Diego. There are other ingredients of note, of course - Ken Whisenhunt, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen - but McCoy deserves the first pat on the back. - Pianow

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