Football is as much a part of the Thanksgiving tradition as cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and eating too much. Every year, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys take to the playing field as America gives thanks by chowing down.
If there's NFL games going on, that means fantasy football is as well. Therefore, as the fantasy season winds towards the playoffs, here's some turkey day advice for fantasy owners of players who will be competing on Thursday.
Much like the team he leads onto the field, quarterback Tony Romo has pulled something of a Jekyll and Hyde act this year for the Dallas Cowboys, ranking a moribund 15th among fantasy quarterbacks while already throwing more interceptions than he did in all of last season.
However, the 10th-year veteran has never lost a start on Thanksgiving, throwing 14 touchdown passes against only four interceptions. On Thursday, Romo squares off with a Washington Redskins team that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year.
This one's not really a "sit" so much as a "buyer beware."
Granted, given how well rookie quarterback Robert Griffin of the Washington Redskins has played this season (ranking fifth among fantasy quarterbacks), it's nearly impossible to actually sit him heading into a crucial fantasy week.
However, we are talking about a first-year quarterback going on the road on a short week of preparation against a Dallas Cowboys team that usually plays well on Thanksgiving and has surrendered the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2012.
Although the New England Patriots are much better known as a passing team, the Patriots have also developed one of the NFL's more potent ground games, ranking fifth in the NFL at just under 143 yards a game.
New England's rushing attack has been led by second-year pro Stevan Ridley and his 4.6 yards a carry, and Ridley's strong 2012 season should continue on Thursday night in a favorable fantasy matchup with the New York Jets.
Given the number of injuries that have struck running backs, many fantasy owners have been forced into desperation mode at the position, which means sometimes considering some less-than-obvious options.
Coming off a 19-carry, 84-yard performance with a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure might seem to be a serviceable fantasy start. However, the sledding will be tough against a Houston Texans defense that has been the second stingiest to opposing running backs from a fantasy perspective.
It's been a fairly productive fantasy season for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin. Even though the seventh-year veteran hasn't found the end zone since Week 7, Austin still ranks inside the top 20 fantasy wideouts in PPR formats.
That month-long scoring drought could easily come to an end on Thanksgiving against the Washington Redskins, who have been making opposing wide receivers look good all season en route to giving up the third-most fantasy points to the position this year.
While the fantasy owners of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will still be sobbing into their mashed potatoes over his broken arm, the owners of teammate Aaron Hernandez may just get to see their player back in action on Thanksgiving.
However, the third-year pro is still a very risky play in Week 12 due to his long layoff and the limited snap count it portends, even in a fairly favorable fantasy matchup with the New York Jets.
If you have other viable options, explore them.
Although the New England Patriots defense has still had its share of struggles NFL-wise, it's been a more-than-viable fantasy option, with the Patriots ranking inside the top 10 fantasy options at their position even before last week's three-touchdown explosion against the Indianapolis Colts.
A nose for the football has been a big part of that fantasy success, and that bodes well for the team's fantasy prospects on Thanksgiving night against a New York Jets squad giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to defenses in 2012.