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Moving the Chains: Tradition 3.0

Derek VanRiper

Derek is the Director of Media for, where he's been a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Baseball Writer of the Year award, and winner of the Best Football Article on the Web (2009) and Best Baseball Article on the Web (2010) awards. Derek also co-hosts RotoWire's shows on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (XM 87, Sirius 210).

A few years back, RotoWire staffers hanging around town for the holiday assembled for a Thanksgiving dinner and decided to make things interesting. Rather than watching the Lions get blown out, Dallas disappoint, and cursing the local cable company for refusing to pick up the NFL Network, we decided to make things interesting by having a one-day fantasy league to cover the three games on the slate.

Now, it's an annual tradition and I've created the third-ever RotoWire Thanksgiving Day Value Meter.

Find your five favorite friends or relatives that you'll be spending the holiday with. Before the start of the Green Bay-Detroit game, figure out a draft order and set up a three-to-six-team fantasy league just for the three games on Thursday. Keep it simple: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 RB/WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D and use a very basic scoring system as well (20 pass yards = 1 pt, Pass TD = 4 pts, 10 rush/rec yards = 1 pt, Rush/Rec TD = 6 pts, FG = 3 pts, PAT = 1 pt, 2 pt Conv = 2 pts. For your team D, go with 1 pt for sacks, 2 pts for INT, 2 for safeties and 6 pts for a TD including kickoff/punt returns). **Hint: Add a second flex that allows the use of another quarterback if you have a three- or four-team league. I also recommend using PPR in those small scenarios as well.

Even if you're just playing for a small prize (i.e. $5/entry, winner take all; sixth place drives the crazy aunt home, gets force-fed all leftover cranberry sauce), there's something to be said for having that extra little investment in games that you may otherwise find meaningless.

Below, I've compiled the initial set of rankings for the Thanksgiving Day games. An update will be made to the rankings on Wednesday if unexpected information comes from the official injury reports.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. - DVR


1. Aaron Rodgers, GB
2. Matthew Stafford, DET
3. Tony Romo, DAL
4. Matt Moore, MIA
5. Joe Flacco, BAL
6. Alex Smith, SF

Running Back

1. Frank Gore, SF
2. Ray Rice, BAL
3. DeMarco Murray, DAL
4. Kevin Smith, DET
5. Reggie Bush, MIA
6. Ryan Grant*, GB
7. Daniel Thomas, MIA
8. Kendall Hunter, SF
9. Felix Jones, DAL
10. Maurice Morris, DET
11. Ricky Williams, BAL
12. Brandon Saine, GB

*Assumes James Starks won't play after suffering a knee sprain in Week 11. If healthy, Starks will slot into Grant's spot at No. 6, and Grant will be placed in the 10-12 range.

Wide Receiver

1. Calvin Johnson, DET
2. Jordy Nelson, GB
3. Dez Bryant, DAL
4. Greg Jennings, GB
5. Laurent Robinson, DAL
6. Anquan Boldin, BAL
7. Brandon Marshall, MIA
8. Michael Crabtree, SF
9. Torrey Smith, BAL
10. Braylon Edwards, SF
11. Titus Young, DET
12. Nate Burleson, DET
13. Kyle Williams, SF
14. Donald Driver, GB
15. Brian Hartline, MIA
16. James Jones, GB
17. Davone Bess, MIA
18. Lee Evans, BAL
19. Kevin Ogletree, DAL
20. Jesse Holley, DAL

Tight Ends

1. Jason Witten, DAL
2. Brandon Pettigrew, DET
3. Jermichael Finley, GB
4. Vernon Davis, SF
5. Ed Dickson, BAL
6. Anthony Fasano, MIA
7. Tony Scheffler, DET
8. Tom Crabtree, GB
9. Delanie Walker, SF
10. Martellus Bennett, DAL


1. Green Bay (Crosby)
2. Dallas (Bailey)
3. Detroit (Hanson)
4. San Francisco (Akers)
5. Miami (Graham/Carpenter)
6. Baltimore (Cundiff)

Defenses + Special Teams

1. Baltimore
2. Dallas
3. Green Bay
4. San Francisco
5. Detroit
6. Miami

Fantasy Points Allowed (non-PPR) by each team over the last five weeks:

QB 23.7 (5th) 20.4 (11th) 17.3 (24th) 18.2 (21st) 15.1 (29th) 18.4 (20th)
RB 19.0 (13th) 16.9 (21st) 10.3 (30th) 18.2 (17th) 18.5 (15th) 11.5 (28th)
WR 26.1 (5th) 17.5 (23rd) 19.4 (18th) 19.4 (18th) 19.6 (15th) 21.4 (10th)
TE 11.7 (3rd) 2.6 (32nd) 5.9 (20th) 7.5 (16th) 4.7 (27th) 5.0 (25th)