Thanksgiving is a football, food fantasy come true

col-BuddhaOne thing that sticks in my craw this time of year is the continued minimization of the Thanksgiving holiday.

For years and years, Turkey Day — which I’ve always viewed as one of America’s major holidays — has become increasingly overlooked in everyone’s rush to get to Christmas.

Maybe I’m just partial to Thanksgiving because it’s a combination of NFL football and the best food day of the year, but I’d like to think there’s more to it than that. I’ve written about the importance of family previously in this column and the gathering of loved ones is a crucial aspect of Thanksgiving. It’s about bringing people together in appreciation of one another and it deserves to be more than just a speed bump on the way to Christmas.

Thanksgiving is also a reminder that fantasy football season is winding down. Whether you’re still contending — and I assume you are because otherwise why would you be reading this? — or whether you’re just playing out the string, it’s important to take time and appreciate the friendships which make the game so much fun and the players who help us win each week.

Now here’s a list of players you’ll be thankful to own in Week 12:

* Colin Kaepernick – Let’s face it; Kaepernick has been a fantasy disappointment so far in 2013. He finished last season on such a high and continually flashed such dynamic skills that it was easy to inflate expectations for him. Unfortunately, Kaep has been hamstrung by conservative game plans from coach Jim Harbaugh and a distinct lack of talent at the wide receiver position. Mario Manningham has been eased back into things for weeks now and should provide help as the 49ers face the lowly Redskins on Monday Night Football this week. Washington as the fifth worst team versus fantasy quarterbacks and the national stage should provide added incentive for Kaepernick to shine. I wouldn’t hesitate to play him ahead of his opposite number Robert Griffin III or  Philip Rivers at Kansas City.

* Backup Running Backs – This should be a banner week for handcuff backs like Rashad Jennings, Andre Brown and Ben Tate. All three have tremendous matchups and should be in line for enough touches to not only be worth starting, but to also offset stud running backs like Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte. And this trio of former reserves should actually give you the upper hand against other, more renowned runners like Ray Rice, Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson. With valuable players at the RB position like LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson on bye, it makes the likes of Jennings, Brown and Tate all the more valuable and reinforces the concept of the handcuff.

* Dwayne Bowe – As evidenced by his 14 targets in Week 11, Bowe is not the forgotten man in Kansas City any longer. Certainly, his production could have been much better versus the Broncos, but a few near misses kept his numbers in check. This week, facing the Chargers — ranked 28th versus fantasy wideouts — Bowe should once again have every available opportunity to make a fantasy splash. A couple of others in line for big games on Sunday are Torrey Smith and Jarrett Boykin. I’d start any of these three over T.Y. Hilton, Mike Wallace or Steve Smith.

* Coby Fleener – Fleener is coming off a 100-yard game and matches up against the worst defense in the NFL versus fantasy tight ends. While Arizona — led by Patrick Peterson — has been fierce against the RB and WR positions, they are allowing almost 50% more points to the TE position than any other team out there. Fleener is such a strong play that he warrants starting over any othet tight end beside Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski this week. Delanie Walker and Garrett Graham are set up for strong games if you’re a Jordan Reed owner or if Julius Thomas is unable to for the Broncos.

Baltimore, Houston and Cleveland shape up as okay starts on defense this week, but St. Louis and even Jacksonville have a chance to be sleepers. You’ll want to sit New England, Denver and the Giants, however.

If you want to criticize me for my love of Thanksgiving or ask for personal fantasy advice, follow me on Twitter (@FantasyBuddha).

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