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2017 Thanksgiving Day Rankings: Fantasy Football, Pie and Beer!

Derek VanRiper

Derek is the Director of Media for RotoWire.com, 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).

Welcome to Year 9 of the Thanksgiving Day Rankings!

If you’re new to this tradition, buckle up.

Here is a quick run-down of how it works.

1. Find a few of your favorite friends or relatives that you will be spending the holiday with. If you don’t like anybody at your Thanksgiving Day gathering, reach out to your most entertaining friends on Snapchat.

2. Before the start of the Minnesota-Detroit game Thursday morning, figure out a draft order and set up a three-to-six-team fantasy league just for the three games Thursday. If you're not sure how to fairly determine a draft order, Random.org has a free list randomizer.

3. Keep it simple and map out roster requirements (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE flex, 1 D/ST ) along with a scoring system. (**Hint: Add a second flex that allows the use of another quarterback if you have a three- or four-team league.)

20 pass yards = 1 pt
Pass TD = 4 pts
10 rush/rec yards = 1 pt
Reception = 1 pt
Rush/Rec TD = 6 pts
2 pt Conv = 2 pts
Sacks = 1 pt
INT (for defense) = 2 pts
Safeties = 2 pts
All D/ST TD = 6 pts

***Pro Tip: Establish scoring settings that match one of your season-long leagues or DFS entries, and compile player scores from your league page. These leagues can be easily scored within a shared Google spreadsheet, or on paper.

The entry fee can be small to get everyone involved (i.e. $10/entry, winner take all; last place drives your craziest relative(s) home, all entry fees go toward Uber/Lyft/cab fare to avoid driving that same relative home, winner gets the last beer/piece of pie), and the 10-15 minutes it takes to run the draft will be well worth the time.

Below, I have compiled the initial set of rankings for the Thanksgiving Day games.

Rankings will be updated Wednesday afternoon when more injury information has been released.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

*In addition to the positional rankings, there is a table below that displays fantasy points allowed by position for each of the six teams playing Thursday.

Game Schedule

Vikings (-2.5) at Lions | TV: CBS, 12:30p ET
Chargers at Cowboys (PK) | TV: FOX, 4:30p ET
Giants at Redskins (-7) | TV: NBC, 8:30p ET

As of Monday afternoon, there is no significant wind or rain in the forecast for the nightcap in Maryland. Temperatures at kickoff will likely dip below 40 degrees.

Implied Scores (Determined with point spread and over/under totals)

Redskins -- 25.75
Cowboys -- 24
Chargers -- 24
Vikings -- 23.5
Lions -- 21
Giants -- 18.75

Fantasy Points Allowed by Position (full PPR scoring)

Team QB RB WR TE D/ST
Vikings 17.4 (27th) 18.0 (31st) 31.7 (19th) 11.0 (21st) 2.2 (32nd)
Lions 20.0 (19th) 27.2 (4th) 31.9 (17th) 11.5 (18th) 6.9 (5th)
Chargers 18.7 (23rd) 27.5 (3rd) 32.1 (16th) 8.8 (31st) 2.6 (31st)
Cowboys 20.9 (T-14th) 24.5 (13th) 35.4 (7th) 11.6 (17th) 5.4 (T-11th)
Giants 23.6 (3rd) 24.0 (15th) 32.6 (15th) 19.6 (1st) 4.0 (22nd)
Redskins 23.3 (4th) 25.4 (8th) 29.6 (23rd) 17.1 (4th) 6.0 (T-8th)


The Rankings

Quarterbacks

1. Kirk Cousins, WAS (v. NYG)
2. Philip Rivers, LAC (at DAL)
3. Dak Prescott, DAL (v. LAC)
4. Matthew Stafford, DET (v. MIN)
5. Case Keenum, MIN (at DET)
6. Eli Manning, NYG (at WAS)

The implied team total and the matchup point toward Cousins as the best option on the board at quarterback Thursday, and I don’t see any reason to disagree. It’s wide open after that, however, thanks to Manning having one 300-yard game in 10 starts this season, and Odell Beckham’s absence. Compared to previous years, you could do much worse if you end up in a six-team league and you’re simply left with him at the end as there isn’t much separating him from Rivers in the No. 2 spot when you adjust for matchup difficulty and overall performance.

Pass protection for Prescott needs to improve if he’s going to have any success Thursday, but his ability as a runner nudges him ahead of Stafford and Keenum for now. The Vikings are a strong defense across the board, and the Lions doesn’t run it particularly well anyway, so it could be a high-volume, low-efficiency day for Stafford.

Running Backs

1. Melvin Gordon, LAC
2. Samaje Perine, WAS Questionable, but expected to play w/finger injury.
3. Latavius Murray, MIN
4. Jerick McKinnon, MIN
5. Alfred Morris, DAL
6. Orleans Darkwa, NYG
7. Ameer Abdullah, DET
8. Theo Riddick, DET
9. Austin Ekeler, LAC
10. Rod Smith, DAL
11. Shane Vereen, NYG
12. Wayne Gallman, NYG
13. Byron Marshall, WAS
14. Zach Zenner, DET
15. C.J. Ham, MIN

Gordon had a 20-6 carry edge over Ekeler in Week 11, which is enough for me to believe that his knee is pretty close to 100 percent. Perine impressed in a spot against the Saints on Sunday in which I was banking on an unfavorable game script. Since Washington lost Chris Thompson in that game, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of competition for carries now in D.C.

I currently have both Minnesota backs ahead of Morris and Darkwa, in part because Morris could fall out of the gameplan quickly if the Chargers can open up a big lead. Darkwa over Morris is debatable, since Darkwa might have a small pass-catching role despite the existence of Shane Vereen and Morris doesn’t seem likely to get involved that way.

C.J. Ham is a fullback, and is only ranked at the bottom of the list in case Mike Zimmer has a sense of humor given the circumstances. LeShun Daniels is the new No. 3 running back in Washington, FWIW.

Wide Receivers

1. Keenan Allen, LAC
2. Adam Thielen, MIN
3. Dez Bryant, DAL
4. Golden Tate, DET
5. Stefon Diggs, MIN
6. Jamison Crowder, WAS
7. Josh Doctson, WAS
8. Marvin Jones, DET
9. Mike Williams, LAC
10. Roger Lewis, NYG
11. Cole Beasley, DAL
12. Kenny Golladay, DET
13. Ryan Grant, WAS
14. TJ Jones, DET
15. Terrance Williams, DAL
16. Brice Butler, DAL
17. Travis Benjamin, LAC *Questionable
18. Laquon Treadwell, MIN
19. Tyrell Williams, LAC
20. Tavarres King, NYG
21. Michael Floyd, MIN
22. Sterling Shepard, NYG *On the more doubtful side of questionable, it appears.

This list was more fun to make when Dez was at his peak at Megatron was still in the league. Allen is usually the preferred target monster for Rivers, so his floor (especially in 0.5 and full PPR) is excellent. Thielen slots in ahead of Bryant because I expect Bryant to see a lot of Casey Heyward while Darius Slay would seemingly match up with Diggs in the early game.

Currently, Tyrell Williams is low thanks to the possibility of Benjamin suiting up for the Chargers. Rookie Mike Williams had more targets against the Bills on Sunday (8) than he had in his first four NFL games combined (7) and he seems to have moved ahead of Tyrell in the pecking order for targets.

With Shepard trending toward missing Thursday's game, I expect Evan Engram to see plenty of looks Thursday. King moves up a few positions with Shepard likely unavailable again.

Tight Ends

1. Evan Engram, NYG.
2. Vernon Davis, WAS
3. Hunter Henry, LAC
4. Kyle Rudolph, MIN
5. Eric Ebron, DET
6. Jason Witten, DAL
7. Antonio Gates, LAC
8. Darren Fells, DET
9. Rhett Ellison, NYG

Jordan Reed was ruled out when the final injury report was released Wednesday. Vernon Davis moves to No. 2 on the list as a result.

Ebron appears to be back in the good graces of Jim Bob Cooter, so expect to be disappointed even though he’ll be the fifth or sixth option off the board at this position.

Defense/Special Teams

1. Chargers (at DAL) -- Consider lowering a spot if Tyron Smith is back for the Cowboys.
2. Redskins (v. NYG) -- Could set up pass rush for sack chances by building up a lead.
3. Vikings (at DET) -- Best real life defense of the bunch.
4. Lions (v. MIN) -- Speculating on a turnover or two from Case Keenum.
5. Cowboys (v. LAC) -- Just one sack against the Falcons and Eagles in the last two games.
6. Giants (at WAS) -- Surprisingly tied with Oakland for the fewest sacks in the NFL this season.

Side Dish Rankings

1. Stuffing
2. Mac & Cheese
3. Brussels Sprouts
4. Mashed Potatoes
5. Green Bean Casserole
6. Sweet Potato Casserole

(Author’s Note: Cranberry sauce is not a side...it just goes on the turkey along with the gravy.)

Current Pie Rankings

1. Apple
2. Blackberry – Move to top if “Sour Cream” precedes “Blackberry”
3. Pecan – Up from #9 after having two really good ones at BBQ places in 2017.
4. Blueberry
5. French Silk
6. Shepherd's
T-7. Strawberry Rhubarb
T-7. Cherry
9. Peach
10. Pumpkin – Stop making pumpkins into pie, start making pumpkin purees into these (Seriously).

Six Beers to Consider for Thursday and the rest of Week 12

1. Bourbon Barrel Quad, Boulevard Brewing Co. (Kansas City, MO)
2. Worthy Adversary, Fulton Beer (Minneapolis, MN)
3. Zombie Dust, 3 Floyds Brewing Co. (Munster, IN)
4. Fortunate Islands, Modern Times Beer (San Diego, CA)
5. 7 Hop IPA, Rogue Ales (Newport, OR)
6. Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. (Ertvelde, Oost-Vlaanderen Belgium)

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Derek VanRiper plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: RotoWireDVR, DraftKings: BentleysChair, Yahoo: d.vanriper,.