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NFL Thursday impacts fantasy owners
Football on Thursdays used to be hallowed ground.
With the exception of your hometown turkey bowl squad and aside from the fact Thanksgiving Day games date back to the 1800’s, the Thursday holiday was reserved for the Detroit Lions (since 1934) and Dallas Cowboys (since 1966). That was it and that was all … until 2006.
Since then, the NFL introduced a Thursday night, primetime NFL matchup that caused not only logistical and physical challenges for the teams involved, but strategic conundrums for fantasy football owners.
The Thanksgiving Day games ignored, Thursday night produced six games (Weeks 10-16) over the last six seasons. That schedule expands in 2012 as each NFL franchise will play on Thursday night over a 13-week stretch (Weeks 2-15).
Here’s a breakdown of the 2012 Thursday night NFL schedule:
(Note: every Thursday night road team played at home the previous Sunday)
Thursday, September 13th – Bears at Packers
Thursday, September 20th – Giants at Panthers
Thursday, September 27th – Browns at Ravens
Thursday, October 4th – Cardinals at Rams
Thursday, October 11th – Steelers at Titans
Thursday, October 18th – Seahawks at 49ers
Thursday, October 25th – Buccaneers at Vikings
Thursday, November 1st – Chiefs at Chargers
Thursday, November 8th – Colts at Jaguars
Thursday, November 15th – Dolphins at Bills
Thursday, November 22nd - Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 29th – Saints at Falcons
Thursday, December 6th – Broncos at Raiders
Thursday, December 13th – Bengals at Eagles
NFL Thursday Night Stats 2010 - 2011
|Season||Home PPG||Away PPG||Pass YPG||Rush YPG|
|2010 NFL AVG||22.8 PPG (all teams)||N/A||221.6||114.5|
|2011 NFL AVG||22.2 PPG (all teams)||N/A||229.7||117.2|
From a fantasy football standpoint, I was concerned that short weeks over the last few seasons would equate to less scoring opportunities for my team. So, I went back and broke down the Thursday night averages that are directly linked to fantasy football.
If you look at the table above, Thursday night home teams averaged about two more points per game than the league average for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. However, road teams averaged six fewer points per game than the 2010 NFL average and, surprisingly, Thursday night road teams scored nearly 10 fewer points per game than the league average in 2011.
Passing stats remained relatively steady in 2010, but in 2011, also known as the year of the quarterback, Thursday night quarterbacks average 202 pass yards per game or nearly 30 fewer yards than the per game league average.
Rushing stats saw a dramatic drop on Thursday nights in 2010 (nearly 20 fewer rush yards per game), but bounced back in 2011 and supplemented the passing games of, perhaps, tired quarterbacks.
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