This time of year leaves you thankful for the many blessings you have.
Since Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 22 this year, here are my 22 things I'm thankful for, with fantasy advice throughout. Please note these are in no particular order.
This I'm thankful for:
1. Michigan and Ohio are home to the greatest rivalry in all of college sports. While my blood pressure doesn't rise much higher than the Saturday of the Wolverines-Buckeyes tilt, I'm grateful this game is once again relevant and both schools have a coach that are going to keep this game as competitive as it has traditionally been over the years. One also signifies the number of Facebook friends I deleted this week after their incessant Ohio State-Michigan jokes. They're as bad political ads.
2. The number of quarterbacks competing for the job in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh said he's going to ride the hot hand, and with Alex Smith still not cleared from concussion symptoms, that means Colin Kaepernick stands to benefit. He was a cool 16 of 23 for 243 yards and two scores last week. Two weeks prior, he was 11 of 17 for 117 yards passing but added another 66 yards rushing and a score on the ground. If he keeps it up, it may not matter when Smith clears. He could be a nice spot start in some better matchups down the stretch.
3. The number of guys competing for carries now in the Denver backfield. With Willis McGahee now likely out for the remainder of the season, Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno all stand to get carries. The rookie Hillman is projected to get the most work but John Elway said Tuesday that Moreno should figure into the mix. That's how I'd rank the pickups too: Hillman, Moreno and Ball. We've seen what Moreno can do, (cough, cough-see Beanie Wells), so I'd rather see what the rookie can do when pressed into the full-time job. It could go to more what's becoming a more traditional platoon in the backfield, like more and more NFL teams are having.
4. The end of the Rashad Jennings show in Jacksonville. He had just three carries this past weekend for minus 1 yard. Instead, Tony Maluso and the rest of the Jacksonville faithful were "treated" to Jalen Parmele's 27-touch, 83-yard performance. The Toledo product was not exactly dazzling but he was more productive than Jennings was. He needs to be owned since it's still unknown when Maurice Jones-Drew is coming back from the foot injury.
5. Alex Green. While James Starks will be a hot pickup this week, owners would be wise to exercise caution in wasting a pickup on him. He had a measly 74 yards on 25 carries and coach Mike McCarthy has said he should have used Green more last week. Neither guy is worth the transaction at this point. If anything, I'd pick up Cedric Benson if he's available as he is supposed to be back in a couple of weeks. Given the ineffectiveness of Green and Starks, Benson should have little trouble taking the job back. If you can store him, go get him.
6. The Big Ten men's basketball race. With Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State all national champion contenders, this year's regional basketball product should be spectacular to watch.
7. Dwayne Allen. The tight end has filled in nicely the last four weeks as Coby Fleener has been out. But Fleener could be back this weekend for the Colts. It's a wait-and-see approach that could cause you to miss out on points from the TE spot if you're wrong. Better to pick up a guy like Brandon Myers or Greg Olson. Both aren't just one-week fill-ins but better solutions the rest of the way.
8. Andre Dawson. My childhood sports hero and an example more athletes should aspire to be like: humble, quiet and no complaints. The commercial says "Finding Andre good. Finding discounts better." I think it might be the other way around.
9. My wife Bobbi. She's incredibly supportive of me working two jobs: one to feed my family and one to feed my passion.
10. The Advertiser-Tribune. I've often contended I'm blessed to call the A-T my newspaper home and it's a remarkable organization to work for.
11. Small Business Saturday. Don't get me wrong, I'll be out with all the other crazy people on Friday. But let's not forget your hometown stores. Sure I can save three bucks on a SD card at the big box store, but I can keep my tax dollars local, my friends and neighbors in business and buy many of the gifts that you're not going to find in a big box store anyway.
12. The Lions picking Ryan Broyles in the second round this year. While I didn't understand the pick at the time, maybe they had some foresight to see that Titus Young was going to be suspended for attitude problems in Week 12 and Broyles stood to pick up some of the catches in his absence. Mike Thomas could also see some of those balls as well but against a tough Texans defense against fantasy wide receivers, I'd only start either in a flex type of situation.
13. The number of interviews I've done in the last five days. One of the things I love about preview time is the number of talented coaches we get to talk to at this time of year. I just don't like all the extra work that comes along with it.
14. My son Ethan. It's taken 10 years but he's finally getting into Star Wars. Welcome to my nerdness, son. I think the force is strong with this one but he is not a Jedi yet.
15. Larry Kisabeth. Coaches like "Kis" are a rarity and I'm going to miss his post games. At least we'll still get to talk shop since he's going to return to his old bookkeeping duties for the Tornadoes this year.
16. That the trade deadline in our league is not until this week. Thanks to McGahee and Dwayne Bowe, I suddenly find myself short of the depth I had.
17. Facetime. This wonderful iPhone app has allowed me to say good-night to my daughter Hope face to face on nights when I'm out covering games. It's made being away a little bit easier.
18. Plaxico Burress is back in the NFL. I remember watching him at Michigan State. A supremely gifted athlete who didn't come packaged as brightest bulb on the shelf. Thankfully the Steelers don't run a lot of pistol formations or he'd quickly be on the injury list. In a really deep league, feel free to pick him up, otherwise I'll roll the dice with guys who have been playing the first 11 weeks of the season over the guy who hasn't played since last year.
19. Hope. Not only the figurative kind but my daughter as well. I don't know if there's a better feeling than a 22-month-old girl screaming at the top of her lungs "Daddy" when you walk in from the garage.
20. Bryce Brown. He's big. He's fast. And with LeSean McCoy possibly out with a concussion Monday night, he could be a good spot start this weekend against the Panthers.
21. That I've made it to my birthday (which is today). I'm grateful for all the blessings the first 37 years have brought and seeing that I'm only a third of the way through my life, I look forward to the next 74 have to bring me.
22. You, the readers. I'm pretty sure I have more than 22 readers but your feedback, encouragement and challenges to do it better keep me pressing on in a profession I love dearly.
Aaron Korte is the A-T's fantasy writer. When he's not practicing his surfing techniques, he can be reached at akorte(at)advertiser-tribune.com.