I find it odd when fantasy owners react differently to games that are played on Thursdays, Saturdays or Mondays. It's as if some owners want to get points out of the way earlier in the week, or in other instances, save a guy. Other owners see that they have a running back going on Monday night, and figure the extra day will result in a better game, so they play a lesser choice then. It's still all the same football week, you know.
In reality, I don't think playing earlier or later in the week means a whole lot, and I'll be honest, sometimes I don't necessarily want to use someone just because I'll get the pleasure of watching him play. For some, it's not so much a pleasure. I watch the Eagles every week, I know it hasn't been a joy to see Brian Westbrook hobble around as a shell of himself. Don't even ask about the quarterback play. We're all fit to be tied there.
The point is, while looking at the matchups for a given week -- which is a must, so important I dare say it matters more than who the player is in some cases -- the day of the game should remain irrelevant. I remember one year my cousin, who was going to be at my house watching the awful Lions on Thanksgiving, actually activated Shawn Bryson for the week as a flex just so he could enjoy a big performance in my presence. I laughed. Bryson did basically what he did all that 2005 season, which was alarmingly little. I can't recall whom he didn't activate, but I remember thinking it's not only nice to have a Thursday guy do well and get you off to a flying start for the fantasy week, but when you face someone who activated a player who does nothing, it's as if that owner's wasted a roster spot and you have the advantage.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and remember, only some of the time is it actually a good thing to watch your players in action while loading large quantities of turkey into your belly. Here are the flex rankings for Week 13, the final week of the regular season for many a fantasy owner. Choose wisely.
Brian Westbrook versus Lance Moore: Owning Moore was certainly a treat on Monday night, when Drew Brees looked at him early and often and the Saints' top wide receiver -- that's right, I wrote that -- delivered his fourth consecutive double-digit game. His 21 points also pushed him into the top 10 for wide receivers in fantasy this season. Nothing against Marques Colston, who joined the festivities late and scored on a 70-yarder, but Moore is the man. The matchup in western Florida isn't a particularly strong one, but I'm not sure it matters anymore with Brees. All that said, I actually shocked myself a bit when I gave Westbrook the nod. He didn't get a strong running back rank from me, but I view Philadelphia's turkey night home game with Arizona as the last chance in a lost season. Donovan McNabb might or might not stink again -- I didn't rank him as a top 12 quarterback -- but I do think the similarly proud Westbrook has one last decent game left in him. In three weeks, it will be Kevin Kolb handing off to Lorenzo Booker. Eagles fans can't wait. On Thursday, I can see Westbrook totaling 75 yards and a score, much the same as Moore. I give the edge to the player who needs it more.
Wes Welker versus Darren McFadden: Looking at the matchups here, one would think I'd choose the running back. The Chiefs are pathetic against the run, and McFadden was the first running back taken in this year's draft, and he's ready to take off. The problem is, he's still the backup to Justin Fargas. The last time the Raiders and Chiefs met, McFadden and Michael Bush threw their own personal party. In the ESPN projections this week, you'll see McFadden getting so many points you'd think he was Michael Turner. Hey, maybe he is. I'm hedging bets just a bit because I think Fargas and McFadden share 35 carries -- at best for McFadden's sake -- and the Chiefs will be able to move the ball and force the Raiders to throw more than 11 times. I still can't fathom how Jay Cutler was that bad on Sunday at home to Oakland. Anyway, McFadden is the upside play, but I think people are expecting a bit too much from him. If Fargas suddenly sprains an ankle in practice, then I'll buy in. Welker might not have a worse matchup this season than he does against the Steelers, but isn't it about time to start to believe in Matt Cassel? No, he's not going to throw for 400 yards for the third consecutive week, but if the Steelers allow an average of 168 passing yards per game, that means there have been some games in which they allowed more. I see this being one of them. Welker is going to catch 100 passes, and he's going to reach 1,000 yards. He might not get to three touchdowns, however. Despite not scoring since Week 7, he's managed double digits for fantasy points in the past three. I take the contrary angle and say he does it again.
Ted Ginn Jr. versus Peyton Hillis: The emerging Miami wide receiver has been in double digits for fantasy in three of the previous five weeks, and one would expect Chad Pennington to lean on him more now that Greg Camarillo is out for the season. Ginn is a DeSean Jackson type; you'll see him doing other things than running slants. Against the Rams, a team that has been embarrassing itself before halftime of late, Ginn seems a possible No. 2 wide receiver, and definitely a worthy flex. Then again, the Broncos' top running back is also a strong play. Rumor has it Selvin Young will dress and find his way to the sideline, so maybe he trumps Tatum Bell for five or so carries, but I think Mike Shanahan likes what he's seen from Hillis, yet another Arkansas running back on my mind this week. The matchup against the Jets is difficult, but all Hillis needs to do to end up worthy is get 50 yards and score. I think he can do that. I just think Ginn can do better and is the upside play against a brutal team.
Le'Ron McClain versus Isaac Bruce: Two players most fantasy owners thought had slipped off the radar screen for good came back strong in Week 12. The Ravens still have a confusing situation at running back, with Willis McGahee disappearing against strong run defenses the past two weeks, so McClain got a chance to carry the ball and he did well, running for 88 yards and a score. Before the game with the Eagles, he hadn't run for as many as 35 yards since Week 5. I don't think McClain is a fluke at all. The problem is we might never know if he's going to get 15 carries or two. McGahee could run for 100 yards at the Bengals this week, or McClain could. McClain got the better rank from me, and I'm going to trust him more than I do any San Francisco wide receiver. Bruce was the only one I ranked. Like the Ravens' backfield, whom should we trust? I think Shaun Hill is a bit legit, and the Bills' defense is hardly what people perceive it to be. Bruce should catch some passes. One would think the main reason Bruce managed a total of 13 fantasy points the past six weeks before Sunday was because of the changing quarterback situation, and other, younger 49ers wideouts stepping up. Bruce is still here. Consider him a No. 4 wide receiver this week, and a top-100 flex choice, but McClain is better.
Justin Gage versus Fred Jackson: That was quite the wake-up call for Kerry Collins and the Titans, wasn't it? The Jets manhandled the league's last unbeaten team, playing a balanced defense that kept the running game in check, and didn't let Collins embarrass them. On Thanksgiving, the Titans get the best treat yet, a trip to Detroit. Could there be anything better? Gage was awfully popular leading into Week 12, coming off that two-touchdown, 147-yard game in Jacksonville. I think this week we'll see Chris Johnson and LenDale White get the carries they need to put up big numbers, and Collins won't have to exert himself so much. Gage gets the nod over McAllister because the Lions can't stop the pass, either, and I could see a three- or four-catch game and decent yards. Buffalo's Jackson has averaged 58 rushing yards the past two weeks, and the matchup against San Francisco shouldn't prevent another similar effort. Marshawn Lynch is a very nice option this week, my No. 6 running back. Even he will need the occasional breather, though. Basically, near the end of my top 100 flex options I think we've got dueling six-pointers for fantasy, and I take the one more likely to score.
Eric Karabell is a senior writer for ESPN.com who covers fantasy baseball, football and basketball. He has twice been honored as fantasy sports writer of the year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. His new book, "The Best Philadelphia Sports Arguments," was published by Source Books and is available in bookstores. Contact Eric by e-mailing him here.