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The Curse Of Thursday Night Football

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Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson were two running backs that were able to break the Thursday night curse in 2012. Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson were two running backs that were able to break the Thursday night curse in 2012. Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Fantasy football enthusiasts are often superstitious. The Madden curse for instance, has caused people to shy away from players who have wound up on the cover of the popular video game. Although there was some evidence to support this theory, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson quickly debunked it last year by breaking the single-season receiving record while appearing on the game's cover.

What I want to discuss in this article though, is less about superstition or theory and more about the impact that a shortened playing week has on NFL players (especially the offensive players) and how it affects fantasy production. Although popular and a fan favorite, Thursday Night Football has been protested by many players due to the short turnaround, which takes the already impossible tasks of game-planning and rehabilitating the injured in a week and narrows it down into four days. When you add travel to the mix, it makes this even more of a challenge.

So how do these short weeks affect fantasy football? From the table below you can see an obvious dip in average passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards (besides a select few weeks such as Week 8 where both Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson topped 100 yards rushing). Then you have weeks such as Week 10 where a backup like Rashad Jennings of the Jaguars has little time to practice as a lead ball carrier and ends up with a measly 27 yards rushing. Even in what you would expect to be a shootout in Week 12 (Saints vs. Falcons), there was only one passing touchdown thrown between Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Now this all might sound like speculation, but when compared to Sunday and Monday games, there is just no denying the difference in production. Of these 24 teams that played on Thursday night, only seven had a 100-yard rusher, only five had a 300-yard passer and only five had a 100-yard receiver. This isn't meant to discourage you into sitting your stud players (as Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson proved to be curse proof), but when you are on the fence about two players, it would be a wise idea to lean in favor of the player who doesn't have a Thursday night game. Avoid the short week if at all possible.

Week 2: Thursday, September 13th Packers vs Bears 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
J. Cutler 126 Yds, 1 TDs M. Bush 54 Yds, 0 TDs M. Forte 49 Yds, 0 TDs
A. Rodgers 219 Yds, 1 TDs  C. Benson 81 Yds, 0 TDs J. Nelson 84 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 3: Thursday, September 20th Giants vs Panthers
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
E. Manning 288 Yds, 1 TDs A. Brown 113 Yds, 2 TDs R. Barden 138 Yds, 0 TDs
C. Newton 242 Yds, 0 TDs D. Williams 50 Yds, 0 TDs G. Olsen 98 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 4: Thursday, September 27th Browns vs Ravens 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
B. Weeden 320 Yds, 0 TDs T. Richardson 47 Yds, 1 TDs G. Little 77 Yds, 0 TDs
J. Flacco 356 Yds, 1 TDs R. Rice 49 Yds, 0 TDs A. Boldin 131 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 5: Thursday, October 04th Cardinals vs Rams 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
K. Kolb 289 Yds, 0 TDs R. Williams 33 Yds, 0 TDs L. Fitzgerald 92 Yds, 0 TDs
S. Bradford 141 Yds, 2 TDs S. Jackson 76 Yds, 0 TDs C. Givens 51 Yds, 1 TDs
Week 6: Thursday, October 11th Steelers vs Titans 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
B. Roethlisberger 363 Yds, 1 TDs B. Batch 22 Yds, 1 TDs I. Redman 105 Yds, 0 TDs
M. Hasselbeck 290 Yds, 1 TDs C. Johnson 91 Yds, 0 TDs K. Wright 71 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 7: Thursday, October 18th Seahawks vs 49ers 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
R. Wilson 122 Yds, 0 TDs M. Lynch 103 Yds, 0 TDs B. Obomanu 50 Yds, 0 TDs
A. Smith 140 Yds, 1 TDs F. Gore 131 Yds, 0 TDs F. Gore 51 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 8: Thursday, October 25th Vikings vs Buccaneers 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
J. Freeman 262 Yds, 3 TDs D. Martin 135 Yds, 1 TDs D. Martin 79 Yds, 1 TDs
C. Ponder 251 Yds, 1 TDs A. Peterson 123 Yds, 1 TDs P. Harvin 90 Yds, 1 TDs
Week 9: Thursday, November 01st Chiefs vs Chargers 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
M. Cassel 181 Yds, 0 TDs J. Charles 39 Yds, 0 TDs D. Bowe 79 Yds, 0 TDs
P. Rivers 220 Yds, 2 TDs R. Mathews 67 Yds, 0 TDs D. Alexander 61 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 10: Thursday, November 08th Colts vs Jaguars 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
A. Luck 227 Yds, 0 TDs V. Ballard 48 Yds, 0 TDs R. Wayne 96 Yds, 0 TDs
B. Gabbert 209 Yds, 0 TDs R. Jennings 27 Yds, 0 TDs C. Shorts 105 Yds, 1 TDs
Week 11: Thursday, November 15th Dolphins vs Bills
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
R. Tannehill 141 Yds, 1 TDs D. Thomas 33 Yds, 0 TDs D. Bess 50 Yds, 1 TDs
R. Fitzpatrick 168 Yds, 0 TDs C. Spiller 91 Yds, 0 TDs St. Johnson 79 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 12: Thursday, November 29th Saints vs Falcons
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
D. Brees 341 Yds, 0 TDs P. Thomas 84 Yds, 0 TDs L. Moore 123 Yds, 0 TDs
M. Ryan 165 Yds, 1 TDs M. Turner 83 Yds, 1 TDs T. Gonzalez 58 Yds, 1 TDs
Week 13: Thursday, December 06th Broncos vs Raiders 
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
P. Manning 310 Yds, 1 TDs K. Moreno 119 Yds, 1 TDs E. Decker 88 Yds, 0 TDs
C. Palmer 273 Yds, 2 TDs D. McFadden 52 Yds, 0 TDs R. Streater 100 Yds, 0 TDs
Week 13: Thursday, December 13th Bengals vs Eagles
Top Passers  Top Rushers  Top Receivers 
A. Dalton 127 Yds, 1 TDs B. Green-Ellis 106 Yds, 1 TDs J. Gresham 63 Yds, 0 TDs
N. Foles 180 Yds, 1 TDs B. Brown 34 Yds, 0 TDs J. Maclin 73 Yds, 0 TDs