Every football season we have reasons to be thankful. They’re never the same, but they’re always there. Your list might be different, but here’s why I’m thankful this year:

  • I’m thankful that the Lions always play the early game on Thanksgiving. If you’re going to force us to watch an awful team year after year, at least they get it out of the way early in the day. I’m not too focused on football during the first game. It’s on in the background, but the later games get more of my attention. And I’d much rather see the Cowboys and Bills than anything to do with the Lions this week.

  • On a related note, I’m thankful that Matt Stafford gets a chance to show what he can do out of Detroit. I’m not saying the Rams are going to represent the NFC (though they could). It’s just nice to see him on a good team for a change.

  • I’m thankful to be a sports fan in Tampa. Right now is about as good as it gets. The Rays went to the World Series and followed it up by winning 100 games. The Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. And thanks to Tom Brady, the Buccaneers are defending Super Bowl champions.

Good chance I won’t get to write all of that at the same time next year (or ever again), so I’m marking it down now. If you have successful sports teams in your area, it’s a fun atmosphere, so enjoy it and be thankful.

  • I’m also thankful just to have sports teams in my area. Detroit is stuck with the Lions, but there are dozens of cities who would love to have them. Living in an NFL city is special, and something we sometimes take for granted.

  • I’m thankful that COVID-19 has had little effect on the season this year. Aside from a few high-profile players missing games, the season has gone smoothly. No Wednesday games, no wide receivers playing quarterback and no wondering if the season will actually be completed on time. Their system might be strict, but it’s working.

  • I’m thankful that I ditched the last league I was in that resisted decimal scoring. I kept proposing it and they kept shooting it down. Unlike some NFL players, I know how ties work. I just don’t like them in my fantasy league.

  • I’m thankful that no NFL teams are truly dominating this year. Everybody has lost at least two games, several teams in each conference have a shot at the top spot and the bye, and quite a few others could cause trouble in the first round and beyond. I think it’s better when we have no idea who will be left standing at the end, and right now you could make a case for a quarter of the league reaching the Super Bowl.

  • I’m thankful that large stores such as Target are permanently staying closed on Thanksgiving Day. I know it has nothing to do with football, but retail workers deserve time with their families, too. Although if they spend that time watching the Lions, I’m not sure we’re doing them any favors.

  • I’m thankful for New England’s defense in week 11, because they’re the main reason I got a much-needed win and stayed a step ahead in the playoff race. On a related note, I’m glad I didn’t play against Jonathan Taylor on Sunday. He’s fun to watch as long as he’s not scoring against you.

  • I’m thankful for the extra regular-season game. Now teams will almost always have a winning or losing record at the end of the year. I’m not excited about seeing records broken because I think the historical context will be missing, but more (real) football is always welcome as far as I’m concerned.

  • Finally, I’m very thankful for anybody who bothers to read this column. I know rankings and stats are critical to this game, but I think there’s room for other elements that affect our hobby as well. You can have a perfect draft and start all the right players, and maybe even win the title. But if the league isn’t fun, or run properly, or consistent with its rules and rulings, it won’t matter. You won’t enjoy it. And we spend too much time on fantasy football to let it get ruined by bad policy, or a lack of integrity, or ignoring opportunities to make the league better. I appreciate your time, and hope you have a great Thanksgiving (and week 12, too).

What are you most thankful for this year? Which players deserve your thanks, and which ones aren’t invited to the dinner table? Share your thoughts below.