Fantasy Football is a game faced with many daunting challenges that fantasy owners face daily. Among those challenges is a decision about which fantasy players should start every week. Those players include the ones who play every Thursday whoforce owners to make tough decisions even earlier every single week. A slew of poor Thursday night games has prompted the question: Is it even worth playing the guys who play on Thursday in fantasy leagues if they score lower point totals?

Statistical Analysis for Quarterbacks and Kickers

To examine this phenomenon, I will first take a look at the average scores for players who played on Thursday night and compare that to their scores in other weeks of the season.

Quarterbacks who played on Thursday night scored an average of 15 fantasy points, compared to an average of 14.7 points in regular weeks. There is therefore no significantly statistical difference between quarterbacks playing on Thursday compared to those players who play later in the week.

For kickers, the gap is even narrower. Fantasy kickers on "TNF" scored an average of 7.5 points compared to an average of 7.3 points in regular weeks. There is no statistically significant difference here.

Statistical Analysis for Running Backs and Wide Receivers

But what about the major fantasy skill positions?

For this analysis, I will look only at the top running back and top two wide receivers for each team that played in Thursday night games.

The average score of a starting running back on 'Thursday Night Football' this season is approximately 13 points per game. This number is very similar to the scoring average of 13.5 for the same running backs on other days. After running a statistical test, we can conclude that there is not a statistically significant defense between running back scores on Thursday and other fantasy scores.

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Wide receivers are a little bit different. The average score for the top two wide receivers on 'Thursday Night Football' is 6.8 fantasy points per game. That's more than one point lower than the average fantasy points scored by the top two wide receivers in other weeks! We can therefore conclude that the production of wide receivers is hurt slightly on Thursday night games this season. This decline in production was also confirmed in a study done by numberfire.com in 2014.

What About Defense?

With lower scoring games, we would expect higher scoring fantasy defenses.

Is that what we observe on 'Thursday Night Football?' Fantasy defenses have scored 7.1 fantasy points on Thursday night compared to just 5.6 fantasy points on other days. That's 1.5 more fantasy points on average for defenses! If you're desperate for a defense, it seems like it would be smart to start one on Thursday nights.

Conclusions.

Here's a summary of what we learned from this statistical analysis.

  • On average, there is no statistically significant difference between points scored by running backs, quarterbacks, and kickers who play on Thursday night vs. other days.
  • The top two wide receivers for teams on 'Thursday Night Football' score one less point on average than on Sundays.
  • Fantasy defenses on Thursday score 1.5 more fantasy points than defenses playing on Sunday and Monday

Fantasy owners should try to consider all of these factors as they prepare for the Jaguars Titans game on Thursday.

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