NOW THAT we've gorged ourselves on turkey, mashed potatoes and Matthew Stafford interception, it's time to reflect on what's really important this holiday season: fantasy football.

It doesn't matter if you are 8-3 or 3-8 this season, there is always something to be thankful for, as our readers pointed out.

Jake Rodgers, of Philadelphia, is grateful for "being able to draft Ray Rice in the 15th round of a 15-round draft." Rice last week had a four-game touchdown streak snapped, but getting a back like that in the final round is nice.

"I am thankful for Chris Johnson still being on the board when I picked [ninth out of 10] in the first round," wrote Joe Tierney, of Philadelphia. Johnson, of course, has been the best fantasy back of the year. A guy in one of my leagues also took him ninth; right after the guy in front of him took Brian Westbrook. Ouch.

Remember all the controversy about Bill Belichick's Week 10 decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 late against the Colts? Brian Wehman, of West Deptford, N.J., not only loved St. Bill's gamble, he benefitted when it didn't work.

"My opponent had Manning and if [Belichick] did punt it, [Manning] would have gotten enough yards to win," he wrote joyously. "As it was, I ended up winning by two points."

Joe Corcoran, of Delran, N.J., sounds a tad bitter in his observation.

"I'm thankful for parity run amok," he wrote. "It forgives most sins and allows fantasy owners to continue the illusion of having a decent team."

Philadelphia's Tom Geisler is understandably thrilled to have grabbed Ricky Williams and Steve Smith (Giants) in the last two rounds of his 12-team league. Getting a jewel on a late-round flier is like finding a $10 bill crumpled up in the dryer. Getting two of them is like finding a $50.

Jim Krzywicki, of Philadelphia, is thankful for a few things. "That my poor fantasy football record doesn't carry into fantasy hockey stats. [And] that Matt Forte isn't on my team, because Pierre Thomas and Greg Jennings have disappointed enough."

Thanks to all the readers who participated. Tierney, Wehman and Krzywicki were randomly selected to win Daily News Fantasy Football t-shirts.

Gimme five

Five reasons to look forward to Monday night's Patriots-Saints game:

* The Saints are first in total offense. The Patriots are second.

* The over/under of 56 might be a little low considering the Saints average 37 points and the Patriots average 29.

* New England quarterback Tom Brady, who has a career-best five consecutive 300-yard games, needs 163 to pass Drew Bledsoe for tops in franchise history.

* Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has at least eight catches in his last six games and had a career-best 15 last week.

* Saints quarterback Drew Brees has thrown for at least 300 yards in his last four Monday nighters with 10 touchdowns and three picks in that span.

Three up

* Bernard Scott, running back, Bengals: Though starter Cedric Benson is expected back in the lineup, Scott remains a decent play with Cincinnati hosting to Cleveland. Like him more than Matt Forte or Steve Slaton.

* Rock Cartwright, running back, Redskins: He's a little on the small side (5-8, 213 pounds) to expect 20 carries, but he can catch the ball and is OK to use as a third RB this week against the Eagles.

* Matt Ryan, quarterback, Falcons: Is 11-1 as a starter in the Georgia Dome and should put up fat numbers this week against a Bucs defense that has given up the most touchdown passes (22) in the NFL.

Three down

* Kyle Boller, quarterback, Rams: If you're thinking about Boller, the "desperation" needle must be on high. Boller, though, is worth a roll in larger leagues since the Rams stink and figure to be trailing often.

* Steve Slaton, running back, Texans: Hate to again pick on the local kid (Conwell-Egan), but Slaton has 39 rushing yards total in the last three games. This makes Houston quarterback Matt Schaub an absolute No. 1 option.

* Vinny Testaverde, former quarterback: As bad as Jay Cutler's 18 interceptions are, he will not threaten the 35 Testaverde threw in 1988 with Tampa to set the dubious modern-day mark. Sorry Vinny, Cutler is on pace for only 29.

Ed Barkowitz, who took a doomed flier on Chaz Schilens in the 15th round of one of his leagues, has been writing about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001.

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