You wouldn't necessarily want to send your kid to Tyler Thigpen quarterback camp. It's not like every game Thigpen plays is a clinic. He can be a little reckless with the ball, and he's not particularly accurate. That's often a dangerous combination. He's also just 1-9 as a starter.
But from a fantasy perspective, Thigpen has been outstanding. He tied Philip Rivers for scoring honors in Week 16, finishing with 28 points. Thigpen was just 20-for-41 against the Dolphins, yet those 20 completions resulted in 320 yards and two touchdowns. He was picked off three times -- that's 12 interceptions for the year -- but he also ran for 57 yards and one TD. He's totaled at least 40 rushing yards in four of the Chiefs last six games. Miami's defense hadn't allowed a touchdown since November 23; Thigpen accounted for three in the first half on Sunday.
"When he came in this year, a lot of people were a little nervous, including myself," Gonzalez said. "I think he came out there and proved he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. It might sound a little bit silly saying something like that, but I honestly believe he can develop into that."
Thigpen is unquestionably one of fantasy's most useful quarterbacks. (This guarantees him nothing in real-life, of course). If you stuck with Gonzalez or Dwayne Bowe during the Chiefs' transition to the Thigpen-friendly spread attack, then you haven't been disappointed.
If you added the Chiefs QB at mid-season and started him today, there's a decent chance you won your league.
• Brandon Stokley had the game-tying touchdown in his hands today, but he couldn't hold on. The Broncos and Chargers will meet next Sunday in San Diego, and the winner is the AFC's least deserving playoff team. Arizona already clinched that title in the NFC.
Marshawn Lynch aggravated a shoulder injury in Buffalo's 30-23 win, but at least he found the end zone before checking out. Fred Jackson took advantage of Lynch's absence, stats-wise, delivering 113 total yards and a fourth quarter TD.
• Today's game neatly captures the Eagles season: they were stopped inches short of where they needed to be, and they were out of timeouts. Somewhere in that sentence is the title of their 2008 highlight DVD.
• Adrian Peterson fumbled again (see below), and he did it on the first play of the Vikings critical (and ultimately doomed) final drive. He managed to recover, but the announcers rightly questioned whether Peterson could be trusted with the ball in the closing minutes. When's the last time you heard that asked about a guy who was leading the NFL in rushing?
Visanthe Shiancoe had an outstanding day for the Vikings in their 24-17 loss, catching seven passes for 136 yards and two TDs. Matt Ryan had a quiet day statistically, although he tried to leap into the end zone for a third quarter touchdown. Ryan was hit in mid-air and lost the football, but guard Justin Blalock fell on it in the end zone. (Many people fell on it, but Blalock emerged).
Pro Bowl corner Nnamdi Asomugha reportedly left the game in the fourth quarter with neck soreness.
• Calvin Johnson intended to score today -- an early touchdown reception was nullified by an illegal procedure penalty -- but he finished without a TD for just the sixth time this season. He also bruised a knee, so we'll track that situation all week.
• Drew Brees needs 402 passing yards next week against Carolina to break Dan Marino's single-season yardage record. If Brees doesn't get there, it probably won't be Sean Payton's fault. Details below. Read on...
Posted at 9:40 ET
• Adrian Peterson is having another useful yardage day (11 carries, 48 yards), but he's already put the ball on the ground twice. One of the fumbles was attributed to Tarvaris Jackson on a handoff, but it wasn't really the quarterback's fault. It led to an Atlanta field goal at the end of the first half.
Peterson entered today's must-win with six fumbles (three lost). He's leading the NFL in rushing and averaging over 110 yards per game, and he's almost certainly going to be next year's top overall fantasy pick. But the turnover nonsense needs to stop, and it's a strike against Peterson in the MVP debate.
• It's basically a staring contest between Philly and Washington. Shaun Suisham has the game's only three points. Few yards, no turnovers, not many fantasy stats just yet.
• Marshawn Lynch was considered a game-time decision in Denver. The decision was ultimately "Yes," and he's having a useful day. His end-of-half rushing TD brought the visiting Bills within three points. Amazingly, the San Diego Chargers still have life.
• The Broncos rushing workload is being divided evenly between three running backs, PJ Pope, Tatum Bell and Selvin Young. Jay Cutler actually has Denver's only rushing TD, and Eddie Royal leads the team in yards. He took a reverse 71 yards on Denver's second series of the game.
• Tight end John Carlson made an excellent grab for a two-yard TD late in the first half at snowy Seattle. He's the only guy helping fantasy owners in that game thus far.
Posted at 6:00 ET
• The Saints led the winless Lions 28-7 at the break in Detroit, and you might have reasonably expected a steady dose of Pierre Thomas in the second half. The set-up wasn't great for Drew Brees and/or Marques Colston owners.
But never underestimate Sean Payton's willingness to throw. The Saints passed on nine of their first 11 plays in the third quarter, and Colston caught a pair of touchdowns. They also threw on four of their first seven plays in the fourth quarter, leading 42-7.
Brees finished with 351 yards and two TDs on 30-for-40 passing; Colston caught nine balls for 99 yards. Thomas had a useful day -- 103 total yards and a touchdown -- but he only carried 13 times, despite the circumstances. The New Orleans offense totaled 532 net yards against the league's worst defense.
On behalf of Colston owners everywhere: Thank you, Coach Payton. Thank you.
• The Bengals-Browns game featured one offensive touchdown, 14 total points (all in the first half), and 38 touches for Cedric Benson. Sorry I missed it. Bet that was awesome.
• Antonio Bryant had his third straight game with triple-digit receiving yardage, and his fourth straight with a TD. Philip Rivers finished with four touchdown passes, three of which went to tight ends (two to Antonio Gates). Jeff Garcia had TD passes to both teams -- one to Bryant, one to Chargers DB Antoine Cason -- and rushed for another. He also bled profusely from the face.
• Eventually, the Cardinals pulled Kurt Warner from that mauling in New England. They did not pull Larry Fitzgerald, however, and he caught a 78-yard TD pass from Matt Leinart late in the fourth quarter.
• The Rams lost a 13-point lead at home in the final four minutes, and Shaun Hill had two late TD passes to save his fantasy day (and possibly ruin mine). Can't wait to see the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rams Report Card after that loss.
• LenDale White and Keith Bulluck might eventually regret treating the Terrible Towels as they did, but the Titans won a huge game today, beating Pittsburgh 31-14. That's the biggest number anyone has put up against the Steelers this year. White and Chris Johnson again split the carries evenly, and both of them had touchdowns. Johnson's was a 21-yarder that came on a fourth-and-inches play in the third quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger was punished by the Tennessee defense. He was sacked five times, and he turned the ball over four times (two INTs, two fumbles lost).
Posted at 4:50 ET
• As feared, the weather conditions in Foxborough are miserable. The wind isn't extreme, but the snow is heavy and footing is an obvious problem. Both the Cardinals and Patriots began the day with inside runs, but Sammy Morris looked much steadier than Tim Hightower. Morris was decisive, low and powerful; Hightower tiptoed cautiously. New England's opening drive ended with LaMont Jordan walking easily into the end zone.
• In the first quarter at Tennessee, Ben Roethlisberger lost a fumble on a third-down scramble deep in Titans territory. He was walloped by multiple players, but LB David Thornton appeared to deliver the biggest shot. Roethlisberger was clearly shaken up by the hit, and it briefly seemed that Byron Leftwich would take over. Ben insisted on coming out for the next drive, however.
• The Pats' second drive ended just like the first, with Jordan lumbering over the goal line, unbothered. If you started Sammy Morris today, you are not amused.
• Philip Rivers' second touchdown pass -- a 15-yarder to Antonio Gates -- followed a nice effort to avoid pressure. Rivers drifted left, then
fired lobbed a strike to the back of the end zone. There should clearly be a place for that guy on the Pro Bowl roster.
• Junior Seau whiffed on a fumble recovery at the end of the first quarter in Foxborough, after Hightower -- who's clearly not ready for a snow game -- put the ball on the ground. Edgerrin James replaced Hightower on the Cardinals' next play.
• Tony Gonzalez absolutely steamrolled Akin Ayodele at the goal line to give the Chiefs a short-lived 14-10 lead over Miami in frigid-but-clear conditions. That game is an absolute shootout. Tyler Thigpen and Chad Pennington have each thrown a pair of touchdown passes, and it's 28-24 KC at the break. Thigpen has rushed for 57 yards and a TD.
• Santonio Holmes made a sweet, full-extension grab on his 31-yard touchdown reception. The Titans lead at halftime, however, 10-7. Tennessee scored on a free-play early in the second quarter, when Justin Gage caught a long strike from Kerry Collins. Gage took a shot in the end zone from Troy Polamalu, but held on. (Obviously).
• Cedric Benson already has over 100 rushing yards at halftime against the Browns. Cleveland has just 92 total net yards. The Bengals lead 14-0, and it's tough to imagine the Browns coming back. They haven't scored an offensive touchdown since
Earnest Byner in '87 November 17.
• There's just no reason for Kurt Warner to come out for the second half in Foxborough, not down 31-0. Stay healthy, get warm.
• Kevin Smith is having the nice day we anticipated in Detroit, but the Saints lead by three touchdowns at half. Unbelievable fact No. 1: New Orleans has 28 points, and the scoring is all on the ground. Unbelievable fact No. 2: Pierre Thomas only has one of the Saints' four rushing TDs. On a first quarter score, Robert Meachem ran through various Lions defenders like they were cake decorations.
Posted at 2:50 ET
For many of us, the final two minutes of the Ravens-Cowboys game did not go well, but no one feels worse today than stiff-arm victim Ken Hamlin. (Highlight here, at the 0:41 mark). He was responsible for at least 13 of Le'Ron McClain's 19 fantasy points.
There are still 14 games ahead of us, however, so hope is not lost. If you're looking for injury updates and Brad's weather on the :08s, please join us over at Fantasy Football Live. The show begins at noon ET.
Until then, you're free to seek lineup advice from anonymous strangers via comments...
Photos via US Presswire (Cowboys fan, Patriots, Peterson, Thigpen) and AP Images (Colston)