There are at least three things that all fantasy experts have in common:
1. We still own the Dungeon Master's Guide, just in case;
2. If we were ever interviewed by Erin Andrews at a sporting event, we would vomit, then giggle, then vomit again;
3. We all told you to add Chester Taylor this week.
All of us told you this. Everyone. We really spoke with unusual unanimity regarding Taylor. The community of fantasy professionals generates an overwhelming amount of advice each week, much of it punishingly repetitive. Sometimes, we're right.
In Week 11, the Raiders defense made it easy. They entered Sunday allowing 144.2 rushing yards per game and 4.8 per carry. Ron Dayne and LenDale White have both managed 120-plus rushing yards against Oakland in recent weeks.
When an irresistible force like the Minnesota Vikings offensive line meets an easily-moved object like the Raiders, it's not difficult to predict what will happen: Chester Taylor will score touchdowns. On Sunday, he scored three and gained over 200 total yards. He went untouched on that 38-yard second quarter TD. Early in the fourth quarter, he literally dove atop his line, then rode it like a wave into the end zone.
Taylor finished with 35 fantasy points in Yahoo! standard scoring leagues, and generally confirmed the virtues of playing matchups. He wasn't exactly the only player to do so …
•Matt Schaub torched the Saints: 293 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions. He's certainly not the only player to thoroughly own them this season, either. New Orleans allows 251.2 passing yards per game, and they've given up 19 passing TDs. Schaub entered the week owned in only 37 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
•Play-action is generally going to be effective when the camera follows the running back, then a pass gets launched from somewhere outside the frame. Andre Johnson's 73-yard touchdown was like that. Jason David was barely within view at the end of the play, not the first time we've seen him desperately chasing a touchdown this season.
•If you're a quarterback and you're not Steve McNair, you can probably hang a big fantasy number on Cincinnati. The currently one-armed Kurt Warner threw for 211 yards and two TDs against the Bengals. Larry Fitzgerald made a terrific catch at the back of the end zone for the second score.
•You know that a team is pretty good when the other team's trick plays fail spectacularly. In the first quarter at Lambeau Field, the Panthers ran a fake field goal where John Kasay pooch-punted … and the Packers' Tramon Williams returned it 94 yards for a touchdown.
You also know that a team is pretty good when they overcome their own mistakes brilliantly. A 25-yard penalty gave the Panthers the ball at the Green Bay 7-yard line with seconds left in the first half … and then Corey Williams broke through the Panthers' line, whacked Vinny Testaverde in the neck, and caused a fumble that brought the first half to an end.
The 9-1 Packers are just unmistakably good. The 4-6 Panthers, especially without WR Steve Smith, are not. They drop passes. They don't convert third downs. If they need 9 yards, they get 6. If they manage to get a nice gain, they commit a penalty.
•If you enjoy missed field goals, the Colts-Chiefs tilt was basically your game of the year. Adam Vinatieri and Dave Rayner each missed two. Colts fans were booing Vinatieri after his second miss, suspecting that he is, in fact, an embedded Patriot.
•LaDainian Tomlinson had the quietest possible 21 fantasy points against Jacksonville: 93 receiving yards, 62 rushing, one TD. Until Philip Rivers can be respected, LT will need to get his points in odd ways.
•Priest Holmes obliterated Antoine Bethea at the end of a 4-yard gain, lowering his shoulder and flattening the DB. Is he the old Priest Holmes? No, definitely not. But he still has his moments. He gets Oakland next week.
•In a pregame webcast, Cris Carter called the Detroit-New York matchup "The Fraud Game of the Week." After the Giants 16-10 win, it's tough to disagree. If you were heavily invested in Lions or Giants this week, that might not have gone so well. Jon Kitna had 377 passing yards, but he also threw three picks and only one TD. Kevin Jones carried 11 times for 25 yards. Brandon Jacobs had 103 total yards, one TD, and a hamstring injury. Eli Manning had a perfectly ordinary fantasy line: 283 yards, one touchdown. Plaxico Burress disappointed again, with four receptions for 47 yards. Calvin Johnson's late 35-yard, jump-ball touchdown over 5-foot-8 Kevin Dockery was the play of the game. He's no fraud.
•Welcome to fantasy relevance, Ted Ginn Jr. Not surprisingly, it took a punt return TD to get you there. John Beck (9-for-22, 109 yards) offered little assistance. Ginn accounted for four of the nine receptions and 52 of the 109 yards.
•Donovan McNabb hurt his ankle in the first half, and he wasn't effective before the injury (3-for-11, 34 yards, 2 INTs). But Andy Reid has since said, "If Donovan's healthy, he's the quarterback." No real controversy there.
•CBS announcers spent an unusual amount of time discussing the size of Brodie Croyle's forearms. Apparently, they're large. He's the new Steve Garvey. Croyle was also compared to Beowulf. Croyle didn't quarterback like an epic hero, but he was OK: 19-for-27, 169 yards, one TD. Tough to believe that Dwayne Bowe touchdown was really a catch. If he had possession, it was with his knees. Very difficult to possess anything with your knees.
•Tied 10-10 with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter – with a Hall of Fame kicker on their sideline, and a rookie quarterback on the other – the Colts went for it on fourth and inches from the Kansas City 3-yard line. Peyton Manning lunged forward and picked up the first down.
It seemed, for a moment, like a vote of no confidence in Vinatieri.
But then, since the Chiefs had no timeouts remaining, Indianapolis went with three kneel-downs, taking the clock down to 0:04. Vinatieri drilled the 24-yard field goal. Colts win, 13-10. There were three seconds remaining. In consideration of the fact that Indy's special teams can't cover returns, they deliberately kicked out of bounds, giving the Chiefs the ball at the 40.
It all worked out for the Colts. I really have no idea if that was conservative or aggressive. It may have been aggressively conservative, or conservatively aggressive. But they won.
•So did Arizona, and it had a lot to do with Antrel Rolle. He owned Carson Palmer on Sunday, scoring touchdowns on two interception returns. The first involved a great cut-back, then ended with a stiff-arm on Palmer at the goal line. The second score led to one of the all-time TD celebrations. Rolle had his hand behind his head for the final 20 yards, then cart-wheeled and back-flipped in the end zone. Pretty fair IDP day.
•After two carries, Cedric Benson had 63 yards and a touchdown – and he actually outran a safety on the TD. Somehow, Benson finished with only 11 carries and 89 rushing yards.
•Matt Hasselbeck was as good as any non-Patriot QB on Sunday. He carved the Bears defense without mercy: 30-for-44, 337 yards, two TDs. That's 40 or more pass attempts in four of his last five games.
•"60 Stretch Far … (yawn)" is the play the Cowboys run in that Pepsi commercial. In the ad, it's just a joke. But the 49ers run it all day, deliberately.
With 9:04 left in the St. Louis-San Francisco game, the Yahoo! box score listed Frank Gore as the Niners' "Top Performer." Gore had 14 carries for 28 yards and zero TDs. And the box score was right, no one had been better. If this were Major League Baseball, the 49ers would be a candidate for contraction. I'll remind you that the Patriots own their first-round draft pick.
Watch out for those Rams, everyone. That's two straight wins, and another useful day from Steven Jackson. He finished with 112 total yards.
•"No good! What a finish! It hit the post!"
That was the initial reaction from the broadcast team to Phil Dawson's 51-yard missed/made field goal at the end of regulation. Much later, the referee told the crowd, "After discussion on the field, the field goal hit the top of the crossbar, went over and hit the extension on the back side, which in fact is a good field goal."
And he was right. The Browns beat the Ravens in overtime on a much shorter Dawson kick, moving to 6-4. Dawson's 17 fantasy points probably provided the winning margin in a few fantasy matchups, too.
•Laveraneus Coles went down inches short of a touchdown on that 56-yard flea-flicker, taken down from behind by Anthony Smith. Seriously, he was inches short. Like it was the distance from here …
… to here. Brutal. Some of us needed that TD. And Coles was vaguely injured on the play, too.
•Hey, Santana Moss scored a touchdown! Somehow this feels like bigger fantasy news than Terrell Owens' four TDs. Owens now has nine touchdowns in his past five games, and he appeared to be just as un-coverable in Week 11 as he did in Week 10. Seems like he's basically the difference between the 9-1 Cowboys and the rest of that division.
•So, Coach Mangini, how's the evaluation of Kellen Clemens going? Clemens may not face a better defense than Pittsburgh's all year, and he directed a come-from-behind win, throwing for 162 yards and a touchdown. He gets Dallas, Miami and Cleveland over the next three weeks.
•Oh, yeah. New England.
Tom Brady threw for his usual 300-something yards and five touchdowns. Randy Moss equaled Terrell Owens' touchdown total in the first half against Buffalo. Were it not for the compassion of Bill Belichick, Moss would have scored six or seven more. Straight cash, homey. Fantasy owners who drafted multiple Patriots can continue thinking of themselves as super-geniuses, answering to no one.
- Chester Taylor