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DON'T SECOND-GUESS YOURSELF ABOUT SECOND-STRING QBS

A black Sunday for quarterbacks won't necessarily result in a black hole in your fantasy lineup.

Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb (broken ankle), Pittsburgh's Tommy Maddox (concussion, spinal contusion) and Denver's Brian Griese (sprained knee) all suffered injuries in Week 11.

If your roster includes Eagles, Steelers or Broncos, you've no doubt spent the last few days speculating about their immediate fantasy futures.

Fear not. Recent history is filled with feel-good stories authored by backup QBs. The last three Super Bowl champions were piloted by replacement quarterbacks - St. Louis' Kurt Warner for Trent Green in 1999; Baltimore's Trent Dilfer for Tony Banks in 2000; and New England's Tom Brady for Drew Bledsoe last season.

Since Marc Bulger replaced an injured Warner with the Rams this year, St. Louis has averaged 28.2 points per game, compared to 14.8 with Warner. Not bad.

The Steelers and Broncos will put former Pro Bowlers under center in Week 12. Kordell Stewart, 44-29 as a starting QB (he's also made five career starts as a wide receiver), reassumes the job. Stewart inherits a couple of red-hot receivers. Hines Ward, who has caught 12 career TD passes from Stewart, has 21 catches for 307 yards and three TDs the last two games. Plaxico Burress, who has caught six career TD tosses from Stewart, has 13 grabs for 294 yards and two TDs the last two weeks.

Steve Beuerlein will hold down the fort in Denver. He has a 45-54 career record as an NFL starter and made 44 straight starts with the Carolina Panthers from 1998-2000, when he threw 72 TDs and 45 interceptions. After replacing Griese at Seattle, he threw two TD passes.

Philadelphia's fate rests in the hands of Koy Detmer, who has attempted only 17 passes since his last start, in 1999, when McNabb was a rookie. But Detmer has had decent success as a starter with bad teams.

In 1998, after a 2-9 getaway, Detmer took over as the starter for the Eagles' final five games. Philadelphia had averaged just 8.3 points per game before Detmer took the reins, and that increased to 13.8 the last five games. In those games, Detmer managed to throw five of Philly's NFL season-low seven TD passes. In Detmer's lone start in '99, he tossed three TDs, one-sixth of the team's total of 18.

While the transition to a new QB may be difficult, history shows it certainly isn't hopeless.

Week 11 eye-poppers

New York Jets eighth-year receiver Wayne Chrebet appears to have been born again strong. After going 33 straight games without a multiple-TD effort, the pride of Hofstra caught two scoring passes at Detroit among his four catches for 46 yards.

Chrebet caught 29 TD passes in his first six seasons, including 19 between 1998 and 2000, but had just one last season and two this year, coming into the Detroit game. Three of his TDs have come in the Jets' last four games.

Minnesota RB Michael Bennett broke off a 62-yard gain against Green Bay to become the first in NFL history to have at least one run of 60 or more yards in three consecutive games (he also had an 85-yarder at Tampa Bay and a 78-yarder against the New York Giants).

It's no accident. Bennett won four Big Ten Conference indoor and outdoor sprint titles in 2000 while at Wisconsin and turned down invitations to try out for the United States Olympic team.

Week 12 matchups

The good: Atlanta QB Michael Vick threw for 178 yards and ran for 91 against Carolina in Week Seven. . . . Detroit RB James Stewart had a career-best 172 yards rushing and two TDs against Chicago in Week Seven. . . . Jacksonville QB Mark Brunell has six TDs, one INT, a 74.5 completion percentage and 128.8 passer rating in two career games against Dallas. . . . Kansas City K Morten Andersen is 9 of 10 on field goals in six games against Seattle. . . . Buffalo RB Travis Henry has 50 carries for 262 yards and three TDs in two games against the Jets.

The bad: Minnesota WR Randy Moss had two catches for 20 yards and no scores in his only game against New England. . . . Chicago's Marty Booker, who caught 18 passes in the series against Detroit last season, was held to one grab for 14 yards against the Lions in Week Seven. . . . Cincinnati QB Jon Kitna had no TDs, three INTs and lost a fumble against Pittsburgh in Week Six. . . . Kansas City TE Tony Gonzalez has one TD reception in 10 career games against Seattle.

Thanksgiving Day matchups

The good: Detroit K Jason Hanson is 4 for 4 on field goals, including a 52-yarder, the last two Turkey Days. . . . New England RB Antowain Smith carried 13 times for 88 yards as a Buffalo Bill against Detroit in 1997.

The bad: Dallas RB Emmitt Smith carried nine times for 9 yards last Thanksgiving Day against Denver. . . . Dallas WR Joey Galloway has six catches for 69 yards and no TDs in his last three games against Washington.

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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