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Let's cut to the chase: You lost

Published September 14, 2004

Three goals, in soccer or hockey, are a hat trick. Three touchdowns, in fantasy football, are a buzz saw.

Buzz saw, as in, "The guy I played this week had Terrell Owens and Shaun Alexander and I ran into a buzz saw." Don't bother checking how your guys fared. Unless you had Daunte Culpepper and his five touchdowns, you lost to the buzz saw.

Granted, if it's your guy scoring three times - as Priest Holmes, Quentin Griffin and Jerome Bettis also did Sunday - there are kinder words for the trifecta. A single three-touchdown outing by a back or receiver is often enough to seal a fantasy victory.

Holmes owners can almost expect such an outburst, as he had four three-score games last season alone. Alexander has done it in four consecutive seasons, but the others had to come as a pleasant surprise. Or, for anyone with Bettis on his bench, a source of frustration. reported that only 75 people in its national web of fantasy leagues were lucky enough to start Bettis. He wasn't even on a roster in 89 percent of its leagues. With Duce Staley in town, Bettis figured to get fewer than 10 carries a game.

Bettis had five carries for 1 yard Sunday, but he scored three touchdowns, giving him one of the weekend's best fantasy outings. It's bad news for Staley owners, who don't need a fantasy vulture stealing their scoring opportunities. Bettis' value is for real: A touchdown has the same point value as 120 rushing yards in the league I'm in.

If you have Griffin or Owens, you already can feel great about a high pick. Griffin went his entire rookie season without a touchdown, and Owens had only one previous three-score game in his eight years in the NFL.

MORE BUZZ: As luck would have it, this week I go up against a team with Donovan McNabb at quarterback. McNabb, who passed for four touchdowns and 330 yards against the Giants on Sunday, gets another home date and goes up against a Minnesota defense that let Vinny Testaverde throw for 355 yards on Sunday. Last time McNabb faced Minnesota, he threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns.

If you have the Vikings defense, it might be a good time to cut bait and pick up a more promising squad such as Washington, which looked stingy Sunday and should be able to keep the Giants in check this weekend.

INJURY WATCH: Detroit receiver Charles Rogers is out for the season, which makes rookie Roy Williams a strong No. 1 and a good starting option in leagues that start three receivers. Keep an eye on Tai Streets , who had seven touchdowns last season and played in a Steve Mariucci offense for four years in San Francisco. He's a better fantasy option than Az Hakim, who did score a touchdown Sunday.

WORTH PICKING UP: Is Bucs rookie Michael Clayton worth picking up? He had seven catches in his NFL debut Sunday, while the other six receivers taken in the first round combined for 12 receptions. And with Joey Galloway out at least a month, he's the best receiver you can add this week. ... Who exactly is ReShard Lee? He led the Cowboys with 35 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in his NFL debut Sunday, but he isn't worth picking up, even if you're hurting at running back. As soon as rookie Julius Jones is back from a rib injury (likely this week), Lee will be relegated to kickoff returns (he had a 62-yarder Sunday) and spot duty. ... With Alexander day to day, a smart short-term pickup is third-year Seahawks back Maurice Morris , who had 6.3 yards a carry in light duty last year. He gets the Bucs defense this weekend, and while he's not Clinton Portis , he should be Seattle's best offensive threat. If he's available in your league, he's better than the worst player on your bench right now.

- If you have a fantasy question or comment, send an e-mail to Times staff writer Greg Auman at

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