Carroll: Chester Taylor looks to return

Updated: December 15, 2006, 11:20 AM ET
By Will Carroll | ESPN.com
So my week has been pretty good. My liver is recovering from the Baseball Winter Meetings nicely (it's listed as "questionable", an upgrade from last week), Daisuke Matsuzaka signed and will bring his stuff to America, and football got interesting again. I'll admit that there seemed a lull over the past two weeks as the hometown team collapsed, my fantasy teams clinched, and then the bye week topped it off. No more -- we're deep in the playoffs as I go head to head with Howie Schwab and with my nemesis in my local league. I'm sure a lot of you are just like me, as jazzed for this as you were for the first week of real games or when you realized your cable company was going to actually show the NFL Network games. (If that last one really excited you, you need a hobby.) The injuries had no lull and I'd like to thank everyone that said my reports helped them make it this far. That's the goal. I know that Eric, Scott, Tristan, Kevin and the rest of the ESPN Fantasy crew all want the same thing -- to give you the best possible information that leads to wins and, even better, league championships. I'll cliché you here and just say that I'm happy to be part of the team, both here at the Worldwide Leader and as the advisor to you, the fantasy owner. So in a big, big fantasy week, let's get to the injuries:

The Vikings were excited to see Chester Taylor back at practice on Thursday, but no more so than the fantasy owners that were smart enough to draft Taylor a few months back. Taylor is still sore, but is expected to start. The bigger question now is how he'll hold up to contact and if Artose Pinner's big day in his place will lead the Vikings to give Pinner a few carries to take the load off of Taylor. That'd be a good move for the Vikings and a bad move for fantasy owners. Assuming that Taylor makes it to Sunday without any setbacks, his normal results and the Jets run defense should combine to make Taylor a good fantasy start. Don't write his name in pen just yet -- unless you had to set your lineup early due to this week's strange schedule, in which case I'm too late to help you anyway.

The Falcons running back situation is good and bad. The bad is that Warrick Dunn hasn't practiced yet this week and that Jerious Norwood is still hobbled by a recurrent MCL sprain. The good news is that the line uses the Denver scheme and could seemingly get anyone 100 yards rushing. The even better news is that the team still has Michael Vick. Sure, he's frustrating to fantasy owners, but he's essentially a Reggie Bush-style game changer who also happens to run the offense. If neither Dunn nor Norwood is able to go, the Falcons seem serious about letting Vick line up as either a shotgun-set run/pass option with Justin Griffith as lead blocker or in a more innovative and dangerous tailback set with Matt Schaub coming in at QB. If nothing else, this will be dramatic. All that said, I think it's likely that both RBs will be available in enough capacity to let Griffith fill in instead of Vick.

Will Carroll | email

ESPN Fantasy Games
Will Carroll writes two injury columns per week relating to fantasy football for ESPN.com. Carroll can also be seen on The Fantasy Show Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. He also writes baseball injury articles on www.baseballprospectus.com.

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