FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

What's On Tap: Week 1
Harley Schultz
September 6, 2013
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I am so happy to be bringing my beer drinking writing skills to the Huddle.com this season. I mean when the guys here asked me if they could hire me to drink some beers and dole out some sage fantasy football advice, I only had to take in a few swigs before saying yes. While most other pigskin prognosticators are busy reading their tea leaves and peering into their crystal balls, I’m gonna be reading hop leaves and peering into a nice cloudy unfiltered wheat beer to get my inspiration. Hopefully the remaining glass lacing will spell out the names of the players who will lead you to your weekly success.

Each week we will be spotlighting a true “fantasy” four pack of the best of the best – the top four options at each of the four skill positions (QB/RB/WR/TE) – perfect for helping you set your weekly salary cap lineups as well as “one-week” fantasy lineups on sites such as Draft Kings, Draft Street and Fan Duel. These one-week fantasy leagues are perfect for the ADD-riddled, “de-gens” such as myself. If you haven’t discovered the wonder and excitement of weekly or daily fantasy leagues definitely check these sites out. What can I say, I have to feed the monkey and so I play several each week. Most of these sites even offer free-rolls in case you find yourself strapped for cash.

In addition, I will also give you my two sleepers at each position to help you round out the perfect six-pack for the weekend. Of course, perhaps more importantly than any of the fantasy football foresight I will dole out, I will also highlight a couple of brews that you are going to want to pick up to consume while watching the Sunday gridiron battles. I mean what good is watching football without a cold brewskie in your mitts.

Quarterback

YOUR FANTASY FOUR PACK

Drew Brees, Saints vs. Falcons
I’ve been preaching all preseason that Sean Payton and Drew Brees will be playing with a chip on their shoulder this year, the march to a new league scoring record begins this week in what should be a high scoring game.

Tom Brady, Patriots @ Bills
Newsflash: Buffalo’s pass secondary isn’t very good. I’m fairly certain all of us here at the Huddle could suit up at WR for the Patriots and Brady would still lead us to victory this week.

Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Giants
This game will feature plenty of points from two high scoring offenses and I like both Romo and Eli here, but Romo gets the slight nod because he is at home and Dallas’ secondary is much better than New York’s.

Matt Ryan, Falcons @ Saints
With New Orleans looking to run up everyone this year especially their divisional foes I fully expect them to be wingin’ it and flingin’ it on both sides of the ball in this one. This game currently sits at the top of the Vegas lines for points at 54 – I’m still taking the over.

SLEEPERS

Michael Vick, Eagles @ Redskins
Michael Vick gets a great opportunity this week against a defense that allowed the lowly combo of Christian Ponder, Nick Foles, Brandon Weeden, and Sam Bradford to average over 290 yards per game against them in five contests last year – and this number is actually being buoyed down by a 204 yard performance by Foles early in the season. Washington also faced two running quarterbacks last year and allowed Russell Wilson to top 60 yards on the ground while giving up 37 and a touchdown to Cam Newton.

Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Raiders
The NFL apparently decided to give the Colts an extra preseason game this year as Week 1 they face a Raiders’ team that on paper is composed of players who would’ve normally been playing in preseason Week 4 for most of the other NFL franchises. Luck’s numbers should be favorable going against a maligned Raiders’ defense, but be wary that it might get out of hand pretty fast and then we’ll see a lot of the workload fall on Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard.

Running Back

YOUR FANTASY FOUR PACK

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs @ Jaguars
Last year Jacksonville allowed 16 different running backs to top 70 rushing yards against them, and only one starting running back finished with fewer than 65 combo yards against them, and that was the RBBC of the Indianapolis Colts who finished the game with a combined 101 combo yards. This should get laughably good for Charles this week.

Doug Martin, Buccaneers @ Jets
The Jets gave up the seventh most rushing yards per game last year and only three teams allowed more rushing touchdowns. Over the last four weeks they allowed C.J. Spiller to post 131 combo yards and a score, Chris Johnson to top 120 and score, and something called Montell Owens to top 100 total yards and a score. They even let the combined unholy forces of Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle top 90 total yards. This will get disturbing fast…kind of like watching Miley Cyrus twerk at the VMA’s.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots @ Bills
The Bills gave up the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL last year and this year New England will be playing without their top five receiving options from last year. When you add it up it spells to a frothy glassful of rushing attempts from Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Ridley is the goal line guy so he will get his touchdown and he might even get Gronk’s touchdown, or Welker’s touchdown, or Lloyd’s touchdown, or Hernandez’s touchdown too, or heck he might get all of the above.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings @ Lions
The genetic freak combined for 296 total yards and a touchdown in the two games against the Motor Cities Kitties last year. He has gone on record predicting 2500 total yards this year that works out to 156 per week. Yeah I’ll take that. It helps that Detroit gave up four rushing touchdowns over their final three games last year.

SLEEPERS

Frank Gore, 49’ers vs. Packers
It may seem that Gore is ancient by NFL RB standards…and he is, but in truth he is only 30.That means he is only 3 / 5 / 7 / ok 9 years younger than me. LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore are both on IR to start the year meaning Kendall Hunter is the last man standing behind the old man - and he is coming off a season ending injury from last year. Without a lot of depth behind him, hopefully Gore discovered the fountain of youth this offseason. Last year the Pack allowed a total of over 700 rushing yards during the final three weeks of the year and in two contests against the 49’ers they allowed Gore to net 280 total yards and two touchdowns.

Daryl Richardson, Rams vs. Cardinals
I’ve been all-in on Daryl Richardson this entire draft season, kind of like Jesus Quintana at a Boys Scout Jamboree. Over the last four weeks of 2012 the Cardinals allowed each of their opposing featured backs to score at least one touchdown. This includes a 31-236-3 line put together by Marshawn Lynch and his backup Robert Turbin, who played most of the second half of that game so that Lynch could rest. Last year in two games versus Arizona D-Rich and Steven Jackson combined for 282 combo yards, this year it all falls on Richardson.

Wide Receiver

YOUR FANTASY FOUR PACK

Julio Jones, Falcons @ Saints
New Orleans gave up more total yards than any other team last year and the second most passing yards, plus the second most passing touchdowns. This is a no-brainer…kind of like me after a couple bourbon aged imperials stouts.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Giants
The pinball machine is about to go tilt, tilt, tilt. Since 2006 these two teams have met each other 15 times topping 40 total points in all but two of those games. They’ve also combined to top 60 four times, 70 three times, and 80 once.

Reggie Wayne, Colts vs. Raiders
The Raiders are the Marlins of the NFL. Even the beer goggles at 1:55 AM on Sunday morning won’t tempt me to go home with any one of the big O’s players. My only concern this week with Wayne is will Indy pull the first team at halftime.

Danny Amendola, Patriots @ Bills
Last year Wes Welker went 15-203-0 over two matchups with the Bills and that was with all the other weapons New England had. 7-100 is the floor for Amendola in this one with no legitimate complementary pieces.

SLEEPERS

Pierre Garcon, Redskins vs. Eagles
Remember week one last season, when Robert Griffin III hooked up with Pierre Garcon for four receptions, 109 yards, and a touchdown…in a little over a quarter. That was against a downright rotten Saints secondary that allowed the second most passing touchdowns per game. The only team that gave up more passing touchdowns last year than the Saints was the Eagles.

DeSean Jackson, Eagles vs. Redskins
Yep, the other half of this equation has sleeper appeal too. Washington was downright awful against the pass last year giving up the third most yards per game through the air. The new Chip Kelly offense is predicated on as many plays as possible and with no Jeremy Maclin that means plenty of short passes to the speedster Jackson. Also don’t forget some leagues give you return yardage points too.

Tight End

YOUR FANTASY FOUR PACK

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons @ Saints
Gonzo originally planned on retiring last season. He will be happy he came back after he sees his stat line against the Saints Week 1. In two contests last year Tony posted a combined 15-180-3 line against the Saints. It doesn’t get any more money than this.

Jimmy Graham, Saints vs. Falcons
There is nothing not to like about Graham versus the Falcons in what should be a high scoring affair. Last year Graham caught eleven passes for 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his two games against the Falcons. In addition, in Atlanta’s two playoff games last year they allowed Vernon Davis and Zach Miller to post a combined line of 13-248-2.

Jason Witten, Cowboys vs. Giants
Jason Witten decimated the Giants the last week in October with an 18-167-0 line (yes 18 catches in one game!). It more than makes up for the 2-10 line he posted in the season opener. Even if he records the average of those two starts (10-88) this week that should be good enough for our number three ranking spot.

Antonio Gates, Chargers vs. Texans
The Texans apparently are averse to covering tight ends. Over the last seven regular season games last year, they allowed seven tight end touchdowns. Over that same span they also allowed five different tight ends to top 50 yards. The Chargers will be behind most of this game and with all of his receivers dinged up expect Rivers to look to his old safety valve early and often.

SLEEPERS

Zach Sudfeld, Patriots @ Bills
Over two games last year Rob Gronkowski caught eight balls for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and if preseason is any indication Belichick isn’t “dumbing-down” the playbook for Sudfeld. I’m not saying he’s gonna produce a typical Gronk-like performance, but I’d even settle for Gronk-Lite.

Zach Miller, Seahawks @ Panthers
Carolina struggled last year covering tight ends allowing eight touchdowns to the position. They also allowed tight ends to top 50 yards in 9 different games. With no Percy Harvin to throw to I like Russell Wilson to lean on his big tight end especially in the red zone this week.

Gametime Brew

Now on to the good stuff, THE BEER! Even though several fall seasonals have already begun to hit the shelves at your favorite liquor stores, I’m going to delay talking them up since it is technically still summertime and as much as I love fall I hate to give up on summer. So this week I’ll be identifying three of my favorites from this past summer.

First off we have Coconut Curry Hefeweizen from the good folks at New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. As part of their acclaimed Lips of Faith series, New Belgium asks its consumers to take a leap of faith and trust that they put together a delicious brew despite some risqué ingredient combinations.
Served: Refrigerator temperature in a New Belgium goblet.
Appearance: Cloudy straw-colored, with a thick fizzy white head.
Smell: Banana and clove aromas zoom out of the glass with just a perfume of the curry tickling your nose as you sniff it.
Taste: There is the coconut, it is clear on the front of your tongue and the curry releases as you swallow it down. It’s a full sensory ingestion as it passes into your throat as you can smell the curry popping larger from the bubbles as you drink it.
Mouth feel: Medium bodied like most unfiltered summer wheat beers, but very refreshing.
Overall: My second favorite from the Lips of Faith series (behind last years’ Cocoa Mole). It’s an awesome little reminder of summertime. If you can’t afford a trip to Thailand, crack this one open and put on a little Murray Head instead.

Next up will be the Hi-Cu from the colorful minds at Magic Hat Brewing Company. This is the second in the Audition Ales series from these guys out of Vermont and it really set the bar for summer beers for me this year.
Served: On draft at the Village Pub in St. Anthony Village, MN in a pilsner glass.
Appearance: light golden color, thin white head.
Smell: Cucumber throughout like a glass of water flavored with cucumber or a cucumber infused vodka tonic.
Taste: The aroma doesn’t lie as the cucumber is the predominant flavor throughout the beer, as it warms the hint of hibiscus becomes more apparent.
Mouth feel: Feels heavier than it is, but leaves me refreshed and finishes clean.
Overall: Wow, great option for a summer refresher. If you like cucumber in your water or cocktails, give this one a try. Much like the coconut curry above they both are great options with spicy food – albeit for different reasons.

Finally, I am from the Midwest, so I will give a shout out to an up and coming microbrewery out of Minneapolis that have created a great summer sipper that is available only at their taproom. If you find yourself up here in Minnesota next summer come visit the taproom at Indeed Brewing and ask for their Mojito Shenanigans or if you are really lucky to arrive on the right day, their Habanero-Mojito Shenanigans. Based on their summer ale, Shenanigans (available in cans), these two flavored versions are great refreshers for your summer barbecue season or for watching early season football.

Hopefully you like my recommendations for the gridiron and for your glassware this week. Tune back in next week when I discuss my favorite Oktoberfest biers.


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