There was a lot of craziness last week in our league first with the Trent Richardson trade and the surrounding fallout and the subsequent upset victory for Cleveland on the road over a decrepit Vikings team. Meanwhile T-Rich’s new team didn’t even need him as Ahmad Bradshaw went off for 19-95-1.
We got to watch Tom Coughlin’s Giants get shut out by a mediocre Carolina team missing half a dozen different players in their secondary while Big Ben rolled out over 400 yards versus a very good Chicago secondary. St. Louis once again proved that their defense was not anywhere near as good as we thought they were while the Chiefs proved that their defense was considerably better than we thought they were.
The Redskins once again fell behind early as their defense couldn’t stop most Pop Warner teams and once again this led to a fabulous garbage time yardage performance by Robert Griffin III. Then we had Jacksonville show some offense with Chad Henne at the helm against the Hawks, albeit in garbage time against the Seahawks backups and special teamers. How does Jacksonville reward us fantasy owners…by benching Henne for Blaine Garbage once again.
The league also continues to showcase its tremendous parity as the six NFC playoff teams from last year are a combined 6-12 and that number is inflated by a 3-0 Seattle team. It’s looking like an NFC cake walk for the Seahawks this year and at this point I’d lay down as much money as I can on Denver versus Seattle for the Super Bowl because no one is in Denver’s class either.
If you don’t have the big bucks to lay down on who is going to make the Super Bowl perhaps you want to risk just a few bucks on a weekly fantasy contest. This week I will be playing a couple of double up tourneys on Draft Kings. These are an awesome way to make some quick money since all you have to do is finish in the top half of the league in order to double up. If you think you have what it takes to beat me this week feel free to hunt me down there and join one of my contests, all you have to do is just search for my user name “Huddlesnake”.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Peyton Manning, Broncos vs. Eagles
Chip Kelly’s offense has been exciting to watch but their defense has been painful to watch. Against Denver and Peyton Manning’s offense this game could turn into a pinball match, or Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy can get injured again leading to another Denver blowout. Either way Denver’s offense gets to open up a can of whoop ass on this nightmarish defense that currently ranks sixth from the bottom in the league in points allowed and fourth from the bottom in passing yards allowed. 400-4 is definitely in play this week.
Tony Romo, Cowboys @ Chargers
San Diego has given up the most passing yards of any team this year allowing even the mediocre Jake Locker to approach 300 yards against them. Romo just got done going off against the Rams who have a much better secondary than the Chargers you can tell he is licking his chops about going against this D. Romo doesn’t even have to worry about his ribs because the Chargers’ pass rush has accounted for a league sixth-fewest six total sacks so far this year.
Andrew Luck, Colts @ Jaguars
We all expected that Seattle would’ve run the ball 90% of the time against Jacksonville last week and make it a snooze-fest for Russell Wilson as he just handed off repeatedly. Well, we miss-shot there a bit as Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson combined for 331 passing yards and five touchdowns against the Jacksonville Bridgewaters. Andrew Luck gets to beat up on the Jaguars this week, last year he posted an average of 270-1 through the air against them while also accounting for 11-61-2 on the ground. With Trent Richardson in house, Andrew Luck probably won’t be needed for goal line rushes, but those passing yards will improve this week.
Drew Brees, Saints vs. Dolphins
I’m not completely buying in to the Dolphins defense just yet. After all they gave up the sixth most yards passing last season and they’ve allowed an average of 280 YPG passing this year. Where they have succeeded is allowing only four passing touchdowns which are comparable to their sixth-fewest passing touchdowns allowed last year. With so few solid QB options this week, I’ll gladly suggest sticking with the stud here as Brees has scored at least one touchdown in every game he has played in but one since October 2009. Over that span he also has 33 games where he has thrown for at least three touchdowns.
Joe Flacco, Ravens @ Bills
The Bills just allowed Geno Smith to throw for 331 yards to his collection of “NFL receivers”. This should be a laugher as Flacco gets to use his big arm to exploit a secondary that allowed both Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes to score on 50-yard + touchdowns. Torrey Smith will be listed below and may have his career week this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers @ Vikings (London, England)
After watching Brian Hoyer systematically dissect an injury laden Vikings’ secondary last week, it should be fairly easy for Ben Roethlisberger to deal them a pasting as well. Minnesota’s defense has been duff so far this year and has already ceded nine passing touchdowns, that number is about to go up as the Vikings again find themselves screaming bollocks. Minnesota has amazingly only recorded four sacks this season and three of those came last week so I’m not even concerned about Pittsburgh’s patchwork O-Line. That said Scotland Yard has received some intercepted emails from Interpol where there was talk of a gang of Nordic seafarers and their plans to sack Big Ben, so London will be on high alert this week.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Trent Richardson Colts @ Jaguars
Jacksonville is allowing 5.2 YPC and over 165 YPG rushing so far this year, Trent Richardson must be thinking its Christmas. If Seattle wanted to they could have run the ball more last week, but they decided to use last week as a wake-up call for the struggling Russell Wilson. In the first two weeks Jacksonville gave up a total of 257 combo yards to Jamaal Charles and Darren McFadden. Last year Vick Ballard and Donald Brown combined to average 107 combo yards against the Jags…this week we could see that number by halftime. BTW – considering the matchup those looking for a deep-deep sleeper may want to even consider flexing Ahmad Bradshaw this week.
Alfred Morris, Redskins @ Raiders
Alfred Morris hasn’t underperformed this year as he has averaged 5.6 YPC, yet because the Redskins have fallen behind in every single game, Morris’ value seems down. That won’t be an issue against Oakland as they should be no match for Washington’s slightly off-kilter offense. Oakland just gave up 166 yards on the ground to Denver’s confusing backfield trio, and Morris doesn’t really have anyone to worry about eating into his rushing touches since he has 40 carries so far and the running back with the next most carries is Roy Helu…he has just 1.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers vs. Cardinals
Have I mentioned yet that only 11 of the 32 projected starting running backs at the start of the season have no potential impediment to their production this week (poor play, benching, injury, RBBC, bye week). Doug Martin is one of the few that fall into that 11-pack so he once again makes a beautiful play against a team that has held running backs in check on the ground but that has allowed an average of 8-65 through the air to opposing running backs. Martin only has four catches this year but last year he gained three or more receptions in ten of his last eleven games.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs vs. Giants
The New York Giants certainly are not as horrible a team as they pretended to be last week, but I doubt they will have an answer for Jamaal Charles. Only five teams have allowed more rushing yards this year so far and only two teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Giants. Meanwhile Charles leads the Chiefs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, and he is second in receiving yards, and tied for first in receiving TDs.
Darren McFadden, Raiders vs. Redskins
Wow, another McFadden recommended start, this has got to be a record for me twice in one season, and it is only Week 4. He also falls in that exclusive 11 club that I mentioned above making him a safe play with all the injuries and uncertainty. Only Cleveland and San Francisco have allowed more rushing TDs than Washington and they have allowed the third most rushing yards so far this year. In fact over the first three weeks Washington has allowed opposing featured backs to average 163 combo YPG and each of them have scored.
Matt Forte, Bears vs. Lions
Three games in, Detroit has allowed opposing backs: Adrian Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Ellington, Alfred Morris, and Roy Helu to combine for 375 combo yards and six touchdowns. This week he faces Matt Forte who has 363 combo yards so far this year on his own. Michael Bush did vulture a TD last week but considering the sorry state of NFL backfields right now the occasional vulture does not negate the value of a guy who has accounted for more than 36% of his team’s total offense.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Eric Decker, Broncos vs. Eagles
Opposing #2 WR (Eddie Royal, Leonard Hankerson, and Donnie Avery) have combined to post 19-311-5 over the first three weeks against this defense. It also isn’t particularly good against #1’s but those #2 numbers are so obscene that Decker must be in your lineup if you feel like I do that Demaryius Thomas is the real #1 WR in Denver. Decker, Thomas, and Wes Welker all make ridiculously great plays this week but if forced to choose I’m going with Decker.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys @ Chargers
So far San Diego has been torched by opponents top wide receivers allowing Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson, and Nate Washington to combine for 29-470-1 over their first three games. With Miles Austin going through his annual hamstring issues expect Tony Romo to lean even more on Dez Bryant. That is a scary proposition when you consider that he has already been targeted 27 times.
Torrey Smith, Ravens @ Bills
In discussing why Torrey is a top four fantasy option allow me to repeat a phrase I posted about the Bills defense up above in my Joe Flacco tout, “a secondary that allowed both Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes to score on 50-yard + touchdowns”. They have also allowed three other passes of greater than 30 yards this year (including a 40-yard Ted Ginn touchdown). Torrey Smith lives and dies with the home run ball…this will be his best week of the year and possibly one of the best weeks of his career. Enjoy the big week and then sell high.
A.J. Green, Bengals @ Browns
It has been said that everybody has their kryptonite, for Joe Haden that kryptonite is A.J. Green. Haden is typically considered a dominate shutdown corner who takes opposing #1 WRs out of their opposition’s game plans. Green has been the exception over his last four games against the Browns he has averaged 4.5-86-1.
Antonio Brown, Steelers @ Vikings (London, England)
Minnesota had a questionable secondary to begin with and now it looks like they may be without their best cover corner, Chris Cook due to injury. So far this year Minnesota has allowed nine passing touchdowns which ranks as the worst in the NFL. The last two weeks Josh Gordon and Brandon Marshall combined for 17-259-2 against them and Antonio Brown finally woke up from his early season slumber with a breakout 9-196-2 performance on SNF. If the battered O-Line can keep Big Ben upright this game will be a fantasy dream for Brown owners.
Denarius Moore, Raiders vs. Redskins
I almost chose to continue the trend and go with Mohamed Sanu versus the corner other than Joe Haden in the Cincinnati-Cleveland matchup, but instead I’m going to stretch a little deeper and choose the Raiders top wide receiver from last year and last week, Denarius Moore. As of this moment we don’t know if Matt Flynn or Terrell Pryor will be under center for Oakland this week but it won’t matter because they will be behind early with either of them starting which should add up to lots of pass attempts. Denarius Moore has two TDs already this year after posting seven last year and this week he faces a Washington team that has allowed 8 passing touchdowns already this year and the leagues’ second most passing yards.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Jimmy Graham, Saints vs. Dolphins
Last year only two teams gave up more TE receiving yards than Miami, and this year they are allowing an average of 7-75-1 to opposing tight ends through the first three weeks. Graham is averaging 8-119-1.3 through his first three appearances this season another hundred-yarder and score is a virtual lock this week.
Jordan Cameron, Browns vs. Bengals
Jordan has established a new tier for himself just below Jimmy Graham that he may end up sharing with Rob Gronkowski when he returns from the injured list. So far he is averaging ten targets, seven catches, and 90 yards a game, and that doesn’t even take into account the four TDs he has scored already. If the Browns deal Josh Gordon before game time then slide Cameron’s expectations down some, but with a legitimate outside threat Cameron should have a great day even going against a good secondary.
Julius Thomas, Broncos vs. Eagles
Through three games Philadelphia has allowed an average of 6-72 to opposing tight ends while Thomas has averaged 5-67-1.3. I’ve already gone into detail about how pathetic Philly’s D has been this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas joins the three wide receivers in a scoring orgy this week.
Jason Witten, Cowboys @ Chargers
Jason Witten has a pair of scores this year and he is averaging 5-50 over the first three weeks, pair this with a questionable Miles Austin and you have what looks like it should be a pretty good game for Tony Romo’s favorite safety valve. Week 1 Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham combined for 9-94-3 against the Chargers. I’d be happy with half of that line for Witten this week, but I think he could approach the 9-94 part by himself against this secondary.
Heath Miller, Steelers @ Vikings (London, England)
Three straight weeks, three touchdowns allowed to tight ends(including two on the exact same play near the end of the game)…I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
Logan Paulsen, Redskins @ Raiders
Last year Oakland gave up the fourth most TDs to tight ends, and this year they have done exactly what Minnesota has done allowing a different tight end to score a touchdown each week so far. Fred Davis and Jordan Reed are both dinged up leaving Paulsen as last man standing. For the year Washington is targeting their TEs ten times per game and they are averaging 7-65 from the position. If Paulsen can post 7-65-1 this week it might be a miracle, or it might just be that the Raiders are that bad. If Reed or Davis is good to go then they would be the sleeper play instead of Paulsen.
So I brought you a couple of fabulous Wet Hop beers last week and this week I was going to be highlighting some of my favorite Fresh Hop beers. Only one problem, the fresh hop beers that I wanted to review at each of the places I stopped were either not in yet - arriving later this week or all sold out. I’m not quite sure how it worked out this way but I still managed to spend nearly a C-note on beer for aging anyways. Around Minneapolis, I had a couple of local Fresh Hop ales on draft but there are so many all over the country that I want to share with all of you so I decided to string you all along for one more week…keep ‘em wanting more, right?
If you are a beer geek, like myself, from the Twin Cities feel free to stop by and say hi to me this Saturday at the Autumn Brew Review. I will be working my former employer’s booth serving delicious suds whilst taking numerous breaks to sample some of my own as well. I’ll even answer your start ‘em/sit ‘em questions there for this week as well. There will be so many incredible brews there and in a couple of weeks I will break down my “Best of the Fest”. I am excited for several returning favorites but there will be some new products to try too most notably BENT Brewstillery which is rolling out their Ghostface Fatha – a ghost chili infused American Imperial Stout. In honor of this delicious sounding beer that I’ll be drinking a ton of this Saturday today I’ll break down four of my favorite smoked or pepper infused beers.
1) Hot Box from Indeed Brewing Company in collaboration with Northbound Smokehouse both out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Served: Poured for me on draft at Northbound Smokehouse in a 12 ounce glass.
Appearance: Dark black as night pour with a small reddish head.
Smell: Smoky, charred, and burnt hickory ember aromas flow freely from the glass and assault your nose as it warms
Taste: Bacon-y hickory smoke, Mexican cocoa, and hot pepper are all present immediately on the front of your tongue but dissipate slowly as it flows down your throat before releasing a mild after burn. This keg has actually been aged for nearly half a year and instead of dissipating the pepper is more pronounced than when it first was released.
Mouth feel: Big and bold you can almost feel the peppers in your mouth as you begin to drink it
Overall: This was one of my two favorite beers of last year and fortunately there is a wee bit more of it – I also understand a keg might show up at ABR. This particular beer is just begging for you to pair it with some big cheeses and freshly prepared smoked meats and fishes as well as charcuterie.
2) Schell’s Chimney Sweep from August Schell Brewing Company out of New Ulm, Minnesota
Served: Poured from the bottle at cellar temperature into a 12 ounce tulip glass.
Appearance: Light black in color with only a thin trace of a white lace collar.
Smell: Light aroma of roasted barley or toasted nuts maybe a hint of light roast coffee, but smoke is tempered in the nose replaced more by a leathery tint.
Taste: Not nearly as smoke forward as its’ born on date, there is still a tongue tickling of smoke flavor with more of a mocha or mole undertone than bacon.
Mouth feel: Very light bodied for a beer as dark in color as it is. I definitely wouldn’t have realized I drank the entire bottle except for I just now dropped it in the recycling bag.
Overall: Caught somewhere between a Rauchbier and a Schwarzbier, this beer still finds a happy home for itself. The smoke has definitely dissipated some after six months of cellaring, so this is one I’d drink earlier rather than aging.
3) 2012 Fore Smoked Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company out of Marshall, Michigan
Served: Poured from the bottle at cellar temperature into an 8 ounce commemorative 2012 ABR sample glass.
Appearance: Black and thick, it resembled the motor oil that I pour into my car’s engine. Dark red hued head quickly dissipates leaving an effervescent bubble ring around the ridges of the glass.
Smell: Heavy roasted and black malt aroma. Chocolate and espresso bean coffee with a hint of vanilla and tobacco leaf.
Taste: Is this chocolate cake? If it is then this is my birthday! Imagine taking a Hershey’s Special Dark candy bar liquefying it and making it alcoholic then dunking a piece of bacon into it and allowing it to set. The smoke has survived more than half a year of cellaring and the cocoa is more noticeable then I remember it at first – which is what I’m always seeking in a cellared beer.
Mouth feel: My mouth is coated by its thick chocolaty goodness. I am left with a giddy smile much like you feel after slurping down the last few drops of high-end chocolate malt.
Overall: Amazingly this isn’t even my favorite in their Stout Series. That honor would go to Tres Blueberry, which is packed to the gills with blueberry flavor. However I am in a beautiful place right now after drinking that, as I have been left with that gorgeous residual flavor of having smoked a premium cigar. I think I may have to visit my favorite smoke shop before I crack open another bottle of this one.
4) Benji’s Smoked Imperial Porter from Tyranena Brewing Company out of Lake Mills, Wisconsin
Served: Poured from the bottle at cellar temperature into a 12 ounce tulip glass.
Appearance: Dark and black not quite as thick as the Fore but still darker than the Schell’s beer. Quarter inch tan head dissipates quickly leaving thin ring of bubbles.
Smell: I can smell the peppers in this beer in the glass, I hope this is a sign of what to expect in my mouth. The peppers actually kind of mask the other aromas but as it warms I get a little more cocoa, leather, and toasty scents to escape.
Taste: The flavor is not as pronounced as the aroma suggests at least not right at first. After the first few drinks however I can definitely taste the after burn as the chipotle rests in my throat. I’m actually picking up more of the flavor of the smoke after the fact too…I love it when one of my favorite flavors lingers. Am I at a campfire? Cause it feels that way throughout my nasal and taste receptors.
Mouth feel: Went down my throat so smoothly it was surprisingly light-bodied for a porter, especially one that has been filled with lots of spicy goodness prior to bottling. Afterwards I actually found myself physically licking my lips like I might to suck in the remaining sauce from some ribs that had made a mess on the outsides of my mouth.
Overall: I’m kind of getting a hunkering for some Texas pit barbecue after drinking this one. Or maybe some good old fashioned KC dry rub. Either way this beer is screaming for some fresh from the smoker meat to be served with it. I guess I’m going to have to fire up the barbecue before the games start!