It’s a tough time of year for me because football season is so heavily in swing and my mind is ablaze with visions of Josh Gordon touchdowns and Jimmy Graham goalpost dunks. However I am also drawn in by the annual Fall Poker Classic at Canterbury Park and I am excited to dive into the tournament fray as soon as possible. Of course I cannot blow too much time on gambling and football daydreaming because I am also coming up on my third anniversary so I know my loving wife will be happy to know in between keystrokes, beer tasting events, tweets, and check-raises I am actively hunting for the perfect gift for her. I just hope I don’t face her in our family league the weekend of our anniversary.
Looking back at the events of last week we saw Cleveland prove they can win against a bad team even without Brian Hoyer, especially when the other team is forced to play a tool (Tuel). Speaking of which poor E.J. Manuel he was just starting to break out, and now he’s out for a few more weeks. When he gets back he’ll have a very good young WR to throw to in Robert Woods, who may have already passed Stevie Johnson on Manuel’s first-look-list.
We got to watch Tom Brady’s games-played-with-a-touchdown streak come to an end under a torrent of rain that would’ve intimidated Noah. We confirmed that there is no D in Allas or Enver. Speaking of Allas…start everyone you have against any of the NFC Least teams because they are all putrid (especially against the pass).
The Rams continued to prove just how bad their defense is and they still managed to clobber the Jaguars assuring that Jacksonville gets the first pick and St. Louis gets pick number two next spring. I feel bad for anyone forced to sit through that atrocity of a game. We got to see that Detroit is nothing without Calvin Johnson, and we all learned that early lineup setting requirements are bollocks.
We learned that Seattle and Chicago both have a great secondary but their ball-hawking can lead to some huge blown plays against speedy WR and TEs. Speaking of tight ends Miami finally stopped an opposing TE from scoring, in fact they shut out Dallas Clark (who is now dead to me), Miami also still hasn’t allowed a WR to score a touchdown this year, so yeah they are pretty good team to bench your mid-range WR2/WR3 against and even some WR1.
In the late and MNF games we saw a virtual rookie Terrell Pryor earn QB2 status for the near future with a strong showing and Denarius Moore, Vincent Brown, and Keenan Allen all became hot pickups for those of you who didn’t take our advice and nab them all over the last two weeks. We also saw Matt Schaub fall out of favor with the Texans fans as he managed to complete the superfecta of getting pick-6’ed in four straight games. True rookie, Geno Smith came of age on national television on MNF leading an upset over preseason favorite Atlanta. We also got to watch one of the top five WR in fantasy (and the league leader in receiving yards) suffer what is presumed to be a season ending injury, pretty much killing the Falcons and several fantasy teams’ hopes and dreams for the season.
Of course if you are like me and play a lot of the weekly games the Julio news doesn’t have to mean the end of your fun for the year, because you get to draft a new team this week without him. So enjoy this week’s Fantasy Four packs and then come on out and challenge me at DraftKings.com my user name is HuddleSnake. I promise I will not start Dallas Clark against anyone this week so nothing will be easy this time.
As for this week’s beer run there were so many great beers at the Autumn Brew Review that I had to split it up into a couple different week’s reviews, this week I am going to address two of my favorite breweries options from the fest. Ironically both of these breweries are brewed out of the same facility in Ipswich, MA. So make sure you read down below to get the full story on Clown Shoes Brewing Company and Brash Brewing.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Peyton Manning, Broncos vs. Jaguars
This just isn’t fair. I’m almost scared to start Peyton here because there is a good chance he is pulled by halftime. If he plays the full game Peyton will set a new record for touchdowns thrown in a game, if he plays half of the game he might just end up with four. Either way this is one of the most off the charts mismatches in modern history, it’s Larry Holmes versus Tex Cobb bad. The Jags will be forced to pass…pass…pass to stay in this one so you might think they are worth a sneaky play as well, but as far as I’m concerned I’ll just pass.
Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Redskins
Tony Romo threw for 500+ yards last week and he still was the goat of the week. This week he won’t hit 500, but he could approach 400 against one of the worst secondaries in football. So far this year Washington is allowing the leagues’ sixth most passing TDs per week and the fifth most passing yards per week. Romo aided by that big showing last week is now averaging 285 yards per game which is seventh best this year.
Andrew Luck Colts @ Chargers
The Chargers have allowed the sixth most passing TDs to quarterbacks and they have also allowed two QB rushing touchdowns so far this year. Luck has multiple touchdowns passing in three of his five games and San Diego has allowed multiple touchdowns in every game but one.
Robert Griffin III, Redskins @ Cowboys
Dallas’ league leading 14 passing TDs allowed was boosted by their game against Denver last week, but they weren’t very good even before that. Robert Griffin III opens the soft part of his schedule this week with what should be a back-and-forth offensive battle between two NFC Least teams with horrible pass coverage teams. Thanks to garbage time RG3 already has three 300+yard games, and number four will come this weekend.
Philip Rivers, Chargers vs. Colts
The Colts have actually been pretty good against the pass but Philip Rivers has been very good against bad defenses but they were held in check versus the strong Titans. The Colts aren’t in the same league with Tennessee from a pass defense standpoint so I’m a little less worried there, especially since Rivers pass-happy ways have led to 400+ yards in three of his last four games and 3+ passing TDs in three of his five games.
Andy Dalton, Bengals @ Bills
This one perhaps falls in to my ridiculous AFC pick of the week territory for the week. I was a huge Dalton fan going into the season if for no other reason than because of the fact that we are both Gingers. I also liked that he had a decent set of young receivers developing around him. Everyone is painting the picture of a regression because he only has five passing TDs, but his other stats are all right in alignment with his career numbers. His QB Rating is 0.9 behind his career number. He is on pace for more yardage than last year. His completion percentage is actually higher this year than all other previous years. His last two starts have come against teams with a shutdown corner who have taken A.J. Green out of the game basically taking Dalton out of his comfort zone. No one on the Bills stands a chance covering Green which will bring a smile to Dalton’s face.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Arian Foster, Texans vs. Rams
Ladies and Gentlemen may I present to you Arian Foster in my fantasy four pack for the first time in quite some time. The Lamb chops have given up the second most total yards to RBs so far this year and six total touchdowns. Foster has once again become the bell cow for the Texans and with the quarterback position in disarray for Houston, I expect the Texans to lean even heavier on Foster.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs vs. Raiders
I originally had Jamaal Charles ranked number one this week and then news broke that he was missing practice due to foot blisters. I’ve battled foot blisters before and they suck and hurt like heck. I didn’t want to walk on them without moleskin, I sure as shooting wouldn’t want to try running with them. He has stated that he didn’t think it would bother him on Sunday, I hope so since I’m rolling with him in most of my DraftKings leagues this week. He is facing the Raiders so if he says he’ll be good to go I have to trust him. Oakland has averaged only 95.8 rushing yards per game allowed so far but that number is weighted heavily by two games against JAX and SD, in their other three games they are allowing 138 YPG of rushing.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos vs. Jaguars
A side effect of facing the worst rushing defense in the league is that all of the Broncos are in play this week including their three-headed ground game. Knowshon is the leader of the pack and he has scored in three of his last four games. It’s not whether or not he will score this week…it is how many will he score before ceding the carries to Montee Ball and/or Ronnie Hillman. I’d be shocked if Moreno doesn’t top 125 combo yards with a pair of scores.
Ray Rice, Ravens vs. Packers
Thankfully the Ravens woke up to the fact that they need to run the ball if they want to be successful, perhaps we can thank the myriad of injuries sustained by Baltimore receivers for Rice’s resurgence. This week Baltimore will once again be forced to run the ball thanks to a bunch of injuries and to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands. Rice also gets the added benefit of the Pack being without Clay Mathews flying all over the middle of the field which should aid to heightened yardage and the greater chance of scoring.
Gio Bernard, Bengals @ Bills
Buffalo has allowed only one RB touchdown this season but that came as recently as last week versus Willis McGahee. They also allowed dual threat backs Bilal Powell and Shane Vereen to both post huge games against them earlier this year. The Law Firm probably is the better scoring option of the two this week but for total yards and points per reception I strongly believe this week will be Bernard’s official coming out party.
Zac Stacy, Rams @ Texans
Houston has allowed four rushing TDs over their last three. Zac Stacy is new to the featured back role in St. Louis but he flashed some talent last week against the Jaguars averaging 5.57 YPC. That average was against Houston so take it with a grain of salt, but with Houston turning the ball over repeatedly, Stacy should have the ability to make some things happen. The first of which will be his first career touchdown which will come this week.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos vs. Jaguars
It’s the Broncos, it’s the Jaguars…stop me if you’ve heard this before. Start all three of the starting WR and if you are in a pinch start Andre Caldwell too.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Redskins
Washington has allowed seven passing touchdowns over their last three games and Dallas has scored ten passing touchdowns over their last three contests. This game will be high scoring and there is no way Dez Bryant doesn’t get into the fun having scored in four straight already. Oh yeah Dez’ line versus Washington last year over two games was 12-216-2 and that defense seemed better than this year’s version.
Andre Johnson, Texans vs. Rams
There once was a corner named Finnegan, who used to be trustworthy in man-to-man, this year he got soft, as the passes did loft, now I’m never trusting him again-again. The Rams have allowed every #1 WR they have faced to score at least once against them this year and four of the five have topped 80 yards against them. Matt Schaub can get his numbers healthy in a hurry this week (although I am predicting a fifth straight pick-6 for him).
A.J. Green, Bengals @ Bills
The Bills secondary is a shambles right now and Andy Dalton will be happy to not see Joe Haden or Aqib Talib blanketing his favorite target on every play. Coming into this game seven different WRs have scored against Buffalo…Mark it eight, Dude.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers vs. Eagles
With Mike Glennon at QB Vincent Jackson remains firmly ensconced in sleeper territory despite his popularity coming into the season. Jackson is the undisputed #1 in Tampa Bay and this week he goes against an Eagles secondary that has allowed ten different WR to top 60 yards against them, and eight different WR to top 80 yards against them. Plus five different receivers have scored multiple touchdowns against them. If Josh Freeman was still starting for Tampa, V-Jax may have been the #2 overall WR this week.
Reggie Wayne, Colts @ Chargers
San Diego has allowed seven WR touchdowns this season but every single top receiving option that has faced them has topped 80 yards and/or scored against them. In addition every #2 WR they have faced has either topped 65 yards or scored against them this year, so it doesn’t matter if you consider Wayne option one or option two in this offense.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Jimmy Graham, Saints @ Patriots
If we were to hold a fantasy snake draft today a lot of people would consider taking either Jimmy Graham or Peyton Manning instead of Adrian Peterson first overall, well thanks to weekly fantasy leagues you can. You will probably have noticed that Adrian Peterson was not amongst my top four RBs for this week, against Carolina he might not be top ten even. Meanwhile both Graham and Manning continue to hold their mantle as the best of the best at their position. The Patriots have been schooled by TEs the last two weeks allowing Tony Gonzalez to post 12-149-2 on them while last week Jermaine Gresham & Tyler Eifert combined to drop a 9-77-0 line on them. This week will be all about Graham versus Gronk who not surprisingly is my number two ranked tight end right below here.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Saints
You have patiently waited and now your fantasy season will come down to the good word of Dr. James Andrews. Hopefully he comes back with a “thumbs up”, instead of a “sorry Matt Harvey you need Tommy John surgery” kind of response. Gronk should be back making you happy, making Tom Brady happy, and making my Fan Duel account balance happy. The Saints have struggled covering middling TEs this year as both Tony Gonzalez and Charles Clay scored against them and last week Martellus Bennett posted a 5-56 against them.
Julius Thomas, Broncos vs. Jaguars
Just another start the stud against the worst team in the NFL type of suggestion. Hopefully Thomas gets his pair of scores before he gets relieved for the day. Jacksonville has allowed four TE touchdowns already this year, yeah that number is going to rise a little Sunday.
Vernon Davis, 49ers vs. Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals have allowed three different top end TEs to go off against them this year. Jimmy Graham notched 9-134-2 against them Week 3 that followed a Week 1 performance when the field-stretching Jared Cook took them for 7-141-2, and then finally last week Greg Olsen secured a 5-79 line against them. Vernon Davis is a field-stretcher and red zone threat (bringing the best of both Graham and Cook to the table) so he has the chance to do some damage here, the only thing holding down my excitement for him this week is that he was held in check in both games last year.
Greg Olsen, Panthers @ Vikings
He’s been injured so watch his status as the weekend goes on. If he is good to go he faces a Vikings team that has allowed an average of 6-88-1.5 to opposing TEs this year. Those numbers are too sick to ignore…which ironically is what the Vikings defense tends to do to opposing tight ends.
Garrett Graham, Texans vs. Rams
The Rams have allowed two TE touchdowns over their last three games. Meanwhile, Owen Daniels, the Texans’ top tight end is out for the foreseeable future leaving his eight targets and 50 YPG on the table for Graham who is also averaging four targets and 28 YPG. They also each have three scores so far this year. So for the year that is 12 targets per game, 78 YPG, and in excess of one score per game…only now it’s not going to be split…it’s all going to be Graham’s, that my friend is golden.
So what I found out was that the folks from Brash Brewing left their home state of Texas because of archaic liquor laws – we know a little something about those here in Minnesota too. They were fortunate to find a home for their brews to be contract brewed in Massachusetts at a brewery called Mercury Brewing Company, where they join fellow contract brewer Clown Shoes. Both of these breweries’ beers are worth acquiring simply for the great label artwork and hilarious names but those bottles are worth opening too as they contain some incredible and creative and flavorful beer.
1) Skankin’ Dirty from Brash Brewing Company out of Ipswich, MA. (This was brewed in collaboration with Ska Brewing out of Durango, CO).
In Their Own Words: “We have been friends with and fans of Ska Brewing from Durango, CO for quite a long time, so we jumped at the chance to collaborate with them. After months of recipe work, this imperial IPA is brewed and ready to blow you away!”
Served: Poured into the small 8 oz ABR sample cup
Appearance: Golden orange color with a small head
Smell: Piney, citrusy – grapefruit heavy, not getting a lot of malt in the nose.
Taste: Citrus forward (mango, grapefruit, papaya) but hops are not killing my palate more fruit and dankness than bitter bite.
Mouth feel: Big and heavy up front with a dry resinous aftertaste. You will feel the 9.0 ABV in your mouth here.
Overall: One of the best Imperial IPAs I have had the chance to drink in several years (and this is my favorite genre). Buy it for the artwork and then share this big one with your hop-loving friends.
2) Smoglifter from Brash Brewing Company out of Ipswich, MA
In Their Own Words: “Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good. Imperial chocolate milk stout brewed with real cocoa, clocking in at 10% ABV, and making love to your mouth like a horny sorority girl.”
Served: Poured into the small 8 oz ABR sample cup.
Appearance: Is this motor oil? There is a reddish-brown head that vanishes immediately, leaving a thin lacing around top of glass.
Smell: Coffee bean and cocoa nib, with a bit of a raisin like aroma as it warms
Taste: Boozy and chocolate heavy – not sweet chocolate but that bittersweet chocolate that you would cook with. I can taste some of the coffee notes on the back as my tongue.
Mouth feel: This goes into my mouth as thick as it pours into the glass but as I drink more of it doesn’t feel as heavy and actually seems to be lightening (maybe my palate is getting used to it). Lots of cocoa present in the aftertaste so I hope you like that flavor lingering.
Overall: Ok, I’m ready to make myself a float with this all I need is some great vanilla bean ice cream. I wouldn’t have called it like sex, but if you were to reduce it in a sauté pan you might be able to have some fun with this.
3) Biggie Smalls (so new they don’t even have it on their web page yet) from Brash Brewing Company still out of Ipswich, MA
In Their Own Words: “This Imperial Brown Ale is aged in Rum and Whiskey Barrels. We only have a limited amount to release at ABR, so line up early and make sure you don’t miss out.”
Served: I would say the same small ABR glass but truth is we stole a bottle of this before hand and just passed it around our booth.
Appearance: I poured a little in the cup for analyzing it was dark brown in color with a dark orange/red head that immediately vanished.
Smell: The Booze is loose all I smell is premium rum and whiskey.
Taste: Rum, chocolate, alcohol, tobacco, strong whiskey presence as well.
Mouth feel: Probably not the best beer to start the fest with because it’s so big and over the top but I know I got some and I didn’t have to wait in the line.
Overall: I’m getting heavy-headed just recollecting this. Best beer I’ve never had before from the fest in my book and that says a lot. Bottles are arriving this week in the Twin Cities I will need to find some room in my cellar for this beauty.
4) Galactica from Clown Shoes Brewing Company also out of Ipswich, MA
In Their Own Words: “Galactica, A hop staff wielding heroine, patrols in karate kick mode through the heaven. Her mission: cosmic combat to promote good beer. Dry hopped with Galaxy hops, a clean malt backbone enhances the dank and luscious IPA flavors.”
Served: Ok, we’re back to the 8 oz ABR glass again, but I have had this one draft before in a 12 oz goblet.
Appearance: Hazy orange with a reddish tint, slight white head and lacing.
Smell: Earthy, grassy, and spicy with a kick you in the face aroma of orange or apricot. One of the more citrus forward aromas I’ve experienced in an IIPA.
Taste: The citrus fruit is heavily present in the taste apricot, mango, and orange, perhaps even peach, but the hoppiness that I smelled was too encompassed by the fruit presence. I am getting a little spice note like a honey-lemon-herb throat lozenge as well.
Mouth feel: Smooth, moderate carbonation, balanced throughout I couldn’t taste nor feel the alcohol in it as it went down nicely.
Overall: Good beer compared to most IIPA but wasn’t the home run that Skankin’ Dirty was.
5) Chocolate Sombrero from Clown Shoes Brewing Company out of Ipswich, MA
In Their Own Words: “Roasted dark malts plus extra chocolate malts plus ancho chile plus cinnamon plus vanilla extract plus a chocolate loving, beer drinking, Clown Shoes wearing, multi-limbed, gorgeous and glorious Mexican wrestler on the label. That’s the recipe for a Chocolate Sombrero!”
Served: I had this at ABR, but I am breaking a bottle out of my cellar right now for fresh interpretation. I poured it into a Surly Darkness goblet.
Appearance: Black as night going into the glass with a thick copper colored head that lingered longer than most big beers’ heads do.
Smell: Cinnamon, cocoa nib, and roasted coffee, but the pepper isn’t clearly present.
Taste: The chocolate and coffee is the initial flavor that you get but the cinnamon, pepper, and vanilla start to come out at the back of your tongue as the beer warms.
Mouth feel: Full body, but lighter in perspective to other American Imperial Stouts. Spice lingers on your palate afterwards.
Overall: Tasty spiced imperial not their best but still very good. They released a bourbon aged version of this for their third anniversary called Luchador En Fuego, which was one of my favorites from earlier this year. I’d hunt that one out first if you can, but don’t sleep on the Sombrero either. Also be on the lookout for their newest release Very Angry Beast which I hope to analyze at a later date.