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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

What's On Tap: Week 8
Harley Schultz
October 25, 2013
Follow Follow @NewClearHarley
 

This is the weekend I have been waiting for a few weeks now. It is Darkness weekend here in the Twin Cities. What is Darkness you ask? Darkness is the very limited release Russian Imperial Stout from the local brewery Surly. Every year Surly holds a release event called Darkness Day. People actually line up the night before and camp out sharing a kindred spirit while sharing several barley spirits. There is actually a Googledocs spreadsheet of what some wheeler-dealers are bringing to the party and what they are looking to trade for. If you are planning the drive up here for this event feel free to add what you are bringing and what you are seeking to the sheet.

Parking and event information can be found via Surly’s facebook event page. There will be limited release beers available at the event for $4 each (CASH ONLY) and the Darkness bottles will be sold at up to 6 per person based on wristbands doled out early in the morning. This is an event to not be missed I hope several of my regional friends and fans can make the trip. If you want to meet up there and discuss beer or ask me your fantasy questions, send me a tweet to @NewClearHarley and I’ll try to find you. Also if you have some limited beers you want to share with me and my entourage we’d be most appreciative.

In addition, those who are coming up early for the event and who don’t want to camp out overnight can find me at the Darkness Eve celebration at Stub and Herbs Drinking Emporium located on the University of Minnesota campus after 10 Friday night. I will be available there to chat about beers and answer your fantasy questions as well.

This week’s football games should be particularly interesting for me to enjoy since I will likely be tremendously hung over Sunday. I still have to get up early for my weekly radio appearance on KCIS 610 radio in Kansas City, so I will need to curb my drinking at a semi-reasonable time Saturday. I’m letting you all know now that I might be a little slow getting to your start and sit questions on Twitter Sunday morning.

This week in honor of Darkness Day I will be reviewing a few Imperial Stouts. Including breaking open a limited 2010 Darkness from my personal cellar. You obviously won’t be able to go out and buy the 2010, but there are still some available via trading vines, and there will be several available at Darkness Day.

Quarterback

Your Fantasy Four Pack

Peyton Manning, Broncos vs. Redskins
Manning is once again back at the top of the food chain this week. The Redskins have been humiliated by top QB’s such as Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers already this season. Peyton should have no trouble picking apart this team. I mean come on, even uber-stiff Josh McClown threw for over 200 yards against them last week. Based on that scale, Peyton should easily top 400 yards with 3-4 touchdowns.

Drew Brees, Saints vs. Bills
New Orleans had a bye week to get everyone healthy and now they get another bye week in the form of the Bills. Brees may be without his top receiving threat, Jimmy Graham this week, but that shouldn’t stop him from abusing a Buffalo team that has allowed the second most passing touchdowns and 257 yards per game.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers @ Vikings
The only thing the Vikings have going for themselves on defense this week is that they are at home. Their top defensive back is likely out for the year, and the rest of the secondary has been beaten more frequently than a plush rug in a house full of shedding cats. Only seven teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Vikings – six of those seven teams have played seven games while the Vikings have only played six. I’m not even down on Rodgers without Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley, since he is a QB that can make a wide receiver out of anyone (Jarrett Boykin anyone?).

Robert Griffin III, Redskins @ Broncos
The only offense that has been as dynamic as the Broncos this year has been whichever offense is facing the Broncos. Over their last three games the Broncos have allowed eight passing touchdowns. Robert Griffin III has started running the ball like he did last year racking up 20 carries for 161 yards over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Denver is allowing 5.8 YPC rushing to opposing QBs. Combine those rushing yards and a likely pair of passing touchdowns this week and RG3 takes a spot in the fantasy four pack this week.

Sleepers

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers @ Jaguars
Arizona is the only team to have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Jaguars. The 49ers reopened the zone-read playbook last week, and Kaepernick used his feet to gain 68 yards and a touchdown. After facing three straight stifling pass defenses, and five out of seven to start the year; the Jags will look like the Little Sisters of the Poor to Colin. I’m guessing he posts at least 300 total yards and at least two total TDs.

Eli Manning, Giants @ Eagles
Only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than Philadelphia and only Denver has allowed more passing yards. Eli has been a colossal bust so far this season, but he gets a nice matchup here. Since 2010, Eli has faced Philadelphia seven times racking up 20 touchdowns.

Running Back

Your Fantasy Four Pack

Frank Gore, 49ers @ Jaguars
The Jaguars are giving up 17% more rushing yards per game than the next closest team. They also lead the league in running back rushing touchdowns allowed. The only thing that could hold back Frank Gore from having a career week here is if the 49ers give the goal line work to Kendall Hunter. Gore suffered a minor ankle issue last week, but he is in no danger of missing time this week.

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs vs. Browns
It is week #3 for the chief of the Chiefs at number two in my rankings. The Browns are allowing the leagues’ second worst 1.3 rushing touchdowns per game. Multi-dimensional backs: Eddie Lacy, Fred Jackson, and Reggie Bush have combined to post 336 combo yards and four touchdowns over the last three games. Jamaal Charles is better than each of those three guys. I’m banking on 150-2 this week.

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks @ Rams
Only Jacksonville has allowed more combo yards this season to running backs than St. Louis. Over his last four games against the Rams, Marshawn is averaging 120 combo yards and he has scored three times. The Rams are starting Kellen Clemons at QB, which should mean the Hawks will have a huge time of possession advantage and that should add up to huge rushing yardage for Lynch.

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos vs. Redskins
The Redskins have allowed five rushing touchdowns over their last three games. On the season, they have allowed eight running back rushing touchdowns, which ties them for most allowed to the position. There will be a lot of points in this game and Knowshon will be right in the middle of the fun.

Sleepers

Darren McFadden, Raiders vs. Steelers
Pittsburgh is allowing over 100 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs and they have allowed six running back rushing touchdowns. So far this year, Pittsburgh is allowing 4.5 YPC on the road and only 3.1 YPC at home. You should probably note that Darren McFadden is not on Oakland’s injury report this week. This doesn’t happen very often, hopefully he can cash in on being fully healthy for a change.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots vs. Dolphins
Miami has allowed four rushing touchdowns over their last three games, and on the season they are allowing 164.5 combo yards per game to opposing running backs. Ridley, meanwhile, has scored in back-to-back games while averaging 4.7 YPC. Brandon Bolden is battling a knee injury and he is officially questionable for this game. If he cannot go this only further boosts Ridley’s value.

Wide Receiver

Your Fantasy Four Pack

Dez Bryant, Cowboys @ Lions
Bryant is once again at the head of the WR class this week. Last week A.J. Green torched Detroit for 6-155-1, and that is a good baseline for what to expect from Bryant here. In each of the last four games, the Lions have allowed a 100-yard receiving performance.

A.J. Green, Bengals vs. Jets
Big play wide receivers such as Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson, and Nate Washington have all posted huge yardage games against the Jets. This week A.J. gets to have his way with them. Green has faced three shutdown corners this year and struggled against each of them. Fortunately for him the Jets don’t have a shutdown corner. In his four games against non-shutdown corners he has averaged 6-117 and he has scored at least one touchdown in each of them. What’s amazing is even when he was being blanketed by one of those shutdown corners Dalton still targeted him an average of 12 times per game. This is on par with the 11 targets per game he is averaging on the season.

Marques Colston, Saints vs. Bills
The Bills continue to hold down the number two spot in the league when it comes to covering opposing wide receivers…of course that is the number two spot FROM THE BOTTOM. On the year, they have allowed 12 WR touchdowns and 1550 yards receiving. They are also allowing 16 wide receiver receptions per game. The Saints may be without Jimmy Graham, and their secondary receivers are still a hodgepodge of talent. This will add up to a monster game for Drew Brees’ second favorite target, Colston. After two straight duds, Marques is once again in a position to post premium numbers.

Pierre Garcon, Redskins at Broncos
I really wanted to name one of the Broncos WRs here, but all three make good matchups against the Skins. I’m having a hard time choosing which two of the three will rock out this week and which one will post the donkey line. So instead of sweating over which of those three have the best matchup (my gut says Welker) I am going with the #1 wide receiver going against them, Garcon. Washington has posted huge garbage time numbers this season, and against Denver Washington will either be in a shootout or playing heavily in garbage time. Either way adds up to a huge day for Garcon. Five different wide receivers have topped 100 receiving yards against Denver and three of those five have scored at least one touchdown.

Sleepers

Jarrett Boykin, Packers at Vikings
As maligned as the Vikings secondary has been, they have only allowed six wide receiver touchdowns this year. I rolled with Boykin in all my weekly leagues last week and he posted sexy numbers, those numbers will be sizzling again this week. Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones are all out this week. Over the last three weeks opposing number one wide receivers have a total of 159 yards and just one touchdown. Secondary wide receivers have 250 yards over that span and one has scored each week. Boykin is the Packers only secondary receiver left. I foresee all of Rodgers love being focused on his new Boy-Toy.

Reuben Randle, Giants vs. Eagles
The Eagles have allowed the most wide receiver touchdowns on the season with 14. Twelve different wide receivers have topped 70 yards against them, including seven non-#1 WRs. Those seven have also accounted for ten of the touchdowns against them. One of those seven was Rueben Randle who posted 6-96-2 against Philly just a couple weeks back. Oh yeah Randle also faced Philly once last year and also scored a pair of TDs. Could another pair be coming this week???

Tight End

Your Fantasy Four Pack

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Dolphins
No wide receiver has scored against Miami. Let me repeat that so it sinks in NO WIDE RECEIVER has scored against Miami. Opposing tight ends on the other hand are averaging 5-69-1 against the Dolphins. This includes a combined 13-208-3 by Jimmy Graham and Jordan Cameron. If Gronk doesn’t completely dominate in this game then it might be time to bail on Tom Brady.

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons at Cardinals
The Cardinals are allowing an average of 8-111 to opposing tight ends. They’ve given up nearly 200 more yards to TEs than the next closest team. To make matters worse they have allowed four more TE touchdowns than any other team. Atlanta is down to Harry Douglas as their only legit WR and he will get the Patrick Peterson treatment this week. This will leave Gonzo to go gonzo. I wouldn’t be surprised if he approaches 150-2.

Vernon Davis, 49ers @ Jaguars
Jacksonville has allowed at least one tight end touchdown in four of their last five games. Unfortunately, they haven’t allowed a ton of yards to the position. I’m willing to settle for a dud yardage performance if it means at least one score from Davis. On the season, he has scored in four of his six games. Continuing these trends suggests that a touchdown is pretty much a guarantee here.

Julius Thomas, Broncos vs. Redskins
Orange Julius has scored in every game but one this year, and he is consistently targeted by Peyton Manning when the Broncos get into the red zone. This week’s lamb to the slaughter, Washington, is allowing the fourth-most redzone scoring attempts per game and the fourth-most red zone touchdowns per game.

Sleepers

Joseph Fauria, Lions vs. Cowboys
Dallas is allowing an average of 7-81 to opposing tight ends and they have allowed four TE touchdowns already this season. Over the last two weeks, Fauria has been repeatedly targeted in the red zone (his huge size makes an easy target). Brandon Pettigrew has a gimpy hamstring and he just plain stinks, and Fauria has five touchdowns already on just eight catches. I’m starting Fauria this week as a bye week fill in guy hoping for a couple additional red zone chances.

Jordan Reed, Redskins @ Broncos
The Broncos have given up only two tight end touchdowns this year, but only two teams have allowed more yardage to the position. The Skins are gonna be throwing the ball a lot to stay in this game and Reed has quietly emerged as option #2 for Robert Griffin III. If he is available in your yearly league, you need to add him now because he is just now on the cusp of a huge breakout.

GAMETIME BREW

We’ve got three big imperial stouts to review this week. If you have never had an imperial stout, be aware that this style is considerably different than a traditional stout. It isn’t even in the same ball park as a Guinness or Murphy’s. If you want to dip your toe into these big beers be aware that most imperial stouts fall into the 8-12% range so don’t plan on going driving around town afterwards.

1) Stone Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing out of Escondido, CA.
Served: Poured from the bottle, at a little below room temperature into a Surly Darkness goblet.
Appearance: Coal black with a half-finger orange-tan hued head that vanished fast.
Smell: Dry-roasted peanuts, coffee, anise, and carob.
Taste: Dark chocolate with a hint of deeply robust coffee. This reminds me a little of a dark cigar. Very caramel forward and it carries a hint of licorice.
Mouth feel: Dry and sticky, it was not as thick going into the glass as it seemed going into my mouth. The coffee remains prevalent in the aftertaste.
Overall: Stone does everything right, and this is no exception. This is a perfect example of a segue-imperial stout. If you are a Guinness drinker and want to explore the dark depths start with this one.

2) Barrel Aged Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout from Left Hand Brewing Company out of Longmont, CO.
Served: Poured from the bottle, at a little below room temperature into a Surly Darkness goblet.
Appearance: Jet black with a quarter-inch white head that vanished fast.
Smell: Whiskey, vanilla, oak, but not getting a lot of barley, almost more of a leafy earl grey tea.
Taste: Heavy roasted malt presence in the taste, strange because it wasn’t as present in the aroma. In addition the whiskey that I smelled up front is faint in the taste. There is also some dark stone fruit like prune or date.
Mouth feel: It calls itself full-bodied, I’d say compared to other barrel-aged imperials it is not at all full-bodied. Someone online called it “anorexic”, I wouldn’t go that far, but it is definitely lighter bodied than I hoped. It also had very little carbonation and there was zero after taste.
Overall: I’m normally a huge Left Hand fan but this one somewhat disappointed me. I was faked out first by the description of “full-bodied” and the initial boozy aroma which was prevalently missing from the final product. Perhaps it needs more aging. I’d like to add I’ve never tried the non-barrel aged version, so I cannot tell you how different they were.

3) 2010 Surly Darkness from Surly Brewing Company out of Brooklyn Center, MN.
Served: Poured from the bottle, at a little below room temperature into a Surly Darkness goblet.
Appearance: Thick almost viscous velvety black. Dark reddish hued head, lingers much longer.
Smell: Booze and barley, with a hint of coffee and blackstrap. Definitely smells like it is not quite as sweet as it was three years ago when I first got this. I’m even getting some savory earthy aromas, perhaps even a hint of hoison sauce.
Taste: Chocolate and dry with a faint hint of the whiskey up front that multiples exponentially. There is a presence of vanilla and a lot of oak, a lot. I’m even getting some black cherry or blackberry. Perhaps the most amazing thing is there is still a clear presence of hops (Amarillo?) despite three years of aging.
Mouth feel: Lighter than I remember it up front, but that’s not saying much because it is still extremely thick. Ok, I change my mind it lingers thicker than I just posted. It coats your throat with a creamy milky savory edge. I almost feel like I’m drinking boozy chocolate milk.
Overall: There is a reason we line up overnight for this silky delicacy. There are maybe three or four beers in the U.S. that I would rank in front of Darkness, and I’m glad to say it has held up to the test of time. I only wish I had some ’08 or ’09 still to compare it to. Oh well, maybe I’ll bring a bottle of the ’10 to Stub and Herbs tomorrow. I believe they will have ’11, ’12, and ’13 on draft. There will also be a fair amount of this year on draft around the Twin Cities over the next couple months, feel free to drop me an email if you’d like to get together somewhere and enjoy one.


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