- New England QB Tom Brady got off to a tremendous start in 2010 with a three touchdown performance against the Bengals. But don’t count on a repeat performance this week against the Jets. History tells us Brady will struggle against this division rival. Brady has had just one multi-TD game against New York in his last six meetings. Lower your expectations if Brady is your QB.
- Don’t chase Matt Hasselbeck’s strong opening game performance. Hasselbeck is a bit of a tease and often follows up big performances with stinkers. In particular, the veteran QB has struggled lately in road games. In his last 12 games away from the friendly confines of Qwest Field, Hasselbeck only has one stat line with multiple touchdowns. The coaching change may be the catalyst for Hasselbeck to re-emerge as a viable fantasy QB but given his recent history, it’s best to take a wait and see approach.
- Don’t fear the Cardinals pass defense. In their last 12 games (including post-season), Arizona has allowed a quality fantasy performance to every QB they’ve faced except St. Louis and Detroit QBs. I like Atlanta’s Matt Ryan in this week’s home game against the Cards. Ryan should be good for 250 yards and two scores.
- Many fantasy owners drafted Chicago’s Jay Cutler with the intention of starting him on most weeks. I don’t think he’s earned the role of every week starter for fantasy purposes yet and I wouldn’t dismiss the idea of benching him this week against the Cowboys. Only one QB has posted multiple TDs in the last 10 regular season games against the Cowboys. Cutler delivered two scores last week against the Lions but he’ll find the sledding more difficult in Week 2.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Ryan, Derek Anderson, Michael Vick and Kyle Orton
- Remember when the Buffalo Bills used to be good at stopping the run? Me neither. The Bills have ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in run defense every year since 2005. Start free agent darling Brandon Jackson with confidence. Jackson figures to get 20+ touches, which will likely put him over the century mark. In TD-heavy leagues, don’t be afraid to roll the dice with John Kuhn, who is the go-to guy in Green Bay’s goal line package. He’ll get at least one or two carries inside the five yard line.
- Consider steering clear of Clinton Portis this week if you have an alternative. Houston’s underrated run defense has held the last seven starting RBs they’ve faced to an average of 54 rushing yards. Not one of them exceeded 85 yards on the ground. This includes capable RBs like Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Joseph Addai and Ricky Williams. In fact, the only starting RB to score on them over that period was Fred Taylor. Portis is unlikely to exceed 65 yards on the ground.
- Give Oakland’s Darren McFadden a look this week at home against the Rams. Run DMC didn’t get much respect in fantasy drafts this fall but he was a pleasant surprise in Week 1, posting 150 yards and a touchdown. He’ll face a St. Louis team that has been consistently weak against the run. In 2009, they allowed the fourth most fantasy points to RBs. In Week 1, they ceded 94 total yards and a score to Tim Hightower. Need more convincing? In their last nine games, St. Louis has allowed 15 RB scores. Bottom line: When you own a RB who’s facing the Rams, you have to give them a look even it it’s a mid-level back like McFadden. Michael Bush is again looking iffy for Sunday. Even if Bush plays, as long as McFadden sees 15 touches, he should be in line for a decent fantasy effort.
- In nine home games last year (including postseason), the Viking defense held opposing starting RBs to just 50 yards rushing per game with three total rushing scores. Avoid Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in Week 2 if possible. The Dolphins RBs combined for 30 carries last week with Williams getting 18 and Brown 12. The timeshare approach combined with the tough matchup will likely add up to at most 90-100 total yards between the two rushers — not enough to help most fantasy squads.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brandon Jackson, Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy and Peyton Hillis
- I’d like to point out something interesting about Austin Collie that the fantasy football community didn’t talk about enough leading up to fantasy drafts. Stick with me here. Collie first appeared on the fantasy radar in Week 4 of last season. Since that point, he’s played in 17 games including the postseason and last week. Let’s agree to throw out the final regular season game from last season because the starters, including Peyton Manning and Collie himself, only played a few series. So that leaves us with Collie’s last 16 legitimate games. In 14 of those 16 games, Collie has had at least one touchdown, 70 yards or six receptions. Fourteen out of 16. That’s crazy. Name me five other receivers who could make that claim. Essentially, Collie is a fantasy contributor week in and week out, especially if you’re in a PPR league. My only question is how the heck did this guy have an average draft position of 165 this season? Play Collie with confidence.
- Get San Diego’s Legedu Naanee some work this week against the Jaguars. Naanee had a breakout game in Week 1, catching five passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. With Vincent Jackson out of the picture, Naanee is a key receiving target on a team that will throw the ball 30-40 times most weeks. Although Jacksonville only allowed one passing touchdown in their opening game against Denver, they surrendered 295 yards through the air. One other point worth considering: In 2009, Jacksonville made two road trips to the West Coast. They were outscored 61-3 in those two games combined. Start your Chargers pass catchers.
- Hines Ward typically comes up big against the Titans. In five of his last six meetings with Tennessee, he’s posted at least seven receptions. In four of those six, he posted 99 or more yards. Backup QB Dennis Dixon threw to Ward seven times in Week 1, connecting on six receptions for 108 yards. Get Ward in your lineup especially if you’re in a PPR league.
- Okay, I’ll let you decide whether this one is an anomaly or a real trend worth paying attention to. Saints wideout Devery Henderson, who was snagged off the waiver wire by plenty of fantasy owners this week, hasn’t scored a touchdown in a road game since 2007. This encompasses a stretch of 17 straight away games (18 if you include the Super Bowl). That’s more than a full season of work. Start Henderson at your own risk this week in San Francisco.
This Week’s Sleepers: Austin Collie, Legedu Naanee, Santana Moss, Eddie Royal and Greg Camarillo
- If you’re worried about Jason Witten putting up a second straight poor stat line, don’t be. In his last 24 games, including the postseason, Witten has only had four games in which he’s posted four receptions or fewer — never in back to back weeks. The Cowboys TE also should benefit from a favorable matchup against the Bears. Chicago ceded seven receptions to Lions TEs in Week 1. In 2009, the Bears allowed the ninth most fantasy points to TEs.
- Two rookie tight ends faced each other in Week 1 and both made an immediate impact. Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham and New England’s Rob Gronkowski scored one touchdown each. While you might be tempted to start one of these youngsters, the Six-Pack thinks it’s best to wait and see on both rookies. Gresham will face the Ravens and Gronkowski will square off against the Jets. The Jets allowed the second fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2009 while the Ravens ranked 11th.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chris Cooley and Heath Miller
- Carolina’s John Kasay led all kickers in fantasy scoring in Week 1 with three field goals and one extra point. Kasay showed he still has the leg to go long, connecting on a field goal from 52 yards. Look for him to post another solid effort this week. The Panthers should have little difficulty putting points on the board against Tampa. In 2009, the Buccaneers allowed 25.0 points per game, sixth most in the NFL. Start Kasay and look for at least eight points.
- If you drafted Jets kicker Nick Folk, it’s not too early to start looking for alternatives on the waiver wire. New York seems content to run the NFL’s most conservative offense. While Folk may get the opportunity to kick some field goals, points in general will be scarce on most weeks. It’s not a recipe for success from a fantasy kicker. To make matters worse, the Jets face a New England defense that allowed the second fewest fantasy points to kickers in 2009.
This Week’s Sleepers: John Kasay and Matt Bryant
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Owners in deep leagues who are looking for a boom or bust type fantasy defense this week can consider the Carolina Panthers. In their last meeting with the Bucs, Carolina intercepted QB Josh Freeman five times and sacked him twice. The Panthers were beat handily by the Giants in the opener but they still managed to force four turnovers and record one sack. If Carolina can grab an early lead against Tampa, it could lead to the Bucs abandoning the running game, which would in turn lead to plenty of scoring opportunities for the Panthers defense.
- In nine career road games, Dolphins QB Chad Henne has a 3:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he’s been sacked 15 times. Although the Minnesota Vikings defense didn’t deliver a high volume of fantasy points in Week 1, stick with them. Minnesota plays well at home. The Purple have recorded 11 turnovers and 19 sacks in their last six games at Mall of America Field.
This Week’s Sleepers: Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots
This Week's Six-Pack: Founders Dirty Bastard
Brewed by: Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Appearance: This Scotch style ale is packaged in a short brown bottle with an illustration of, you guessed it, a dirty looking bastard. It pours excellently with a fluffy, tan, one-finger-thick head. The beer itself is brown with amber highlights when held up to the light.
Smell: I’m fighting a bad cold so I could be off the mark on this one. I had one nostril functioning at about 35% and the other completely shut down but I detected strong wafts of molasses and toasted grains.
Taste: Superb. This beer isn’t technically a nut brown ale but that’s what it reminds me of . . . except it’s a touch stronger and more robust. In addition to the dominant nuttiness, there are also hints of raisin and some definite earthiness.
Drinkability: Dirty Bastard has an ABV of 8.5% and a stick-to-your-bones quality to it. Both combine to ensure this is a beer you will enjoy in moderation.
Last Call: I’m impressed with what I’ve seen from the Founders Brewery. Dirty Bastard is no exception. If this beer is distributed in your area and you like beers in the nut brown ale or Scotch ale genre, seek it out. Five stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: New Belgium Hoptober