- Saints QB Drew Brees has failed to eclipse the 300-yard benchmark this season. Chances are he will this week though with a game against the Falcons. In his last seven meetings with Atlanta, Brees has posted a healthy 307 yards per game average. In all seven of those meetings he tallied multiple touchdown passes. Look for 300 yards and three scores from Brees in Week 3.
- Don’t chase Jets QB Mark Sanchez’s three touchdown effort last week. He’s unlikely to approach anything resembling those numbers this week against the Dolphins. Miami has shut down opposing QBs so far this season, allowing just one passing touchdown. This game is likely to be a defensive struggle and I’d be surprised if the teams combined for more than 30 points. Also consider that the “Sanchize” has just one quality fantasy performance on the road in his career.
- A poor start to the 2010 season has fantasy owners wondering whether Father Time has finally caught up with Brett Favre. Favre has thrown just one touchdown this season compared to four interceptions and his WR corps is a mess. Even with all those negatives, I’ll go out on a limb and call Favre lineup worthy this week against the Lions. Detroit ranks 30th in the NFL against the pass, allowing 305.0 yards per game through the air. To say Favre has had success against the Lions in his career would be an understatement of epic proportions. The three-time MVP has thrown for 8,753 yards against Detroit, the most he has against any opponent. Most recently, Favre has posted four straight games versus Detroit with a QB rating over 100.0 — this includes eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Favre will find a way to get it done this week and put up at least 240 yards and two scores.
- I’m not buying that the Titans pass defense is as good as the stats show. Tennessee currently rates at the top of the league, having allowed a scant 171 yards through the air in two games. What the numbers don’t show is those performances were against the Raiders and Steelers, two teams intent on running the football and two teams with QBs who are well below average. Don’t get me wrong, I still consider the Titans to have an above average defense but Giants QB Eli Manning is an acceptable option this week regardless. Manning has thrown five touchdowns in 2010, tied for second most in the NFL. Considering the dearth of quality fantasy QBs at the moment, Manning is worth a start. Look for a minimum of 230 yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brett Favre, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford and Kyle Orton
- It’s almost a given that a RB from the Patriots will score a touchdown this week. Like clockwork, New England RBs have scored in 10 straight games against Buffalo (13 touchdowns overall). That’s every game these two teams have played since Tom Brady became the starting QB. Get Fred Taylor some work this week as a matchup based play.
- I have the utmost confidence in Ray Rice this week against the Browns and would roll the dice with Willis McGahee as a spot starter if I was in a desperate situation. Cleveland’s rush defense has held up okay in their first two games, allowing zero touchdowns. But that’s a mirage. The Browns have still allowed 129.0 yards per game on the ground. Baltimore will want to establish the run after QB Joe Flacco was intercepted four times last week. Rice and McGahee combined for four touchdowns in two meetings against the Browns last season. I expect they’ll continue that pace here in what could be a bloodbath.
- Chicago’s run defense has been a surprise thus far. The team allowed 126.4 yards per game on the ground in 2009, tenth most in the NFL. This season, they’ve held opponents to just 28.0 rushing yards per game. It’s not a great matchup for Green Bay’s Brandon Jackson. Benching him might be a jagged pill for fantasy owners who spent liberally in their free agent auction or used their waiver priority to get him, but it’s probably the right decision here. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy indicated Jackson won’t carry the load. Instead he’ll split carries alongside Green Bay’s other RBs. Consider Jackson no better than a spot starter until he proves otherwise.
- With Saints RB Reggie Bush out for six weeks with a broken leg, Pierre Thomas gets an uptick in value. Thomas may not see his total number of carries balloon but he figures to get all the goal line work and may get an additional pass or two per game. Thomas appears poised for a big game against Atlanta. In his last three meetings with the Dirty Birds, Thomas posted 100 yards or more from scrimmage with four total scores. The Falcons are allowing an NFL worst 5.9 yards per carry, driven up by two touchdown runs of 50+ yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Willis McGahee, Fred Taylor, Mike Tolbert and Clinton Portis
- Oddly enough, New England’s Wes Welker has never caught a touchdown pass against the Bills. That includes 12 career meetings — six with the Patriots and six with the Dolphins. Something has to give this week because Welker has scored in each game this year. Welker should remain in your active lineup but be prepared for mild disappointment. Welker is playing just over half of New England’s offensive snaps, which means if he doesn’t score a touchdown, he might be hard pressed to put up a quality stat line.
- The Jaguars are one of four NFL teams that are allowing over 300 passing yards per game. I doubt that is an anomaly that will correct itself. Jacksonville ranked 27th against the pass last season. They also allowed the second most fantasy points to WRs in 2009 and the fourth most so far in 2010. It all sets up quite nicely for DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin this week. Jackson and Maclin have combined for three touchdowns this season — all three coming from Michael Vick. I like their chances of racking up 170 yards and two touchdowns between them this weekend.
- Two weeks into the season, it looks like the Donovan McNabb to Santana Moss hookup is going to pay some dividends in 2010. Moss has 16 receptions, tied for second most in the NFL among receivers, and 166 yards, ninth most. The only thing that’s missing is a touchdown and that should come this week against the Rams. St. Louis ranks 24th in the NFL against the pass despite facing teams that are quarterback deficient (Arizona and Oakland). Look for Moss to record his first 100-yard game of the year and haul in a touchdown to boot.
- Eleven year veteran Donald Driver has faced the Bears a whopping 19 times in his career. Know how many stat lines he’s posted with either a touchdown or 100 yards? Just three. And none in his last six meetings. For whatever reason, Driver struggles against Chicago. I’m not saying he’s a guy you absolutely have to bench this week. After all, Green Bay will be chucking given their inability to run. Just realize Driver has some history working against him.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jeremy Maclin, Santana Moss, Percy Harvin, Terrell Owens and Eddie Royal
- Philadelphia’s Brent Celek might be the biggest disappointment at the TE position so far from a fantasy perspective. Celek has just five receptions for 59 yards. Give him one more chance this week in a favorable matchup against Jacksonville. The Jaguars have surrendered five TE touchdowns in their last five games. If Celek fails to show good continuity with Michael Vick in this game, he might be droppable in some leagues given how deep the TE position is right now.
- I don’t have much faith in Tampa’s chances of moving the football this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh ranks second in the NFL in total defense, allowing just 10 points per game. Consider resting Kellen Winslow Jr. The Steel Curtain has shut down opposing TEs so far, holding Tony Gonzalez to just two receptions for 35 yards and Tennessee’s Bo Scaife to three receptions for 20 yards. Winslow is unlikely to fare much better.
This Week’s Sleepers: Aaron Hernandez and Marcedes Lewis
- Look for a bounce-back game from Tennessee’s Rob Bironas this week. Bironas only managed three points last week against the Steelers but he should fare better against the Giants. New York has ceded eight or more points to kickers in five of their last six games, including both this year. The Titans should have little difficulty advancing the ball in to Giants territory with Chris Johnson leading the charge. The result should be at least a couple three-point attempts and a solid contribution to your fantasy club.
- The last four contests between the Falcons and Saints have seen an average combined score of 54.75 points. It’s not surprising that Vegas sees this week’s matchup between the two rival clubs as the highest scoring game of the week (with an over/under of 49). Given the potential for a shootout, you have to like the scoring potential of kickers Matt Bryant and Garrett Hartley. Activate them and if either is on your waiver wire, consider it an excellent plug-and-play opportunity.
This Week’s Sleepers: Billy Cundiff and Mike Nugent
Team Defense / Special Teams
- It seems as if Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck put a hex on himself in the 2008 playoff game against the Packers, when, in overtime, Hasselbeck declared, “We want the ball and we’re going to win.” Prior to that ill-advised statement, Hasselbeck was playing at a Pro Bowl level and sporting a 140:84 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Since then? He’s posted an ugly 25:31 ratio and won just seven games as a starter compared to 16 losses. Hasselbeck’s struggles should lead to solid numbers from the San Diego Chargers this week. In Hasselbeck’s last six games alone, he has thrown 14 interceptions and he’s been sacked 12 times. Meanwhile, the Chargers are tied for the league lead with four interceptions. San Diego’s defense should be able to get on the board with a few turnovers and they have an excellent chance to find the endzone.
- I love the Baltimore Ravens defense this week against the Browns. Week 3 represents Baltimore’s home opener so you know they’ll be fired up. In their last five meetings against the Browns, Baltimore has racked up four defensive touchdowns to go along with 11 interceptions, 12 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries. Also worth noting: Browns QB Seneca Wallace has historically struggled on the road. In fact, 11 of Wallace’s 15 career interceptions have come on the road.
This Week’s Sleepers: Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins
This Week's Six-Pack: Hoptober Golden Ale
Brewed by: New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado
Appearance: The bottle and label dovetail with the look of the rest of the New Belgium family, including flagship product Fat Tire. Someone at this brewery clearly understands branding. Hoptober pours a blondish, straw color with a tall, airy head that quickly faded to a thin layer of foam. Overall, a flawless appearance.
Smell: Strong citrus and pine aromas. Very pungent and hoppy.
Taste: Hearty hop profile up front with wheat and rye subtleties. There’s also some orange zest and spice. Aftertaste is light, crisp, sweet and citrusy — sort leaves you with lemonade taste on the palette.
Drinkability: Easy drinking and well balanced but it might get tiresome after a couple because of the sweetness.
Last Call: This is a seasonal beer, apparently released in the fall. Given the name, I was anticipating something in the Octoberfest genre — a darker beer that would hold up better in the crisp autumn air. This actually seems like it would play better on a hot day. It’s an interesting brew nonetheless and an all-around pleaser. Four stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium)