- The San Diego Chargers defense has allowed the second fewest fantasy points to QBs in 2010. Don’t let that deter you from starting Tom Brady this week though. San Diego’s success against QBs is a mirage. The passers they’ve faced this year in order are: Matt Cassel, David Garrard, Matt Hasselbeck, Derek Anderson, Jason Campbell and Sam Bradford. The Chargers secondary is, in a word, overrated. Look for Brady to chip away all afternoon and end the game with 280 yards and multiple scores.
- If you have a QB on bye this week, the temptation might be there to roll with San Francisco’s Alex Smith. The Six-Pack recommends considering other options. Smith has played poorly on the road this season, compiling five interceptions and just two touchdowns in three road games. San Francisco’s opponent, the Panthers, have allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points to QBs this year. Plus with Vernon Davis (knee) hobbled, Smith could be short a weapon.
- Practically every meeting between the Giants and Cowboys over the last four seasons has been a shootout. In 2009, the combined scores for both games was Giants 64, Cowboys 55. Given that the teams will square off on Monday night with a wild atmosphere and Dallas’ season on the line, there’s a good chance the high-scoring trend continues. Get Eli Manning in your lineup if you don’t have a clear alternative. Manning has thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven of his last nine games against the Cowboys.
- Ravens QB Joe Flacco hasn’t been as consistent as fantasy owners were expecting this season but he’s just passed through the most difficult part of his schedule. Get him some work this week against the Bills. Buffalo has allowed three passing score in three straight games. They’ve yielded the second most fantasy points to QBs this year. Flacco has the potential to put up 275 yards and three scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Hasselbeck, Brett Favre, Matt Cassel and Kevin Kolb
- The Jaguars have allowed seven rushing touchdowns this season—tied for most in the NFL. You already know Jamaal Charles is a good play on any week but Thomas Jones merits strong consideration for a spot start. Jones has scored a touchdown or posted 80+ yards in three of his last four games. Charles has seen his workload increase in recent weeks, but Jones is still getting plenty of carries. Jones also remains the go-to guy in goal line situations. He’s a good bet to end this game with at least one score.
- Cowboys RB Felix Jones is now the lead back in the Big D but he’s a marginal fantasy option in Week 7. Dallas faces the Giants, who have allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to RBs this season. The team has put the clamps on the last three backs they’ve faced, holding Jahvid Best, Arian Foster and Matt Forte under 2.5 yards per carry. Jones’ best chance to turn in a useful fantasy performance will be breaking a long run. It’s not out of the question but just be sure you know that the Giants have only allowed one run longer than 20 yards in their last five games and that was to Chris Johnson.
- It’s time to get Denver’s Knowshon Moreno some work. Moreno seemed to lack burst and confidence in his first game back last week against the Jets. He actually fumbled his first carry. Despite the shaky performance, he should find some holes in a weak Raiders defense. Oakland has allowed the third most points to fantasy RBs. Opposing ball carriers are averaging 5.0 yards per attempt against them (second most in the NFL). If he nets 15+ touches, Moreno will approach 100 yards and a touchdown.
- Give Marshawn Lynch a start this week against the Cardinals. Lynch had 20 touches in his first game as a Seahawk last week. Look for him to continue to be a workhorse RB for Pete Carroll. Arizona has allowed five RB scores in three road games this year. All told, the Cardinals have given up the fourth most fantasy points to RBs. Lynch has a shot to put up a monster effort—110 yards and two scores isn’t out of the question.
This Week’s Sleepers: Thomas Jones, Marshawn Lynch, Peyton Hillis and Chris Ivory
- The Chargers average over 36 pass attempts per game. With the team’s top three receiving targets (Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee) all nicked up, rolling the dice with Patrick Crayton this week isn’t a bad gamble. San Diego will face a Patriots defense that has yielded at least one WR touchdown in every game this season. Crayton figures to get at least 7-8 targets this week. That should translate into 80+ yards with a good chance for a score.
- Panthers wideout Steve Smith has been mired on fantasy benches for weeks both because of injuries and poor performances. Many fantasy owners are contemplating the unthinkable—dropping Smith outright. Well, I’m going to dish out a dose of optimism for Smith owners. The Panthers are making a switch back to Matt Moore at QB. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Since last season, Moore has started seven games. Smith has played in six of those games and, get this, he scored a touchdown in all but one of them. In the one Moore start in which Smith didn’t score, he still managed to put up 78 yards. So count ‘em up. That’s six useful stat lines for Smith in six straight games that Matt Moore started. Bottom line: You could do worse than Smith this week.
- Don’t touch the Jaguars passing game this week. The team could be without its starting QB (David Garrard) and its backup (Trent Edwards). Both players were hurt in Monday’s loss to the Titans and both look iffy for Sunday. Considering KC has had success against elite QBs like Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers this season, the odds of Todd Bouman doing anything are long. The Jaguars will be lucky to score 10 points. Bench Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas.
- Get Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens some work this week against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to WRs and they’ll be without their top DB Dunta Robinson (concussion). The Dirty Birds were torched by the Eagles last week on several big pass plays. Look for the Bengals to try the same formula, testing Atlanta’s secondary deep. Ochocinco and Owens have a good chance to combine for over 170 yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Patrick Crayton, Steve Smith, Jason Avant and Jabbar Gaffney
- Seattle’s John Carlson is a sneaky good play this week at home against a Cardinals defense that has been embarrassingly bad against TEs this season. Arizona has allowed four TE touchdowns in their last three games. They’ve ceded the third most fantasy points to the position in 2010. Look for 60 yards and a touchdown from Carlson.
- Don’t chase Bo Scaife’s 53-yard, 1-touchdown performance last week. Scaife is a tease, notorious for posting useful numbers one week and disappearing the next. In his six-year career, Scaife has never recorded back-to-back games with touchdowns. In fact, he’s never posted back-to-back quality performances, which for a TE I’d define as 70 yards and/or a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: John Carlson, Todd Heap and Ben Watson
- The Bills have given up 34 or more points in four straight games. Fantasy owners looking for a boost from their kicker should consider trotting out Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff this week. The Ravens have the offensive weapons to move the ball at will against Buffalo. If Cundiff doesn’t put up at least seven points, I’d be shocked.
- Fantasy owners still riding high off Josh Scobee’s five field goal effort from a couple weeks ago may need to face reality. Scobee isn’t a kicker you can rely on every week. He’s a spot starter at best. With Jacksonville’s QB depth chart in shambles, it’s time to move on and find another kicking option.
This Week’s Sleepers: Billy Cundiff and Ryan Succop
Team Defense / Special Teams
- If you’re looking for a sleeper defense this week, take a look at the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle will play host to the Cardinals this week. In limited action this year, Arizona QB Max Hall has two interceptions and 10 sacks with zero touchdowns. Hall will face a Seahawks D that ranks seventh in the NFL in sacks. Look for Seattle to rack up at least five sacks against the young QB in a raucous Qwest Field.
- The Kansas City Chiefs deserve strong consideration for a spot start this week against the Jaguars. As of Thursday, neither David Garrard (concussion) nor Trent Edwards (hand) had practiced this week. Jacksonville may be forced to start Todd Bouman, who wasn’t even on the team last week and hasn’t played since 2005. Kansas City has been productive at home this season. In two games at Arrowhead, they’ve recorded seven sacks, two turnovers and a special teams touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins
This Week's Six-Pack: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
Brewed by: Wells & Young’s Brewing Company, Bedford, UK
Appearance: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout was presented in a tall can that contained a nitrogen widget. Like any other beer with this technology, this brew offered a glorious pour capped by a thick, dense, creamy head. Out of curiosity, I inserted a pencil in my glass and it stood perfectly upright. The color was nearly black and completely opaque.
Smell: Extremely light on aroma. I guess I’d compare it to coffee or iced cappuccino.
Taste: No surprise here. The first taste I detected was a rush of chocolate. Mind you, it’s not like Hershey’s milk chocolate. It’s more comparable to luxurious dark chocolates—not the heavily sweetened candy bars. The aftertaste has some hints of coffee and toasted grains.
Drinkability: Goes down surprisingly smooth. It might be a good intro stout if you’ve steered clear of this category in the past. That’s not a knock on the beer’s sophistication but a nod to how refined and enjoyable it is.
Last Call: I was leery that this beer would come off as artificial or taste too much like a milkshake. My fears were quickly laid to rest. I took pleasure in every swig of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Looking forward to the day I find it on tap somewhere. Five stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Singha (Thailand)