- Lower your expectations for Matt Ryan, who will face a stingy Bucs pass defense. Tampa has allowed just three passing scores in their last four games. One of those shutdown performances included a game in which they held Ryan to just 235 yards and one touchdown. Looking across his career against the Bucs, Ryan has failed more often than he’s succeeded. In fact, he has just one useful fantasy performance against Tampa in five starts.
- Get Jay Cutler some work this week against the Lions. Detroit has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to QBs this year and they’ve ceded seven passing touchdowns in their last two outings alone. Cutler’s track record against the Lions speaks for itself: 8 TDs and 1 INT in his last three games versus them. Cutler looks like a lock for multiple scores with 275+ yards.
- His recent performances have many fantasy owners wondering whether David Garrard can be considered a weekly fantasy starter. But don’t get delusional. Garrard remains what he’s always been, a matchup based starter. And that said, his track record against the Titans suggests you should sit him in Week 13. He has just one multi-touchdown performance in his last seven outings versus Tennessee. Plus he’s gone scoreless in three of his last four tangles with the division rival.
- No QB has thrown more than one touchdown against the Saints in the last eight games. It should come as no surprise then that New Orleans has allowed the fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. Put Carson Palmer on your bench this week if you have viable alternatives.
This Week’s Sleepers: Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Jon Kitna and Josh Freeman
- Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall has gutted out three useful fantasy performances in his last three games against the Ravens. He’s worthy of a start on Sunday night. Baltimore’s defense isn’t invincible. They’ve allowed good numbers to power runners (Peyton Hillis) and speedsters (Mike Goodson) at various times this year. Mendenhall will get his 20 touches and should chip in at least 80 yards and a touchdown.
- Regardless of the playing status of Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart owners should be able to squeeze some points out of the rookie RB this weekend. Minnesota plays host to a Bills defense that has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to RBs this season. Gerhart could be a top 10 fantasy RB if Peterson is out but will get a useful volume of work even if Peterson suits up.
- Find an alternative to LeGarrette Blount this week if you can. Tampa will face a Falcons defense that has allowed the third fewest fantasy points to RBs this year. Atlanta hasn’t given up a single RB touchdown in their last six games. More bad news for Blount: They haven’t allowed a rushing TD to a RB since Week 2. The Dirty Birds managed to bottle up Blount in their previous meeting, holding him to just 46 yards on 13 carries. Blount will be fortunate to escape this contest with 60 yards on the ground.
- Don’t chase Maurice Morris’ two-touchdown effort from last week. Morris faces a stiff challenge this week against a fierce Bears defense. Chicago has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to RBs this year. They haven’t allowed a RB touchdown in three weeks. Morris will likely monopolize the Detroit RB touches but even if he gets his hands on the ball 15-20 times, he’s unlikely to get you a useful fantasy stat line.
This Week’s Sleepers: Toby Gerhart, Thomas Jones, Chris Ivory and Marshawn Lyncc
- Far too many fantasy owners have put their trust in Pierre Garcon and gotten burned so recommending him is risky business. But the Six-Pack has a good feeling about the Colts wideout this week against the Cowboys. Garcon and Peyton Manning haven’t been on the same page for most of the year because Garcon has missed lots of practice with injuries. He’s been healthy for the last few weeks, which should enable the QB and WR to get on the same page at some point. This is a good week to rebuild their rapport because Dallas has been lit up by opposing No. 2 and No. 3 WRs this year. Would you believe it if the Six-Pack told you the Cowboys have allowed a No. 2 or No. 3 wideout to score in 10 straight games? It’s true. Check it out. Then put Garcon in your lineup.
- With Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill out, third-stringer Drew Stanton will get the start for Detroit this week against the Bears. It’s a nightmare scenario for Calvin Johnson owners. Chicago has allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to WRs this year. Start Johnson and look for him to get plenty of targets. However, expecting anything more than 75 yards with a slim chance for a touchdown is asking a lot with Stanton under center.
- Larry Fitzgerald owners haven’t gotten the production they were envisioning out of the Cardinals wideout but he should excel in this week’s tilt against the Rams. Fitzgerald has been a Ram killer, scoring 10 touchdowns in his last 10 games versus the divisional opponent.
- Steelers WR Hines Ward bounced back nicely last week with a 100-yard effort against the Bills. However, if you have a decent alternative to Ward, it might be a good idea to go in that direction. Ward hasn’t scored a touchdown against the Ravens since 2004. That’s a 12-game stretch. During that period, he only had one game with over 81 yards receiving. Ward is a WR3 at best this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Eddie Royal, Legedu Naanee, Derrick Mason and Danny Amendola
- Activate New York’s Dustin Keller for Monday night’s matchup against the Patriots. When the Jets and Pats met in Week 2, Keller racked up 115 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. Keller isn’t the only TE to bloody New England’s defense. The Patriots have allowed the tenth most fantasy points to TEs. While it’s asking a little much for Keller to repeat his Week 2 performance, 75 yards with a possible score is realistic.
- The Titans defense has allowed four straight opposing TEs to net 90 yards and/or a touchdown. Give strong starting consideration to Jags TE Marcedes Lewis. He should get you at least 60 yards with a possible touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Dustin Keller, Marcedes Lewis and Kevin Boss
- Start Rams kicker Josh Brown this week. Brown has drilled multiple field goal kicks in seven of his last nine games. He draws a sexy Week 13 matchup against the Cardinals, who have allowed the most fantasy points to kickers in 2010. Arizona has given up seven or more points to kickers in every game this season.
- From Weeks 10-11, Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare nailed nine field goals. In Week 12, he fizzled out, managing just one field goal and three extra points. Look for him to bounce back this week. Seattle will host Carolina. The Panthers have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to kickers this season. They’ve allowed multiple field goal kicks in all but three games this season. With a favorable weather forecast, Mare should be fantasy gold in Week 13.
This Week’s Sleepers: Josh Brown, Olindo Mare and Robbie Gould
Team Defense / Special Teams
- If you’re playing the role of spoiler and can afford to take a risk with your defense, consider taking a flier on the Miami Dolphins this week. The Browns will likely start Jake Delhomme at QB this week. Delhomme has been his typical turnover-prone self this season. In two and a half games, he’s thrown six interceptions compared with one touchdown. In two of the three games Delhomme started, he had an interception returned for a touchdown. Consider Miami’s defense as a sneaky boom-or-bust option.
- Bengals QB Carson Palmer has thrown multiple interceptions in three straight games. The Bengals have also given up a DST touchdown in three straight games. Ride these streaks and start the New Orleans Saints defense in Week 13.
This Week’s Sleepers: Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints
This Week's Six-Pack: Back in Black IPA
Brewed by: 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco
Appearance: A “black” IPA. Now this is something different. Back in Black is packaged in cans rather than bottles. The can is jet black. An aggressive pour revealed a monster tan head. It had staying power and left a nice web of lacing down the side of my pint glass. It’s inky black in color and completely opaque—given the name, there was no surprise in the appearance.
Smell: Robust aromas of powdered cocoa, roasted malt, and a twist of citrus backed by a full bouquet of piney hops.
Taste: Back in Black has that essential hop bitterness but it also has some dark roasted coffee or dark chocolate bitterness you’d commonly find in a stout. It’s an odd pairing but I really dig it. The beer is complex and very unique.
Drinkability: 6.8% ABV. Big carbonation. A beer to drink slowly one at a time.
Last Call: Thinking back . . . rubbing chin . . . yep . . . Back in Black is the best beer I’ve ever reviewed in a can. The hybrid approach mixing IPA and stout may offend some beer snobs, but not me. Five stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale, Belgium
Past Beer Reviews