- History would tell you to lower your expectations for Ben Roethlisberger this week. Big Ben hasn’t had a multi-TD game versus the Ravens since 2007. But don’t overlook the fact that Baltimore made significant changes to their secondary this year, undergoing a youth movement. Rookie Jimmy Smith is expected to man one of the starting cornerback positions. Fourth-year CB Cary Williams will start on the opposite side and he’s only started one game in his NFL career. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens experienced some growing pains. Look for Roethlisberger to put at least two scores on the board.
- The Six-Pack has little doubt that St. Louis QB Sam Bradford will be a top 12 fantasy quarterback this season and for years to come. However, a Week 1 matchup against the Eagles is perilous for fantasy owners who drafted the young QB to be their starter. Philadelphia’s triumvirate of elite cornerbacks—Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel—promises to be a disrupting force for opposing passers. Look for Bradford to try to dink and dunk his way down the field with dumpoffs to RB Steven Jackson and TE Lance Kendricks. That gameplan will result in marginal numbers for Bradford. Keep him on ice until Week 2.
- Unless your league has 16 or more teams, you probably didn’t draft Jets QB Mark Sanchez to be your starter. A cushy matchup this week against the Cowboys may entice you to give him a spot start. Cornerback Terence Newman hasn’t practiced this week. Fellow cornerback Mike Jenkins left Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury but is expected to play in some fashion. With or without Jenkins, Dallas’ secondary is debilitated. Sanchez should have little difficulty finding his receivers. Pencil him in for 250 yards and two scores.
- Washington doesn’t have an elite pass defense. In fact, by most accounts they’ve been merely average ever since the team traded away Champ Bailey. It’s puzzling then that Giants QB Eli Manning has just one career multi-TD game versus the rival Redskins in 13 meetings. Likewise, he’s only once thrown for more than 270 yards against them. It’s probably best not to fight this trend. Keep Manning on the bench unless you don’t have another option.
This Week’s Sleepers: Mark Sanchez, Matt Hasselbeck, Kevin Kolb and Kyle Orton
- Get Mike Tolbert some work this week against the Vikings. Minnesota’s run-stuffing “Williams Wall” is no more. Defensive tackle Pat Williams decided not to return to the Vikings. His counterpart Kevin Williams, who is the team’s best run stopper, will miss the first two games of the season while serving out a suspension. With the interior of the defensive line no longer the force it once was, Tolbert should have little difficulty busting the Norsemen up the gut. The Six-Pack likes his chances of posting two touchdowns. Chargers backfield mate Ryan Mathews is also worth a look but this game seems tailor-made for Tolbert, who is a better inside runner and will get the goal-line work.
- Fantasy owners who bought into the Felix Jones hype during the preseason are likely to be disappointed at least for Week 1. The Cowboys travel to New Jersey to face a Jets defense that allowed zero 100-yard rushing performances at home last year. Arian Foster was the only opposing RB to score a rushing TD at the Meadowlands last year against the Jets. Dial your expectations for Jones way back.
- Four weeks out of the year, Jahvid Best will remind you of Chris Johnson. In the other 13 weeks, he will remind you of a dented can of stale Milwaukee’s Best beer. If you drafted him, you’d be wise to play Best this week while he’s fully healthy. Tampa had the fifth worst run defense last year, allowing 132 yards rushing per game. Best will be busy both in the run game and as a receiver out of the backfield. Look for him to get at least 20 touches. It’s worth noting that Best burst out of the gate last year, scoring four rushing touchdowns in the first two games. There’s a good chance he crosses the stripe once or twice in this battle, as well.
- In two meetings against the Dolphins in 2010, New England posted 38 and 41 points respectively. BenJarvis Green-Ellis scored in both contests. Take your chances on him making it three in a row. The Dolphins have a formidable run defense (they allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points to RBs last year), but there’s no way they slow down Tom Brady on Monday Night Football. Green-Ellis will get at least a couple cracks at the endzone and punch one in.
This Week’s Sleepers: Mike Tolbert, Michael Bush, Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs
- Look for Anquan Boldin to post surprisingly useful stats this week against a tough Steelers defense. Boldin’s first year with the Ravens was a struggle but he had two of his more productive stat lines versus Pittsburgh, catching 12 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown in total. The Six-Pack thinks Boldin is on the verge of a monster year. Baltimore overhauled its offense during the offseason—shedding Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Donte Stallworth, Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain. Those players combined for 178 receptions! Someone has to catch those passes this year. With improved chemistry with QB Joe Flacco, Boldin should see his reception total spike to 90. It starts with six receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown this week against the Steelers.
- The arrow is pointing downward on the Vikings pass offense this week against the Chargers. If there’s one thing the Bolts defense does well, it’s defend against the pass. San Diego’s secondary ranked best in the league last season, allowing just 177.8 yards per game through the air. You’re probably going to start Percy Harvin but the reality is he’s a marginal fantasy play. Minnesota’s offensive line is highly suspect, which is going to throw off QB Donovan McNabb’s timing, further limiting Harvin’s impact. Don’t bank on more than 60 yards receiving from him. Your best bet might be a long run on a handoff or direct snap.
- Steelers wideout Hines Ward has zero touchdowns and just one 100-yard performance in his last 13 games against the Ravens. Even worse, he hasn’t put up more than 50 yards versus Baltimore since 2008. If you have other available options, move Ward to your bench.
- Redskins QB Rex Grossman started Weeks 15-17 last season. Statistically speaking, those were three of Santana Moss’ best games of the year. He tallied 22 receptions, two touchdowns, and 231 yards. Those are useful numbers in any scoring system. There’s no reason to avoid Moss with Grossman under center, and there’s no reason to avoid him because of the matchup. The Giants secondary is in shambles with their cornerback depth depleted due to injuries. Bank on Moss posting at least seven receptions with 80 yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Braylon Edwards, Earl Bennett, Greg Little, Davone Bess and Nate Burleson
- Peyton Manning’s neck injury no doubt has Dallas Clark owners concerned. And with good reason. With Manning expected to miss at least half the season, Clark’s numbers will suffer. There’s a good chance he falls out of the top 12 at the TE position. However, if your focus on this week alone, Clark ought to be in your lineup. He scored in both games against the Texans last season and has at least five catches in six straight meetings with Houston. The Texans yielded the fifth most fantasy points to TEs last season. Look for Clark to post serviceable numbers.
- Jacksonville’s decision to kick QB David Garrard to the curb is terrible news for Marcedes Lewis owners. Lewis was the fourth highest scoring TE in fantasy last year with Garrard under center. While it’s too early to drop him outright, it might be best to proceed with caution. Check your waiver wire for an alternative. Lewis has done very little against the Titans. In ten career games versus Tennessee, Lewis has just one useful stat line.
This Week’s Sleepers: Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook
- Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski racked up 24 total points in last year’s two meetings with the Broncos. Fantasy owners can look forward to another quality performance Monday night. Denver’s defensive line is a mess. In other news, water is wet. The Broncos have rated 26th or worse against the run in each of the last four seasons. This of course plays to the strength of the Raiders, who should have little difficulty moving the ball into scoring position. The Polish Cannon will flirt with double-digit points.
- If you drafted Adam Vinatieri as your kicker, it’s not too early to jump ship and find an alternative. The Colts aren’t going to score enough points for Vinatieri to be effective week in and week out. Like any kicker, he’ll have some good games . . . maybe even this week against the Texans . . . but over the long haul, starting a kicker on a poor offense could cost you a point or two per week on average. Grab a kicker with a favorable matchup this week, such as Jay Feely, Nick Folk or Matt Prater.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jay Feely and Nick Folk
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Count on the New England Patriots ranking among the highest scoring fantasy DSTs for the opening week. New England punished the Dolphins last year, outscoring them 79-21. In those two contests, the Pats scored three touchdowns on defense and special teams, adding six turnovers and seven sacks. Look for New England to cause more havoc on Monday night. There’s a good chance their defense records multiple sacks and turnovers with a touchdown to boot.
- Sleeper seekers are advised to take a look at the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. In reality, maybe it’s a stretch to call the Cards a sleeper considering they were the second-highest scoring unit in fantasy football last year. However, they are only owned in 39% of fantasy leagues. The Six-Pack likes their chances of racking up some serious fantasy points at home against the Panthers. Carolina will start rookie QB Cam Newton. For Newton, it won’t be a matter of if he makes mistakes but how many ... and how costly.
This Week’s Sleepers: Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns
This Week's Six-Pack: Alaskan Summer Kolsch-Style Ale
Brewed by: Alaskan Brewery, Juneau, Alaska
Price: $6.99 (sale price)
Appearance: This ale is packaged in a stubby brown bottle with an orange label featuring an orca jumping out of the water. It poured a light straw color with an abundant cap of off-white foam that challenged the top of my pint glass. The carbonation was plentiful, sending bubbles racing through the crystal clear brew. The head faded rather quickly.
Smell: The aroma was light and rather weak. What little smell there was had hints of sweetness and yeast. A few aggressive swirls of the glass revealed some citrus tones.
Taste: Extremely mild in flavor. The taste followed in lockstep with the aroma. Overall it’s a refreshing beer but could use a little more complexity. Sweet and bready up front. Sort of reminds me of the grainy organic crackers my wife pays too much for when Ritz will do just fine. It’s not particularly hoppy, which makes it easy to drink. The finish is reminiscent of mineral water.
Drinkability: ABV is a tame 5.3%. That combined with nice crispness make this beer an easy drinker.
Last Call: All in all, this is an acceptable brew for a warm summer day. It’s a decent bridge beer if you’re used to drinking domestic macrobrews. More importantly, it will make a fine companion for an afternoon of grilling. I’ll give it three out of five stars.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Denver Pale Ale, Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Co
Past Beer Reviews