- If you drafted Falcons QB Matt Ryan, your intent was likely to have him serve as a no-brainer starting fantasy quarterback each week. It’s too early to ditch those plans but if Ryan strings together a few disappointing weeks, don’t be slow to find an alternative plan. The reality is Ryan has averaged a very ordinary 211.5 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game in his last eight outings. That’s a half season of work, folks. A matchup this week against the Eagles should have you worried. Philadelphia not only held Sam Bradford to 188 yards and zero touchdowns, it also knocked him out of the game. As strong as Ryan plays at home, the Six-Pack wouldn’t blame you for benching him in favor of QBs with easier opponents, such as Rex Grossman or Mark Sanchez.
- You could do worse than Jay Cutler this week. The Bears travel to New Orleans to face the Saints. Although the Superdome is a tough place to play, the Saints defense has been generous to opposing passers lately. In the last three games they’ve played, the New Orleans defense has allowed nine passing touchdowns. Cutler looks like he’s out to prove something this year after fans questioned his toughness during the NFC Championship game back in January. He came out with his guns blazing in Week 1, throwing for 312 yards and two scores. Look for another useful performance here.
- Steer clear of Broncos QB Kyle Orton who goes up against the Bengals on Sunday. When you think of the top pass defenses in the NFL, Cincinnati probably doesn’t come to mind. However, the Bengals allowed the third fewest fantasy points to QBs last season. They rarely allow opposing passers to throw multiple passing touchdowns. In their last half season of work, they’ve kept guys like Phillip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger in check. They should have little difficulty stopping Orton, who may be without his top target Brandon Lloyd.
- Rams QB Sam Bradford made a quick recovery from the bruised index finger he suffered in the opening game versus Philly. He’s been practicing and will be a full go for Monday night’s battle against the Giants. Although the Six-Pack cautioned owners on Bradford last week, he’s worth the risk this week if you don’t have a clear alternative. New York’s ragtag secondary was victimized by Rex Grossman for 305 yards and two touchdowns. With Steven Jackson expected to miss the game, Bradford will throw 40+ passes and put up at least 250 yards with a couple scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman, Mark Sanchez and Eli Manning
- Drafting Knowshon Moreno and hoping he stays healthy is a lot like easing out a fart in an elevator and hoping it doesn’t smell. It’s a bad idea and you will regret it immediately. Moreneo tapped out late in Monday night’s game versus the Raiders with a hamstring injury. Head coach John Fox is playing it coy on the severity of the injury. I wouldn’t go near him. The bigger question is what’s Willis McGahee’s value this week if Moreno sits? The answer is he’s at best a RB3 or flex option. The Bengals play solid run defense and have held the last five starting RBs they’ve faced to 77 yards rushing or less.
- Start Packers RB James Starks against the Panthers. He should have room to run against a Carolina defensive unit that yielded 5.0 yards per carry to Beanie Wells. The Panthers have also allowed 17 rushing touchdowns in their last 11 games. Although he’s technically not the starter, Starks will likely get the most carries and can serve as an RB2 for fantasy. Ryan Grant is a passable flex option at this point. He’s going to be on the field plenty and could get a surprising number of touches if the Packers are trying to kill the clock in the fourth quarter.
- Last week LeGarrette Blount put up 15 yards, zero receptions and zero touchdowns. Otherwise known as a crapfecta. Give Blount the benefit of the doubt in Week 2. He will bounce back against the Vikings. The Tampa coaches have admitted they were too quick to abandon the run versus the Lions. They won’t make the same mistake again. Blount should get 20 carries, which will net him at least 80 yards and a score.
- It’s too early to push the panic button on DeAngelo Williams but he was an absolute dud in Week 1 against a Cardinals defense that gifted the second most fantasy points to RBs last season. Making matters worse, Williams doesn’t just have Jonathan Stewart sniping goal-line scores anymore. He now has Stewart and Cam Newton picking off his all-important TD plunges. The Six-Pack thinks Williams owners better get used to flipping their middle finger at Stewart and Newton. If you have a decent alternative, DeAngelo is eminently benchable against a stout Packers run defense.
This Week’s Sleepers: James Starks, Danny Woodhead, Cadillac Williams and Mark Ingram
- Unless Rodger Goodell amends the rulebook to allow QBs to play the game with motorized scooters, I don’t see the Colts having much success throwing the football. Kerri Collins completed just 16 of 31 passes and was sacked three times last week. He somehow managed to hook up with Reggie Wayne for a garbage time touchdown. Go ahead and start Wayne against the Browns but don’t get delusional and activate Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon. The Colts are as bad as they looked. If you ended up with more than one of their offensive players, you may have been better off if you had set your draft room to auto-pilot.
- Chad Ochocinco’s debut in New England was more anticlimactic than the scandalous photos of Scarlett Johansson that surfaced this week. Like Ochocinco, Johansson has had some “ahhhuuuuughha” eye-popping moments. Google “2008 Golden Globes Red Dress” if you doubt me. But at this point in their respective careers things are falling, well, a little flat for both Johansson and Ochocinco. Chad is at best the fifth option in New England’s passing game. If he doesn’t grasp the offense, he’ll be coming to a fantasy waiver wire near you. Keep Ochocinco out of your lineup this week against a Chargers defense that held Minnesota to just 39 yards passing in the opener.
- Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin was stricken with mononucleosis during the offseason. According to WebMD, mono is often spread by saliva. If Maclin’s teammates are smart, they will stay at least a couple feet away from him because the Philly wideout is probably foaming at the mouth in anticipation of Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Atlanta opened the season by giving up 312 yards and two scores to Jay Cutler. This follows a playoff whipping by the Packers. Exploit the favorable matchup by starting Maclin. The Six-Pack sees Michael Vick having one of those “all-time” games in his return to Atlanta. Maclin will be one of the beneficiaries and bounce back from a quiet performance in Week 1.
- Along with Calvin Johnson, Detroit wideout Nate Burleson needs to be in fantasy lineups on Sunday against the Chiefs. Kansas City gave up four receiving touchdowns to the Bills in the opener. Making matters worse, the team put Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry on IR with an ACL tear. Look for Burleson to find the endzone in this one. If he’s lurking on your waiver wire, pounce.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jeremy Maclin, Nate Burleson, Robert Meachem, Johnny Knox and Plaxico Burress
- The aforementioned injury to Kansas City safety Eric Berry is good news for Burleson, but it’s even better news for TE Brandon Pettigrew. Berry would normally be responsible for covering the TE position. After he went down with his knee injury last week, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick promptly targeted the weakness—hooking up with TE Scott Chandler for his second touchdown. Chandler ended the game with 63 yards and two touchdowns. Look for Matt Stafford to throw in Pettigrew’s direction early and often. This one has the makings of a monster stat line for the Detroit TE.
- Bank on big numbers from Houston’s Owen Daniels this week versus Miami. The Dolphins were no match for Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on Monday night. Hernandez and “Gronk” combined for 13 receptions, two touchdowns and 189 yards. Miami has now allowed four TE touchdowns in their last three games. With Kevin Walter out, Daniels becomes Matt Schaub’s best inside route runner. Expect him to line up as a receiver for much of the game. Ninety yards with a touchdown is not out of the question for Daniels.
This Week’s Sleepers: Fred Davis and Tony Gonzalez
- The Six-Pack predicts Jason Hanson will make at least five or six place kicks (field goals or extra points) on Sunday against the Chiefs. In their last six road games, Kansas City has allowed 31.5 points per game. Hanson is an excellent roster addition if you’re looking for some cheap points.
- This should be a big week for Texans kicker Neil Rackers. His opponent, the Dolphins, have allowed 34 or more points in three straight games. With RB Arian Foster expected to return to the lineup, Houston’s offense will make some noise. Rackers might go for double digits.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Hanson and John Kasay
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Look for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense to take their frustrations out on the Seahawks on Sunday. Seattle’s offensive line puts up about as much resistance as wet paper mâché. QB Tarvaris Jackson was sacked five times and lost two fumbles in last week’s loss to the 49ers. Oh, and if you get special teams points, don’t forget Seattle gave up two kick returns for TDs. Coming off an embarrassing defeat, the Steelers D is going to put some fantasy points on the board.
- Bears QB Jay Cutler picked up 2011 right where he left on in 2010. He was sacked five times in the opener against the Falcons. On most weeks, you can look to the Bears opponent as a source for some defensive points. This week is no different. Grab the New Orleans Saints. Defensive coordinator Greg Williams will no doubt dial up some exotic blitz packages that create sacks and turnovers. Caveat: Don’t play the Saints if you get penalized for points allowed.
This Week’s Sleepers: New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans
This Week's Six-Pack: Denver Pale Ale
Brewed by: Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Colorado
Appearance: This “English-style” pale ale is offered up in a standard brown longneck with a plain, graphic-free label. It pretty much just displays the name of the beer, the brewery and the awards it has won. Notably, Denver Pale Ale took home the gold medal at the 1999 Great American Beer Festival. The beer itself was copper toned and cloudy with a fluffy white head that had some staying power, leaving a nice lace down the side of the glass.
Smell: Cereal graininess with light citrus tones.
Taste: Give me one word to describe Denver Pale Ale and I’d pick “zesty.” It starts out sweet and light with some honey tones. Then there’s a push of hop bite that creates a nice bitter finish that resembles grapefruit. The hops aren’t nearly as stiff as an IPA. The mouthfeel on this one is smooth and creamy. Quite tasty.
Drinkability: Very easy to drink. Enjoyable to the finish.
Last Call: Kudos to the folks at Great Divide Brewing. This is a damn tasty ale. Four stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Erdinger Oktoberfest, Germany
Past Beer Reviews