- Ravens QB Joe Flacco is coming off a career-best performance, in which he passed for 389 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams. As good as Flacco looked, it might not be a bad idea to explore other options for Week 4. Baltimore will host a Jets defense that has allowed the third fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. Flacco’s best chance for a touchdown might be on a dump-off or screen that Ray Rice takes to the house.
- Denver’s Kyle Orton will face off against a Packers defense that has allowed the second most fantasy points to QBs this season. Green Bay has given up quality numbers to every QB they’ve faced this year. To Orton owners, this matchup may sound like the cat’s pajamas. But here’s the thing: I’m not a cat person. And I’m certainly not going to advocate starting Orton at Lambeau. The defending champs will start to tighten down the screws on their secondary and keep Denver’s passing game in check this week. Meanwhile, the echoes of “Tebow” chants will be heard across the Rockies.
- The Rams defense has taken a couple steps backward in 2011. They’ve allowed 28 or more points in every game this season. All the opposing QBs St. Louis has faced have tallied multiple passing touchdowns. Plus the Rams have given up the fifth most fantasy points to the position. Although Redskins QB Rex Grossman has a serious Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde complex, he’s trustable this week for fantasy. Look for Grossman to fire off 275 yards and two or three touchdowns against the lambs.
- If Texans QB Matt Schaub is your regular starter, there’s no urgent need to find an alternative just because he’s facing the Steelers. It’s true that Pittsburgh has allowed the fewest fantasy points to QBs this season but they’ve also faced arguably the two worst offenses in the NFL (Indianapolis and Seattle). The return of Arian Foster should give Schaub another passing target in the redzone, where he’s struggled. Bank on at least 230 yards and a pair of scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rex Grossman, Matt Hasselbeck, Jason Campbell and Eli Manning
- It’s time to stop thinking of New York’s Shonn Greene as an every-week starting fantasy RB. Out of the 31 regular season games he’s played, Greene has scored a touchdown in just four of them. And if that isn’t feeble enough for you, in those 31 outings Greene rushed for over 80 yards just three times—never in the last 12 months. Yet fantasy owners keep trotting Greene out week after week based in large part on a couple strong playoff performances that took place in January 2009. Greene is a spot starter. Come to grips with that reality and move him to your bench for this week’s tilt against the Ravens. It also wouldn’t hurt to shop him to your league mates. Me? I wouldn’t give you a dented Chuck E Cheese token for him.
- I’ve stuck a fork in Joseph Addai so many times he has to wear a turtleneck every day just to cover up the nasty scars on his neck. What business does Addai have rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown against the vaunted Steelers? It’s inconceivable. Now he faces a Tampa run defense that ranks 23rd against the run. Addai should get plenty of carries, especially if the team makes a change at QB and gives Curtis Painter the keys to the offense. The Colts RB has the upside to post 100 total yards.
- The Raiders have been tormented by RBs catching passes out of the backfield this season. They’ve allowed two RB scores through the air so far. Even more telling, RBs have already caught 23 passes against them, an average of 7.7 receptions per game. If you’re in a PPR league, New England’s Danny Woodhead isn’t a terrible flex option. The Patriots offensive gameplan is built around exploiting vulnerabilities in opponents’ defenses, so don’t be surprised if Woodhead factors heavily into this week’s boxscore.
- Although the Cardinals defense hasn’t allowed a RB to cross the stripe this season, fantasy owners shouldn’t be shy about starting Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Arizona’s ranks 27th in the NFL against the run, allowing 122.7 yards per game on the ground. Look for the Cardinals red zone run defense to regress to its normal subpar self this week as Bradshaw and Jacobs combine for a couple scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Joseph Addai, Danny Woodhead, James Starks, Brandon Jacobs and Kendall Hunter
- Mario Manningham is coming off a one-week layoff because of a concussion. Fantasy owners shouldn’t waste any time getting him into their lineups. The Giants face a Cardinals defense that has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to WRs. They were lit up by Steve Smith and Santana Moss, both of whom play a similar brand of ball to Manningham. With Hakeem Nicks still dealing with a balky knee, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Manning-to-Manningham connection produce a couple scores.
- You should be able to find a better alternative to Anquan Boldin this week. Boldin will draw coverage from New York’s Darrelle Revis, who is the premier shut-down cornerback in the NFL. Revis’ body of work speaks for itself. He completely removes every opponent’s top wide receiver from the game plan. Period. If Boldin ends this game with more than four catches for 50 yards, it would be a surprise.
- Last Sunday against the Bills, New England wideout Deion Branch caught zero passes for zero yards and zero touchdowns. I was under the impression that Branch had left his invisibility cloak back in Seattle but apparently his house elf must have returned it to him. The Six-Pack sees Branch bouncing back this week against Slytherin . . . err . . . the Raiders. Oakland has been touched up by No. 2 WRs the last two weeks with David Nelson and Plaxico Burress both scoring touchdowns..
- Seahawks WR Sidney Rice is worth a shot against the Falcons. Rice showed flashes of his 2009 form last week, catching eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown versus the Cardinals. The Falcons pass defense isn’t anything special and if Seattle falls behind, Rice will see double-digit targets and flirt with another100-yard stat line.
This Week’s Sleepers: Deion Branch, Denarius Moore, Jordy Nelson and Antonio Brown
- Lions QB Matthew Stafford rediscovered Brandon Pettigrew in Week 3. The athletic TE caught 11 passes for 112 yards. After the game, Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz called Pettigrew the team’s “running game.” When the ground attack fails, the Lions will lean heavily on Pettigrew. Considering this week’s opponent, the Cowboys, rank second in the NFL against the run, Pettigrew is a must-start.
- Buffalo TE Scott Chandler has an excellent chance to find the end zone for the fourth straight week. The Bills square off against a Bengals defense that has already allowed quality fantasy performances to Vernon Davis, Evan Moore and Ben Watson. Start Chandler with confidence.
This Week’s Sleepers: Greg Olsen, Fred Davis and Jared Cook
- The Minnesota Vikings offense isn’t sexy. Donovan McNabb looks like he’d struggle to throw his way out of a wet paper bag. That said, with Adrian Peterson, Minnesota should have little difficulty moving the ball against the Chiefs this week. Kansas City ranks 28th in the NFL against the run. Look for Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell to put up at least nine points—just like every other kicker who has faced KC thus far.
- Washington’s Graham Gano should get plenty of kicking opportunities this week against the Rams. St. Louis allows 32 points per game, second most in the NFL. Gano has nailed six field goals in his last two games, including one from over 50 yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Longwell, Graham Gano and Connor Barth
Team Defense / Special Teams
- The words “discipline” and “Raiders” are rarely ever used in the same sentence. However, Oakland’s offense is making smart decisions with the football right now. QB Jason Campbell has thrown just one interception this year and, as a team, Oakland has lost just two fumbles. Campbell has also only been sacked twice. Last week, the vaunted Jets defense managed one fantasy point (on a sack) against the Silver and Black. Like the Jets, their AFC East counterparts the New England Patriots defense will be hard pressed to score fantasy points in the Black Hole. Smart owners will seek out alternatives.
- The Houston Texans defense is a sneaky good option at home against the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is a mess right now. Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked nine times already this season and he’s turned the ball over eight times (4 INTs and 4 fumbles). Meanwhile, Houston’s defense has recorded multiple sacks and turnovers in every game they’ve played this year. The Six-Pack gives the Texans a 50/50 shot of scoring a DST touchdown in Week 4.
This Week’s Sleepers: Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Week's Six-Pack: Brooklyn Lager
Brewed by: Brooklyn Brewery, Utica, NY
Appearance: Brooklyn Lager is bottled in a brown longneck with a plain green label. It has a spectacular pour, amber/orange in color with a big, thick head of pancake batter foam. The head lingers, leaving a lace down the side of the pint glass.
Smell: The nose is a little hoppy with touches of cut wet grass and pine. Kind of musky actually. There’s also some toasted malt in there.
Taste: Compared to your average lager, Brooklyn Lager is much more complex and robust. It offers up a nice toasty malt backbone. Hops are also highly apparent with a blast of citrus. The aftertaste has some peppery with lingering grapefruit notes. The beer reminds me of Sam Adams Boston Lager.
Drinkability: Smooth, crisp, easy-to-drink. ABV is 5.2%
Last Call: This is about as good and flavorful as a lower alcohol lager can get. Four stars out of five.
Up Next: Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Ale, Petaluma, Calif.