- Ben Roethlisberger should be on your bench this week against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to QBs this year. The Forecast will grant you that the Titans have been relatively untested thus far but the fact is Roethlisberger has been erratic. He’s thrown just three touchdowns compared with five interceptions. And now he has an injured foot that will no doubt limit his mobility. Behind that porous offensive line, Roethlisberger will be a sitting duck. Look for Tennessee to tee off on Big Ben and hold him 200 yards passing with a single touchdown at best.
- San Francisco QB Alex Smith’s passing numbers are on an upward trend. His attempts, completions and yards per game have climbed every week. Since Smith has home game against an iffy Tampa pass defense (on a short week of rest), fantasy owners in a bye-week pickle can give Smith a one-week vote of confidence. Don’t expect him to carry your squad but something in the neighborhood of 250 yards and 1-2 scores is doable.
- Don’t chase Tarvaris Jackson’s three-touchdown performance from a week ago. T-Jack will travel to New York to face a Giants defense that has allowed the tenth fewest fantasy points to QBs. The G-men have put the clamps on the last three passers they’ve faced (Kolb, Vick and Bradford). Also consider that Jackson has taken the field in 17 road games and has never thrown for 200 yards or more in any of them. Let’s make Jackson prove it to us for another week or two before we hand him the keys.
- As much as Rex Ryan would like to deploy the “ground-and-pound” attack, the Jets are going to have to pass the ball to keep pace with Tom Brady this week. If your regular QB is on a bye, Mark Sanchez is not a bad option. Yes, he looked awful on Sunday night against the Ravens. But the Patriots have been carved up by opposing QBs. All four passers who have faced New England have posted at least 340 yards. Three of them tossed multiple touchdowns. While I don’t think Sanchez blows up for a huge performance, he should net you at least 275 yards and a pair of scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez, Curtis Painter and Josh Freeman
- Quantity over quality will be the theme this week when it comes to Isaac Redman’s rushes. With Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore both expected to miss the game against Tennessee, Redman should see at least 20-25 touches. Maybe more. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Titans rank eighth in the NFL against the run and RBs average just 3.2 yards per carry against them. They’ve held Peyton Hillis, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Chris Johnson all under 60 yards rushing. So where does that leave Redman owners this week? The Steelers RB figures to net a low yardage total but has a decent chance for a score. The Forecast puts him at about 65 total yards with a touchdown. If you can live with that, you can run with Redman.
- Lower your expectations for Tampa’s LeGarrette Blount, who will face the 49ers on Sunday. San Francisco has allowed the fewest fantasy points to RBs this season. In their last three games the Niners have held LeSean McCoy, Cedric Benson and Felix Jones to substandard performances. Only McCoy managed to score a touchdown. Blount probably deserves to be in your lineup based on his recent performances; however, he will likely need to score a touchdown because yardage will be hard to come by.
- Take a chance on a Saints RB this week. Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and even Pierre Thomas should find some wide open running lanes against an undersized Panthers defensive line. Carolina has the second-worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 143.8 yards per game on the ground. If you’re adding up the touches so far for Saints RBs, it’s a dead heat—Ingram (57), Sproles (41) and Thomas (38). Look for Ingram to notch his second TD of the year. Bank on more PPR magic from Sproles. And expect Thomas to get enough work on the ground and through the air to chip in useful numbers as a bye week replacement.
- Matt Forte is a Lion killer. The Bears RB has scored and/or put up 120 total yards in every game he’s played against Detroit—all wins. Although this is an improved Lions defense, it’s not impenetrable. In fact, opposing RBs are averaging 4.8 yards per carry against them. Keep your expectations for Forte high.
This Week’s Sleepers: Thomas Jones, Joseph Addai, Mike Tolbert, Ryan Grant and Stevan Ridley
- No. 1 receivers have put up juicy stats every week against the Cardinals. This includes Carolina’s Steve Smith (8-178-2), Santana Moss (5-61-1), Sidney Rice (8-109-1) and Hakeem Nicks (10-162-1). Arizona has also allowed the sixth most fantasy points to wideouts. Start Minnesota’s Percy Harvin and look for him to finally catch (or run for) a long touchdown.
- Consider giving Chargers wideout Malcom Floyd a spot start at Denver this week. No. 1 WR Vincent Jackson is dealing with a hamstring injury. Starting TE Antonio Gates is still gimpy with a bum foot. Floyd has been slowed all season by injuries of his own but isn’t on the injury report this week. A healthy Floyd is a sneaky option against a Broncos defense that has allowed three straight No. 2 WRs to score a touchdown. Denver has also ceded the second most fantasy points to WRs.
- Drop your expectations for Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace this week. Wallace will be shadowed by Tennessee’s Cortland Finnegan, who has held every No. 1 WR he’s faced to fewer than 60 yards receiving with zero touchdowns. Don’t be so bold as to bench Wallace; just recognize that there’s a good chance he posts his second straight sub-par stat line.
- Packers wideout Jordy Nelson is fantasy football’s 11th highest scoring WR. He’s a must-start this week against the Falcons, who rank 24th in the NFL in pass defense. Nelson scored in both meetings with Atlanta last year (regular season and postseason). He should make it three for three this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Malcom Floyd, Jordy Nelson, Randal Cobb, Pierre Garcon, Michael Crabtree and Titus Young
- The Bears have given up four TE touchdowns in the last two games. Regardless of your scoring system, make sure you get Detroit’s Brandon Pettigrew in your lineup this week. After a slow start, Pettigrew has really come on strong, catching 17 passes in the last two weeks. Look for him to reel in another 7-8 catches in this matchup.
- Get Dallas Clark some work at home against the Chiefs. Indianapolis’ offense looks a little punchier with Curtis Painter under center. Clark caught three passes for 46 yards in Monday’s loss to the Bucs. That’s nothing to write home about but Clark should improve on those numbers against a KC defense that has allowed 10 passing scores this season—three to TEs. Look for Clark to end this contest with 60 yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Dallas Clark, Jermaine Gresham and Jared Cook
- This week’s Titans versus Steelers matchup looks like it will be a low-scoring slugfest. I’d avoid both Rob Bironas and Shaun Suisham if possible. Pittsburgh has allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to kickers while Tennessee has allowed the sixth fewest. Given how difficult it can be to kick at Heinz Field, you’d probably be better off finding a kicker in a game that will see more points scored.
- If you need a sleeper kicker this week, roll the dice with New York’s Lawrence Tynes. Tynes hadn’t even made a field goal until last week but his lack of kicking opportunities to date is a mirage. This is a guy who scored 100 points last season. New York’s offense is starting to click so Tynes will get his chances—and the Forecast thinks he’ll be a busy man on Sunday. The Giants should have no trouble putting at least 30 points on the board against a Seahawks team that doesn’t play well on the road. It also helps that Seattle has allowed the fifth most points to kickers. Tynes will notch at least eight points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Lawrence Tynes, Nick Novak and Alex Henery
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Don’t expect many fantasy points from the Oakland Raiders on Sunday against the Texans. With Andre Johnson (hamstring) hurt, Houston will no doubt go with an ultra-conservative gameplan. Look for Arian Foster to get 30 rush attempts while QB Matt Schaub is somewhere in the twenties for pass attempts. Houston’s offensive line has been doing a good job of keeping Schaub upright this year; he’s taken just five sacks. That lack of pressure has also limited his interceptions to three.
- The Forecast has lofty expectations for the Detroit Lions defense this week against the Bears. It’s been exactly a decade since the Lions last played on Monday night so this is a team that should be particularly amped up for this game. Although the Bears were able to limit Jay Cutler’s passing attempts to 17 last week against the Panthers, they won’t be so lucky this time around. Detroit will put points on the board and force the Chicago to throw the football. Look for the Lions to record at least five sacks and a few turnovers.
This Week’s Sleepers: Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots
This Week's Six-Pack: Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
Brewed by: Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, Calif.
Appearance: This “Limited Release” ale is bottled in a stubby brown bottle with a cream colored label that features a leggy woman straight out of the 1950s. Categorized as an American Wheat Ale, Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is golden/yellow in color capped by a modest ¼”-thick oatmeal-colored head that sticks around. When held to the light, it shows perhaps the slightest hint of haze. It’s an appealing brew in the glass, no doubt about it.
Smell: Excellent hop aroma with abundant wafts of citrus and spruce. Especially citrus. It smells tangy overall with maybe some light hints of peach and wheat.
Taste: Wicked good. Full of hoppy snap but not to the point of insanity. Wheat is more prevalent in the taste than the smell but the hops still steal the show. The alcohol is well hidden. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ finishes with a firm bitterness that sticks to the back of the tongue and won’t let go.
Drinkability: ABV is 7.5%, which started to catch up with me midway through my second pint. That said, it’s crisp, ridiculously refreshing, and highly drinkable.
Last Call: An awesome, awesome ale. Right now I’m well stocked with over 90 bottles of beer in my basement from various breweries for these reviews I do each week. I will destroy my six-pack of Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale in record time and probably run out and get some more. It’s that good. Five stars out of five.
Up Next: Ellie’s Brown Ale, Avery Brewing Company, Boulder, Col.