- Take a leap of faith with Sam Bradford this week against the Packers. The reality is Bradford hasn’t done anything to earn a start. Even so, it’s a near certainty that he’s going to attempt 40+ passes in this game. That means he should put up at least 275 yards with a couple scores. Green Bay ranks 30th in the NFL against the pass and they’ve allowed the fourth most fantasy points to QBs.
- Bears QB Jay Cutler has thrown 10 touchdowns in his last three games against the Vikings. Although Minnesota’s pass defense held up last week against the Cardinals, take your chances with Cutler based on his incredible success against the Purple. Minnesota has the eighth worst pass defense in the league. The team’s top cornerback, Antoine Winfield, didn’t play last week and is questionable this week with a neck injury.
- Houston’s Matt Schaub probably should be on your bench on Sunday. Baltimore allows just 212.3 passing yards per game and they’ve only ceded three passing touchdowns. The Ravens have been even better at home. The two QBs who have visited Baltimore this season, Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Sanchez had a combined 1:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. With Andre Johnson out, Schaub will be missing a key weapon against the Ravens, which makes him an even riskier option.
- Colts QB Curtis Painter has looked good enough to merit a roster spot in most fantasy leagues. However, he’s not nearly proven enough to crown him a legitimate QB1. Painter threw multiple touchdown passes against the Chiefs and Bucs. He’ll run into a more significant foe this weekend in Cincinnati. The Bengals rank third in the league against the pass. Don’t expect anything more than 200 yards and a touchdown from Painter. Keep him and his mullet on your bench.
This Week’s Sleepers: Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith
- Look for some lofty numbers from Falcons RB Michael Turner this week. “The Burner” has shredded the Panthers for nine touchdowns in his last five games against them. Plus, Carolina has allowed the third most fantasy points to RBs this season. In the last two games alone, they’ve allowed four RB scores. The Six-Pack expects Turner to put up over 100 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
- Lions RB Jahvid Best had his best game as a pro last week against the Bears. He put up 172 total yards with a touchdown. Despite the breakout performance, Best is a risky play against a tough 49ers defense that has already shut down LeGarrette Blount, LeSean McCoy, Cedric Benson, Felix Jones, and Marshawn Lynch. All told, the Niners have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to RBs. You’re probably going to start Best, but your hopes likely rest on his skills as a pass catcher. He’ll struggle to put up more than 40 yards rushing.
- With Mike Shanahan, you never know . . . but the Six-Pack thinks Ryan Torain will get the bulk of the carries on Sunday. He should be in your lineup against a maligned Eagles defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to RBs. Every single starting RB that’s faced Philly has scored a touchdown. Heck, given how leaky the Eagles defense has been, you might even consider playing Tim Hightower if the bye weeks have you in a jam.
- Give Earnest Graham a spot start against the Saints, especially in PPR leagues. With LeGarrette Blount injured, Graham should be on the field for the vast majority of snaps. He will churn out yardage both on the ground and through the air. The Saints are merely average against the run. They’ve allowed the tenth most fantasy points to RBs. Graham should finish with right around 100 yards and he has a good chance to cross the stripe.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Torain, Earnest Graham, Tim Hightower, John Kuhn and Pierre Thomas
- Look for Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress to put up more points than we’ve been seeing from them through the first five weeks. New York hosts a Miami defense that has allowed the second most passing yards this season. The Dolphins have been lit up for a touchdown pass of 23 yards or longer in every game this season. The Six-Pack sees Holmes finally scoring on an explosive play from 40 yards or longer while Burress puts up respectable WR3/flex numbers.
- Interestingly, opposing No. 3 and No. 4 wide receivers have had tremendous success against the New England secondary this year. Check it out. Brian Hartline, Jeremy Kerley, Denarius Moore and Donald Jones all scored or amassed 100 yards against the Patriots. Cowboys WR Laurent Robinson is a smart play as a WR3 or flex option in what should be this week’s highest-scoring game. The Six-Pack predicts 80 yards and a score for Robinson.
- Unless your circumstances are extreme, the Six-Pack doesn’t see any way to justify keeping Brandon Marshall activated this week against the Jets. Marshall will no doubt draw coverage from Darrelle Revis. That should be reason enough to bench him but Miami will also start Matt Moore at QB. Over the past two seasons, Moore has an ugly 5:11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. You should be able to find a better option than Marshall on the waiver wire unless you play in a league with 16 or more teams.
- The Buffalo passing offense has been stagnant the last two weeks but fantasy owners shouldn’t be overly concerned. The Bills ran into the Bengals third-ranked pass defense followed by the Eagles, who rank seventh. Things ease up this week against the Giants. New York allows over 250 yards passing per game. They just made guys like Charlie Whitehurst, Doug Baldwin and Ben Obomanu look like Pro Bowlers. Expect Buffalo wideouts Stevie Johnson and David Nelson to find the endzone and combine for 170 yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Laurent Robinson, David Nelson, Devin Hester, James Jones and Greg Little
- Don’t chase Houston TE Joel Dreessen’s 5-112-1 stat line from last week against Oakland. Whereas the Raiders allow the eighth most fantasy points to TEs, the Ravens allow the second fewest. Dreessen remains the No. 2 TE behind Owen Daniels. Even with Andre Johnson expected to sit out again on Sunday, Dreessen seems unlikely to make an impact against Baltimore’s formidable linebackers and safeties.
- After two quiet performances and a bye week, Redskins TE Fred Davis may have lost your trust. However, he’s worth a start this week at home against the Eagles. Davis has historically played better at home. He’s posted over 60 yards receiving six times in his career—all at home. Plus, the Eagles have been vulnerable against good TEs this year. Vernon Davis and Tony Gonzalez combined for three touchdowns and 128 yards. With Chris Cooley (knee) experiencing a setback this week, Davis should see 8-10 targets.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ben Watson, Fred Davis and Heath Miller
- Give Jets kicker Nick Folk a shot on Monday night against the Dolphins. Miami has a weak pass defense but they know how to shut down the running game. Don’t be surprised if the Jets move the ball well between the 20s but drives stall out in the red zone. The Dolphins have yielded the third most fantasy points to kickers. If you’re down by nine on Monday and still have Folk, you’ll be in good shape.
- Atlanta’s Matt Bryant is the 19th-rated fantasy kicker yet he’s still being started in the vast majority of leagues. If you’re a Bryant owner, you might want to give him an ultimatum this week: Step up or get cut. The good news is the Falcons should be able to score against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed the seventh most points in the NFL. They’ve also allowed the seventh most fantasy points to kickers. If Bryant fails to get you at least 8-9 points in this contest, it’ll be time to find another kicker.
This Week’s Sleepers: Nick Folk and Billy Cundiff
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Get the Minnesota Vikings defense some action this week against the Bears. Sacks alone should net you five fantasy points. Turnovers and touchdowns will be gravy. Minnesota is tied for second in the NFL with 16 sacks. Chicago QB Jay Cutler has been sacked 18 times—tied for most in the league.
- Take a look at the underrated Buffalo Bills against the Giants. Buffalo’s DST is owned in about half of all fantasy leagues. That’s far too few for a unit that has recorded 11 turnovers and three touchdowns over the last three games. Buffalo should continue their defensive hot streak against New York. QB Eli Manning alone has turned the ball over seven times this year. He also gets sacked twice per game on average.
This Week’s Sleepers: Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals
This Week's Six-Pack: Ellie’s Brown Ale
Brewed by: Avery Brewing Company, Boulder, Colorado
Appearance: Ellie’s Brown Ale pours from a traditional brown bottle with a picture of a chocolate lab on the label. Nearly opaque, this ale has the appearance of cola with slight hints of ruby when held to the light. The head was thick, off-white and foamy but it disappeared relatively fast.
Smell: This brew didn’t have much aroma while it was in the bottle, but pouring it into my pint glass released a rush of rich, roasted malt smells. Also hints of bitter chocolate and almond.
Taste: Up front this beer is all about roasted malt with a very slight sweetness. The malt draw gives way to some caramel, coffee and hazelnut flavors. Hops don’t play a major role. The finish reminded me of a porter—very dry and earthy with a very slight char or smokiness. All in all it’s a complex, enjoyable brown ale.
Drinkability: The ABV on this one is 5.5%, which is fairly low. You’d think that would make it easy to tip back a few in a session. But the reality is this beer is a bit too weighty and filling to be enjoyed in mass quantity. It’s a sipper.
Last Call: If you enjoy brown ales, do yourself a favor and seek out Ellie’s. It’s a terrific representation of the style. Four stars out of five.
Up Next: Steen Brugge Blonde Ale, Steenbrugge Abbey, Steenhuffel, Belgium