- Tim Tebow owners are accustomed to excellent rushing production but fantasy points might come from a surprising source this week: passing. Minnesota’s pass defense is in a downward spiral. They’ve allowed 16 touchdowns through the air in their last six games. With several key injuries in the secondary, the Vikings figure to be one of the most generous defenses to opposing QBs the rest of the way. As it stands, they’ve allowed the second most points to the position. Look Tebow to post his first 200+ yard passing game of the year.
- Ben Roethlisberger has been underwhelming against the Bengals in his last six starts. In all six games, he failed to throw multiple touchdown passes. Combine that poor track record with a Cincinnati defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to QBs and you have a recipe for a disappointing week for Big Ben. Consider your alternatives.
- Roll the dice with Matt Hasselbeck, who will face the Bills in Week 13. Buffalo has ceded 21 passing scores in 2011—tied for second most in the NFL. Ten of those scores have come in the last three weeks to the likes of Mark Sanchez, Matt Moore and Tony Romo. A multi-TD game seems likely for Hasselbeck. He’s thrown at least one touchdown in every full game he’s played this season. Look for a modest 200 yards with a pair of scores.
- So far this season the Raiders have given up multiple touchdown passes to Caleb Hanie, Christian Ponder, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Ryan Fitzpatrick (among others). There’s no reason to think Matt Moore won’t accomplish the same feat. He’s been useful three of the last four weeks. Look for 230 yards and 2-3 touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Moore, Caleb Hanie and Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Bengals RB Cedric Benson was a beast last week against the Browns, rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown. He has three TDs in his last two games so nobody would blame you for continuing to roll with him. However, Benson’s numbers against the Steelers should give you pause. In six of his last seven meetings with Pittsburgh, he’s put up fewer than 60 yards on the ground. Yardage will be hard to come by for Benson. Look for 65 rushing yards and pray for a touchdown.
- The Packers had all sorts of trouble stopping bruising runners Mike Tolbert and LeGarrette Blount earlier this season. Both players put up over 110 yards and a touchdown against them. Brandon Jacobs can be that same type of punishing ball carrier when he wants to be. Take a chance on him this week if you can afford to gamble. With Ahmad Bradshaw expected to miss another game, Jacobs will again get the bulk of the work. The Six-Pack is forecasting 85 yards and a touchdown for Jacobs.
- With 12 weeks in the books, the 49ers still haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown. Only one RB (LeSean McCoy) has posted useful fantasy numbers against them. Benching Rams RB Steven Jackson might be hard to swallow but for owners with any viable alternative, it’s probably the right move. Jackson seems to have hit a wall. He’s averaged just 3.3 yards per carry over the last two games. San Francisco has had ten days to prepare for this matchup. If you set the bar any higher than 60-70 total yards for Jackson, you will be disappointed.
- Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount has ticked off two straight 100-yard performances. He’s a must-start this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed 15 rushing touchdowns—tied for most in the NFL. As long as the Bucs can keep this game close, Blount has a shot at 120 yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brandon Jacobs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, DeAngelo Williams and Pierre Thomas
- The Colts are making a QB change to Dan Orlovsky but the Six-Pack isn’t predicting more doom for Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon. The move should actually help the Indianapolis passing game. Yes, Orlovsky makes mistakes but he has the talent and skills to engineer drives. In his last seven NFL starts, he threw eight touchdowns and averaged 216 yards per game. Respectable considering the stats came despite playing on an awful Detroit team that went 0-16. With a matchup this week against the Patriots, Wayne is worth starting as a WR3. Garcon is more of a flex option. No team has allowed more WR points in 2011 than the Patriots.
- Fantasy owners in deep leagues might be able to find sleeper salvation in the form of Giants wideout Ramses Barden. Hakeem Nicks (ribs) and Mario Manningham (knee) haven’t practiced all week and look iffy for Sunday. With a matchup against the generous Packers pass defense on tap, Barden could be an unexpected contributor. He caught three passes for 38 yards on Sunday. If you’ve been eliminated from the playoffs and you’re playing the role of spoiler, what the heck, go with Barden. He just might make you look like a genius. Green Bay has allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs this season and they’ve really struggled against tall, physical wideouts (which Barden is).
- Bank on another quality performance from Broncos wideout Eric Decker, who should be able to get past Minnesota’s leaky and depleted secondary. No. 1 wideouts have burned the Vikings for scores in four of the last five games. This game will be a homecoming for Decker, who attended the University of Minnesota. Look for him to post at least 80 yards and a touchdown in front of a crowd that will be pulling for him.
- It’s a good time to yank Chargers wideout Vincent Brown from your lineup. San Diego will face a Jaguars defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to WRs this season. Plus Malcom Floyd (hip) has been practicing and will likely return to action this week. If you’ve been relying on Brown, find an alternative post-haste.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ramses Barden, Damian Williams, Michael Crabtree, James Jones and David Nelson
- Tight ends have tormented the Giants, racking up five touchdowns against them in the last four games. To date, New York has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to the position. Although Jermichael Finley has been an epic bust this season, this is a game in which he should flourish. Look for at least 75 yards and a score.
- Steer clear of Steelers TE Heath Miller this week against the Bengals. Miller has just one touchdown against Cincinnati since 2005—a 13-game stretch. The last five No. 1 TEs to face the Bengals have averaged just 30 yards per game with zero touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Scott Chandler and Greg Olsen
- Last week was the first time all year that Saints kicker John Kasay didn’t attempt a field goal. He ended the game with seven extra points. Look for Kasay to get back on the three-point bandwagon against the Lions. Detroit has yielded the second-most fantasy points to kickers. They’ve allowed multiple FGs in eight of their last nine outings. Kasay is a good bet for double-digit points.
- Carolina kicker Olindo Mare has put up nine points in two straight games. With a juicy matchup against the Buccaneers, he should hit that number again or improve on it. Tampa’s defense is a sieve. Since Week 5, they’ve allowed an average of 30.6 ppg.
This Week’s Sleepers: Olindo Mare and Nick Folk
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Chargers QB Phillip Rivers has been a consistent source of fantasy points for opposing defenses. He’s been sacked multiple times in every game this season except two. Same deal with interceptions, he’s thrown at least one in every game but two. With a makeshift offensive line, the Chargers just can’t protect him and that, combined with poor decisions, makes him a liability. Exploit the matchup by starting the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday night. The Jags have respectable numbers in all the key categories (sacks, INTs and fumble recoveries). They should be amped up for a rare Monday night home game and have no problem creating havoc.
- The Denver Broncos are tied for seventh in the NFL with 30 sacks. Take your chances that they can continue to apply pressure and get to Minnesota rookie QB Christian Ponder. Ponder has been sacked 16 times in the last four games. Denver’s defense should chip in some decent numbers in Week 13.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots
This Week's Six-Pack: Hofbrau Dunkel
Brewed by: Staatliches Hofbrauhaus, Munich, Germany
Appearance: Hofbrau Dunkel comes in a green bottle with a blue label that features an illustration of Germany city scene. It pours chestnut brown and is crystal clear. The head was a dense tan froth that held tight for a minute before dissipating.
Smell: The aroma is subtle. Sweet malt and molasses scents are present. Maybe some hints of toffee.
Taste: The flavor starts out with toasted grains and roasted malt characteristics. There’s also a kiss of sweetness in here. The aftertaste has hints of cocoa and a hop bitterness that’s barely noticeable. All in all a quality brew.
Drinkability: This is a well-balanced beer with a reasonable 5.5% ABV. Not too heavy. Not too strong. Very drinkable.
Last Call: A solid dunkel worth seeking out. Four stars out of five.
Up Next: Southern Tier 2XIPA, Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, NY