- Saints QB Drew Brees is 717 yards away from breaking Dan Marino’s single season passing yardage record. Don’t be surprised if he gets over halfway there this week against the Vikings. Minnesota allows the sixth-most passing yards per game. They will provide very little resistance against Brees. Look for Sean Payton to open up the offense with Brees approaching 400+ yards and at least three scores.
- Eli Manning only has one multi-TD game in his career against the Redskins. That’s a span of 14 games. Obviously you’re not going to bench him at this point in the season but the numbers should worry you a bit. Washington has also allowed the tenth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. Make sure to keep your expectations for Manning at a reasonable level.
- With Michael Vick shying away from contact, he’s going to have a hard time contributing useful fantasy numbers when up against strong pass defenses. Vick’s chemistry with his receivers just hasn’t been there this season. Without the added 60-80 yards rushing, his numbers will continue to fall flat. Look elsewhere this week for your QB if you have options. The Eagles face a Jets defense that has surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs in 2011.
- Chargers QB Phillip Rivers has shown enough over the last couple games to be trustworthy against tough defenses like the Ravens. He’s completed 75.4% of his passes in December to go along with six touchdowns. Sure, Baltimore has ceded the fewest points to QBs this season but be careful not to over-emphasize that stat. The only top-tier QB the Ravens have faced this season is Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben put up 330 yards and a touchdown in their most recent meeting. Look for Rivers to go for at least 250 yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rex Grossman, T.J. Yates and Andy Dalton
- The Six-Pack has never been much of a fan of the injury-prone Felix Jones. However, there’s no arguing that Jones is a must-start this week against the Bucs. Tampa has arguably the worst run defense in the NFL right now. They’ve given up the most points to RBs this season, including five RB touchdowns in the past two games alone. Jones will cross the century mark this week with ease.
- Bills RB C.J. Spiller isn’t trustworthy against the Dolphins, who are giving up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs this year. Spiller had a decent game in his first start a couple weeks ago against the Titans but he was fortunate to score (recovering his own fumble in the endzone). Last week he was a nonfactor against the Chargers. Anything more than 70 total yards would be a surprise for Spiller.
- Packers RB Ryan Grant is playable as a low-end RB2 this week against the Chiefs if James Starks sits as expected. Only five teams have allowed more fantasy points to RBs this year than the Chiefs. Grant will likely see 10-15 carries. That ought to be enough for him to notch 70+ yards with a possible score.
- Bank on top 15 RB numbers from Reggie Bush this week. He’ll go up against a punchless Bills defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs. They’ve been carved up by Ryan Matthews and Chris Johnson over the last two games for a combined 301 yards. Bush chipped in 66 yards and a touchdown earlier this year against Buffalo. Look for him to top 100 this time around.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Grant, Ben Tate, Kevin Smith and Kahlil Bell
- At long last, the Tyler-Palko-induced drought is over for Dwayne Bowe. Get Bowe in your lineup this week against the Packers. He should see 8-10 targets from Kyle Orton in this game since the Chiefs will no doubt be playing from behind. Look for Bowe to snare a garbage-time score against a Packers defense that has yielded the third-most WR fantasy points.
- Consider activating Colts wideout Pierre Garcon as a WR3 with decent upside. Indianapolis faces a Titans defense against which Garcon has had success. In his last four meetings with Tennessee, he’s grabbed 26 receptions and three touchdowns. The Six-Pack forecasts six catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
- Slide 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree to the bench in anticipation of a subpar performance against the Steelers on Monday night. In the last 12 weeks, A.J. Green is the only opposing No. 1 WR to score against Pittsburgh. That includes elite WRs like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Wes Welker. This is a game that could very easily see fewer than 24 combined points scored. Certainly you can find a better option than Crabtree.
- Don’t chase DeSean Jackson’s touchdown from last week. It was his most productive fantasy outing in seven weeks. Only once has Jackson put up more than four receptions in the last seven games. His lack of opportunities makes him a liability, especially when facing an elite pass defense. That will be the case on Sunday when Jackson is likely draw coverage from Darrelle Revis. Fantasy owners have to be leery of a disappointing stat line. The Jets have ceded the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.
This Week’s Sleepers: Pierre Garcon, Donald Driver, Santana Moss, Damian Williams and Denarius Moore
- Dust off Dallas Clark if you’re desperate for TE help. From a statistical standpoint, Clark had his best game of the season in the Colts previous meeting with the Titans. In that October game, he caught six passes for 77 yards. The Titans have been lit up by opposing TEs this season, allowing the fifth-most points to the position. Clark has been dealing with what is being called a “burner” so be sure to monitor his status. If he can’t go Jacob Tamme is worth a look.
- The Texans defense has allowed just one TE touchdown in their last ten games. On the season, only two teams have given up fewer fantasy points to TEs. Temper your expectations for Carolina’s Greg Olsen this week. Olsen has scored five times this season but just once on the road. He figures to have his hands full against Houston. Don’t expect more than 50 yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Dallas Clark and Jake Ballard
- The Steelers have ceded the third-fewest fantasy points to kickers this season but don’t over think things and bench the best kicker in the game. A few facts on David Akers: 1) He has attempted multiple field goals in every game this season except one, 2) He’s made multiple field goal kicks in every game except two, and 3) He’s posted 135 points this season not including bonuses. To put that in perspective, 135 is just eight points less than Akers scored all of last season when he led the league in points scored. He’s a lock for eight points even against a tough defense.
- Spot start Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes this week against the Redskins. Washington has allowed the second-most fantasy points to kickers this season. The last two kickers to face them have gone for double digit points. Put Tynes down for nine.
This Week’s Sleepers: Lawrence Tynes and Jay Feely
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Expect big things from the Cincinnati Bengals against a hapless Rams offense. In their last four games, St. Louis has allowed 15 sacks, eight turnovers, and two DST touchdowns. No team has given up more fantasy points to opposing DSTs this year. The Bengals are on a dry spell from a DST perspective, having not scored a touchdown in seven weeks. There’s a good chance they cross the stripe on Sunday.
- Roll with the blitz-heavy New Orleans Saints this week against the Vikings. Minnesota rookie QB Christian Ponder has looked good at times but he’s making far too many mistakes. He’s thrown five INTs in the last two games. Add those five picks in with the three fumbles and two DST touchdowns Minnesota gave up in those two games and you can see the potential for big fantasy points for New Orleans. They will be a top five fantasy unit in Week 15.
This Week’s Sleepers: New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals
This Week's Six-Pack: Newcastle Winter IPA
Brewed by: Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh, UK
Appearance: Newcastle Winter IPA comes in a brown stubby bottle. It pours to a brownish amber color and is completely clear. The head is pure white and soapy. It was a couple fingers thick at first but didn’t linger.
Smell: The aroma is faint but a few swirls of the glass and a couple deep sniffs reveal sweet malt with hints of citrus.
Taste: My first impression of this beer was that it was weak and watery. Understandably, this is an English IPA so the hop levels should be much less than an American IPA. However, the hops are almost nonexistent. The dominant flavor is sweetness with some grape flavors. The aftertaste is peppery and almost reminded me of a chardonnay.
Drinkability: Low hop levels and a tame ABV (5.2%) make this a beer you could enjoy in a lengthy session. But why?
Last Call: All in all, not a very impressive IPA. Look elsewhere. Two stars out of five.
Up Next: Widmer BRRR Seasonal Ale, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland, Oregon