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The Weekly 6-Pack
By Paul Sandy
September 5, 2003
  Beer Ye! Beer Ye! This column is now in session. Welcome to the first edition of The Weekly 6-Pack – an insider’s guide to the six primary fantasy football positions (QB, RB, WR, TE, PK, DEF). Each Friday, I’ll get you caught up on interesting fantasy tidbits, name a few potential sleepers at each position for the coming weekend’s games, and hopefully help you choose a winning starting lineup.

Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about the beer. Beer and football go together like Britney and Madonna. Now, you’ll get the best of both worlds. This column will not only provide quality insight on what fantasy players to start, it’ll serve as The Huddle’s answer to Oprah’s Book Club. Instead of books, we’ll talk brew.

Here’s how it works. Every Friday, I’ll recommend a beer. Before the weekend’s NFL action kicks off, you, the devoted readers of this column, will flock to your neighborhood liquor store and purchase a six-pack of said beer. On Sunday, we’ll raise a simultaneous toast to the fantasy gods and consume said beer (drinking responsibly, of course). Between Monday and Tuesday, I encourage you to e-mail me your comments, critiques, etc. Finally, the following Friday, I will provide my brief commentary at the bottom of the article and post a few reader opinions as well.

Now onto the six-pack…


The Week 1 match-up between the Colts and Browns promises to be one of the highest scoring games on the schedule. Although Peyton Manning has the star power, don’t be surprised if he’s upstaged by his former backup Kelly Holcomb in this contest. Holcomb has a knack for lighting up the scoreboard and can seemingly do no wrong in Cleveland. If you have the guts, plug Holcomb into your lineup. He has an excellent chance to pass for two or more touchdowns. – Over the last half of the 2002 season, Matt Hasselbeck was one of the top fantasy quarterbacks in the league. Skeptics insist Hasselbeck’s impressive performances came against some of the league’s worst defensive backfields, including Kansas City, San Diego and San Francisco. Even so, Hasselbeck’s confidence is high entering 2003 and he will reward fantasy owners with a solid performance in Week 1 against the Saints. – This week may very well mark the beginning of the end for Mark Brunell. His Jacksonville Jaguars face off against the stingy Carolina Panther defense. Without Jimmy Smith, it will be rough going for Brunell. There’s an excellent chance we’ll see our first glimpse of Byron Leftwich in the second half.

This Week’s Sleepers: Hasselbeck, Holcomb, Joey Harrington, and Jay Fiedler.

Running Back

Tiki Barber needs just 794 yards to overtake Frank Gifford and become the Giant’s all-time leader in total yards. It’s a testament to Barber’s versatility. If you drafted him, be glad. This weekend he and Marshall Faulk will demonstrate the art of catching passes out of the backfield. Look for both to end up with 120+ all-purpose yards. – Back in August when the writers on this site gave their picks for sleepers and busts, I suggested Moe Williams would be the starter in Minnesota despite head coach Mike Tice’s insistence that he was locked in as the team’s third-down/goal-line specialist. Nearly a month later, Williams has indeed been declared the starter this week against the Packers. While it’d be difficult to recommend starting Williams over a running back you drafted ahead of him, don’t be surprised if he has a huge game. Green Bay’s run defense is in disarray and will give up more than 160 yards on the ground to Williams, Culpepper and company. – Garrison Hearst will soon prove that he was among the most underrated running backs this preseason. In several drafts, I saw him selected in the seventh round or later. Fantasy owners just keep waiting and waiting for Kevan Barlow to win the starting job. Here’s hoping you didn’t spend an early pick on Barlow. Hearst ranks among the best RBs when it comes to protecting the quarterback – a must considering Garcia’s back problems. This week he’ll show he’s still a strong runner when he puts up 110 total yards and a TD against the lowly Bears.

This Week’s Sleepers: Moe Williams, Hearst and Warrick Dunn.

Wide Receiver

Two of the high-profile receivers who moved to a new team did battle last night (Laveraneus Coles and Curtis Conway). Two more will be placed under the scrutiny of fantasy owners Sunday as Peerless Price plays Dallas and David Boston meets Kansas City. Each receiver will try to become the exception to the fantasy rule suggesting that receivers struggle in their first year with new teams. Based on last night’s game, it looks like Coles has an excellent chance to do just that. However, look for Boston to post average stats in 2003. The cards stacked against him vault as high as the upperdeck in Qualcomm. He’ll have to overcome a sub-par quarterback, injuries and a conservative offensive mindset. – Word out of San Francisco is that new head coach Dennis Erickson plans to open up the offense with more deep passes. While this will certainly make Terrell Owens happy, look for Tai Streets to have some big games, starting this weekend against Chicago. – The Rams come into this weekend’s contest against the Giants with a patchwork secondary. They will start cornerback Fred Weary, who was cut just last week by the 49ers. In addition the team will be without safety Jason Seahorn (foot) and cornerback Kevin Garrett (wrist). Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer should have little difficulty getting open and torching the depleted defense. – Todd Pinkston is poised to become a top 10 receiver in fantasy football. Look for the fourth-year receiver to approach 90 receptions and a dozen touchdowns by season’s end. However, with the ferocious Tampa defense on tap for Monday night, it’s probably best to save Pinkston until Week 2.

This Week’s Sleepers: Hilliard, Streets, Johnnie Morton, Derrius Thompson and Dennis Northcutt.

Tight End

Kansas City head coach Dick Vermeil has indicated that he expects Tony Gonzalez to play in this week’s season opener against San Diego. Gonzalez twisted his knee last week in practice. Despite the injury, keep Gonzalez in your lineup and don’t be surprised if he plays a big role in what should be a victory over the Chargers. San Diego finished last against the pass in 2002 and may have actually gotten worse after losing defensive leaders Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison. Look for a high-scoring game, which plays right into Gonzalez’s pillow-like hands. – It will be interesting to watch how Green Bay distributes the ball to its tight ends this weekend against the Vikings. The Packers are lean at receiver and will rely on Bubba Franks and newcomer Wesley Walls to move the chains. Franks is a good bet to get at least one score, while Walls will rack up some decent yardage. Both players could be fantasy starters by midseason. – Last season several rookie tight ends emerged as solid contributors. Jeremy Shockey, Doug Jolley and Randy McMichael provided more consistent production than some of the top veterans. This season, keep an eye on Carolina rookie tight end Mike Seidman, who was drafted to serve as the replacement for the aforementioned Walls.

This Week’s Sleepers: Walls and Alge Crumpler


Last time the Titans and Raiders met, Oakland won in a 52-25 romp. While it would be folly to expect the teams to combine for another 77 points, don’t be surprised if this is another high-scoring game. If you drafted Sebastian Jankowski or Joe Nedney, get them in your lineup this weekend.

This Week’s Sleepers: Nedney, Ryan Longwell and Olindo Mare


The Buffalo Bills scored a coup this week when they signed Lawyer Milloy after he was discarded by the rival Patriots. In Milloy, Buffalo gets a tenacious defender who is familiar with the AFC East. This offseason, the Bills also added Takeo Spikes, Jeff Posey and Sam Adams – among others. If this diverse group can gel, it won’t be long before fantasy owners begin starting the Bills defense on a weekly basis. In Week 1 against New England – Milloy’s old team – Buffalo should have little trouble shutting down Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk. This will put the pressure on quarterback Tom Brady, causing interceptions, sacks and a decent defensive showing for the Bills – This offseason two of the more prominent names in defensive coaching migrated to new teams. Ray Rhodes now serves as defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks and Marvin Lewis was hired as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. While both men may be masters of their trade, don’t expect immediate success. Even acclaimed defensive guru Tony Dungy struggled in his first year with Indianapolis. Scout players not coaches when it comes to choosing fantasy defenses. That means choosing teams with guys who have a knack for the big play. The Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers come immediately to mind, but others, including the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders, will also provide solid production.

This Week's 6-Pack: Heineken

Go out and grab yourself a sixer of Heineken to enjoy during this weekend’s games. You should have no trouble finding it, as Heineken is widely available in liquor stores and supermarkets. Suck back a couple during the games this weekend, and next week we’ll review this Dutch lager and the virtues the green bottle the red star.