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The Weekly 6-Pack
By Paul Sandy
September 12, 2003
 

Each week, Paul Sandy takes you inside each of the six key fantasy football positions (QB, RB, WR, TE, PK and DEF), providing news, notes, predictions and sleepers. Plus, as a sidebar to the fantasy insight, he reviews one beer per week and encourages readers to join the festivities.

Quarterback

Despite leading his team to a Week 1 victory over the Bengals, Jake Plummer was the target of criticism that would make a Dixie Chick blush. Headlines like "Jake the Fake" graced the pages of major media outlets. What did Plummer do that was so bad? He threw three interceptions. Meanwhile, former Super Bowl quarterbacks Tom Brady and Brett Favre each threw four INTs in losing efforts, yet both were given free passes. Go figure. The point is don't read too much into one game. Plummer will be an excellent fantasy backup and could even help your team at some point. This week he faces a soft San Diego defense and will pass for at least 220 yards and two touchdowns. - It's Week 2 and we already have our first quarterback controversy. Look for the Kurt Warner / Marc Bulger debate to really heat up after Bulger tosses three touchdowns and leads the Rams to a home victory over the 49ers. - The best matchup of Week 2 pits the Steelers against the Chiefs. Trent Green and Tommy Maddox should post excellent numbers in a shootout. Look for Green to eclipse 300 yards passing while Maddox tosses a pair of touchdowns. - Two of last year's cellar dwellers, the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans, opened up 2003 with a victory. Fantasy owners should no longer scoff at the notion of acquiring David Carr and Joey Harrington. They will both approach 20 touchdowns in 2003.

This Week's Sleepers: Plummer, Bulger and Kerry Collins.

Running Back

In Week 1, Cleveland's William Green carried the ball four times inside his opponent's three yard line. He was denied the endzone each time. A touchdown on any one of those rushes would've likely been the difference in a game that Indianapolis won 9-6. Although he rushed the ball 21 times and provided fantasy owners with decent production, Green's short-yardage shortcomings are a bit disconcerting. If he continues to falter, head coach Butch Davis may eventually pull Green at the goal line in favor of James Jackson. This would significantly reduce Green's value. Keep an eye on the situation. - Two former fantasy MVPs had disappointing 2003 debuts on Sunday. Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James had nine and 15 carries respectively. Not exactly the type of production fantasy owners expect out of their first-round draft choice. While Faulk should bounce back this week at home against the 49ers, James will struggle on the ground against a Titans defense that held Charlie Garner to 22 yards rushing. - Jamal Lewis has rushed for 187 yards and 100 yards in his last two games against Cleveland. Start him this week and pencil in 100 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. - Quick trivia: With 28 rush attempts, Travis Henry led all running backs in Week 1. Who finished second in that category? Answer: Stacey Mack with 27 carries. Mack is going to be a workhorse in 2003. He stays healthy. He has a nose for the endzone. And he should put up 80-90 yards and a score this week against an overrated Saints defense.

This Week's Sleepers: Mack, Olandis Gary and Duce Staley.

Wide Receiver

Since the trade that brought him from Seattle to Dallas, Joey Galloway has been mired in fantasy mediocrity. But last weekend against Atlanta, Galloway finally lived up to his potential, grabbing seven receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. As impressive as the outing was, the Cowboys still don't strike me as an offense that has the tools to be consistent on a week-to-week basis. A below average running game and quarterback will contribute to Galloway's slide back to reality in Week 2. Don't expect more than 70 yards against a tough Giant defense. - Hines Ward is my new favorite fantasy football player. The guy always seems to be available in the fourth round of fantasy drafts, yet he consistently finishes games with seven or eight receptions and more than 100 yards. He's a gritty competitor and pleasure to watch. Ward should follow up last week's impressive two-touchdown performance with 90 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. - Randy Moss has four straight 100+ yard games. He will extend that streak this week against the Bears, but the real surprise is Chicago will keep this game competitive. Marty Booker will bounce back after a poor first game. Look for Booker's name in the boxscore Monday morning; it'll be in the scoring column at least once. - Oakland wide receiver Jerry Porter is out for at least three weeks with an abdominal muscle tear. As a result, Tim Brown's reemergence will continue this week with another solid game.

This Week's Sleepers: Todd Pinkston, Ed McCaffrey, Javon Walker and David Patten.

Tight End

After missing last week's game with a strained groin muscle, Stephen Alexander will make his season debut Sunday against the Broncos. David Boston is likely out for the game, so Alexander will pick up some of the slack by catching four or five balls and turning in a decent performance. - In Week 1, Jeremy Shockey was used primarily as a blocking tight end. Head coach Jim Fassel indicated that right tackle Ian Allen "had a rough day" and Shockey was needed to help pass protect. Allen will start again in Week 2, so don't be surprised if Shockey has limited opportunities in another restricted gameplan. However, this time he'll make the most of his receptions against the Cowboys and post nearly 70 yards.

This Week's Sleepers: Alexander and Erron Kinney.

Kicker

Houston's Kris Brown finished second among kickers with 15 fantasy points in Week 1 (using Huddle scoring). He kicked five field goals. What's more amazing is Brown missed two field goals. Add in those two misses and you're talking about 21 fantasy points. That's like having another running back. Unfortunately, Brown was likely only started in a handful of leagues. With 32 kickers in the NFL, there are better options than Brown on most weeks. Even so, he should have another solid outing Sunday as the Texans do battle with the Saints. - Kicker Joe Nedney sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. His replacement is the venerable Gary Anderson, who at 44 years old is the NFL's all-time leading scorer. If you lost Nedney, there are probably better options than Anderson this week. Try Aaron Elling of the Vikings and John Hall of the Redskins.

This Week's Sleepers: Kris Brown, Josh Brown and Aaron Elling.

Defense

It took all of one week for it to become clear that the Tampa Bay defense was tremendously underrated entering the 2003 season. While many fantasy owners had no qualms about spending a fourth-round draft pick on a top tight end like Jeremy Shockey or Tony Gonzalez, the first defense typically wasn't drafted until the sixth round or later. Fantasy scoring for team defenses varies more than any other position. However, no matter what scoring system you use, owning Tampa's defense can give you a tremendous advantage over your fellow owners - probably more so than owning a top tight end. It's something to keep in mind for 2004. - If Tampa was underrated, what team defenses were overrated? In recent years, San Diego has had a decent defense, but they lack experience and are going to be awful in 2003. If you drafted them, drop the Chargers now. Green Bay's front four are weak will struggle to generate a decent pass rush. This puts undue pressure on their above-average secondary. You can probably do better than the Packers through free agency. Carolina was considered by some to be on the same level as Tampa entering the season. Don't drop them yet, but seeing them give up 23 points to the Jaguars was disappointing.

This Week's Sleepers: Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings

The 6-Pack

Last Week's 6-Pack: Heineken

Price Paid: $7.49

What the Bottle Tells Us: Apparently the beer won some awards in the 1800s.

What I Say: The Heineken marketing machine has succeeded making it one of the most popular imported beers in America. The company presents its product in either an attractive green bottle or cans shaped like kegs. However, once you get past the appearances, this Dutch lager is quite ordinary. My beer poured to a creamy thick head, which faded quickly. In the glass, it looks like any other lager, though possibly with slightly more carbonation. The smell is clearly much stronger that the typical American macrobrews (Bud, Miller and Coors), though whether that's a good thing depends on who you ask. While I categorized the aroma as somewhat hoppy - almost like cut grass - other reviewers who e-mailed noted that it smelled skunky. In either case, the smell is quite strong and not particularly pleasant. As for the most important category, taste, I was unimpressed, but not altogether disappointed. My first two Heinekens were refreshing. I enjoyed the slight bitterness and thought it was a nice change of pace from everyday beers. However, an hour after drinking four Heinekens on Sunday, it tasted like I had sucked on a mouthful of nickels. Considering the high price, I doubt I'll be buying this beer with any regularity; however, I wouldn't say no if it was handed to me at a friend's house.

Reader Comment: Peter G. of Connecticut. was more vocal in his distain for Heineken. "Heineken blows. It's the prime example of 'just because it's an import, doesn't mean it's good'. Whereas the Dutch are experts in the wacky tabacky and selling sex, they just can't make beer. There is a reason why everyone else uses brown bottles; their customers don't like skunky beer." My guess is Pete doesn't own a pair of wooden shoes either.

This Week's 6-Pack: Anchor Steam

In Week 2, why not jump on the 6-Pack bandwagon and enjoy an Anchor Steam with your team's victory? This San Francisco beer came on a recommendation from a reader and will be a nice change of pace, as it's a little less well known. Although Anchor Steam may take a bit more searching to find than Heineken, it should be well worth the effort. Visit anchorbrewing.com to find a distributor. E-mail me your comments with your name and city/state on Tuesday or Wednesday and let me know how this beer stacks up.