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
One of the biggest disappointments so far in 2003 has
been Kelly Holcomb and the Cleveland Browns. Since
being named the starter, Holcomb has tossed just one touchdown
compared to four interceptions. While many experts are
suggesting Tim Couch will soon regain his starting
job, it's worth noting that Holcomb has had the misfortune
of playing two pretty solid defenses. Last year, the Indianapolis
Colts finished second against the pass. And the Ravens
seem to be have regained their defensive prowess in 2003.
Holcomb faces another tough test this week against the
49ers, but look for him to rise to the challenge and throw
a pair of touchdowns. - Historically, the Detroit versus
Minnesota matchup has been a fantasy owner's dream. The
last four meetings between the Lions and Vikings ended
with the following scores: 31-26, 24-27, 31-24 and 38-36.
Look for another shootout this week and a possible upset. Joey
Harrington got a wakeup call last week against an angry
Packers defense. This week he will have two touchdowns
and 250 yards against a defensive secondary that's overachieved
so far. - The Marc Bulger era in St. Louis has begun.
Bulger took over for the injured and confidence-shaken Kurt
Warner in Week 2. Although his performance didn't rekindle
memories of the Rams of old, Bulger completed 25 of 36
passes and finished with a 105.8 quarterback rating. Look
for Bulger to follow up last week's debut with another
two touchdown game against a Seahawks defense that has
given up a 228 passing yards per game. - A quarterback
who averages nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns a game
is a fantasy owner's dream. While you might expect Peyton
Manning or Brett Favre to accomplish the feat,
Pittsburgh's Tommy Maddox is the passer that has
developed into fantasy football's most consistent gunslinger.
It goes to show you that quarterbacks are rarely worth
early picks in fantasy football. Look for another two-touchdown
300-yard performance this week as Maddox battles the Bengals.
This Week's Sleepers: Holcomb, Harrington and Vinny
Last week, Edgerrin James ran with authority
for the first time since tearing his ACL in 2001. James
rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown in a blowout against
the Titans. This week he faces Jacksonville and is poised
to have another strong game against a Jaguars defense that
has already given up three rushing touchdowns. James will
approach 100 yards and has an excellent chance to get into
the endzone twice. - The New York Jets can't stop the run.
The New England Patriots can't get their running game started.
Something has to give. It appears Antowain Smith has
played himself out of a job, carrying the ball 18 times
for 32 yards. Meanwhile, Kevin Faulk has made the
most of his opportunities, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
Faulk may not be your prototypical NFL running back, but
he can be explosive. He should be successful this week
and could easily finish with 110 all-purpose yards and
a touchdown. - Many fantasy owners drafted Amos Zereoue in
the fifth or sixth round thinking he would be this year's
surprising running back. However, those grandiose predictions
have failed to materialize. Zereoue has yet to surpass
60 yards rushing and isn't the receiving threat that the
Steelers had hoped for. Don't be surprised to see Bill
Cowher unleash Jerome Bettis early this week against
the Bengals. In his career versus Cincinnati, The Bus is
averaging 103.2 yards and about one touchdown per game. - Prior
to many drafts, Ahman Green was getting disrespected
by many owners and experts. They thought he was too injury
prone and didn't have enough big games. Green is proving
them all wrong. He already has three touchdowns this year
and should add a couple more this week against Arizona
as the Packers continue to feature the running game while
their receivers heal.
This Week's Sleepers: K. Faulk and Bettis
One of the hottest topics of Week 2 was Mike Holmgren's
quiet decision to bench Koren Robinson. The move
left fantasy owners steaming as Robinson dealt them a donut
hole when owners were expecting a baker's dozen. As painful
as it might have been, look for Holmgren's "tough love" to
have a positive impact in the weeks to come. Prior to the
season, Robinson set his goal at 1,500 receiving yards.
Now he'll have to try that much harder to achieve that
mark. Look for seven or eight catches and 110 yards this
week. - Entering the season, the phrase "The Big Three" was
used quite a bit to describe fantasy football's top rated
receivers: Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Randy
Moss. So far, only Moss has lived up to his top billing,
and even he got shut down last week against the Bears.
Harrison, Owens and Moss each face favorable opponents
Sunday, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Detroit respectively.
Look for them to all rank among the top five in receiving
yards for Week 3. - Miami's defense has been unable to
live up to the preseason hype and is struggling to pressure
quarterbacks. Look for the Dolphins to rely on their cornerbacks
to play man-to-man this week as they attempt to blitz to
Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe early and often. This will
lead to a big game by Eric Moulds. In his last two
games against Miami, the Dolphins have left Moulds in single
coverage and he has receptions of 57 and 70 yards. - Two
weeks ago, I suggested David Boston was a good candidate
to be one of the year's biggest busts. Boston's attitude
just doesn't seem like it's going to jive with head coach
Marty Schottenheimer. But while some fantasy owners are
fuming about Boston, others may soon be smiling because
they acquired Eric Parker. It remains to be seen
whether Parker's smallish frame can hold up, but he is
explosive and nifty in the open field. This week, he should
easily finish with 80+ yards as the Chargers only reliable
This Week's Sleepers: Parker, Charles Rodgers,
Keenan McCardell and Travis Taylor
Two weeks into the NFL season, the tight-end play has
been mostly mediocre. Fantasy owners have seen some decent
games from Freddie Jones, Dallas Clark and Alge Crumpler.
However, every-week starters like Todd Heap, Tony
Gonzalez and Jeremy Shockey have mostly disappointed.
While I'd like to say brighter days are ahead for the top
tight ends, it may not be the case. Heap is struggling
with a rookie quarterback. It may take half the season
or longer before Kyle Boller gains the confidence
to make strong throws down the middle of the field to Heap.
In Kansas City, Gonzalez is fighting his way through injuries.
But more importantly, the tight end simply doesn't seem
play a major role in the offense. And finally, there's
Shockey, who did manage to score a late touchdown Monday
night against the Cowboys. Shockey has been relegated to
pass protection for a large portion of games because the
Giants offensive line is battered. Look for Shockey to
slowly regain the form and scoring average we were accustomed
to late last season. As for Heap and Gonzalez, it could
be a painful season for owners who sought an advantage
by drafting them early.
This Week's Sleepers: Billy Miller and Mikhael
It looks like Mike Vanderjagt, A.K.A. the Idiot
Drunk Kicker, has regained his form. Vanderjagt, is perfect
in 2003, connecting on seven field goals. If the Colts
offense continues to move the ball, Vanderjagt could regain
his title from David Akers as fantasy football's top kicker. - The
bye weeks are upon us. That means owners of David Akers
and John Kasay are scouring the free agent market for a
promising Week 3 kicker. Among the players who might be
available in your league, Matt Stover and Jason
Hanson are good bets to kick few field goals. If your
league rewards for long kicks, you might consider taking
a shot at John Hall, who's already nailed a 54 yarder
This Week's Sleepers: Stover and Hanson
The San Francisco 49ers defense leads the
league with 10 sacks. They also have three fumble recoveries,
three interceptions and a defensive touchdown. Not bad
for a couple weeks of work. All this and they probably
weren't even drafted in your league. - Another defense
that may have been quickly snatched off the free agent
market this week is the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle
had a huge defensive effort against the Cardinals Sunday,
landing turnovers on Arizona's first four possessions and
scoring on an uncharacteristic Emmitt Smith fumble.
Despite Seattle's offseason improvements, look for them
to come back down to earth this week as they face the Rams.
This Week's Sleepers: Tennessee Titans and Oakland
Last Week's 6-Pack: Anchor Steam
Price Paid: $8.99
What the Bottle Tells Us: The beer derives its
name from the turn of the 19th century when
beer on the west coast earned the nickname "steam" because
it was brewed under primitive conditions. "Steam" may have
referred to the pressure built up from carbonation. In
any case, the bottle claims Anchor is one of the smallest,
most traditional breweries in America.
What I Say: The first thing I noticed about Anchor
Steam, aside from its criminal price, was its elegant,
curvaceous bottle. Its uniqueness gives you the feeling
right away that this is an upscale beverage. As I measured
up the other gentlemen who were watching the games at my
house, it was comforting to know that I not only had a
better fantasy team than them, I also had a better beer.
While I would've enjoyed drinking straight from the beautiful
bottle, I resisted the temptation in the interest of science.
Pouring Anchor Steam into a glass is an experience unto
itself. As you tip the bottle, the intense carbonation
creates a vortex as it hits the bottom of the glass, swirling
into a thick creamy head. The beer's rich amber color and
malt aroma provide a clear indication this isn't a typical
beer. As for the taste, it wasn't nearly as hoppy and flavorful
as I thought it might be. In fact, it left me smacking
my lips, searching for more. Even though it isn't a particularly
strong tasting beer, Anchor Steam certainly has some complex
flavors that, beyond a subtle sweetness, are hard for me
to pinpoint. After last week's Heineken sampling, I was
most impressed with this beer's clean aftertaste. It's
definitely very drinkable; however, the $8.99 price tag
leaves a pretty big dent in the wallet. I think I'll save
this one for special occasions.
Reader Comment: Forrest Orswell of Fort Collins,
Colorado was in agreement. "This is a well crafted beer.
As far as texture and feel, it is top quality all the way.
You can feel how smooth the beer is on the tongue. However,
I think the taste lacks any pizazz. It starts off well
but leaves you thinking 'where is the rest of the taste'? Not
bad but at almost 8 bucks a 6 pack I could certainly find
a more flavorful brew." Meanwhile, Rob Arsenau of Southborough,
Massachusetts writes, "Anchor had a very full flavor, nice
strong taste, and went great with a fried oyster po' boy
I had for lunch! Only problem I had was the beer was a
little heavy for my taste." Are you sure it wasn't just
funky oysters, Rob?
This Week's 6-Pack: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
This week I received more than 50 recommendations for
6-packs. From Yuengling Lager and Steel Reserve to J.W
Dundee's Honey Brown Lager and something called Doggie
Style Ale, I've received the names of can't-miss beers
spanning the globe. Keep them coming. However, please note
that I am trying to limit this column to beers that are
distributed nationally (at least for this year). This will
allow for maximum reader participation. With that in mind,
this week we'll go with another California brew. Sierra
Nevada Pale Ale came on a recommendation from three or
four readers. Enjoy a 6-pack with your fantasy team's victory