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The Weekly 6-Pack
By Paul Sandy
September 19, 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

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 Testaverde.

Running Back

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

Wide Receiver

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 receiver.

This Week's Sleepers: Parker, Charles Rodgers, Keenan McCardell and Travis Taylor

Tight End

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 Ricks

Kicker

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 year.

This Week's Sleepers: Stover and Hanson

Defense

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 Raiders

The 6-Pack

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 this week.