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The Weekly 6-Pack
By Paul Sandy
October 3, 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

The Broncos have regained their swagger and seem to have that Super Bowl look. Much of the credit has to be given to quarterback Jake Plummer. Plummer was feeling the heat after Week 1 when he threw three interceptions and zero touchdowns. Since then he has made a complete reversal, throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three starts. What's most impressive from a fantasy perspective is Plummer's scrambling ability. In his last two games, he has a run of 20 yards or more. If he continues compile stats both through the air and on the ground, Plummer will likely finish among the top five fantasy quarterbacks. Get him in your lineup this week. The Broncos will trade punches with the Chiefs this week and will need to score 30+ points to win. - Quietly, Kerry Collins is putting together an excellent fantasy football season. In three games, Collins has six touchdown passes and is averaging nearly 250 yards per game. With those numbers, Collins makes a strong case to be a weekly fantasy starter, if not the NFL MVP. Don't hesitate to use him this week when he faces the Dolphins. He'll pass for 260 yards and two touchdowns. - The Atlanta Falcons are in rough shape, and that's good news for owners who had the foresight to pick up Gus Frerotte. Earlier this week, Atlanta's starting cornerback Tyrone Williams was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. Atlanta already lists three safeties on the injury report and backup cornerback Tod McBride is out with a broken hand. The injuries and suspension have blown a gaping hole in a secondary that has to face one of the league's most potent passing attacks. Don't be afraid to start Frerotte over some of the big-name quarterbacks who are struggling right now, including Donovan McNabb and Aaron Brooks. Frerotte will rack up another three touchdowns and 250 passing yards this week.

This Week's Sleepers: Gus Frerotte, Kerry Collins and Jay Fiedler

Running Back

Emmitt Smith makes a return trip to Dallas on Sunday to face his former team. Many owners will plug Smith into their lineups in hopes that he harbors enough ill feelings toward his former team to gut out a good game. Others will start him for the sheer novelty. Personally, I'm looking at the stats and wondering if he's going to muster 40 yards. The Cowboys rank second in the NFC in stopping the run. Meanwhile, the NFL's all-time leading rusher is struggling to get 50 yards per game. While it'd make a decent headline, don't look for Smith to dominate his old ball club. - Last week, the Baltimore Ravens were able to do what only two other teams had done in since 2002 . keep Priest Holmes out of the endzone. Let me make my point clearer. Dating back to Week 1 of last season (a stretch of 19 starts), Holmes has scored at least one touchdown in all but three games. He is the greatest fantasy running back ever. While some may put Terrell Davis or Marshall Faulk on his level, Davis was not as good of a receiver and, even in his prime, Faulk was nowhere near as consistent. Holmes will break out of his "slump" this week against the rival Broncos in what should be the game of the week. Expect 140 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. - Last season, I was quick to jump on the Jamel White bandwagon. The shifty White outperformed rookie William Green for most of the first half of 2002. Then, just as I was ready to bask in my prognosticating glory, Green broke out and White disappeared. Now, a year later, I'm tightening the lug nuts back up on the Jamel White bandwagon. Thus far, Green has been a huge disappointment. Yet, in four games this season, the Browns have given White just 16 touches (compared to 63 at the same point last year). Look for White's name to begin reappearing in the box score starting this week when he approaches 85 all-purpose yards, most of them through the air. - In his last two games, Ricky Williams has carried the ball 76 times. Look for the Dolphins to reduce Williams' workload this week; however, he's still a safe bet to finish with 90 all-purpose yards and a score. - Running back Edgerrin James is expected to play this week, but it might be a good idea to keep him on your bench. The Colts face a Buccaneers defense that is coming of a bye and has had two weeks to prepare. Weigh your options because James will have a hard time getting 75 yards Monday night.

This Week's Sleepers: Jamel White, Warrick Dunn, Troy Hambrick and Shawn Bryson

Wide Receiver

What is it about wide receivers? Early in his stint with the Jets, Keyshawn Johnson wrote a book titled Just Give Me the Damn Ball. Cris Carter was notorious for his sideline tantrums. And now Terrell Owens is blaming everyone but himself for the San Francisco's 1-3 start. While the 49ers seem poised to suspend Owens if he has another episode, fantasy owners shouldn't fret too much about his disappointing statistics. Owens didn't have over 50 yards receiving in any game last year until Week 5. He's definitely worth starting this week against Detroit although I don't expect the breakout performance many fantasy owners have been anticipating. Detroit head coach Steve Mariucci knows how to exploit quarterback Jeff Garcia's weaknesses, so look for limited success for Owens; 90 yards and a touchdown seems about right. - After a sophomore slump, Dolphins wideout Chris Chambers is proving his rookie season was no fluke. In three games this season, Chambers has already recorded three touchdowns. This week he faces a surprisingly vulnerable New York Giants secondary, which ranks dead last in the NFL against the pass. The Giants will focus on stopping Ricky Williams, leaving Chambers open for 100 yards and another touchdown. - Although much has been made about whether or not he's in "game shape," Jimmy Smith will get the starting nod this week when the Jaguars face the Chargers. At 0-4, Jacksonville desperately needs Smith to help open up the passing game and take some pressure off Fred Taylor. Unfortunately for Smith owners, Mark Brunell won't be taking the field in Week 5. Look for Smith to struggle to shake off the rust and adapt to rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich. Anything more than 60 yards would be a surprise. - If you drafted David Boston, be sure to get him in your lineup this week. Opposing Jacksonville has already given up eight passing touchdowns and Boston seems like he's ready to prove to the world that he's not just a muscle-bound meathead.

This Week's Sleepers: James Thrash, David Boston, Charles Rodgers and Quentin McCord

Tight End

This week Mike Holmgren publicly called out his tight ends. "They're all healthy," said Holmgren, "so there's no excuses at all.I just expect more productivity out of them." To date, Itula Mili has five receptions while Jeremy Stevens has none. It's a bit of a surprise that the tight ends aren't playing a greater role in Seattle's offense. During his stint in Green Bay, Holmgren featured both Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura in the offense. Expect Mili to answer Holmgren's call for increased productivity this week as the undefeated Seahawks roll into Green Bay. He should double his production with five or six receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown. - How's this for a telling statistic? Chicago Bears tight end Desmond Clark leads the team with 12 receptions. If you're looking for a one-week replacement, you could do worse than Clark. He'll get your 40 yards and a possible score this week against the Raiders.

This Week's Sleepers: Itula Mili and Desmond Clark

Kicker

If you haven't settled on a kicker for your fantasy team by now, it might help to look at who's getting the most field goal attempts. Right now, John Hall and Mike Vanderjagt lead the NFL with 12 apiece. While Vanderjagt was certainly drafted in your league, Hall might be available. Despite missing four kicks, Hall ranks fifth in the league with 32 points. The Redskins boast a productive offense that should continue to put points on the board, so Hall is worth a shot. - The only notable kicker who's on a bye this week is Jeff Wilkins. If you own Wilkins and need a one-week replacement, give either Aaron Elling or Seth Marler a look. Elling should see plenty of opportunities this week as the Vikings will turn Atlanta's redzone into their home away from the Metrodome. If you want to dig really deep, go with Marler. The Jaguars kicker faces a San Diego defense that is giving up 30.5 points per game and has surrendered at least two field goals in three out of four games.

This Week's Sleepers: Aaron Elling and Seth Marler

Defense

The last time the Seattle Seahawks came to Green Bay was in 2001. In that game, the team's defense intercepted Brett Favre four times and embarrassed him in front of a national Monday Night Football audience. The event marked the return of Mike Holmgren to the city in which he delivered an NFL championship. Former coaches seem to have a way of getting inside the heads of their ex-quarterbacks. Two classic examples are Holmgren in 2001 against Favre and Jon Gruden against Rich Gannon in the Super Bowl. Look for the trend to continue as the Seahawks defense should have another successful outing this week. - Don't look now, but the much maligned Minnesota Vikings defense leads the NFL with 11 interceptions. If your team defense has been struggling to record more than a couple points per week, the Vikings deserve a look. Although they haven't scored a touchdown so far this year, their cornerbacks and safeties are ball hawks. Look for a defensive score this week and solid production for the rest of the year.

This Week's Sleepers: Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders

The 6-Pack

Last Week's 6-Pack: Newcastle Brown Ale

Price Paid: $7.95

What the Bottle Tells Us: The beer is brewed in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England and markets itself under the tagline, "The One and Only."

What I Say: We've only put four beers to the test and have already run the gamut of bottle colors - green, brown and now clear. I suppose the producers of Newcastle chose the clear glass bottle to showcase the rich, cola-like color of the beer. A connoisseur would tell you that beers packaged in clear and green bottles are susceptible to skunkiness. It has to do with the way that light interacts with the beer. In any case, this beer is certainly less skunky than the Heineken we sampled in Week 1. When I poured my first Newcastle, it was actually quite anticlimactic. This being a darker beer, I expected a thick, foamy head. But in actuality, the head is virtually nonexistent. The only way I could get even a modest head was to pour the beer violently into the glass, holding the bottle about six inches from the brim of the glass. As for my sniffer, it detected hints of malt and nuttiness, but nothing overpowering. Fortunately, Newcastle scored reasonably high in the most important category - taste. The beer has definite buttery/caramel undertones and leaves a subtle nutty aftertaste. It's an enjoyable flavor, but again, it was underwhelming. Having ordered Newcastle several times at fine drinking establishments across America, I can attest that it offers a much more complex and memorable flavor on draught. The bottled version seems to taste ever-so-slightly watered down. If, like me, you were disappointed in your Newcastle 6-Pack, give it a try next time you're out at a bar or restaurant.

Reader Comment: While last week's 6-pack, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, was a consensus winner, this week we had quite a bit of dissention in the ranks. Jody Roesler from Baltimore agrees with me on at least one point. "It looks and tastes a bit watery. It's OK, and unlike the Hiney you tried in week one, I wouldn't turn it down at a party, but it just needs a little ummph." Tom Birchard of Waialua, Hawaii disagrees. "This beer is the BOMB!!! Smooth, nutty and brown...just like the women here in Hawaii...great choice...now I know my 0-3 team will get a W...you chose my favorite suds as the 6-Pack o the week!" I'm going to assume Tom drinks his Newcastle from a coconut. Otherwise, it will shatter every stereotype I have about Hawaiians.

This Week's 6-Pack: Red Stripe

Now we go to Jamacia, mon. Red Stripe beer comes on recommendation from several readers, including Adam Paulsen from San Diego, Dennis Leonard from Houston, and Dave Klafeta from Owensboro, Kentucky. This is the first Weekly 6-Pack beer that I've never tried before, so I'm looking forward to it. Pick up a 6-Pack of Red Stripe this week and let me know how it goes down.