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The Weekly 6-Pack
By Paul Sandy
October 10, 2003
 

Quarterback

In most scoring systems, Quincy Carter is averaging around 15 points per game, making him a viable starting option. Give credit to Carter who has silenced the critics by displaying patience and an uncanny work-ethic. According to reports on HBO's Inside the NFL, Carter is the only member of the Cowboys (and perhaps the NFL) who returns to the team's practice facility Sunday night after a game to study film. Despite Carter's success, keep him on the bench this week if you have better options. The Eagles come to town, one week after frustrating Patrick Ramsey for most of four quarters last week. With All-Pro cornerback Troy Vincent back in the lineup, Carter will finish with no better than 200 yards and one score. - If he wins this week against the Dolphins, Byron Leftwich will climb to number two on the Jaguars all-time victory list among quarterbacks. That ironic statistic is a testament to Mark Brunell's leadership and talent. Keep an eye on where Brunell ends up in 2004. I believe he could experience a Rich Gannon-type resurgence in the right situation. Brunell has been a victim of unfortunate circumstance with Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith rarely taking the field at the same time in the past few years. - Mike Vick won't return to action this week. He probably won't play Week 7 against the Saints either. And with the Falcons on bye in Week 8, Vick will continue to provide no production to fantasy owners who drafted him until at least Week 9. It's a pretty bleak picture, but it gets even bleaker when you consider Vick's schedule, which includes the Giants, Eagles, Buccaneers, Panthers and Titans.

This Week's Sleepers: Tim Couch, Kyle Boller and Aaron Brooks

Running Back

While Emmitt Smith was rarely complimentary toward backup Troy Hambrick when both running backs were splitting carries in Dallas, he seems to get along just fine with Marcel Shipp in Arizona. After breaking his shoulder blade last week, Emmitt said this about Shipp, "I think he is a tremendous talent . I could see him being a Priest Holmes-type running back, and I think we have a great working relationship." Shipp faces a tough test this week against the Ravens in what will be his first start of the 2003 season. Look for disappointing rushing statistics but decent receiving yardage. He should finish with 70-80 total yards. - Many San Francisco 49ers fans and media critics continue to wait for the much ballyhooed deep ball that head coach Dennis Erickson was going to bring to the offense. In his weekly press conference, Erickson indicated that the 49ers are a much better running team than a passing team. Further, Erickson suggested the offense would likely be better served to pound the ball on the ground in order to open up the deep pass. This week's opponent, the Seahawks, had little success stopping Ahman Green last week at Lambeau. Long story short: Look for an excellent game from Garrison Hearst as well as 50-yards and a touchdown from Kevan Barlow. - Jamal Lewis returns from a bye this week to face the NFL-patsy Arizona Cardinals. Lewis, who is on pace to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, should finish as the league's leading rusher in Week 6 with 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns. - Pay close attention this week to Houston's backfield. The team is coming of a bye week and has yet to settle on a primary ball carrier. Stacey Mack, Domanick Davis and Tony Hollings each have had a productive game, but they've all struggled with fumbling. The running backs' respective performances this week could go a long way in determining who will be the best fantasy player for the remainder of the year. - For most of the 2003 season, Travis Henry owners have been surviving because of his touchdowns. While he has six scores, Henry has been relatively disappointing in terms of yards per game. Look for that to change this week when the Bills go to the Meadowlands to battle the Jets. In his last three games versus New York, Henry has 345 yards and four touchdowns. What's more, rumblings and rumors about Willis McGahee's improved health have begun to hit the newspapers and airwaves. Look for Henry to use this as a motivating factor and finish with 130 yards and a touchdown. - Injuries to Kevin Faulk (leg) and Antowain Smith (shoulder) could force Mike Cloud into the starting lineup this week. Cloud rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns last week and could be a decent bye-week or injury replacement. Both Faulk and Smith are listed as questionable. If Cloud starts, he'll get into the endzone once and finish with 70 yards rushing. - With Mike Alstott out for the season with a neck injury, Michael Pittman is elevated to an every-week fantasy starter. Insert him into your lineup this week and look for him to be one of the surprise players for the remainder of the season.

This Week's Sleepers: Mike Cloud, Michael Pittman and Arlen Harris

Wide Receiver

Since his 8-catch, 101-yard performance in Week 1, Donte' Stallworth has been a colossal disappointment. The second-year receiver has suffered a steady decrease in production, going from 101 yards to 46 to 20 to 17 and finally hitting rock bottom with 15 yards last week. While it appears Stallworth could wind up being the poster-child for fantasy football's sophomore slump theory, look for him to experience a resurgence this week against the Bears who are primed for a letdown after last week's upset of the Raiders. I anticipate 90 yards and a touchdown. - Josh Reed, another disappointing second-year player, will be forced into a feature role in the Bills offense this week. Stud receiver Eric Moulds suffered a pulled groin muscle Sunday and is doubtful to play this weekend. If you have a key receiver on a bye this week, go ahead and use Reed. However, don't expect him to post Moulds-like numbers. Seventy yards is about all you should expect, considering the Bills face a New York Jets secondary that surrenders only 165 yards passing per game and has only given up three passing touchdowns all year. - After suffering a scary neck injury in Week 1 against the Vikings, Donald Driver returned to his 2002-form last week. He caught seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Look for Driver to notch his first 100-yard game of the season this week against a Chiefs secondary that, while improved, still ranks in the bottom half of the league. - During a breakfast pow-wow before Sunday's game against the Lions, Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens supposedly put a few Band-Aids on their bloodied relationship. After connecting on a first-half touchdown, the two looked like old chums while celebrating in the endzone. Still, you have to wonder how long it will last. This week, the 49ers return to Seattle, the site of last year's infamous Sharpie incident. Look for Garcia to pacify Owens for another week with a touchdown an 90 yards receiving . then Tampa comes to town.

This Week's Sleepers: Donte' Stallworth, Travis Taylor, Jabar Gaffney and Keenan McCardell

Tight End

Shannon Sharpe is listed as questionable for this week's game against Pittsburgh. If Sharpe can't go, his replacement Dwayne Carswell could be worth a start if they're aren't any other decent options available to your team. The Broncos possess an excellent pass offense and like to feature their tight ends in the redzone. - So far in 2003, Baltimore tight end Todd Heap has been reasonably consistent, but hasn't put up the high-scoring game that fantasy owners came to expect from him last year. Look for Heap's best outing of the year this week in Arizona. He will catch 6-7 passes for 80 yards and a score.

This Week's Sleepers: Dwayne Carswell and Mark Campbell

Kicker

The New York Giants lost their second kicker of the year this week when Matt Bryant suffered a hamstring injury. Mike Hollis was placed on the IR late in the preseason. The team's replacement is seven-year journeyman Brett Conway. Look for Conway to make an immediate impact this week against the Patriots in what could turn into a field goal contest between Conway and Adam Vinatieri. - The Oakland Raiders are struggling on offense right now and the primary benefactor seems to be kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Through Week 5, Janikowski leads the league with 14 field goal attempts. Look for his strong leg to be on full display again this week as the Raiders travel to Cleveland. He should finish with 10-11 points, including a few field goals.

This Week's Sleepers: Ryan Longwell and Brett Conway

Defense

Kick and punt returning sensation Dante Hall will have his streak of touchdowns will come to an end this week against the Packers, who rank number one in punt coverage and number three in kick coverage. However, keep the Kansas City Chiefs in your starting lineup this week. Brett Favre frequently has mental meltdowns when he's coming off a great performance. Don't be surprised if he throws a couple interceptions this week. - If the St. Louis Rams defense is available in your league, they will be good for a one-week start against the Falcons Monday night. So far, Al Michaels and John Madden have witnessed three defensive touchdowns and a shutout in 2003. Look for another strong defensive showing by the Rams this week, including at least three turnovers. - The Baltimore Ravens are well-rested coming off their Week 5 bye. That's bad news for the Cardinals who are struggling on offense right now. Quarterback Jeff Blake was frustrated last week against the Dallas Cowboys, giving up two safeties. This week it'll be even tougher. I'd be surprised if Arizona scores more than 13 points.

This Week's Sleepers: St. Louis Rams and New York Giants

The 6-Pack

Last Week's 6-Pack: Red Stripe

Price Paid: $7.99

What the Bottle Tells Us: "For over 65 years Red Stripe has embodied the spirit, rhythm and pulse of Jamaica and its people" The beer is imported by the same company that brings us Guinness and Bass.

What I Say: The most noticeable attribute of Red Stripe is its fun stubby brown bottle. It reminded me of my days as a poor college student drinking Mickey's Malt Liquor, which is presented in a similar package. After popping the cap off my very first Red Stripe, it was difficult to characterize the aroma. However, after Ahman Green scored his second touchdown of the day for my fantasy team, I was more relaxed and I rededicated myself to reviewing the beer. Eventually, I concluded that Red Stripe smells a bit like the fresh, uncooked sweet corn you might buy at a farmer's market. In the glass, this beer is not unlike Budweiser or Miller - a light, hay-colored beverage that pours to a foamy head and dissipates quickly. As for the flavor, it has a tangy edge, hints of sweet malt. I'm a hop-lover, so this beer isn't going to rank highly on my list. That said, Red Stripe has more character and pizzazz than its American lager counterparts. Since the beer is from Jamaica, I prepared some Jamaican jerk chicken wings to enjoy with my 6-Pack. Red Stripe provided an excellent complement to this spicy food, certainly more so than a heavier beer would have. If you enjoy light, lager-style beers, definitely give this one a chance.

Reader Comment: Most readers seemed to enjoy the unique bottle, but no one seemed quite as passionate about Red Stripe as some of the other beers we've tested. In fact, I received more wise-cracks about Jamaican's smoking ganja than brewing beer. Brad Gwillim of Chicago was quite disappointed that I had never tasted it before and summed up all the other reader comments in a couple sentences. "You've never tried a Red Stripe? What? I guess Jamaica has better "things" to offer...but the beer is pretty good." There you have it. If you want good beer and great weed, book a flight to Jamaica.

This Week's 6-Pack: Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest

It's October and that means it's time to sample a German beer. There are plenty to choose from, but Hacker-Pschorr came on recommendation from a couple readers. Pick up a 6-Pack this week, enjoy it with your fantasy team's victory and tell me all about it Tuesday or Wednesday.