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The Weekly 6-Pack
By Paul Sandy
October 17, 2003
 

Quarterback

In an incident that surely rekindles memories of Brian Griese for Bronco fans, quarterback Jake Plummer broke a bone in his left foot while getting off the couch. "I just got up," said Plummer. "I was fine all day. I got up off the couch and felt a little pop in my foot." Nice. Plummer, who was just beginning to showcase his value as a fantasy player, will now miss four weeks. His replacement is Steve Beuerlein, who actually had a pretty decent game last weekend against the Steelers, tossing two touchdowns. If you're desperate for help at quarterback, Beuerlein should score some fantasy points this week against the Vikings. Minnesota's defense makes big plays but their statistics have been bolstered a bit because they've faced struggling offenses with some of the NFL's poorest quarterbacks like Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta. Expect Beuerlein to connect with his receivers for two more touchdowns and 240 yards passing. - The last time Brett Favre faced the St. Louis Rams was 21 months ago in the 2001 playoffs. The three-time MVP tied a playoff record when he threw six interceptions. While Favre has been having a strong fantasy season (he's ranks second in the league with 11 passing touchdowns), this might not be the best week to start him if your league penalizes for interceptions. In addition to the haunting memories of the 2001 playoff debacle, Favre always seems to struggle indoors. I expect him to pass for two scores but serve up a few costly interceptions as well. - In the first three games last season, Trent Green had five touchdown passes and five interceptions. In Week 4 of 2002, Green broke out and threw five touchdowns along with 328 yards passing. He went on to have an excellent fantasy season, passing for nearly 3,700 yards and 26 touchdowns. In many ways, this season is looking like it could be a mirror image for the Chiefs quarterback. Through Week 5, Green had thrown six touchdowns and six interceptions. Then last week against the Packers, he passed for three touchdowns and 400 yards. If history repeats itself, Green's success last week should be a springboard for big numbers in the coming weeks. Look for a 240-yard, 2-touchdown performance Monday night against the Raiders.

This Week's Sleepers: Steve Beuerlein, Trent Green and Quincy Carter

Running Back

Reports out of Houston indicate rookie running back Domanick Davis has been receiving the bulk of the carries with the first-team offense in practice this week. Head coach Dom Capers didn't declare Davis the outright starter, but he did indicate Davis would see plenty of action this week. "Guys earn playing time by performance and what they've done," said Capers. "Domanick has earned playing time, so you will be seeing more of Domanick." Bravo, coach. Davis is poised to become one of the biggest fantasy surprises in 2003. Last week against the Titans, the versatile tailback carried the ball seven times for 59 yards and added 70 yards receiving. Look for a breakout game and Davis' first 100-yard rushing performance this week against the Jets. -Washington's trio of ball carriers has been reduced to a duo for this week. Trung Canidate has a severe ankle sprain, so Ladell Betts will get the start with Rock Cartwright spelling him at the goal line. Betts will have a solid game against a Buffalo Bills defense that gave up 110 yards to Curtis Martin and Lamont Jordan last week. If Betts has been languishing on your bench, now is an excellent time to activate him. He should easily get 80 yards on the ground and some added yardage through the air. Therefore, he should be starter in place of any struggling or injured running backs you hold on your roster. - If Shaun Alexander isn't already salivating, he should be. Alexander and the Seahawks face a Bears defense that is giving up 160 rushing yards per game. They've also given up six rushing touchdowns in five games this year. I'm anticipating Alexander will churn out at least 120 yards and a score, but don't be surprised if he dominates the Bears en route to one of his signature multi-touchdown performances. - Coming off two weeks rest, it appears Corey Dillon (groin) is ready to play. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Dillon looked like his old self in practice Thursday. "I just think he's excited to play, said Lewis, "a prideful guy who wants to play. And he's worked very hard to get back to be able to play." The question for fantasy owners is whether he's worthy of a start this week against a stingy Baltimore Ravens run defense. It obviously depends on who you have in reserve, but don't expect Dillon to receive more than 20 carries as he works his way back from an injury. That equates to no more than 80 yards for Dillon. - Normally I wouldn't comment about players who are one bye, but don't be surprised if Jerome Bettis comes off Pittsburgh's idle week as the team's primary ball carrier. Bettis carried the ball 14 times last week versus 10 for Amos Zereoue. If you can acquire Bettis via a cheap trade, it could be a worthwhile transaction for your team. The Steelers face some soft defenses in future weeks, including the Jets, Chargers and Raiders during the fantasy playoffs.

This Week's Sleepers: Ladell Betts, Domanick Davis, Troy Hambrick and Curtis Martin

Wide Receiver

Prior to this season, there was a great debate in fantasy circles about which receiver should be drafted fourth, following Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. With each passing week, it's becoming more obvious that Torry Holt deserved the honor all along. The Rams receiver is currently tied with Harrison and Hines Ward for the league lead with 41 receptions. Moreover, he's poised to nab double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his career. Count on Holt having another humdinger of a performance this week against the Packers. Green Bay's best cornerback, Mike McKenzie, will likely miss the game with back spasms. His replacement Bhawoh Jue was burned twice last week for big plays, including the game winner. Holt is a lock for 120 yards and a score. - I'm not ashamed to admit that I've had my eyes fixed on Eric Moulds' groin all week. I own him in a couple leagues and the thought of plugging Tim Brown or James Thrash in as his replacement sickens me. The latest news on Moulds is that he has a slight tear in his groin muscle. Earlier this week he was upgraded to questionable. Even so, I'm definitely starting to make contingency plans. I suspect if I had a torn muscle in that area, I would be camped out on my Lazy-Boy with a bag of ice between my legs and a tube of Ben Gay in my hand . not running 40-yard fly patterns. If he doesn't practice today, Moulds will probably sit this one out. - Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter has a good chance of suiting up Monday night against the Chiefs. Porter is coming of hernia surgery and has been the top excuse for Oakland's struggles. While Porter's return will certainly add credibility to the Raiders down-field passing game, this team's problems run a lot deeper than one player's absence. I don't recommend starting Porter until November 2nd when the Raiders return from their bye to face Detroit. - Among receivers with 15 or more catches, Laveranues Coles leads the league in yards after the catch (YAC), averaging 8.0 yards. To put that figure into perspective, Marvin Harrison averages 4.1 YAC, Randy Moss is a bit better with 4.3 and Torry Holt is at 2.5. Despite Coles' ability to break tackles and make would-be defenders miss, he surprisingly has reached the endzone only once through the air in 2003. Look for that to change in Week 7, as the Redskins face a Bills defense that made Vinny Testaverde look like Joe Namath last Sunday. Coles should go for 110 yards and a score.

This Week's Sleepers: Dennis Northcutt, Terry Glenn, Ike Hilliard and Bill Schroeder

Tight End

With number one receiver Charles Rogers out for several weeks, Mikhael Ricks figures to play a bigger role in the offense. Ricks is coming off his best performance of the year with four receptions, 76 yards and a touchdown. If you need a one-week replacement for Freddie Jones or Dallas Clark, put Ricks at the top of your list. This week's opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, have surrendered touchdowns to fellow tight ends Alge Crumpler and Jeremy Shockey in previous games. Look for Ricks to get in the endzone this week and add 40-50 yards receiving. - Another tight end to watch this week is Wesley Walls, who contributed to the Packers passing attack last weekend with four receptions for 64 yards. Green Bay travels to St. Louis this week, a familiar setting for Walls. The 13-year veteran faced the inter-divisional Rams 12 times while he was with Carolina. In those 12 games, Walls averaged 47.1 yards per game and caught eight touchdowns. Don't be surprised if he and Favre hook up for their first TD of the season this week.

This Week's Sleepers: Mikhael Ricks and Wesley Walls

Kicker

At the time, I thought Mike Vanderjagt's successful onside kick against the Buccaneers two weeks ago was going to revolutionize the kicking game. If you missed it, Vanderjagt picked the ball clean off the tee and sent it high into the air. A Colts player raced 10-yards down the field, leapt up and caught it before the Buccaneers even knew what was happening. In contrast, most onside kicks are drilled end-over-end along the ground, skipping into the air after the second bounce. I bring this all up because apparently Vanderjagt's unique onside-kick style was illegal and should've been penalized. According to Rule 10, Section 4, Article A, on such a kick, the receiving team must be given a chance to receive the ball if it doesn't touch the ground. A kicking team is only allowed to recover an onside kick when it has traveled 10 yards AND when it has contacted the ground. This of course has zero impact on fantasy football, but it does prove that referees are knuckleheads and should be replaced by robots equipped with lasers and GPS equipment. - Vanderjagt and Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed are the only kickers on bye who are worth mentioning. If you have either, or are sick of your kicker providing your team with a measly five points, heed my advice and pick up one of the following free agents: Phil Dawson (CLE), John Carney (NOR) or Billy Cundiff (DAL). Each faces a defense that has been giving up big yardage and big points. Plus, Carney and Cundiff will be kicking in domed stadiums while Dawson gets the cozy confines of his home field with good weather in sight - The aforementioned kickers make excellent one-week replacements, but John Kasay is a buy-and-hold type player. If your kicking game has been struggling, get Kasay this week and make him your every-week starter. He hasn't missed a field goal this year, he has a long-range leg and he plays on a Panthers team that can score even against the league's best defenses.

This Week's Sleepers: Phil Dawson, John Carney and Billy Cundiff

Defense

Right now, the New Orleans Saints defensive players must be licking their chops. This week they will face the Atlanta Falcons, who will give Kurt Kittner his first NFL start. Two of his 17 passing attempts in 2003 have been intercepted. Kittner is an unknown commodity and may prove to be a pretty decent quarterback, but I don't see it happening this week. The Falcons are having trouble with pass protection. This combined with an inexperienced quarterback has me thinking the Saints are in for a big week. Anything less than three turnovers for the New Orleans defense would be a surprise. - The Cleveland Browns are giving up just 15.8 points per game and 281.2 total yards per game, ranking near the top of the league in both areas. They deserve serious consideration for a roster spot, especially in leagues that reward points for those categories. This week, the Browns face San Diego and Drew Brees, who has thrown seven interceptions this season. Look for another impressive defensive showing by the Browns.

This Week's Sleepers: New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns

The 6-Pack

Last Week's 6-Pack: Hacker Pschorr Octoberfest

Price Paid: $6.79

What the Bottle Tells Us: The beer is brewed according to Reinheitsgebot, a German law of purity established in 1516. It's 5.8% alcohol by volume.

What I Say: Having recently relocated from Southern California to the Midwest, I must say fall is an excellent time of year to enjoy a hearty beer, or as they say in Germany, "bier." The leaves are changing, the temperature's dropping and my fantasy teams are well above .500. I could yak on about this glorious season for hours, but onto the beer. My first Hacker Pschorr Octoberfest poured to a bold copper-penny color. It was so clear that I could almost watch a football game through it. As the beer cascaded out of its standard brown bottle, it formed a puffy off-white head that rose so quickly it nearly escaped the lip of my pint glass. The foam lasted until my glass was half-drained. The nose was dominated by a wonderful mixture of sweet malt aroma and hints of cinnamon. As for the taste, it matched the smell almost perfectly with added snippets of rye and what I categorized as vanilla flavor. After my third Hacker Pschorr, I can attest that this beer slides down the gullet quite nicely. If you're looking to venture away from the standard domestic beers, Hacker Pschorr Octoberfest would be a nice start. It's a highly drinkable beer that provides enough kick to wow your taste buds but it's not so heavy that it puts you in a coma.

Reader Comment: John from Wisconsin agrees that this is a tasty beer but suggests we would've been better off with a different choice. "Hacker Pschorr is a decent Octoberfest beer, although mine had a bit of a soapy aftertaste. If you want to take your fall beer tasting up a notch, try Spaten Octoberfest. It's the best Octoberfest around." Thanks, John. I'll make a fellow Wisconsinite proud by putting Spaten on my own personal list and enjoying it with a sauerkraut-laden bratwurst.

This Week's 6-Pack: Shiner Bock

Some of the Weekly 6-Pack's most loyal readers come from Texas, so it's not surprising that this Texas beer was one of the first reader recommendations I received. After weeks of searching various liquor store shelves, I've finally tracked down a 6-pack of Shiner Bock. Now you do the same, enjoy it with this week's NFL action and e-mail me your review next week.