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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

The Weekly 6-Pack - Week 1
Paul Sandy
September 10, 2004

Welcome to another season of The Weekly 6-Pack, the only fantasy football column that combines the greatest hobby in the world, fantasy football, with the greatest beverage in the world, beer. Every Friday, the Weekly 6-Pack will provide an in-depth look at the six key fantasy football positions – QB, RB, WR, TE, PK and DEF. It’ll provide you with predictions, projections, statistics and tidbits that will help you make your roster decisions.

Ah yes, then there’s the beer. As a sidebar to the fantasy information, The Weekly 6-Pack will review a different beer each week. All of-age Huddle members are encouraged to participate in this pilsner-powered experiment. Pick up a six-pack of the weekly beer, partake of its malted goodness, and let me know your thoughts by Wednesday of the following week.

Enjoy the feature. But more importantly, enjoy the beer.

Quarterback

  • It’s only Week 1, but Sunday is a statement game for the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle was miserable on the road last year, winning just two games. They travel to New Orleans to face a Saints defense that features the same starting secondary from 2003. While it was an above average group, the new 5-yard rule should be a boon for Seattle, a team that has three talented receivers and an emerging tight end. Look for Matt Hasselbeck throw for three touchdowns in this game and use his impressive performance as a springboard to a 30+ touchdown season.
  • Kansas City QB Trent Green passed for nearly 400 yards in his last meeting against the Broncos. Don’t expect another repeat performance in Week 1. The Broncos added shut-down corner Champ Bailey to an already stout secondary, which ranked fourth in the AFC against the pass. Another notable issue is that Kansas City’s receivers missed huge chunks of the preseason because of injuries. It could take awhile for Green to get synced up with is wideouts. Look for the Chiefs to work the ball to Priest Holmes on the ground and via short dump-offs. As a result, Green will be lucky if he passes for 225 yards and a touchdown.
  • In nine starts last season, Ravens QB Kyle Boller threw nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. That’s not exactly the stuff fantasy football dreams are made of. But look for a strong showing this week against the Browns. Former Giants head coach Jim Fassel was brought in to tutor Boller. Fassel did the same for John Elway more than a decade ago. Boller should post two touchdowns and 200 yards against the Browns, who will be focused on trying to stop nemesis Jamal Lewis.
  • If you drafted David Carr, you did so envisioning him as a backup with definite upside. In Week 1, I urge you to consider making an unconventional move and start Carr. I’m not suggesting that you bench a stud like Peyton Manning or Donovan McNabb. However, if you’re choosing between Carr and a mid-level QB, Carr certainly merits consideration. This week the Texans face the Chargers at home. San Diego’s secondary gave up more passing touchdowns than any team last season (36) – seven more than the next closest team. It’s a young secondary that is relatively unchanged. Look for Carr to open the season in fine form with 230 yards and two scores.

This Week’s Sleepers: David Carr and Kyle Boller.

Running Back

  • In two meetings last season, the Browns were absolutely humiliated by Jamal Lewis. Lewis broke off long run after long run in both games, finishing with an NFL-record 295 yards in Week 2 and 205 yards in Week 16. Cleveland is certain to be geared up for this game, so don’t expect another record-breaker from Lewis. Instead, look for a respectable 140 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Jets ranked 29 th against the run in 2003. The Bengals have one of the NFL’s most underrated offensive lines. These factors add up to a great match-up for Rudi Johnson. You can bet Cincinnati will try to ram the ball down the collective throats of New York’s linemen in an effort to ease Carson Palmer into his first regular season start. I rate Johnson among the likes of Priest Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson this week. He should see 30+ carries in this game and could approach 150 total yards. Expect at least one touchdown, as well.
  • With Michael Bennett out with an injury, Moe Williams is drawing some consideration as a potential fantasy starter in Week 1. One reason to reconsider that decision is that the Cowboys only gave up five rushing touchdowns all last season. Williams may rack up some decent yardage by catching swing passes and screens, but chances are he won’t be crossing the goal line this week.
  • The Falcons ranked dead last in yards allowed per game last season with 382. Look for continued struggles early in 2003 as the team tries to pick up a new defensive scheme under the guidance of former Packers defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. San Francisco may be missing fullback Fred Beasley because he’s questionable to play, but the Falcons defense is so porous that I expect Kevan Barlow to have a good showing nonetheless. Insert him into your lineup and look for 120 total yards and a score.
  • For the second year in a row, the Seahawks open up the season against the New Orleans Saints. In last year’s Week 1 match-up, Shaun Alexander posted a robust 124 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. The Saints have done little to tighten up a run defense that gave up more than 140 yards per game last season, so Alexander should fare well again. This game looks like it could be a barnburner and has the potential for 55+ points. I expect Alexander to sprint his way to two touchdowns and 140 total yards as the Seahawks take the first step toward a division title.
  • I’m in the minority, but I think Eddie George still has a little gas left in the tank. He proved it to me last year in a gutsy performance against the Ravens in the playoffs. George’s teammate, rookie running back Julius Jones, is battling a rib injury and will be very limited this week, giving George the bulk of the carries against Minnesota. Until the Vikings actually show me on the field that they’ve dramatically shored up their run defense, which gave up a league-worst 22 rushing touchdowns in 2003, I won’t believe they are a championship-caliber team. Chalk George up for 80 total yards and a touchdown.

This Week’s Sleepers: Eddie George, Thomas Jones and Curtis Martin

Wide Receiver

  • The name plate on the corner office door in the Arizona Cardinals’ headquarters might say “Bidwill,” but make no mistake, Tory Holt owns the team. In two meetings with the Cardinals last season, Holt caught 21 passes for spine-tingling 278 yards. Let that sink in for a few seconds … 21 receptions … incredible. Spending a second round draft pick on Holt might’ve seemed risky at the time, but you’ll be glad you did this week when he goes for 130 yards and two scores.
  • If you have Muhsin Muhammad sitting on your bench, consider activating him in Week 1. On Monday night, he’ll face a Green Bay defense that will be without its best cornerback, Mike McKenzie. While Steve Smith is Carolina’s top wideout, Muhammad finished last year strong. In his last five games, including the playoffs, Muhammad racked up 432 yards and three touchdowns. By comparison, Smith had 420 yards and four touchdowns in the same span. Muhammad is a good bet connect with QB Jake Delhomme for 85 yards and a touchdown.
  • Last season the San Diego Chargers gave up a league-worst 36 passing touchdowns. Plug Andre Johnson into your lineup this week. He should be ranked among the top five wideouts when Week 1 is in the books.
  • Like Johnson, Charles Rogers is another second-year wideout who is poised for a big week. His opponent, the Chicago Bears, will be without starting cornerback Jerry Azumah and starting strong safety Bobby Gray will try to play with a stinger. Rogers showed game-breaking ability last year in an injury-shortened season, scoring three touchdowns in the first five games. He’s Joey Harrington’s most familiar target and that makes him Detroit’s best chance for a touchdown reception this week against the Bears.
  • By all accounts, Eric Moulds had a terrible season in 2003. But it you’re a “glass is half full” type of person, it’s worth noting that Moulds had his best game last season against the Jaguars – the team he faces in Week 1. Moulds grabbed seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown in that meeting. The Jacksonville pass rush is looking inexperienced this year, so QB Drew Bledsoe should have plenty of time to find Moulds. One hundred yards and a score is within reach for the Buffalo’s top receiver.

This Week’s Sleepers: Muhsin Muhammad, Andre Johnson, Charles Rogers and Nate Burleson.

Tight End

  • Although Jeremy Shockey missed the entire preseason while recovering from foot surgery, he’s a must-play this week against the Eagles. Shockey has had some of his best games against Philly. All told, he’s posted 190 yards against his division rivals in three career meetings. It’s also worth noting that Shockey only has four touchdowns in his entire NFL career, but two of them have come against the Eagles. Don’t expect him to cross the century mark this week, but 40-50 yards and a touchdown is a reachable goal.
  • Start Boo Williams and Jerramy Stevens this week. Both players should play significant offensive roles as their two teams meet this week. Williams sprinted to the finish line last season, scoring in four of his last six games. Stevens had a terrific preseason and apparently finally has his head screwed on right. The game should see plenty of offense and I expect both players to finish with more than 50 yards receiving.

This Week’s Sleepers: Marcus Pollard and Jerramy Stevens.

Kicker

  • Tennessee kicker Joe Nedney popped his hamstring while trying to kick a ball as it fell off the tee. He will miss this week’s game against the Dolphins and could be out the entire year. If you drafted Nedney, be sure to grab a replacement off your waiver wire.
  • Anything less than three field goals for Jeff Wilkins this week will be a huge disappointment. Last year’s top fantasy kicker booted field goal after field goal in his two meetings against the Cardinals last season. He scored 25 points against Arizona alone – that accounts for more than 15 percent of his total scoring in 2003. He could be a difference-maker for your fantasy team this week if you drafted him.
  • The last meeting between the Bears and Lions was a field goal fest for Detroit kicker Jason Hanson. In that Week 10 game, Hanson went 4 for 4 on the day, scoring 12 points. The Lions should be much improved offensively this season and should move the ball well in this game. Start Hanson and look for three field goals to go along with an extra point or two.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Hanson and Matt Stover.

Defense

  • This is a great week to start the San Francisco 49ers defense. On any Sunday they will play an aggressive style defense that will cause a lot of turnovers. That’s their style. But this week is particularly sweet for San Francisco because they face the Atlanta Falcons, a team that runs a version of the West Coast offense that they will certainly know how to game plan against. Add in the fact that Michael Vick looked awful in the 29 snaps he took during the preseason, and this game has all the makings of a 4+ turnover game for the 49ers defense.
  • From 1995-1998, Gunther Cunningham established himself as one of the NFL’s premier defensive coordinators. During that span, his Kansas City Chiefs defense allowed an NFL-low 1,050 points and twice led the league in scoring defense. With Cunningham back in the fold, the Chiefs warrant consideration as a fantasy defense. This week they face off against the Broncos. Denver QB Jake Plummer has looked abysmal this preseason. Look for Kansas City to regain some of their mid-1990s swagger this week with a defensive touchdown.

This Week's 6-Pack: Amstel Light

We’ll start out the season with one of the top imported beers in America. Go grab yourself a 6-Pack of Amstel Light and enjoy it while watching the first week of NFL action. Next week, I’ll provide my comments.

As a reminder, here are the beers The Weekly 6-Pack reviewed last season: Heineken, Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale, Red Stripe, Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest, Shiner Bock, Pilsner Urquell, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Stella Artois, Tsingtao, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Boddington’s, Redhook ESB, Beck’s, and Pete’s Wicked Ale. Feel free to e-mail me if you have a beer you’d like to see reviewed.