- Last week, Patriots QB Tom Brady got a monkey off his back. Historically, he’s had many of his poorest fantasy performances at home, failing to throw a single touchdown pass in five of eight home games last season. But in Week 1, at home against the Colts, Brady looked like he could be fantasy football’s next 30+ touchdown quarterback. On the day, he compiled 335 yards and three touchdowns. Start him again this week when he travels to face the Cardinals and look for another 300-yard, multiple TD game.
- Brett Favre had an outstanding game NFL-wise Monday, completing 15 of 22 passes with no interceptions and a 101.1 quarterback rating. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Favre left many owners who needed him on Monday Night Football out to dry. His 143 yards passing and one touchdown was less than the stats compiled by A.J. Feeley in one half. But just when you think things are bleak, the Chicago Bears come to town. In his last four meetings with Chicago, Favre has averaged more than 240 yards and two touchdowns per game. Stick with Favre this week. He should reward you with at least 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- If you need to dig deep for a quarterback this week, consider Joey Harrington. After snapping a 24-game road losing streak last week, the Lions settle back into the friendly confines of Ford Field. They’ll welcome a Houston Texans team that made Drew Brees actually resemble a decent NFL quarterback last week. Brees passed for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Harrington should easily surpass those stats and post 240 yards and two or three touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Joey Harrington and David Carr
- If you claimed Lamar Gordon off your waiver wire this week, now is a good time to see whether your move will pay any dividends. Gordon is scheduled to get the start this week when the Dolphins travel to face Cincinnati. The Bengals are coming off a humiliating performance last week against elder statesman Curtis Martin. Martin carried the ball for 196 yards and two touchdowns last week. Look for Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis to make some adjustments, but he can only do so much with the talent he has on defense. One hundred all-purpose yards should be a lock for Gordon this week.
- Don’t underestimate the significance of Stephen Jackson’s fumble on his first official NFL carry last week. Jackson was rumored by some to be a possible goal-line replacement for Marshall Faulk. But with Jackson already having put the ball on the ground, head coach Mike Martz could rethink his decision. Look for Faulk to go for another 120+ yards again this week and score a pair of touchdowns.
- Do whatever it takes to get Vikings RB Onterrio Smith in your lineup this week against Philadelphia. Here’s a look back at how much total yardage and scores running backs have generated against the Eagles in their last five games -- Tiki Barber (200 yards and 1 TD), Stephen Davis and Deshaun Foster (163 yards and 1 TD combined), Ahman Green (172 yards), Rock Cartwright (96 yards and 1 TD), and Kevan Barlow (187 yards and 2 TDs). Assume the Eagles cannot stop running backs until they prove otherwise.
- During the preseason it looked like Corey Dillon was running with two cinder blocks chained to his feet. However, in his first regular season action of the year last week against the Colts, Dillon looked shifty and was a step away from breaking a long run on at least a few occasions. He ended up with 86 yards on 15 carries, a robust 5.7 yards per carry average. It goes to show you how little the preseason means. Get Dillon into your lineup this week against a Cardinals defense that was blasted for 176 yards on the ground last week against the Rams. After the Patriots secure an early lead, I expect Dillon to pound the Cardinals for 150 yards and a touchdown.
- For whatever reason, fantasy owners fear the small running back. I’m guessing by the end of this season the odd apprehension about drafting and depending on running backs who are less than 220 lbs. will vanish. Last week, Warrick Dunn, Quentin Griffin, Tiki Barber and Bryan Westbrook each rewarded owners with outstanding numbers. Will there be nicks and bruises along the way? Sure. But the same can be said of any running back. Look for Dunn, Barber and Westbrook to each eclipse the century mark this week while Griffin comes back down to earth a bit with 85 yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Onterrio Smith, Warrick Dunn and Lamar Gordon
- After a preseason of unprecedented turmoil, the Dolphins appear to have an offense that is destined to spend a lot of time on the wrong side of the 50-yard line. That has to have Chris Chambers owners feeling a bit anxious. Fortunately, there’s hope. A.J. Feeley actually looked quite competent last week. And while his stats were less than impressive, Chambers had 10 passes thrown his way and caught six of them. That’s solid for any receiver, unfortunately they were all of the short-yardage variety. Look for the team to open up the offense this week against a Bengals secondary that gave up a 46-yard touchdown last week to the Jets. Chambers should finish the day with 85 yards and a long touchdown.
- One of my top preseason sleepers, Deion Branch made an immediate impact in 2004. He caught seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Last year, the big knock against Branch was a lack of touchdowns and, in particular, a lack of redzone looks. A good sign for owners of the diminutive receiver is that he caught his touchdown from inside the 20. If you entered the season planning on Branch being on your bench, it’s time to reconsider. Activate him this week against the Cardinals. He’s good for another 80-yard game and a possible score.
- Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey is playing like a man on a mission. He absolutely shut down Tony Gonzalez last week and seems to want to prove that his team got the better end of the Clinton Portis trade. Consider benching Jimmy Smith this week. He’ll likely be blanketed by Bailey all game and will have a hard time finishing with more than 50 yards.
- Rookie Roy Williams is a solid play this week against the Texans. Last season, Houston ranked second to last in the entire NFL in pass defense, giving up more than 230 yards per game through the air. Things don’t appear to be any different this season. The Texans gave up two passing touchdowns to the Chargers in Week 1. With Charles Rogers out for the season, Williams should be a frequent passing target and get his first career touchdown this week.
- Keyshawn Johnson led all NFL receivers with 15 passes thrown in his direction last week. The Cowboys likely won’t have another game all season where they throw quite so much. However, I like Keyshawn’s potential to be a great #3 fantasy receiver or even a solid #2 this season. He’s a proven possession guy who’s playing with intensity and passion. Those aren’t words that have been used to describe Johnson in a long time. Look for him to consistently catch 6-8 passes per game. He may not match his 111 yards from last week, but there’s a good chance he’ll go for 80 yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chris Chambers, Roy Williams, Donald Driver and Freddie Mitchell
- Last season, Tony Gonzalez started the year against San Diego with two receptions for 18 yards. The lackluster performance had fantasy owners sweating, but Gonzalez soon erupted and finished the season with 917 yards and a hefty helping of touchdowns. Fast forward to this year: Gonzalez had familiar slow start, posting another two reception game, this time for 17 yards. The moral of the story is don’t panic. Look for Gonzalez to return to his dominant form this week against Carolina. Sixty yards and a touchdown are realistic expectations.
- I love Erron Kinney’s chances of getting into the endzone this week against the Colts. In Week 1, Indianapolis gave up 10 receptions to New England’s tight ends for more than 70 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Titans and Steve McNair are likely itching to test out their passing game. They went relatively untested in their opening game against Miami, attempting only 14 passes. Look for an offensive explosion from Tennessee this week and 50 yards and a touchdown from Kinney.
This Week’s Sleepers: Erron Kinney and Jason Witten
- If your starting kicker scored less than five points last week, consider acquiring Redskins kicker John Hall. Washington will be able to move the ball this year with Clinton Portis churning out yards. That should lead to plenty of field goal opportunities. Hall led all NFL kickers with four field goal attempts last week, connecting on three. He should have plenty more chances as the season progresses, including another three attempts this week against a terrible Giants defense.
- The Packers have scored 30+ points in each of their last four meetings with the Bears. Get Ryan Longwell into your lineup this week and count on 9-10 points.
- The Vikings and Eagles are all set to trade punches Monday night. If these two teams combine for less than 55 points, I’ll promise to review Old Milwaukee before the season is over. It ain’t going to happen. Start David Akers and Morten Andersen this week. They should both be good for double digits.
This Week’s Sleepers: John Hall and Morten Andersen
- If your league rewards defenses for turnovers and sacks, but points and yards allowed don’t factor into the equation, consider acquiring and starting the Green Bay Packers defense. Aggressive is the buzzword with the Packers. New defensive coordinator Bob Slowik promises to blitz, blitz and then blitz some more. The high-risk, high-reward scheme will put the Pack near the top in turnovers and sacks, but it could leave the team vulnerable to big plays. They should wreak some havoc this week against Chicago’s young QB, Rex Grossman.
- Start the Buffalo Bills defense this week. Entering the season, they were a highly underrated group. They’re one of the NFL’s toughest teams against the run and don’t surrender a lot of points. The Bills should fare well this week against the Raiders. Rich Gannon doesn’t have the offensive weapons he once had and it looks like he’s trying to do too much. Look for him to force some passes this week and give up a couple interceptions, one for a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and New Orleans
Last Week's 6-Pack: Amstel Light
Price Paid: $7.99
Amstel Light is marketed as “the beer drinker’s light beer.” It’s a good tagline. Amstel light does offer more flavor and complexity than any of the big three domestic light beers. In the glass, this Dutch beer looks indistinguishable from your standard lights. It pours to a thin soapy head that dissipates by the time you put the bottle on the coffee table. The smell isn’t overpowering, but I could certainly pick up a grainy aroma with subtle grassy hops. Those tones carry over into the taste. The brewers managed to squeeze some taste into Amstel light; hops are easier to detect in this beer than in any other I’ve had in this category. Not surprisingly, like other light beers, the texture is quite watery. Amstel Light finishes with a jazzy aftertaste that’s slightly more robust than you’d get from a Bud Light or Miller Lite. This is a drinkable and enjoyable beer. My main beef with Amstel Light is the price. I’m not convinced that it’s substantially better than my light beer of choice, Miller Lite. For about the same price, I can get a 12-pack of Miller. If all you ever drink is light beer, then give Amstel Light a try. It offers more flavor and character than you’ll be used to, but not so much that you’ll be turned off. As for myself, I prefer bolder beers. However, if I ever start agonizing over my figure, Amstel Light might find its way back into my fridge.
Reader Comments: “ Amstel Light is not flashy, not over hopped, and is balanced upon hitting your palate,” writes Shane Cowger of Detroit. “On draft it has more taste complexity than many non-light beers. I recommend stepping up to Amstel Light next time you grab a light beer.”
This Week's 6-Pack : Harp
The 6-Pack received more than a hundred recommendations for beers last week. Easily the most popular suggestion was Yuengling. Unfortunately, I’m in the Midwest and can’t find it. Next time I’m on the East Coast, I’ll be sure to bring back a 6-Pack. In the mean time, I’m glad to hear your recommendations for beers with larger distribution areas, including this week’s beer: Harp. This Irish beer was showered with high praise from reader Tom Hinkle. Grab a 6-pack for enjoyment during this weekend’s games.