- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown two or more touchdowns in every game this season. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s the most underrated QB in fantasy football. Admittedly, last week he managed just 79 passing yards against Miami’s stingy secondary. But things will get much, much easier this week when the Patriots welcome the Seahawks to Gillette Stadium in what could be a Super Bowl preview. Look for Brady to toss another two touchdowns and end the day with 220 yards.
- Don’t get too discouraged by the Packers offensive woes just yet. This week Green Bay will travel to Detroit, a team that Brett Favre has done well against in the past. Favre has six straight games against the Lions with two or more touchdown passes. Start him this week and expect another 200-yard, two-touchdown performance.
- Ben Roethlisberger might be the best rookie quarterback since Peyton Manning. Pittsburgh’s big QB has thrown at least one touchdown in every game he’s played as a pro. Last week was his best game yet. He ended the day with a 107.4 QB rating, 231 yards passing, one touchdown through the air and one on the ground. Nothing seems to faze the kid. Don’t be afraid to give him another start in Week 6. The Steelers are on the road in Dallas, but the Cowboys have given up eight passing TDs in their four games this season. Expect Roethlisberger to continue to find his talented wideouts and add two more scores to his already fat resume.
- Chad Pennington got off to a fast start this season, but has tapered off ever since. Start him this week against the 49ers. San Francisco has surrendered 10 passing touchdowns in five games this year. Pennington has a great opportunity to finish this week as one of the top two or three QBs. I’m expecting 240 yards and three touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Brunell
- Rudi Johnson is quietly on pace for 1,420 rushing yards. While he hasn’t been a touchdown machine like he was last year, consider the opponents he’s faced so far in 2004: Miami, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the Jets. Those teams have solid defenses. Fortunately, things get a little easier for Johnson this week. He’ll face a Cleveland squad that has given up an AFC-high eight rushing touchdowns. Set your expectations for Johnson at 100 yards and a touchdown this week. Anything more is gravy.
- Week 5 saw two unheralded running backs send shockwaves through the world of fantasy football. Denver’s Reuben Droughns had more than 200 yards of total offense and Mewelde Moore checked in with 180+. Unfortunately, the status of both players is up in the air. Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan has been cryptic about who his starter will be in Week 6. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Moore may end up forfeiting some carries to Moe Williams, who could return from injury. Regardless of what happens, both players deserve to be activated this week. I expect 110 total yards for Moore and 85 and a touchdown for Droughns.
- Bears RB Thomas Jones was the toast of the town after the first three weeks of the season. Now, he’s coming off the worst performance the year, just 32 yards against the Eagles. At this point, Jones owners are wondering what to expect for the remainder of 2004. My advice is to stay seated and keep your arms and legs in the vehicle at all times. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride from here on out. Playing in the NFC North, he’ll likely have at least a few more huge performances. But if you thought you landed one of the elite fantasy RBs in the middle rounds of your draft, it might be time to revise that thinking. Look for another disappointing game this week against a Redskins defense that is giving up just 78.8 yards per game.
- Lee Suggs is a strong play this week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Suggs slapped a career-best 186 yards and two touchdowns on the Bengals the last time these two teams met. He should have another strong outing this week, as the orange and black rank dead last in the NFL in rushing defense. They allow 168.5 yards per game. Suggs has the shiftiness and breakaway speed to bust off a long run. That’s exactly what I expect him to do this week. Look for 125 yards and at least one touchdown.
- After making headlines in Weeks 1 and 2, the Jacksonville Jaguars defense has been exposed a bit. They’ve given up big yards to LaDainian Tomlinson and Chris Brown. Look for Priest Holmes to come off his bye week well-rested and pumped. He should have little trouble busting the Jags for 130 all-purpose yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Lee Suggs, Artose Pinner, Mewelde Moore and Michael Pittman
- Titans wide receiver Derrick Mason has an impressive history against the Texans. The last time the two teams squared off in Tennessee Mason had a career day, finishing with 177 yards and three touchdowns. An improved running game has deflated the Titans’ passing stats this season, but expect a surge this week. Houston has been proven vulnerable to the pass time and time again. They’ve given up a league-worst 14 passing touchdowns. Mason is a good bet to have his best game of the season 115 yards and a touchdown.
- For whatever reason, Redskins wideout Laveranues Coles has been a standout fantasy performer in road games and a dud in home games. He’s posted 100 and 122 yards in his two trips outside the nation’s capital this year. Coles is on the road again this week against the Bears. Look for the trend to continue. The Bears give up more than 250 passing yards per game, so expect Coles to post around 110 yards and a touchdown.
- Rod Smith ’s last two games against the Raiders: 1 reception for 7 yards and 1 reception for 20 yards. He should do better than that this week, but don’t expect much more that 60 yards.
- I had a good chuckle earlier this week when I read that Cincinnati’s Chad Johnson sent each Cleveland cornerback a bottle of Pepto Bismol to help calm their stomachs as they prepare to cover him. Johnson has a great sense of humor, but the gesture puts huge expectations on the outspoken receiver’s broad shoulders. Johnson has been down this road before. Last year, he guaranteed a win against the Chiefs. His team came through and pulled out the victory. Look for him to back up his words again this week. He should post 90 yards and a touchdown against a Browns defense that gives up 235.6 passing yards per game.
- Start Jimmy Smith this week. Smith ranks seventh in the league in WR yardage and has an impressive 18.2 yards per reception, best in the league among receivers with 20+ receptions. He’s underrated and is an excellent number two WR in any fantasy league. This week he’ll face off against a Kansas City defense that ranks surprisingly well against the pass. However, those numbers are skewed because they faced Kyle Boller, who’s looking more and more like Heath Shuler every time I see him play. Smith will follow up last week’s 113-yard performance with another 100 yards and a touchdown.
- Sleeper alert: If you’re looking for a wideout with tons of upside this week, here are a couple names to consider. Wayne Chrebet and Justin McCareins will face a San Francisco defense that has been really eaten up by injuries. Last week, the 49ers gave up 231 yards and three touchdowns to Josh McCown. Chad Pennington should have little trouble dissecting what is quickly becoming junior varsity squad. Both Chrebet and McCareins have an excellent chance to score a TD.
This Week’s Sleepers: Justin McCareins, Wayne Chrebet, Jerome Pathon and Donald Driver
- The Tennessee Titans have really struggled against tight ends this season. In fact, they’ve given up at least one touchdown to a TE in every game so far in 2004 – a total of six on the year. That bodes well for Billy Miller who is due for a good game. Miller finished last season with 40 receptions, just one less than Boo Williams. He should become more of a factor in the Texans offense as the season progresses. Look for him to get involved this week with 40-50 yards and a possible score.
- Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick has gone from not having any success throwing passes to wide receivers to not having any success throwing the ball … period. Early in the year, it looked like the Alge Crumpler and Vick connection was one that was going to make headlines all season. Unfortunately, the wheels kind of fell off last week. Crumpler had a season low one reception for 24 yards. Give Crumpler one more start before relegating him to the bench. The Chargers have given up two touchdowns to tight ends this season and can be thrown on – even by Vick.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Witten, Chris Baker and Billy Miller
- If he’s still available on your waiver wire, you can’t go wrong with Cleveland’s Phil Dawson as your kicker. Dawson hasn’t missed a kick all season and is currently second in the NFL in scoring. He already has two games with three or more field goals and should see plenty of action this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati gives up 23.8 points per game. Look for Dawson to score 8-10 points in this heated division rivalry.
- Take a look at the last five scores of in the Packers vs. Lions series: 22-14, 31-6, 40-14, 37-31 and 29-27. I’d feel very comfortable starting Jason Hanson or Ryan Longwell this week. I’d rate Hanson slightly higher. In his last meeting with Green Bay, Hanson booted five field goals.
This Week’s Sleepers: Phil Dawson and Jason Hanson
- The New York Jets are the Rodney Dangerfield of defenses. No respect. So far this season they have six interceptions, four force fumbles, two defensive touchdowns and 10 sacks. Those are some solid stats, actually comparable to the Ravens and Patriots. If the Jets are available on your waiver wire, be sure to grab them this week. They’ll play host to a San Francisco 49ers team that was shutout on their last road trip.
- If your defense has been struggling this season, the best move you can make for yourself is to acquire the BuffaloBills. In Week 6, Buffalo will face off against the Miami Dolphins, a team that probably would only score 10 points if you spotted them 85 yards on every drive. The fact that the team’s top two QBs, Jay Fiedler and AJ Feeley, are injured and may miss the game make the Bills defense too good to pass up. Expect the Bills to cause a minimum of three turnovers, score a touchdown and hold the Dolphins to under 14 points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jets and Bills
Last Week's 6-Pack: Beamish
Price Paid: $5.59 on sale (4-pack)
Beamish was a bit more difficult to find than I had hoped. After listing it as this week’s 6-Pack, I went to five or six different liquor stores before I found one that carried it. My hour and a half long beer run was well worth the effort. Beamish is sold in 4-packs of pint-sized cans and it costs a bit less than Guinness or Murphy’s. Like other Irish Stouts that are available in “nitro” cans, Beamish puts on quite a show in the glass. The nitrogen releases into the beer and it cascades in the glass for about 45 seconds before settling into a massive, permanent, beige head. Really, is there any disputing that the nitro widget is one of the greatest inventions of the last decade? The beer itself is completely opaque and blacker than an Oakland Raider fan’s heart. As for the aroma, it’s very subtle, but one can pick up a nutty, caramel scent. Those smells carry over into the taste, but the predominant flavor here is undeniably coffee with undertones of sweetness and chocolate. Beamish is incredibly smooth (some might argue that it’s watery, but I don’t think so) and doesn’t make you wince with a bitter aftertaste. Those attributes make this beer an excellent choice for Weekly 6-Pack readers who rarely stray from American pilsners, but are interested in branching out to the world of stout. I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.
This Week's 6-Pack: Negra Modelo
The Weekly 6-Pack heads south of the border for the first time this week. Grab yourself a 6-pack of Mexico’s Negra Modelo to enjoy with this week’s games. Then let me know your thoughts by mid-week.