- If you haven’t already moved Chad Pennington to your bench, now would be a good time. Despite a Weekly 6-Pack recommendation last week, Pennington’s statistics continue to be about as uplifting as a colonoscopy. Keep him away from your active lineup until he regains his form. This week, Pennington faces the Patriots. Last time out against New England he threw five interceptions. Look for another disappointing showing this week – 175 yards and a touchdown seems about right.
- In his last five games coming off a bye week, Peyton Manning’s has a combined 1,448 yards and 15 TDs. That’s an average of about 290 yards and three TDs per game. Manning owners should feel free to erupt into a loud, evil laugh at this point.
- Rams QB Marc Bulger has elevated his game in recent weeks. The past two games, he’s thrown for a combined 580 yards and five touchdowns. Expect a bit of a drop-off this week because he’s on the road, on the grass, and against the #1 rated Miami pass defense. On the positive side, the Dolphins haven’t been tested by a passing attack that’s quite as explosive as that of St. Louis, and they’re starting to show signs of wearing down from being on the field so long. I expect around 220 yards and a touchdown from Bulger, but the potential is there for Miami’s defense to wear down and give up a bigger game.
- An increased use of the shotgun formation has worked wonders for Byron Leftwich. The Jags QB has averaged 324 passing yards over the past three games. Leftwich’s days as a spot fantasy starter may be coming to an end. He’s developing into a pretty consistent player and has at least one touchdown pass in every game this season. This week, he’ll line up against division-leading Indianapolis, a team that he had success against three weeks ago. The Colts rank dead last in passing yards allowed, so Leftwich should be in your lineup unless you have a stud QB. I expect a minimum of 275 yards and two touchdowns.
- Start Steve McNair this week. He hasn’t been the most reliable QB this year, but the Titans will likely be playing catch-up Sunday against the Vikings. Minnesota allows more than 280 passing yards per game. What’s more interesting is that they’ve allowed a QB rushing TD in each of their last four games. Look for McNair to rack up 240 passing yards, 25 rushing yards and three total TDs.
This Week’s Sleepers: Byron Leftwich, Jake Plummer and Steve McNair
- Avoid all players from the Bills vs. Ravens match-up unless you’re starting one of the defenses or Eric Moulds. Last week, Willis McGahee got his first start and rushed for 111 yards against Miami. Travis Henry figures to reclaim his starting role this week, but it remains to be seen how the carries will be split up. Neither is a good play against Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense. Same goes for Chester Taylor, who will be filling in for the suspended Jamal Lewis. Buffalo has allowed just one rushing touchdown all season and holds teams to 90 yards per game on the ground.
- In just eight months, the Carolina Panthers defense has experienced a near total reversal of fortune. They used to be considered one of the best in the league. Now they can’t stop anyone. They give up more than 140 rushing yards per game and they’ve already surrendered seven rushing touchdowns. Things could get ugly with LaDainian Tomlinson coming to town this week. Look for 160 total yards and two touchdowns this week.
- After a breakout game a couple weeks ago, Amos Zereoue’s star has faded a bit. He has just 75 yards rushing in his last two games. Despite the drop in performance, I expect Zereoue to score big this week. The Raiders will face off against a soft Saints team that ranks second-to-last in run defense. Even more favorable for Zereoue is that the Saints give up a fair amount of passing yardage to RBs – 127 yards in the past two weeks alone. Assuming Tyrone Wheatley (shoulder) and Justin Fargas (foot) continue to sit with injuries, Zereoue is a safe bet to finish this game with 100+ total yards.
- For the first five weeks of the season, Pats tight end Daniel Graham was absolutely killing Corey Dillon’s value. Graham vultured five redzone scores. Finally, Dillon got in on the action last week with two goal line plunges. He’s averaging a robust 4.9 yards per carry and 104.4 rushing yards per game – top five in the NFL. This week he’ll have a tough time hitting those averages because he faces a stingy Jets run defense. Still, I like his chances. The Jets schedule has been soft so far and they may get a wake-up call this week. Look for Dillon to be in the 90-yard range with a touchdown.
- Warrick Dunn broke the hearts of plenty of owners last week when he carried the ball five times for just 13 yards. His hamstring remains a question mark, but it’s tough to bench him this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City has improved their ability to stop the run, but they still gave up 137 total yards and a score to Fred Taylor last week. Start Dunn unless you have a clear-cut alternative. I look for 115 all-purpose yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Amos Zereoue, Richie Anderson, Lee Suggs and Sammy Morris
- Be sure to start ReggieWayne this week against Jacksonville. In his last meeting with the Jaguars in the RCA Dome, Wayne caught 10 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. This game has the makings of a shootout, and I expect Wayne will be a major part of the action. Look for 110 yards and a touchdown.
- If you’re desperate for a wide receiver this week, I suggest looking to the Tennessee vs. Minnesota match-up for help. At this point, there’s a good chance that guys like Nate Burleson, Marcus Robinson and Drew Bennett have already been snapped up by your league mates. However, with Randy Moss (hamstring) questionable and Tyrone Calico (knee) out, I think you can dig even deeper. Consider acquiring Minnesota’s Kelly Campbell or Tennessee’s Eddie Berlin. Berlin will be the Titans number three WR this week and Campbell may fill the same role for the Vikings if Moss sits. I like both players’ chances of sneaking into the box score with 60+ yards and a possible score.
- Terrell Owens owners have to like the way their receiver has progressed since joining Philadelphia. In his first game as an Eagle, Owens had 68 yards receiving. Then 79. Then 107. Then 110. Last week 123. Sunday, the Eagles visit Cleveland and will likely deliver the Browns their first home loss. Cleveland’s defense tends to give up a fair amount of yardage, but rarely surrenders a passing touchdown. I expect Owens’ streak to snap this week. He’ll check in with around 100-110 yards.
- Saints WR Joe Horn has been a bit gimpy with a sore knee. At the rate Donte Stallworth drops passes, you’d think he has his sights set on signing a contract with Seattle. The misfortunes of both players could signal a breakout opportunity for Jerome Pathon this week and beyond. Pathon was listed as a sleeper here last week and I’ll trust him again this week. On Sunday, he’ll face a Raiders defense that has already given up 10 passing TD this year. Look for Pathon to make an impact at some point during this game with a long reception. I’m predicting 90 yards and a touchdown.
- Tampa wideout Michael Clayton has led his team in receiving for the past three weeks. He’s become a solid every-week starter in most leagues. This week, he should continue to see success when he lines up against an average Chicago Bears secondary. Clayton is clearly QB Brian Griese’s favorite target and should catch a minimum of six passes this week. That should put him in the 80-90 yard range with a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Eddie Berlin, Kelly Campbell, Jerome Pathon and Michael Clayton
- If you need a bye-week replacement for Eric Johnson in Week 7, consider acquiring Jeb Putzier. Denver’s other tight end, Dwayne Carswell has been suspended for disciplinary reasons this week. That means Putzier should get all the TE passes Monday night. Even with Carswell in the lineup, Putzier had been heating up. He has posted 160 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. He should find plenty of holes this week against a Bengals defense that has given up a touchdown to tight ends in each of the last two games. Bank on 55 yards and a score for Putzier.
- Count on the tight ends to factor heavily into the outcome of Sunday’s match-up between the Chiefs and Falcons. Neither team has been stellar at stopping TEs that can catch balls across the middle of the field. Kansas City has given up three scores to TEs this season while Atlanta has been burned a few times, most notably by guys that play the same type of game as Tony Gonzalez – Antonio Gates (80 yards) and Eric Johnson (86 yards). I expect Gonzalez to finish with slightly better stats. He’ll have in the neighborhood of 75 yards and a touchdown, compared to 50 yards and a touchdown for Alge Crumpler.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jeb Putzier and Jermaine Wiggins
- Count on a big game from Jason Elam this week. Elam ranks second in the NFL with 52 points and will face a Cincinnati Bengals team this week that gives up more than 25 points per game.
- My top sleeper pick at the kicker position this week is Tennessee’s Gary Anderson. If you hadn’t noticed by now, I’m projecting this game to be a high scoring affair. While Anderson won’t get you long field goals, he should have the opportunity to line up for at least a couple kicks from inside 40 yards. As a longtime Vikings kicker, he’s familiar with the confines of the Metrodome. That should work in his favor. Look for 8-9 points.
- If you don’t have confidence in Anderson, San Diego’s Nate Kaeding is a solid alternative. This week the Chargers will face the Panthers, a team that’s allowed two or more field goals in each of their last three games. Kaeding has connected on all nine of his field goal attempts this season, including a 53-yarder. The rookie has a good chance to score 10 points Sunday.
This Week’s Sleepers: Gary Anderson and Nate Kaeding.
- If you’ve been platooning different defenses in and out of your lineup this season, you may have found success starting whichever defense plays Miami. That should continue to work in your favor. However, if the St. Louis Rams aren’t available this week, consider grabbing the San Diego Chargers as an alternative. San Diego will face a Panthers team that is really struggling to put points on the board. They’re averaging under 12 points per game over the last three weeks. But that’s not the only reason to like San Diego. Carolina QB Jake Delhomme leads the NFL in interceptions with nine. A broken down running game is putting the pressure on the QB and it’s resulting in bad decisions. The Chargers haven’t scored a defensive TD this season, but their young secondary has an excellent chance to get on the board this weekend.
- The Dallas Cowboys defense has been a tremendous disappointment this season. They’re allowing 23 points per game this season, up significantly from the 16 points they allowed in 2003. Their struggles have likely landed them on your league’s scrap heap. If you’re desperate, you might have some luck playing them in Week 7 against the Packers. Green Bay has turned the ball over 12 times in their last three home games.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rams, Chargers and Cowboys
Last Week's 6-Pack: Negra Modelo
Price Paid: $6.99
I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to review a beer from south of the border, but Negra Modelo is the first Mexican brew ever reviewed here. The beer presented in a stubby brown bottle with gold foil. It’s a unique style that looks good when you’re kicked back with a remote control in your opposite hand. Scent-wise it’s very weak, but I did pick up a cocoa aroma and maybe the slightest hint of malt. When I poured it in my pint glass, Negra Modelo disappointed me a bit. The head was nonexistent from the start and never bothered to make an appearance. That in itself is a bit odd because this beer is so heavily carbonated. In fact, it’s so fizzy that it feels almost like Coca-Cola in the mouth. The color is quite dark, kind of a brownish-amber, but still transparent. While the flavor isn’t overpowering, Negra Modelo does offer some complexity. The first taste I noticed reminded me of green tea and to me that’s the predominant flavor here. Toward the finish, I noticed a bit of a metallic aftertaste, but overall it was pretty crisp. Very little, if any hops were detectable. I’d rate this as a slightly above-average imported beer. Maybe the next time I’m out at a Mexican restaurant, I’d order one up. However, I don’t see myself dropping seven bucks on another 6-pack.
This Week's 6-Pack: Sam Adams
A couple readers have suggested reviewing Sam Adams in honor of New England’s record-setting win streak. Works for me. The Pats are likely going to post their 20 th straight win this weekend. Go out and grab a 6-pack of Sam to celebrate.