- Joey Harrington struggled mightily last year against the Cowboys, completing just five of 13 passes and throwing two interceptions before being benched. That was a different Dallas team and this is a different Harrington. The Cowboys have already allowed 13 passing TDs, including five in the last two weeks. Detroit’s QB has a 94.9 passer rating, third best in the NFC. Harrington is worth pulling off your bench or grabbing from the waiver wire if you need a starter with upside this week. He has a good chance to throw two scores.
- The Colts have the worst pass defense in the NFL. They allow just a shade fewer than 300 yards through the air per game, so start Trent Green this week. Don’t forget, the last time these two teams squared off, the result was a 38-31 shootout with no punts. With Priest Holmes dinged up, look for an increased reliance on the passing game. The result will be 2+ passing touchdowns for Green and around 250 yards passing.
- Keep riding Byron Leftwich. He’s averaging more than 318 yards per game over the last four weeks and has six TDs. This week, he travels to Houston where he’ll face a Texans defense that has been a pushover versus the pass. They’ve allowed a league-high 14 passing touchdowns. Leftwich should continue his hot-streak with 260+ yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- With Brian Westbrook expected to miss this week’s game against the Ravens, Donovan McNabb might have a difficult time against the Ravens. Westbrook’s injury will make the Eagles a one-dimensional team. It’s hard enough to face the Ravens when you have two dimensions. Without a strong running game, Baltimore will key on stopping the Eagles passing attack. That should limit McNabb. Baltimore has held opposing teams to 10 or less points in three of their last four games. You can’t bench McNabb, but don’t expect more than 225 yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Joey Harrington, Trent Green and Drew Brees
- Shaun Alexander carried the ball just 12 times in last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. It was the least amount of rushes since Week 11 of the 2002 season. Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren has indicated he’s going simplify the offense and get back to the basics this weekend. That should mean a healthy dose of Alexander. Look for a minimum of 20-23 carries Sunday against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed two rushing scores in each of the last two weeks and they surrender nearly 140 yards on the ground every game. Alexander has a good chance to rank among the top three RBs in Week 8. Pencil him in for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
- Chris Brown ’s name has graced the injury report for much of the season, but look for him to become permanent resident on the list for the remainder of the year. Tennessee’s starting running back has a turf toe, an injury that tends to linger. It’s unlikely that a week or two of rest is going to help, so look for Brown to gut it out this week against a Bengals defense that ranks dead last versus the run. With McNair sidelined, Brown should be the focal point of the Titans offense. Owners should expect 110 yards and a touchdown. If Brown delivers that type of game, I’d recommend trading him while his value is high.
- New England’s defense will likely try to fluster, confuse, pester and do anything the can to get in the head of Pittsburgh rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger this weekend. That should lead to a big game for running back Duce Staley. The Patriots are a team that can be run on. They allow 110 yards on the ground per game. What’s interesting about Staley’s stats to date is that he only has four receptions this year. In Philadelphia catching passes in the flat and on swing passes was how he got the bulk of his yardage. Look for him to factor into the passing game more this week because Roethlisberger will need a spot to dump off to his outlet RB in the face of blitzes. I expect 120 all-purpose yards. As usual, any touchdowns go to Bettis.
- Fantasy owners who drafted Kevan Barlow are more than a little disappointed in their running back. Barlow has just 367 yards. That’s less than Emmitt Smith and William Green. Ouch. Let bygones be bygones this week and activate the San Francisco RB. He faces a Bears defense that ranks 29 th against the run. While Chicago has managed to hold ball carriers out of the endzone, they do give up big yardage. Barlow is a good bet to finish with one of his better days. I expect 100 all-purpose yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kevan Barlow, Brad Hoover, and Kevin Jones
- Plenty of fantasy owners have been eagerly awaiting the return of two of last year’s top wideouts: Keenan McCardell and Anquan Boldin. McCardell returned to action last week with his new team, the San Diego Chargers, and was impressive from the get-go. He caught five passes for 65 just a few days after being traded and should be a solid #2 WR for any fantasy team. Start him with confidence this week against an average Oakland defense and expect around 80-90 yards with a possible score.
- Boldin comes with a bit more risk this week. He’s listed as questionable, but in media reports he’s been adamant that he’ll play. I expect at least a few big games from last year’s Rookie of the Year, but I’m not comfortable recommending him this week. The Cardinals don’t play well on the road and this will be about as long of a road trip as possible for them – all the way to Buffalo. It’s advisable to keep him reserved for another week since the Bills allow just 183.2 passing yards per game and they’ve only surrendered six TDs through the air.
- After a couple games that were well off his average, Chad Johnson finally returned to form before a primetime audience Monday night. Never one to shy away from a camera, Johnson got the best of shutdown cornerback Champ Bailey. That fact alone makes him an every-week starter. Count on a big performance from the brash receiver, who refers to himself as 7-Eleven because he’s “always open.” This week’s opponent, the Tennessee Titans, have allowed 12 passing touchdowns this season, just fewer than two per game. Johnson should connect with Carson Palmer for 110 yards and a touchdown.
- Marcus Robinson has become a must-start player. While he’s not posting huge yardage, he has five touchdowns in the last three weeks. Even if Randy Moss plays this week, look for a solid stat line from Robinson. I expect 70-80 yards and a score.
- If injuries or a bye week are forcing you to play match-ups with your wide receivers, consider acquiring one of Kansas City’s top receivers this week. Johnnie Morton is a solid choice. Believe it or not, he has more receiving yardage than Marvin Harrison. With at least four receptions in every game since Week 2, you can count on him for a minimum of 50 yards. However, against Indianapolis’ secondary, a much bigger game might be in store for Morton. Look for him to come close to the 100-yard benchmark and score a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Keenan McCardell, Johnnie Morton, Ike Hilliard and Derick Armstrong
- The Baltimore Ravens have given up touchdowns to tight ends in two of their last three weeks. If you need a tight end that will give you a decent one-week contribution, consider Philadelphia’s Chad Lewis. He caught a touchdown and had five receptions in Sunday’s overtime win against the Browns. He should be good for 40 yards and a possible score against the Ravens.
- After making regular appearances in the endzone for the first five weeks of the season, New England tight end Daniel Graham has cooled off considerably. He’s been held without a touchdown for the past two weeks. Don’t look for his drought to end this week. The Steelers haven’t allowed a tight end to celebrate in their endzone all season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chad Lewis and Chris Cooley
- I like each of the kickers in the Jaguars vs. Texans match-up this week. Both teams have their offenses clicking right now. That should lead to plenty of extra points and field goals for Kris Brown and Josh Scobee, who is coming off a game in which he booted four field goals. Look for both players to check in with around 7-8 points.
- Another kicker who could be good for a spot start this week is Jason Hanson. The Lions travel to Dallas to face a Cowboys team that allows 26 points per game. Kickers have had a lot of success against Bill Parcells’ team lately. The Cowboys defense has given up six field goals in the last three games. Hanson has a great chance to finish with a pair of field goals and a few extra points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kris Brown, Josh Scobee and Jason Hanson
- There are plenty of quality team defenses to pick up off your waiver wire this week. Start with the Arizona Cardinals. They face the Bills this weekend and the Dolphins in Week 9. Buffalo quarterback Drew Bledsoe looks washed up and gets sacked more than any other QB in the league – already 24 times this season. More importantly, he doesn’t take care of the football. Bledsoe has thrown seven interceptions and lost three fumbles. The Cardinals should be able to stymie Buffalo’s offense and cause at least a few turnovers this weekend.
- If you’ve vowed never to start the Cardinals, then perhaps you’ll consider the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners will visit Chicago, where rookie Craig Krenzel will get his first start as an NFL quarterback. Rookie QBs often spell big points for fantasy defenses, so the 49ers are a no-brainer for solid points no matter what scoring system you use.
- Finally, consider acquiring and starting the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers will face their arch-rival this week, the Raiders. Oakland has allowed a defensive score in three of their last four games. Those numbers don’t lie. Kerry Collins has settled down over the last couple weeks, but he and his team still make their share of boneheaded plays.
This Week’s Sleepers: Cardinals, 49ers and Chargers
Last Week's 6-Pack: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Price Paid: $5.99
With the Red Sox winning their first World Series since 1918, there’s no doubt there was plenty of Sam Adams consumed in the New England area this past week. Produced by the Boston Beer Company, this brew comes in a brown bottle with a raised Samuel Adams signature engraved in the glass. I hadn’t sampled it since college and was interested to see my reaction now that my palate is a bit more refined. The aroma is a bit muted, but the overall smell is flowery hops. Nothing spectacular, but pleasant. Fortunately, Sam Adams got considerably better marks as my tasting progressed. I was more than satisfied with how this beer pours. It delivered a thick frothy head that had outstanding retention. It left nice traces of foam that lasted until the glass was drained. The color was equally strong – a bold, copper tone. Likewise, the flavor also gets high praise. Sam Adams is dominated by hops and with those hops comes is a light bitterness. In addition, I found a nice chorus of spice and malt. What you won’t find here is anything resembling corn or rice like some of the other mass-produced domestics. This is an above-average to excellent beer that gets equally high marks for its reasonable price as it does for its taste.
This Week's 6-Pack : Moosehead
“Oh Canada! Our home and native land.” Time to head north of the border for a taste of Moosehead. Pick up a 6-Pack of Moosehead this week and send me your rants and raves mid-week.