- If Matt Hasselbust … er Hasselbeck … doesn’t break out of his slump this week, it’s time to consider reserving a permanent spot on your bench for him. So far this season he has just eight touchdowns. Seventeen QBs in the NFL have thrown more. Even worse for Hasselbeck owners is that he isn’t racking up many passing yard either. This week he should rebound against the 49ers even though many of his wideouts are battling injuries. San Francisco failed to stop Seattle’s passing game back in Week 3, allowing Hasselbeck to throw for 250+ yards and two touchdowns. He should duplicate that effort on Sunday.
- Don’t let this week’s match-up against the Patriots keep you from starting Rams QB Marc Bulger. Bulger’s been lighting it up lately, averaging nearly 300 yards in his last three outings. With Ty Law sidelined, the Rams signal caller should be primed for another big game. Expect something in the neighborhood of 280 yards and three scores.
- At this point, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you to get Drew Brees in your active lineup. If you’ve been afraid that he’ll come crashing back to earth the minute you start him, get over it. Brees has looked incredible lately and should fare well this week against a Saints pass defense that ranks second to last in the NFL. New Orleans allows more than 275 yards per game through the air. Look for Brees to end the day with at least 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- Jake Plummer fell just one yard short of a 500-yard passing performance. Ride his hot hand this week against the Texans. Houston has allowed 14 passing touchdowns this season, an average of two per game. Plummer should easily finish with 225 yards and two TDs.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jake Delhomme and Brian Griese
- Is there a group of fantasy enthusiasts who are more paranoid right now than Mewelde Moore owners? A couple weeks ago it looked like Moore might provide some competition for Ben Roethlisberger for offensive rookie of the year honors. My how things have changed. Moore saw his carries vanish last week after he fumbled a lateral pass. Consequently, Michael Bennett saw increased playing time. Onterrio Smith will return from suspension this week. Moe Williams still figures into the equation inside the five yard line. Mike Tice says he’s sticking with Moore as his starter to maintain the team’s rhythm. However, Moore is battling an ankle injury and Tice says he’ll sit out if he’s not 100%. Monitor the situation. If Moore doesn’t play, I expect Smith to play a big factor in the game.
- Look for the Cowboys to employ the same gameplan they used last week. That means a heavy dose of Eddie George, who proved he can be successful when given 20 carries. Dallas plays the league’s worst run defense this week, the Bengals. George is a great bet to log his first 100-yard rushing game as a Dallas Cowboy.
- Conventional wisdom says the Dolphins always field a tough run defense. After all, they have big name run stoppers like Jason Taylor, Zack Thomas and Junior Seau. Reality tells a different story. Miami allows 148.6 yards per game on the ground, 30 th in the league. As a result, you can start Emmitt Smith with confidence this week. He should register another strong game. It might surprise some fantasy owners to learn Smith ranks in the Top 15 in rushing yards, ahead of Thomas Jones and Fred Taylor. Look Smith to add at least 90 yards and a touchdown onto his growing NFL rushing records.
- Philadelphia RB Brian Westbrook picked a good time to get injured. Last week he missed a tough game against the Ravens. This week he’ll probably sit out against the Steelers, who rank third in the NFL versus the run, allowing fewer than 90 yards per game. Dorsey Levens will again fill-in, but don’t expect much. Anything more than 60 total yards would be a surprise.
- Ravens RB Jamal Lewis returns to action this week after a two-game suspension. Don’t forget to activate him. Although this week’s opponent, the Cleveland held Lewis in check in Week 1 of this year (57 yards), he has a stellar career against the Browns. Three of his top performances came against them – 295, 205 and 197 yards. Fresh legs should help him in his cause this week. Look for 140 yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Eddie George, Emmitt Smith and Onterrio Smith
- The Lions haven’t had much success running the football this season. Don’t look for them to break out this week against the Redskins, a team that ranks second in the league in run defense. Instead, expect lots of Joey Harrington passes. Washington has a good secondary, but they can be thrown on. Brett Favre had plenty of success in the first half of Sunday’s game before injuring his hand. If Roy Williams returns to action this week, he should have a busy afternoon. I expect 6-7 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown.
- The Jets have bottled up Eric Moulds in their most recent meetings. Moulds has posted fewer than 60 yards in each of his last three contests with the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. Even more telling is Buffalo’s last four scores against their division rival: 14, 6, 3 and 13. Don’t be surprised to see Moulds struggle again this week.
- In his last four games, rookie WR Michael Clayton has 356 yards and two touchdowns. He’s in sync with Brian Griese and has become Tampa’s biggest playmaker on offense. Clayton could post the best stats of his fledgling career this week against the Chiefs, who have been involved in their share of shootouts. If they get an early lead, Tampa will go to the air versus Kansas City’s weak pass defense. The Chiefs allow and average of two touchdown throws per game. Start Clayton and expect 100 yards and a touchdown.
- Chargers wideout Eric Parker has put together games with 70 or more receiving yards in two of the last three weeks. Sunday’s game against the Saints favors another strong performance. New Orleans allows more passing yards than any team in the NFC. That makes Parker an excellent sleeper pick this week with the capability to post 90 yards and a score.
- The Detroit Lions have given up some huge receiving performances. Keyshawn Johnson and Donald Driver have both posted 2-TD games against Detroit in the last three weeks. That makes Redskins wideout Laveranues Coles a good play this week. Coles has been hot on the road this year, finishing with 100 or more yards in two of three road games. I like his chances to finish with at least 85 yards and his first touchdown of the year this week.
- Are you desperate for a wide receiver with upside this week? How desperate? If you dig deep on your waiver wire, you might find a gem in Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell. After a promising preseason, Mitchell has pulled his typical disappearing act. He has just nine receptions on the year. While those numbers are discouraging, there’s reason for hope. Eagles starter Todd Pinkston has a bruised knee and is expected to miss this week’s game against the Steelers. That means Mitchell will get the start. Philadelphia isn’t going to be able to run against Pittsburgh, but they should be able to find some success passing. The Steelers have given up 240+ passing yards in each of their last two games. Mitchell will draw single coverage opposite Terrell Owens and has a good chance to finish the day with 60-70 yards and a possible score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Eric Parker, Laveranues Coles, Freddie Mitchell, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh,
- Jason Witten has been one of fantasy football’s hottest tight ends since Terry Glenn went down with a knee injury. Witten has 196 yards in the past two games combined and scored in both games. He’s a must-start this week against a Bengals defense that has allowed tight end scores in two of the last three weeks.
- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay has indicated to the media that he will start this weekend’s game against the Seahawks. That’s great news for Eric Johnson owners. Johnson struggled last week with Ken Dorsey under center. While the San Francisco TE didn’t have much success in his first meeting with Seattle this season (5 rec. for 39 yards), I expect him to bounce back this week. The Seahawks defensive line is banged up and they struggled to put pressure on Panthers QB Jake Delhomme last week. Rattay should have plenty of time to hook up with Johnson for 60-70 yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Boo Williams and Jeb Putzier
- Tampa ’s Martin Gramatica used to be one of fantasy football’s top kickers. While he isn’t having a terrible season, Gramatica hasn’t been as reliable as he once was. Even so, he’s worth a spot start this week. The Buccaneers have a home game Chiefs. Kansas City gives up more than 25 points per game, so Tampa should be able to put some points on the board. Without goal-line specialist Mike Alstott, don’t be surprised to see a couple drives stall out inside the 10-yard line.
- The Panthers have surrendered three field goals in two of their last three games, so start Sebastian Janikowski this week. The Raiders should have success moving the ball against Carolina’s 22 nd ranked defense.
This Week’s Sleepers: Martin Gramatica, Sebastan Janikowski, and Jason Hanson
- Redskins QB Mark Brunell has had an interception or fumble returned for a touchdown in two of the last three weeks. Sunday, Washington will travel to Detroit to face a ball-hawking Detroit Lions defense that has eight interceptions and a league-best 14 forced fumbles. They also rank #2 in the NFL in sacks. Start Detroit and count on a big game with a good chance for a defensive score.
- If you typically start the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense, consider sacrificing a roster spot for one week to pick up a replacement. The Bucs will face the red hot Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. The Chiefs have scored more than 100 points in their last two games. Their recent success makes playing Tampa a risk in leagues that factor points allowed into their scoring system.
This Week’s Sleepers: Lions and Giants
Last Week's 6-Pack: Moosehead
Price Paid: $5.99
Last week’s beer, Moosehead, comes packaged in a green bottle. Many connoisseurs will tell you green bottles allow light to penetrate the beer and turn it skunky. While I’ve experienced skunky beer in the past, I didn’t have that problem with Moosehead. The aroma did smell a little bit sour, but it certainly wasn’t foul. I could also pick up light grain and malt scents. Moosehead pours to a sudsy, soapy head that dissipates quickly. As for the taste, it reminded me a bit of Pilsner Urquell, which was reviewed here last year. The difference is Moosehead was a little bit less complex and full of flavor than a Czech pilsner. The aftertaste is a bit tart and slightly metallic. It’s not particularly pleasant, but nothing so off-putting that you’ll want to pour it down the sink. The most obvious characteristic is the carbonation. It almost punishes your mouth with prickly bubbles. That sensation makes me knock Moosehead down a couple notches in my overall rating. I’d classify it as an average pilsner that’s definitely more upscale than the American macro beers. It’s a good buy when it’s on sale. Otherwise, I think you can do better with an authentic European pilsner.
Reader Comment: “Moosehead? I'd like to prepare you in advance for disappointment,” says reader Aidan Cameron. “This is the Canadian equivalent of Schlitz.”
This Week's 6-Pack : John Courage Amber
I’ve reviewed plenty of Irish and British beers, but this is the first venture into Scotland. It might take some looking around, but if you can find a 6-pack of John Courage Amber, pick it up for this weekend’s games and let me know what you think next week.