- Chargers QB Drew Brees lit up the Raiders defense a few weeks ago. He ended the day with five touchdowns and more than 275 yards passing. You can bet Brees is in for another solid performance this week. The Raiders rank in the bottom half of the league in pass defense. Start him with confidence.
- With the bye weeks behind us, most owners don’t need a sleeper. But if circumstances dictate a radical move at QB for your team, you might find value in Drew Bledsoe in Week 11. The Bills offense is playing a bit better now that they have a formidable running back in Willis McGahee. That will open things up a bit for Bledsoe against the Rams, who have been proven to be vulnerable against the pass. He has a great chance to toss two touchdowns Sunday.
- Last week, David Carr absolutely killed fantasy owners when he turned in his worst performance of the season against a notoriously feeble Indianapolis defense. Carr owners who are still bitter about the performance might have already decided to move him back to their benches. I’d advise against such a move. Green Bay has allowed 20 passing touchdowns this season – an average of more than two per game. In addition, it’s worth noting that the Texans have scored 20+ points in every home game this season. Carr is a safe bet to finish the day with 200 yards and two touchdowns.
- This might be a good time to move Matt Hasselbeck to your bench. Seattle will face the NFL’s top rated pass defense Sunday. Miami allows only 150 passing yards per game. Hasselbeck’s value as a fantasy QB has been crippled by dropped passes and inconsistency. Owners who drafted him probably feel like they’ve been dragging an anchor all season long. Bench him this week because there’s very little risk that he’ll muster up a performance against Patrick Surtain and company that will make you regret such a move.
This Week’s Sleepers: Drew Bledsoe, David Carr and Joey Harrington
- I wonder if sales of Pepcid AC and Zantac spiked in the hours after last week’s Colts game. Edgerrin James owners certainly had a bit of indigestion. Their RB should’ve been the focal point of the offense during “garbage time” when the game was already in hand. Instead, Peyton Manning continued to chuck the ball downfield, limiting James’ opportunities. He has zero touchdowns in the last four games, exacerbating an already frustrating situation. Don’t expect a bump in production this week. The Bears have only allowed four rushing touchdowns the entire season. James should be good for triple-digit yardage, but he’s not likely to get you a 20-point game.
- Emmitt Smith has been one of the biggest surprises in 2004 and he’s worth starting again in Week 11. While he doesn’t always get you big yardage performances, he makes up for it in touchdown production. Smith is tied for sixth place in touchdowns among running backs with eight. Look for 90 yards and at least one touchdown this week against a Carolina defense that has allowed a league-high 15 rushing touchdowns.
- I’m predicting a break-out type performance from Detroit Lions rookie running back Kevin Jones. Jones had a solid stat line last week, a career best 80-yards rushing, and he’s learning how to be an effective runner in the NFL. His problem earlier in the year was that he often failed to let plays develop. His cat-like quickness brought him to line too quickly. Jones’s speed is reminiscent of Michael Bennett, who struggled with the same problem in his rookie year. Bennett figured things out around Weeks 11-13 in the 2001 season. Jones is at that point. Don’t be surprised to see his first 100-yard game this week, ironically against the Vikings.
- Reuben Droughns has been decent lately, but he certainly has experienced a drop-off since posting two consecutive games with 180+ yards. Count on a return to form this week. Droughns and the Broncos visit the Saints and their NFL-worst run defense. One hundred sixty yards and a touchdown are not out of the question for Droughns.
- Steelers RB Duce Staley may return from a hamstring injury this week. It’ll be interesting to see if Jerome Bettis cuts into Staley’s playing time. As a starter, Bettis racked up two straight 200-yard games. I suspect the days of Staley hammering defenses for 140+ yards are over. A more even distribution of carries is likely. Still, a match-up this week against the Bengals is too juicy to pass up. Cincinnati surrenders over 140 yards rushing per game. Staley should be a lock for 80+ yards if he suits up.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Jones, Michael Pittman and Michael Bennett
- Be sure to study the box scores a little bit more closely than usual following Sunday’s games. There were a few QB changes made in the past week. A new QB frequently shifts the fantasy value of wideouts in an offense. Players who’ve been under the radar all season become more important parts of the offense. Pay particular attention to second-tier receivers who frequently work with second-string QBs in practice and veterans who run good routes. A player like Taylor Jacobs, Jamaar Taylor, Ike Hilliard or Darnerian McCants could become a fantasy factor before too long.
- Now is an excellent time to trade Patriots receiver David Givens. He currently ranks in the Top 10 WRs in receiving yardage. He is quietly having one of the most surprising seasons in fantasy football. However, New England’s offense is getting healthy. Troy Brown returned to action a couple weeks ago, and it appears Deion Branch will see playing time soon, as well. Givens will have a couple more good games before the season is over, but his star is destined to fade.
- Hines Ward has had success against the Bengals in recent meetings. He’s scored in three of the last four games against Cincinnati. Ward’s game has experienced diminishing returns with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Here’s hoping for good production this week, a tough schedule to close out the season could make the situation even tougher on Ward’s owners. Look for 100 yards and a possible TD against the Bengals.
- While Ward has seen a drop in his numbers, another receiver is beginning to post very Ward-esque numbers. Muhsin Muhammad has been a model of consistency lately, gaining 90 or more yards in his last three games, with a whopping five TDs to boot. He’s a must start for the immediate future and should continue to out-produce rookie Keary Colbert. I expect another 90-yard outing this week against the Cardinals.
- Good news and bad news for Torry Holt owners. The good news is he’s showing no side affects from a concussion last week and is schedule to play in Week 11. The bad news is he’s been a major disappointment in road games this season. Holt has average roughly 30 yards per game and hasn’t scored in his last three road outings. That includes a backbreaking four-yard, zero-TD performance against the Dolphins. Start him this week, but know the potential is great for a letdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ike Hilliard, Roy Williams, Ashley Lelie and Darius Watts
- Oakland tight end Doug Jolley is a great sleeper play this week against the Chargers. San Diego has given up a tight end touchdown in three of their last four games, including one to Jolley a couple weeks ago. He’s averaging 45 yards over the last three games, so a goose egg is unlikely. What’s more, Jolley has become the most effective red-zone target for QB Kerry Collins. The duo has hooked up for two touchdowns in the last three weeks. Count on 40-50 yards and a probable score for Jolley.
- Like the Chargers, New Orleans has also had a difficult time keeping TEs out of the endzone lately. They have allowed five touchdowns in their last five games. That makes Jeb Putzier an excellent start in Week 11. Expect 60 yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Doug Jolley and Jeb Putzier
- The Carolina Panthers have given up two or more field goals in their last three games. Start Neil Rackers if you’re desperate for a kicker who can score you 7-8 points this week.
- Activate Martin Gramatica this week against the 49ers. He has been battling a hip injury, but played last week. This week’s opponent, San Francisco, has allowed some huge days for kickers lately, including two games with three field goals over the last three weeks. Even more promising for Gramatica is that San Francisco has given up 79 points in their last two games. The Tampa kicker is a lock for 8-9 points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Neil Rackers and Martin Gramatica
- It often works in the favor of fantasy owners to start defenses that are facing off against rookie quarterbacks. That makes the Atlanta Falcons a must-start in Week 11. They’ll go up against young Eli Manning and should be good for at least a couple interceptions and a handful of sacks. Atlanta’s front four was absolutely dominant last week against the Buccaneers, registering seven sacks. Look for another huge game this week.
- The Miami Dolphins have indicated they’re going to start A.J. Feeley Sunday. That could mean that the strategy of starting whichever defense is facing Miami is destined to resurface. Feeley started two games earlier this season and threw two interceptions in each outing. It was also clear that he didn’t have the confidence of the offensive line. They allowed Feeley to be sacked eight times in those two starts. Plug in the Seattle Seahawks this week and look for a huge performance. Miami’s long, long trip across the country to the Pacific Northwest won’t help them in their cause to put points on the board.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns
Last Week's 6-Pack: Rolling Rock
Price Paid: $5.49
Brewed in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rolling Rock positions itself as a slightly more upscale beer than the big three American marco brews. It comes in a green bottle and is more affordably priced than most of the beers reviewed in this column. Unfortunately, a reasonable price is about the only thing Rolling Rock has going for it. After opening my first bottle and inhaling the beer’s fragrance, it was terribly offensive. There’s no mistaking that one of the key ingredients in this beer is corn. Take a whiff of Rolling Rock with your eyes closed and you’ll swear you just opened up a can of Green Giant sweet corn and not a bottle of beer. The straw-colored beer pours like your standard American pilsner – with a soapy head that flees faster than a Bush cabinet member. In terms of taste, it’s predictably blah. The corn characteristics are certainly present, as is a strange sulfur undertone. It’s generally a bit on the watery side. While the malts are more prevalent than some of the other beers you’ll find in this style, it’s just not a strong overall presentation. My conclusion: The price is nice but the taste is a waste.
Reader Comment : Pennsylvania native Daniel Shay is in full agreement with me on his states most famous beer. “Rolling Rock at best is a marginal step up from the Macro Brews,” writes Shay. “Slightly colored, carbonated, and tasteless! Stick with the Micro and Craft brewed beers.”
This Week's 6-Pack : Sierra Nevada Porter
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one of the highest rated beers I’ve reviewed in this column. It’s time to see if the excellence carries over to other beverages produced by the brewery. Grab is 6-pack of Sierra Nevada Porter and see how it stacks up.