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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

The Weekly 6-Pack - Week 16
Paul Sandy
December 24, 2004

Quarterback

  • If it weren’t for Billy Volek, Trent Green might be the darling QB of the fantasy playoffs. Green has thrown three touchdowns in three straight games. Look for continued success this week from the steady KC quarterback this week against the Raiders. Green threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns against the hated division rivals just four weeks ago. I expect another 300-yard, multi-touchdown performance against an Oakland defense that has given up 34 or more points in each of the last three weeks.
  • Over the years, domed stadiums have brought out the worst in Brett Favre. But that trend seems to have gone the way of the Rubik’s Cube. In two dome games this season (vs. Indianapolis and vs. Detroit), Favre has a combined 615 yards and six touchdowns. This week, he’ll be on the road against the Vikings in the Metrodome. The last time he was there, he threw three touchdowns. The moral: Don’t let the dome scare you away from Favre. He should be good for 2-3 touchdowns on Christmas Eve.
  • No team in the NFL has allowed more passing touchdowns than the Houston Texans. Starting Byron Leftwich against them is an enticing proposition to be sure. However, consider Leftwich’s track record against Houston. In three career starts versus the Texans, Leftwich has thrown just two touchdowns and six interceptions. That includes a zero-TD, two-INT performance earlier this season. All I’m saying is weigh your options. If I’m a Leftwich owner, I’m not sure I want to rest my championship hopes on his arm this week.
  • Need sleeper a QB for what is championship week in most leagues? I love Jon Kitna versus the Giants. New York has been terrible on defense lately. They’ve allowed eight passing touchdowns in the last three games. And consider the competition – Patrick Ramsey, Kyle Boller and Ben Roethlisberger. Look for Kitna to hook up with his talented receivers this week for at least two touchdowns.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jon Kitna and Kerry Collins

Running Back

  • In leagues that use a flex position and those that use a third running back, I’d give consideration to plugging Sammy Morris into your active lineup. Morris quietly posted a decent stat line last week against the defending Super Bowl champs. Although he only carried the ball nine times for 27 yards, Morris served as Miami’s goal-line ball carrier and scored two touchdowns. What’s even nicer is he was a factor in the passing game. He led the team with 46 yards receiving. A match-up this week against the Browns promises to provide more scoring opportunities for Morris. Look for 85 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
  • Rudi Johnson should have a field day this week against the Giants. New York has allowed a 100+ yard rusher in each of the last three games. Their steady tumble down the rankings of NFL run defenses coincides with Eli Manning’s entrance into the starting lineup. Last week’s performance against the Steelers not withstanding, the Giants defense is on the field way too long and it wears down on them. Look for Johnson, who ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing to pound the Giants for 130 yards and 1-2 touchdowns.
  • Although Marshall Faulk has scored in both of the games St. Louis played on Monday night this season, it’s best to keep him on your bench on MNF in Week 16 against the Eagles. In fact, keep all your Rams RBs out of your lineup. The Eagles have held opposing RBs to fewer than 100 yards in their last three games. In the entire season, they’ve given up just nine rushing touchdowns.
  • Mike Shanahan is notoriously hated by the fantasy football community. So it came as no surprise this week when he declared Reuben Droughns the starting RB against the Titans even though rookie Tatum Bell has clearly been the better back over the last couple games. The announcement has many owners wedged between a rock and a hard place. My suggestion is to avoid this situation if at all possible. If you can’t, then Bell would be my choice as a fantasy starter. He should get his share of the carries and I suspect he’ll get the goal-line work, as well.

This Week’s Sleepers: Sammy Morris, Shaud Williams and Michael Bennett

Wide Receiver

  • Eddie Kennison is the hottest receiver in fantasy football not named Drew Bennett. He has logged five touchdowns in the last three games. If you’ve have your reservations about playing Kennison because he has been inconsistent throughout his career, it’s time to face the facts. He’s a Top 15 fantasy receiver. Be sure he’s in your active lineup this week against the Raiders – a team he got the better of a few weeks ago when he notched 149 yards and a touchdown.
  • Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss has scored more touchdowns against the Packers than against any other team in the NFL. The Packers have vowed to roll their top cover corner Al Harris to Moss all game. That same strategy didn’t work last week against Jimmy Smith and it likely will prove insufficient again in Week 16. Count on a big game from Moss – 110 yards and two touchdowns is not out of the question.
  • At the beginning of the season Isaac Bruce didn’t look like a 32-year old receiver. The Rams wideout logged four straight 100-yard games. But December hasn’t been as kind. Bruce hasn’t had a game with over 40 yards receiving this month. The good news is St. Louis will likely have QB Marc Bulger back in the lineup. The bad news is Bruce and the Rams will face an Eagles defense that gives up just a shade over 200 yards passing per game. Give Bruce the benefit of the doubt this week unless you have a great replacement. In his last full game with Bulger, the veteran WR posted 170 yards and a TD.
  • Last week, a bunch of fantasy owners got burned when they decided to keep Derrick Mason on the bench. Mason had suffered an ankle injury the week before and was questionable. He ended up showing no signs of the injury en route to a nine-reception, 121-yard, one-touchdown performance. Don’t make the same mistake twice. Get Mason in there this week against the Broncos. With Chris Brown on IR for the rest of the year, the Titans are likely to gear their offense heavily toward the pass. The result should be 90-100 yards and a TD for Mason.

This Week’s Sleepers: Lee Evans, Koren Robinson, Peerless Price and Todd Pinkston

Tight End

  • Give Jermaine Wiggins a start this week against the Packers. The last time he faced the division rival, Wiggins posted a WR-like stat line: 94 yards and a TD.
  • Don’t be lulled into a playoff mistake by Ben Troupe’s breakout performance last week. Yes, Troupe can probably be had on your waiver wire. And yes, the Titans passing offense is red hot. But this week’s opponent, the Denver Broncos, haven’t allowed a tight end touchdown since Week 17 … of 2003.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jermaine Wiggins and Marcus Pollard

Kicker

  • I’ll recommend the Bengals Shayne Graham for the same reason I recommended his teammate Jon Kitna. The Giants have allowed more than 27 points in each of the last four weeks. That includes four field goals last week and three the week before that. Start Graham and set your sights set on a double-digit performance.
  • If you’ve been starting a big-name kicker like Jeff Wilkins all season, it might be tough to make a switch at this point. However, if Rian Lindell is available, by all means, do so. Lindell has booted six field goals in his last two games and he plays on the top-scoring team over the past 4-5 weeks. The Bills haven’t scored less than 30 in their last five games.

This Week’s Sleepers: Shayne Graham and Rian Lindell

Defense

  • The Buffalo Bills defense should fare well this week against the 49ers. San Francisco QB Ken Dorsey threw four interceptions last week against the Redskins. The Bills have held opponents to 17 or fewer points in four of their last five games. Count on at least three turnovers, a handful of sacks and a possible score this week.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars defense has plenty of upside this week for owners who need a sleeper at the position. The Jags have caused seven turnovers and a safety in the past two weeks. This week, they’ll face a Houston Texans team that performs poorly on the road when facing decent competition. They’ve scored 14 or less on the road against every team with a record that’s above .500.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins

The 6-Pack

Last Week's 6-Pack: Labatt Blue

Price Paid: $5.99

After a couple of beers that rank on the higher end of the price range, I figured Labatt Blue would be a nice change. It’s not as cheap as your bargain basement beers like Busch Light or Milwaukee’s Best, but it certainly won’t cause your wife to raise an eyebrow when she balances the checkbook. It’s bottled in your standard longneck and the label is adorned with a red maple leaf, signifying the beer’s Canadian roots. Labatt Blue is ultra-pale in color. It’s a golden, straw hue – nothing out of the ordinary for an American-style pilsner. The only thing different about the appearance versus beers like Miller or Bud is that the Labatt offers a head with some substance and staying power. A nice surprise. The aroma was dominated by corn with some a decent malt and very, very subtle hops. The corn smell is not quite as overpowering as Rolling Rock, which I reviewed earlier in the year, but it’s the most prevalent smell you’ll notice. The taste is bland and boring. The sweet corn taste carries over from the smell. Unfortunately, there is hardly any hop flavor and in general it just lacks anything to keep my interest. It’s very drinkable and smooth, but then, so is orange Kool-Aid. If you buy Labatt Blue thinking you’re getting a beer that’s of significantly higher quality than MGD or Bud, think again. This is just a very average beer.

This Week's 6-Pack : Foster’s

We’ll follow up one pilsner with another to close out the season. Pick up a 6-pack of Australia’s top-selling brew and raise a toast to koala bears, kangaroos and Nicole Kidman’s legs.