- The New Orleans Saints passing defense has been playing well lately, but that’s no reason to bench Jake Delhomme. Delhomme has thrown at least one touchdown in nine straight games and seven of those were multi-touchdown performances. With the season on the line, he should have another strong showing. Look for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
- The main argument for not having a fantasy bowl in Week 17 is that key players can be rested if their team has locked up a playoff spot. Quarterbacks who could be benched for all or part of this week’s games include Donovan McNabb, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Michael Vick. If you’ve been relying on any of these QBs all year, it’s advisable to explore other options.
- There are a couple potential free agent QBs worth considering based on favorable match-ups. First, take a look at Patrick Ramsey, who will face the Vikings. Minnesota has allowed 11 passing touchdowns in their last four games. Even the league’s most lackluster QBs have found success against the purple. David Carr, Joey Harrington and Chad Hutchinson each had multi-touchdown games. Ramsey has the potential for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
- Another possibility is Cleveland’s Kelly Holcomb, who has missed time with cracked ribs. If Holcomb plays, he’ll face a Houston Texans defense that has given up a league-high 31 passing touchdowns. Holcomb’s no slouch. In his only start this season, he posted five touchdown passes and more than 400 yards passing.
This Week’s Sleepers: Patrick Ramsey, Kelly Holcomb and Craig Nall
- Last Sunday, Michael Bennett had his best game of the season – 159 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. His sudden re-emergence may have you considering starting him this week. Not so fast. This week’s opponent, the Washington Redskins, own the best run defense in the NFC. They give up a paltry 83 yards on the ground per game. Keep Bennett on your bench until next week … err next season.
- Running backs who could see the bench early this week include Edgerrin James, Ahman Green, Bryan Westbrook, LaDainian Tomlinson, Warrick Dunn, Corey Dillon and Jerome Bettis. Some of these guys could post better stats in one half than your backups will in an entire game. Weigh your options carefully.
- If you’re a Shaun Alexander owner who’s playing in a championship game this week, you have to be loving life. While many of the top fantasy running backs will be resting this week, the Seahawks will ride Alexander all game in an effort to solidify a playoff spot. Alexander cruised for 154-yards and three scores last week. I expect another big game against the Falcons, who may pull their key defenders by halftime. A 160-yard, two-touchdown performance is not out of the question.
- With starter Clinton Portis shelved for the season, Redskins backup RB Ladell Betts is definitely worthy of a start this week. Betts will face a Minnesota Vikings defense that allows more than 125 yards per game on the ground and has given up RB scores in each of the last three weeks.
- Another match-up worth exploiting this week is Julius Jones versus the Giants. New York has allowed RBs to score seven times in the last five weeks. Jones should put his stamp on the starting job for 2005 by closing out the year with a big performance. I expect 140 yards and two touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ladell Betts, Najeh Davenport and Thomas Jones
- The New York Jets allow just over 200 passing yards per game. They’ve only given up 18 TDs through the air all season, one of the best marks in the NFL. Even so, I still like Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt this week. The Rams showed they had a little fight left in them in Monday night’s upset of the Eagles. Marc Bulger always plays better at home, so I expect St. Louis to score some points. Look for Bruce and Holt to combine for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
- In my mind, Joe Horn has had one of the most surprising fantasy seasons. He leads the entire NFL in receiving yardage and has 10 touchdowns. Over the second half of the season, he’s been Mr. Consistency. In Week 17, he’ll trade punches with Muhsin Muhammad for the NFL receiving yardage title. Muhammad trails Horn by just 14 yards. Both receivers should finish the game with 100+ yards and a touchdown. However, I like Horn’s chances of posting the better stats overall. He’s scored five times in his last three meetings with the Panthers.
- Last week, we finally started to see the potential of the hyped receiving duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. They combined for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, the fantasy world will likely have to wait until 2005 to see a repeat performance. Arizona will face a stingy Tampa Bay secondary that only allows 164.3 passing yards per game – the best mark in the NFC. Don’t count on much more than 130 combined yards for Boldin and Fitzgerald.
This Week’s Sleepers: Keyshawn Johnson, Antonio Bryant, Antonio Chatman and Laveranues Coles
- If you’re desperate for tight end help this week, Oakland’s Teyo Johnson is worth a look. It’s actually a stretch to even call Johnson a tight end. Last week, he lined up as a receiver for much of the game. The result was three receptions for 52 yards. At the minimum, he should post a similar stat line this week against the deflated Jaguars team.
- Injuries have forced the Tennessee Titans to use a TE-by-committee approach this season. Thus, it’s been tough to predict whether Erron Kinney, Ben Troupe or Shad Meier would be the go-to-guy for Steve McNair or Billy Volek. It looks like Troupe can be trusted for a start this week. He’s posted nine receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks. Count on at least five receptions and 50-60 yards from the rookie TE this week against the Lions.
This Week’s Sleepers: Teyo Johnson and Ben Troupe
- Very quietly, Jason Hanson had himself a fine December. He finished the month with 12 field goals in four games, never posting less than two in any contest. Those excellent stats may have gone overlooked in your league because Detroit stinks so badly. Look for another solid outing from Hanson this week against a Tennessee Titans team that has given up more than 30 points in five straight games.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Hanson and Paul Edinger
- Start the Seattle Seahawks defense this week against the Falcons. Michael Vick will get the start, but will probably give way to rookie Matt Schaub before the end of the first quarter. Schaub threw two INTs and was sacked three times last week in his first start. Seattle should be hungry for the victory this week with a playoff berth on the line.
- The Buffalo Bills are another team that’s fighting for their playoff lives. Likewise, they’re another team that will be facing an opponent that will rest most of its starters. Tommy Maddox will get the nod for Pittsburgh this week. Normally, that might not be such a bad thing, but the Steelers will also likely rest much of their first-string offense, including Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley, Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress. Maddox is sure to struggle with the remaining scrubs.
This Week’s Sleepers: Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals
Last Week's 6-Pack: Foster’s
Price Paid: $5.49
According to the ad campaign from a few years ago, Foster’s is “Australian for beer.” Maybe so, but that doesn’t explain why the label says this stuff is brewed in Toronto, Canada. I guess you could say it comes from the land “up over” instead of “down under.” The beer is packaged in a brown longneck with a shiny blue and gold label. Foster’s has sort of an uncooked cabbage scent to it along with a wheat bread aroma. It pours to an ultra-thick frothy head that sticks around for awhile before dissipating into a razor thin white layer. It leaves some foam rings around the edge of the glass as you drink it. The color is a bit richer than the mass marketed American lagers – it’s a hearty golden hue. My first sip took me by surprise. I was figuring it would taste almost exactly like Bud. That projection was off target. The flavor is dominated by a biscuit-like quality with malt undertones and a mild bitterness at the end. It’s nothing that wowed me, just different than I expected. I have to admit, for the money Foster’s is an okay imported beer. It’s cheap. Much cheaper than I had figured. In fact, it ranks among the lowest-priced beers reviewed by the 6-Pack. That said, I will probably only consider buying Foster’s again if I host a party for some unsuspecting friends who won’t know any better than to think I spent good coin on it. One final note: drink Foster’s cold. It gets harder and harder to swallow as it gets warmer.
This Week's 6-Pack : None – See you next year!