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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

The Weekly Six Pack - Week 1
Paul Sandy
September 9, 2005
Welcome to another season of the Weekly 6-Pack, the only fantasy football column that combines the greatest hobby in the world, fantasy football, with the greatest beverage in the world, beer. Every Friday, I’ll provide predictions and projections, trends and tidbits related to the six key fantasy football positions – QB, RB, WR, TE, PK, and DEF. Plus, as a sidebar to the fantasy information, I will review a different beer each week. Why? Because beer and football were made for each other. (The fact that I get to deduct the cost of beer from my taxes has nothing to do with it. Honest.)

All of-age Huddle members are encouraged to participate in this pilsner-powered experiment. Pick up a six-pack of the weekly beer, partake of its malted goodness, and feel free to share your thoughts or beer recommendations by Wednesday of the following week.

Enjoy the column. But equally important, enjoy the beer.

Quarterback

Carolina QB Jake Delhomme started his career with the Saints. Perhaps that’s given him a little extra incentive to perform well when he faces his former team. In his last two starts against New Orleans, he’s been in the neighborhood of 300 yards passing (294 and 307). Activate him this week and look for his success to continue.

Brett Favre is notorious for under-achieving in domed stadiums. However, that indoor jinx doesn’t seem to apply to venues in Detroit. Favre has posted some solid stats at the Silverdome and Ford Field. In fact, he’s thrown two or more TDs in five straight games in Motown. Start him with confidence.

More than a handful of Marc Bulger owners probably took a quick look at the schedule this week and promptly penciled in a few touchdowns for their star QB. After all, Bulger faces the miserable 49ers. Not so fast. For whatever reason, Bulger has struggled against San Francisco. In his last three games, Bulger has two touchdowns, two interceptions, and one injury. Keep Bulger in your lineup, but don’t bank on anything more than an average game.

With Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley battling through various injuries, the Steelers may go to the air a bit more than normal. Especially considering the Tennessee secondary is raw and untested. While Ben Roethlisberger rarely puts up big yardage numbers, this situation is favorable for him to approach 200 yards in this game and add a pair of touchdowns.

This Week’s Sleepers: Ben Roethlisberger, Joey Harrington, and JP Losman

Running Back

It’s probably best to hold off on starting Michael Bennett this week against the Buccaneers. Asked if he thought any of his running backs were healthy enough to carry a full load on Sunday, Mike Tice indicated rookie Ciatrick Fason was probably the only one. As a Randy Moss owner last year, I trust Mike Tice’s assessment of injuries about as much as I’d trust Michael Jackson in a Boy Scout meeting. That said I don’t expect Bennett to get much more than 12-15 carries. In fact, I’d wager that Moe Williams will lead all Minnesota running backs in fantasy production this week with a touchdown plunge and several third-down touches.

Look for Lions second-year running back Kevin Jones to finish among the league’s top scoring fantasy backs in Week 1. Jones faces the Packers, a team he lit up for 156 yards on 33 carries last December. The Packers defensive line looks shaky. The team’s best run stuffer, Grady Jackson, isn’t happy with his contract and showed up for camp out of shape. Jones should have little trouble finding holes and can be counted on for at least one long touchdown run.

Starting a rookie running back in Week 1 is a risky proposition. Particularly this year. Most of the first round RBs either held out for some period of time, will be splitting carries, or will face some pretty staunch defenses this week. Of the “Big 4”, I like my chances with Tampa’s Cadillac Williams best. We’ve all heard how the Vikings defense will be much-improved in 2005. However, their linebackers have been seen under-achieving during the preseason, and until the Minnesota defense shows some moxie on the field, I’m not buying into the hype. Start Williams and look for decent production.

Many fantasy owners who drafted Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker or claimed him on the waiver wire are hoping they caught lightning in a bottle. Some are even wondering if they should plug the speedy back into their lineup over more proven players. It’s a tough coaching decision. My philosophy is that you can’t bench your studs, especially this early in the season. However, if you’re deciding between Parker and a third or fourth-tier running back like Kevan Barlow or Fred Taylor, by all means insert Parker. He’s the starter on a team that ranked second in the entire NFL in rushing last year. Add Parker’s big-play potential and Tennessee’s average run defense, and the potential for a good game is undeniable.

This Week’s Sleepers: Moe Williams, Cadillac Williams, Willie Parker, and William Green

Wide Receiver

Javon Walker posted two of his worst games of 2004 against this week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions. He only managed a combined five receptions in those two contests and didn’t get into the endzone. While he’s a must-start player, lower your expectations a bit. On the other hand, Donald Driver has given the Lions fits lately. Last season he racked up three touchdowns in two games, including a 110-yard, 2-touchdown effort the last time he visited Ford Field.

With Antonio Gates out for Week 1, Keenan McCardell is a sneaky, upside play versus the Cowboys. McCardell figures to be a key target for quarterback Drew Brees. Dallas gave up 31 touchdowns last year, second-worst in the NFC. While they will be tougher this season, it may take a few weeks to get their new defensive scheme and personnel sorted out. McCardell has a good shot to find the endzone this week.

Laveranues Coles owners will cash in on a favorable match-up this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City gave up so many big plays last year that they might as well have fielded a junior varsity high school defense. While their speed on the defensive side of the ball has improved, I expect QB Chad Pennington to have no problem picking apart the secondary. Coles should be the primary beneficiary and has a good shot to score a touchdown or two.

After the infamous ESPN interview in front of a primetime Monday Night Football audience, Terrell Owens’ fantasy football stock plummeted. For a stretch of about two weeks, Owens was being drafted in the third and fourth rounds of many drafts. Owners wise enough to snag him at that point have to be pleased with their investment. The media circus seems to have died down. Owens is playing hard and looks to be ready to put his tumultuous offseason behind him. I expect Donovan McNabb to look for his best wideout early and often this week against a decent Falcons defense. McNabb is the leader of the team and will want to do his part to heal the relationship (not to mention keep Owens’ mouth shut)—a touchdown or two on Monday night is just what the doctor ordered.

This Week’s Sleepers: Keenan McCardell, Lee Evans, Terry Glenn, and Keary Colbert

Tight End

This preseason saw fantasy owners and experts alike trying to predict who will be the next Antonio Gates. Truth is their probably won’t be an up-start TE who comes close to approaching the season that Gates had last year. Ben Watson looked solid last night, but the player who I think will emerge as the next solid TE is LJ Smith from the Eagles. Philly lost their #2 and #3 wideouts from last year (Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell). What’s left besides Owens? Essentially, Smith and a few unproven receivers. Look for Smith to be have a solid night on Monday against the Falcons, a team against which McNabb hooked up with a different TE (Chad Lewis) for two touchdowns in last year’s conference championship.

Last year the Arizona Cardinals surrendered 24 or more points in each of their final six road games. They travel to the Meadowlands this week to face the Giants, where Jeremy Shockey will be a solid play for fantasy owners. Shockey had a solid game in a Week 10 game against the Cardinals last year, scoring a touchdown and grabbing four catches.

This Week’s Sleepers: LJ Smith and Marcus Pollard

Kicker

In leagues where I waited until the last round of the draft to select my kicker, I tried to grab Detroit’s Jason Hanson. While I don’t necessarily think he’ll be one of the top fantasy kickers for 2005, his match-up in Week 1 against the Packers is too good to pass up. The Green Bay defense is a train wreck and will surrender a lot of points this year. If you’re flipping through the channels on the NFL Sunday Ticket this weekend, don’t be surprised if it seems like the Lions have set up camp on the Packers side of the field. Hanson has scored two or more field goals in three of the last four meetings between these two teams. Look for that trend to continue.

Minnesota kicker Paul Edinger may be lingering on many waiver wires. The ex-Bear beat out Aaron Elling for the starting job late in the preseason. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, many owners avoided Minnesota kickers entirely. Since the Vikings are perennially one of the top offensive teams, Edinger is one to watch on Sunday. Look for him to put up some nice stats this season, including this week against Tampa.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Hanson and Paul Edinger

Defense

Sure it’d be nice to rely on the Baltimore Ravens every week, but if you weren’t able to land a top team defense, here’s a great strategy for picking one each week: Study the opposing quarterbacks. I have no problem going with a platoon approach at the team defense position because I can always seem to find a mid-level defense on the waiver wire that is facing a team that will start a QB who is: 1) a rookie, 2) a backup, or 3) a veteran who’s prone to making mistakes. This week, I love the Washington Redskins. Joe Gibbs’ squad will play host to the Bears, a team that’s starting rookie Kyle Orton. You can almost smell a sloppy game and a single-digit score for Chicago.

This Week’s Sleepers: Washington Redskins

The 6-Pack

This Week's 6-Pack: Fat Tire Amber Ale

Fat Tire has been one of the more popular recommendations here at the Weekly 6-Pack headquarters. While it isn’t distributed in my neck of the woods, I finally snagged a coupe six packs while on a road trip over Labor Day. If you can find it at your local liquor store, join me in giving it a try and e-mail me your thoughts. paul.sandy@frontiernet.net.

Here’s a look back at the beers reviewed by the Weekly 6-Pack so far and their corresponding ratings.

Beer Rating
Fullers ESB * * * * *
Sierra Nevada Porter * * * * *
Anchor Steam * * * *
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale * * * *
Pilsner Urquell * * * *
Murphy’s Irish Stout * * * *
Beamish * * * *
Stella Artois * * * *
Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest * * * *
Redhook ESB * * * *
Gösser * * *
Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale * * *
Samuel Adams Boston Lager * * *
Harp * * *
Spaten Oktoberfest * * *
Beck’s * *
John Courage Amber Ale * *
Red Stripe * *
Pete’s Wicked Ale * *
Boddington’s * *
Amstel Light * *
Newcastle Brown Ale * *
Moosehead * *
Negra Modelo *
Tsingtao *
Shiner Bock *
Labatt Blue *
Heineken *
Foster’s *
Rolling Rock *
Carlsberg Elephant *
Blue Moon Belgian White Ale *