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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

The Weekly Six Pack - Week 2
Paul Sandy
September 16, 2005

Quarterback

  • Perhaps no quarterback was more disappointing in Week 1 than Chad Pennington. The Jets QB looked dazed and confused, fumbling six times versus a Kansas City defense not known for its defensive muscle. Things won’t get any easier for Pennington either. He faces the Dolphins this week, followed by Jacksonville, Baltimore, Tampa, and Buffalo. Keep Pennington on your bench and if he doesn’t show signs of improving this week, consider making a move for a free agent QB with more upside.
  • Michael Vick is a good play this week against the Seahawks, who gave up two touchdowns and 252 yards to Byron Leftwich in Week 1. While Vick continues to struggle to put up big passing yardage, he wasn’t the least bit hesitant to use his legs Monday night against the Eagles. Vick rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown. Look for him to post strong numbers in a game that has the potential for 45+ points to be scored.
  • An air of concern swept through Minnesota following the Vikings upset loss to the Bucs. Not surprisingly, many fans and commentators are blaming Daunte Culpepper’s awful performance on the absence of Randy Moss. But the problems run much deeper than one wide receiver. The loss of center Matt Birk (hip) was downplayed late in the preseason, but has become a cause for great anxiety. And as if Birk’s injury wasn’t enough, rookie guard Marcus Johnson was benched and tackle Bryant McKinnie sprained his foot last week. Should Culpepper owners be worried? Absolutely. If last week’s game proved anything, it’s that Culpepper doesn’t do well under intense pressure. Start him this week against the Bengals, but if you don’t have a backup QB on your roster, I recommend adding one soon.

This Week’s Sleepers: Anthony Wright and Eli Manning

Running Back

  • The Browns surrendered 148 yards on the ground last week, which makes Ahman Green a solid start on Sunday. You wouldn’t know from the Packers boxscore last week, but Green played pretty well. He even led the team in receptions. Unfortunately, his best runs and catches were called back due to dumb penalties. Head coach Mike Sherman has pledged to fix the penalty issues. Look for the offense to bond under the adversity of losing Javon Walker and put 20+ points on the board this week. Green will lead the way with 100 yards and a score.
  • Fred Taylor ’s value plunged this offseason after concerns that his knee surgery uncovered more serious damage than initially diagnosed. His recovery was a long road, but rumors of Taylor’s demise may have been premature. He rushed for a respectable 76 yards in Week 1 and has crossed the century mark in rushing yardage in three of his last four games versus his Week 2 opponent, the Colts.
  • It appears owners who drafted J.J. Arrington will need to be patient with the rookie. I place him in the same category as Michael Bennett and Kevin Jones, who are both speedy running backs that struggled in the first 7-8 games of their rookie seasons. It took Bennett and Jones half the season to realize they needed to let plays develop rather than sprinting into a mess of lineman. Once they figured it out, they began putting up huge stats. Arrington has that identical look. Keep him on your bench until he starts to get a feel for the timing and flow of the game.
  • A bone spur in Jamal Lewis’ foot has forced the Ravens to limit his carries a bit. Fortunately for Lewis owners, he may only need 15 rushes to rack up some big stats this week against the Titans. Tennessee ranks last in the league in rush defense—they allowed 212 yards last week. Look for Lewis to post a solid game with at least one long run. If you’re desperate for RB help, Chester Taylor could be worth a look, as well. He will continue to spell Lewis throughout the game and should be especially active in the fourth quarter when the Ravens have a comfortable lead.

This Week’s Sleepers: Chester Taylor, Ronnie Brown, and Reuben Droughns

Wide Receiver

  • Judging by the boxscore from Week 1, you wouldn’t think that Rams WR Kevin Curtis had all that great of a game. He finished with 63 yards receiving and no touchdowns. But what the stats don’t show was that Curtis is getting more looks than Jessica Simpson in a three-point stance. QB Marc Bulger threw to Curtis 14 times. The third-year receiver is quickly becoming an integral part of the offense. While the Rams struggled on the road last season against the Cardinals, I suspect they’ll be hungry for a win in Tempe this week coming off a deflating loss to the 49ers. Curtis should make a solid #3 wide receiver or flex player, and can be counted on for 70-80 yards and a possible score.
  • Colts wideout Reggie Wayne hasn’t fared well against the Jaguars lately. In the two games against Jacksonville last year, Wayne averaged two receptions and less than 25 yards per game. They were his two worst outings of the year. It’s no surprise that Wayne’s struggles opened the door for Brandon Stokley’s success. In those same two contests, Stokley averaged 7.5 receptions and 104.5 yards.
  • If you drafted Derrick Mason figuring he’d be an adequate #3 WR, it’s time to raise your expectations. Mason was involved heavily in the Ravens offense last week, catching eight passes for 99 yards—most of them coming from QB Anthony Wright, who will get the starting nod in Week 2. Mason has added incentive to perform well on Sunday. It’s his first time lining up opposite the Tennessee Titans—the team with which he spent eight highly-productive seasons. Tennessee has a young, untested secondary, so look for Mason to approach 100 yards and a touchdown.
  • Keep riding Deion Branch as long as he’s healthy. I expect him to follow up last week’s 99-yard, 1-touchdown performance with another strong outing. The Patriots will rekindle the rivalry this week with their Super Bowl XXXVIII opponent, the Carolina Panthers. In that Super Bowl, which was the last non-preseason meeting between these two teams, Branch racked up 143 yards and a touchdown.
  • Chris Chambers has always had the potential to be one of the league’s elite receivers. However, a revolving door of mediocre quarterbacks has killed his chances at taking his game to the next level. While Gus Frerotte will never be confused with Tom Brady or Brett Favre, he has a strong arm and a good grasp of the Dolphins offense. As a result, this season is Chambers’ best chance so far to reach 1,200+ yards and 10 touchdowns. I like his chances this week against the Jets, who will start a less-than-100% Ty Law.

This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Curtis, Brandon Stokley, Eddie Kennison, and Antonio Bryant

Tight End

  • Robert Ferguson drew a lot of looks on fantasy waiver wires this week, but don’t underestimate the impact Javon Walker’s injury could have on Bubba Franks. While Ferguson has failed to become a reliable target in the Packers offense, Franks has fully earned Brett Favre’s trust. In fact, during the preseason, Favre lobbied the team’s management to give his tight end a new contract. Start Bubba this week against a Browns team that gave up 27 points and 280 passing yards last week. He should be good for 4-5 receptions and a possible score.
  • In Week 1, it was the younger tight ends that made headlines. Alex Smith, Heath Miller, and Ben Utecht each scored a touchdown while some of the established TEs were held scoreless. That should change in Week 2, especially for Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs TE had one of his best games of the season in 2004 versus the rival Oakland Raiders, catching 11 passes for 124 yards and two scores. Pencil in at least 70 yards for Gonzo.

This Week’s Sleepers: Bubba Franks and Jermaine Wiggins

Kicker

  • It’s not too early to start worrying about Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski. The strong-legged kicker has missed five of seven field goals from 40+ yards from the preseason through Week 1. Consider alternative options until Janikowski regains his form.
  • You have to like Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed’s chances this week against the Texans. Houston gave up five field goals to Buffalo last week. Many owners scrambled to sign Bills kicker Rian Lindell off the waiver wire, but I suspect Lindell’s scoring had as much to do with Houston’s defense as it did with Buffalo’s offense. The emergence of RB Willie Parker means the Steelers should have little trouble moving the ball. That will mean field goals and extra points aplenty for Reed. Anything less than 10 points would be a disappointment.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jeff Reed, Olindo Mare, and Todd Peterson

Defense

  • Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban has injected a new attitude and energy into the team’s locker room. While it’s tough to gauge a defense on one week’s play, I already have one foot firmly planted on the Dolphins bandwagon. Their game this week against the Jets, a team that fumbled the ball seven times and was intercepted once, makes Miami an intriguing start. If your defense failed you this week and you’re looking for a solution, Miami could be a solid choice.
  • Washington head coach Joe Gibbs made the decision this week to bench Patrick Ramsey in favor of Mark Brunell. The decision makes the Dallas Cowboys a must-start this week. Brunell looked good during the preseason but, let’s be honest, he’s been shaky since coming to the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, the Cowboys contained the best RB in the league last week (LaDainian Tomlinson). If they can do the same to Clinton Portis, it will apply the pressure firmly on Mark Brunell—and that’s when the turnovers start happening.

This Week’s Sleepers: Cincinnati

The 6-Pack

Last Week’s 6-Pack: Fat Tire Amber Ale

Price Paid: $5.99

I can’t get this beer where I live, so I was very excited to happen upon it while on a trip to Kansas City over Labor Day. Fat Tire hails from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado. According to the label, the name originates from a mountain bike trip that the brewery founder took through Belgium. From what I’ve gathered, the company has expanded well-beyond it’s microbrewery roots, yet this beer still maintains the feel of being brewed in small batches. Fat Tire has the toasty aroma of nut bread with a very limited presence of hops. In the glass, pours to striking bright, amber color with a thin head that’s surprisingly dense. I kept waiting for the head to fade, but it never really did. Impressive. The taste is dominated by the same bread qualities noted in the aroma. The label refers to this taste as “biscuit-like malt flavors.” Other noteworthy flavors that can be detected are mild hops and a slightly fruity (pear/grape) taste. Overall it’s a crisp beer, but it has average complexity that doesn’t approach reputation of traditional Belgian-style ales that I’ve sampled. Still, I am fond of Fat Tire and would argue that you’d have a difficult time finding a tastier beer in this price range. I give it three stars out of five.

Reader Comments : Many readers chimed in about Fat Tire, and I even got a response from an employee of New Belgium Brewing who’s a loyal Huddle subscriber. The opinions seemed to be all across the board. Chuck Bauer enjoyed Fat Tire and commented on its color and a decent head. Matt Bleich says he basically lived on Fat Tire in college, writing that the beer “goes down very smooth with a mild hop and a nice malty hint.” However, he went on to say with broader distribution, the beer has lost its consistency.

Next Week's 6-Pack : Boulevard Pale Ale

While in Kansas City I also picked up a six-pack of Boulevard Pale Ale. I’m not sure how wide of a distribution this beer has, but if you have the means, raise a glass with me this week and toast Priest Holmes, George Brett, the Plaza, barbequed ribs, and everything else that’s great about KC.

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 *