- In the last two weeks, the Cowboys have ceded five touchdowns and more than 550 yards to two of the NFL’s most unspectacular quarterbacks: Mark Brunell and Tim Rattay. If you are a Kerry Collins owner, you have to like your chances going into the weekend. Collins has lived up to the hype he received during the preseason. He’s averaging about 290 yards and two touchdowns per game. But what’s most impressive is his 95.9 QB rating and zero interceptions. With numbers like that, it’s shocking that the Raiders haven’t won a game yet. Look for that to change this week. Collins will come through in a must-win game with three touchdowns and around 300 yards.
- Jake Plummer might have a tough go of it this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks #2 in pass defense, giving up just 142.2 yards per game through the air. Keep him on your bench unless you’re handcuffed and have no other options.
- Although the Packers have been shell-shocked in their first three games, Brett Favre remains a solid fantasy quarterback. He’s averaging 246.6 yards per game is can usually be counted on for a pair of touchdowns. He should stay true to that pattern this week against the Panthers. In his last four Monday night games, Favre has averaged about 275 yards, 2.5 touchdowns, and 17.5 signs of affection from John Madden per game.
- In the same game, I think you have to play Jake Delhomme if you have him on your bench and you don’t have a clear alternative like Carson Palmer or Donovan McNabb. The Packers have given up seven passing touchdowns in three games and are susceptible to the big play. Something Delhomme and Steve Smith excel at. If you own Delhomme, look forward to about 280-yards and at least two touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Tim Rattay, Jake Delhomme, and Drew Bledsoe
- Rams running back Steven Jackson has stumbled out of the gates, averaging just 61 yards per game. To add injury to insult, he’s now sporting a bruised sternum and is listed as questionable for this week’s game versus the Giants. That makes former fantasy MVP Marshall Faulk an intriguing play. Faulk had a good game last week, finishing with 81 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. New York has been average at best versus the run. So far they’ve given up 123.7 yards per game. Granted, those stats are inflated after LaDainian Tomlinson’s performance last week. But Faulk’s versatility makes him a good bet for 80-100 total yards if Jackson can’t go.
- While Rudi Johnson hasn’t hurt his owners, he hasn’t helped them much either. Since rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, Johnson has tailed off significantly. He’s gone two games without crossing the century mark or scoring a TD. That will change this week. Johnson is a lock for a strong showing against the Texans. Houston ranks 31st in the league in run defense, giving up 143.5 yards per game.
- This week’s Jets vs. Ravens match-up has all the makings of a 9-3 field-goal fest. Both teams will start backup quarterbacks. Both teams have good defenses. Most importantly, both teams have had trouble running the ball. If at all possible, avoid starting Curtis Martin because the Ravens are sure to stack the line and make third-stringer Brooks Bollinger beat them. Also give serious consideration to planting Jamal Lewis on your bench. While he may have been your first round draft pick, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s averaging less than three yards per carry.
- It’s probably a good time to move Kansas City’s #2 RB Larry Johnson back to the bench if you haven’t already done so. Johnson and Priest Holmes have found the holes are a bit scarce without offensive tackle Willie Roaf (hamstring), who is likely out at least another week. While Holmes will get a minimum of 15 carries per game and the opportunity to catch passes, Johnson needs to make his mark on far fewer touches. That’s fine against lesser defenses, but this week KC will face an Eagles unit that is allowing just 93 rushing yards per game. That’s a recipe for about a 30-40 yard game from Johnson.
- As predicted by the 6-Pack last week, Mewelde Moore returned to fantasy prominence against the Saints. He staked his claim to the starting role, finishing with 101 rushing yards. Look for continued success against the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta owns the 27th ranked rush defense and was run all over last week by Willis McGahee, who churned out 140 yards and a touchdown. Moore should be good for another trip across the century mark.
This Week’s Sleepers: Marshall Faulk, Mewelde Moore, and Domanick Davis
- To this point, the top sleeper draft pick at the wide receiver position—and perhaps any position for that matter—has been Keenan McCardell. The Chargers top wideout has grabbed 17 passes for 257 yards and a league-leading four touchdown receptions. While the match-up against the Patriots looks tough, don’t be too discouraged. New England was burned by Hines Ward for two scores last week and will be shorthanded without safety Rodney Harrison (knee). McCardell has a good chance to put up 80 yards and a touchdown.
- Jimmy Smith may be the second-oldest receiver in the NFL (behind Ricky Proehl), but he sure isn’t playing like it. Smith blew past the Jets secondary on a 36-yard touchdown to seal the deal in overtime. On the season, the venerable wideout has 220 yards and three touchdowns. This week Smith and the Jags will remain at home to face the Broncos, who were lifeless during their last road trip to Florida, giving up 34 points to the Dolphins. With Champ Bailey doubtful because of a hamstring injury, Smith is poised for another 80-90 yard effort with a touchdown.
- Keep your eye on Andre Johnson this weekend against the Bengals. The former first round pick for Houston has been one of the bigger busts so far this season. He has just seven receptions for 38 yards. But there’s a glimmer of hope. The Texans fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer last week. His replacement Joe Pendry promises more action for his top wideout. With an extra week of preparation and some new creativity in the offense, the Texans should put forth a good effort on Sunday. Don’t be surprised if this game becomes a shootout and Johnson gets 10-12 passes thrown his way. I predict 80 yards and a touchdown.
- Randy Moss has been getting a lot of mentions on shows like SportsCenter and NFL Total Access this week because he has an extensive history of big games against the Cowboys, including nine touchdowns in four meetings. But don’t overlook the potential of Jerry Porter. Porter has been a letdown for owners who figured Moss’ presence would open things up on the other side of the field. It hasn’t materialized…yet. Porter hasn’t scored a touchdown and doesn’t even have a game with more than 70 yards receiving. That will change this weekend. He will draw single coverage against a secondary that has been getting picked on a lot lately.
This Week’s Sleepers: Andre Johnson, Kevin Curtis, Jerry Porter, and Keary Colbert
- Eli Manning and Jeremy Shockey have been in sync lately. The duo has hooked up on 11 receptions for 165 yards in the last two weeks. Shockey has established himself as a reliable target and may have eclipsed Amani Toomer as the team’s #2 receiver. Continued success is on the horizon for the former Miami Hurricane. This week he’ll face a Rams team coming off a game in which they gave up nine receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown to tight ends. I anticipate a 70-yard, one-touchdown performance for Shockey.
- There’s little doubt that Alge Crumpler is Michael Vick’s most reliable passing target. Yet Crumpler hasn’t found the endzone in 2005. That should change this week. Atlanta faces a Vikings defense that has given up four touchdowns to tight ends in three games. Keep Crumpler in your lineup and pencil in 40 yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Courtney Anderson and Ben Watson
- The Minnesota Vikings offense showed signs of life last week against the Saints. The spike in points gave some validity to Paul Edinger as a fantasy kicker. The former Bears kicker attempted five field goals and connected on four. He’s a strong option against a Falcons defense that gave up three field goals to the Bills just last week.
- Buffalo kicker Rian Lindell ranks second in the league in field goal kicking. He has booted nine kicks through the uprights in three games. This week’s opponent, the New Orleans Saints, have surrendered eight field goals in the same time span. While many owners have avoided Lindell because the Bills offense has been poor, he’s a strong start this week and should be good for at least 8-9 points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Paul Edinger, Rian Lindell, and John Kasay
- I like the Seattle Seahawks this week as a replacement for some of the other quality defenses that are on bye, including the Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Seattle faces Washington and that should work in their favor. Were it not for two fluke touchdowns versus the Cowboys in Week 2 with less than six minutes on the clock, the Redskins would’ve finished the game with zero points. Those five minutes and 58 seconds might be the most spirit the Washington offense shows all season. While the Seahawks aren’t outstanding on defense, they’ll score your team some points. So far, they’ve racked up nine sacks. That’s tied for fifth best in the league. Plus Seattle allows fewer than 20 points per game. Not too shabby.
- If the Baltimore Ravens can’t score some defensive points this week against the Jets, a team that will be starting third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger, I think you have to give serious consideration to cutting them from your squad. It’s not that guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed aren’t getting the job done, it’s that the team isn’t delivering the stats that matter. Thus far, they have zero interceptions and one sack. That’s not going to cut it.
This Week’s Sleepers: Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers
Last Week’s 6-Pack: Bass Pale Ale
Price Paid: $6.99
For the second consecutive session, the Weekly 6-Pack is a pale ale. This one rates a shelf above last week’s beer, Boulevard. Bass is imported from Britain and is packaged in a classic brown bottle. I actually felt a bit smarter having read the label. As it explains, the red triangle logo of Bass was apparently England’s first registered trademark. The beer was also enjoyed by many historical figures, including Napoleon, Shackleton, and Buffalo Bill. Good info. After snapping off the cap, I was rewarded with a pleasant nutty smell. A good start. Bass pours to a spectacular and intense copper color. The head was a bit on the fizzy side and retention was negligible. But, it turns out, that was really my only complaint with this beer. The taste took me a bit off guard. Since this is a pretty widely distributed and mass-produced beer, I wasn’t expecting quite so much punch. It offers excellent hop flavor that gets even better as the beer warms a few degrees. For a split second, when it hits the back of your throat, you get an apple flavor that’s almost reminiscent of a cider. That quickly gives way to the hops and some mild fruity flavors. It feels smooth as satin in the mouth and offers just the right amount of carbonation. I’m not sure what the alcohol content is in Bass, but it seems pretty potent. Two were plenty for me. Any more and I would’ve had trouble navigating the NFL Sunday Ticket. The availability of this beer makes it a good option to keep in mind when you just can’t find anything else that’s intriguing. Overall, Bass is a damn fine beer, but falls just short of perfect. Four stars out of five.
Next Week's 6-Pack : Dos Equis
This week, we head south of the border for a taste of Dos Equis. While this is a pretty mainstream beer that’s heavily marketed in the U.S., it’s one that I’ve never had the pleasure of tasting. Join me for a 6-Pack and e-mail me your thoughts by clicking my name in the byline.