- Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has punished AFC West opponents this year. In two games this season against that division, McNabb averaged 367 yards and 2.5 touchdowns. With the 27th ranked pass defense of the Chargers coming to town on Sunday, the gritty McNabb should pile up another mountain of points for his owners.
- Unless you don’t have a viable alternative, deactivate Kansas City QB Trent Green this week against the Dolphins. Miami has held opposing quarterbacks to fewer than 200 yards passing in three of their last four games.
- Aaron Brooks is a solid play this week against the Rams regardless of the status of his receivers. The wheels fell off for St. Louis last week after Marc Bulger went down with a shoulder injury. He’s expected to miss this Sunday’s game against the Saints. That will put added pressure on a defense that already ranks 27th against the pass. Count on 250 yards and two touchdowns from Brooks.
- Although Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return to action on Sunday after a painful shot to the knee a couple games ago, I recommend keeping him on the bench this week. The Bengals have given up just four touchdowns through the air all season. With Hines Ward still battling a tender hamstring, Roethlisberger will have a difficult time putting up anything more than 160 yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Aaron Brooks, Gus Frerotte, and Josh McCown/Kurt Warner
- Entering the season, LaMont Jordan wasn’t known for catching passes, but he’s exhibited surprisingly soft hands so far. Through the first six weeks of the season, Jordan ranks second in receptions (26) and second in receiving yardage (205) among running backs. While Jordan may continue that trend, I expect he’ll do most of his damage versus the run this week. His upcoming opponent, the Buffalo Bills, are dominant against the pass (#1 overall) and weak against the run (#30 overall). With Randy Moss likely sidelined, Oakland will give Jordan the rock. He has the potential for 120 yards and two scores.
- Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker are both solid plays this week against the Rams. St. Louis has given up some big games to running backs in the last three weeks to the Giants (Tiki Barber, 128 yds. and 1 TD), Seahawks (Shaun Alexander, 119 yds. and 2 TDs), and Colts (Edgerrin James, 143 yds. and 3 TDs). With QB Marc Bulger sidelined, the Rams defense will be on the field even more than usual. Look for Smith and Stecker to wear them down and combine for 150-160 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- Mr. Jones, meet Mr. Slump. Yes, Kevin Jones has officially become mired in a full-blown, textbook, what-was-I-thinking-when-I-drafted-this-chump sophomore slump. Jones has a rotator cuff injury which puts him on even shakier ground. Although the Browns can be run on, I suggest you keep Jones on the bench this week even if he suits up. He will likely be spelled by Shawn Bryson often because his shoulder may be too weak to pass protect.
- Reports out of Green Bay suggest Ahman Green appeared to be 100% recovered from his thigh injury in Wednesday’s practice. Green’s return comes just in time for a match-up against the division rival Vikings. Minnesota ranks last in the NFL in run defense, giving up an alarming 161.4 yards per game on the ground. According to head coach Mike Sherman, his starting running back will get plenty of opportunities. “I do anticipate him carrying the football maybe more so than he has," Sherman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. Green is poised for a 120-yard, 1-touchdown effort. Get him in your lineup.
This Week’s Sleepers: Aaron Stecker, Marcel Shipp, and Chris Brown
- I have high hopes for Az-Zahir Hakim this week. The Saints will likely be minus Joe Horn and could also be missing Donte Stallworth. Both are nursing sore hamstrings. With one or both receivers out of the mix, Hakim will be a key target for QB Aaron Brooks. Add in that the Saints will be facing the poor pass defense of the Rams (oh, by the way Hakim’s former team) and it has all the makings of a nice afternoon for the New Orleans WR. Hakim had a solid game in 2003 against the Rams while he was with Detroit (101 total yards and a touchdown). Start him this week and expect him to eclipse the century mark again. If you’re truly desperate, Devery Henderson could also be worth a look.
- Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress had a rare poor game last week against the Cowboys, but he should bounce back at home versus Denver. Teams have had success throwing on the Broncos so far this year. In fact, they’ve allowed four receivers to cross the century mark in six games. Burress should bounce back with 110 yards and a score.
- Tennessee ’s top receiver Drew Bennett will miss this week’s game against the Cardinals with a broken thumb. With Bennett out, rookie Brandon Jones may be worthy of a start in leagues that start three or more receivers. The Cardinals have given up 100+ yard games to a receiver in four of five games. If your regular wideout is on bye or hurt, give Jones a shot. At the very least, he should get you 60 yards.
- Chris Chambers should post his best stats of the year Friday night against Kansas City. The Chiefs are much improved against the run this year, but opposing quarterbacks continue to dissect their secondary. They give up 278 yards per game through the air. I anticipate QB Gus Frerotte and Chambers will hook up for at least one 30+ yard touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Az-Zahir Hakim, Brandon Jones, Robert Ferguson, and Greg Lewis
- Though it probably won’t dull the sting of another poor outing, Tony Gonzalez owners can take some solace in the fact that their tight end had eight passes thrown his way last week. Granted Gonzalez only caught two of those looks for 13 yards, but eight chances are more than he had been getting. Now the question is what to do with the perennial All-Pro tight end. If you bench him now and he explodes for a two touchdown game, you’ll likely have a hard time sleeping tonight. As a Gonzalez owner myself, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. This week’s opponent, the Miami Dolphins, have put the clamp down on TEs over the last four games allowing just 63 yards total with zero touchdowns. If you have an alternative, don’t be afraid to use it. Just be sure to stock the medicine chest with Tylenol PM.
- The Minnesota Vikings cannot stop tight ends. Period. In five games this season, the Purple have given up seven touchdowns. Dating back to 2004, they’ve given up at least one touchdown in seven straight games. All signs point to Bubba Franks returning to action this week, but David Martin is the tight end you probably want to start. Martin has touchdowns in two straight games and seems to have developed a rhythm with QB Brett Favre. Based on Minnesota’s inept pass defense, Martin is an excellent bet to reach paydirt again on Sunday.
This Week’s Sleepers: David Martin and Ben Troupe
- Packers kicker Ryan Longwell has booted three-pointers in three straight regular season games against the Vikings. If he’s available in your league, Longwell is an excellent plug and play this week. The average combined score between these two bitter rivals over their last seven games is 55.7 points. Look for another high-scoring game and at least 8-9 points from Longwell.
- Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers has scored 51 points in his last four games. I fully expect his hotstreak to continue this week against a Titans team that has surrendered 20+ points in five out of six games this season and 30+ in four of six.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Longwell and Nick Novack
- It will be interesting to see which game in Chicago on Sunday sees more points scored: Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears or Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox. Start either defense in the NFL game. They both have the potential to hold their opponent to fewer than seven points.
- The Washington Redskins are strong against the run. They’re strong against the pass. Unfortunately, they stink when it comes to causing turnovers and registering sacks—the stats that matter most in fantasy football. The ‘Skins have just one interception, three forced fumbles, and five sacks this season. With so few turnovers, it’s not surprising they haven’t scored a defensive touchdown. I predict that will change this weekend by the end of the first half. Washington will face 49ers rookie QB Alex Smith, who was sacked five times, intercepted four times, and coughed a fumble in his last start.
This Week’s Sleepers: Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers
Last Week’s 6-Pack: Moose Drool
Price Paid: $7.89
Having previously reviewed Newcastle Nut Brown Ale and Samuel Smiths Nut Brown Ale, I was excited to see how a domestic stacked up against those imports. Moose Drool is brewed in Missoula, Montana and is packaged in a brown long neck with a label that is anything but flashy. You can tell this comes from a smaller brewery. When I opened the bottle and took a smell, I had a bit of déjà vu, like I’d smelled something similar before. It took me awhile to put my finger on it, but if you’ve ever brewed your own beer at home, the aroma of Moose Drool resembles the malt extract you use in many recipes. It’s a little bit like toffee and molasses with subtle hints of toasted grains. Definitely worth a second sniff. The beer poured to a rich, brown color with a monster head that hugged the rim of my pint glass. Craters in the creamy foam made it look like the surface of the moon. Overall it was pretty comparable in appearance to a glass of root beer. The head lingered for the duration of my sampling, leaving a nice ladder of lace around the glass. The taste is damn good. While it’s dominated by a dark chocolate flavor, you can pick out a variety of secondary flavors (toasted hazelnuts, molasses, malt, and maybe even coffee). The aftertaste is unmistakably the toasted grains that were present in the aroma. Carbonation is spot on. The combination of all these attributes makes Moose Drool a much better option than the watery Newcastle and the over-priced Samuel Smiths, which runs around $10 for four bottles. Although it’s essentially flawless in all its characteristics, Moose Drool falls just short of a perfect five-star rating for me. However, it earns a more than respectable four stars.
Next Week's 6-Pack : Guinness Draught
Guinness has been requested by readers many times over. While it’s available in bottles, I will be reviewing the Draught variety, which most frequently comes in a four-pack of 14.5 oz. nitro cans. Raise a pint this week with me and let me know what you think of Ireland’s most famous beer.