- Just a quick note to calm the nerves of Donovan McNabb owners who are concerned about life after Terrell Owens. McNabb was a model of efficiency in the two complete games he played last year without Owens (during the playoffs). He averaged 233 yards passing per game with two touchdowns and no interceptions — good for a 111.3 passer rating. I don’t anticipate a meltdown like the one Daunte Culpepper experienced sans Randy Moss. Neither should you.
- The Vikings have given up five passing touchdowns in their last two road games combined. With CB Fred Smoot expected to miss a few weeks with a broken collar bone, Eli Manning is poised for a big afternoon. Get him in your lineup this week and pencil in three TDs.
- Will the real Mark Brunell please raise his hand? After throwing 12 touchdowns in five games, Brunell has fizzled out in his last two starts, failing to find the end zone. I suggest moving him to the bench before this weekend’s tilt against the Buccaneers. Tampa has allowed fewer passing touchdowns than any team in the NFL (3).
- Don’t be afraid to move Matt Hasselbeck into active duty this weekend against arch-rival St. Louis. Hasselbeck’s stock has dropped substantially since losing top wideouts Darrel Jackson and Bobby Engram to injury. However, Engram is back and Hasselbeck has fared well against the Rams of late, including two straight 300-yard performances. Plus, in his last three of his last four outings against the St. Louis, Hasselbeck has tossed two touchdowns. He should be good for another two scores this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, and Kyle Orton
- If you’re a Larry Johnson owner, I advise you to buckle up. The Chiefs running back is about to take the fantasy football community on a wild ride. Over the next three weeks, Kansas City faces a collection of rushing defenses that’s softer than a roll of quilted Charmin wrapped around the Snuggle bear. First Johnson gets Buffalo (31st against the run), then Houston (32nd), and finally New England (27th).
- If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Julius Jones, I urge you to proceed with caution this week. The Cowboys have a date with Philadelphia on Monday night. At home, the Eagles have completely shut down running backs that were much healthier than Jones, including LaDainian Tomlinson (7 yards rushing) and LaMont Jordan (19 yards rushing). Starting Jones and hoping for anything more than 50 yards is a pipe dream.
- If injuries have sucked the life out of your backfield and you’re running out of options, you might find a bit of salvation in New England. Corey Dillon and Patrick Pass are both listed as questionable this week and may sit out or be limited. As a result, Mike Cloud could become a factor. If Dillon doesn’t practice today or is a game time scratch, plug and play Cloud against a Dolphins defense that has been trampled for an average of 150+ yards per game over the last four weeks. Cloud has a nose for the end zone, so at the very least he could be good for six points.
- Speaking of running backs that have experience crossing the stripe, Stephen Davis ranks second in the NFL in rushing touchdowns behind Ladainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in many fantasy leagues. Davis is a great option this week against a Jets defense that ranks 30th in the NFL against the run and has already given up 11 rushing touchdowns. I expect Davis to score twice and go well beyond his 50.8 yards per game average.
This Week’s Sleepers: Mike Cloud, Duce Staley, Brandon Jacobs, and Cedric Benson
- Ashley Lelie has been whipping boy for the Weekly 6-Pack on a few occasions this year. However, he’s slowly coming around, averaging more than 75 yards in his last three games. A match-up this weekend against the Raiders has promise. Oakland ranks 22nd in the NFL against the pass, and Lelie posted solid stats last year against the Silver and Black, scoring a touchdown in one game and going over 80 yards in the other.
- While it’s typically a bit risky to start a player who’s coming off a long period of inactivity due to an injury, I wouldn’t hesitate to plug Isaac Bruce into my lineup. Bruce always seems to do well against the Seahawks. In his last four regular season meetings with Seattle, he’s either surpassed 75 yards or scored a touchdown.
- Eddie Kennison should probably be riding the pine for your fantasy squad this week against a Buffalo Bills defense that is tops in the league against the pass. They have allowed just six passing touchdown this season and hold teams under 157 yards per game through the air.
- Sure Andre Johnson had his “breakout” game last week, catching nine balls for 91 yards. But before you get delusions of grandeur, know that Johnson has never scored a touchdown against Indy in four meetings and best game against the Colts resulted in just 59 yards receiving. Keep him relegated to the bench unless you truly don’t have an alternative.
- I love Hines Ward, but it’s tough to trust the guy when his quarterback only attempts 16 passes and completes roughly half of them. A game against an average Cleveland Browns pass defense may look good on paper, but the Steelers might as well have Charlie Brown playing instead of Charlie Batch.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ashley Lelie, Bobby Engram, Roy Williams, and Amani Toomer
- Jason Witten is always a big part of the offense when the Cowboys square off against the Eagles. The TE has averaged 93 yards per game on 22 receptions and added two touchdowns to boot in his last three meetings with Philly. Start him with confidence.
- What started out as a promising season for Randy McMichael has become awful. It’s gotten to the point now where McMichael probably isn’t even worth a roster spot in leagues that require you to start a tight end. He hasn’t had a game with more than 30 yards receiving since Week 2 and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4. Exhaust all other options before you use this once reliable tight end.
This Week’s Sleepers: Desmond Clark and Dallas Clark
- John Kasay is a lock for 7-9 points this week against the Jets. New York has given up an average of more than two field goals per game over their last six outings. If he’s lingering on your waiver wire and you need a replacement for Shayne Graham or Nate Kaeding, Kasay will be more than serviceable.
- David Akers was one of the first kickers taken in most fantasy drafts this summer. He returned from injury last week. So should you grab him off your waiver wire if he’s available? That depends on who your current kicker is, but Akers could be a nice player in the coming weeks. The absence of Terrell Owens might have a big impact on the Eagles red zone offense. Owens scored half of his touchdowns this season inside the 20 yard line. It could mean more field goal opportunities for Akers. If you’re regular kicker has been a disappointment, don’t be afraid to bring him into the fold.
This Week’s Sleepers: Robbie Gould and Josh Scobee
- The Indianapolis Colts defense has scored three touchdowns in their last three meetings against the Texans. If you have them on your team, you will not be disappointed.
- Despite a solid effort last week against the Chargers, I’m skeptical of Brooks Bollinger’s ability to run an NFL offense over an extended period of time. He’ll find it’s a whole different ball game when you’re not playing from behind and the defensive secondary isn’t giving receivers quite as much cushion. The third-ranked pass defense of the Carolina Panthers will have little trouble shutting down Bollinger and the Jets. Look for them to cause at least three turnovers and take one back for a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Washington Redskins and New York Giants
Last Week’s 6-Pack: Chimay Premiere (Red)
Price Paid: $9.99 (750 ML)
Chimay is about as far as you can get from macro-brews like Bud and Miller. It’s brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium who have taken oaths of silence. The way the beer is packaged, you might mistake it for bottle of Pinot Noir. In addition to coming in an old-school 750 ML (25.4 oz.) bottle that’s topped off with a cork, Chimay has a very wine-like price. I decided to hold off on my sampling until Monday night. After popping the cork, I took several moments to enjoy the aroma. A clove-like scent was front and center, giving Chimay a spicy quality. Also present were wafts of brown sugar and yeast. Once in the glass, and as the beer began to warm, the fragrance curiously shifted from spicy to fruity. According to the label, Chimay is best enjoyed in a goblet. It took some searching, but I found one in a box in the basement. I’m not sure that I have the level of sophistication to recognize the difference, but when a monk tells you to drink his beer out of a goblet, you listen. The first thing I noticed as I poured Chimay was the lively carbonation. It produced a mammoth head that faded slowly. Color was reddish brown or rust. The first taste was a bit odd—almost astringent. However, the beer has a way of expanding in your mouth and presents a variety of different characteristics. Yeast and malt flavors are clearly present, as is a sweet, fruity bite that’s like a raisin or fig. Considering how dark this beer is in the glass, it’s surprisingly light on the palate. Perhaps what I noticed most about Chimay was the alcohol content (7%). Because of the size of the bottle—and the price—I would’ve felt guilty not drinking the entire thing. So I finished it all. Every last drop. I was feeling buzzed by the end of the first quarter of Monday night’s game and was smashed by halftime. The moral: Chimay is a beer best enjoyed in with others. I give it four stars out of five because of the uniqueness and complexity. Chimay only falls short of perfection because it’s not quite as bold as perhaps it should be and the price is over the top.
Next Week's 6-Pack : Sapporo, Japan