- Redskins QB Mark Brunell was en fuego for a stretch early in the season in which he threw multiple TDs in five straight games. A recent cold streak has made many owners turn sour on the veteran QB, but he’s worth another look this week against a battered Rams secondary that surrendered three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards to David Carr in Week 12. Plug and play Brunell with confidence.
- Brad Johnson ’s first start this year was in Week 9 against the Lions. While the yardage wasn’t great (136 yds.), he did throw two touchdowns. Give Johnson the nod this week and expect him to improve on those numbers. Detroit’s decision to fire head coach Steve Mariucci could light a fire under the team, but I doubt it.
- While Steve McNair has averaged just a shade under 250 yards per game in his last two outings against Indianapolis, it’s best slide him to your bench in Week 13. This is a different Colts defense. On the season, they’ve given up just 182.2 yards per game through the air.
- I like Drew Bledsoe this week against the Giants. Bledsoe had a solid outing in his last game against the Giants, throwing for 300+ yards and a touchdown. New York has been vulnerable to the pass this season. They rank 27th in the NFL, allowing more than 235 yards per game one touchdown per game. I anticipate Bledsoe will surpass that average in a game that will be higher scoring than expected.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brad Johnson, Mark Brunell and Drew Bledsoe
- It blows my mind that it’s Week 13 and neither Julius Jones nor Kevin Jones has rushed for 100+ yards in a game. Owners who spent a first-round pick on these stiffs would be well served to move the Jones boys to the bench this week. The Giants and Vikings have been very “Grinch-like” against the run. New York allows just 70.0 yards per game on the ground when playing in Giants Stadium, where they’ll face Jones and the Cowboys this week. Meanwhile, Minnesota has been a terror lately versus the run. Opposing backs have averaged fewer than 50 yards per game in the last two contests. The team held Kevin Jones to just 15 yards rushing back in Week 9.
- Outside of Randy Moss, perhaps no single NFL player has given the Packers more fits than Thomas Jones. In his last three starts against the Packers, Jones has bloodied them for 394 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears RB needs 88 yards to eclipse 1,000 for the season. He should cross that benchmark and score a touchdown in this heated divisional match-up.
- Be sure Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are in your lineup this week when the Dolphins square off against the 31st ranked run defense of the Buffalo Bills. Williams has regained his form in recent weeks gouging opponents for 178 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in the last two games. During the same stretch, Brown has 139 yards and a score. Don’t be surprised if the players split 35-40 carries and finish with 80+ yards and a touchdown each.
- Bengals tailback Rudi Johnson has been on quite a rampage lately, rushing for 287 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games. However, expect a dip in production this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh held Johnson to his lowest output of the year back in Week 7—65 yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ricky Williams, Patrick Pass, Mewelde Moore, and Jerome Bettis
- Saints top wideout Donte’ Stallworth has four touchdowns in his last three games. While it’s hard to ignore that consistency, the reality is that in four career games against Tampa, Stallworth has averaged just 32 yards per game. I wouldn’t blame you for riding the hot hand. Just be sure you first consider his lack of success against the Bucs.
- No team in the NFL has given up more passing touchdowns than the St. Louis Rams. Look for Santana Moss to follow up last week’s 65-yard, 1-touchdown performance with even better stats. Moss has the potential for a 2-touchdown explosion in what could be the highest-scoring game of Week 13.
- Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin had an astounding 20 passes thrown his way in Week 12. With the worst-ranked passing defense of the 49ers on tap this week, Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are good bets to combine for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
- In 14 career tilts against the Chiefs, Rod Smith has averaged seven catches and 99.1 yards per game. Of those 14 meetings, Smith had at least six receptions in all but two games. He’s been a model of consistency in this rivalry—more so than, say, Michael Irvin in his statements to police and the media. Start him this week and bank on 80-90 yards with the potential for a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Terry Glenn, Laveranues Coles, Derrick Mason, and Bobby Engram
- Giants TE Jeremy Shockey has scored in the last two games he’s played against Dallas. In those two meetings, he’s averaged 86.5 yards per game. If history is any indication, Shockey will follow up last week’s big game with another fine performance.
- If Shockey has been solid against Dallas, his counterpart, Jason Witten, has been downright untouchable when the two teams meet. Witten has scored in three of his last four games versus New York and is always a big factor in the gameplan. Expect a good battle between these two premier fantasy tight ends with both players getting a look inside the redzone.
- Owners searching for a sleeper at TE might find a gem in Detroit’s Marcus Pollard. The former Colts standout caught four balls for 42 yards and a touchdown in his last meeting against Minnesota. QB Jeff Garcia, who will start this week, targeted Pollard four times in the six series he played last week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Marcus Pollard and David Martin
- The Seahawks have done an admirable job of keeping opposing offenses out of the endzone in recent weeks. That’s been a boon for kickers who face them. In Seattle’s last four outings, kickers have attempted 16 field goals, four per game, connecting on 13. This bodes well for Philadelphia’s David Akers, who’s been hot in his own right, nailing eight 3-pointers in four games since returning from injury.
- If you missed the news, Arizona kicker Neil Rackers will miss this week’s game because of a calf injury he sustained during practice on Thursday. Considering Rackers’ success this season, many fantasy owners are scrambling for a replacement. The guy I really like this week is Redskins kicker John Hall. Hall missed the first half of the season due to injury and is flying under most people’s radar. But a game this week against the Rams, who rank dead last in the NFL in total defense, should yield a minimum of 8-9 points for Hall.
This Week’s Sleepers: John Hall and Paul Edinger
- If you’re out of the playoff hunt and are playing the role of spoiler, you might be able to scrape up a few more points this week by starting the Cleveland Browns. That might seem like a bold move, but the reality is Cleveland has ceded an average of fewer than 10 points in their last four home games. A meeting this week against the Jaguars, who will be without starting QB Byron Leftwich should be a low-scoring affair with the possibility for a few turnovers.
This Week’s Sleepers: Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings
Last Week’s 6-Pack: Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
Price Paid: $7.49
In three years of writing this column, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen is surprisingly the first wheat beer to ever make an appearance. I’m not sure why. I have nothing against the category and frequently pick up a six-pack of Hefe-Weissen during the offseason. Paulaner is a German beer that is packaged in brown longnecks with a colorful label that depicts a jolly scene, perhaps from a village in Munich. The beer gave off a fragrant aroma of orange rind with a touch of banana and yeast. It poured to a picture perfect frothy white head that actually rose above the lip of my pint glass, defying gravity. Best of all, it stuck around for a good long while. The color was almost copper, and certainly more reddish than I remember other Hefe’s being. It was also significantly less cloudy than I had anticipated. At first I thought it was the lighting in my living room, but a trip outside into the natural light confirmed my initial assessment. While the appearance wasn’t what I expected from a Hefe-Weissen, the taste was spot on. It didn’t overpower with bread and yeast flavors. They were present, but subtle. It tasted fresh with rich barley and malt flavors backed up by a hint of sweetness just as it passed down my throat. Carbonation was well balanced, making the beer at once creamy with a slight zing. Paulaner Hefe-Weizen sets a bar high for other beers in this category. I highly recommended it and give it a five star stamp of approval.
Next Week's 6-Pack : McEwan’s Scotch Ale