- Many fantasy owners prematurely stuck a fork in Kurt Warner’s career after his fall from grace in St. Louis. Warner has been remarkably consistent this year in Arizona. The veteran QB has thrown for more than 250 yards in six straight games. Granted, when you throw the ball 40-45 times per game, your numbers should be beefy. Nonetheless start Warner again this week. He should have little difficulty exploiting a Houston defense that ranks 25th in the NFL versus the pass.
- If you’ve been taking a platoon approach to your quarterback position this season, consider sticking David Garrard in your lineup in Week 15. The ceiling is high for the Jaguars QB this week against a 49ers defense that is dead last in the NFL against the pass.
- Look for a dip in production from Michael Vick this week. The Falcons QB will have several things working against him. First, he’s banged up with bruised ribs, which will likely limit his mobility. Second, he’s up against a hard-nosed Bears defense that’s second best in the NFL against the pass. And third, he doesn’t have much experience playing in cold weather. I’d be surprised if Vick finished this game with more than 200 yards passing and 35 yards rushing.
- Peyton Manning owners should be able to squeeze at least one more complete game out of their QB. Head coach Tony Dungy will likely consider spelling Manning with backup Jim Sorgi at some point. However, indications out of Indianapolis are that it won’t happen this week against the Chargers. That’s good news because Manning will likely dissect the San Diego secondary, which ranks 27th in the NFL against the pass. Consider Manning as a lock for 250 yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: David Garrard, Charlie Frye, and Kelly Holcomb
- Bears RB Thomas Jones should fare well against the Falcons on Sunday night. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the teens by kickoff—an environment not suited for an Atlanta team that plays indoors. Look for Chicago to pound Jones against the dirty birds, who have been proven to be vulnerable against the run, particularly on the road where they’ve been gutted for seven touchdowns by running backs and 144.3 yards per game.
- Count on continued success for the red hot Domanick Davis this week against the Cardinals if he plays through his knee injury. Arizona has surrendered 17 rushing touchdowns in 13 games. Davis needs just 24 rushing yards to post his third straight 1,000 yard season. Despite a mediocre start to the season, he will likely post more yards in 2005 than he did in 2004. Don’t pencil in Reggie Bush as the 2006 starter just yet.
- Willis McGahee should be riding the pine this week for most owners. The word out of Buffalo is that he’s not happy in upstate New York and would like to play for a Floridian team next season. McGahee hasn’t had a 100-yard game or scored a touchdown in six weeks. Expect continued disappointment this week against the Broncos, who hold opponents to 85.4 yards per game on the ground.
- Move Chris Brown to your bench this week against Seattle. The Seahawks have ratcheted up their run defense in recent weeks. Starting running backs have averaged just 52 yards per game against them with zero touchdowns over the last six weeks. They now rank among the top 10 rushing defenses in the NFL. Brown isn’t likely to finish the game with more than 80 all-purpose yards and probably won’t find the end zone.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Faulk, Jerome Bettis, Cedric Houston, and Ryan Moats
- Dolphins wideout Chris Chambers is the hottest receiver in football right now and is a must play this week against the Jets. Just realize that he has to come back down to earth at some point and this could be the week. New York doesn’t do a lot of things well, but they know how to stop the pass. They rank third in the NFL, allowing just 172.6 yards per game through the air.
- The Bengals have averaged more than 27 points against the NFC North this year in three meetings. A game this week against the Lions should see that trend continue, and that’s great news for Chad Johnson owners. Johnson has had miserable games in the last two weeks, posting a combined 76 yards receiving with zero touchdowns. Consider him a lock to find the endzone against Detroit, a team that has lost four straight games.
- It’s a good idea to move Derrick Mason to the bench for this week’s Monday night match-up against the Packers. Mason is likely to draw coverage from shutdown cornerback Al Harris. Green Bay has quietly climbed atop the NFL’s pass defense rankings and allows fewer than 165 yards passing per game.
- In the midst of a four game losing streak, the Bills are switching back to Kelly Holcomb at QB. He replaces a nicked up J.P. Losman (shoulder), who managed to lead his team to just eight first downs and 183 yards last week against the Patriots. The switch is good news for Eric Moulds. The Moulds-Holcomb duo hooked up for 27 receptions, 283 yards, and three touchdowns in the four complete games that Holcomb started this season. Moulds is a solid sleeper play this week against the Broncos, who rank 29th against the pass.
- While Eli Manning has picked up some bad habits over the past few weeks and isn’t playing very well, he should show signs of improvement against the Chiefs. Kansas City was lit up by Drew Bledsoe and the Cowboys last week for 332 yards passing and three scores. Get Plaxico Burress and possibly even Amani Toomer in your lineup.
This Week’s Sleepers: Eric Moulds, Amani Toomer, Darrell Jackson, and Reggie Brown
- Based on his stats this season, Jeremy Shockey may have leapfrogged Tony Gonzalez as the second-best TE in football behind Antonio Gates. Shockey ranks second in yards and touchdowns among tight ends. He figures to have another solid afternoon this week against the Chiefs. KC has ceded three touchdowns to tight ends in the last three weeks. Look for at least 80 yards and a score from Shockey.
- The Buffalo Bills have allowed tight ends to catch 21 passes and three touchdowns over the last four weeks. That makes Jeb Putzier a sneaky play this week. While Putzier hasn’t scored this season, he does have some nice yardage games and plays particularly well on the road, where he’s averaged over 40 yards per game. Plug and play him this week and look for 50-60 yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jeb Putzier
- The Oakland Raiders have been stung by kickers recently, given up an average of 9.8 points per game to the special teamers in the last five games. This includes 24 points in the last two weeks alone. It’s a great week to pick up and start Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson.
- Consider sliding Todd Peterson (ATL) and Lawrence Tynes (KC) to the bench this week because of potential poor weather situations. Both players are accustomed to kicking in more ideal situations. Peterson will face the prospect of kicking in the Windy City, which will see temperatures dip into teens or lower. Tynes will travel to Giants stadium where it’s not easy to kick during the summer months let alone December.
This Week’s Sleepers: Phil Dawson and Jeff Reed
- Stick with the Carolina Panthers defense this week. They gave up 20 points to Tampa during Week 14, but should come up big on Sunday against the Saints. New Orleans benched Aaron Brooks in favor of Todd Bouman. In Bouman’s only other action this season, he completed five of 13 passes for 31 yards and an interception. Plus, he was sacked twice and fumbled once. I anticipate at least a few turnovers and a handful of sacks for the Panthers.
- The Cincinnati Bengals defense is a must-start this week against the Lions. In three prior meetings with NFC North opponents, the Bengals have intercepted a total of 15 passes—five in each game. With the way the Lions are playing right now, it wouldn’t be shocking to see that amazing trend continue.
This Week’s Sleepers: Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers
Last Week’s 6-Pack: Molson Canadian Lager
Price Paid: $6.19
It surprised me when I read on the label of my first beer on Sunday that Molson is North America’s oldest brewery, founded in 1786. Their Molson Canadian product comes in your standard brown bottle. Not surprisingly a red maple leaf was front and center. On the back of the label, each beer featured a different saying. All of them were quite dumb and not really worth discussing. The beer itself had very little aroma. I could pick up traces of corn, but nothing else. Molson poured to a fizzy head that lingered for about 90 seconds before it evaporated. The color resembled apple juice, probably a bit more orange that Bud or Miller. Upon my first sip, the first thing I noticed was that the carbonation was a bit extreme. It almost felt like having a handful of Pop Rocks in my mouth. After I got past that sensation, I noted that Molson does have some good qualities. There were hints of hops that gave it at least a slight bite. The hops were punctuated by a light sweetness. There was minimal aftertaste, which actually made this beer pretty refreshing. While I probably wouldn’t keep my fridge stocked with Molson Canadian, I could see myself sucking back a few of these beers at a hockey game. I give it two stars out of five.
Next Week's 6-Pack : Full Sail Wassail
In the spirit of the holidays, I picked up a six-pack of Full Sail Wassail. Join me in raising a glass of this winter ale that is brewed in Oregon.