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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

The Weekly 6-Pack - Week 1
Paul Sandy
September 8, 2006

Welcome to The Weekly 6-Pack, the only fantasy football column that combines the greatest hobby in the world, fantasy football, with the greatest beverage in the world, beer.

Every Friday, The Weekly 6-Pack will provide an in-depth look at the six key fantasy football positions – QB, RB, WR, TE, PK, and DEF. The predictions and projections, statistics and speculation you’ll find here will help you get ready for the weekend action and make more informed lineup decisions. 

As a sidebar to the fantasy acumen, I’ll review a different six-pack of beer every week. All of-age Huddle members are encouraged to participate. Pick up a six-pack of the specified peer. Partake of its malted goodness. And let me know your thoughts.

Without further adieu, let’s hoist a frosty mug of ale as we toast the start of another year of fantasy football and The Weekly 6-Pack.

Quarterback

  • Don’t let Deion Branch’s holdout keep you from starting Tom Brady this week against the Bills. Brady spreads the ball around to his receivers, tight ends, and running backs better than any QB in the league. Plus, he has a history of success against Buffalo. In Brady’s last five meetings against the Bills, he’s averaged 252.6 passing yards per game and posted 12 TDs (11 pass, 1 rush). He’s a lock for two scores and 220 yards in the season opener.
  • Consider sliding Michael Vick to your bench this week against the Panthers. Carolina owned Vick last season, holding him to an average of 143 yards passing and 13.5 yards rushing in two games. All this while allowing zero touchdowns, causing seven sacks, and intercepting him three times.
  • It’s Manning vs. Manning Sunday night when the Colts face the Giants. Could NBC have dreamed of a better matchup for their first Sunday NFL telecast since 1998? Vegas says this will be the weekend’s highest scoring game with an over/under of 48. I agree. My prediction is that Peyton Manning and Eli Manning will combine for six touchdowns, the Giants will pull off the upset, and Bob Costas will be as annoying as ever.
  • Lions QB Jon Kitna won’t have any trouble getting motivated for his Week 1 matchup against the Seahawks. Kitna started his career with Seattle before being cast off. He’s faced his former team once before while he was with the Bengals a few seasons ago, turning in a solid two touchdown, 226-yard performance. Look for a similar effort this week. Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz is very familiar with the Seahawks defense from his days as head coach of the Rams and should find a way to get 20-25 points on the board.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jon Kitna and Phillip Rivers

Running Back

  • Mum is the word in Denver. Head coach Mike Shanahan isn’t talking about who his starting running back will be for the season opener. The story has gotten way too much play among fantasy owners this week. I say who cares? The Broncos face the St. Louis Rams, a team that figures to have as much chance of stopping the run as Koren Robinson has of stopping after just one cocktail. Both Mike Bell and Tatum Bell are safe starts this week and should deliver good fantasy production. 
  • Thomas Jones gets the starting nod in Week 1 as the Bears travel to Lambeau. Get Jones in your lineup, as he’s been Green Bay’s nemesis in recent years. Since 2003, dating back to his stint with the Buccaneers, Jones has faced the Packers five times. In those meetings, he’s posted 592 yards—an average of 118.4 yards per game—and three touchdowns.
  • Although the Vikings have made a concerted effort to beef up their defense in recent drafts and offseasons, their linebacking corps continues to be an area of weakness. Whoever starts for the Redskins on Monday night against Minnesota should be primed for a good showing. Keep your eye on the situation and be ready to plug in Ladell Betts or Clinton Portis.
  • Raiders RB LaMont Jordan had a career year in 2005, posting over 1,500 total yards and 11 TDs. However, a couple of his worst games came at the hands of the division rival San Diego Chargers, who Oakland will face in the season opener. In two meetings last year, Jordan averaged just 45.5 yards rushing. Unless you have a clear alternative, it’s probably best to keep Jordan in your lineup this week. Just be sure to lower your expectations a bit.  

This Week’s Sleepers: Tatum Bell, Thomas Jones, Ladell Betts, and Chris Brown

Wide Receiver

  • It’s not too soon to start Donte Stallworth this week against the Texans. Stallworth has been putting in overtime with QB Donovan McNabb since the Eagles acquired the speedy wideout. The two should hook up for 5-6 passes this week against a Houston defense that was worst in the NFL in 2005. Reggie Brown will start opposite Stallworth and also has good upside.
  • Lower your expectations for Muhsin Muhammad this week against the Packers. Muhammad is likely to draw coverage from Packers CB Al Harris. In a meeting last season between the two, Harris shut down Muhammad, holding him without a reception for the first time in 51 games. The Bears will likely avoid throwing Harris’ direction and instead test Charles Woodson, who struggled throughout the preseason.
  • Gillette Stadium hasn’t been kind to Lee Evans. The third-year wideout has made two trips to New England’s turf and was held to one reception on each occasion (for a total of 29 yards and zero TDs). Evans becomes the focal point of the offense this season with Eric Moulds gone, so there’s a chance he could be a bigger factor in this week’s opener. Just don’t be surprised if he ends up disappointing.
  • Randy Moss has scored at least one touchdown in his last four season openers (and five total TDs). He’s a fast starter. Look for that trend to continue in Week 1 against the Chargers. San Diego has a young, improving secondary, but the Raiders will test them deep at least a few times in this game. There’s a good chance Moss’ athletic ability will shine on a 40+ yard TD.

This Week’s Sleepers: Donte Stallworth, Troy Brown, and Laveranues Coles

Tight End

  • Everyone’s favorite sleeper tight end this season seems to be Ben Watson. I agree and listed him as one of my sleeper picks on The Huddle this preseason. I expect he’ll get off to a fast start this week against the Bills, but don’t be surprised if fellow TE Daniel Graham gets in on the action, as well. Graham is technically listed as the starter, but the Patriots will use two-TE sets frequently. Graham is likely to be Brady’s redzone target, while Watson will catch more passes and stretch the field with his superior speed.
  • How will life after Drew Brees begin for Antonio Gates? If history is any indication, it should start with a bang. Gates has scored a total of four touchdowns in his last four outings against the hated Raiders. It goes without saying that you should start Gates and look for him to deliver strong production.

This Week’s Sleepers: Daniel Graham and Jermaine Wiggins

Kicker

  • Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding scored 19 total points in his two meetings last season against the Raiders. He’s a quality start for the season opener; however, make sure Phillip Rivers can move the offense effectively this week before you resign yourself to counting on Kaeding all year. If Rivers can’t succeed against a shaky Silver and Black defense, it would be an ominous sign.
  • Most veteran fantasy owners have come to the realization that kicker production is difficult to predict. Therefore it’s best to wait until the final rounds of your draft to pick one. If your kicker gets off to a slow start in Week 1, go ahead and make a quick roster move to acquire a more promising prospect. A couple of kickers who may be on your waiver wire and bare watching this weekend are Stephen Gostkowski (NE) and.Jason Hanson (DET) Gostkowski fills the big shoes of Adam Vinatieri for the Patriots and based on a solid preseason looks to be the real deal. Hanson has had several down years for the Lions, but a Mike Martz-led offense should mean bigger points for the veteran.

This Week’s Sleepers: Nate Kaeding, Jason Hanson, and John Kasay

Defense

  • Few owners drafted the Arizona Cardinals defense. But those who did are rewarded with a nice matchup in Week 1 against the 49ers. San Fran will start second year QB Alex Smith, who has a brutal 1:11 TD to interception ratio in his young career. The Cardinals will be pumped up for this game as they christen their new stadium. They have a better than average chance to cause a few turnovers and score a defensive touchdown.
  • The Chicago Bears had interception returns for touchdowns in both meetings last year against the Packers. Although new head coach Mike McCarthy has vowed that QB Brett Favre will not throw as many interceptions this season, Chicago has too many defensive playmakers and should find big success against Green Bay’s porous offensive line.

This Week’s Sleepers: Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints

The 6-Pack

Next Week's 6-Pack: Bierra Moretti

Grab yourself a six-pack of this Italian lager and raise a toast to all things Italy, including Monica Bellucci, spaghetti and meatballs, and new Jets head coach Eric Mangini. Then, let me know what you think by e-mailing me at paul.sandy@frontiernet.net.