- If your regular starter faces a tough matchup this week, consider activating Drew Brees for Sunday’s tilt against the Packers. Green Bay yielded 262 yards and a score to Bears QB Rex Grossman. Grossman patiently picked apart the Packers secondary, particularly Charles Woodson. Look for Brees to connect for a couple scores and 200+ yards.
- Something about the Cowboys brings out the best in Mark Brunell. In two games against Dallas last season, the veteran QB connected on six touchdown passes. The Cowboys have made some improvements on defense since Brunell last saw them, but Jacksonville’s Byron Leftwich still exploited them for 237 yards and two touchdowns (1 pass and 1 rush) in Week 1. Give Brunell a look in deeper leagues this week.
- On the surface, a matchup at home against the Chiefs looks pretty sweet for QB Jake Plummer. But if I were a Plummer owner, I’d have second thoughts about starting “the Snake” this week. He looked awful in Week 1 against a mediocre Rams defense. Although Kansas City’s defense has been among the league’s worst in recent years, they’ve upgraded their secondary. Veterans Patrick Surtain and Ty Law did their part to keep Carson Palmer in check, holding him to 127 yards passing and no touchdowns.
- Eli Manning performed well against the Eagles in both meetings last year, averaging 265 yards passing and tossing four touchdowns. Look for another good performance this week. Although the Philadelphia defense looked formidable in Week 1, that was against Houston. Manning has more tools in his arsenal (not the least of which is a 1,800-yard running back) and will prove more difficult to stop. Look for 225 yards and a pair of scores from the Giants QB.
- Jets QB Chad Pennington had one of the better stat lines in Week 1, but he’s probably not your best choice this week. Pennington has thrown just one touchdown against the Patriots dating back to 2002. He could be a good spot starter this year . . . just not in this spot.
This Week’s Sleepers: Drew Brees, Mark Brunell, and Daunte Culpepper
- The Browns have been unable to contain Rudi Johnson in their last three meetings with the hard-nosed RB. Johnson has averaged over 165 yards per game over that span with four touchdowns to boot. Considering Cleveland gave up 151 yards on the ground to the Saints dynamic duo, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rudi finish as this week’s top fantasy RB.
- By the time Tennessee’s plane touches down in San Diego this weekend, RBs Chris Brown and Travis Henry should be firmly planted on your bench. Both players are battling foot injuries, but they wouldn’t do much even if they were healthy. The Chargers defense looked downright fearsome against the Raiders on Monday night, holding them to fewer than 130 yards of total offense.
- It was a bit surprising to see Packers RB Ahman Green post 110 yards rushing against the vaunted Bears defense in the opener. Green appears fully recovered from what looked like could be a career-ending thigh injury. More importantly, he isn’t splitting carries at all and seems like the perfect fit for the highly-publicized zone blocking scheme. Green is a sneaky play this week against New Orleans. Green Bay had their best game of the season against the Saints in 2005 — a 52-3 annihilation.
- NFL teams no longer fear the Tampa Bay defense as they once did. Neither should you. The fact is many of the Bucs’ best players have gotten old rather quickly. Simeon Rice (32), Derrick Brooks (33), and Shelton Quarles (35) are all past their prime. Don’t be afraid to start Warrick Dunn this week. The NFL’s leading rusher should eclipse the century mark in all-purpose yardage.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ahman Green, Reggie Bush, Chester Taylor, and Michael Turner
- Strongly consider moving all your Raiders to your bench this week, including Randy Moss (assuming you have a decent alternative). While there’s always a chance Moss could score on a deep touchdown, Oakland just looks too out of sorts. Aaron Brooks was easily rattled by the San Diego defense in Week 1. He’ll find things equally difficult against Ray Lewis and company, perhaps even more so.
- Seahawks wideout Darrell Jackson has gone over 100 yards in five of his last six meetings against the Cardinals. Jackson started out slowly in Week 1 against the Lions, but that was on the road. The Seahawks were a perfect 10-for-10 last year in the friendly confines of Qwest Field, outscoring opponents 219-127. Expect a shootout against Arizona, a team that has the offensive talent to keep the game close. Jackson should find his form and go for 100 yards and a score.
- If WR3 is an area of weakness for your team, you could do worse than Atlanta’s Michael Jenkins. Jenkins scored three touchdowns in all of 2005, but two of them came against the Buccaneers, who he’ll face in Week 2.
- Look for Dolphins wideout Chris Chambers to bounce back on Sunday from a poor performance in Week 1. Chambers will face a Bills secondary he lit up the last time he faced them for 238 yards and a touchdown. On the opposite side of the field, fellow Wisconsin Badger alum Lee Evans may also be in line for a nice game. Evans caught three touchdowns from JP Losman during that same fateful Week 13 matchup last year.
- It’s puzzling that Roy Williams opened his big yap this week and guaranteed a win against the Bears. Since coming into the league as a rookie, Williams has averaged just 66 yards per game against Chicago. Start him if you don’t have better options; just don’t expect him to walk the walk.
This Week’s Sleepers: Michael Jenkins, Lee Evans, Isaac Bruce, and Mark Clayton
- Activate Kellen Winslow Jr. this week against the Bengals. Cincy had a tough time slowing down Tony Gonzalez last week, surrendering 10 catches for 81 yards and a TD. And don’t forget Winslow may even see more looks in the coming weeks with Joe Jurevicius out.
- Colts TE Dallas Clark opened the 2006 season with a fine performance against the Giants. He snared three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown. With Brandon Stokley struggling with another injury, Clark should continue to play a key role in the offense. Make a point to get him in your lineup this week against Houston. Clark has scored four touchdowns in four career games against the Texans.
- If I’m a Todd Heap owner, I’m concerned about him showing up on the injury report this week with a sore back. Heap has a lengthy history of injuries. If he’s the only TE you have on your roster, consider adding some depth. That said, if Heap plays this week, he should be solid against the Raiders
This Week’s Sleepers: Dallas Clark and Desmond Clark
- Giants place kicker Jay Feeley booted a combined six field goals in two meetings last year against the Eagles. He’s a terrific start this week in what could turn into a shootout.
- If you drafted Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski, you should’ve dumped him by now. The Raiders offense looks like it’s on the brink of self destruction. Fortunately, there are plenty of solid replacements this week. I like Olindo Mare against the Bills. Miami should move the ball effectively against a Buffalo defense that gave up 183 yards on the ground in Week 1. Also, give New Orleans kicker John Carney a look this week. Carney drilled four field goals last week against the Browns and figures to have plenty of opportunities against a struggling Green Bay team.
This Week’s Sleepers: Olindo Mare and John Carney
- Though they were highly touted entering the season, consider your alternatives before starting the Carolina Panthers this week against the Vikings. Since assuming the role of starter last season, Minnesota QB Brad Johnson has thrown just four interceptions in 10 starts. He’s a veteran QB who makes good decisions. Plus he plays behind one of the league’s better offensive lines, so he won’t take many sacks.
- As an alternative to Carolina or any other defense you’re worried about, consider acquiring and starting the Denver Broncos. Although they looked off their game last week, the Broncos play much better at home. Last season they allowed opponents just 12.5 points per game at Invesco Field. More importantly, the Chiefs will start backup QB Damon Huard, who along with Trent Green, was sacked seven times in Week 1.
This Week’s Sleepers: Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings
This Week's 6-Pack: Birra Moretti
Appearance: Birra Moretti comes in a standard brown longneck, adorned with a man who appears to be a cross between an Italian mobster and a leprechaun. The beer pours and looks like your standard American lager, with perhaps more carbonation and a longer-lasting head.
Smell: The predominant smell is grassy with hints of bread dough.
Taste: Taste is predictable. Not that predictability is such a bad thing. It has all the characteristics you’d find in a lager product from Bud or Miller. It’s crisp and refreshing. On the other hand it goes much further than those macro-brews in terms of complexity. There is an unmistakable presence of mild hops behind this beer that gives it some backbone. The doughy scent I picked up earlier carries over into the flavor, as well.
Mouth-feel: Smooth, and almost buttery—with a tickle of carbonation.
Drinkability: As far as European lagers go, Birra Moretti is certainly above average. It doesn’t have the metallic aftertaste of Heineken and others. Instead, it’s crisp and refreshing, as a lager should be.
Last Call: I reviewed Peroni, another Italian beer, last year. I gave it just one star out of five because of an awful skunk/corn smell and nasty aftertaste. The Moretti obviously rates higher for me. It’s an appropriate beer for this style, and rates well against lagers from other countries that are more well-known for brewing beer. Overall, I’d say it’s a worthwhile beer that’s a good complement to a heavy Italian meal. The price was a little high, but not obscenely so. I give it three out of five stars.
Next Week’s Beer: Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. Ahh . . . mid-September. My favorite time of year. Football is back. The temperature is cool. And it’s time to celebrate Oktoberfest. Grab yourself a 6-pack of Paulaner Oktoberfest, hoist a stein, and let me know what you think. (firstname.lastname@example.org)