- Look for Dolphins QB Daunte Culpepper to climb out of his funk this week against the Titans. Tennessee ranks 29th in the NFL against the pass and they’ve given up 31.5 points per game. What’s more intriguing is that the Titans haven’t intercepted a pass this season, so it should be the perfect opportunity for C-Pep to rebuild his confidence. Look for him to “get his roll on” a couple times on Sunday.
- Consider benching Marc Bulger this week against the Cardinals if you have other options. Bulger has been slow to adapt to head coach Scott Linehan’s system and is a couple more poor weeks away from being written off as a fantasy bust. Over the first two weeks he has just one TD and has averaged only 201 yards per game – a far cry from the days of the Greatest Show on Turf. Another reason to pull the plug on Bulger, at least temporarily, is that he has been glaringly average in his three career starts in the desert, putting up just three touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. Oh, and All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace may not be there to protect his blindside.
- Eli Manning and Matt Hasselbeck squared off last November in an overtime barn burner. The QBs combined for nearly 600 passing yards and four touchdowns. Both players are excellent starts this week in a game that the Vegas odds makers contend will see 44 points scored. I expect Manning will have the better stats, but Hasselbeck’s team will walk away with their third win.
- It’s time for fantasy owners to throw a little respect Michael Vick’s way. Although his passing stats have been predictably mediocre with just 116 yards per game through the air. Vick has been a machine on the ground. Defenses don’t have an answer to an innovative option play the Falcons have added to the playbook. He’s produced 175 yards and one TD as a rusher. Keep him active for Monday night’s faceoff against the Saints. Vick is has rushed for five touchdowns in his last three Monday night games.
This Week’s Sleepers: Daunte Culpepper, Jon Kitna, and Brett Favre
- If you can swing a trade for Falcons backup RB Jerious Norwood and not have to give up too much, go for it. Warrick Dunn is averaging 25 carries per game—10 more than his career average. At 5’9”, 180 lbs. and 31 years of age, Dunn isn’t going to last with that workload. Were Norwood to be thrust into a starting role, there’s a good chance he could become a top 10 RB instantly. If all you have to give up is a mid-level WR, it might be worth the risk.
- Colts rookie RB Joseph Addai had a breakout game last week against the Texans, carrying the ball 16 times for 82 yards and adding 22 yards and a TD through the air. The performance may have you giddy about getting the rookie into your lineup, but hold off for at least this week. Jacksonville is coming to town. The Jaguars’ defensive front seven have been abusive to running backs, holding opponents to fewer than 60 yards rushing per game. In Week 2, the Jags made Willie Parker a non-factor—and Addai brings a similar running style and skill set to the table.
- The Redskins are desperate for a win this week. Look for them to lean heavily on RB Clinton Portis. Portis is listed as probable and should see a minimum of 25 touches against a Houston defense that gives up nearly 130 yards rushing per game. Don’t be surprised to see him finish the day with 120 all-purpose yards and a pair of TDs.
- Ronnie Brown is poised to bounce back this week against a feeble Titans run defense. Tennessee has allowed an average of two rushing touchdowns per game in 2006. Brown is a lock for 100 yards and a score, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be the top scoring fantasy RB in Week 3 and put up a monster game.
- Jamal Lewis has had some huge games against the Browns throughout his career, including a 295-yard 2-TD whopper back in 2003. And even though Cleveland has been gutted by opposing backs so far this year, I’d be careful not to get to confident about Lewis’ chances in Week 3. Fact is the coaching staff plans to hold him to fewer than 20 carries.
This Week’s Sleepers: Thomas Jones, DeAngelo Williams, and Laurence Maroney
- The Indianapolis receiving tandem of Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison are generally must-starts every week. Keep them in your lineup this week against the Jags, but know that Harrison typically posts the better stats in this division rivalry. Harrison has notched four TDs in his last five games against Jacksonville while Wayne has averaged just 38.8 yards per game with zero TDs over the same span.
- Give strong consideration to moving Joe Horn to the bench this week against the Falcons. Atlanta hasn’t given up a TD to a wide receiver in 2006. It’s an important statistic because Horn isn’t the player he once was and is no longer the igniter of the Saints offense. With so many weapons on the offense, he’s rarely going to post an 8-9 reception game. And his 34-year-old legs aren’t going to be getting behind many defensive backs for 60-yard receptions. No, if Horn is going to have fantasy value, it will come from scoring TDs – something he seems unlikely to do against the Falcons.
- Keep Steelers wideout Hines Ward in your lineup this week against Cincinnati. Ward lit up the Bengals last year for four touchdowns in three games (including the playoffs). Last year’s Super Bowl MVP has had some of his best career games against this division foe, and he’s scored in four of his last five games in the Queen City.
- If T.J. Houshmandzadeh suits up and plays on Sunday, get him into your active lineup. Cincinnati’s #2 WR has played well against the Steelers lately, scoring three TDs in the three meetings with his team’s bitter rival.
This Week’s Sleepers: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Arnaz Battle, Javon Walker, and Deion Branch
- If you’re desperate for a TE this week with Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates on bye, you could do a lot worse than Green Bay’s David Martin. Martin should make a nice stopgap against Detroit, a team that gave up three TDs to TEs last week. Why Martin and not Bubba Franks? Franks is the starter, but Martin is getting more opportunities in the passing game. He grabbed six passes last week for 44 yards and was targeted by Brett Favre eight times total. Franks got his share of looks, too (7 total), but didn’t endear himself to the coaches by dropping two catch-able balls, committing two costly penalties, and missing a key block.
- Jeremy Shockey was gimpy last week with an ankle injury, but it’s probably not enough of an issue that you need to consider ushering him to the bench him at this point. Shockey will face the Seahawks, a team he blew up for 10 catches, 127 yards, 1 TD, and a 2-point conversion last season. Keep him in your lineup, but also keep one eye on the waiver wire in case he aggravates his ankle.
This Week’s Sleepers: David Martin and Chris Cooley
- Don’t be surprised to see Neil Rackers and Jeff Wilkins atop the fantasy leaderboard for kickers this week. Rackers and Wilkins will face each other on Sunday in Arizona. Last season the kickers combined for 10 field goals in their two meetings.
- The Falcons inked Morten Andersen to a contract earlier this week. Andersen, who is older than head coach Jim Mora, has good upside this week. Don’t laugh. Atlanta has attempted eight field goals in 2006, four in each game. Their running game is firing on all cylinders and they should be able to move the ball against an over-rated Saints defense. Look for Andersen to finish with at least eight points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Morten Andersen and Olindo Mare
- The Miami Dolphins are good enough to hold a decrepit Tennessee offense to 10 points or less. Start them with confidence this week as they could be the difference-maker in your fantasy match-up. Kerry Collins may be the worst starting QB in all of football and rookie Vince Young looks like he’s a season or two away from adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. Count on a minimum of two turnovers and a handful of sacks for Jason Taylor and the ‘Fins.
- Owners of the Philadelphia Eagles defense should be careful not to over think this week’s game against the 49ers. I know, I know, San Francisco QB Alex Smith hasn’t thrown an interception this season. And, yes, I’ve also noticed that he’s only been sacked once. But so far he’s only faced the Cardinals and Rams. I expect it will be a different story against an irate Philadelphia defense that blew a big lead last week. Even without DE Javon Kearse, I expect the Eagles will frustrate the young Smith into a couple mistakes and hold San Francisco to two touchdowns or less.
This Week’s Sleepers: Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals
This Week's 6-Pack: Paulaner Oktoberfest
Appearance: Perfect pumpkin/copper orange color with a two-finger thick head that dissipated after a few minutes.
Smell: Rich in aroma. It’s dominated by malt with spice and toasted grains in the background.
Taste: Pow. Paulaner Oktoberfest is an explosion of flavors. There’s an obvious sweet malt flavor that hovers above all else. Underneath, you get a fabulous spiced hop flavor that balances the beer out. It’s a well-rounded taste that’s impressive and bold from sip to swallow. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, though it fades quickly and it’s restrained enough that it’s not unpleasant.
Mouth-feel: Medium body, somewhat chewy with active carbonation throughout the sampling. Crisp, lip-smacking finish.
Drinkability: This is an eminently drinkable beer. I had to make a conscious effort to pace myself lest my stein would’ve run dry before my review was complete. It’s not overly heavy and goes down smoothly. I could easily see myself in a musty Munich beer garden drinking these all day.
Last Call: Paulaner Oktoberfest is a truly classic Octoberfest beer. I can’t think of a much better way to make the transition from summer to autumn. It’s a perfect complement to a Sunday watching football, but would be enjoyed even more in the company of German barmaids who can serve you and your compatriots 12 steins at a time. Four stars out of five.
Next Week’s Beer: Kirin Ichiban
From Germany to Japan, a veritable axis of beers. Grab a six pack and let me know what you think. Until then, sayonara.