- Ride Brett Favre’s hot hand this week against the Eagles. He has thrown six TDs and just one interception in his last two games. Meanwhile, Philly has ceded nearly 300 yards per game to opposing QBs this year. The Eagles secondary has sustained an unusual amount of injuries this season. In fact, five defensive backs are listed on the team’s injury report, including top cornerback Lito Sheppard who has been out since Week 1 with an ankle injury. Favre should toss at least two TDs in a game that has all the makings of a shootout.
- If your regular QB has been stinking up the joint, give Charlie Frye a look this week against the Raiders. Oakland’s second-ranked pass defense is a mirage. The team faced the Chargers and Ravens, who were both able to attack the Silver and Black on the ground, which made passing unnecessary. Cleveland has struggled to run the ball all season and will find more success through the air. Frye should finish this contest with a minimum of 250 yards and a TD.
- A matchup against the 32nd-ranked pass defense of the Texans looks pretty sexy, but I would think twice before starting Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper couldn’t get it done last week at home against a pedestrian Titans secondary that had been handled by Phillip Rivers and Chad Pennington with relative ease. Fact is, Culpepper has no mobility and isn’t comfortable as a pocket passer. Until he proves he has the physical tools, and more importantly the mental tools, to become a successful NFL QB again, he belongs on your bench.
- Will the premature report of his benching light a fire under Kurt Warner? Maybe. But it might be too high of a risk to start him this week against the Falcons. Atlanta is one of just three teams that have not given up a passing touchdown this season. After Monday night’s letdown against the Saints, the Falcons will be motivated to prove their for real. Weigh your options before activating Warner.
This Week’s Sleepers: Charlie Frye, Jon Kitna, and Drew Bledsoe
- Carolina’s backfield by committee approach looks like it could cause headaches for DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams owners for the duration of the season. Consider resting both players this week if you have adequate depth on your roster. Foster and Williams will face a tough task against a surprisingly stout New Orleans defense. The Saints have held opposing starting RBs to just 37.6 rushing yards per game on the ground with zero TDs.
- Larry Johnson has a great chance of leading all fantasy RBs this week. Johnson is coming off a bye week and has had plenty of time to study the chinks in San Francisco’s armor. The 49ers gave up a career game to Brian Westbrook last week that included 164 yards and three TDs. Look for the Chiefs MVP to rack up 170 all-purpose yards and two scores.
- The Tennessee Titans rank 30th in the NFL against the run and have already given up five rushing TDs this year. Give Cowboys RB Julius Jones the nod this week, but also don’t be afraid to use second-stringer Marion Barber if you’re in a pinch. Head coach Bill Parcells indicated after Week 2 that he wanted to get Barber more involved to protect Jones. If the Cowboys get an early lead, and they should, Jones and Barber have the potential to grind out 200 yards of combined rushing and receiving offense.
- The Bears rushing attack has been a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The team has a surprisingly explosive downfield passing game that should make it easier to run the ball. But Thomas Jones has averaged just 60.3 yards per game on the ground and, to make matters worse, isn’t being used as a receiver out of the backfield (only five receptions this year). Things don’t get any easier this week. The Bears will face the Seahawks who rank 2nd in the NFL versus the run, holding opponents to a paltry 58.7 rushing yards per game and they haven’t given up a single rushing TD all year. Jones isn’t a good play this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Marion Barber, Corey Dillon, Ahman Green, and Reggie Bush
- Steve Smith owners had to sweat out the first few weeks of the season, but their patience should be rewarded this week against the Saints. Smith has recorded three consecutive games with 100 or more all-purpose yards against New Orleans. He practiced without any issues this week and should be started with full confidence.
- The Detroit Lions have already given up seven passing TDs this season and have zero interceptions. They’ll likely have a hard time stopping the Rams, who finally picked up some steam last week. Although St. Louis only put 16 points on the board, QB Marc Bulger eclipsed the 300-yard benchmark for the first time this season. Bulger will build on that success this week and connect with WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce early and often. Look for both players to turn in their best performances of the 2006 season.
- Bank on a Chad Johnson bounce-back this week. Johnson loves to ham in up in front of the home crowd. He’s scored a TD in four of his last five regular season home games. This week’s opponent, the New England Patriots, don’t look anything like the Super Bowl champions they once were. Last week, they were torched by Denver’s Javon Walker for two long TDs. Don’t be surprised if Carson Palmer zeroes in on Johnson early to let him know that he’s still the Bengals go-to-guy. A first-half touchdown seems likely.
- The Kansas City defense is playing inspired football under Herm Edwards. Opposing teams are averaging just 146.5 passing yards per game against the re-built Chiefs secondary. Considering they’ve had an extra week to prepare for the 49ers, look for the Chiefs to keep Antonio Bryant under wraps. Start him if you don’t have better options. Just know the days of opponents throwing 40 up on the Arrowhead Stadium scoreboard every Sunday are over.
This Week’s Sleepers: Isaac Bruce, Greg Jennings, Eric Moulds, and Braylon Edwards
- Tight ends as a whole have been disappointing in 2006. One of the few bright spots is Kellen Winslow, who leads all TEs in receptions and yards. It looks like Winslow will be good for 6-8 catches per week as Cleveland’s most reliable possession receiver. He’s a great start this week against the Raiders. Oakland has given up TDs to tight ends in each game this year.
- The Jaguars defense has been rock solid against TEs this season. Yes, they gave up a touchdown to Indy’s Dallas Clark last week, but that’s been the only flaw. The Jags have allowed a meager five receptions to starting TEs—including the Clark TD. This is not the best week to bet on Chris Cooley coming out of his funk. Move him to your bench and look for better options on your waiver wire.
This Week’s Sleepers: Owen Daniels and LJ Smith
- Which games look like field goal fests this week? I’ll take San Diego at Baltimore as well as Minnesota at Buffalo. The Chargers and Ravens rank #1 and #2 overall in defense respectively. The game should see six field goals kicked total as the teams scratch and claw for field position. The Vikings have a classic bend-but-don’t-break defense, and have allowed nine field goals in 2006. They also struggle to get the ball in the endzone and have kicked eight field goals of their own. Bottom line: Nate Kaeding, Matt Stover, Ryan Longwell, and Rian Lindell are all solid plays in Week 4.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Longwell, Rian Lindell, and John Kasay
- I mentioned in the Free Agent Forecast that I liked the Cleveland Browns defense this week against the Raiders. Another sneaky play this week is the Kansas City Chiefs defense. KC has held opponents to just 16 points per game. Their meeting with the Broncos in Week 2 was a defensive masterpiece. Plus they’ve had an extra week to study second-year QB Alex Smith’s tendencies. They will be fired up for this must-win game and hold the Niners in check.
- My pick for the highest-scoring defense in Week 4 is the Dallas Cowboys. Like the Chiefs, Bill Parcells’ crew is coming off a bye week. With an extra week to prepare for the lowly Titans, things could get ugly for Kerry Collins who already has six interceptions this season. Count on the Cowboys registering a few turnovers and don’t be shocked if they return one for a score to seal the victory.
This Week’s Sleepers: Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings
This Week's 6-Pack: Kirin Ichiban
Appearance: Poured to a pale straw yellow color with no head—just a fine ring of bright foam on the top, hardly a quarter inch thick.
Smell: The aroma is very faint. If anything, smells a little bit like a bag of puffed rice cereal.
Taste: Completely underwhelming flavor. Although there isn’t anything unpleasant about it, there really isn’t anything pleasant either. About the only characteristics of note here are a slight sweetness, an astringent aftertaste, and a warm alcohol sensation as the beer falls down your throat.
Mouth-feel: Thin and watery. Carbonation is pretty much non-existent after a couple minutes. Finishes dry.
Drinkability: Is it drinkable? Yes. The beer goes down smooth. It quenches your thirst. You could pound several back in one sitting. But I’m not sure why you’d want to. This beer is essentially a sweeter version of Budweiser, which makes sense. After studying the label on Kirin Ichiban, you’ll notice it is brewed by Anheuser-Busch.
Last Call: Kirin Ichiban is a run-of-the-mill brew. It tastes like Bud, yet it costs a buck or two more. I doubt I’ll ever try this beer again. Next time I’m in a Japanese restaurant or go on a sushi run, I’ll try the sake and skip the Kirin Ichiban. One star out of five.
Next Week’s Beer: Orval
Grab bottle of this Belgian trappist ale (you won’t find it in a six-pack) and toast another victory for your fantasy team.