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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

The Weekly 6-Pack - Week 6
Paul Sandy
October 13, 2006

Quarterback

  • No team in the NFL has given up more passing TDs than the Lions (11). That makes Bills QB J.P. Losman a slick pickup for any owner who has Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, or another QB who’s out this week. Losman is a virtual lock to score at least one TD (he’s done so every game this season), but has a great opportunity here to post multiple scores.
  • Drew Bledsoe took a lot of heat after Dallas’ loss to the Eagles. He should be able to stomp out talk of a quarterback controversy for at least a week. The Texans are the worst in the NFL versus the pass, giving up just a shade under 300 yards per game. Look for Bledsoe to rack up a minimum of 250 yards and two scores.
  • Giants QB Eli Manning ranks third in the NFL with nine passing TDs. He’s become a must-start player in most fantasy leagues, so don’t move him to you bench unless you have another option. Just don’t bet on a big performance this week. Manning will face off against the Falcons. Atlanta coming off a bye week, so they’ve had an extra week of rest and preparation. In addition, they also haven’t given up a passing TD all season; they’re the only team in the league that can make such a boast.
  • The Raiders have given up 3-TD performances to Alex Smith and Charlie Frye in consecutive weeks. Although Denver’s Jake Plummer has drawn criticism from fantasy owners, he’s a great start in Week 6 at home against Oakland. Plug him into your lineup if your regular starter isn’t available or faces a tough matchup. Plummer should end the day with around 200 yards and two scores.       

This Week’s Sleepers: J.P. Losman, Phillip Rivers, Jake Plummer, and Mark Brunell

Running Back

  • The four most feared words in fantasy football are “running back by committee.” However, what we’re seeing out of New Orleans proves a shared backfield isn’t always that bad. Saints rookie RB Reggie Bush is on pace for 108 receptions. Deuce McAllister leads the NFL with four rushing TDs. Don’t think yourself out of starting either back this week against Philly. The Eagles aren’t as tough against the run as you might think; they rank 16th in the NFL. Look for McAllister to make his way into the endzone while Bush zigs and zags his way to 110 all-purpose yards.
  • The Dolphins offense looked svelte with Joey Harrington under center in his first start. Harrington’s presence should bring consistency to the team (did I really just write that?), which bodes well for Ronnie Brown. Brown hasn’t been given enough touches this season, but will have little difficulty crossing the century mark for the first time this season in Week 6. Miami squares off against the Jets, a team that’s given up 148.6 yards per game on the ground and a league-high 11 rushing scores. Three of the last five meetings between these two division rivals have seen 44 or more points scored, so a shootout is a definite possibility.
  • “Always start your studs.” It’s a motto many fantasy owners live by. It’s not a bad little rule, but every rule has its exception and in this case it’s the Chicago Bears defense. Don’t think twice about moving Edgerrin James to the bench this week against the Bears. Chicago hasn’t allowed a RB in their endzone all season.
  • Owners who’ve been hanging onto Maurice Morris should be eager to play him this week. The Rams were gutted by Green Bay’s Noah Herron last week to the tune of 106 yards.  Morris is a much more accomplished runner and the Seahawks offense should be clicking since they’re coming off a bye week. Both meetings between St. Louis and Seattle last year saw 47+ points scored. Look for Morris to put up 120 yards and a score.     

This Week’s Sleepers: Reggie Bush, Maurice Morris, Julius Jones, and Michael Turner

Wide Receiver

  • Now might be a good time to move Hines Ward to your bench. Ward has been a favorite of the Weekly 6-Pack for years, but the Steelers offense has been as stale as a bottle of Iron City beer left on the counter for two weeks. A matchup this week against the third-ranked Kansas City pass defense doesn’t look too promising. Don’t be surprised if Ward ends up with another one of his now familiar 50-yard, zero-TD performances.
  • Bills wideout Lee Evans was targeted an NFL-high 14 times in Week 5. He figures to again be a focal point of the Buffalo offense for this week’s game against the Lions. Detroit’s secondary gives receivers plenty of room to operate and QBs are completing an astounding 72.4% of their passes. Look for Evans to get behind the Lions cornerbacks at least once in the contest for a TD.
  • With so many quality receivers on bye this week, many owners are scrambling to piece together a respectable lineup. I recommend grabbing San Diego’s Eric Parker if he’s available. The Chargers face a San Francisco defense that has already given up 10 receiving TDs this season. Plus Parker is coming off his best outing of the year, a 5-catch 86-yard effort. Look for a similar performance this week with the added possibility of a touchdown.
  • Bears wideout Muhsin Muhammad has scored three TDs in two career Monday night games. Start Muhammad this week along with fellow receiver Bernard Berrian for the team’s primetime tango with the Cards. The Bears should feast on an Arizona passing defense that ranks 29th in the NFL.   

 
This Week’s Sleepers: Eric Parker, Bernard Berrian, Deion Branch, Rod Smith, and Terry Glenn

Tight End

  • Give Alge Crumpler the nod this week against the Giants. Crumpler is coming off a bye and should find the endzone against New York, a team that’s given up a touchdown or 100+ yards to tight ends in three of their first four games.
  • Owners who gave up on Randy McMichael after a horrible start to the season may want to give him another shot this week. He’s coming off his best outing of 2006 (84 yds.), and with Joey Harrington under center I’m optimistic that McMichael can regain his form. Harrington looked to his TE nine times last Sunday. McMichael is worth a start versus the Jets, who he’s scored against in two of his last three games.
  • A gimpy ankle isn’t the only reason to think about benching Jeremy Shockey this week. Atlanta hasn’t allowed a single TD to a TE all season. The best performance the team has given up to a TE in 2006? A 2-catch, 32-yard effort by Arizona’s Leonard Pope.   

 
This Week’s Sleepers: Randy McMichael, Chris Cooley, and Desmond Clark

Kicker

  • San Diego place kicker Nate Kaeding has connected on two or more field goals in every game this season. Only three other players can make that claim (J. Wilkins, R. Gould, and R. Longwell). Kaeding is a must-start this week against the 49ers. San Francisco has ceded multiple field goals in four of five games in 2006.
  • Fantasy owners would be wise not to chase when it comes to Neil Rackers. Rackers was far and away the best kicker in 2005. But this season, he’s merely average . . . below average, actually. Right now there are 21 kickers who have scored more points than Rackers. He’s 0-3 on kicks of 50+ yards. This week provides the perfect opportunity to cut Rackers loose. The Cardinals face the Bears and aren’t likely to score more than 14 points. Let him go and grab someone who has a more favorable match-up like Mike Vanderjagt, Morten Andersen, or Rian Lindell.

This Week’s Sleepers: Mike Vanderjagt, Rian Lindell, and Olindo Mare

Defense

  • Look for the Cincinnati Bengals ball-hawking defense to have success this week against Tampa rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski. Yes, Gradkowski posted a 107.6 QB rating in his first NFL start. But I have a feeling that the Bengals will be hungry coming off their bye. With a week’s worth of time to study the game film on Gradkowski, it’s a good bet that the Bengals will record a few sacks and turnovers.
  • The surprising Denver Broncos climbed above the Ravens and Chargers into second place in total defense. They give up just 8.5 points per game to opponents. With a game this week against the hated Raiders and their young QB, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if they finish the week as fantasy football’s top scoring defense . . . yes, even higher than the Bears.   

This Week’s Sleepers: Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins

The 6-Pack

This Week's 6-Pack: New Belgium Sunshine Wheat

Price: $6.99

Origin: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Appearance: Looked hazy and corn-silk colored in my pint glass. I noticed some sediment in the beer, likely yeast. It had a nice thick head that quickly reduced by half but then lingered for some time.

Smell: The aroma was dominated by yeast, with hints of citrus and coriander spice in the background.

Taste: My first sip reminded me of Fruit Loops. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that fruity, but there was a definite sour/citrus/tang flavor going on. The bottle indicates they add orange peel during the brewing process. It was easily detected. Underneath it all, I detected a nice grain base—not surprising given the name/style of beer.     

Mouth-feel: Sunshine Wheat was very light in carbonation, borderline watery. Highly gulp-able.       

Drinkability: It was easy to drink one of these, but the overpowering fruitiness prevented any thought of having another.   

Last Call: My overall impression is that wheat beers may just not be for me. I have yet to come across one that I can honestly say I like. In general, I think they taste too much like a wine cooler, and not enough like a beer. While New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat is a fine representation of this style of beer—and ranks light years ahead of Blue Moon Belgian White on my list—it’s just not something I would stock in my fridge. I enjoy New Belgium’s other offerings, including Fat Tire, which I reviewed last season. This one just doesn’t stack up for me. Two stars out of five.  

Next Week’s Beer: Sleeman IPA 46*, Canada