- I can understand the temptation to start Byron Leftwich against the perennially weak Texans pass defense. Houston gives up the second-most passing yards in the NFL, so plugging him in makes sense. However it may surprise you to learn that Lord Byron has looked more like a court jester against Houston. In five career starts against his division foe, Leftwich has averaged just 181 yards per game with three touchdowns and six interceptions. And in those five starts, the Jaguars won just two games—none on the road where the Jags will be this week.
- I like Tom Brady coming off a bye this week against the Bills. The two-week respite gave Brady plenty of time to get more comfortable with his wideouts. It also afforded him the opportunity to wear out the game film studying Buffalo’s average pass defense. Ironically, this is the third straight year New England is comes off a bye week and squares off against the Bills. Brady’s average passer rating in the previous two meetings? 113.0. Oh, and Brady lit up the Bills in this year’s opener for two scores.
- He’s only started a couple games, but Matt Leinart is already making a strong push for rookie of the year honors. Leinart dissected the quality pass defenses of Chicago and Kansas City, throwing four TDs and just one interception. Find a way to get him in your lineup this week against the Raiders. With their pathetic offensive line, Arizona will continue to struggle to run the ball, which should lead to around 40 pass attempts per game for the rookie.
- Better give Ben Roethlisberger one more game to prove he’s back. He’ll go on the road this week against a tightfisted Falcons secondary that is one of the NFL’s best at preventing aerial scores. Atlanta has given up just two passing TDs this year. Big Ben has zero TDs and six INTs in his last three road games dating back to last year’s Super Bowl.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Leinart, Joey Harrington, and Chad Pennington
- Revenge is a great motivator. But no amount of motivation is going to help Reuben Droughns post quality stats against his former team, who traded him a couple seasons ago. The Broncos haven’t given up a rushing TD all season and they’ve held the last three starting RBs who opposed them to 60 yards rushing or less. Keep Droughns far, far away from your starting lineup this week if you can help it.
- You could do worse than Leon Washington or Kevan Barlow this week. The New York duo splits carries, but both could do some damage this week against the Lions, who will be without two of their best defensive lineman—Shaun Rodgers and Shaun Cody. Look for Washington to put up somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 all-purpose yards while Barlow piles on a touchdown and 50 yards.
- Another committee backfield that should see success in Week 7 is the one fielded by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew should find plenty of holes against a Texans run defense that just gave up 163 combined yards and a touchdown to Julius Jones and Marion Barber. Taylor had one of his best games in 2005 against Houston, piling up 112 yards and a touchdown.
- I would caution owners who have LaMont Jordan in their lineups this week. Jordan will go up against an Arizona defense that has bottled up quality RBs in four of the last five games, including Thomas Jones (39 rushing yards), Larry Johnson (36 rushing yards), Steven Jackson (62 rushing yards), and Shaun Alexander (89 rushing yards). Exhaust all your other options before trotting out Jordan.
This Week’s Sleepers: Leon Washington, Kevan Barlow, Maurice Jones-Drew, Tatum Bell, and DeShaun Foster
- Consider your alternatives before starting Braylon Edwards against the Broncos. Denver has allowed just one passing touchdown this season. Edwards’ production has tailed off since posting two consecutive games with 100+ yards. Expect a low scoring game between Cleveland and Denver with Edwards finishing the day with fewer than 80 yards receiving.
- Get Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery into your lineup this week against the Lions. Detroit ranks 30th in the NFL against the pass and they’re particularly poor on the road. In three road games this season, the Lions have allowed 33.7 points per game. Eight of the 13 passing TDs they’ve allowed have come away from the friendly confines of Ford Field. Coles and Cotchery should end the day with two TDs between them.
- Don’t think yourself out of starting Andre Johnson this week against the Jaguars. Although Jacksonville ranks among the top 10 pass defenses in the NFL, Johnson has had some of the best games of his career against the division rival. In five career meetings against the Jags, Johnson has posted a touchdown or 70+ yards in all but one. Last year’s 7-catch, 119-yard, 1-TD performance helped salvage an otherwise miserable fantasy season.
- The Dolphins secondary is beat up and they’ve surrendered 10 passing touchdowns this season—4th most in the NFL. Start Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Both have an above average chance to find the endzone. And don’t forget, with Koren Robinson gone for the year and Robert Ferguson injured, Jennings and Driver are the only receivers on the roster who have caught a pass in an NFL regular season game. They should both see about 8-10 looks on Sunday.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jerricho Cotchery, Greg Jennings, Ernest Wilford, Bryant Johnson, and Doug Gabriel
- Something’s gotta give. The Chiefs are one of the better teams in the NFL at keeping tight ends in check. They haven’t given up a TD to a TE all season. On the other hand, Antonio Gates has been a Chief killer, bloodying KC for 14 receptions, 197 yards, and four TDs in two games last year. Considering how effective QB Phillip Rivers has been of late, it’s a good assumption that Gates will get the better end of this battle. Look for him to finish with around 70 yards and a TD.
- How can you not like Chris Baker’s chances this week against the Lions, who give up more scores to TEs than any team in the league? Detroit has ceded five TE TDs in six games. Start the Jets TE this week if your other options are looking grim.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chris Baker, Randy McMichael, and George Wrighster
- Give Jacksonville’s Josh Scobee a look this week against the Texans. Scobee has connected on five field goals in his last two games, and the Jaguars have put up 71 points in those two contests. He should fare well against a Houston team that has allowed multiple field goal games in three of their last four outings.
- The Washington Redskins have allowed 10 field goals in their last three games. It looks like Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is finally getting healthy. If he plays, get him in your lineup this week and look for a double-digit performance.
This Week’s Sleepers: Josh Scobee, Mike Nugent, and Dave Rayner
- With two of the top fantasy defenses on bye this week (Chicago and Baltimore), many fantasy owners are weighing their options and trying to determine who to start. Here’s a thought: If the Carolina Panthers were dumped after their slow start, give them a look. They face a Bengals offense that has managed just 13 points in each of their last two games. Meanwhile, Carolina has registered six turnovers, five sacks, and one touchdown in the last two games. Considering the state of Cincinnati’s offensive line, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Julius Peppers and company log five sacks.
- If you play in a larger league, you may have to dig a little deeper. A promising darkhorse defense that has a decent chance to finish among fantasy football’s best in Week 7 is that of the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland squares off against a Broncos offensive unit that has struggled to put points on the board all season. Denver ranks 31st in the NFL in scoring offense, averaging just 12.4 points per game. With an extra week of preparation, don’t be surprised if head coach Romeo Crennel has put together a defensive scheme that frustrates the Broncos.
This Week’s Sleepers: Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals
This Week's 6-Pack: Sleeman IPA 46*
Origin: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Appearance: Sleeman IPA 46* is packaged in one of the coolest bottles I’ve seen. The only label it has is the ring around the neck. Instead of a flashy label on the barrel of the bottle, it simply and elegantly features a maple leaf and the words “Sleeman Brewery” in relief on the glass. The beer poured to a light orange/pumpkin color with a thick moist head that was impressively resilient, leaving a web of foam down the side of my pint glass throughout the sampling.
Smell: Weak on aroma overall. I expected a grassy hop smell and toasted malts, which are traditional characteristics of pale ales. Instead, the most prevalent attribute was a citrus/lemon waft, but even that was muted.
Taste: .Again, not what I would expect from an IPA. The hops just weren’t as robust as they should’ve been. There were caramel malt undertones, but not enough to have kept my interest. The characteristic that stuck out the most was an odd black peppercorn flavor. It lingered on my palate and left a sharp, unpleasant aftertaste.
Mouth-feel: Not bad here. It offered a nice level of carbonation and a full mouthfeel.
Drinkability: Sleeman lacked the hoppy punch that should be demanded from any IPA. It’s not a terrible beer, but it’s not a good representation of the category. The pepper flavor would prevent me from drinking more than one of these in a sitting.
Last Call: Overall a pretty mediocre IPA. The most interesting thing about Sleeman IPA 46* is the story behind its name. Apparently the brewmaster pulled the recipe from Page 46 of his grandfather’s recipe book. If you don’t like the hoppy bitterness of traditional IPAs, Sleeman might be worth a try. The bitterness is definitely muted. But myself, I prefer the heft of a strong hoppy ale. Two stars out of five.
Next Week’s Beer: Lowenbrau