- There’s no reason to think that Michael Vick will fall off his rampant scoring pace this week against the Lions. Detroit ranks 29th in the NFL in passing yardage allowed and 31st in passing TDs allowed. Also consider that the Lions aren’t great against the run either, where Vick really makes hay. Count on another multi-TD game from the fleet-footed QB. And one more thing. Don’t be afraid to mention Vick’s name next time you’re around the watercooler debating who should be named the NFL’s MVP.
- Marc Bulger has thrown multiple touchdowns in four straight games. The Kansas City Chiefs defense has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in four straight games. Don’t fight the trend. Bulger is a lock for 250 yards and two or three scores at home this week.
- Resist the temptation to start J.P. Losman this week against the 32nd-ranked Green Bay defense. The Packers held Matt Leinart in check last week, but the real reason to avoid Losman is, well, that he’s Losman. The third-year QB has eight turnovers in his last three games and the Bills haven’t scored more than 20 points all season. The fact of the matter is he’s a couple early interceptions or fumbles away from being benched in favor of Kelly Holcomb. Could Losman get you a couple scores and 200 yards? Yes. But the risk is too great at this point in the season when wins are critical.
- Upon closer inspection, the Baltimore Ravens aren’t as good against the pass as you might think. The Ravens have been abused through the air in their last two games, giving up 383 yards and 3 TDs to Drew Brees and 365 yards and 2 TDs to Jake Delhomme. If Carson Palmer has been your guy all season, you don’t need to bench him this week. Palmer has been lights out against the Ravens in his last three starts, averaging 310.6 yards per game and putting up 8 TDs.
This Week’s Sleepers: Carson Palmer, Damon Huard, Tony Romo, and Steve McNair
- Ronnie Brown’s limited role in the offense has been bewildering to fantasy owners who blew their first round pick on him. Miami is averaging the second-lowest number of carries per game in the NFL (22.1). To make matters worse for Brown owners, the second-year RB hasn’t been a consistent part of the passing game. And now Sammy Morris has started to siphon off the third-down catches. Bottom line: Brown is no longer an every-week starter for fantasy teams. Bench him when the matchup doesn’t look good. That includes this week against Chicago, Week 11 against Minnesota, and Week 13 against Jacksonville.
- A suspect run defense is going haunt the Colts come playoff time. If not for Peyton Manning’s heroics, it likely would’ve cost them last week’s game against Denver, in which Mike Bell rushed for 136 yards and 2 TDs. Indianapolis is worst in the league against the run, allowing 167.9 yards per game on the ground. Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney are both solid plays this week. Look for Dillon to finish with around 80 yards and a TD or two while Maroney racks up 100 all-purpose yards.
- The Seahawks-Raiders matchup might be the most insignificant Monday night game ever in terms of fantasy football. I’m not sure there’s any player from this game outside of Darrell Jackson who I’d want to start this week. That certainly includes Seahawks RB Maurice Morris. Morris is Exhibit A in the debate about why handcuffing is the most overrated practice in fantasy football. He has been abysmal since taking over for Shaun Alexander a few weeks ago, averaging just 45.8 yards rushing per game with no touchdowns. Bench him against an improving Oakland defense that hasn’t given up more than 83 rushing yards to a starting RB in the last three games.
- Stud running back theory be damned. Lots of mid-round RBs are out-performing the “studs” that we all burned first and second round picks on. Guys like Ahman Green, Frank Gore, Chester Taylor, and Corey Dillon have been money. But perhaps the most surprising of the bunch has been the back everyone loves to hate, Fred Taylor. Taylor has amassed 351 all-purpose yards and two TDs in his last three games. Plus he had a 54-yard TD scamper called back because of a penalty last week. Even though he gives up some touches to the shifty Maurice Jones-Drew, Taylor is a must start this week against the Titans, who rank 31st in the NFL versus the run.
This Week’s Sleepers: Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, Ahman Green, and Jerrious Norwood
- The Houston Texans have allowed WR scores in every game this season save one. Although he’s been battling back spasms this week, get Plaxico Burress in your lineup in what has the makings of a multiple-TD performance. The 6’5” Burress has feasted on short cornerbacks this season, particularly around the goal line. Both of Houston’s starting CBs, Dunta Robinson and Demarcus Faggins, are 5’10”. The half-foot height advantage could lead to Burress being fantasy’s top-scoring receiver in Week 9. Also consider Amani Toomer as a sleeper play.
- Much to the chagrin of his owners, Joey Galloway has been a non-factor the last two games. While it’s easy to be discouraged, you may find a glimmer of hope in the following statistic: Galloway has scored at least one touchdown in his last four games against the Saints. And it’s not as if the Bucs have abandoned their passing game with rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski under center. On the contrary, Tampa attempted 48 passes last week against the Giants compared to just 10 called running plays. This despite 40 mph wind gusts. Give Galloway a look this week and set your expectations at around 70 yards and a TD.
- Kansas City wideout Eddie Kennison has posted quality starts in each of the last two games (162 yds. and 1 TD total). With Damon Huard finding his groove, Kennison is a good play this week against the Rams in a matchup that could very easily see 50 points scored. St. Louis has given up 30+ points in each of their last two games. Start Kennison as a third or fourth wideout and look for around 70 yards and a score.
- In the last two games, Chicago’s Bernard Berrian has fallen well off the scorching pace he set early in the season. Since posting TDs in four of the first five games, Berrian has been held out of the endzone the last two times he’s taken the field and hasn’t exceeded 41 yards receiving. That could change this week against the Dolphins. Miami has been vulnerable to the deep ball of late, giving up two TD passes longer than 34 in their last two games. Look for Rex Grossman to attempt a few deep passes and connect with Berrian on at least one.
This Week’s Sleepers: Amani Toomer, Joey Galloway, Eddie Kennison, Bernard Berrian, and Derrick Mason
- The 49ers have given up four touchdowns to TEs in their last three games. Take advantage of the trend by plugging Minnesota’s Jermaine Wiggins into your lineup this week if you’re shorthanded at the position. The Vikings will likely be without Marcus Robinson (back), their primary TD catcher, again this week. That should give Wiggins, who caught four passes against New England on Monday, a great chance to find the endzone.
- Todd Heap is a must-start this week in all formats. Heap’s opponent, the Bengals, have allowed TD scores in four straight games. Plus the Ravens All-Pro TE scored twice against Cincy last season. All signs point to Heap posting around 70 yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jermaine Wiggins and Chris Cooley
- Robbie Gould is as good as gold on most weeks and that should be the case in Week 9 against Miami. The Dolphins have allowed 20 or more points in their last three games and they’ve given up exactly two field goals in each contest over that stretch. Gould should net you double-digit points.
- Cowboys kicker Mike Vanderjagt seems to have recovered mentally from the missed field goal in last year’s playoff game to Pittsburgh that cost his team the opportunity to push the game to overtime. He has missed just one kick in the last four games. Vanderjagt is a great start this week against the Redskins, whose defense gives up the second most points to kickers per game. They’ve ceded an unbelievable 13 three-pointers in the last four contests.
This Week’s Sleepers: Mike Vanderjagt, Dave Rayner, and Ryan Longwell
- The Minnesota Vikings were embarrassed by the Patriots in front of a primetime audience on Monday night. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon their defense. The opportunistic Vikings still lead the NFL in defensive touchdowns with four, and despite being scored on at will by the Pats, they are the seventh best team in scoring defense. Start them this week against the 49ers, who fumble more than any team in the NFL. I anticipate the Purple will hold their opponents to two touchdowns or less and bully the 49ers into a few turnovers.
- Count on a big game this week for the New York Giants defense. They’ll square off against the Texans. New York has strung together huge defensive efforts in back-to-back games. They held the Bucs to just a field goal last week. Two weeks ago they recorded a safety and a defensive TD. The Giants must be itching to get their hands on QB David Carr, who is notorious for holding onto the ball too long. Anything less that a 4-sack, 3-turnover game from the Blue would be a major disappointment.
This Week’s Sleepers: Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, and Green Bay Packers
This Week's 6-Pack: Widmer Hefeweizen
Origin: Portland, Oregon, USA
Appearance: Packaged in a brown longneck with a classy-looking yellow and black label adorned with images of wheat and a slice of lemon. Like most hefes, it was quite murky and butterscotch colored. It barely allowed any light through. A nice thick head arose from the carbonation but faded quickly. For my first sampling a plopped a lemon wedge into the glass, as the instructions on the box suggested. The second time I went without.
Smell: Extremely light on aroma. I picked up a slight scent resembling banana bread and yeast. When the lemon was added, all of the aromas were masked by the fruit.
Taste: In a word, Widmer Hefeweizen was bland. With or without the lemon wedge, the predominant taste was citrus. I was disappointed there weren’t more yeast and spice qualities present. With the second bottle I drank, I made a point to pour ¾ into the glass and then swirl the bottle to get the yeast off the bottom. It added a bit more biscuit/yeast flavor, but still fell well short of expectations.
Mouth-feel: Light bodied with well-balanced carbonation.
Drinkability: You could probably drink mass quantities of this on a hot summer day. It was light, crisp, thirst-quenching, and easy to drink. But easy to drink is not the same thing as enjoyable to drink.
Last Call: Widmer Hefeweizen just didn’t have enough redeeming qualities to make it a worthwhile drink. Overall it was dull and unimaginative. I never thought I write this, but it is a rare case of a beer that was improved with a slice of fruit. I could see myself throwing a few of these in a cooler on the way to the beach on a 100 degree day. The citrus flavor and crispness would be refreshing without being sweet and syrupy like a hard lemonade. Beyond that, this one is best left on the liquor store shelf. Two stars out of five.
Next Week’s Beer: Pacifico