- Tom Brady has crippled fantasy owners over the last two weeks, throwing zero touchdowns. If your team is still alive and you’re a Brady owner, don’t lose faith. He should bounce back with a multi-TD performance this week against the Texans. Houston ranks 26th in the NFL against the pass. Although they’ve held the last two opposing QBs (V. Young and A. Brooks) to no passing scores, Brady is whole different animal. Look for around 220 yards and two TDs.
- In 2005, Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning combined for 700 passing yards and five TDs during a Week 11 showdown. The fantasy football world is on the edge of their seats in anticipation of this week’s rematch. Both QBs are obvious must-starts. Although the Colts defense rates better against the pass (2nd) versus the Bengals (32nd), I actually like Palmer to edge out Manning in scoring. Indy has allowed two multi-TD games in the last three weeks. Meanwhile, the Bengals have all but shut down their last three opposing QBs.
- Saturday’s matchup against the Falcons looks like money in the bank for Tony Romo owners, but don’t pencil in a big performance just yet. Atlanta’s defense has been stingy of late. The Dirty Birds have given up 0-1 passing TDs in five of the last six games. On the other hand, Romo has tailed off putting up a dismal 1:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his last two starts. Romo is worth a start. He’s just not a lock.
- In his last three starts against the Eagles, Eli Manning has averaged 300.3 passing yards per game with seven touchdowns (not to mention three wins). In each of those three meetings, the Eagles and Giants combined for 43 or more points—including a 54-point overtime shootout back in Week 2. Play Manning with confidence.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brett Favre, Jay Cutler, Jeff Garcia, and Ben Roethlisberger
- If the Colts are the worst team in the NFL against the run right now, the Eagles are a close second. Some recent lights-out performances by starting RBs against Philly include Ladell Betts (171-0), Joseph Addai (171-4), and Travis Henry (143-1). Plus, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for 180 yards and a TD. Tiki Barber should shred the Eagles and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him score a couple times (doubling his TD total to date).
- Travis Henry has bordered on being a stud RB at times this season. However, I hope you don’t require his services this weekend. The Titans will square off against the Jaguars. In their meeting earlier this season, Henry was held to just 67 yards and zero TDs. Plus, the last time Jacksonville surrendered more than 72 yards rushing in a game was before Thanksgiving.
- Up until last week, Marion Barber had scored in four straight games and had earned the trust of many fantasy owners. Hopefully, his disappointing showing against the Saints didn’t cost you a playoff win. If you survived, give Barber another shot this week against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed at least one rushing touchdown in six of its last seven games—and 10 total rushing scores in that stretch. Barber figures to get at least a couple cracks at the endzone in a game in which the oddsmakers predict 43+ points will be scored.
- With Thomas Jones (ankle) ailing, now might be a good time to dust off Cedric Benson. Benson has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry in the last five games. The Bears appear to be committed to giving him more work—either in an effort to save Jones for the playoffs or to kick start what had been a struggling offense. Benson appears to be the type of back who gets better as the game goes on. It would be very interesting to see what he does if Chicago hands him the ball 25-30 times in a game. While he’s not likely to get quite that many touches against the Bucs, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him finish with 15-18 carries for 85 yards and a TD.
This Week’s Sleepers: Marion Barber, Cedric Benson, Ahman Green, and Arlen Harris
- Smallish wideouts have baffled the Houston secondary in 2006. The Texans have looked silly trying to stop guys like Laveranues Coles (9-111-1), Lee Evans (11-265-2), Marvin Harrison (7-127-0), and Donte Stallworth (6-141-1). Start New England’s Reche Caldwell, who is similar in size and stature to these receivers. There’s a good chance he’ll connect with Tom Brady for at least one reception of 40+ yards.
- The Eagles seem to bring out the best in Plaxico Burress. Plax had his only 100-yard game of 2006 against the hated rival back in Week 2. He has also put up 110+ yards and a score in two of his last three meetings with Philly. Start Burress with the utmost confidence that Eli Manning will once again connect with him on another of their now commonplace “jump balls” in the endzone.
- Don’t dismiss Cleveland wideout Braylon Edwards this week just because the Browns face the Ravens. The second year receiver has scored a TD in back-to-back games with QB Derek Anderson under center. Edwards also stung the Ravens for 116 yards and a touchdown back in September. He’s definitely worth activating this week if your other options are poor.
- Ernest Wilford has scored four touchdowns in his last three games against the Titans. He was shut out last week against the Colts and is a risky play if you’re still in the championship hunt. However, if you’re in the consolation bracket and your WR corps have been decimated by injuries, Wilford could be worth a look based on his past success against Tennessee.
- Mark Clayton has out-produced Derrick Mason over the last several games. However, I like Mason as a sneaky play this week against the Browns. The crafty veteran wideout had his best game of the 2006 season against Cleveland, putting up 132 yards on eight receptions. Since joining the Ravens, Mason has never dipped below 73 yards against the Browns (three meetings). Plug him in if you are desperate for a sleeper.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ernest Wilford, Braylon Edwards, Greg Jennings, Chris Henry, and Ronald Curry
- Sure the headline performers in the Sunday night matchup between the Chargers and Chiefs are the running backs. But when these two teams meet, the tight ends frequently have as big of an impact. Since 2004 Antonio Gates has played against the Chiefs four times, averaging 88 yards per game with five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Tony Gonzalez has averaged 108 yards per game with two scores in his last five meetings with San Diego. Adding to the intrigue, the Chargers and Chiefs have both struggled to contain TEs lately. San Diego has ceded three TE scores in the last two games. The Chiefs have given up four TE TDs in their last four games.
- Stay away from Randy McMichael this week against the Bills. Buffalo has had McMichael’s number throughout his career, holding him to just 27.3 yards per game with one TD over the last eight contests.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ben Utecht and Daniel Graham
- Matt Stover is a nice play this week against the Browns. Stover has booted a mind-blowing 13 field goals in his last four meetings with Cleveland.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers have ceded two or more field goals in every road game they’ve played this season. Play John Kasay with confidence and look for him to approach double digits.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Elam, Stephen Gostkowski, and Dave Rayner
- If you’re in the consolation bracket and you’ve got nothing else to lose, consider plugging in the Green Bay Packers defense for Sunday’s tilt against the Lions. Detroit QB Jon Kitna has six INTs and two fumbles in his last two games to go along with eight sacks. Other considerations, the Lions will be without starting RB Kevin Jones. The Packers have held Detroit to 14 points or fewer in every game at Lambeau Field since 2000. Green Bay returned an interception for a TD in their meeting earlier this season.
- The New Orleans Saints defense is very quietly beginning to play outstanding football. They’ve held their last three opponents to 17 or fewer points. Over that stretch, they’ve racked up five interceptions and nine sacks. A game this week against rookie Jason Campbell should yield more opportunities for point-making fantasy plays. Consider them if you’re in need of a defensive boost.
This Week’s Sleepers: Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets
This Week's 6-Pack: Frederick Miller Classic Chocolate Lager
Price: $5.49 (4-pack)
Origin: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Appearance: Packaged in a dark brown long neck with a fancy looking gold foil and brown label. Frederick Miller Chocolate Lager poured to a deep, rich hazelnut color; it was slightly translucent. The head was thick and fluffy but faded after a few minutes.
Smell: No big surprise here, it smelled like chocolate. I'd equate it to the scent of powdered hot cocoa mix.
Taste: From the first sip through the aftertaste, there is no mistaking the flavor as anything other than chocolate. Some additional characteristics I picked up included a nuttiness, as well as a light coffee-like flavor that became somewhat more predominant as the beer warmed a bit. After I put down my glass for a minute, the aftertaste was almost as if I had just polished off a chocolate malt.
Mouth-feel: Rich and creamy on the palette. The overall experience was enhanced by fine carbonation that didn't offend.
Drinkability: Much easier to drink that I had predicted after my first sniff. It's not overly heavy and the sweetness isn't overdone or off-putting. I don't see myself ever drinking more than a couple of these in a sitting--or even a season for that matter. However, I imagine the intent is probably to enjoy this beer in small quantities. Thus, it's sold in packages of four rather than the traditional six.
Last Call: If you could imagine Starbucks entering the beer market, their flagship brew would probably resemble this. It was actually a wild experience tasting Frederick Miller Chocolate Lager after a few seasons of sampling scores of more standard brews. I have to say it was surprisingly enjoyable. Many people will dismiss this beer simply because it's from Miller, but it is worth a try simply for its uniqueness. Grab a four-pack this holiday season to enjoy with your friends and family. Three stars out of five.
Next Week’s Beer: Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout