- Week 6 is harsh on the QB front with Peyton Manning, Jon Kitna and Ben Roethlisberger on bye. Owners looking for a little help might be able to pick up some points in an unexpected place. Gus Frerotte faces the Ravens and, while that might look like a bad matchup, Baltimore’s defense is probably a bit overrated, particularly against the pass. The Ravens have given up at least one passing score in every game this year—despite facing below-average QBs like Trent Dilfer, Kellen Clemens, and Derek Anderson. Start Frerotte and look for around 200 yards and at least one score.
- Donovan McNabb owners should be worried if their QB doesn’t put up a strong performance this weekend against the Jets 25th-ranked pass defense. McNabb is coming off a bye week and will have Brian Westbrook back in the fold. New York gives up an average of about 240 yards and two passing TDs per game. Anything less than that would be a disappointment for McNabb.
- Keep riding Derek Anderson as long as he keeps producing. The third-year QB has thrown for more than 200 yards in all four of his starts this year and he’s connected on multiple TDs in three of those games. And it’s not like he’s putting up stats against patsies. He’s faced some relatively stiff competition in the Patriots, Ravens, and Raiders. Anderson faces another difficult test this week against the Dolphins, who allow the third fewest passing yards per game. Even so, by now he should have earned your confidence. I expect around 220 yards and two scores.
- You might want to hold off starting Daunte Culpepper for at least another week. Yes, he accounted for five touchdowns a couple weeks ago. Yes, he’s had two weeks to prepare for the Chargers. Yes, he looks like he’s 100% recovered from his knee injury. Still, the Chargers look like they rekindled some of their magic in last week’s 41-3 trouncing of the Broncos. I don’t see Culpepper finishing this game with anything more than 190 yards passing and a touchdown . . . with limited impact rushing the football.
This Week’s Sleepers: Gus Frerotte, Derek Anderson, Brian Griese and Kurt Warner
- Ahman Green is due to return from a knee injury he suffered a few weeks ago. Unless you don’t have any other options because of byes or injuries, it’s probably best to give Green a week to kick off the rust. He won’t have much luck against the Jaguars who have held opposing starting RBs to just 32.3 yards per game over the last three weeks.
- Make sure Cedric Benson is riding the pine this week against the Vikings. Benson is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and the only way he seems to be productive from a fantasy perspective is when he scores a touchdown. That’s not something that’s likely to happen this week against the Purple. Minnesota hasn’t ceded a RB score all season and they give up just 62 yards rushing per game.
- If Jamal Lewis sits out this week’s game against the Dolphins, don’t be afraid to plug in backup Jason Wright. Miami ranks 31st in the NFL against the run and they’ve given up the most rushing TDs in the NFL this year. I also like Wright because he’s a much better receiver out of the backfield than Lewis is, which makes the chances of a 100-yard game that much better.
- The once mighty Bears defense has been taking on water the last few weeks. They’ve given up four rushing scores and an average of 115.7 rushing yards in the last three games. Play Vikings RB Adrian Peterson with confidence. He has had at least one play of 35 yards or more in three out of four games this year. I like his chances to break at least one long run or pass on Sunday.
- Look for Brian Westbrook to make a splash in his return to action this week against the Jets. New York has been gutted by opposing RBs this season for eight TDs. Three weeks ago the Jets were manhandled by Ronnie Brown, who put up 112 rushing and 99 receiving yards. Westbrook brings even more versatility and explosiveness to the field than Brown, so don’t be surprised if he flirts with 200 all-purpose yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jason Wright, Adrian Peterson, Kenny Watson, and Vernand Morency
- Lower your expectations for all Packers wideouts this week. The Redskins have been a stingy pass defense in 2007. So far this season they’ve given up one passing TD to a receiver. Just last week they held all of Detroit’s receiving weapons in check. Donald Driver, James Jones and Greg Jennings are all playable based on their consistency, but this might be the week they disappoint.
- I predicted a breakout game last week from Torry Holt and he came through. Will he make it two weeks in a row? The outlook is good. Holt was much more involved in the Rams offense last week with Gus Frerotte under center. Frerotte targeted Holt nine times and the duo hooked up for 89 yards and a score. St. Louis faces Baltimore, who, as indicated above, has given up at least one passing touchdown in every game this year.
- Give Chris Chambers and Marty Booker a look this week if you’re strapped for wide receivers because of the six-team bye week. The Dolphins face the Browns, who rank 31st in the NFL against the pass. Cleveland has given up an NFL high 15 passing touchdowns. I actually think the QB change will help more than it’ll hurt. Cleo Lemon has a stronger arm and can make more throws than Green at this point in his career.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, Andre Davis, Nate Burleson and Dwayne Bowe
- Not that you need another reason to start Antonio Gates, who leads all TEs with 489 yards receiving, but it’ll please you to know that Gates has scored six TDs in his last six games versus the Raiders.
- Pull Alge Crumpler off your bench this week if you need some help at the TE position. Crumpler should fare well against the Giants, who have given up the second most points to TEs this season. In his last five Monday night games, Crumper has averaged a respectable 52.6 yards per game.
- Be careful not to over-estimate Ben Watson this week against the Cowboys. The Pats TE put up 107 yards and two scores last week. However, Dallas hasn’t allowed a touchdown to a TE all season and they haven’t given up much receiving yardage to the position either. Keep Watson in your lineup if he’s your regular TE. Just be sure to lower your expectations.
This Week’s Sleepers: Alge Crumpler and David Martin
- If your regular kicker is on bye this week, you could do a lot worse than Phil Dawson. The Cleveland kicker ranks 10th in the NFL with 36 points. He’ll have the benefit of facing the Dolphins this week, a team that has been a godsend for opposing kickers this year. Miami has given up more points to kickers than any team in the NFL.
- Ryan Longwell and Robbie Gould are decent plays in Week 6 when the Vikings and Bears square off. The two kickers combined for nine field goals in the two meetings last year.
This Week’s Sleepers: Phil Dawson, Ryan Longwell and Mason Crosby
- Start the Tennessee Titans defense this week against Tampa. The Bucs are down to their third string RB and may have a difficult time moving the ball against the Titans, who rank fifth in the NFL in total defense. Meanwhile, Tampa ranks 25th in total offense. Nearly three-fourths of their rushing yards have come from guys who are sidelined by injuries. Look for the Titans to hold the Bucs to fewer than 14 points and don’t be surprised if they score a defensive touchdown . . . something they’ve done in each of their last two games.
- After a rough start to the season, the San Diego Chargers defense was dropped in a lot of fantasy leagues. They might make a decent start this week against the Raiders. Oakland will probably be without their starting RB. Plus, with Daunte Culpepper under center, there’s always a high potential for turnovers. I’m forecasting three sacks and three forced turnovers for the Bolts.
This Week’s Sleepers: Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals
This Week's Six-Pack: Goose Island Nut Brown Ale
Origin: Chicago, Illinois
Appearance: This nut brown ale is packaged in a standard brown long neck. Given that it’s a brown ale, it’s not surprising that it’s brown in color. However, what is surprising is just how rich and dark it was. Light comes through when held up to a lamp, but not much. It’s darker than cola. The head is moderate initially but disappeared rather quickly.
Smell: The aroma is fairly tame but there are some interesting characteristics. I detected toffee or caramel smells as well as some toasted grains. For some reason it reminded me of the scent you’d experience when you first set foot inside a Starbucks.
Taste: There’s no shortage of flavor with Goose Island Nut Brown Ale. It has the signature nuttiness to it, but there are some other things going on here, as well. There are delicious hints of roasted coffee, hops, chocolate as well as a very subtle brown sugar sweetness. In some ways, it is reminiscent of a stout. As the beer warms, the nuttiness becomes more distinct.
Mouth-feel: Carbonation is high but tolerable. It’s somewhat chewy and the flavors linger on your tongue longer than expected.
Drinkability: Smooth and pleasant to drink. Alcohol seems to be relatively low.
Last Call: I prefer Goose Island Nut Brown Ale to some of the more widely recognized nut browns that are out there. I’ve reviewed Newcastle Nut Brown Ale and Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale in previous columns. Newcastle was a bit watery and weak; I gave it two stars. Samuel Smith’s was full-flavored but much too expensive for what it offered, so I gave it three stars. I think Goose Island is certainly a better choice than Newcastle. The flavor is comparable to Samuel Smith’s, but at more reasonable price point, so the edge goes to the domestic. I give Goose Island Nut Brown Ale four stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: St. Peter’s English Ale (look for it in a 1 pint .9 oz. bottle)
View complete list here. If you have a favorite beer you’d like to see reviewed, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.