- With each passing week, it’s looking like Matt Hasselbeck could be a top 5-10 fantasy QB by the time this season comes to a close. The Seahawks have no running game right now. Over the last three games, Seattle has averaged 42 pass attempts per game. During the same stretch, Hasselbeck has tossed multiple scores in all three outings and twice surpassed 300 yards. Start him this week against the 49ers. In his last three home games against San Francisco, Hasselbeck has posted seven TDs.
- Consider benching Donovan McNabb this week against the Redskins if you have an alternative. Throw out the game against Tom Brady and Washington has been tough on opposing QBs. In the other seven games, they’ve allowed just 199 passing yards per game with six scores. McNabb has thrown for multiple TDs in just one game this season and that was against Detroit.
- J.P. Losman hasn’t had a career that’s decorated with many accolades or bright spots. However, he has fared well against the Dolphins. In three career games against Miami, Losman has posted seven touchdowns and just one interception. Considering the Dolphins have allowed 15 passing scores this season (tied for third-most in the NFL), Losman is a smart play for owners who need some QB production this week.
- Tennessee’s Vince Young has failed to throw for 100 yards or more in each of his last two outings against the Jaguars. He’s not a good play this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: J.P. Losman, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Joey Harrington
- Based on recent history, expect good yardage from Brian Westbrook against the Redskins but don’t be surprised if he’s held out of the endzone. In his last five meetings against Washington, Westbrook has averaged about 130 all-purpose yards but failed to score a touchdown. In his five-year career, he has never scored a TD on the road in the Nation’s Capital.
- It’s a good week to consider moving Travis Henry to your bench. He’s muddling his way through various injuries and his production has tanked. Since Week 4, Henry hasn’t exceeded 65 yards rushing and has failed to reach paydirt. Things won’t get easier on the road versus the Chiefs. KC has allowed just three rushing scores all season. Weigh your options before giving Henry the green light.
- The chances are good that DeShaun Foster will produce for you this week against the Falcons. In his last six games against Atlanta, Foster has averaged 127.7 all-purpose yards per game with six scores. Let me add a little perspective . . . Foster has 13 career touchdowns . . . six of them have come against the team he’s playing this week. If this guy is on your roster, you won’t find a better week to activate him.
- Shake off concerns about Cedric Benson losing playing time to Adrian Peterson. Benson deserves to be in your active lineup this week against the 30th-ranked run defense of the Raiders. In their last five games, the Raiders have been abused by opposing starting RBs to the tune of about 140 yards rushing per game and seven touchdowns. In all five games the starter surpassed the century mark. Look for 100 yards and a score from Benson.
This Week’s Sleepers: DeShaun Foster, Cedric Benson, Kolby Smith, Justin Fargas and Maurice Morris
- Seahawks WR Bobby Engram is a must-start at this point. Engram has exceeded 70 yards receiving or scored a touchdown in six of his last seven games. With Mike Holmgren on the cusp of abandoning the running game altogether, Engram seemingly holds the keys to the passing game. He caught 14 passes in Week 9. There’s no reason to expect much of a dip in production with the 49ers coming to town. Engram has put up 90 yards or scored a TD in four straight meetings versus the Niners. Also start D.J. Hackett, who returned last week and pulled down six passes for 58 yards and a TD.
- If there was a silver lining for the Rams in last week’s loss to the Browns, it was the play of the offense. The offensive line actually gave QB Marc Bulger time to pass. He wasn’t sacked a single time. Bulger’s ability to stay on his feet worked wonders for Torry Holt, who finished with his best stat line of the 2007 season — 110 yards and a touchdown. Don’t be surprised if Holt builds on last week’s success with another good performance against the Saints. New Orleans ranks 27th in the NFL against the pass and they’ve allowed 14 scores through the air (tied for fourth most in the league). Look for Holt to finish with 90+ yards and a score.
- Since he came to the NFC East, Terrell Owens has faced the Giants five times and scored six touchdowns. New York’s defense is ranked relatively highly versus the pass, but don’t be scared off. They haven’t exactly faced a murders’ row of opposing QBs. The Giants have shut down the likes of Cleo Lemon, Trent Dilfer, Joey Harrington, Chad Pennington and Jason Campbell. Look for this week’s game against the Cowboys to be a wake-up call. I anticipate a couple Romo-to-Owens TDs.
- I’m predicting a huge second half of the season for Santonio Holmes. He got things started off right last week with a two-touchdown effort against the Ravens. Things get even easier this week against the Browns, a team Holmes has faced three times in his career. He scored in two of those games and put up 82 yards in the other. He’s a strong play this week, as is Hines Ward. You could even make the case for starting Nate Washington if you’re desperate.
This Week’s Sleepers: Bobby Engram, Nate Washington, James Jones, David Patten and Derrick Mason
- You should be aware this week that the Denver defense has the blueprint for shutting down Tony Gonzalez. The Broncos frequently isolate Champ Bailey on Gonzalez in coverage as a means to contain the future Hall of Famer. In his last six games versus Denver, Gonzo has failed to put up 50 yards and has just one touchdown.
- Cowboys TE Jason Witten has scored or exceeded 70 yards receiving in five of his last six meetings against the Giants. Plus, the G-men have given up the seventh most fantasy points to TEs this season. Start Witten with confidence this week regardless of your scoring system.
This Week’s Sleepers: Heath Miller and Vernon Davis
- Snag Seattle’s Josh Brown off your waiver wire and play him against the 49ers. San Francisco’s defense has ceded multiple field goals in six of their last seven games. That includes a three-field-goal effort by Brown himself back in Week 4.
- Buffalo’s Rian Lindell is another player to consider if your regular kicker is on bye. Miami has allowed seven or more points to kickers in their last four games. Plus, the Dolphins rank last in the NFL in points allowed. With J.P. Losman, Marshawn Lynch and Lee Evans starting to click on offense, the Bills should have little difficulty moving the football. I expect Lindell will exceed nine points.
This Week’s Sleepers: Josh Brown, Rian Lindell and Mason Crosby
- In their last three games the 49ers have turned the ball over nine times and allowed 10 sacks. They also haven’t scored more than 17 points since Week 1. Start the Seattle Seahawks, who rank in the top 12 in most of the important defensive categories, including points allowed, sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles. Seattle’s defense hasn’t scored a touchdown this season, but there’s a fair chance they get on the board this week. Niners QB Alex Smith has a 2:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
- Activate the Kansas City Chiefs this week against the Broncos. Denver’s offense has allowed eight sacks, two defensive scores, and they’ve managed just 20 points over the last two weeks. With the Broncos ravaged by injuries — particularly on the offensive side of the ball — I’m anticipating a very productive afternoon for the Chiefs defense.
This Week’s Sleepers: Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions
This Week's Six-Pack: Steinlager
Origin: Auckland, New Zealand
Appearance: Steinlager comes in a green longneck bottle. It features a label with a picture of an ocean scene. The beer resembles most American macro brews in color. However, the head is bigger and lasts longer, actually leaving a nice lace down the side of the bottle as the beer is consumed. I was also struck by the carbonation. It has a constant onslaught of large bubbles.
Smell: The smell resembles that of a European lager like Heineken or Grolsch. It has a sweet malt smell with some fresh grass and mineral qualities, as well. After pouring it in the glass, there was a sulfur-like smell that was released.
Taste: My first impression of Steinlager is that it’s incredibly dry in character. The dryness is backed by a bitter flavor, but it’s not like the hop bitterness that a lot of beers have. It’s more like a tart apple. This beer also has some cereal-like flavors. The aftertaste is certainly more noticeable than Bud or Miller, and presents itself as a metallic or tin flavor.
Mouth-feel: Feels like mineral water on the tongue — really prickly and harsh. Perhaps overly-carbonated?
Drinkability: Steinlager is a thirst-quencher if you serve it ice cold and can get past the aftertaste.
Last Call: I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this beer, but it’s a mildly refreshing beverage nonetheless. If you would normally gravitate toward beers like Heineken, Amstel or Beck’s, then Steinlager is definitely worth a try. I rate it two stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Hoegaarden Original White Ale, Belgium