- Give Kurt Warner the green light this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati ranks 28th in the NFL versus the pass. They’ve allowed 20 TDs through the air this season — an average of more than two per game. The only QB to have a legitimately “poor” fantasy performance against the Bengals was Steve McNair last week. And let’s be honest, McNair’s chances of reviving his career are about as good as my chances of reviving the Stone Temple Pilots without the aid of artificial stimulants. Start Warner with confidence and bank on a multi-TD showing.
- I wouldn’t recommend him if you’re in the playoff hunt, but if your team has been eliminated from the postseason and you’ve got nothing to lose, consider rolling the dice with Daunte Culpepper this week against his former team. The Vikings rank dead last in the NFL against the pass. Think of Culpepper as the ultimate “boom or bust” QB. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten in his last game against a former team (Miami), C-Pep tallied five scores. You can bet he’ll be revved up for this game and won’t be afraid to take some chances both in the passing game and rushing the ball. So go ahead, spoil the playoff dreams of your opponent this week. Start Culpepper.
- Get Phillip Rivers out of your lineup. In fact, consider releasing him outright if you see someone intriguing out on the waiver wire. Rivers isn’t likely to have much success against the Jaguars this week. Jacksonville has only allowed one QB to post a multiple touchdown performance this season (Drew Brees).
- The Saints-Rams game last Sunday was a painful one to watch if you own any New Orleans players. The Saints just couldn’t get anything going and the Rams dominated the time of possession. But at the end of the day, Drew Brees still managed to have a decent fantasy performance. Brees posted 272 yards and two scores. Play him this week against the Texans. Houston put starting CB Dunta Robinson on IR this week and he’ll be replaced by a rookie. I anticipate 300 yards and at least a couple scores from Brees.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kurt Warner, Daunte Culpepper, Matt Schaub and Jeff Garcia
- Because of the bevy of RB injuries, many owners might be forced to look to their bench this week. One guy you might consider giving the nod to is Julius Jones. The last four times Jones has faced the Redskins he’s posted solid but unspectacular stats, exceeding 73 yards in each contest. While not huge production, it’s passable. Washington has stumbled a bit on defense lately. In their last three games, they’ve given up an average of 138.3 yards on the ground along with six rushing scores.
- Get Ryan Grant in your lineup this week against the Panthers, who have allowed the fourth-most rushing touchdowns this season. Carolina has been struggling mightily in their most recent games. Eight of their ten rushing scores have been ceded in the last six outings — with at least one score allowed in each of those six contests. If the Packers score on the ground, in all likelihood it’ll be Grant who performs the Lambeau Leap.
- The 49ers and Ravens have two of the worst offenses in the NFL right now, but I don’t see how you could bench Frank Gore or Willis McGahee this week. Gore always lights up the Rams. In his last four meetings with St. Louis, he’s tormented them with six scores. McGahee doesn’t have enough history against the Browns to draw any solid conclusions (though he has exceeded 100 yards in both career meetings), but you have to like his chances against a Cleveland defense that has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards this season. The Browns have also surrendered a TD and/or a 100-yard game to a RB in every road game this year.
- Based on the numbers alone, LaDainian Tomlinson should be expected to have a below-average performance this week against Jacksonville. LT has been downright ordinary on the road this year, averaging just 53 yards rushing per game and fewer than three yards per carry. Having said that, there’s no way in hell you bench him.
This Week’s Sleepers: Julius Jones, Ryan Grant, Edgerrin James, Chester Taylor and Laurence Maroney
- Most Andre Johnson owners are eager to get their top wideout back in the lineup this week against the Saints. As a Johnson owner myself, I’ll be starting him. However, don’t sleep on Kevin Walter. While Johnson was out Walter averaged 85 yards per game over one six-game stretch. With the Saints rolling coverage Johnson’s way, I expect Walter will get plenty of looks. New Orleans ranks 29th in the NFL versus the pass. This season, the Saints have been burned by possession-type receivers. Like Walter, WRs Drew Bennett, Dennis Northcutt, Bobby Engram, Keary Colbert and Brandon Jones aren’t necessarily the quickest afoot, but they’re willing to make the tough catch over the middle of the field — and they all posted nice stat lines versus the Saints.
- Lee Evans has elevated his play, but don’t count on a big game from him this week against the Patriots. New England has been Evans’ nemesis. In his last six meetings with the Pats, he has only exceeded 25 yards receiving once. Evans has also never scored a touchdown against New England.
- Bernard Berrian and Rex Grossman showed flashes of their 2006 form last week hooking up for a long touchdown. Don’t get too giddy about Berrian’s prospects this week though. Seattle has given up an NFL low five passing touchdowns this season and they’ve been untouchable at home lately. The last two opposing starting QBs have combined for zero scores, three interceptions and 10 sacks. Lower your expectations for Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad this week.
- In case you hadn’t noticed, the Redskins secondary looks like an infirmary ward. Safety Sean Taylor (knee) is out indefinitely. Cornerback Carlos Rodgers (knee) is out for the year. Cornerback Fred Smoot has been battling a nagging hamstring injury. In short, the team has its work cut out for itself this week against the Cowboys. Terrell Owens is a no-brainer, but Patrick Crayton might not be so obvious. Get him in your lineup this week and look for a long touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Walter, Patrick Crayton, Mark Clayton, Amani Toomer and Ronald Curry
- Don’t chase Alge Crumpler’s 39-yard, one-touchdown game last week. It was only his second score of the year and a repeat performance isn’t likely. Crumpler will go up against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the second-fewest points to tight ends this year. In the last four games Tampa has given up just 26 yards per game to TEs with zero touchdowns. Crumpler has scored just once in his last five games versus the Bucs.
- You have to love Jeremy Shockey’s potential for a big game this week against the Lions. Shockey is coming off his best performance of the season, finishing the day with 12 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. With Plaxico Burress laboring, Shockey has become the focal point of the offense. There’s no reason his success won’t continue this week against the Lions. Detroit has given up five scores to TEs in their last six games.
This Week’s Sleepers: Bo Scaife and Ben Watson
- Start kicker Neil Rackers this week against Cincinnati. The Cardinals shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball against the Bengals, who have allowed the second-most yards per game in the NFL. Rackers is tied for the NFL lead with three field goals over 50 yards. I like his chances of posting double-digit points.
- Tennessee’s Rob Bironas has connected on multiple field goals in each of his last four outings. Plus he’s been deadly from long range connecting on seven of eight kicks from 40+ yards. Start him this week against the Broncos, a team that’s allowed multiple field goal kicks in four of their last five games. Look for Bironas to come up big this week in at Mile High especially if you get bonus points for longer kicks.
This Week’s Sleepers: Neil Rackers, Mason Crosby and Kris Brown
- The 12th man was in full force Monday night against the 49ers. The Seattle Seahawks shut out San Francisco, forcing two fumbles and recording three sacks along the way. With the Bears and Rex Grossman coming to town, there’s a good chance the Seahawks will be fantasy stars again in Week 11. As a starter, Grossman has put up an awful 1:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Play the Seahawks D with confidence.
- I won’t predict a second straight shutout for the Green Bay Packers, but don’t be surprised if the Green and Gold hold the Panthers to fewer than 10 points. Carolina’s offense has been stagnant lately, averaging just 6.7 points per game over the last three weeks. Regardless of whether David Carr or Vinny Testaverde gets the start, the Packers front four should be able to get in the QB’s mug and cause turnovers and sacks. If Steve Smith (shin) doesn’t play, this game could get ugly.
This Week’s Sleepers: Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles
This Week's Six-Pack: Hoegaarden Original White Ale
Appearance: Hoegaarden comes in a curvy brown bottle with a silver foil label. It looks incredible in the glass with a healthy foam head that stays around for the entire tasting, leaving a nice lace down the side of the glass. This beer has a cloudy straw (almost white) color that is unlike any brew I’ve reviewed, including other wheat beers. Take away the head and it looks almost like freshly squeezed lemonade.
Smell: The aroma is light but complex, highlighted by citrus zest with undertones of spice. According to the label, the recipe includes a “subtle hint of coriander.” I pulled out the spice rack and sure enough, there’s a light coriander scent.
Taste: The flavor is intriguing. I was expecting the dominant characteristic to be citrus. There’s no mistaking the orange-zest-like flavor, but it’s not overpowering. It’s something like a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, although not as tart, artificial or intense. The citrus flavor is gives way to wheat and yeast characteristics before the citrus flavor returns along with coriander and banana in the aftertaste. Overall an outstanding progression of flavors.
Mouth-feel: There’s some tongue-tickling carbonation. It’s refreshing and pleasant.
Drinkability: Hoegaarden is a light-bodied beer that’s a pleasure to drink. Crisp and clean.
Last Call: I’m not a fan of most wheat beers. A lot of them seem to taste like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, particularly the American brands. Not so with Hoegaarden, which bills itself as the original wheat beer. It’s a crisp and refreshing beer that’s well-balanced and delicious. A quick fact: According to Wikipedia, “Hoegaarden tradition states that the first Hoegaarden of the day must be finished in three gulps. The amount taken-in during the first and second gulp is of no concern as long as the third gulp finishes the glass.” This beer is so tasty you might be tempted to polish it off in one gulp. Five stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Sprecher Special Amber