- For whatever reason, Drew Brees hasn’t had much success against the Panthers, at least not from a fantasy perspective. In four career starts against Carolina, Brees has thrown just one touchdown. Granted, one of those games was at the end of 2006 when the Saints had clinched a playoff berth, so Brees only played a half. However, I’d still recommend keeping your expectations in check.
- It’s time to dust off Vince Young. After an atrocious start to the season, Young must’ve sacrificed a live chicken or two to rid himself of the Madden cover jinx. He has posted two quality fantasy starts in a row and is getting it done both through the air (562 yards and two TDs in his last two games) and on the ground (126 yards and one TD). This week he draws a Bengals defense that ranks 26th against the pass and 27th against the run. Look for Young to put up 250+ passing yards, 60+ rushing yards and a pair of scores.
- You might be tempted to ride the hot hand of Washington’s Jason Campbell, but a matchup this week against Tampa doesn’t look promising on paper. The Buccaneers rank 3rd in the NFL against the pass and have only once allowed a QB to pass for multiple scores this season (Peyton Manning). Since that meeting with Manning back in Week 5, Tampa’s defense has given up just two passing scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Vince Young, Matt Schaub and Kurt Warner
- Edgerrin James’ tenure in Arizona has been disappointing from a fantasy perspective. However, one bright spot has been his performances against the 49ers. Since becoming a Cardinal, James has scored a TD or put up 100+ yards in all three games he’s played against San Francisco. Start him this week with and count on at least 80 yards with a touchdown.
- Look for LenDale White to break out of his slump against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed a rushing touchdown in six of their last seven games. With Vince Young stepping up his game, the Titans shouldn’t have difficulty moving the ball against a Bengals team that ranks 31st in the NFL in total defense. White figures to get at least one or two cracks at the endzone.
- Stay away from Laurence Maroney this week if you have other options. He has too much working against him right now. New England’s coaching staff isn’t satisfied with the way Maroney is running and they’re also inclined to rest him once the team gets a lead. Plus, know that the Eagles have allowed a rushing TD in just one of their last seven games — and they haven’t allowed any on the road.
- Less than a month ago, the Denver defense was considered a pushover when it came to stopping the run. That was then. This is now. The team is coming around to defensive coordinator Jim Bates’ system. The Broncos have held opposing starting RBs to just 59.3 yards per game over the last three weeks. Don’t over-estimate Cedric Benson’s chances this week. Keep him benched if you normally would.
This Week’s Sleepers: Edgerrin James, Kolby Smith, Maurice Morris and Jamal Lewis
- Wes Welker owners should be aware of the impact Ben Watson has on Welker’s numbers. In seven games with a healthy Watson in the lineup, Welker posted 378 yards — an average of 54 yards per game. He never eclipsed 100 yards in any of those seven games. During the three games in which Watson was sidelined, Welker posted 351 yards — an average of 117 yards per game. The touchdown differential is even more glaring. Welker has scored just two TDs with a healthy Watson in the lineup. He scored five without him. Don’t bench Welker. Just know that his numbers were inflated for a reason and it might be a smart time to deal him.
- Steve Smith has tormented the Saints for the last three seasons. In his last five games versus New Orleans, he has scored at least one touchdown. After sitting out last week because of a shin injury, Smith has been practicing this week and is expected to start. Get him in your lineup in anticipation of a big performance.
- Eagles wideout Kevin Curtis has been a passable WR3 this season, but you might want to rest him this week against the Patriots. QB Donovan McNabb looks iffy for the game. Even if he does play, the chances of a good performance by Curtis appear slim. New England ranks fifth in the NFL against the pass, allowing just 181.3 yards per game. Curtis owners might try to convince themselves that the Eagles will have to pass a lot, which could lead to a productive afternoon for the WR. In theory, because the Patriots score so many points and always have a big lead, opponents should pass a lot against them, right? The reality is that New England doesn’t punt and they hold the ball for huge chunks of time. Opposing QBs average just 31 pass attempts per game versus the Patriots (10th fewest in the NFL). Consider resting Curtis if you have an alternative.
- Browns wideout Braylon Edwards has experienced a dip in production over the last three weeks. Over that stretch he’s averaged just 56 yards receiving and posted only one touchdown. Don’t despair though. Houston is coming to town for what should be one of the highest scoring games this weekend. The Texans have given up a touchdown to a WR in five straight games — and they’ve allowed one in every road game. Edwards should end the day with at least 110 yards and a score.
This Week’s Sleepers: Steve Smith, Donte Stallworth, Chris Chambers and Amani Toomer
- The Cardinals haven’t given up a TE touchdown in their last five games. Based on the recent play of the 49ers offense, it’s probably in your best interest to bench Vernon Davis this week. Trent Dilfer will be under center again this week. Davis has averaged just 36 yards with zero touchdowns in games that Dilfer has started.
- New York’s Jeremy Shockey has one of the better matchups this weekend for TEs. Minnesota has allowed the 8th most fantasy points to TEs and a healthy chunk of those points have come lately. A TE has scored on them in back-to-back weeks. Start Shockey and look for him to be a major part of the offense.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ben Watson and Owen Daniels
- The Ravens defense has ceded 16 field goals in their last four games. Chances are Nate Kaeding is on your waiver wire right now, but if you’ve got him on your bench, consider activating him. He should finish the day with double-digit points.
- Jason Elam is a nice play this week against the Bears, who have allowed multiple field goals in each of their last six games. Elam uncharacteristically ranks outside of the top 15 in scoring among kickers. However, he’s been on a roll lately, scoring eight points in three of his last four games. Play him with confidence.
This Week’s Sleepers: Nate Kaeding, Jason Elam and Jeff Reed
- Bank on a big game from the Jacksonville Jaguars defense this week. The Jags have been fierce at home, particularly against opposing QBs, who have thrown just two TDs compared to five interceptions. With Marshawn Lynch expected to miss the game and J.P. Losman under center, Jacksonville has an excellent chance to hold the Bills to fewer than 10 points.
- Give the Arizona Cardinals a start this week against the 49ers. San Francisco has averaged just 8.5 points per game over their last seven contests. In their last three outings the Niners have turned the ball over eight times and been sacked eight times. Look for Arizona to come up with a big performance.
This Week’s Sleepers: Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants
This Week's Six-Pack: Sprecher Special Amber
Price: $7.99 (four-pack)
Origin: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Appearance: Sprecher (pronounced Sprek - er) Special Amber comes in a brown 16 oz. brown bottle with a black and gold label that features a crest with a griffin on it. Not surprisingly, the beer is amber in color with a slightly orange hue when held up to light. The head was thick and creamy but had little persistence.
Smell: The smell is quite understated. After a couple long inhales, you might notice some faint grain aroma and sweetness. Overall, nothing much here though.
Taste: Fortunately, Sprecher Special Amber steps up where it counts most. The beer’s dominant flavor is sweet malt with nice toasty tones. The hops are muted but become more of a factor as the beer warms. There are additional subtleties that make this beer a pleasure to drink, including bread/biscuit as well as a nice earthiness.
Mouth-feel: The beer is buttery on the palate with medium carbonation.
Drinkability: I wouldn’t see myself drinking more than a couple bottles of this in a sitting. It’s a beer to savor one sip at a time.
Last Call: Sprecher Special Amber sort of has an “old world” feel to it — from the label to the pint bottle to the flavor itself. It’s perhaps not as rich and robust as you might expect from a microbrew in a city known for its brewing heritage, but that’s not needed for a beer of this style. The bottom line is it’s abundantly tasty. Four stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Modelo Especial