- Kurt Warner is a lock to throw at least two touchdowns this week against the Saints. New Orleans has allowed multiple passing scores to QBs in five of their last six games. Which QBs achieved the feat? How about Chris Redman, Luke McCown, Matt Schaub, Marc Bulger and Quinn Gray? Not exactly a murder’s row. Look for Warner to put up his usual 290-320 yards and two or three scores.
- If you’ve managed to make the playoffs with Jon Kitna as your QB, it’s time to abandon that sinking ship and find an alternative. Kitna has thrown just three touchdowns in his last four games and is really struggling without Roy Williams in the lineup. Although the Chargers will be without Shawne Merriman, I don’t recommend starting Kitna. San Diego plays well at home and they’ve held their last three opposing QBs to one TD or less.
- There’s no compelling reason to bench Ben Roethlisberger this week against the Jaguars unless you have a clear alternative. Big Ben should be decent because teams often attack the Jags through the air. In fact, Jacksonville ranks 27th in the NFL in pass defense. The league’s premier QBs, including Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, have burned them for three or more passing TDs. Roethlisberger might not be quite on their level, but still has an excellent chance to post 250 yards and two scores.
- What a disappointment Carson Palmer has been this year. In the 13 games he’s played this year, Palmer has failed to toss multiple scores seven times. That’s not acceptable for a guy who was the second QB off the board in a lot of leagues. What’s even more disappointing is that Palmer has failed to throw a single TD in his last two games. He’s no longer a must-start. Even a matchup against the 49ers might not be as juicy as you might think. Of all the QBs San Francisco has faced in Monster Park, only Drew Brees has thrown multiple TDs or exceeded 215 passing yards. Don’t be surprised if Palmer has yet another letdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kurt Warner, Ben Roethlisberger, Trent Edwards and Cleo Lemon
- Consider resting Willie Parker or at least lower your expectations when he faces the Jaguars this week. Jacksonville has held its last five opposing starting RBs to 67 or fewer yards rushing. That includes the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson and Joseph Addai. Parker managed to post 124 yards against the Patriots last week, but he hasn’t scored in his last six outings. He’s not a good play this week.
- Kansas City’s run defense has been dreadful over their last three games. During that stretch the team gave up an average of 186.3 rushing yards per game and five TDs on the ground. Consider starting LenDale White and look for around 100 all-purpose yards and at least one touchdown.
- If you’re going up against Joseph Addai this week, you have my condolences. Addai has a great chance to follow-up last week’s three-touchdown effort with another monster game. The Raiders run defense ranks second-to-last in the NFL and they’ve given up an astounding 21 rushing scores this season. If Addai finishes with anything less than 150 yards and two scores, I’ll be stunned.
- Think twice before starting Brandon Jacobs this week against the Redskins. Washington has shut down opposing RBs in their last four games, giving up an average of just 54.8 yards rushing to starters. It’s also worth noting that Jacobs has lost three fumbles in his last two games, including one that could’ve been a backbreaker last week. If the Giants get an early lead, they may have Reuben Droughns finish the game out.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rudi Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Laurence Maroney and Shaun Alexander
- Get this: Since he was drafted in 2004, Lee Evans has played in 15 games in the month of December. His total touchdowns in those 15 games? Sixteen! There are lots of Evans haters out there because of his horrible first half of the season, but it’s time to let bygones be bygones. Evans is money at this time of year and has a chance to post another special performance this week against the 30th-ranked pass defense of the Cleveland Browns.
- Bobby Engram is a must-start as long as D.J. Hackett is out of the lineup. In all but one of the games Hackett missed, Engram exceeded 71 yards receiving or scored a touchdown. All but one of Engram’s TDs this season have come with Hackett on the sidelines (including a current streak of TDs in back-to-back weeks). Play the crafty Seahawks wideout on Sunday against the Panthers, who have ceded at least two passing scores to WRs in each of their last three games.
- A change at QB and a road game at the Metrodome make Bernard Berrian a risky play this week. The Bears will start QB Kyle Orton, who has thrown just nine touchdowns in the 15 games he’s played. Even more disconcerting, Orton has averaged just 5.1 yards per pass attempt in his career. That’s brutally bad and ranks well below any QB who has seen significant playing time this season. Considering Berrian scores the majority of his fantasy points on downfield passes, his stock will plummet with Orton under center. Playing in Minneapolis won’t help matters this week. The Vikings haven’t given up a single TD to a WR in their last four home games.
- No WR has seen his stock rise higher, faster this season than Roddy White, but playing him this week against the Bucs is not without risk. White had his worst game of the season against the Bucs earlier this year (4-28-0) and has never scored a TD against the division rival. Tampa ranks fourth in the NFL I pass defense, giving up a mere 185.8 passing yards per game. With the shakeup in the coaching staff sending shockwaves throughout the franchise, there’s also a possibility the Falcons mail in the rest of the season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Bobby Engram, Lee Evans, Santana Moss, Chris Chambers and Bryant Johnson
- Giants TE Jeremy Shockey has scored just once in nine career games against the Redskins. Washington hasn’t allowed a TE score in their last seven games. Those are just two of the reasons to lower your expectations for Shockey.
- Get Heath Miller some work this week against the Jaguars. Although he’s on a bit of a cold streak and hasn’t scored in three weeks, there’s reason to believe he’ll break out of his slump on Sunday. Jacksonville has given up three TDs to TEs in their last four games. So far this season they’ve allowed the fourth most fantasy points to TEs.
This Week’s Sleepers: Heath Miller, Robert Royal and Randy McMichael
- The Cleveland Browns have given up multiple field goals in six of their last seven games. Consider picking up and playing Rian Lindell this week. The Buffalo kicker has connected on six three pointers in the last two weeks.
- Detroit’s redzone defense has been pathetic over the last couple weeks. During that period, they’ve allowed nine TDs from inside the 20. The team’s futility has made kickers nonfactors from a fantasy standpoint. Kickers haven’t booted a single field goal against the Lions in the last two weeks. You might want to reconsider starting Nate Kaeding this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rian Lindell, Mason Crosby and Ryan Longwell
- Get the Tennessee Titans defense some work this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City has averaged just 11 points per game over the last five weeks. They’ve also been giving up big fantasy points to opposing defenses, getting rung up for 13 sacks and seven turnovers in the last two games.
- On paper, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is the best in the NFL. They’re a tough squad to bench for fantasy purposes, but be sure to lower your expectations if you keep them active on Sunday. The Jaguars typically don’t yield many fantasy points to opposing defenses (fourth fewest, in fact). QB David Garrard has thrown just one interception this season. Plus, the team is scoring a ton of points right now. They’ve averaged 30 per game over the last five weeks. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers disappoint.
This Week’s Sleepers: Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks
This Week's Six-Pack: Paulaner Salvator (Double Bock)
Origin: Munich, Germany
Appearance: This pricey beer comes in a typical brown longneck that features a monk offering a soldier a stein of beer. After pouring it in the glass, you’ll notice a handsome copper brew with a light tan head. It’s very clear and much lighter than I recall most dopplebocks being. The head has little staying power and is gone in 60 seconds or less.
Smell: Not overpowering, but the dominant smells of Paulaner Salvator include sweet malts, whole grain bread and dried cherries.
Taste: The cherry aroma carries forth in the flavor of this beer immediately, but fades quickly. It’s replaced by notes of herbs, caramel and malt. The flavor that sticks with you most of all is the heat of alcohol that lingers in the back of your throat. It’s subtle to start, but by the time you’re ¾ of the way through, it has a burn to it that’s not unlike brandy.
Mouth-feel: This is a full-bodied beer, but it’s not as chewy as some other dopplebocks. Carbonation is mild and sparkly.
Drinkability: The alcohol packs a wallop, which will likely prevent you from enjoying more than 2-3 in a sitting. It’s a beer you’ll want to sip and savor.
Last Call: If you like unique-tasting beers, Paulaner Salvator is worth the price. It boasts a complex flavor that’s probably unlike any other beer you have tasted. Like Spaten Optimator, the dopplebock I reviewed back in Week 4, Paulaner Salvator may confound the taste buds of the occasional beer drinker. It assaults your palate with flavors you may have never experienced. I like that aspect, but the brandy-like characteristics bring this beer down a notch for me. I give it four stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Founders Dry Hopped Pale Ale