- Get San Francisco’s Shaun Hill some work this week against the Browns. In the first two starts of his career, Hill has thrown four touchdowns. A matchup against Cleveland couldn’t get much more favorable for Hill. Cleveland ranks 29th in the NFL against the pass. Although the Browns have given up fewer than 20 points in each of their last two games, their sudden staunchness can be attributed to the weather. A 200-yard, 2-TD performance is not out of the question for Hill.
- The hottest fantasy QB on the planet right now isn’t Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. It’s Kurt Warner, who’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven straight games. Keep him in your lineup this week and look for more stellar numbers from the veteran against his former team, the Rams. St. Louis has given up 74 combined points in their last two games.
- Matt Hasselbeck owners would be wise to bench their QB this week in favor of his backup Seneca Wallace. The always dangerous Wallace should see plenty of action as the Seahawks rest Hasselbeck. Look for Wallace to get 3+ quarters of work against the Falcons, who have allowed 13 passing scores over the last five games. I’m projecting 200 yards and three scores (1 rush, 2 pass) for Wallace.
- Although Donovan McNabb looked like the McNabb of old last week against the Saints, I’d send him back to your bench this week against the Bills. McNabb will have two factors working against him. The weather in Philly won’t be nearly as forgiving as the Superdome. Plus, Buffalo’s defense has clamped down on opposing QBs, allowing zero passing scores in their last four games.
This Week’s Sleepers: Shaun Hill, Seneca Wallace, Marc Bulger and Jay Cutler
- The Ravens are a different defense without Ray Lewis in the lineup. Their lack of heart was apparent on Sunday when Baltimore ceded 144 rushing yards to Seattle. Don’t be surprised if the trend continues this week when the team rolls into Pittsburgh. Start Najeh Davenport and hope for a first half touchdown before he and the rest of the starters take the rest of the afternoon off.
- Although the Chargers have clinched the AFC West, don’t be afraid to start LaDainian Tomlinson this week against the Raiders. The last team anyone in the AFC wants to face in the playoffs is Jacksonville, which is exactly what could happen if the Chargers lose this week. It’s also worth noting that Tomlinson has stated publicly that he wants the rushing title. Look for LT to play into the third quarter regardless of the score. Considering he’s recorded three straight 100-yard games against Oakland and put up seven scores in those three games, Tomlinson has a good chance to come up big. Also consider plugging in Michael Turner in anticipation of a fourth-quarter garbage-time TD or two.
- Start Maurice Jones-Drew this week against the Texans. He’s scored all three of the games he’s played against Houston in his career, including a monster 183-yard, 2-TD effort earlier this year. Jones-Drew should see the bulk of the carries as the team tries to protect starter Fred Taylor. Look for 100 yards and a touchdown or two from Jones-Drew before he hits the pine in the second half.
- Titans RB LenDale White looks like a safe play this week against the Colts, who will likely rest most of their starters. White has scored or topped 90 yards in four straight games. That streak figures to continue. For all the fat jokes directed at White early in the season (i.e. “LenWhale”), he’s turned in a pretty strong year and will likely go over 1,300 all-purpose yards this week.
- The Six-Pack told you to start Bengals RB Kenny Watson last week and he came through with a big-time 130-yard, 1-TD performance. Continue to ride him this week against a Dolphins defense that gives up 158.7 rushing yards per game, most in the NFL.
This Week’s Sleepers: Najeh Davenport, Michael Turner, Kenny Watson and DeAngelo Williams
- Although he hooked up with rookie QB Troy Smith on a long TD last week, Derrick Mason is at best a low-end WR3 against the Steelers. Amazingly, Mason has faced the Steelers 11 times and never scored a TD against them. I like him better in leagues that award points for receptions. However, I don’t expect him to finish with more than 65 yards receiving.
- Texans wideout Andre Johnson has scored or exceeded 90 yards in four of his last five games against the Jaguars. He’s a strong play this week. Jacksonville has allowed seven touchdowns in their last two road games. Look for Houston to end the 2007 season on a high note. I anticipate 100 yards and a touchdown for Johnson.
- Give Carolina’s Steve Smith the nod this week against Tampa. The 2007 season has obviously been a let down for Smith, but with Matt Moore under center things are looking up. On Sunday against the Cowboys, Smith had his highest output since Week 2, posting 137 yards and a touchdown. His track record against the Bucs is mighty impressive, as well. Prior to this season, Smith had posted 100+ yards and/or a touchdown in five straight games against Tampa.
- You won’t find a safer play this week than Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has scored in four straight games against the Rams. Considering St. Louis ranks a pedestrian 19th in the NFL versus the pass, there’s a good chance Fitzgerald continues his streak against the Rams.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jabar Gaffney, Javon Walker, Jerricho Cotchery, Antwaan Randle El and Muhsin Muhammad
- With Shaun Hill under center there’s finally hope for Vernon Davis. The rookie combine phenom from two seasons ago has barely registered as a blip on the fantasy radar for most of his career. However, he’s scored in back-to-back weeks with Hill calling the shots. A matchup this week against the Browns looks pretty sweet, considering Cleveland has given up the third most fantasy points to TEs and ceded the most TDs to TEs (10).
- Washington’s Chris Cooley rarely gets mentioned in conversations about the top fantasy tight ends, but the guy can be counted on to produce most weeks. He’s a must-start on Sunday against the Cowboys. Cooley has tallied five touchdowns in his last four games against Dallas. Four of those scores came at FedEx Field, where the teams will square off this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Vernon Davis, Desmond Clark and Owen Daniels
- Start San Diego’s Nate Kaeding who has finally found his groove late in the season. Kaeding has scored 26 points the last two week combined and should be in line for another good effort this week against the Raiders. Oakland ranks 25th in the NFL in points allowed per game. Kaeding is a good bet to reach double-digit points. Be sure to check his injury status as he was nursing a leg bruise. Kaeding is expected to handle all field goals and extra points.
- Cincinnati’s Shayne Graham has booted multiple field goals in his last three games despite playing in adverse weather conditions at times. A little South Beach sun and a matchup against the Dolphins should make Graham a fantasy sensation this week. Miami has given up the second most points in the NFL.
This Week’s Sleepers: Nate Kaeding, Jeff Wilkins and Matt Bryant
- The Tennessee Titans defense is worth a look this week against the Colts second teamers. Indy is expected to rest most of its key offensive starters. Count on Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark to be riding the pine by the end of the first quarter. With Jim Sorgi under center, the Titans should have little difficulty holding the Colts to fewer than 14 points. A few turnovers would be gravy.
- The Green Bay Packers have little to play for this week and they will likely rest most of their key starters to keep them fresh for the playoffs. However, I suggest keeping their team defense active for fantasy purposes this week against the Lions. Detroit has given up at this point and it shows in the box score every week. The cold weather at Lambeau will further accentuate all of Detroit’s shortcomings.
This Week’s Sleepers: Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Week's Six-Pack: Summit Great Northern Porter
Origin: St. Paul, Minnesota
Appearance: Great Northern Porter comes in a short brown bottle with the word “Summit” etched into the glass a few times. The label is relatively plain and features a few stalks of wheat. In the glass, the beer is rich brown, near black in color . . . it’s darker than Bill Belichick’s soul and completely opaque. The head is tan and creamy. It settles in at about a half inch in thickness and sticks around for awhil.
Smell: Predominantly, you’ll notice toasted grains with coffee and chocolate undertones.
Taste: Yowser! This beer is chock full of flavor. The coffee tastes carry over nicely from the aroma. It’s not like your average Maxwell House cup of joe though. It resembles thick dark French Roast. Strong stuff. I also noted hints of nuttiness. The aftertaste is mildly bitter with hints of burnt toast. It all goes down surprisingly well.
Mouth-feel: This porter is a bit on the thin side but certainly not watery. Due to the opaqueness, you can’t actually see the carbonation, but it feels moderate on the palate.
Drinkability: The alcohol content is surprisingly low (4.90%) and the beer isn’t as heavy on the gut as I predicted it would be. This makes Great Northern Porter relatively easy drinking, certainly more so than other beers in this category.
Last Call: A fine porter, though not topnotch. It offers splendid complexity and it would be a good choice to have in stock when the weather turns cold. Four stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: See you next year!