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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Six Pack - Week 2
Paul Sandy
September 11, 2008
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Quarterback

  • Start Donovan McNabb this week for Philly’s Monday night tilt against the Cowboys, but realize that a repeat of his monstrous Week 1 performance probably isn’t in the cards. In his last six meetings with Dallas, McNabb has just one multi-touchdown game. Last week, the Cowboys held Derek Anderson to just 114 yards passing and one touchdown. It was the seventh regular season game in a row in which Dallas has given up one or fewer passing scores.
  • This is a great week to get Eli Manning some playing time for your fantasy squad. St. Louis is atrocious against the pass, surrendering multiple passing scores in four straight games. And we’re not talking about one-yard TD passes to the TE. The Rams have been prone to the big play, allowing seven TDs of 20 yards or longer in their last four outings. The tables are set for Manning to hook up with Plaxico Burress on at least one long score.
  • Brett Favre has more career passing yards against the Detroit Lions than versus any other team in the NFL. You think his ex-understudy Aaron Rodgers isn’t giddy about getting his first crack at the Lions this weekend? Activate Rodgers, who should be beaming with confidence after carving up the Vikings in Week 1. The Packers have posted three passing TDs in three of their last four games against Detroit. At worst, Rodgers seems like a lock for 250 yards passing and two scores.
  • If you drafted Derek Anderson to be your starting QB, understand that he’s going to test your patience to start the season. Last week’s 114-yard effort wasn’t what you had in mind. Chances are things won’t get much better this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh frustrated Matt Schaub last week—Schaub ended his day with two interceptions and only one touchdown. In Week 3, Cleveland faces the Ravens. I’ll be surprised if Anderson throws multiple touchdowns in either upcoming game.   

This Week’s Sleepers: Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner and Brian Griese

Running Back

  • Bank on a solid fantasy contribution from Larry Johnson this week against the Raiders. The Silver and Black have never had much luck stopping Johnson, allowing him to score in seven straight games. As bad as the Chiefs were last year, L.J. still managed to post 100-yard games in both meetings against Oakland. He has a streak of four straight 100-yard performances against them.
  • Earnest Graham owners might be a bit troubled by the fact that he only had 10 carries on opening week. Don’t read too much into it. Post game, Jon Gruden acknowledged that he needed to do a better job of getting the ball in Graham’s hand. “I will be the first to say that Earnest played well and we have to get it to him more," Gruden told the Tampa Tribune. Start him with confidence this week against the Falcons. Graham scored in both games against Atlanta last season and averaged 113.5 all-purpose yards per game.
  • The Patriots held Thomas Jones in check in both games versus the Jets in 2007. Jones averaged just 30.5 yards rushing with zero touchdowns in the two matchups. In their last seven regular season games, New England hasn’t ceded a rushing touchdown and they’ve only allowed one RB to surpass 100 yards rushing. The stars don’t appear to be aligned for a good week from Jones.
  • As good as Jamal Lewis was in 2007, he struggled mightily against the Steelers. Lewis finished with just 35 yards rushing in both meetings with Pittsburgh last season. Considering that the Steelers stymied Houston last week, holding them to just 75 rushing yards on 20 attempts, it’s appropriate to lower your expectations for Lewis this week.

This Week’s Sleepers: Sammy Morris, Chris Johnson, Justin Fargas and Pierre Thomas

Wide Receiver

  • The Falcons face the Bucs this week. Although Tampa gave up three TDs through the air on opening week, Atlanta receiver Roddy White by no means a lock to perform well on Sunday. White has never scored a touchdown against Tampa in a half dozen career meetings. Making matters worse, he’s averaged just 34.3 yards per game in those six games.
  • Hines Ward was the only receiver with two touchdown grabs in Week 1. There’s a good chance he’ll find the endzone at least once again this week against the Browns. Ward has posted a touchdown in four of his last five games against the Browns. Owners in points-per-reception leagues should note that the veteran wideout has seven or more catches in four of his last five against Cleveland, as well. Look for Ward to put up about 90 yards and a score.
  • It’s a revenge game for Muhsin Muhammad, who floundered in his three-year stint in Chicago. Muhammad should be a nice fill-in for owners who are struggling at the WR position. The veteran wideout looks like he’ll be a favorite possession target of QB Jake Dellhomme this season. Delhomme threw Muhammad’s way 15 times in Week 1. With Steve Smith still absent, start Muhammad and look for 85 yards with a possible score.
  • The Jaguars lost last week but their defense picked up right where they left off in 2007—shutting down opposing WRs. Jacksonville has allowed a passing score to WRs in just two of their last eight games. That doesn’t bode well for Buffalo wideout Lee Evans. Another knock against Evans . . . he’s been miserable in road games lately. In his last eight games away from Buffalo, Evans has scored one touchdown and averaged just 41.9 yards receiving.

This Week’s Sleepers: Muhsin Muhammad, Anthony Gonzalez, Amani Toomer, Chris Chambers and Derrick Mason

Tight End

  • Don’t bench him in TE-mandatory leagues, but temper your expectations for Tony Gonzalez this week against the Raiders. Gonzalez has had some decent yardage games against Oakland lately, but he’s only reached the endzone in one of his last 11 games against the rival Raiders.
  • Keep Houston TE Owen Daniels out of your lineup this week against the Ravens, who rarely give up a big game to a TE. Baltimore hasn’t allowed a TE touchdown in seven straight games.  

This Week’s Sleepers: Donald Lee, Greg Olsen and Todd Heap

Kicker

  • Packers kicker Mason Crosby put up double-digit points in both meetings against Detroit last year. Considering the Lions have allowed 28 or more points in six of their last seven games, Crosby owners can go ahead and pencil in 10+ points.
  • My early sentiment on the Browns is that they will have one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season, so give Steelers kicker Jeff Reed the green light this week. Reed has scored nine or more points in four of his last five games against Cleveland.

This Week’s Sleepers: Jeff Reed and John Carney

Team Defense

  • The New York Giants defense looks like a sure thing this week against the Rams. St. Louis doesn’t have the look of a team that has any chance whatsoever of putting more than 10 points on the board against the defending world champs. Although Rams QB Marc Bulger didn’t throw any interceptions in the opener against the Eagles, he was sacked four times. The team was essentially shut out, but opted for a 46-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to save face. The Giants will present an even better pass rush than the Eagles, which should cause more breakdowns for the Rams.
  • Be careful not to over-estimate the quality of the Atlanta offense based on their first game. They did after all face the woeful Lions. I like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a DEF/ST this week against the dirty birds. Tampa did a fair job of stopping the New Orleans rushing attack—even though Reggie Bush killed them on receptions. Look for the Bucs to clamp down on Week 1 MVP Michael Turner and force the Falcons to throw more than they’d like. I expect at least three sacks, a couple turnovers and no more than 17 points allowed.

This Week’s Sleepers: Tampa Bay Bucs and Arizona Cardinals

The Six-Pack

This Week's Six-Pack: Liberty Ale, Anchor Brewing Co.

Price: $9.99

Origin: San Francisco, California

Appearance: Liberty Ale comes in a short brown bottle that’s shaped a bit like a military aircraft bomb. The label provides background information on the history of the beer and the brewery. The pour is picture perfect with an abundant head of clumpy off-white foam that had moderate staying power. Amber in color. Carbonation is visible with a few hundred bubbles clinging to the bottom of the pint glass.

Smell: The beer has a lighter, airier smell that I would have imagined. Mostly citrus aromas backed by a dough-like scent.

Taste: Fortunately a gentle and somewhat disappointing bouquet of aromas gives way to a whip-crack of flavors that wakes up the palette. It has citrus characteristics up front that give way to a nice bitter herbal and pine finish.

Drinkability: Wonderfully drinkable. The label says the carbonation is “uncommonly delicate” and I would agree. As far as pale ales go, this one is goes down the hatch rather quickly.  

Last Call: I’ve written a lot of advertising copy for software companies and a term that gets bandied about frequently in that industry is “user-friendly”. I would say Liberty Ale is a “user-friendly” American pale ale. If you’re an avid beer enthusiast and you want to introduce your non-craft-beer-drinking friends to a tasty beer, Liberty Ale is a worthy choice. It won’t overpower newbies with hops. It’s got enough complexity to get anyone hooked. And it’s readily available. Just be sure to pace yourself; the ABV is 6%, which can catch up with you quickly. Four stars out of five.

Next Week's Six-Pack: Duvel Belgian Golden Ale (by reader recommendation, you’ll find it in a single 750 ML bottle).

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