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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Six Pack - Week 3
Paul Sandy
September 19, 2008
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Quarterback

  • It’s difficult to know exactly when it happened, but at some point in the last two years Carson Palmer became Drew Bledsoe reincarnate. Once upon a time Palmer was widely considered to be one of the top five QBs in the NFL. Today his confidence is shot and he looks gun shy. There’s absolutely no reason to think he’ll snap out of the funk this week against the Giants. New York can bring the pressure and they’ve given up just 129 yards passing per game. Resist any temptation you have to start Palmer.
  • In their last 13 home games, the Titans have allowed just one opposing QB to throw multiple touchdowns against them (Phillip Rivers). It would behoove you to look for an alternative to Matt Schaub this week. Schaub was actually knocked out of both games last year against the Titans. All the more reason to keep him on your bench.
  • Start J.T. O’Sullivan in the Mike Martz grudge match between San Francisco and Detroit. O’Sullivan had a terrific performance against the Seahawks last week, throwing for 321 yards and a touchdown. Plus he scrambled for 32 yards more. The one knock against the journeyman QB is that he hangs onto the ball too long. Fortunately, the Lions haven’t been able to apply much pressure to QBs. They have just two sacks so far in 2008. The lack of pressure up front has been a key contributor to them ranking 25th in the NFL against the pass. Look for 275 yards and a pair of scores from O’Sullivan.
  • Don’t try to talk yourself into starting Marc Bulger this week against the Seahawks. Yes, Seattle was taken to task last week by O’Sullivan, but Bulger is woeful right now. His lone touchdown this year came on a badly thrown ball that somehow bounced off a defender and into the arms of Torry Holt, who was lying on his back. Another reason to keep Bulger benched: He has a 0:5 TD-to-interception ratio in his last three games against the Seahawks.

This Week’s Sleepers: J.T. O’Sullivan, Jake Delhomme, Matt Cassel and Jon Kitna

Running Back

  • Jacksonville’s RB tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor have been disappointing to say the least. The team ranks 28th in the NFL in rushing offense. Don’t abandon hope though. The Jags face the Colts, who will be without safety and run-stopping extraordinaire Bob Sanders. Plus, both Jones-Drew and Taylor have given Indianapolis fits historically. Jones-Drew has scored in every career meeting against the Colts. Taylor has 100 yards or more in two of his last three games versus Indy. Put concerns about Jacksonville’s beat up offensive line aside for one week.
  • The Redskins aren’t very welcoming to opposing RBs. They haven’t allowed a RB to exceed 100 yards rushing in the nation’s capital since 2006. (Brian Westbrook had exactly 100 yards last year.) Bench Edgerrin James this week if you have a decent alternative. Tim Hightower has been getting the goal-line work this season, which means James will have to get his points from yardage. I don’t see him surpassing 80 yards on the ground. 
  • Rams RB Steven Jackson has scored or put up 100+ all-purpose yards in five straight games against the Seahawks. Seattle has given up touchdowns to both starting RBs they’ve faced in 2008. It’s a good bet Jackson finally comes to life this week.
  • There’s a good chance ‘Fast’ Willie Parker gets slowed down by the Eagles this week. Philly has contained Marion Barber and Steven Jackson so far this season—holding both players to fewer than 65 yards rushing. Although Barber managed to score two touchdowns, betting Parker will be able to find the endzone might not be worth the risk. Performing well against the Texans and Browns is one thing. Performing well against the Eagles is an entirely different animal. Besides, the game is on the road, where Parker has struggled lately.

This Week’s Sleepers: Julius Jones, Derrick Ward, Michael Bush and Jerious Norwood

Wide Receiver

  • Green Bay cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson anchor what is rightfully considered one of the upper echelon secondaries in the NFL. However, they often struggle against big receivers who challenge their physicality. Take a look at a sample of their most recent nine games. Last week, Calvin Johnson roughed them up with 129 yards and two touchdowns. In the 2007 NFC Championship Game, Plaxico Burress demoralized the Packers with 11 receptions for 151 yards. Now they’ll face Terrell Owens, who burned them for 156 yards and a touchdown in Week 13 last year. Look for at least 130 yards and a score from Owens, but don’t be surprised if it’s more like 160 yards and two TDs.
  • Those who drafted Chad Johnson or T.J. Houshmandzadeh likely figured them to be no-brainer starts every week. Not so. The feeble Bengals offense will find no salvation this week when they travel to New York to face the defending Super Bowl champs. Both players are low-end third wide receivers at this point. Johnson or Ocho Cinco or whatever he’s going by these days has scored in just one of his last seven games. Fantasy production from Houshmandzadeh has been even scarcer; he has one touchdown in his last eight games. Housh also hasn’t had a 100-yard performance since October of last year. Considering the Giants field a top five pass defense, there’s a good chance Johnson and Houshmandzadeh will continue their respective scoring droughts.
  • This might be a decent week to dust off Derrick Mason if your WR options are looking grim. While Mason hasn’t had many huge games against the Browns lately, he has been steady. Since coming to Baltimore, the veteran wideout has faced Cleveland six times. He’s posted 70 or more yards in five of those six games. Consider Mason a solid WR3 or flex play.
  • The Denver secondary used to be an area of strength but this season it’s looked like more of a liability. The Broncos have given up two touchdowns to receivers in both of their games this season. With Marques Colston out of the lineup, the Saints remaining receivers are sneaky plays in a game that should be a shootout. David Patten, who led the team in WR catches last week is the best bet. However, don’t be afraid to dig a littler deeper and plug in Devery Henderson. Henderson is a boom or bust player but he has a good chance of pulling in a long score against a Broncos team that’s given up some big plays.

This Week’s Sleepers: Derrick Mason, Bryant Johnson, David Patten and Donald Driver

Tight End

  • The Falcons have given up a TD to a tight end in two straight games to start the 2008 season. That bodes well for Tony Gonzalez, who caught QB Tyler Thigpen’s first NFL touchdown last week against the Raiders. Despite the inexperience under center, Gonzalez remains a solid play.
  • Kellen Winslow has faced Baltimore six times in his career and never reached the endzone. He has lots of company in that regard. In their last 35 games, the Ravens have given up receiving touchdowns to just three tight ends—Antonio Gates and Heath Miller with two each and Chris Baker with one. Winslow may get good yardage (he had 96 yards in their first meeting last year), but lower your expectations because he probably won’t get a TD.

This Week’s Sleepers: John Carlson, Heath Miller and Jeremy Shockey

Kicker

  • Only three kickers have a higher point total than New York’s John Carney, yet he’s only owned in 17 percent of all leagues. If you don’t have faith in your current kicker, give Carney a look. You might be able to squeeze a few extra points out of this frequently overlooked position. Carney has scored double-digit points in both of the first two games and should fare well again this week against the Bengals.  
  • Give Jacksonville’s Josh Scobee a start this week against the Colts, who have ceded nine or more points to kickers in both games this year. Scobee is 4-for-5 on field goal kicks in 2008 and connected on a 50 yarder last week against the Bills.

This Week’s Sleepers: John Carney, Josh Scobee and Matt Prater

Team Defense

  • The Chiefs are starting a guy named Tyler Thigpen at QB this week. Normally, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the Atlanta Falcons defense, but if you don’t like your current option, the Falcons could be passable. Thigpen played a little more than three quarters in last week’s game against the Raiders. It was his first real NFL action and he was sacked three times and threw an interception. Oh yeah, and he completed less than half of his passes. The mistakes will come this week against Atlanta. It’s just a matter of how many—and how costly.
  • The Seattle Seahawks defense should produce this week against the Rams. In the last three road games Marc Bulger has started, the Rams have averaged just 11.7 points per game. More importantly, they have given up 13 sacks, three interceptions and a defensive touchdown. Seattle currently leads the NFL with nine sacks, so they appear more than capable of putting pressure on Bulger.

This Week’s Sleepers: Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers

The Six-Pack

This Week's Six-Pack: Duvel Belgian Golden Ale

Price: $8.99 (one 750 ml bottle)

Origin: Belgium

Appearance: This is one of the few beers I’ve reviewed that has a cork top rather than a bottle cap. It comes in a tall brown bottle with a label that provides a brief history of the beer as well as instructions on how it should be poured and enjoyed. Per the instructions, I poured mine in a goblet “unhurriedly”. With many beers, in order to get a proper head, you need to pour rapidly. I was expecting a nominal amount of foam with my slow pour but was surprisingly greeted with a mountainous head of puffy, pure white lace. The head doesn’t go away. Ever. The beer itself is a pale gold hue, crystal clear and speckled with millions of itty-bitty bubbles.

Smell: Duvel’s aroma is a bit elusive to me. Forced to categorize it, I’d say this beer has a scent of mellow spice with subtle bready tones—almost like a cinnamon bagel.

Taste: This beer has abundant flavors, but it starts out with sweet malts. The sweetness quickly blends with a muted citrus flavor. That initial three seconds from the time you take the drink until you swallow kind of resembles a piece of Juicy Fruit gum. At that point, the aftertaste kicks in and it has a peppery quality coupled with the bread characteristics picked up in the smell. Overall it’s a superb and complex taste experience. 

Drinkability: As a word of caution, if you buy the 750 ml bottle, it’s best enjoyed among company. Regretfully, I drank the whole thing myself. The label proudly indicates Duvel is a whopping 8.5% alcohol by volume. Drink the entire bottle yourself and it’s essentially like drinking four beers . . . and yet it’s smooth enough to be polished off in less than an hour. That’s dangerous. Your only hint of the high ABV is a slight heat on the breath and the back of your taste buds.

Last Call: Sampling Duvel is somewhat akin to enjoying a symphony. There’s a lot to take in all at once. The cork top starts the upscale experience before you’ve even had your first taste. The pour is about as perfect as you can imagine with a head that stays by your side like a trusty dog. The aroma is light but pleasurable. The taste is complex but not overpowering. But for me the most puzzling and unique aspect of Duvel is the paradox of an 8.5 percent alcohol by volume as compared to its incredibly easy drinking experience. If you fancy yourself a beer connoisseur, Duvel is an absolute must try. Five stars out of five.

Next Week's Six-Pack: Tetley’s English Ale.  

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