- This is the week Panthers QB Jake Delhomme finally breaks out. Carolina faces a favorable matchup against the Falcons. Atlanta currently ranks 10th in the NFL against the pass, but don’t be deceived. The Falcons have played the Lions, Bucs and Chiefs. While Detroit and Tampa have shown spurts of offensive firepower, neither can be considered a top flight offense. And the Chiefs are just awful. Look for Delhomme to expose the Falcons pass defense this week. Delhomme has thrown multiple TDs in four of his last five games against Atlanta. I expect 225 yards and two scores.
- Ben Roethlisberger owners need to take a long hard look at their backup and study what’s available on the waiver wire this week. A matchup against the Ravens doesn’t appear promising. Big Ben has been sacked 12 times this season, second-most in the NFL. Baltimore has allowed just 10 points and 161.5 passing yards per game. Although Roethlisberger torched the Ravens for five touchdowns last season, a repeat of that performance is unlikely. Look for him to finish with fewer than 200 yards.
- Labeling J.T. O’Sullivan a “must start” this week would be a stretch, but you have to like his chances against the Saints. New Orleans has allowed multiple touchdowns and/or 300-yard passing games in seven of their last eight outings. Plug him in and bank on 300 yards and two touchdowns.
- Brett Favre is playable against the Cardinals despite an ankle injury. A solid performance in their opener versus San Francisco notwithstanding, Arizona historically is a poor road team—especially on defense. Opposing home QBs have tossed multiple touchdowns in four of their last five games against the Cards and averaged over 260 passing yards per game. Favre should be good for 220 yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jake Delhomme, J.T. O’Sullivan, Trent Edwards and Kerry Collins
- Consider activating Selvin Young for this week’s tilt against the Chiefs. Atlanta’s Michael Turner trampled Kansas City for 104 yards and three TDs in Week 3. The Chiefs currently rank 31st in the NFL against the run, allowing over 200 rushing yards per game. Also, Young seems to have KC’s number. He faced them two times in 2007 and posted 285 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Also give Michael Pittman a look as a situational start. He’s good for a TD plunge or two in a game that should see the Broncos score 35 or more points.
- Texans rookie RB Steve Slaton had a breakout game last week against a tough Titans defense. He posted 116 yards and a touchdown as Houston’s zone blocking scheme started to take hold. At first glance, Sunday’s matchup against the Jaguars doesn’t look too promising, but before making your decision on Slaton, be sure you have all the facts. Thus far Jacksonville has been a middle of the road defense, allowing 108.7 rushing yards per game. They’ve given up five touchdowns to running backs so far in 2008. Slaton might not repeat his Week 3 effort, but he’s certainly playable.
- One player who won’t shed a tear when Texas Stadium shutters its doors next year is Clinton Portis. Portis has never had a good game in the Cowboys’ current facility. In three career starts in the Big-D, he’s averaged just 40 yards rushing per game with zero touchdowns. Portis isn’t benchable unless you have some phenomenal RB depth, but lower your expectations.
- Even with Willie Parker sitting out, Rashard Mendenhall is a risky play this week against the Ravens. The rookie hasn’t shown much this season, averaging just 2.8 yards rushing in limited action. Considering the state of Pittsburgh’s offensive line, Mendenhall might struggle to improve that average. More irksome is the fact that he had trouble holding onto the football during training camp and the preseason. In a game that has all the makings of a defensive battle, this contest could swing either way on a turnover. If Mendenhall puts the ball on the ground or struggles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pulled in favor of veteran Mewelde Moore—who is worth a flier in leagues with 16 teams. All these risks and question marks suggest keeping Mendenhall on the pine.
This Week’s Sleepers: Selvin Young, Michael Pittman, Steve Slaton, Fred Taylor and Felix Jones
- Go ahead and keep riding the red hot Santana Moss this week against the Cowboys. Moss has been a thorn in the side of Dallas ever since he joined the Redskins. In his last five meetings with Dallas, Moss has scored four touchdowns. Plus he’s posted at least 73 total yards all five of those games. Last year, in what was by all accounts considered a poor season for Moss, he had his two best outings of the year against the Cowboys, lighting them up for 115 or more yards and a touchdown in both contests.
- Finally a promising matchup for Braylon Edwards, who’s struggled in the first three games against Dallas, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Edwards should feast on the Bengals in Week 4. Last year he recorded two TDs in both tilts against the division rival. Regardless of who’s throwing the balI, I see no reason why Edwards doesn’t get his first TD of 2008 this week.
- It’s okay to push the panic button Torry Holt owners. Trent Green was named the starting QB this week against the Bills. Green has never been the same guy since he suffered a concussion in the opener of the 2006 season. He has a 12:15 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the 12 games he’s played after the injury. A subsequent concussion last year while with the Dolphins has many questioning why Green is still in the league. Nonetheless, the Rams will trot him out against the Bills. Buffalo ranks sixth in the NFL against the pass and they’ve only allowed two TDs in three games. Holt is by no means an automatic starter.
- On the heels of a 10-catch, 138-yard performance, Antonio Bryant was one of the top free agent acquisitions this week. Many owners picked him up for WR depth, but he’s worth a start this week against the Packers. Green Bay will be without two of its key players in the secondary this week. Al Harris suffered a serious spleen injury. Safety Atari Bigby (hamstring) is also expected to miss the game. The Bucs should be able to exploit this weakness. Look for Bryant to finish with 80+ yards.
This Week’s Sleepers: Antonio Bryant, Josh Reed, Matt Jones, Bryant Johnson and Muhsin Muhammad
- Temper your expectations for Jason Witten this week. Tight ends haven’t scored or even had a decent yardage performance against Washington this season. Plus Witten has a history of disappointing games against the rival Redskins. In his last seven outings against Washington, he has exceeded 60 yards receiving just once and only scored one TD.
- If the trends hold up, Browns TE Kellen Winslow should be a major contributor in Sunday’s game against the Bengals. In his last three games against Cincinnati, Winslow has recorded six or more receptions. In two of those performances, he netted 100+ yards and scored once.
This Week’s Sleepers: Greg Olsen and Zach Miller
- Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson was drafted in 92 percent of fantasy leagues but he’s seen a widespread dumping since Week 2. I like his chances of regaining some fantasy relevance this week against the Bengals. Dawson is perfect on field goal attempts and extra points this season. His problem has been a lack of opportunities. That figures to change this week against a Bengals defense that allows 22.3 points per game. Also note that Cincinnati yielded four field goals to Six-Pack favorite John Carney last week.
- Do yourself a favor this week and start Buffalo’s Rian Lindell against the Rams. St. Louis gives up 38.7 points per game—by far the most in the NFL. Lindell has been perfect on his last 42 field goal attempts inside 40 yards. If your regular kicker has failed to consistently post seven or more points, Lindell is worth a look. It’d be surprising if he didn’t put up at least eight points against the Rams.
This Week’s Sleepers: Phil Dawson, Rian Lindell and John Kasay
- The San Diego Chargers were projected to have one of the top defensive units in fantasy football this year. So far they’ve been average—with the lone bright spots coming on a kick return and an interception return. Look for improvements all across the board this week against the Raiders. Oakland has had success running the football but the Chargers should have a big lead by halftime in this game, forcing the Raiders to throw. In two meetings with Oakland last year, the Chargers recorded nine sacks, three interceptions and a defensive touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills
This Week's Six-Pack: Tetley’s English Ale
Price: $6.99 (4 pk. nitro cans)
Appearance: Tetley’s English ale comes in a four-pack of royal blue, tall “Smoothflow” cans adorned with what looks like a horse jockey drinking a beer. Like most beers with the nitrogen widget, this one has a majestic pour with an eye-catching cascade effect. It all culminates with a one-finger thick head that has the bubbly consistency, thickness and color of pancake batter. The beer itself is dark amber in color.
Smell: Minimal aroma. Maybe some malt and nut characteristics, but nothing much.
Taste: From the palate’s standpoint, this is not a beer to contemplate for more than a few minutes. The flavor is relatively simple and smooth. Initially, it sort of tastes like biscotti while the aftertaste reminds me of a weak iced tea with a lemon twist. It’s not a bad flavor but again it offers very little complexity.
Drinkability: The redeeming quality for this beer is the way it drinks. It goes down about as smoothly as any beer I’ve ever had. All nitro-infused beers tend to be easy to drink, but this is almost ridiculous. At 3.9% ABV, I could drink Tetley’s all day long.
Last Call: This isn’t the most assertive beer out there, but when you’re looking for an ale that lends itself to drinking several in a session, Tetley’s is a good choice. Yes, it falls short in some areas but there’s enough substance to keep things interesting. Three stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale