- A matchup this week against the Texans kicks off a stretch of schedule in which Peyton Manning should again become one of the top three or four fantasy quarterbacks. Manning has historically been lights out against Houston. In his last nine meetings versus them he’s averaged close to three touchdowns per game . . . only once not tallying multiple scores. Houston is one of five NFL teams that have allowed 15 or more touchdowns in 2008, so if Manning doesn’t put up at least two this week, it will be a major letdown.
- Give Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen a look this week against the Saints. Thigpen has posted two quality fantasy performances in his last three games. This includes an impressive three-touchdown effort last week against the Chargers. Last week, New Orleans lost top cornerback Mike McKenzie for the season. Look for the 27th-ranked pass defense of the Saints to fall even further as the season progresses. There’s a good chance Thigpen posts at least 225 yards and two scores on Sunday.
- Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan has reached a point at which he’s almost a must-start. He’s rolled off five straight quality fantasy performances. With the Broncos coming to town there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be in your lineup this week. Denver ranks 28th in the NFL against the pass. They’ve allowed eight touchdown passes in four road games this season. Ryan should be good for 250 yards and two scores.
- Drew Brees should never be on your bench, but recognize that he doesn’t play nearly as well in road games as he does at home. In four road trips this season, he has a 4:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. This includes three games with one touchdown or less. Also consider that the Chiefs own one of the better home field advantages in the NFL. No opposing QB has thrown multiple touchdowns at Arrowhead Stadium this season. And only one passer in the last eight games in KC has accomplished that feat. Lower your expectations for Brees.
This Week’s Sleepers: Tyler Thigpen, Matt Ryan, Jake Delhomme and Brady Quinn
- Colts RB Joseph Addai has by all accounts been a huge bust in 2008, but get him some work against Houston. Addai has scored or put up 100 yards rushing in five straight games versus the Texans. Houston has allowed rushing scores in all but one game this season, including a touchdown by Addai back in Week 4. Backup RB Dominic Rhodes, who has been splitting carries with Addai, is also a fine play.
- Lower your expectations for Marion Barber this week. He’ll go up against a Redskins team that has absolutely stymied him throughout his career. Barber has faced Washington six times. He’s never rushed for more than 45 yards in any game and he’s only scored one touchdown. Considering the Redskins rank sixth in the NFL against the run, the odds that Barber goes off in this game appear slim.
- Something’s gotta give this week when the top-ranked rushing offense of the Giants goes up against Baltimore’s top-ranked run defense. Fantasy owners mulling over the decision to start or bench Brandon Jacobs have to be fearful of a defense that has allowed just one rushing score this season. But the outlook isn’t hopeless for the 260-lb. creature of a RB. While I wouldn’t say the Ravens have been untested this season, the fact is they’ve really only faced one offense that provides comparable versatility and explosiveness to that of the Giants—Indianapolis. The Colts scored 31 points, including a rushing TD by Dominic Rhodes (who also had 73 yards on the ground). Start Jacobs unless you have a clear-cut alternative.
- The gameplan to beat the Raiders is obvious: Run the football. Teams call 34.4 running plays per game against Oakland, most in the NFL. Look for Miami RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to get plenty of work this week. And that work should translate into lofty fantasy production. Oakland has allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs. Opponents have scored a rushing touchdown against the Raiders in every game this season except one.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ricky Williams, Dominic Rhodes, Jerious Norwood and Deuce McAllister
- The Steelers have allowed nine passing touchdowns this season, but only three of them have been hauled in by wide receivers. It might not be a bad idea to deactivate Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers and Malcom Floyd this week. The San Diego triumvirate could struggle, particularly if they can’t adapt to the weather, which is forecasted to be rainy, windy and cold.
- In the same game, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes have a better outlook. In fact, their owners have to be stoked for a matchup against the Chargers. San Diego ranks last in the NFL at defending the pass. They allow 264.9 passing yards per game and they’ve surrendered the second most passing scores in the NFL. In their last two games alone, the Bolts have allowed six passing touchdowns. Ward, who posted his first 100-yard game of the season last week, is an excellent start. Holmes is a bit riskier, but the Chargers don’t pressure the QB that well. Ben Roethlisberger should have time to hit Holmes down the field. If the weather doesn’t completely negate the passing game, look for Ward and Holmes to combine for 175 yards and two scores.
- Redskins wideout Santana Moss has a track record against the Cowboys too good to be ignored. In his last three games against the rival Cowboys, Moss has recorded 115 yards or more. He’s scored a touchdown or posted 70 all-purpose yards in all seven of his career games against the division rival.
- It’s a rare feat when a team’s number three WR makes a significant and consistent fantasy impact. However, Steve Breaston has opened eyes in 2008 and merits consideration as a starter on most weeks. Breaston has posted quality fantasy performances in five of the last six weeks. On Sunday, the Cardinals travel to Seattle to face the 31st ranked pass defense of the Seahawks. Play Breaston because there’s a good chance the Cardinals will post 400 yards through the air.
This Week’s Sleepers: Santonio Holmes, Steve Breaston, Donald Driver, Bryant Johnson and Kevin Curtis
- Dallas Clark has been a thorn in the side of the Texans for years. Clark has faced Houston eight times in his career and has scored seven touchdowns. Only twice has he turned in what would be considered poor fantasy performance. His record is even better at home, scoring four touchdowns in four home games.
- Expectations are running high for Kellen Winslow owners after he showed good continuity with QB Brady Quinn in Quinn’s first NFL start last week. The duo hooked up for two touchdowns and 111 yards. Lower your expectations for Monday night though. Buffalo is among the best teams in the NFL at holding opposing TEs in check. They’ve only allowed one touchdown to a TE this season. No TE has finished with more than 55 yards receiving against them.
This Week’s Sleepers: Dallas Clark, Bo Scaife and Greg Olsen
- It’s the time of year when the weather will start to be a factor, particularly in the kicking game. Keep your eye on the forecast in Pittsburgh and be ready to find an alternative to San Diego’s Nate Kaeding if things look bad. As it stands, weather.com predicts cool temperatures with a strong chance of rain and wind.
- Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham has scored nine or more points in three career meetings against the Cowboys. This includes a 14-point effort versus Dallas earlier this year. The Cowboys have allowed the seventh most fantasy points to kickers this season, so Suisham appears to be in line for a good game.
This Week’s Sleepers: Shaun Suisham and Phil Dawson
- If you picked up and played the Jacksonville Jaguars defense last week against the Lions, you were rewarded with a pretty decent game—including seven sacks and an interception. Despite the good showing, be sure to unload them this week against Tennessee. Titans QBs Kerry Collins has been sacked just four times and he’s thrown just three interceptions. The team rarely makes mistakes. Dump the Jags and see what you can find on the waiver wire.
- Give the San Francisco 49ers defense a look this week against the Rams. It looks like St. Louis will be without their best offensive player in Steven Jackson. Without Jackson last week, the Rams were thumped by a score of 47-3. St. Louis turned the ball over five times and one of those turnovers was returned for a touchdown. Add in the fact that the Rams have averaged just 10.4 points per game on the road, and the 49ers look like a nifty sleeper play.
This Week’s Sleepers: San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers
This Week's Six-Pack: Chimay Cinq Cents - Tripel (White)
Price: $11.59 (one 1PT 9.4 oz bottle)
Appearance: I bought Chimay Tripel, commonly called “white”, in a single tall bottle that contains close to two pints of beer. It’s sealed with a cork rather than the standard bottle cap. As directed by the label, I poured this brew into a goblet. Due to the size and shape of the bottle Chimay white thumps and glugs its way out, forming a mammoth beige head that upon closer inspection resembles the surface of the moon with craters and valleys. The beer itself has a pumpkin pie color and is quite hazy when held to the light.
Smell: The aroma isn’t strong but the most dominant smell is a peppery spice. A couple swirls of the glass releases some banana and yeast scents.
Taste: This is good stuff. Chimay White starts out with a sweet fruit and raisin flavor. It’s not Kool-Aid sweet and fruity; it’s very subtle and muted. This gives way to some spicy characteristics and ultimately grassy-toned hops. Interestingly, the hops somehow have a fresher, more authentic taste than most other beers I’ve reviewed. The aftertaste is bready with hints of citrus.
Drinkability: This is a well-balanced beer that shows a pleasant fullness. The hops have bite but are not overpowering, which makes this beer go down relatively smoothly. I expected the 8% alcohol by volume (ABV) to be evident in the taste and bring down the drinkability. A slight warmth is present but agreeable. However, a lightweight like me begins to feel the ABV by the time the first pint is gone. (Next season when I review Chimay Blue, which has 9% ABV, I will be sure to complete my review before I pour my second glass.)
Last Call: A season or two ago, I reviewed Chimay Red and rated it as four stars. Chimay White is a superior beer. The sweet flavors up front compliment the spicy and hoppy qualities at the end. Very nicely blended overall. Five stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Landshark Lager