- After lighting up the scoreboard for three straight games, Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen has cooled off. He has just one touchdown in his last two outings. But have a little faith in a Thigpen resurrection. He’ll square off against the Chargers on Sunday, a team he burned for 266 yards and three touchdowns earlier this year. San Diego is one of five teams that have allowed 21 or more passing scores in 2008. Thigpen should be in line for a multi-TD game.
- Even without Plaxico Burress on the team anymore, Eli Manning is an intriguing fantasy play this week. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in five of his last six games against the Cowboys. This includes a three-touchdown effort earlier this year when the clubs last met. And if that’s not enough to convince you, in his three most recent trips to Texas Stadium, he’s tallied eight touchdowns. If your regular starter faces a stiff test this week, Manning could come in handy.
- Give Patriots QB Matt Cassel the hook for this week’s matchup against the Raiders. Oakland has a top 10 pass defense and they’ve allowed just two passing scores in their last four games—both of them last week against the Chargers. Cassel has thrown just one touchdown in his last two games.
- Fantasy owners have to strongly consider shoving Brett Favre to the bench this week. His unpredictability has become a liability. Favre hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in a couple weeks. Now he’ll face a Bills defense that allows the 11th fewest fantasy points to QBs. Even amidst their nose dive over the last seven games, Buffalo has only once allowed a QB to throw multiple touchdown passes. And the last time they went up against Favre they held him to 201 passing yards and zero scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Eli Manning, Tyler Thigpen, Seneca Wallace and Shaun Hill
- If Dominic Rhodes isn’t in your lineup this week against the Lions, you may live to regret it. Early indications are starter Joseph Addai will sit. But even if Addai plays, you have to like Rhodes’ chances against a Detroit defense that ranks last in the NFL against the run. The Lions have allowed a mind-blowing 12 touchdowns to RBs in their last five games. Rhodes looks like a lock for a touchdown or two.
- Tennessee has been solid against the run for most of the year, but a handful of RBs have had fantasy success. A partial list includes the likes of Leon Washington (84 yards and 2 TDs), Maurice Jones-Drew (92-2), and Steve Slaton (124-1). All three RBs presented similar challenges to the Titans in terms of size, quickness and skill sets. Based on this trend and his past success against Tennessee, don’t be shy about giving Slaton the nod if your other options aren’t particularly attractive.
- LenDale White has racked up four touchdowns in his last three games against the Texans. Make sure he’s active this week because Houston ranks 24th in the NFL against the run and they’ve given up seven scores to RBs in their last six outings.
- Cleveland RB Jamal Lewis has no business being in your lineup this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia ranks eighth in the NFL in run defense and they’ve allowed just six rushing scores all season. Lewis has practically been a non-factor for the last four weeks despite facing some relatively easy matchups. He’ll be lucky to crack 60 yards against the Eagles.
This Week’s Sleepers: Dominic Rhodes, Maurice Morris, Sammy Morris and Warrick Dunn
- Consider activating Amani Toomer for this week’s tilt against the Cowboys. Toomer has logged three touchdowns in his last two games against Dallas. With Plaxico Burress gone and Domenik Hixon ailing, Toomer figures to play a big role. Look for him to reel in 5-6 receptions for 80 yards and a score.
- Although he’s strung together two straight games with over 100 yards receiving, lower your hopes for Atlanta’s Roddy White this week against the Buccaneers. In his last six games against Tampa, White failed to crack 60 yards receiving and didn’t score a single touchdown. White’s not a guy you’ll bench, but the misery could continue this week as the Bucs defense will be out for blood coming off an embarrassment on Monday night.
- Pittsburgh wideout Hines Ward has gone seven straight games against the Ravens without scoring a touchdown. He’s a risky play this week. The Ravens rank second in the NFL in pass defense.
- Terrell Owens has come up big throughout his career against the Giants. He’s scored six touchdowns in his last four games against New York. All told, T.O. has faced the G-men 10 times and has averaged more than a touchdown per game. Expect a significant contribution from Owens this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Amani Toomer, Deion Branch, Malcom Floyd and Isaac Bruce
- There’s no reason to expect Tony Gonzalez’s hot streak to end this week against the Chargers. San Diego allows more fantasy points to tight ends than any other team. In both of Kansas City’s last two meetings against the Bolts, Gonzo has caught 10 passes and exceeded 100 yards. He’s also posted three touchdowns in his last three games versus San Diego.
- Make sure Dallas Clark is active for your team this week when the Colts host the Lions. Clark caught one touchdown pass last week against the Bengals and nearly had another but fumbled at the goal line. He has a decent chance of recording a touchdown or two against a Detroit defense that has ceded TDs to tight ends in three of their last four games. The Lions have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to tight ends in 2008.
This Week’s Sleepers: Donald Lee and John Carlson
- Lower your expectations for Houston’s Kris Brown this week against the Titans. In his last six games against Tennessee, Brown has averaged just 5.6 points per game—never exceeding eight points. The Titans allow the fewest fantasy points to kickers.
- Give Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee a start this week against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed an average of 36.7 points per game over their last three outings. Their sieve-like run defense will have trouble stopping Maurice Jones-Drew, which should afford Scobee plenty of attempts. He’s a good bet to venture into double digits in Week 15.
This Week’s Sleepers: Josh Scobee and David Akers
- Look for a standout performance from the Philadelphia Eagles defense this week against the Browns. Cleveland’s offense has been dreadful lately. They’ve failed to score a touchdown in the last three games. Although QB Ken Dorsey managed to escape last week’s loss to the Titans with just one interception and one sack, he’ll likely struggle against an Eagles squad that blitzes more than any team in the NFL. Philly has logged 37 sacks, tied for fourth most in the NFL.
- Consider plugging in the Arizona Cardinals defense this week if you need a defense with upside. The Cardinals play well at home, where they’re 6-1 this season. On the other hand, Minnesota, this week’s opponent, doesn’t play particularly well on the road. Vikings QBs have been sacked 35 times this year and they’ve thrown 16 interceptions—among the worst in the NFL in both categories. With starter Gus Frerotte sidelined for Sunday’s game, look for the Cardinals to have plenty of scoring opportunities.
This Week’s Sleepers: Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins
This Week's Six-Pack: 2° Below Ale
Origin: New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado
Appearance: From the makers of Fat Tire, this ale comes in a skinny brown bottle with the name of the brewery etched on the collar. The label shows the outside of a cabin with a thermometer registering 2 degrees below zero. It poured to a burnt orange color and offered up a moderately dense beige head. The head promptly reduced to about a quarter of an inch in thickness, where it stayed almost for the duration of the tasting.
Smell: Big, robust aroma that resembles pine needles. Also very light wafts of citrus.
Taste: The taste didn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the nose. I eagerly anticipated bombastic, in-your-face hops. While they were the dominant flavor, the hops were restrained. That’s not an entirely bad thing; it just surprised me. There is also a bread/biscuit flavor that lurks underneath the hops. The aftertaste is interesting with a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness with a peculiar warmth that lingers between sips.
Drinkability: The carbonation is perhaps a bit over done, but the body is just hefty enough to stand up to a cold winter’s night. It’s a worthy choice if you’re just going to knock back a couple during a primetime football game in December.
Last Call: 2° Below Ale is a very enjoyable beer that should satisfy all but the most extreme hopheads. Four stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter, England