- From a historical perspective Patriots QB Tom Brady has been relatively ordinary against the rival Jets. Surprisingly, he’s never had a 300-yard performance and has averaged just one touchdown per game against them in 15 career meetings. With New York’s renewed focus on defense, lower your expectations for Tom Terrific.
- Although his matchup doesn’t exactly scream “start me”, Ben Roethlisberger is a solid play against the Bears. Pittsburgh's running game look completely out of sorts in their Week 1 game against the Titans. The team managed an anemic 36 yards on 23 carries. Until they prove otherwise, the Steelers are not a run-first team. I expect to see 35+ passes from Big Ben and that should translate into at least 250 yards and a touchdown or two. I’d have no reservations about starting him, especially knowing he’s had an extra four days to prepare for the Bears.
- Drew Brees was a monster in Week 1, throwing six touchdowns at home against the lowly Lions. No doubt Brees owners are fired up about their QB, but they shouldn’t count on him carrying their teams this week. He threw 34 touchdowns in 2008 — 23 of them came in home games and just 11 of them were on the road. For the math challenged that means he averaged almost three touchdowns per game at home compared to 1.3 touchdowns per game on the road. Benching Brees would be foolish, but the trend is too clear to ignore. Don’t be surprised if he looks human on the road against the Eagles. I’m forecasting 320 yards and one touchdown.
- Give Trent Edwards a look this week if you’ve studied your QB matchups and don’t like what you see from your regular starter. Edwards looked poised on Monday night against the Patriots. He threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Watch for him to match or exceed those numbers at home against a Tampa defense that gave up three passing touchdowns from over 40 yards out. With a fine complement of weapons in the passing game, including Fred Jackson, Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, Edwards has the upside to hit 275 yards and multiple scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Trent Edwards, Jason Campbell and Brett Favre
- Brandon Jacobs is a strong play against the Cowboys and I wouldn’t be shy about getting Ahmad Bradshaw some work either. The Cowboys were gashed for 174 rushing yards against Tampa last week. Only four run defenses were worse in Week 1. Now they’ll face the Giants, who led the entire NFL in rushing last season. In their first meeting against Dallas last season, New York rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns. The re-match was a different story, but Brandon Jacobs got hurt in that game. The Cowboys are unlikely to be so lucky this time. Look for Jacobs to surpass 100 yards and find the endzone. Bradshaw should chip in close to 90 all-purpose yards and has a good chance of busting a long one.
- It looks like the dreaded sophomore slump found a few victims — at least for a week. Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Steve Slaton were among the biggest busts in the opener. The trio likely has fantasy owners second-guessing themselves about whether they were truly worth a first-round pick. Starting Johnson is a no-brainer against the Texans. Houston gave up useful fantasy stats to both Leon Washington and Thomas Jones last week. Even though they have poor matchups, I recommend giving Forte and Slaton the benefit of the doubt this week unless you have a clear alternative. Both players were consistent performers last year — even against stout defenses. In fact, Slaton posted two 100-yard games against the Titans in ’08. I’m willing to give Forte and Slaton a mulligan in Week 1 and chalk it up to the fact that both the Jets and Packers deployed new defenses this season. The Bears and Texans didn’t know how to gameplan against something they hadn’t seen and it showed.
- The Kansas City defense picked up right where it left off in 2008. In their opener against the Ravens, the Chiefs surrendered 38 points, including three touchdowns to running backs. They allowed 198 yards on the ground. Based on what I saw of Darren McFadden on Monday night against the Chargers, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t receive over 20 touches and tally over 100 yards Sunday versus KC. McFadden recorded a career high 164 yards rushing against the Chiefs in Week 2 last year. Start him and consider activating Michael Bush as a sleeper (especially in TD-heavy leagues).
- Get Jets RB Leon Washington some work against the Patriots. For most of the game last week, he looked like New York’s featured back. Thomas Jones got most of the work in the second half when the game was on ice. Washington should fare well against the Patriots. Buffalo’s Fred Jackson possesses a similar skill set to Washington and Jackson gave the Pats headaches all game. Washington should easily eclipse 100 total yards in this game—especially since New England will be without top LB Jarod Mayo.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Bush, Correll Buckhalter and Jamal Lewis
- After seeing Mark Sanchez in Week 1, I think Jerricho Cotchery is a player who could very easily exceed expectations in 2009. Sanchez threw Cotchery’s way seven times in their opener, completing six passes for 90 yards. Give him a start this week as a third receiver or flex player. Cotchery has put up some good performances against the Patriots in years past. He’s caught five or more passes in five of his last seven meetings against New England and recorded two 100-yard games and three touchdowns over that stretch.
- Instead of waiting around for 49ers like Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis to emerge as viable fantasy players, do yourself a favor and enlist the services of veteran Isaac Bruce instead. He may be over the hill, but Bruce’s production and his rapport with QB Shaun Hill are too significant to ignore. In all but one of his last seven games, he’s recorded box scores with 60 or more receiving yards. Bruce lit up the Seahawks for 202 yards combined yards last season. He’s a safe play this week in most leagues.
- Call me conservative but until they prove they’re healthy enough to play a full game and be productive, I don’t like the idea of starting any of the high profile WRs who have been battling nagging leg injuries. You may have spent a relatively high draft pick on Anquan Boldin, Bernard Berrian, Antonio Bryant and Kevin Walter but there’s no sense in rushing them into your lineup when there’s a good chance they’ll disappoint.
- Torry Holt might be worth a shot this week against the Cardinals, a team he has owned throughout his career. Holt has exceeded 90 yards receiving or scored a touchdown in 13 of his 14 career games versus Arizona. Holt and the Jaguars passing game was stymied last week by a tough Colts pass defense. Arizona won’t pose as much of a challenge. They allowed the second-most fantasy points to wideouts in 2008.
This Week’s Sleepers: Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Santana Moss, Nate Burleson and Percy Harvin
- The Lions defense has ceded touchdowns to tight ends in six of their last eight games. That includes a two touchdown effort in Week 1 by Jeremy Shockey. If you own Minnesota’s Visanthe Shiancoe and don’t start him, I hope you have a good reason.
- Ravens TE Todd Heap re-joined the ranks of the relevant last week when he posted 74 yards and a touchdown. Normally I would caution owners to avoid chasing his performance and instead wait another week to see if he’s for real. However, Heap may find success again this week when the Ravens travel to San Diego. Lately, the Chargers have had some real challenges stopping opposing TEs. Last week, Zach Miller posted 96 yards. They’ve now given up solid fantasy performances to TEs in five of their last six games.
This Week’s Sleepers: Visanthe Shiancoe and Todd Heap
- Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski connected on seven field goals in two meetings with the Jets last year. He had 24 total points. When you drafted Gostkowski, he was probably the first kicker off the board. Your reach should pay off — at least for this week.
- Cowboys kicker Nick Folk drilled two field goals and four extra points in Week 1, making him one of the highest scoring fantasy kickers so far. Despite that bounty, I’m not optimistic about his chances this week against the Giants. Folk has connected on just two field goals in four career meetings versus the G-Men. New York allowed the third fewest points to kickers in 2008. True to form, they gave up just five points to Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham in the opener.
This Week’s Sleepers: Lawrence Tynes, Joe Nedney and Jeff Reed
- The Minnesota Vikings have faced the Lions six times in the Brad Childress era. In those six meetings, Minnesota’s defense has recorded: 26 sacks, 8 INTs, 4 touchdowns and 1 safety. That adds up to a whole mess of points per game regardless of your scoring system. Play the Purple in Week 2 and count on a major contribution.
- Rams QB Marc Bulger was sacked 38 times in 2008, among the most in the NFL. The punishment continues in 2009. Seattle’s defense was in Bulger’s face consistently in Week 1. They recorded three sacks and dealt the Rams a shutout. Any fantasy franchise that wasn’t able to draft a top 5-7 defense should feel confident in snagging the Washington Redskins this week. They should be a lock for three sacks and a couple turnovers at a minimum.
This Week’s Sleepers: Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons
This Week's Six-Pack: Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing Co., Calif.
Price: $4.00 (on tap, ½ price happy hour)
Appearance: I reviewed this strong ale on tap at the Yard House in Irvine, California so I’m unsure what the packaging looks like. The waitress brought it to me in a standard pint glass. The head was more creamy than frothy and the first several sips created a tasty “milk moustache”. A nice bonus. Color was dark brown but when held up to the light, it showed off some crimson highlights.
Smell: Not surprisingly hops were the dominant aroma. It smelled like walking through a damp pine forest. Maybe some hints of spice, as well.
Taste: I had some preconceived notions about how this beer would taste. Based on its name and reputation, I thought for sure it would be a one dimensional, overly hopped ale. I was wrong. The initial flavor that hits you isn’t hops at all. Instead it’s sort of a sweet maltiness, like toffee. That quickly gives way to the hop backbone. It’s aggressive, robust and bitter—but the malt flavor keeps everything in check, making sure the hops don’t get out of hand.
Drinkability: I had a couple of these at the bar. They went down smooth and weren’t especially heavy. However, the alcohol content must be relatively high. Alas, I had to work the next day. Two was my limit.
Last Call: Outstanding beer overall. Too bad I haven’t found it in the Midwest. Five stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Laguanitas IPA, Laguanitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, Calif.
See the Six-Pack’s complete list of beer reviews and ratings.