- My guess is you likely won’t hear many Drew Brees owners belting out the song New York, New York Sinatra style anytime soon. After posting just 172 yards and no touchdowns against the Bills from upstate New York, Brees now faces the challenge of going up against the Jets and Giants on consecutive weeks. Those two teams have given up the second- and third-fewest fantasy points to QBs respectively. Brees isn’t benchable but owners may need their other players to step up over the next couple games.
- Carson Palmer has had more success against the Browns than he’s had versus any other team in the NFL, making him a quality play this week. Palmer has faced Cleveland eight times in his career, averaging 240 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game. The most productive game of his career came last year at the expense of Cleveland — a 401-yard, six-TD effort. The Browns rank in the top half of the league in pass defense, but they were relatively untested until last week when Joe Flacco ripped them for 342 yards and a touchdown.
- Monday night’s tilt against the Packers will likely be the second-most emotional game of Brett Favre’s career. The most emotional game of his career being the night after his father died in 2003. Favre threw for an insane 399 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders. That game was also on a Monday night. I’m not saying Favre is a must-play, but if you like to gamble, Favre could come up huge against his former team. His flair for the dramatic is legendary.
- Injuries and bye weeks have many owners scrambling to find a warm body to plug into their lineups at the QB position. One guy to avoid is Matt Cassel. Cassel may have managed to throw a couple touchdowns against the Eagles but the fact that he only had 90 yards is bothersome. Keep him on your bench against the Giants, who allow the fewest passing yards per game in the NFL and who have also given up a pair of touchdowns in three games. If Cassel doesn’t perform, he’ll be highly droppable for fantasy purposes considering the next three opponents before Kansas City’s bye are the Cowboys, Redskins and Chargers.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brett Favre, Carson Palmer, Shaun Hill and Jason Campbell
- If you own Glen Coffee and don’t have him in your starting lineup, make sure it’s for a good reason. Coffee looks like a lock to net 20+ carries on Sunday against the Rams. When asked how the offense would change with Frank Gore out, head coach Mike Singletary said, “We’re not going to alter it one bit.” Coffee is a safe bet to deliver 100 yards and a touchdown. The only question that remains is how many puns playing off Coffee’s name we’ll see in the sports section come Monday morning.
- When your RB faces the Vikings it should automatically raise a red flag. It’s true that Ryan Grant is a risky play, but I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of starting him on Monday night. Grant has been surprisingly successful against the Purple. In the last three divisional battles versus Minnesota, he’s exceeded 90 yards on the ground and/or scored a touchdown. It’s also worth noting that the vaunted “Williams Wall” has shown some cracks in the mortar so far in 2009. The Viking defense ranks 12th in the NFL against the run, allowing 92 yards on the ground per game. This despite facing the likes of Cleveland, Detroit and a Frank Gore-less San Francisco. I’m in the minority on this call, but I think Grant will be useful.
- As much as LaDainian Tomlinson owners would love to get their first-round pick back in the starting lineup, I’d probably hold off. Tomlinson says he’s “hopeful” that he’ll play this week against the Steelers. The first problem is the game is Sunday night. If you activate LT and he sits, you’re screwed because almost all of the other games will have been played. Also, keep in mind the game is in Pittsburgh and the forecast calls for a cool night with a chance of rain. That ankle may tighten up. The second problem is the Steelers defense. Pittsburgh has allowed the third fewest fantasy points to RBs this season. If you do opt to take a leap of faith and start LT, make sure you have a parachute (Mewelde Moore, for example) to save your butt in case he sits.
- Starter Kevin Smith will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s game against the Bears. It’s a desperation move, but if you’re in a pickle and need some RB help, Maurice Morris is worth a flier. Morris would have some upside if Smith can’t go. The Lions have scored rushing touchdowns in two of their first three games this season. The yardage hasn’t come easily, but the competition has been formidable (New Orleans, Minnesota and Washington). The Bears are no slouches either but Morris’ former teammate, Julius Jones, ran roughshod over them in Week 3 — churning out 136 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. History is also on Morris’ side. The Lions have scored a rushing touchdown in four straight meetings against the Bears. Assuming Smith sits, Morris is the Six-Pack’s sneaky sleeper RB of the week. I’d expect a modest but useful 70 yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Glen Coffee, Ryan Grant, Maurice Morris and Julius Jones
- Give credit to the Bengals secondary, especially cornerback Leon Hall. Hall and company have rendered number one wideouts completely useless this season, shutting down the likes of Brandon Marshall (4-27-0), Greg Jennings (0-0-0) and Santonio Holmes (1-18-0). Things don’t look too good for Braylon Edwards this week. Edwards should benefit in the long run from the switch to QB Derek Anderson, who has a stronger arm than Brady Quinn. Just don’t count on an immediate spike in production.
- The Jets are another team that has excelled at containing an opponent’s top receiver. Shutdown corner Darrelle Revis manhandled Andre Johnson (4-35-0), Randy Moss (4-24-0) and Justin Gage (4-37-0). There’s a good chance he’ll do the same to Marques Colston. Don’t be surprised if QB Drew Brees looks elsewhere. Devery Henderson could be a nice sleeper play.
- Don’t chase Derrick Mason’s strong showing last week. He was having an ordinary game before hauling in a 72-yard touchdown at the end of the game against a Browns defense that had given up. That won’t happen against New England. The Patriots haven’t allowed a WR to score on them this season. And it’s not as if they haven’t faced any good wideouts. The Pats contained Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Jerricho Cotchery and Roddy White.
- The Titans could be without their top cornerback, Cortland Finnegan, this week. Finnegan has been nursing a sore hamstring. He was only able to do some light jogging in Thursday’s practice. His absence would improve the outlook of Jacksonville’s Mike Sims-Walker. However, even if Finnegan does play, Sims-Walker is worth a start. Tennessee has struggled mightily to defend the pass all season. They’ve allowed seven passing scores so far, tied for second most in the NFL. Five of those seven scores have come from wideouts. Sims-Walker was targeted 10 times last week and figures to get plenty of action again since the Jaguars will likely struggle to run the ball. I see profitable returns for Sims-Walker owners again this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Devery Henderson, Mike Sims-Walker, Pierre Garcon, Johnny Knox and Sidney Rice
- During the preseason it seemed as if the entire fantasy football world was high on Bears TE Greg Olsen. Although he hasn’t lived up to the hype, a breakout game this weekend seems likely. Detroit is miserable against opposing TEs. They’ve allowed eight TE touchdowns in their last 10 games. Look for Olsen to record his second straight game with a touchdown.
- Fantasy owners needing to tap the waiver wire for a TE this week could find solace in Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller. Miller plays well at home. He’s scored or exceeded 50 yards in five straight games at Heinz Field. He should turn in a useful stat line against a Chargers unit that’s given up two quality TE performances in three games this season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Heath Miller and Vernon Davis
- The Miami Dolphins bend-but-don’t-break defense is a boon for fantasy kickers. So far in 2009, kickers have attempted 10 field goals against Miami in three games. Were it not for a few misses, they’d easily have given up the most fantasy points to kickers this season. Give Rian Lindell a look this week if you could use some help in the kicking game. Lindell ranks 13th in scoring among kickers.
- San Diego’s Nate Kaeding is currently the second highest-scoring kicker in the NFL but don’t bank on continued success this week against the Steelers. Heinz Field is one of the more difficult venues for kickers. In the last five regular season home games, kickers have made just five out of nine field goal kicks they’ve attempted. Kaeding faced off against the Steelers twice last year (including the playoffs). He made two field goals, missed one and averaged just five points per game.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rian Lindell, Steven Hauschka and Kris Brown
- Roll out the Cincinnati Bengals defense this week against the Browns. Cleveland’s QBs have been remarkably bad this year. Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson have combined for six interceptions and 11 sacks. Anderson, who will get the start this week was responsible for three of those INTs. The Bengals only have one INT this season but they’ve made up for that deficiency with a league-leading 10 sacks. Plus they returned that single INT for a touchdown. Look for abundant points from the men in orange and black this week.
- The Dallas Cowboys defense finally woke up last Monday night, recording three sacks, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. I wouldn’t rush out and grab them off the waiver wire this week though. Dallas will face a Denver team that plays fundamentally sound football. QB Kyle Orton hasn’t thrown an interception this year and has only been sacked three times. Denver’s RBs have only lost one fumble. Denver’s special teams? Zero returns for a touchdown allowed.
This Week’s Sleepers: Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers
This Week's Six-Pack: Maredsous 10 Triple Ale
Brewed by: Duvel Moortgat, Puurs, Belgium
Appearance: With its swanky 750ml bottle, this beer stood out on the shelf like a super model at a Weight Watchers meeting. It was the only beer in the store wrapped in a paper bag and topped with a cork rather than a cap. The bottle was slightly smaller than a standard wine bottle. The paper wrapper indicated Maredsous is “brewed following Benedictine tradition under the supervision of the Abbaye de Maresous.” I poured it into a goblet. The beer itself was burnt orange in color. The pour produced and enormous head but that might’ve been due to my awkwardness on my part dealing with the over-sized bottle. The head looked thick like pancake batter initially before settling into sort of an asymmetrical clump of froth.
Smell: Not a very strong smell overall. I swirled and swirled the glass. It had some sweet aromas and smelled more like hard liquor than beer. It actually started to resemble brandy after awhile. That was a scary thought as brandy has never been a friend of mine.
Taste: A Triple beer is generally considered a beer that has over 9 percent ABV. It’s called a triple because the brewmaster starts with three times the normal amount of malt. This beer has 10 percent ABV. The initial taste is boozy—not in-your-face whiskey booze mind you, but a mellow alcohol flavor. It’s present from the moment Maredsous Triple hits your tongue through the warm, penetrating after burn. I think it would’ve been better had the alcohol content been masked somewhat. Other flavors made me think of sweet bread and apple. The apple along with the burn of the alcohol reminded me of a dry white wine. Mouthfeel was chewy with firm but not over-the-top carbonation.
Drinkability: The first glass went down relatively easy. The ABV quickly caught up with me midway through the second glass. By the end of the fourth glass, I was praying I wouldn’t be hung over the next day. Too much for one person on one evening.
Last Call: Might be worth revisiting if it crosses my path again but I won’t seek it out. Three stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Dixie, Dixie Brewing Company, New Orleans