- The Broncos haven’t allowed a single passing touchdown this season. Even so, fantasy owners shouldn’t feel much trepidation about starting Tom Brady. Denver has had a favorable schedule this season from a passing perspective. The best receiver they’ve faced to date was Chad Ochocinco. The best QB was Tony Romo. With apologies to both players, they aren’t in the same class as Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Brady managed a quality fantasy performance against the Ravens last week. He should do so again this week. Look for a minimum of 250 yards and a touchdown.
- Owners who heeded the Six-Pack’s advice last week and started Brett Favre were rewarded with a top five QB performance. After a couple weeks of conservative play calling, Brad Childress has finally opened up the playbook. Favre has attempted over 30 passes in two straight games. On Monday night, he took a few shots down the field and removed all doubts about his arm strength. The Rams are on tap next. St. Louis ranks 19th in the NFL against the pass despite facing three poor passing offenses (Seattle, Washington and San Francisco) in their first four games. Pencil in 240 yards and a pair of scores for Favre — and don’t spit out your Cheerios if the gun slinging veteran enters the MVP discussion come Monday morning.
- Consider finding an alternative to Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. In their last five home games, the 49ers have allowed a total of just three passing touchdowns and an average of 184 passing yards per game. No QB has thrown for more than one score. The 49ers have allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
- It looks like all systems are a go for Eagles QB Donovan McNabb this week against Tampa. McNabb was sidelined for a couple games with a cracked rib. His timing, it turns out, was impeccable. A Week 4 bye gave him time to get healthy. A Week 5 meeting against the Bucs will make Eagles fans forget all about how well Kevin Kolb performed while McNabb was out. Tampa is one of just four teams that have allowed nine or more passing scores. McNabb won’t need a game to knock off the rust. Look for him to exceed 250 yards passing with a touchdown or two.
This Week’s Sleepers: Brett Favre, David Garrard, Derek Anderson and Matt Hasselbeck/Seneca Wallace
- You snagged Jerome Harrison off the waiver wire. There’s no time like the present to get him some work. Harrison should exploit a Bills defense that has allowed RBs to cross the stripe six times in the last two games. Buffalo also gives up 150.2 rushing yards per game. Look for Harrison to get over 25 combined rushes and receptions, which should equate to 120 yards and a touchdown.
- An injury to Correll Buckhalter has brought clarity to the Denver backfield. Rookie Knowshon Moreno is a borderline must-start this week against the Patriots. New England has allowed RB touchdowns in three of four games this year. Moreno is hitting his stride as a pro. He’s averaged over 4.3 yards per carry in each of his last three games. If he gets 20 touches on Sunday, 100 yards with a touchdown seems reachable.
- If you drafted Brian Westbrook and were wise enough to handcuff him to rookie LeSean McCoy, you could comfortably start the tandem this week against the Bucs. Although Tampa has done a reasonable job keeping backs out of the end zone (just two rushing scores this season), they are easily gouged for yardage. In fact, they rank 30th in the NFL in run defense, allowing over 170 yards per game on the ground. Look for Westbrook to flirt with 100 all-purpose yards and a score while McCoy cleans up in the fourth quarter when the Eagles have a big lead.
- I would not want to enter Monday night’s game trailing by 10 or more points with just Thomas Jones left to play. Since his opening day two-touchdown thumping of the Texans, Jones has been relatively quiet. He’s only received 13-14 carries per game and has averaged less than four yards per carry. What used to be a two-way split between Jones and Leon Washington is now a three-way cluster-you-know-what with rookie Shonn Greene getting in on the action. If Jones gets his typical baker’s dozen worth of carries, he’ll struggle to post anything resembling a decent fantasy performance. The Dolphins rank second in the NFL in run defense, allowing just 61 yards per game on the ground. Pinning your hopes on a Jones touchdown? Also not a good idea. The Dolphins have only allowed one RB rushing score this season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jerome Harrison, Knowshon Moreno, LeSean McCoy, Mewelde Moore and Beanie Wells
- Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson is inching his way up the fantasy charts. I think in 2010 we’ll see him ranked among the top five fantasy wideouts in most of the preseason draft guides. Fantasy owners in keeper leagues might want to try to make a play for him while his value is relatively low. My take is Jackson is here to stay and he could be the next Torry Holt. Obviously get Jackson in your lineup this week against a Tampa defense that can’t seem to prevent big plays. The Bucs have allowed six receiving touchdowns of 30 yards or greater in distance. Another 100+ yards and a touchdown are in the offing for Jackson.
- Starting any Colts receiver you can get your hands on should be a good formula for success this week. The Titans pass defense has been atrocious this season and is tied for last in the NFL in yards allowed. They’ve also given up 10 touchdowns in four games. Meanwhile their run defense has been a source of strength. Look for Peyton Manning to attack Tennessee through the air. That’s the tactic the Colts have used in recent meetings. In his last eight full games against the Titans, Manning has thrown for multiple touchdowns and/or exceeded 300 yards passing. Consider Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon must-starts with Austin Collie meriting sleeper consideration.
- Brandon Marshall owners had to be grinning when they saw his incredible 51-yard catch and run touchdown against the Cowboys. Marshall appears to be back in the good graces of the team. He’s certainly playable this week against the Patriots just be sure to keep your expectations in check. New England has a young secondary but they’re disciplined. So far in 2009, they’ve only allowed one WR touchdown. The Pats secondary has contained Terrell Owens, Jerricho Cotchery and Roddy White, holding all four of them to four catches of fewer. Ravens wideout Derrick Mason turned in a quality fantasy performance but it took 47 pass attempts by Joe Flacco to make it happen. Kyle Orton averages fewer than 30 attempts per game.
- The Houston Texans rank ninth in the NFL in pass defense. They have allowed the 12th fewest fantasy points to receivers. But I’m not buying it. The Texans haven’t faced an elite-level WR (or QB for that matter) all season. The best wideouts they’ve faced — Jerricho Cotchery and Mike Sims-Walker — both were reasonably effective with 80+ yards receiving. Plus Houston’s secondary is dealing with some injuries. Count on big performances from Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin this week. The Cardinals are coming off a bye week. They should be healthy and well prepared. Steve Breaston is a legit third fantasy receiver in deeper leagues if he’s active on Sunday.
This Week’s Sleepers: Austin Collie, Steve Breaston, Sidney Rice, Mario Manningham and Jason Avant
- Last week against the Broncos, Tony Romo made the mistake of only targeting TE Jason Witten four times despite throwing 42 passes. Considering the state of Dallas’ WR corps, that’s just plain idiotic. With Roy Williams (ribs) ailing, Witten figures to play a more prominent role. He’s a sure thing against a Chiefs defense that has been bloodied every time they’ve faced a quality TE. Philly’s Brent Celek posted 104 yards and a touchdown against them. Baltimore’s Todd Heap put up 74 yards and a touchdown. I’m forecasting 90 yards and at least one score for Witten.
- Week 5 should be another productive game for Dallas Clark. Clark has turned in three straight quality performances in a row. He’ll face a Titans defense that has yielded a TE touchdown in three straight games. In the one outing Tennessee managed to keep a TE out of the endzone, the opener against the Steelers, Heath Miller still managed eight receptions and 64 yards. In 2008, Clark caught 13 passes and two touchdowns in two meetings with the Titans. As the top-ranked fantasy TE through four weeks, Clark should be good for at least 80 yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Heath Miller and Visanthe Shiancoe
- Cowboys kicker Nick Folk is a good play this week against a Chiefs team that has seen kickers attempt multiple field goals against them in every game this year. Kansas City has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to kickers through four games. Folk should flirt with double digits.
- Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed ranks just 21st in scoring among kickers. He’s not particularly accurate, connecting on just 5 of 8 attempts this season. Why am I recommending him? He plays the Lions, of course. Detroit has allowed kickers to score nine or more points in three out of four games this season. Chances are Reed is available on your waiver wire. Give him a look this week if you’d like to tally a few more points against your opponent.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jeff Reed and Josh Scobee
- Finding an alternative defense to the New England Patriots might be in order this week. New England will face Kyle Orton and the uber conservative Broncos. Orton has yet to throw an interception this season and he’s only been sacked six times. Scoring opportunities for the Patriots could be scarce.
- Last week owners were dancing in the street after the San Francisco 49ers scored three defensive touchdowns. This weekend don’t be surprised if the reaction to their performance is more subdued. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has thrown just one interception and he’s taken just two sacks in 2009. You can still play the 49ers since they’re red hot. Just know the odds of them scoring a touchdown are not in your favor.
This Week’s Sleepers: Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts
This Week's Six-Pack: Dixie
Brewed by: Dixie Brewing Company, New Orleans (contract brewed by Joseph Huber, Monroe, WI)
Appearance: The label on Dixie’s brown longneck features a fleur de lis reminiscent of the Saints. It also indicates the Dixie Brewery was almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and the brewery currently isn’t operating. My particular six-pack was actually brewed in Monroe, Wisconsin. The beer looks like a pretty standard American pale lager in the glass. A soapy head vanished almost as quickly as it appeared. The carbonation level looked high as lively bubbles fizzed like seltzer water.
Smell: Dixie had an odd smell. Primarily the aroma reminded me of corn husks but there were also hints of citrus.
Taste: This beer was foul from start to finish. The corn aromas I smelled earlier were replicated in the flavor. There was also some sweetness in there. It’s all punctuated by a finish that was this equal parts skunk and funk. It was as if someone soaked a roll of dirty 1983 nickels in artificial lemon juice and shoved a handful in my mouth. Bitter. Metallic. And all together awful. Pure agony to finish a full bottle. My belches tasted like sweat socks.
Drinkability: Practically undrinkable.
Last Call: Quite possibly the worst beer I’ve reviewed in all my years writing this column. A generous one star out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold