- Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez is a good candidate for the bench this week. The former USC QB was born and raised in Southern California. Sunday he’ll get his first chance to throw the ball in some cold rainy weather. The forecast for the Bills vs. Jets game calls for temperatures in the 40s with a 70 percent chance of rain. If throwing a cold slick football into the wind doesn’t bring down Sanchez’s stats, the Bills defense might. The team has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to QBs despite facing guys like Brees and Brady.
- Ride Matt Hasselbeck’s red-hot hand this week against the Cardinals. Hasselbeck has thrown seven touchdowns in the two complete games he’s played this season. Recent history also paints a clear picture that he’s generally lights out at home. Since 2007, he’s thrown 29 TDs at home versus 11 on the road. Meanwhile, Arizona has allowed the third-most fantasy points to QBs this season. The Cardinals have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in three straight games.
- If you’re shorthanded at QB this week and Kyle Orton is available, there’s no reason not to trust him. He’s been a model of consistency in recent games. In fact, Orton has recorded at least one passing or rushing touchdown in 11 straight starts. That trend figures to continue against the Bolts. Each time they’ve faced a quality passing offense this season (Baltimore and Pittsburgh), the Chargers have allowed multiple scores through the air. Orton should net you two touchdowns on Monday night with the upside for a hat trick. The bottom line on Orton is he won’t hurt you but he’ll very likely help you.
- I don’t see any compelling reason to move Baltimore’s Joe Flacco to the bench this week against the Vikings. Minnesota has allowed at least one passing score in every game this season. That’s even more noteworthy considering they’ve had games against the Browns, Lions and Rams. All three teams are well below average in terms of passing production. After getting shut down last week by the Bengals, Flacco should bounce back with 250+ yards and a touchdown or two against the Vikes.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Flacco, Jake Delhomme and Marc Bulger
- This is one of those “if not now, when?” moments for DeAngelo Williams. Beginning Sunday, Williams will face what is without debate his easiest two-game stretch in the 2009 season. This week he’ll meet up with a Tampa defense that ranks 28th in the NFL against the run followed by Buffalo, which ranks 29th. If he can’t break out of a five game slump that’s seen him fail to break 80 yards on the ground, Williams will officially be nothing more than a matchup-based contributor for fantasy purposes going forward. I like his chances. Williams set a career high in his last meeting against Tampa, rushing for 186 yards. He scored twice. Keep Williams active this week and consider plugging in Jonathan Stewart if you find yourself in a RB predicament. Teams average 33 carries per game against Tampa, fourth most in the NFL, so there should be plenty of work to go around.
- That Rashard Mendenhall should be in your lineup this week is a given. Cleveland has allowed the second most fantasy points to RBs. However, don’t dismiss Willie Parker as an option. Parker is practicing in full this week and will be running like his job is on the line (because it is). He has a streak of five straight games with over 100 yards against the Browns. While I’m not expecting him to cross the century mark in this game, he could get you 70 yards with a possible score. Consider him an adequate replacement if you’re bye week challenged.
- New Orleans ranks seventh in the NFL against the run, but I wouldn’t shy away from playing my Giants RBs this week. The thing about the Saints is they generally have a two-touchdown lead by the time the middle of the third quarter rolls around. That has in large part contributed to the fact that teams have only rushed the ball on them 23 times per game, fifth fewest in the NFL. I doubt that’ll be the case for the Giants. New York has a top five defense that should be able to slow the Saints attack plus they have an offense that can keep pace. Start Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. If you have to choose between them, I’d roll with Bradshaw because he can score anytime he touches the ball, gets more work catching passes, and he sniped a goal-line score last week.
- Although he’s done very little to inspire confidence this season, consider getting Clinton Portis some work this week against the Chiefs. In their last 10 road games, Kansas City has surrendered a copious 17 touchdowns to running backs. Four of them came in their two road games this year. The Chiefs have also allowed the eighth most fantasy points to RBs in 2009. Over the hill or not, look for Portis to find the endzone and exceed 80 yards on the ground.
This Week’s Sleepers: Willie Parker, Jonathan Stewart, Clinton Portis, Kevin Smith and LeSean McCoy
- The Bengals defense has allowed five passing touchdowns this season but only two of them were scored by WRs. And one of those two scores was the fluke TD that Denver’s Brandon Stokley scored on a tipped pass in the opener. Lower your expectations for Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. Johnson in particular could have a tough road to hoe. Number one receivers have been invisible against the Bengals, including Brandon Marshall (4-27-0), Greg Jennings (0-0-0), Santonio Holmes (1-18-0), Braylon Edwards (0-0-0) and Derrick Mason (0-0-0). Anything over 70 yards would be something to feel good about for Johnson owners.
- Hines Ward always shows up against the Browns. Ward has scored a touchdown in five of his last seven games versus Cleveland. His worst performance over that stretch was a useful six receptions for 70 yards. The Browns pass defense ranks inside the top 10 but that’s an anomaly that Ben Roethlisberger and company will correct. The Browns have been picked apart by quality passing opponents like Baltimore and Cincinnati but their stats have been greatly puffed up by the likes of Buffalo and Minnesota (in the opener).
- The WR position has seen several breakout performances from guys on the waiver wire. Chances are you can find someone better than Terrell Owens to start this week. I don’t know what’s more surprising: that Owens has only caught 12 passes this season or that he’s somehow managed to keep his mouth shut despite the lack of attention. Owens has just one quality fantasy start this year. Making matters worse, he’ll go up against a Jets defense that has allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to receivers. They’ve been especially adept at negating opponents’ top receiving targets with the exception of Ted Ginn who scored on a deep pass last week. All told, the Jets have allowed just two WR scores this season.
- Speed kills the Chiefs. They’ve given up six touchdowns on pass plays over 30 yards. Five of those deep touchdowns were tallied by receivers like Mark Clayton, Miles Austin and DeSean Jackson who have speed to burn. Kansas City’s vulnerability plays right into the hands (or feet, I suppose) of Santana Moss. Moss is a feast or famine player but he might be worth the risk this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jeremy Maclin, Mike Sims-Walker, Torry Holt, Donnie Avery and Andre Caldwell
- As discussed above, the Bengals defense has been effective at shutting down wide receivers this season. It shouldn’t come as a shock then that opposing QBs look to their TEs early and often when they face Cincinnati. In their last four games, the Bengals have ceded 28 receptions to TEs or an average of seven per game. Houston TE Owen Daniels should chip in an above average stat line for fantasy owners this week and is a borderline must-start in PPR leagues.
- Get Seattle’s John Carlson some work against the Cardinals. The blueprint for success against Arizona involves getting the tight end involved. The Cards have been stomped by the last three TEs they’ve faced. Marcedes Lewis and Dallas Clark both gashed them for 62 yards and a touchdown. More recently, Owen Daniels totaled 94 yards on eight catches. Carlson has an excellent chance to put up 60+ yards and cross the stripe.
This Week’s Sleepers: John Carlson, Todd Heap and Jermichael Finley
- Opposing kickers have been steady when they face the Chargers. No kicker has scored more than eight or less than seven points against them. Consider activating Denver’s Matt Prater for Monday night’s game. The Chargers and Broncos combined to score a mind blowing 151 points in their two meetings last season—an average of 75.5 points per game.
- If your regular kicker is on bye and you just need a warm body who won’t completely lay an egg, consider plugging and playing Carolina’s John Kasay. Kasay hasn’t missed a field goal this season and still has the leg to get you any distance bonuses your league gives out. His only problem has been a lack of opportunities. That all should change this week as the Panthers will square off against a Tampa defense that allows 28 points per game, third most in the NFL.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Prater and John Kasay
- The New York Jets defense has let down owners over the last couple games, only recording one turnover and one sack. I have a hunch they’ll be out for blood this week against the Bills. Head coach Rex Ryan publicly called out the team following their Monday night loss to the Dolphins. A matchup against Buffalo should provide a favorable opportunity to take out their frustrations. The Bills have yielded seven turnovers, 12 sacks and one defensive touchdown over their last three games.
- Consider benching the Chicago Bears defense this week on the road against the Falcons. In his last three games, QB Matt Ryan hasn’t been sacked and he’s only thrown two interceptions. Chicago’s defense hasn’t exactly been explosive for fantasy purposes with the exception of Johnny Knox on special teams.
This Week’s Sleepers: New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars
This Week's Six-Pack: Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold
Brewed by: Hacker-Pschorr, Munich, Germany
Appearance: It came in a tall brown longneck with a gold foil label indicating the beer was bottled in August of 2009. I was pleased to have a fresh six-pack. Impeccably clear in the glass, golden in color and topped by a modest, billowy head that was gone in a flash. Nothing remarkable about the look other than the clarity. No haze or cloudiness whatsoever.
Smell: A relatively fragrant beer that reminded me of sweet bread dough with maybe a hint of lemon rind.
Taste: Initially, it was all about sweet malt flavors. Then, as the beer warmed, the cereal graininess and bread dough flavors came out to play. Aftertaste was relatively clean with hints of minerals. Overall, it was crisp and thirst-quenching.
Drinkability: A good, inoffensive and easy-drinking beer. If you enjoy tipping back a lighter American style beer and want to branch out and try something new, Munich Gold is a worthy choice. It’s crisp and refreshing but offers more character than Bud or Miller.
Last Call: All in all a very gratifying beer worth re-visiting. Three stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Rogue Brutal Bitter