- Texans QB Matt Schaub leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns. Benching him would be a mistake at this point but you should realize he’s likely to perform below his average when he faces the Bills. The game is in Buffalo, where the weather calls for wind with a good chance of rain. Even more concerning is in their last five games, the Bills have held opposing QBs collectively to an astonishing 1:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. This includes a meeting against Drew Brees, who managed just 172 yards and no touchdowns. Putting up 250 yards and a touchdown would be an accomplishment for Schaub.
- Jags QB David Garrard had his best performance of the season back in Week 4 against the Titans. He passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns plus added 38 yards on the ground. Truth be told, it was the best fantasy performance of his career. Considering the Titans have allowed the most fantasy points to QBs this season, Garrard borders on a must-start. Carve out a spot in your lineup for him this week if your regular QB is on bye or faces a difficult matchup.
- The Denver defense has been harsh on QBs. In six games this season, they’ve allowed just three passing touchdowns. They’ve held every signal caller they’ve faced to one touchdown or less except Tom Brady. And it’s not as if they’ve faced bums. Thus far, Denver has held guys like Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Carson Palmer in check. Ravens QB Joe Flacco has been a pleasant surprise in 2009 but you’d be wise to keep him on your bench this week.
- It’s been a feast or famine type season for Tony Romo this year. He’s posted three monster fantasy performances with three touchdowns and 300+ yards. He’s also turned in three complete stink bombs. What’s in store for Romo in Week 8 against the Seahawks? Look for him to crank out another quality set of fantasy stats. Seattle actually ranks better than average in terms of holding QBs in check for fantasy purposes. However, they’ve faced some poor passing offenses. Every time they’ve crossed paths with quality passers like Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Kurt Warner, the Seahawks have buckled. Romo has a good shot to post another three-TD game.
This Week’s Sleepers: David Garrard, Marc Bulger and Kyle Orton
- The Atlanta Falcons rank 23rd in the NFL against the run but a deeper look at the numbers tells me they’ve come on strong of late. In their last three games, the Dirty Birds have negated each of the starting RBs they’ve faced—holding them to a paltry 38.3 yards per game on the ground. Considering the RB carries in New Orleans figure to be split between Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, it’s hard to imagine either player posting standout fantasy stats. Consider exploring alternatives but if you have to start one, it’s probably best to roll with Mike Bell who could nab a goal-line score.
- You’d probably love nothing more than kick Matt Forte to the curb, but this week’s meeting against the Browns is one of Forte’s few remaining easy games. He needs to be in your lineup. Cleveland has allowed the third most fantasy points to RBs this year. The last three starting RBs they faced have posted a touchdown and/or 100+ all-purpose yards. Last week, the Packers ground attack exploited Cleveland’s defense for 202 yards and a touchdown. Forte should be a lock for 100 total yards and a score.
- Last week, the Six-Pack told you to lower your expectations for Frank Gore because the Texans run defense was better than their season stats would lead you to believe. As hypothesized, Gore was miserable. He put up just 32 yards on the ground and averaged 2.5 yards per carry. Houston has now held every starting RB they’ve faced since Week 3 to 44 or fewer rushing yards. Bills RB Marshawn Lynch crossed the stripe for the first time this season last week, but don’t chase the performance. Houston is likely to hold him in check.
- Beanie Wells recorded the best game of his young career last week against the Giants. Don’t be surprised if he comes through again with another useful stat line. The Cardinals will square off against a Panthers defense that has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to RBs. They’ve given up at least one touchdown to a RB in every game this season. Wells and Tim Hightower both have a decent chance of reaching paydirt.
This Week’s Sleepers: Beanie Wells, Justin Fargas, Kevin Smith, Felix Jones and Chris Brown
- Buffalo’s Lee Evans has been a thorn in the side of fantasy owners for the past couple seasons. His pattern has been to put up a huge game and then disappear for three weeks. Well, Evans may have found a friend in QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The duo has hooked up for touchdowns in two straight games. Consider activating Evans against the Texans. Houston rolls into town having given up six passing scores in their last three games.
- If you watched the Cardinals last week against the Giants, you saw WR Anquan Boldin struggling to get up and down the field and make cuts. Somehow he managed to put up 75 yards but I wouldn’t count on that happening this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed the third fewest fantasy points to WRs this year. No wideout has sniffed a 100-yard game against them. Consider de-activating Boldin if you have other viable options.
- The Browns defense has been torched for three touchdowns of 45 yards or longer in their last two games. Exploit their vulnerability to the big play this week by activating Bears wideout Devin Hester. Hester has posted useful fantasy numbers in three of his last four games. Also consider activating Johnnie Knox if you play in a deep league. The explosive rookie has been inconsistent of late but this is a matchup in which he has a good chance of finding the endzone.
- Fantasy owners expecting a Sidney Rice letdown won’t find it this week. In his three year career, Rice has scored in every game in which he’s faced the Packers . . . four games and four touchdowns. With Bernard Berrian gimpy again after tweaking his hamstring, look for Brett Farve to continue to lean on Rice. He should flirt with 100+ yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Lee Evans, Johnnie Knox, Torry Holt, Nate Washington and Danny Amendola
- Don’t count on much from Tony Gonzalez this week. In fact, don’t dismiss the idea of starting someone else over him. Gonzalez has gone four straight games with 55 yards or less receiving. He scored a touchdown two weeks ago against Chicago but other than that, things have been bleak. A matchup this week against the Saints doesn’t bode well. New Orleans has crippled opposing TEs this season, allowing just one quality performance and zero touchdowns to starting TEs.
- Fantasy owners in larger leagues seeking a sleeper TE to plug and play this week can tap Jacksonville’s Marcedes Lewis. Lewis caught four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Titans when the teams squared off a few weeks ago. To date, the Titans have given up the sixth most fantasy points to TEs. Lewis should be good for a minimum of 50 yards and has a fair chance of recording his third TD of the season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Marcedes Lewis, Tony Scheffler and Donald Lee
- Give Denver’s Matt Prater a look this week against the Ravens. Kickers have averaged 9.2 points per game against Baltimore over the last five games. Prater has attempted three or more field goals in four of Denver’s last five games. He’s missed some kicks this year but has been relatively accurate lately with the exception of a couple long attempts. I’ll take my chances with him against a Ravens defense that has been giving up more points than in recent years.
- The Seattle defense has allowed 28.5 points per road game this season as opposed to 13 points per home game. In each of the road games, kickers have posted double-digit points. With the Cowboys offense clicking, there’s no reason kicker Nick Folk shouldn’t flirt with double digit points himself. He’s averaged 10.5 ppg over his last two outings.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Prater, Robbie Gould and Dan Carpenter
- I don’t know if Panthers head coach John Fox is delusional but he’s certainly loyal to a fault. I recall a couple seasons ago when he continued to trot out veteran DeShaun Foster game after game while DeAngelo Williams was averaging over 5.0 yards per carry on the token touches he received. Now Fox is showing the same kind of loyalty to QB Jake Delhomme, who is on pace to throw an obscene 35 interceptions this season. Fox says he thinks Delhomme gives Carolina the best chance to win. The coach needs to ask himself which QB gives his team the best chance to lose. Jake the Fake has already cost his team at least two games. Anyway, diatribe over. Start the Arizona Cardinals defense. Remember, they were the team that began Delhomme’s downward spiral, intercepting him five times in last year’s playoff matchup. The Cardinals enter this game red hot, having recorded six turnovers and eight sacks in their last two outings.
- I know a lot of owners still treat the Baltimore Ravens as the holy grail of fantasy defenses, but the reality is they’ve been fairly average this season. They allow 21.7 points per game (19th in the NFL). They have seven interceptions, which is better than average, and 14 sacks, which is average. I don’t like their chances of helping many fantasy teams this week. The Ravens will face Kyle Orton who has thrown just one interception this season and it came on a Hail Mary. Orton has also been sacked only nine times. Expect a mediocre fantasy performance from Ray Lewis and company.
This Week’s Sleepers: Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers
This Week's Six-Pack: Vanilla Porter
Brewed by: Breckenridge Brewery, Denver, CO
Appearance: Vanilla Porter comes in a standard brown longneck with a vintage-looking label. An aggressive pour was followed by a modest beige, pocked head that was gone as quickly as it appeared. After the head diminished, the beer looked like cola—dark brown with some reddish tones when held to the light.
Smell: I figured vanilla would be the prevailing smell. Not so. It was in there but the most noticeable aroma was roasted malt and dark chocolate.
Taste: Again, I was anticipating vanilla would be front and center. Instead, the beer initially had a fruit and chocolate flavor; it sort of reminded me of dark chocolate covered cherries. The mid-range flavors were earthy with some hints of roasted barley. The vanilla flavor eventually showed up toward the end with an aftertaste that resembled cream soda.
Drinkability: I likely wouldn’t be able to have more than one of these in a sitting. It’s a little too sweet.
Last Call: Not a terrible beer but not a great one either. Two stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Staropramen Lager(Czech Republic)