- I’ve seen a few other fantasy prognosticators recommend that owners steer clear of Matt Ryan this week, pointing to a Redskins team that ranks second in the NFL in pass defense. Let me set the record straight. Washington has faced an epically crappy lineup of NFL pass offenses this season, including those of the Rams, Lions, Bucs, Panthers and Chiefs. The only stinkpot missing is Oakland (and they’re on the schedule next month). I’m not predicting a monster performance but if you want to start Ryan, don’t sweat it. Atlanta’s second-year QB has thrown multiple touchdowns in every home game this season.
- Start Matt Hasselbeck on the wrong week and he’ll destroy your team with zero touchdowns. Start him on the right week and he’ll carry you to victory. Hasselbeck has been an all-or-nothing QB in 2009, either throwing multiple touchdowns or not throwing any. While a part of me worries the Lions vs. Seahawks game could turn into a field goal fest, the matchup is just too good to keep Hasselbeck on the bench—at least if you don’t have an obvious alternative. Detroit has allowed the second most fantasy points to QBs this season. Every QB the Lions have faced except Marc Bulger has thrown multiple touchdown passes. Look for at least 250 yards and two scores from Hasselbeck.
- Denver may have lost on the road last week to Baltimore, but their defense continues to limit the fantasy numbers of opposing QBs. This season, only Tom Brady has thrown for multiple scores against the Broncos and even Tom Terrific’s fantasy numbers were ordinary because he threw for just 215 yards. Other notable QBs the Broncos have managed to keep in check include Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers and Joe Flacco. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is worth starting consideration regardless of the matchup. However, if you activate him this week, understand he’s unlikely to carry your squad.
- Last week, the Six-Pack advised owners to lower their expectations for Texans QB Matt Schaub against the Bills. Schaub was held without a passing score for the first time since Week 1. Surely, Schaub won’t lay an egg two weeks in a row, will he? Don’t bet against it. The Texans will face a Colts pass defense that has allowed the third fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. Schaub also just lost his most reliable possession receiver in TE Owen Daniels. Don’t expect anything more than 250 yards and a touchdown from the Texans QB.
This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel and David Garrard
- Kevin Smith owners may look at this week’s game against the Seahawks and figure starting Smith is a no brainer, but a closer look reveals Smith is a marginal play at best. The last five starting RBs to face the Seahawks have averaged just 46.2 yards rushing. Mind you, that includes some pretty significant RBs like Matt Forte, Joseph Addai, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marion Barber. While the Seahawks have allowed four rushing touchdowns over that five-game stretch, Smith is not running with authority, he’s battling a bum shoulder and now he’s losing carries to Maurice Morris. Draw your own conclusions but Smith seems unlikely to rush for over 50 yards in this game and pinning your hopes on Detroit scoring touchdowns is always a risky proposition.
- Don’t immediately dismiss the idea of playing Steve Slaton this week if your other options are iffy. It may seem completely nuts to keep him in your starting lineup after he got benched against the Bills. Is there risk involved? No question about it. However, head coach Gary Kubiak indicated Slaton will continue to be in the mix. If the Colts get ahead in this game, a fair expectation, the Texans will likely abandon the run. That should open a window of opportunity for Slaton, who is the team’s best pass-catching RB. Slaton has an exceptional track record against the Colts, racking up 249 yards and three scores in two meetings last year. Look for a stat line that looks something like 20 yards rushing and 65 yards receiving with a possible score.
- Get Brandon Jacobs some work against the Chargers. San Diego has allowed the most fantasy points to RBs of any team that will take the field this week (BUF, OAK, CLE and STL are on bye). Jacobs is starting to turn things around. He’s posted useful fantasy performances and averaged nearly five yards per carry in his last two outings.
- Colts starting RB Joseph Addai has scored six touchdowns in his last four meetings against the Texans. While history bodes well for him, the Texans 2009 run defense is a different animal than the Texans defense of prior years. The last six starting RBs who have faced Houston have been shut down from a yardage perspective. In order, the Texans have negated Justin Fargas (10 car.- 24 yds.), Tim Hightower (6-17), Cedric Benson (16-44), Frank Gore (13-32) and Marshawn Lynch (9-43). Hightower and Benson did manage to score a touchdown, but the outlook this week isn’t good for Addai. Play him if you normally would. Just recognize Houston’s run defense presents a formidable challenge.
This Week’s Sleepers: Steve Slaton, Jamaal Charles, Tim Hightower and Julius Jones
- The Detroit Lions have allowed 18 passing scores this season, second most in the NFL. Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are worth starting at home. Burleson has scored or crossed the century mark in three out of four home games this season. Houshmandzadeh has scored two touchdowns in 2009—both of them came in home games. On the other hand, Detroit players have dreaded getting on their charter flights this season. In 2009 road trips, they’ve given up an insane 39.7 points per game.
- While Marques Colston is an automatic start every week regardless of the matchup, fantasy owners would be wise to avoid the rest of the Saints receiving corps this week. Carolina owns the NFL’s number one pass defense, allowing just 160.6 yards through the air per game. The team has also given up the third fewest fantasy points to WRs. Carolina’s confidence is riding high after shutting down the Cardinals passing offense last week. Arizona’s top three receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston) were all held to fewer than 70 yards receiving with zero touchdowns. Make sure Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem are riding the pine this week.
- Miami’s secondary will start two rookies this week against New England’s Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Both WRs should be in your lineup, obviously. If you need a sleeper WR or flex player in a deep league, look to Sam Aiken or even ultra deep sleeper Brandon Tate. Aiken and Tate are expected split time in the #3 WR spot for the Patriots. Last week, Jets QB Mark Sanchez chipped away at the Dolphins secondary for 265 yards and two passing scores. Coming off a bye week, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brady have a four touchdown afternoon, which could lead to useful stat lines for Aiken and Tate.
- After his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLIII and a 131-yard, 1-TD performance in Week 1, it looked like Steelers wideout Santonio Holmes was on the brink of becoming one of the NFL’s elite WRs. Since the opener, Holmes has been a huge disappointment, failing to score a touchdown and four times finishing with fewer than 60 yards receiving. Holmes is at best a low-end WR3 this week against the Broncos. Denver has allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to receivers. Despite facing some potent offenses this season (Patriots, Chargers and Cowboys), the Broncos have only allowed two pass plays over 35 yards to WRs. Denver’s ability to limit the big play is a red flag for Holmes owners.
This Week’s Sleepers: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Sam Aiken, Brandon Tate, Malcom Floyd, and Pierre Garcon
- The Giants defense has yielded a touchdown or 65+ yards receiving to a TE in four of their last five games. They’ve also allowed the eighth most fantasy points to TEs this season. San Diego’s Antonio Gates hasn’t found the endzone since Week 4 but bank on a quality stat line this week.
- Dust off Seattle’s John Carlson for this week’s matchup against the Lions. Detroit’s defense has ceded four TE touchdowns in their last four games. Although Carlson hasn’t been piling up the fantasy stats, he remains an active part of the Seahawks offense. QB Matt Hasselbeck has targeted him 6-7 times in each of the last two outings. Look for 60+ yards from Carlson this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: John Carlson, Fred Davis and Kevin Boss
- Don’t be surprised to see a high-scoring contest between Philadelphia and Dallas this week. The two teams combined to score 128 points (64 ppg) in their two meetings last season. Eagles kicker David Akers tallied 27 points against the Cowboys in those battles. Give him and Nick Folk a start this week.
- Owners scouring the waiver wire for a sleeper kicker can make a compelling case to plug and play Kansas City’s Ryan Succop. The Chiefs will face a Jaguars team that allows over 25 points per game. Opposing kickers have averaged 10.3 ppg against Jacksonville in the Jags last three contests. While the Chiefs should be able to move the ball against Jacksonville’s malleable defense, punching it in could be problematic since the team lacks a power RB. That will lead to at least a couple three-point attempts by Succop.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Succop and Olindo Mare
- Don’t sweat starting the Denver Broncos defense this week against the Steelers. Although the Broncos didn’t manage to deliver much in the way of fantasy points last week against the Ravens, a home matchup against Pittsburgh should be a different story. The normally fundamentally sound Steelers have allowed a defensive or special teams touchdown in an astonishing five straight games. You read that right. Five straight games. This despite facing poor defenses like the Lions and Browns. Over that five game stretch, Pittsburgh has also allowed 14 sacks and nine turnovers.
- The Philadelphia Eagles defense has historically had success against Cowboys in the Tony Romo era. In five career meetings against Philly, Romo has a 7:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. In addition to recording those eight INTs, the Eagles also notched 11 sacks and three defensive scores. Play the Eagles D with confidence.
This Week’s Sleepers: San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks
This Week's Six-Pack: Staropramen
Brewed by: Privovary Staropramen, Prague, Czech Republic
Appearance: Staropramen came in a green bottle with a label featuring a city skyline, presumably Prague. Despite a forceful pour, the beer had very little head. The thin layer of foam that reluctantly materialized proceeded to disappear rapidly. As for color, it was a golden or honey hue.
Smell: Not surprisingly, it smelled like other pilsners from this region—light and grassy with a subtle sweet malt aroma.
Taste: The taste was initially smooth and crisp with lemon and grass notes. Toward the middle the interaction of the hops and sweet malts was enjoyable; however, the aftertaste was dry, tart and slightly metallic. As a whole, the flavor falls apart as the beer warms and the carbonation dissipates. I enjoyed my sample much more toward the beginning when the beer was fresh out of the fridge.
Drinkability: Staropramen went down smooth but it was a bit filling. Three beers later it left me feeling somewhat bloated.
Last Call: A passable Czech-style pils, but I’d rather have a Pilsner Urquell or Czechvar. Two stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis