- Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb will likely be without his top playmaker, DeSean Jackson (concussion), this week. That shouldn’t prevent you from activating McNabb though. The Falcons defense has made a habit of yielding above-average fantasy performances to passers. Six of the last seven QBs to face Atlanta have pumped out two or more passing scores. This includes the likes of Jake Delhomme and Jay Cutler. McNabb should be a lock for 250 yards and two scores.
- The Seahawks D has allowed six consecutive serviceable or sensational performances to opposing QBs. In fact, QBs have thrown for multiple touchdowns in five of the last six games against the generous Seattle secondary. Get San Francisco’s Alex Smith some work this week if you’re in need of a spark at the QB position. Smith has been a useful fantasy QB in four of his six games this season.
- As bad as Jay Cutler has been of late, you’ve may have seen the St. Louis vs. Chicago matchup on the schedule this week and figured a bounce-back game is likely. Don’t bet on it. Cutler is by no means a lock to produce against a St. Louis defense that has shown marked improvement in recent weeks. The Rams have allowed four total passing scores in their last four games. Drew Brees and Kurt Warner each had two. Matt Stafford and Matt Hasselback had none. All four QBs were held to less than 225 yards passing. That includes the mighty Brees. Cutler remains benchable in most leagues.
- A home meeting against the Texans looks advantageous at first glance, but you can probably do better than David Garrard this week. Garrard has started six games against Houston and he’s only posted one multi-TD stat line. The Texans have allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points to QBs this year. Keep Garrard on your bench.
This Week’s Sleepers: Alex Smith, Vince Young, Eli Manning and Kyle Orton
- With Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware ailing, starter Brandon Jacobs figures to get most of the carries this week against the Cowboys. Even so, Jacobs is no better than a low-end #2 RB. Dallas has held every starting RB they’ve faced since Week 2 under 80 yards on the ground. Of all those starting RBs they faced over that 10 game stretch, only Michael Turner managed to tally a rushing score. Rest Jacobs if you have other viable options.
- Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno hasn’t shown any sign of hitting a rookie wall. He’s exceeded 80 yards in three straight games. Still, fantasy owners who drafted Moreno thinking he had a chance to be a stud this season have been somewhat let down. Look for him to start cementing his position as a legit top 12 fantasy RB for preseason 2010 rankings this week. Denver should have little difficulty grinding out yards against a Kansas City defense that ranks 27th in the NFL against the run. The Chiefs have allowed seven RB scores in their last five outings (and at least one in all five of those games). Fantasy owners not comfortable with their current options could also plug and play Correll Buckhalter as a desperation play.
- With DeAngelo Williams gimpy with an ankle injury, this is a good week to take a flier on Jonathan Stewart. Williams is expected to face the Bucs but no doubt will give up some touches to his backup. Tampa has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to RBs this season. The last time Carolina and Tampa squared off, Williams and Stewart combined for 282 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. Both Panthers RBs are lineup worthy.
- Tampa’s Cadillac Williams merits a matchup-based start against the Panthers this week. Carolina has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to RBs this season. The Panthers have ceded at least one RB score in every single game this season. This includes a 77-yard, 1-TD effort by Williams earlier this season. Look for Williams to match or exceed that production this week in what should be a conservative, ground-based attack on both sides of the football.
This Week’s Sleepers: Correll Buckhalter, Jonathan Stewart, Cadillac Williams and Jamaal Charles
- Since the bye week, #1 WRs have been stifled by the Titans. In order, top wideouts have put up the following receptions, yards and touchdowns: Mike Sims-Walker (2-9-0), Michael Crabtree (3-30-0), Terrell Owens (3-85-0), Andre Johnson (4-78-1) and Larry Fitzgerald (4-34-0). Colts wideout Reggie Wayne is an absolute must-start each week but it’s appropriate to lower your expectations significantly. QBs appear to be cautious about throwing in the direction of Cortland Finnegan, resulting in four or less receptions per game for top WRs. It’s also worth noting that Wayne hasn’t posted a 90+ yard game against Tennessee in his last nine outings and only has one touchdown in his last five games against them.
- Jacksonville will be without its top cornerback Rashean Mathis for the third straight game. Consider exploiting this opportunity by starting Houston’s Kevin Walter or even Jacoby Jones in deeper leagues. The Jaguars have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to WRs this season. Walter delivered his best performance of the 2009 season in Week 3 against Jacksonville, piling up 107 total yards and a touchdown. He’s crossed the stripe three times in his last three games against the rival Jags and set career highs in receptions (12) and yards (160) against them two years ago. Look for 70+ yards and a touchdown this week.
- Bank on a bounce-back performance from Randy Moss this week against the Dolphins. Moss has posted eight touchdowns in his last five meetings with Miami. The Fish have allowed at least one WR touchdown in eight straight games, most of those going to #1 WRs. Moss should go for at least one touchdown here with a good chance for two.
- Tampa wideout Antonio Bryant was listed as a Six-Pack sleeper last week and he was a popular free agent pickup this week. He’ll have a couple more good games before the season is out but his chances of going off against the Panthers appear slim. If there’s one thing Carolina does well, it’s defending the pass. In their last five games, the Panthers have allowed just one WR touchdown. This despite playing some elite WR talent from the likes of the Cardinals, Saints and Falcons. Bryant is best kept in reserve unless you’re truly desperate.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Walter, Laveranues Coles, Donnie Avery, Bernard Berrian and Jason Avant
- In spite of the injured ligament to one of his fingers, Philadelphia TE Brent Celek remains a viable option this week against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to TEs. Opposing TEs have surpassed 70 yards or caught a touchdown in four of the last five games against Atlanta. Celek has been practicing this week and is expected to play without limitations. Start him and look for increased targets due to the likely absence of DeSean Jackson.
- The Saints vs. Redskins matchup will feature two of the stingiest defenses in terms of shutting down opposing TEs. New Orleans has allowed the third fewest fantasy points to TEs this season—and haven’t given up a touchdown to the position all season. The Redskins have allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to TEs. Washington TE Fred Davis has been serviceable since replacing Chris Cooley but he should be on your bench as should Jeremy Shockey, who has been in a second-half-of-the-season swoon. Look elsewhere for your sleeper TEs.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Boss and Tony Scheffler
- With the Lions on tap, this is an excellent week to pickup and play Cincinnati’s Shayne Graham. Detroit has yielded the second most fantasy points to kickers in 2009. The last four kickers to face the Lions have tallied nine or more points. Look for Graham to flirt with a double-digit stat line this week.
- Dallas kicker Nick Folk has been shaky on field goals recently. He’s missed a kick in four of his last five games. It might be in your best interest to find a replacement this week when the Cowboys travel to face the Giants. In addition to a lack of confidence, Folk will have a couple other things working against him. First, the Giants have allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to kickers this season. Second, Giants Stadium is a tough place to kick especially this time of year.
This Week’s Sleepers: Shayne Graham and Joe Nedney
- The Cincinnati Bengals defense has faced favorable matchups from a DST fantasy perspective over the last couple games yet they’ve come up empty handed for the most part. They racked up just three turnovers and one sack despite facing the likes of the Browns and Raiders. Starting them for the third straight week might be tough to swallow but it’s a risk worth taking with the Lions up next. Detroit has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to team defenses this season. In the last four games alone, the Lions have given up 13 turnovers, eight sacks, two TDs and one safety.
- Look for a standout performance from the Philadelphia Eagles defense this week when they face the Falcons. Atlanta will start QB Chris Redman in place of the injured Matt Ryan. As impressive as Redman was in leading the Falcons to a come-from-behind win over Tampa last week, he was still sacked five times. Look for the Philly D to put pressure on the inexperienced QB and rack up some turnovers and QB sacks.
This Week’s Sleepers: Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Bucs
This Week's Six-Pack: Domaine DuPage
Brewed by: Two Brothers Brewing, Warrenville, IL
Appearance: Domaine DuPage comes from the same brewery that makes The Bitter End, which received a three-star review here a season or two ago. A gold foil label billed Domain DuPage as a “French-style country style ale”. An aggressive pour from the brown longneck was rewarded with a modest one-finger-thick head. While not overly abundant, the foamy crest did have staying power and left a nice white lace down the side of the glass. The color was a luscious amber hue.
Smell: The aroma was slightly timid but a few swirls of my glass revealed sweet malt characteristics with some grains and spiced apple cider tones.
Taste: Domaine DuPage offered mild flavor but it was not without complexity and intrigue. The first sip was smooth and silky with sweet caramelized malts. As the beer warmed, the taste started to pop some more. It actually began to resemble a French desert like flan or crème caramel. The finish was slightly tangy with some apple or pear qualities. A delightful beer that made me think.
Drinkability: This beer had a buttery mouthfeel and slid down the gullet easily. Carbonation was light and tingly. A 5.9% ABV was well disguised. Highly drinkable overall.
Last Call: I don’t recall ever drinking, nor could I name, an actual French beer. I thoroughly enjoyed Domaine DuPage though and might have to see what the Frenchies have to offer. My only complaint about this beer is the name. Domaine DuPage seems like a name that’s better suited for a designer tuxedo company than a beer. Nonetheless, it is an absolute winner in terms of complexity, taste and uniqueness. Five stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Grimbergen Abbey Ale, Belgium