- Don’t chase Jason Campbell’s three-touchdown game. He’ll likely struggle to come close to repeating last week’s breakout performance. Campbell will have to travel across the country to Oakland, where QBs have been eaten alive by the Black Hole. In fact, no opposing QB has thrown for more than one passing touchdown in Oakland this season. That includes the likes of Phillip Rivers, Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer. Don’t trust Campbell for this week’s west coast swing.
- If you haven’t already pulled the plug on Bears QB Jay Culter, now is the time to bench him or dump him outright. Cutler hasn’t had a multi-touchdown performance in five games. He’ll likely struggle for the rest of the season as the Bears close out their schedule with games against the Packers, Ravens and Vikings. Green Bay’s defense has held opposing QBs to a 2:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last two games. The Packers improved defensive play combined with a cold weather forecast doesn’t bode well for Cutler.
- Arizona QB Kurt Warner has struggled in road matchups against San Francisco. Since he joined the Cardinals, Warner has played in three games at Candlestick. Not once did he post a multi-touchdown game. Warner is a no-brainer start. Just don’t get carried away with your expectations.
- Much has been made about Brett Favre’s struggles in December but don’t overreact and bench him in favor of a less proven QB this week. Favre has rocked in the Metrodome this year, recording quality performances in every home game in 2009. All told, the three-time MVP has tossed 15 touchdowns in six home games this season. The Bengals have allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points to QBs but those numbers may be inflated since they’ve only faced 2-3 upper echelon passing offense this season. Look for at least two TDs from Favre.
This Week’s Sleepers: Vince Young, Joe Flacco, Chad Henne and Alex Smith
- Consider Green Bay’s Ryan Grant an excellent fantasy option against the Bears. Grant has scored in four straight games against Chicago. With the weather turning cold in the Midwest, the Packers will likely lean on the run more heavily than they have been thus far. The Bears defense has been malleable against the run. They’ve allowed useful fantasy performances to five RBs in the last four games. Look for Grant to approach 100 yards with a touchdown.
- While the move would certainly carry some risk, playing Redskins RB Quinton Ganther for fantasy purposes might not be such a bad idea. Ganther has looked like a capable runner in limited action this year, averaging over six yards per carry in his last two games. If he gets 15+ attempts on Sunday, Ganther should have little difficulty turning in a useful stat line. The Raiders defense has allowed the third most fantasy points to RBs. Oakland has allowed several “unproven” or “below average” RBs to succeed, including: Bernard Scott, Jamaal Charles, Shonn Greene, Ahmad Bradshaw and Correll Buckhalter. Take a flier on Ganther if you’re desperate.
- The Texans placed Steve Slaton on IR this week, mercifully ending his disappointing year for fantasy owners. While the temptation might be there to lean on Houston’s remaining RBs, Chris Brown and Ryan Moats, for some fantasy production, it’s probably not a great idea this week. Seattle doesn’t immediately conjure up an image of a fearsome run defense, but they’ve been a solid unit for the most part. In recent weeks they’ve held Frank Gore, Steven Jackson and Adrian Peterson under 90 yards rushing. Only Jackson managed to score. Brown and Moats are weak options this week.
- Make sure to active Buffalo’s Fred Jackson for Sunday’s tilt against the Chiefs. And in deeper leagues, don’t be afraid to roll with Marshawn Lynch as a flex play or low-end RB2. In their last six games, Kansas City’s defense has ceded eight touchdowns to RBs and they’ve allowed the fifth most fantasy points to RBs in 2009. Look for Jackson and Lynch to combine for 180+ all-purpose yards and two scores.
This Week’s Sleepers: Quinton Ganther, Fred Jackson, Jamaal Charles, Sammy Morris and Cadillac Williams
- Even though Tampa has allowed the fifth most fantasy point to WRs this season, it’s a good idea to move Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery to the bench if you have other options. Starting QB Mark Sanchez will sit this one out and backup Kellen Clemens will take over. Clemens only attempted two passes last week against the Bills but he somehow managed to look awful. Maybe it was the fact that he took three sacks and was jittery in the pocket. The Jets figure to grind it out on the ground with Thomas Jones. I wouldn’t be surprised to see New York throw fewer than 20 passes. Scant opportunities will lead to disappointing fantasy production for Edwards and Cotchery.
- Fantasy owners in need of a little pick-me-up at the WR position can definitely lean on Miami’s Davone Bess. The Dolphins square off against a Jaguars team that has allowed the third most fantasy points to WRs. Bess got off to a slow start this season but he ranks 16th in the NFL in receptions among WRs with 59—that’s more than Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin and Marques Colston. The outlook is good for him to snag 6+ balls against Jacksonville. The Jags allow 23 receptions per game, sixth most in the NFL.
- Speaking of Jacksonville, Mike Sims-Walker has been M.I.A. for the past couple games. After recording three quality fantasy performances in a row, the hyphenated one has just 58 yards and five receptions in his last two games combined. While you may be running out of patience with him, there’s hope for a bounce-back this week. The Dolphins have a habit of giving up huge plays. In each of the last five games, they’ve allowed at least one receiving touchdown of 25 yards or longer. Sims-Walker should get a deep look or two this week and with any luck convert. Just be sure to monitor his health status as he has been limited with a calf injury.
- I suppose Carolina’s Steve Smith is playable this week against the Patriots, who have allowed the ninth most fantasy points to WRs this week. However, I would keep your expectations in check. Smith is no road warrior. He’s scored just one touchdown in his last 16 road games. The weather forecast for New England calls for a cold, breezy weather with a chance of snow. Smith will struggle to post a useful stat line.
This Week’s Sleepers: Davone Bess, Lee Evans, Kenny Britt and T.J. Houshmandzedah
- The Eagles and Giants rank 31st and 32nd in the league in defending against TEs, meaning they allow the most fantasy points to the position. Both Brent Celek and Kevin Boss merit strong consideration for playing time this week. Celek and Boss each scored a touchdown in the last time these two teams met.
- And interestingly enough, another game this week, Denver versus Indy, features the #1 and #2 ranked TE defenses. Denver has allowed the fewest fantasy points to TEs this year and Indy has allowed the second fewest. What does it mean? It means you should steer clear of Tony Scheffler and Daniel Graham this week. Dallas Clark remains an obvious starter in TE-mandatory leagues. However, he hasn’t been as consistent of late and figures to perform below expectations. Lower your forecast for Clark.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Boss and Bo Scaife
- Green Bay’s defense has not allowed a kicker to connect on more than one field goal in a game since Week 1. They’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to kickers this year. If you generally rely on Chicago’s Robbie Gould, it’d be wise to look elsewhere. The tough Packers D plus a cold weather game will limit Gould’s fantasy contribution.
- Bills kicker Rian Lindell is a sneaky plug-and-play option this week if your regular kicker hasn’t been cutting it or faces a poor weather situation. The Bills should find some success moving the ball against the Chiefs. Kansas City ranks 30th in the NFL in scoring defense. The last two kickers to face them have put up double-digit figures.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rian Lindell and Billy Cundiff
- Get the Tennessee Titans defense on the field this week for their cushy matchup against the Rams. Kyle Boller has started the last two games for St. Louis and in those games Boller was sacked seven times and threw a few picks—one of those was returned for a touchdown. Anything less than three sacks and two turnovers would be a disappointment.
- Avoid starting the Dallas Cowboys defense against the Chargers if you can find a viable alternative. San Diego QB Phillip Rivers is in the zone. In his last four games, he hasn’t thrown a single interception and he’s only been sacked three times.
This Week’s Sleepers: Tennessee Titans and New York Jets
This Week's Six-Pack: Grimbergen Double Ale
Brewed by: Brouwerij Alken-Maes
Appearance: Grimbergen Double Ale comes in a brown stubby bottle with an eagle on the label. The beer itself was a deep chestnut brown hue. When held up to the light, it let through just a sliver of light, refracting some ruby tones. The head was puffy and thick initially and resembled a rootbeer float. As the head slowly diminished, it didn’t hold its form. Rather it became asymmetrical with globs, clumps and pocks here and there. Kind of unattractive actually.
Smell: The aroma was sweet and malty with wafts of dried fruit.
Taste: Since this is a double ale, I was anticipating something heartier and richer. In reality, Grimbergen is a bit watery, loose and lacking flavor. The most prominent taste seemed to be chocolate, but not a dark bitter chocolate flavor that I could hang my hat on. Instead it was artificial, reminding me of Ovaltine. The aftertaste offered some dark fruit flavors but this beer is nothing special.
Drinkability: Yeah, it was smooth and drinkable but with a beer of this variety, I’m looking for substance and it just wasn’t there.
Last Call: Don’t waste your time. At this price you can find a better beer. Two stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: Leinenkugel’s Nut Brown Ale, Leinenkugel’s Brewing, Chippewa Falls, WI