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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Fantasy 6-Pack - Week 15
Paul Sandy
December 18, 2009
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Quarterback

  • Postseason fantasy teams that have been getting by with average or below average play from the QB position all season could look to Seattle Matt Hasselbeck for a boost this week. Hasselbeck should feast on a Tampa defense that has yielded 24 passing scores in 2009. The Seahawks QB has been remarkably consistent at home. Ten of his 14 touchdowns were at Qwest Stadium. He’s posted at least 325+ yards and/or multiple touchdowns in four out of five home starts this year.
  • Lower your expectations for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger this week against the Packers. Green Bay’s pass defense has allowed quite a few quality QB performances this season, but Pittsburgh’s offense has sputtered lately despite playing some poor defensive units. Pittsburgh’s troubles stem from the offensive line, which gave up eight sacks last week against the Browns. The Packers defense, meanwhile, has excelled at rushing the passer. They’ve registered 16 sacks in the last five games. Don’t look for more than 220 yards and a touchdown from Big Ben.
  • At this point, you might as well drop Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer from your fantasy roster. I’m sure you can find someone better on your waiver wire. Palmer hasn’t tallied a multi-touchdown game in his last six outings. In fact, he hasn’t put up more than 224 yards in any of those games either. There’s speculation that something is wrong with his elbow again. Whether that’s true or not, Palmer is a liability regardless of which team the Bengals are facing.
  • The Giants pass defense has allowed multiple touchdown throws in all but one of its last six games. New York has also allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs this season. Get Washington’s Jason Campbell some action if you need some QB help. Campbell has been red hot lately, posting three straight quality fantasy performances against some sound defenses. He should go for a minimum of 250 yards and two touchdowns on MNF.

This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Hasselbeck, Jason Campbell and Alex Smith

Running Back

  • Arizona rookie RB Beanie Wells has teased fantasy owners with an occasional sexy stat line in 2009 but has been too inconsistent to trust on a regular basis. However, a fumble by Tim Hightower in the Cardinals loss to the 49ers on Monday night might spur Wells into fantasy relevance. After Hightower coughed up the ball, Wells took over the bulk of the work and churned out 79 yards on 15 carries for a robust 5.3 ypc average. It’s worth noting that Wells also fumbled later in the game and the coaching staff is unlikely to give him the full load. Still, fantasy owners looking to kickstart their backfield production could certainly roll the dice with Wells, who will benefit from a saucy matchup against the Lions. Detroit has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to RBs. 
  • During their five-game winning streak, the Packers defense has held every number one RB they’ve faced to 59 yards or less on the ground. Among those starting RBs, only Frank Gore managed to score a touchdown and it came through the air. Keep your expectations low for Rashard Mendenhall and if you have a viable alternative with upside, consider making a switch. The Steelers offense as a whole has struggled in recent weeks—and that was against some weak competition (Cleveland, Oakland and Kansas City). The Packers are a whole ‘nother animal. Mendenhall will likely get you close to 100 yards because of his ability to catch the ball, but anything more than that would be a surprise.
  • The Six-Pack’s desperation recommendation of the week is New England’s Kevin Faulk. The Patriots face a Buffalo defense that has been shredded by opposing rushers this season. In fact, the Bills have allowed the most fantasy points to RBs in 2009. Faulk has scored in two straight games. With Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris both struggling with fumbling issues, Faulk will get plenty of touches. He has an outside shot to put up 70+ total yards and a touchdown. Consider him a sneaky option—especially in PPR leagues.
  • The potential reward outweighs the risk this week when it comes to Cleveland RB Chris Jennings. The Browns backfield has been in a state of flux since Jamal Lewis was placed on IR. Jerome Harrison did most of the work in Week 13. Jennings was the leading rusher in Week 14. Now the team is considering playing Josh Cribbs as a RB. Despite the uncertainty about how the touches will be divvied up, Jennings has tremendous upside against a Kansas City defense that has been busted for over 200 yards rushing in two consecutive games. I see him getting at least 15 touches, which should translate into 80+ yards and a touchdown.

This Week’s Sleepers: Kevin Faulk, Chris Jennings Arian Foster and Justin Forsett

Wide Receiver

  • There’s a tried and true axiom in fantasy football that says when you get to the postseason you should ride the players who got there in the first place. In general, the Six-Pack echoes that sentiment. Just not with Roddy White this week. White will draw coverage from the NFL’s best shutdown corner in Darrelle Revis. Here’s how #1 WRs have fared against Revis lately in terms of catches, yards and touchdowns: Antonio Bryant (2-22-0), Terrell Owens (3-31-0), Steve Smith (1-5-0), Randy Moss (1-34-1), Mike Sims-Walker (3-49-1), Davone Bess (4-18-0) and Louis Murphy (4-58-0). Sure Moss and Sims-Walker managed to reach paydirt but the net result was still a weak fantasy stat line. Strongly consider benching White if you have another option.
  • The Randy Moss haters came out of the woodwork after his lackadaisical effort in Week 14, but don’t read too much into his poor performance. If I were a Moss owner, I’d actually be stoked for this week’s game. I see him using the venom being spewed his way as motivation for a big game. Moss has had some “off” performances in 2009 but he hasn’t been shut down two weeks in a row. A bounce-back seems likely. The historical numbers also work in Moss’ favor. He torched the Bills for 12 receptions and 141 yards in the season opener this year. In 2007, he recorded six touchdowns against Buffalo in two games. Play him and set your sights on 100 yards and two scores.
  • On the flipside in the New England vs. Buffalo meeting, downfield throws have plagued the New England secondary over the last five weeks. During that five-game stretch the Patriots have allowed seven touchdown passes from 20 yards or farther out. Look for Terrell Owens to make an impact this week. Owens has shrugged of an early-season slump to score a touchdown in three of his last four games.
  • There’s been plenty of talk this week about what fantasy owners can expect from Dwayne Bowe, who is coming off a four-game suspension. Bowe has reclaimed his spot in the starting lineup and has a favorable matchup against the Browns. Leading up to the suspension, Bowe was having an interesting year. Because the offense and Matt Cassel were struggling, it seemed as if Bowe was a risky play each week. Yet he managed to score a touchdown or put up 70+ yards in seven out of eight games. I actually like his chances of delivering useful fantasy stats this week as a third WR or flex play. Look for something in the neighborhood of 80 yards with a possible score against Cleveland.

This Week’s Sleepers: Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Antonio Bryant, Josh Cribbs and Deion Branch

Tight End

  • Washington’s Fred Davis merits strong starting consideration this week against a Giants defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to TEs in 2009. Four of the last six TEs to face New York have scored a touchdown or put up 100+ yards. Davis, who has been an instrumental part of Washington’s recent offensive resurgence, has posted four touchdowns in his last three games. Anything less than 65 yards and a touchdown for Davis would be a stunner.
  • It seems any time Seattle crosses paths with a skilled pass-catching TE, the Seahawks are whipped. TEs who have gotten the best of them include: Vernon Davis (6-111-1), Visanthe Shiancoe (8-78-1), Brandon Pettigrew (7-70-1), Dallas Clark (8-80-0) and Greg Olsen (5-44-1). Give Tampa’s Kellen Winslow a start this week if your other options are looking bleak. Winslow has a minimum of four receptions in six straight games.

This Week’s Sleepers: Fred Davis, Kellen Winslow and John Carlson

Kicker

  • Give Houston’s Kris Brown a matchup-based start this week against the Rams. Brown has missed his share of kicks this season, but St. Louis ranks 31st in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 28 points per game. Houston figures to have little difficulty putting up 30+ in this matchup. The fact that the game will be played indoors is an added bonus since cold weather could be a factor in at least eight games this weekend.
  • At first glance, Neil Rackers looked like an enticing play this week. Favorable matchup? Check. Domed stadium? Check. Groin injury? Oops. Rackers tweaked his groin in pregame warmups last week and will not play this week against the Lions. The team brought in free agent Mike Nugent to serve as the kicker. Consider him a sneaky sleeper play. Detroit has allowed double-digit points to kickers in three straight games.

This Week’s Sleepers: Mike Nugent and Kris Brown

Team Defense

  • If you haven’t been happy about the production you’ve been getting from your fantasy DST, you owe it to yourself to take a look at the Houston Texans this week. Houston will battle the Rams this week. St. Louis has given up a defensive score in two of the last three weeks. They had to shut down practice on Thursday due to an apparent outbreak of the swine flu. QB Kyle Boller was dealing with an undisclosed “illness” on Wednesday and may be one of the players dealing with the H1N1 virus. If Boller sits, rookie Keith Null would likely get the start. Null threw five interceptions last week against the Titans.
  • Bank on big numbers from the Denver Broncos defense this week at home against the Raiders. Oakland will start journeyman QB Charlie Frye, who has a career TD:INT ratio of 16:25. He hasn’t seen significant game action since 2006. Denver’s ability to pressure the QB along with the playmakers they have in their secondary should spell doom for Frye. Look for Denver to post top five fantasy numbers in Week 15.   

This Week’s Sleepers: Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals

The Six-Pack

This Week's Six-Pack: Leinenkugel’s Fireside Nut Brown Ale

Brewed by: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing, Chippewa Falls, WI

Price: $6.99

Appearance: Fireside Nut Brown is served up in a standard brown longneck. It provided an excellent pour. The ale was light brown in color with no cloudiness and offered a billowy, silky head that hugged the lip of my pint glass.

Smell: The aroma was rather tame. It did have some wafts of toasted nuts with sweet malt in the background. Maybe a touch of bread dough, as well.

Taste: The most dominant flavors were maple and hazelnuts. Unfortunately, on both accounts, those flavors didn’t seem natural. Instead, it was more like the awful gloppy extract stuff they squirt in your drink at some coffee shops. A definite downer. I could’ve probably lived with the “fake” nuttiness but the various flavors of the beer just didn’t hang together very well. It also lacked a roasted nut flavor I was expecting. Not unpleasant on the palette . . . just not rewarding enough. By the end of my sample, I was convinced the beer tasted like a can of flat Dr Pepper.

Drinkability: The flavor didn’t earn a high mark. Neither did the mouthfeel, which is far too watery. It felt flat on the tongue. The beer went down easily but it didn’t provide any memorable quality that would make me come back for more.

Last Call: A disappointing effort from a respected Midwest brewery. Two stars out of five.

Next Week's Six-Pack: Anchor “Our Special Ale 2009”, Anchor Brewing Company, California

Other Features
Mid-Week Injury Tracker
Start / Bench List
Game Predictions
Player Projections
Weekly Cheat Sheet
Free Agent Forecast
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