- Despite the inconsistency, give Rex Grossman a start this week against the Vikings. Minnesota has been chewed up and spit out by opposing QBs lately. In their last three contests, the Purple have allowed 335.3 passing yards per game. Plus, they have a way of making offenses one-dimensional. Last week Edgerrin James and the Cardinals attempted just five called running plays. Look for Grossman throw the ball 40+ times and put up 275 yards and a couple scores.
- If your QB situation is looking bleak or you’re playing the role of spoiler and have little to lose, consider giving Aaron Brooks a rare start this week against the Texans. The Raiders demoted offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who was largely to blame for Oakland’s ineffective offense this season. Replacing him is John Shoop, who will now call the plays. The move might kick start the offense. Another reason Brooks is worth a look: Houston ranks 28th in the NFL against the pass and they’ve given up 626 yards and four passing TDs in the last two weeks.
- Although he’s coming off the best performance of his young NFL career, keep Vince Young on the shelf this week against the Colts. Indianapolis ranks third in the NFL against the pass, allowing just over 160 yards through the air per game. Young may do some damage on the ground rushing the football, but probably not enough to overcome the meager stats he’s likely to put up through the air. Indy held him to just 63 yards passing the first time these teams met this year.
- Tom Brady has shredded NFC North teams this year, throwing nine TDs in three games against the Bears, Packers, and Vikings. Start him with confidence this week against the bumbling Lions, who have given up 19 passing TDs this season, including three last week to Joey Harrington. Don’t be surprised if Brady throws for 3-4 TDs and ends up as fantasy football’s top QB this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Rex Grossman, Aaron Brooks, Matt Leinart, and Ben Roethlisberger
- By Sunday evening the Broncos will have witnessed what is the equivalent of fantasy football’s trinity. In Week 11, Denver faced LaDainian Tomlinson. In Week 12, they tangled with Larry Johnson. This week, they go up against Shaun Alexander. For all the publicity Denver’s defense has gotten this season, they sure have had trouble stopping these elite level RBs. Tomlinson scored four times. LJ put up 157 yards and a TD. Coming off a 200-yard effort last week, Alexander should be able to muster up at least 100 yards and a score against the Broncos.
- Warrick Dunn doesn’t look anything like the running back who opened the season with 130+ rushing yards in the first two games. Since Week 7, he hasn’t had more than 73 yards rushing in any game. It seems the only time Dunn had produced from a fantasy perspective lately is, surprisingly enough, when he’s scored a touchdown. Finding the endzone is not something that’s likely to happen this week against the Redskins, who have given up the fewest rushing scores (3) in the NFL this season. Find an alternative to Dunn this week or lower your expectations.
- The Philadelphia run defense has been bloodied by Travis Henry (143 yds. and 1 TD) and Joseph Addai (171 yds. and 4 TDs) over the last two weeks. Do what you can to exploit this sorry unit. DeShaun Foster is recovering from an elbow injury and is worth starting if he’s activated. DeAngelo Williams, is probably a better play and should post solid stats regardless of Foster’s status. And if Foster sits, look for a Grade A performance from the rookie.
- It’ll be an experiment in futility this week when the 32nd ranked rush defense of the Rams goes up against the 32nd ranked rush offense of the Cardinals. On paper, it looks like a good matchup for Edgerrin James, but don’t get overly excited. Denny Green completely abandoned the run last week and if Cards fall behind early, he probably won’t be inclined to put the game on the shoulders of his running back who happens to be averaging just a smidge over three yards per carry. Expect another ho-hum afternoon for James.
This Week’s Sleepers: DeAngelo Williams, Ahman Green, Laurence Maroney, and Ladell Betts
- Redskins wideout Santana Moss was surprisingly left off the injury report this week. He’s been limited for the past few weeks with a hamstring strain. I love his matchup this week against the Falcons, who were carved up by Devery Henderson last week. Henderson plays a similar brand of ball to that of Moss, so don’t be surprised if Moss gives Atlanta the same challenges. He has a good chance of getting behind the Falcons secondary for at least one long score.
- Muhsin Muhammad had one of his most productive games (9 catches for 118 yards) earlier this season against the Vikings. Their defense is impossibly polarized--#1 in the league against the run and #31 against the pass—so look for the Bears gameplan to be heavily slanted toward throwing the football, providing plenty of opportunities for Muhammad to make plays. I’m projecting 8-9 receptions for 110 yards and a score.
- Pop quiz: Which NFL team has allowed the most passing TDs this season. Would you believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 21 (tied with Washington and Green Bay)? Don’t confuse these Bucs with the Bucs of the late 1990s. In the last four games alone, they’ve given up 12 passing scores, which includes four straight multiple passing-TD games. If you are really desperate for a WR this week, consider plugging in a Pittsburgh wideout. Hines Ward is out for the game so Santonio Holmes, Cedrick Wilson, or Nate Washington is a sneaky play. Of the three I like Holmes most for his big-play potential.
- Keep Eagles wideouts Donte Stallworth and Reggie Brown on the bench this week against the improving pass defense of the Carolina Panthers this week. Carolina has allowed just two TD passes to WRs in the last four weeks, recording 13 sacks over that period. I expect the pressure to get to QB Jeff Garcia, causing Stallworth and Brown to be nonfactors.
This Week’s Sleepers: Santonio Holmes, Randy Moss, Reche Caldwell, and Isaac Bruc
- Give Steelers TE Heath Miller a look this week against the Bucs. Like his wide receiver brethren, Miller could play a bigger role in the offense this week with All-Pro WR Hines Ward out. Tampa has done a reasonable job containing TEs this season, but they gave up two TE scores to Washington in Week 11.
- Jerramy Stevens caught a TD and a 2-point conversion on Monday night last week. But think twice before activating him against the Broncos, who have yet to cede a touchdown to a TE in 2006. In the last two weeks, Denver has held both Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates to fewer than 50 yards receiving. With apologies to Stevens, he ain’t in the league of those guys.
This Week’s Sleepers: Heath Miller and Bo Scaife
- If you’d love to squeeze a couple more points out of your kicker this week, give New England’s Stephen Gostkowski consideration this week against. Gostkowski should fare well against a Lions team that has given up seven field goals in the last three games. The Lions rank 29th in scoring defense giving up more than 24 points per game.
- Though the Rams offense has stalled after a torrent pace at the start of the season, Jeff Wilkins remains a viable fantasy kicker. He’s currently second in the NFL in scoring among kickers. Expect 8+ points from him this week against the Cardinals, who allow an average of two field goals per game.
This Week’s Sleepers: Stephen Gostkowski and Sebastian Janikowski
- Take advantage of the Kansas City Chiefs this week when they square off against the Browns. Cleveland was shut out last week and QB Charlie Frye took a big step backward, throwing four interceptions and getting sacked four times. It was the fourth game in a row that Frye has been sacked four or more times. It’s be surprising to see Cleveland put up more than 10 points against a KC defense that has hasn’t given up more than one touchdown in a game for the past three weeks.
- Considering the poor decisions Eli Manning has made in recent games, the Dallas Cowboys defense is a no-brainer in Week 13. Manning has been picked off twice in each of the last three contests. Meantime, the Cowboys have held their last three opponents to 14 points or fewer.
This Week’s Sleepers: Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders
This Week's 6-Pack: BridgePort IPA
Origin: Portland, OR, USA
Appearance: Bridgeport IPA came in a brown longneck with the words “Oregon’s Oldest Craft Brewery” in relief. According to the green and gold label, it is bottle conditioned, which means the carbonation occurs naturally rather than being infused into the beer. It poured to a healthy two-finger thick, fluffy head that had impressive staying power. The coloring was amber with a slight haze when held up to the light.
Smell: As with any good IPA, BridgePort’s aroma was dominated by hops that come across as a pine needle-like smell. There were also some citrus undertones lurking in the background. A very tempting aroma indeed.
Taste: I had anticipated this beer would be over-the-top in with hops. I was wrong. It had a nice pine/citrus bitterness, but it didn’t make me wince and pucker my lips. Instead it was bright, well-balanced, and had the perfect amount of bite. In addition to the hops, there was also a muted biscuit flavor that rounds everything out. Great flavor overall. Even the burps tasted good.
Mouth-feel: Perfect. The carbonation was ideal and the beer had a silky and slightly chewy feel to it. I would assume that its unique texture can be attributed to the fact that it is bottle conditioned.
Drinkability: With many pale ales, the hops make drinking more than one simply out of the question. Bridgeport is assertive but not overpowering, which makes it enjoyable bottle after bottle.
Last Call: Perfectly pleasing on all fronts. I love this beer. Apparently it’s becoming more widely available, so pick up a six-pack if you see it on the shelf of your local liquor store. Too bad for me it’s not distributed in the Midwest just yet. I can’t wait to get back to Oregon to enjoy it again. Five stars out of five.
Next Week’s Beer: Czechvar