Here's what KFFL's inside sources are saying this week.
- Expect Maurice Jones-Drew to receive the ball 20-plus times this week. If not, there is a good chance you'll hear more from him on the offense after next week's game. If he gets that many carries, he should surpass the century mark for yards.
- There wasn't any complex answer to why the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Turner beat up the San Francisco 49ers on the ground last week. They just outmuscled San Fran and pushed the linemen back into the LBs. Our insider thinks they'll have success this week, too, especially with the Chicago Bears down to their third-string middle linebacker.
- The Carolina Panthers will try to control the ground game this week. Our source feels a big game is coming; DeAngelo Williams was just a step away from breaking a big one on a few plays last week.
- Chris Johnson has been a statistical victim of the Tennessee Titans' frequent comeback efforts. They play from behind often, and the run blocking has been inconsistent. It's not all on his teammates, though: At times, Johnson hasn't hit holes aggressively. LenDale White has been left out in the cold even more since they can't control the clock.
The best bet for the New Orleans Saints backfield? Riding the hot hand on carries between Pierre Thomas (hamstring) and Mike Bell (knee), who returns after missing the last two games. Reggie Bush will still see his slash-and-dash plays, but it'll be limited.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a full backfield this week. Rashard Mendenhall will start, with Willie Parker (toe) gradually working back in and Mewelde Moore continuing his third-down role.
What do the New York Giants need to do to get Brandon Jacobs going? Blocking better would be one thing. Still, teams are stacking eight in the box every time he runs, and Jacobs is just running into guys. As the passing game opens, there should be more room for the 264-pound back.
Expect to see a healthy dose of Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw this week to keep the score low and the New Orleans Saints' explosive offense off the field.
DeAngelo: ready for brown sugar
- Expect Jamal Lewis to see the majority of work once again in Week 6 unless the Browns have to air it out for most of the game. A logical carry estimation: Lewis 20, Jerome Harrison eight.
Expected to return to action this week, the Denver Broncos' Correll Buckhalter (ankle) should see about 30 percent of the touches against the division-rival San Diego Chargers in a pairing with starter Knowshon Moreno. Expect a ton of Broncos running this week.
- FYI - the Detroit Lions' Kevin Smith doesn't have a carry of 20-plus yards this year.
- Despite the chaos that usually plagues the New England Patriots' backfield utilization, Sammy Morris remains the best bet for touches, given he was used 20 times last week. Of course, take that with caution.
- Larry Johnson will probably remain with the Kansas City Chiefs after the trade deadline.
The Arizona Cardinals' Chris Wells will be a big part of the offense sooner rather than later. Will that be this week? That's too hard to say ... but if it's not now, they have the New York Giants in Week 7 - tough to see them giving the rook his big shot on national TV.
The New York Jets should be able to pound the ball against a weakened Buffalo Bills' front seven. Weather could also play a factor in this game with frosty temperatures expected.
- If Calvin Johnson (knee) can't go for Week 6, expect Bryant Johnson to assume the target load for whatever fraction of Megatron's talent he can offer. Dennis Northcutt, Derrick Williams and John Standeford should see nominal reps, as well.
- To cater to Greg Jennings' request for the ball, the Green Bay Packers may run more slants and have him create after the grab.
Brandon Marshall is back, as evidenced by his first touchdown catch in Week 5; Kyle Orton timed the play perfectly, knowing Marshall would make the proper break on the pass. The Denver Broncos pair has worked hard on their rapport of late. Good sign for B-Marsh owners.
Jacobs needs ladder to scale D walls
- The latest New Orleans Saints pecking orders follow. For snaps: Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are the only constants. For looks: Colston, tight end Jeremy Shockey and running back Reggie Bush, with Henderson, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem fighting for scraps.
Speaking of Moore, expect him to see more chances this week. Quarterback Drew Brees should encounter some pressure, meaning he could seek out Moore, who works in the intermediate area and runs routes better than the other Saints targets.
- Randy Moss hasn't had his peak rhythm with quarterback Tom Brady, which has contributed to the New England Patriots not having a completion of 40-plus yards this year.
Though he's on his way to becoming the top dog when Hines Ward calls it quits, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Santonio Holmes sometimes loses focus. The organization isn't worried about his development, though, especially as long as Ward maintains his level of play.
Look for the Carolina Panthers to take a few deep shots for Steve Smith. He has a good history against them, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are giving up some big plays to wideouts.
- With that in mind, the Buccaneers will do what everyone else does - play bracket coverage on Smith. They'll put eight men in the box and leave Muhsin Muhammad to try to win his one-on-one matchups.
- The Cincinnati Bengals have been shading coverage to the No. 1 wideouts, allowing the No. 2 guys to take the underneath stuff. The Houston Texans' No. 1: Andre Johnson; their No. 2: Kevin Walter.
- At this point, unless the Philadelphia Eagles' Jeremy Maclin starts fumbling, he'll remain the starter. As for the other starting wideout in Philly, the Eagles should move DeSean Jackson around to get him away from Oakland Raiders shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 1 wideout Antonio Bryant (knee) is likely going to be battling his knee issues all year, at least until he gets some extended rest. Still, head coach Raheem Morris felt Bryant had his best day of practice Friday.
The New York Jets went to Braylon Edwards more than they were planning last week. Their hand was forced, though, with injuries to Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) and Brad Smith (quadriceps). Edwards also has experience in a similar offense from when Rob Chudzinski was the OC with the Cleveland Browns.
The St. Louis Rams' Donnie Avery looks more comfortable and could have his legs back under him. Two fumbles in his the first two games also could have had him pressing. St. Louis should take a couple of shots down the field this week against a poor Jacksonville Jaguars secondary.
Jennings: I'd like the ball, please
On the flip side of that game, the Jags' Torry Holt will be facing his old team and should be highly motivated. He'll likely be going against cornerback Ron Bartell, who is still bothered by his thigh bruise and needed a painkiller shot before last week's game. Mike Sims-Walker should be back for Jacksonville, too.
- Don't bank on rumors sending the Buffalo Bills' Terrell Owens to Chicago.
- Must be nice to line up alongside Andre Johnson. The Houston Texans' Kevin Walter could have another big game against his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, in Week 6. He went 5-70-2 against them last year.
- Chicago Bears wideout pecking order: Devin Hester, Earl Bennett 2-A, Johnny Knox 2-B. Count on them using Knox more.
- Though these three are often interchangeable, the Tennessee Titans' wideout pecking order remains Justin Gage, Nate Washington and Kenny Britt.
- Josh Cribbs will probably remain a Cleveland Brown when the trade deadline passes. He wants an extension, but he isn't paid much and is controlled for another three years after '09.
- Sammie Stroughter is climbing in Tampa Bay. He probably has the most chemistry with quarterback Josh Johnson from their time on the scout team and their work together during OTAs and training camp. Expect him to continue to see five or six passes thrown his way.
- This might not be Michael Clayton's final year in Tampa, either. Sure, he has the dropsies and hasn't done much, if anything, since his superb rookie season (2004). Still, it has only been a couple of bad games, and it's not like he is the only one making mistakes.
The Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez could have a big game working underneath and finding the soft spots in the Chicago Bears' zone.
- Since Greg Olsen already leads Chicago Bears' receiving targets in looks, it's probably impossible that they can try to go to him more often. They already use him extensively in the red zone and near the goal line. Maybe he just isn't meeting the hype; maybe he's just a talented option that isn't elite.
Don't expect the Washington Redskins' Chris Cooley to get downfield much. The 'Skins will need to keep him close to the line to help in protection; even when they don't, they'll need to get the ball out quickly because of injuries along their offensive line.
Holt has a little extra incentive
- As great a fantasy matchup as the Baltimore Ravens' Todd Heap has against the Minnesota Vikings this week, beware. They may use more max protect formations for their road game, during which they'll line up against Minny defensive end Jared Allen.
- It didn't show last week, but the addition of wideout Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets stable should help Dustin Keller. Edwards can draw double teams to the outside, which leaves room for Keller to work in the middle of the field.
- We may see more Brandon Pettigrew in the Detroit Lions' Week 6 plans if wideout Calvin Johnson can't suit up.
- Rod Marinelli has made improvements to the Chicago Bears' D-line, which just added defensive end Gaines Adams. Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye has resurged.
- The Minnesota Vikings remain vulnerable in the middle of the field in their Tampa 2 scheme. Tight ends have been obliterating them with dumpoff catches.
- The Baltimore Ravens overly pursued Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson last week and broke their streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. They forgot their gap responsibilities, and Benson found creases. Baltimore claims they've addressed this problem in practice this week. The Ravens appear motivated to prove they can overcome their mistakes, just in time to face the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson.
- The Ravens' secondary, however, remains a work in progress, especially against taller receivers. This should remain a chronic problem. By the way, the Vikes' Sidney Rice is 6-foot-4....
Individual defensive players
Around the league
Surprising that Baltimore Ravens OC Cam Cameron went away from the two hottest offensive hands - wideout Derrick Mason and tailback Willis McGahee - last week. Word is Cameron wants to justify the Ravens taking quarterback Joe Flacco in the first round by becoming more balanced.
Braylon's arrival should help Keller
- Speaking of the Ravens, center Matt Birk squares off against his old mates, Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Right guard Chris Chester will need to be more physical to help contain the big guys.
- More Ravens news: The hot trade rumor going around is acquiring Kansas City Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe for a second-round pick. Our source chuckled, saying that isn't likely.
- Rookie tackle Sebastian Vollmer will be filling in for New England Patriots tackle Matt Light (knee), who is expected to sit out Week 6. Head coach Bill Belichick has praised Vollmer for his size and long arms, but it's still a bit disconcerting for owners of Pats skills players.
- Rob Ryan's alterations to the Cleveland Browns D have shone through in the last few weeks. They have been blitzing less often than earlier in the season, and Cleveland employs a deep rotation in the secondary, which includes wideout Mike Furrey, who has taken some snaps in his original position at free safety. An IDP-league target? Let's not go that far....
- The Houston Texans will rotate Chris L. White (starter) with Antoine Caldwell at right guard. They also had a rotation last year, but this pairing is a downgrade from Mike Brisiel (foot), who's out for the year. The pass protection will be key - they kept quarterback Matt Schaub from being sacked in 50 attempts last week.
- Don't plan on seeing the Kansas City Chiefs making more frequent use of the no-huddle. Their O-line probably can't sustain the pace. They'll probably still use it in short bursts, though, like they did against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5.
- If the Cincinnati Bengals can get a right tackle cheap before the trade deadline, they may consider it, but don't expect any movement from the 4-1 club.
- The loss of Washington Redskins offensive tackle Chris Samuels (neck) is huge for their offense - he was their best player. His loss limits them; it'll be a lot of three-step drops, short passes, runs. They'll be a lot of max protect on Sunday.
- If Redskins head coach Jim Zorn doesn't survive the season, two guys could replace him: defensive coordinator Greg Blache or defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. Offensive consultant Sherman Lewis could be brought in as the play caller if Zorn heads out.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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