Fantasy Football Insider - Week 9

by Ryan R. Bonini on November 6, 2010 @ 20:51:43 PDT

 


Here's what KFFL's inside sources are saying this week.

Quarterbacks

  • Despite rumors Drew Brees has significant knee problems, he is not on the New Orleans Saints' Week 9 injury report. Our Saints source says Brees isn't sporting a brace - not even a sleeve - this week. It wouldn't, however, be a surprise if Brees needs to have his knee cleaned up after the year.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers have relied a bit more on the running game since Ben Roethlisberger returned. They are experiencing more success out of the running game this year in terms of quality versus quantity, too, so it has helped with easing Big Ben back into the lineup.
  • Jay Cutler appears to have offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system down, but a problem that continues is Cutler still relies too much on his arm strength and thinks he can get away with throws he simply shouldn't make. He may still have some trust issues with other members of the Chicago Bears, including his receivers and offensive linemen.
  • Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
    Still not quite there yet
    The Detroit Lions would like to see Matthew Stafford hang in the pocket a bit longer and take some more hits before they'll be completely comfortable with his health. The team did a lot of things to protect him a week ago, and he had to shake off some early rust.
  • Charlie Whitehurst starts at quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks this weekend. If he is somehow able to post big numbers against the New York Giants and pull out a victory, he could give the team a longer leash with Matt Hasselbeck's return from a concussion. Seattle won't have to dial back the playbook, and don't be surprised to see the stronger-armed Whitehurst test some deep passes. His favorite option, Deon Butler, is also the fastest of the Seattle wideouts. Now the Seattle offensive line, even in max protect, will have to figure out a way to keep the Giants' D-line from running down their new quarterback Sunday.
  • Even if the Dallas Cowboys keep losing, Jon Kitna will remain the team's starting quarterback into December. There is still speculation they could shut down Tony Romo (shoulder) for the year, but owner/general manager Jerry Jones has made comments about finishing the year strong.
  • The Arizona Cardinals' coaching staff insists they won't have a quick hook for quarterback Derek Anderson, but if he turns the ball over early we could see another Max Hall appearance. Hall would also likely make a cameo if the game gets out of hand, so he could build more experience.
  • While Ryan Fitzpatrick has done well, all things considered, in his starts, look for the Buffalo Bills to find their franchise quarterback in next year's NFL draft. Fitzpatrick is viewed more as an ideal No. 2 option.
  • The play of Colt McCoy this week could dictate the direction of the Cleveland Browns' quarterbacks for the rest of the year. Solid play and a win could open the door for him starting the rest of the way.

Running backs

  • Don't read too much into the Bears talking about using running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor in the backfield at the same time. They've run with that about a dozen times already this year, but the recent talk is more to get people off of Martz's back. The simple reality is while the team may be committed to the running game some weeks, it won't last long because that's not Martz's style. Leopards don't change their spots.
  • Speaking of committing to the run, the Bears will probably do just that this week against the Buffalo Bills, who have been atrocious against the run this year.
  • Jahvid Best doesn't just have a bum toe to deal with; the Lions aren't that committed to the run, and the rook is still learning his way. Once the team is comfortable with Stafford's health, look for Best to see the lion's share of the carries.
  • Don't look for Miami Dolphins running backs Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams to succeed against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. Our Miami insider cautions Ricky should have the better showing of the two, but it won't be anything to write home about. The interior of the Dolphins' line isn't playing well, and they aren't opening enough holes or blocking well enough to spring backs to the second level of defenses.
  • Tashard Choice should start chipping away more and more at the playing time of Marion Barber III for the Cowboys, but don't expect him to become the feature back. Choice's ceiling might be around 12 carries a game based off the touch split. Felix Jones will continue to see the majority of touches.
  • Just because LeGarrette Blount exploded last week doesn't mean it's time to completely write off Cadillac Williams, our Tampa Bay Buccaneers source notes. Caddy may still start and see 50-50 work on touches, as the team doesn't want to tip their hand with Blount in the backfield, and Williams is still a solid receiver.
  • With no timetable in place on a potential return to the field by Pierre Thomas (ankle), it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see the Saints put him on Injured Reserve in the coming weeks if he doesn't turn the corner in his recovery. One New Orleans insider said it would be a major shock if Thomas, a pending free agent, returns to the team next year. He seems to have fallen out of favor with the team, and the recent report that he was almost traded before the deadline is the proof in the pudding.
  • Speaking of Saints runners, the practice reps for Julius Jones has increased. He sees himself being more involved, but look for his touches to continue to be less than those of Chris Ivory. Our Saints source made it clear: If you're relying on New Orleans running backs in fantasy football leagues, your team is in trouble.
  • Look for Reggie Bush (ankle) to return to action in Week 11 following the team's bye. He will likely see a lot of work on screen plays when he returns, as the team looks to use them as an extension of their limited running game.
  • Darren Sproles has seen an uptick in work recently. Part of that you can thank all of the injuries at receiver. The other part is the Chargers may have realized they were underutilizing their highly paid scatback. With nobody to stretch the field, Sproles offers the best bang for the buck right now because he can turn short receptions into big gains.
  • For those waiting on the Packers to make a decision on rookie James Starks, our Green Bay source feels he may just end up going on Injured Reserve and never make it off the PUP. If you've stashed him, be ready to punt.
  • Don't be shocked to see Seattle backs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett take on a bigger role this week. With Whitehurst a raw starter, the Seahawks are going to want to take some pressure off of him to avert the disaster that would be third-string quarterback Zac Robinson being forced under center.
  • Don't read too much into LaRod Stephens-Howling seeing more work than Tim Hightower last week. Hightower was being punished for recent fumbles and remains a favorite of the Arizona coaches.
  • Now that the Buffalo Bills' offense is starting to find a groove, rookie C.J. Spiller might see his role increase moving forward.
  • Jonathan Stewart should see the lion's share of carries for the Carolina Panthers again this week. Will it matter? He doesn't have the same burst and the offensive line has been miserable. Their lack of a passing game hasn't helped his cause, either.
  • The Minnesota Vikings have been trying to define a role for rookie Toby Gerhart and have been trying to make him a third-down back. Adrian Peterson has done OK in that role this year; while improving as a pass protector, AD isn't anything special in that role.

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Wide receivers

  • We might see Sidney Rice on the field for the Vikings as early as this weekend. Our Minnesota insider says Rice could be a decoy during Week 9 but feels he could return as a starter as early as Week 10.
  • Patrick Crayton is gaining the confidence and trust of quarterback Philip Rivers, as the wideout is proving to be a sure-handed, dependable option. Then again, considering all of Rivers' typical options are on the training table, he may not have any choice but to buy into Crayton.
  • Sticking with San Diego receivers, Vincent Jackson is turning heads in practice. He played the role of Houston receiver Andre Johnson during practice this week, and all signs point toward VJax hitting the ground running when he is eligible to return to the field. Expect him to return to his typical starting position at that time. Looking ahead, if he plays well the Chargers may end up using their franchise tag - depending, of course, on what happens with the CBA - on him in the future. That move, however, would only irk the V-Jax camp, which already has zero love for general manager A.J. Smith, even more.
  • Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots
    Ready for a breakout week?
    Wes Welker could finally have a nice showing fantasy footballers have been waiting for. He's good in space, which is the type of receiver the Browns struggle against.
  • The Miami brass seems to feel they can find receivers, and currently have their sights set on Roberto Wallace. He reminds them a bit of Dallas receiver Miles Austin, and is the one true deep threat they have on roster. He's stealing away some reps from Brian Hartline, but right now he is mostly a one-trick pony to keep defenses honest.
  • The Vikings simply didn't do their due diligence on Randy Moss before trading for him. They should have known going in that head coach Brad Childress couldn't handle him. When he couldn't handle Moss, he made a knee-jerk reaction by cutting ties with him. The players loved Moss, so they're irritated over the situation. With Moss out of the picture, the openings he created on the field for Percy Harvin and Peterson are now gone.
  • Speaking of the Miami receivers, it appears the team didn't want to take a chance on Moss for fear of what he could have done to their young, impressionable locker room. Plus, it isn't believed that Miami views themselves as a "Randy Moss-away" player from the Super Bowl.
  • Throw the Kansas City Chiefs into the same not-worth-the-distraction bucket regarding Moss. Could they use him? Sure. Is it worth the baggage? Nope.
  • If the fantasy football value of T.J. Houshmandzadeh wasn't low enough, Donte' Stallworth may start splitting time with him as the Baltimore Ravens' No. 3 receiver.

Tight ends

  • Veteran Tony Gonzalez's numbers aren't slowing down due to age, it has been more a result of defenses taking the Atlanta Falcons' star out of games - this has been very evident within the red zone. That has helped Roddy White's production, but Gonzo's may not step up again until defenses aim most of their attention toward White.
  • Due to poor offensive line play, the Cowboys may have to keep Jason Witten in more often to block this weekend. Last year, the Packers had success by putting cornerback Charles Woodson on Witten when he ran routes. Look for a quiet day from Witten.
  • With Moss out of Minnesota, Visanthe Shiancoe might start seeing weekly double teams once again. Considering he has just nine catches in the last month, that's not encouraging.
  • Don't be too worried that Steelers tight end Heath Miller hasn't been a factor since Big Ben returned. Our Pittsburgh insider feels it's just a coincidence and that Miller will get his looks in due time.

Place kickers

  • Look for Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding (groin) to return after the team's Week 10 bye. In the mean time, Kris Brown gets a shot against his former team, the Texans, this weekend and is amped up for the game. Let's hope the extra amps mean the ball will sail between the uprights, not to the left or right....

Team defenses

  • The Pittsburgh defense sans defensive end Aaron Smith wasn't really tested last week by the Saints, who abandoned the run early. However, the Steelers' front could be in trouble against opponents that like to smash the ball up the belly of the line. Without Smith, this D is vulnerable to physical, inside runners.
  • Speaking of the Steelers, outside 'backer James Harrison was hit with another $25,000 fine last weekend for a hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He has paid out $100k in recent weeks for hits, so don't be surprised to see Harrison start easing up on hits he always would have laid out a bit to lessen the hits his wallet is taking.
  • Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews may give the Cowboys fits all night Sunday. Tackle Marc Colombo (back), who isn't 100 percent, is going to have his work cut out for him. Our Dallas insider said Matthews has the ability to kill anything the Cowboys want to do offensively this week.
  • With the return of safety Darren Sharper and their corners returning to full speed, New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams should be able to dial up the defensive plays he wants to more often. The Saints have been solid defensively this year despite a bunch of injuries. With the injury problems falling to the wayside, the "D" should be able to begin creating more turnovers like they did a year ago.

Around the league

  • The Bills sound like they can beat the Bears. If that happens, expect all hell to break loose for Chicago. While it's unlikely heads would roll midseason, there could be plenty that are chopped off following the year.
  • Speaking of hell breaking loose, if it continues for the Cowboys, look for the entire coaching staff to be purged after the year. That includes offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who was previously believed to be their future head honcho.
  • It is looking like John Fox won't return to the Panthers next year. He doesn't see eye to eye with owner Jerry Richardson, and the team isn't winning games.
  • Brad Childress might have put the final nail in his coffin with the whole Moss debacle. A Minnesota source said he doesn't know how Childress can survive the situation, as Moss is incredibly popular in the area and the coach isn't. There's a chance he could get canned during the season. That firing could come sooner than many believe if they lose this weekend.
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About Ryan R. Bonini

Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year by the FSWA, received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.

His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA, FSWA and FSTA.

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