Here's what KFFL's inside sources are saying this week.
- Our Pittsburgh Steelers source thinks Ben Roethlisberger (foot) will give it a go this week. Does that mean you should play him? Expect a heavy ground game and Pittsburgh to try to keep Big Ben in the pocket. Problem is, he's much better on the move and might not be as comfortable or effective standing still. Also, the O-line is dinged and vulnerable.
- The Indianapolis Colts' offensive line has been atrocious. They might use tight end Brody Eldridge to block more and keep Peyton Manning from quitting football. They might have reached the point where they'll sacrifice a receiving option to give Manning time for plays to develop.
- The Detroit Lions' Drew Stanton has a stronger downfield arm and is more mobile than Shaun Hill (finger), but Stanton is rawer and less accurate. Though Stanton is more apt to take shots downfield, don't write off the running backs' presence in the passing game.
- Did Jay Cutler impress you with his four-TD pass, zero-INT outing against the Philadelphia Eagles? Chicago Bears OC Mike Martz finally relented and started to move Cutler outside the pocket more, with rollouts, bootlegs, etc. That's where Cutler is more comfortable, where he can improvise.
- Let's just say that the Jacksonville Jaguars are aware that one good hit on Kerry Collins' leg could put him back on the sideline.
- A positive report on Toby Gerhart's first extended NFL action. He isn't exactly Adrian Peterson (ankle), but the Stanford rook can move piles. Gerhart would step in again if Peterson, a game-time decision, can't go in Week 13.
Don't be so quick to jump on Darren McFadden for his poor Week 12 output. The Oakland Raiders hardly had possession against a stout run defense, and they ran him outside too much. Their Week 11 matchup wasn't a promising run matchup, either. Don't fret: Run DMC has shown top-notch inside toting this year.
Dissing Run DMC is tricky
- The New York Giants will continue their 50-50 touch split between starter Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
- Expect Tashard Choice to get snaps that would normally go to Marion Barber III (calf) - goal line and short-yardage work, with other utilizations depending on the flow of the game. Felix Jones will still carry the load for the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, Choice would have to wow interim head coach Jason Garrett to leapfrog Barber when he gets back.
- The New England Patriots didn't put Fred Taylor in game action on Thanksgiving because the flow of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead was working so well. This backfield could change at any moment, especially if Taylor happens to wow everyone, but don't expect Taylor to receive a fair shot as long as Law Firm and Woodhead are rolling.
- Speaking of the Pats, Shonn Greene (New York Jets) might have success against them, similar to how fellow power back Peyton Hillis (Cleveland Browns) recently bowled over New England.
- The San Diego Chargers' Mike Tolbert (hand) will be the majority carrier for Week 13 as long as his hand holds up. Ryan Mathews (ankle) won't see many carries immediately. They still want to work him into pressure situations eventually, and facing a physical Oakland D won't entice them to ease him back in.
- The cold weather projected for this weekend's Cincinnati Bengals-New Orleans Saints game, as of Friday, calls for a heavy dose of Cedric Benson for Cincy.
- Expect Keiland Williams to start for the Washington Redskins. James Davis will probably be the No. 2. He looked rusty in Week 12 but wasn't helped by Washington's run blocking. Ryan Torain (hamstring) is questionable and will probably be limited if he goes.
- Donald Brown should get about 60 percent of the workload for the Indianapolis Colts, with Mike Hart taking 40. They might run some more screen passes to get the running backs in open space, in lieu of actually carrying the rock. It worked in recent weeks.
- Even with Jahvid Best (toe) likely to re-enter the Detroit Lions' backfield fray, Maurice Morris remains the No. 1 back. Best will have to earn touches back.
- The Atlanta Falcons' offensive line has made big strides since last year in its ability to open holes against 3-4 defenses. That has something to do with Michael Turner's success this year.
This week, Jason Snelling (hamstring) and Antone Smith (hamstring) seem unlikely to play, so the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could see a heavier dose (30 carries?) of Turner. Yum.
- C.J. Spiller (hamstring) is back on Sunday, but expect the Buffalo Bills to stick with Fred Jackson for the rest of the season. Spiller might see around 15 touches in a game at some point, but F-Jax will keep leading the way.
- Jonathan Stewart may start this week, even if it's just because Mike Goodson missed some practice for the birth of his first kid. Expect the Carolina Panthers to split carries between them pretty evenly. Goodson will still be a receiving threat and is still an enticing PPR play.
- DeAngelo Williams, like all Carolina's backs, is fond of RBs coach Jim Skipper. But if Skipper splits - he'll likely follow John Fox - it's not a deal-breaker. Williams will probably follow the cash. Early rumor on who might be dangling those dollars: the New Orleans Saints.
- Chester Taylor hasn't been playing well enough to remain the Chicago Bears' exclusive goal line back. That's good news for Matt Forte owners.
- The Green Bay Packers planned to give Dimitri Nance a nice workload in Week 12, but the concussion struck. He's probably in line for at least a third of the RB work, with Brandon Jackson leading the way. There's a growing sense that Nance is a bit better than Jackson.
- James Starks thinks there's a good chance that he'll be active this week because he worked on special teams for the first time since his activation from the PUP list. But how much will he play, when he's finally active?
Coaches (like Green Bay's) tend to play it safe and prefer well-versed players, so they're reluctant to yield to front-office and scouting-department folk who push for experimentation with new blood. Insider's choice: the safe bet - that Starks won't have an impact. Note: It wouldn't come as a shock if he did, given how bad their running game has been.
- Now that Rashad Jennings is 100 percent again, the Jacksonville Jaguars will continue to use him to spell Maurice Jones-Drew regularly. Jennings isn't quite ready to be a featured back, but he has potential to be one.
- It's hard to say whom Reggie Bush's return to an active role affects most. It used to be pretty clear that it was wideout Lance Moore, but that's not so much the case anymore. And near the goal line, the tight ends and other backs may lose out a tad. Chris Ivory should lead the New Orleans Saints' backs in touches this week, regardless. They'll continue to ease Bush in, assuming that the weather isn't cooperative this weekend.
- Don't look for the San Francisco 49ers to let Brian Westbrook tote it more than 20 times in a game again. Look for about a 60-40 split of the touches between he and Anthony Dixon. Dixon will probably get more of the goal line and short-yardage work, with Westy in on passing downs.
Side note: San Fran has been on Dixon to cut down on the dancing and instead just hit the hole. One day, he could be a lead back, but he won't be anything special.
- The Niners expect Frank Gore to recover completely, and no one they have is an obvious replacement. Gore will be back in 2011, as long as there's a season.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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