Fantasy Football Insider - Week 9

by Ryan R. Bonini on November 7, 2009 @ 20:15:23 PDT


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


  • Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan has tossed nine picks on the season, with seven of them coming in the last three weeks. However, it doesn't appear the team is doing anything specific to help him break out of his funk. The primary reason might be rushed passes, as defenses are getting a lot of pressure on the second-year slinger. It could be a problem again this week with offensive left tackle Sam Baker (ankle) at less than 100 percent.
  • Vince Young had strong game management, made good decisions and was efficient when throwing the football last weekend while returning to the Tennessee Titans' starting lineup. They didn't ask him to do too much, but he responded well. There is a theory floating that having him on the field opens more running lanes for the backs Chris Johnson owners hope it's more than a theory!
  • With the Baltimore Ravens giving up a lot of deep plays recently, one source notes Carson Palmer should open it up more for the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for rookie Josh Freeman to improve his accuracy. The young gun-slinger is going to try to be careful with the football now that he's a starter, but sources expect defenses to blitz and pressure him often. He's checked down a little bit previously, but this is going to be a work-in-progress.
  • The Miami Dolphins have been tweaking the mechanics of rookie Pat White since this summer, trying to improve the height of his release. The problem is it has destroyed his accuracy, which is what the team loved about him coming out of college.

Running backs

  • Willis McGahee, RB, BAL
    Where did you go, Willis?
    Where has Willis McGahee gone? Well, Ray Rice fits the Baltimore Ravens' pass-first mentality better than McGahee, who will still see a few series per game. The team likes Rice's pass-receiving skills more, plus they haven't been in the red zone much lately - and that's where McGahee shined earlier in the year.
  • Three-headed attacks are the last thing fantasy footballers want to deal with. Look for Steve Slaton to start for the Houston Texans, but we're hearing Ryan Moats will see majority of the carries. Slaton will work as the third-down back, while Chris Brown will be sprinkled in for short-yardage/goal line work. Head coach Gary Kubiak is loyal to his vets, and Slaton was great in Indianapolis last year (156 yards, one touchdown). However, if he coughs up the football again, it's all on Kubiak, and Slaton will be pulled again.
  • As for Slaton and his fumbling, the team has worked with him on it. He has gone through drills, but defenses are going after the ball now. Slaton is also psyching himself out.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (feet) isn't 100 percent and the Buccaneers' run "D" is horrible. Don't be shocked to see an even heavier dose of Ryan Grant and the running game this weekend.
  • At this point, it has become clear the San Diego Chargers are a pass-first team. Head coach Norv Turner really wanted to be a balanced offense entering the year, but LaDainian Tomlinson's early-season injury put them back in the pass-first mode. After failing to truly ignite the running game against the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, chances of it catching fire remain remote as they enter a tough run on their schedule.
  • The San Francisco 49ers may be forced to keep Frank Gore in to block more often now with the loss of developing offensive tackle Joe Staley (knee). Tackle Barry Sims will fill in, but the 49ers may need to give him some help. As a result, Gore's receptions could take a hit.
  • Will we see Larry Johnson in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform again? Nobody really knows right now. A lot depends on how the team looks without him this week.
  • Our Kansas City insider feels Kolby Smith (knee) could lead the Chiefs' backs in touches, eventually. However, it's hard to say because he hasn't played a game this year and it could be a few weeks before he is back to full speed.
  • A week after the Arizona Cardinals allowed 247 yards rushing and two touchdowns to the Carolina Panthers backs, one Chicago insider notes a healthy dose of Matt Forte early may be in the plans for the Chicago Bears.
  • One Pittsburgh source whispers he wouldn't be surprised to see the Denver Broncos try to run Knowshon Moreno at the Pittsburgh Steelers early to see how their banged-up front seven responds. The rookie is averaging 57 rushing yards and 3.5 yards-per-carry over the last month.
  • No rusher since Ricky Williams (2002-03) has run for 100 yards against the Ravens in back-to-back games. The Cincinnati Bengals' Cedric Benson totaled 120 rushing yards on 25 carries in their Week 5 encounter.
  • We're hearing it's only a matter of time before Beanie Wells breaks off a huge game for the Arizona Cardinals. However the team needs to be in a close game where they can rely on their running game. The Cardinals want to run him; they just haven't found the right situation.
  • The Carolina Panthers running game could struggle, as they'll be without bruising fullback Brad Hoover (ankle). The team is remaining tight-lipped about who will fill the void. Either way, look for it to have a negative effect on DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
  • Now that Edgerrin James is out of Seattle, look for Louis Rankin to see the token touches Edge normally would. Rankin is a lanky, fast back out of the University of Washington, but the word is he dances too much.
  • Edge, by the way, thinks he can play a few more years. Our sources aren't sold.
  • Even with the return of rookie Donald Brown (shoulder), look for Joseph Addai to remain the primary ball carrier for the Indianapolis Colts. Brown could see more work later in the year, though. It could be shades of 2006 when the Colts used the vet (Dominic Rhdoes) early and rode the rook (Addai) late in the season.
  • Even though Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner piled up 151 rushing yards last week, the Dirty Birds still want to have a second back contribute. With Jerious Norwood (hip) still on the pine, that leaves Jason Snelling (hamstring) in a good spot. Look for the team to work him in, but they will err on the side of caution due to his mending hamstring.
  • To help protect their young quarterback, look for the Buccaneers to focus on the running of Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward more in the coming weeks. The two should almost see an even split, which hurts their fantasy potential. Plus, falling behind early can quickly end desires to run. One source notes the Bucs have ignored Ward for too long and need to start using him more.
  • Don't get too excited about the 13 carries LenDale White had last week. The Tennessee Titans used White more due to a lead, which isn't a problem they've had a lot of this year.
  • We might start seeing more of Maurice Morris in the Detroit Lions' backfield. Starter Kevin Smith (shoulder) has had an injury problem and simply is not explosive. Our source notes it probably won't be a 50-50 split, though.
  • We're hearing the healthier Marion Barber III is, the more Tashard Choice will be cemented into the third-down role back for the Dallas Cowboys. MB3, by the way, averages just 3.4 yards-per-carry against the Eagles, and he has scored four touchdowns in seven games against them.

Wide receivers

  • Oft-injured Anquan Boldin (ankle) will be a game-time decision for the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, but he went through practice on a limited basis Friday, Nov. 6. If he wasn't going to play, the Cardinals would have used that valuable workout to give backups reps. Boldin still has a slight limp but looked fairly solid during practice, per a source. The bottom line: Even less than 100 percent, the Cardinals like what he brings to the table - more so than any backup option. Can he make it through an entire game?
  • Our Houston source said Kevin Walter should really start to turn it on now that Owen Daniels (ACL) is out for the year. Walter's numbers are down, but it was mostly because of an early year injury and Daniels emerging.
    Kevin Walter, WR, HOU
    Make way for Walter
  • Devin Hester (ankle) is making strides as the Chicago Bears No. 1 receiver, but one source points out his 8-101-1 stat line against the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago is misleading. Da Bears were down by a huge margin and he was catching a ton of balls underneath. Nonetheless, quarterback Jay Cutler is building a stronger rapport with this cornerback/returner-turned-wideout.
  • Don't look for a great deal of Ted Ginn Jr., of the Miami Dolphins, in the offensive game plan. They'll sprinkle him in with around five designed plays. The Dolphins have resigned themselves to the fact he's a stretch-the-field receiver and probably never will be a featured weapon.
  • Ravens' Derrick Mason wasn't happy being shut out by the Cincinnati Bengals in their last meeting. He watches the stats and has a lot of pride. The Bengals plan to give the same bracket coverage on Mason again this week. Something has to give here....
  • Other than a few weeks of training camp, we're still being told Roy Williams is not on the same page with his quarterback, Tony Romo. Will the two Dallas Cowboys ever get on the same page? Romo is on the same page with all of the other receivers, but Williams runs sloppy routes and isn't making correct reads. Romo simply may not have the trust in letting the ball fly to Williams.
  • With Lance Moore (ankle) out for the New Orleans Saints, Devery Henderson should be helped the most. He's shedding the consistency and dropsies problems; Henderson will be more involved in intermediate routes. He isn't a one-trick-pony anymore!
  • Reserves Sammie Stroughter and Brian Clark may have the best chemistry with Freeman, as they've been working with him more on the second-team offense.
  • The New England Patriots really like rookie Brandon Tate, but he's still behind Sam Aiken in the pecking order. Tate has only played in one game and hasn't had a lot of time practicing with the team.
  • Don't expect to see Anthony Gonzalez (knee) on the field for the Indianapolis Colts any time soon. One insider feels he won't return at all this year. It's safe to purge him from your fantasy rosters.
  • We may see Chris Chambers on the field for the Chiefs this weekend, but his role has yet to be determined. It may have been wishful thinking on the Chiefs' part when they claimed him off waivers from the Chargers.
  • It remains unclear when Kevin Curtis (knee) will return to the field for the Philadelphia Eagles. With DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin playing well, there won't be a huge role for him when he does return....

Tight ends

  • Jeremy Shockey has gained the full confidence of quarterback Drew Brees. He has seemingly improved as a pass catcher and has really grown in the New Orleans Saints' offense.
  • Fred Davis spent his Bye week working on fundamentals, as he's now the starting tight end for the Washington Redskins. He focused on route-running and blocking techniques, with the latter being more important since he's woeful in pass protection. The team needs to get the ball out quickly, so he could see a lot of initial looks.
  • Also out of Washington, Chris Cooley (ankle) said he wants to come back and play this year. The team will probably wait and make a decision once he receives medical clearance, unless they need his roster spot before then.
  • Owen Daniels (ACL) is gone for the year, James Casey (knee) is on the shelf for a few weeks and Joel Dreessen is now Johnny on the spot. He has the trust of the staff and has enough talent to fill the void. However, there is no denying the loss of Owens is HUGE. The Texans will run with more multi-receiver sets and less double-tight end sets.
  • Oh, keep an eye out for Casey when he returns in a few weeks. One source noted he has the best hands on the team but hasn't been given a chance to show them off yet. Look for some passing downs work when he comes back.
  • John Carlson, TE, SEA
    O-line holding him back
    We weren't high on John Carlson entering the year, and the erratic second-year tight end has been tough to put a finger on. Our Seattle source tells us Carlson isn't getting into routes as much as he should be, as he's been blocking due to a poor O-line.
  • Have you heard about that elite linebacker-slash-tight end Spencer Havner, of the Packers? He has three touchdowns, which is a bit shocking. With Jermichael Finley (knee) out again, one Green Bay source wouldn't be surprised to see Havner, who seems to have the trust of Rodgers, find the end zone again.

Defensive teams

  • Word has it the Washington Redskins plan to move Albert Haynesworth around on the defensive line to create matchup problems this weekend. We could see him aimed at Atlanta's banged up left tackle Sam Baker (ankle).
  • Houston defensive end Mario Williams only has three sacks on the year. He is dealing with a bum shoulder, but it isn't bad enough for surgery yet. He really needs some time off, and their Bye next week should help. He has fewer sacks midway than at any other point in his career.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark may have received medical clearance to play in Denver this week, but it appears the team will hold him out due to his sickle cell trait. That would open the door for Tyrone Carter at free safety. Carter is older and not as effective as the heavy-hitting Clark.
  • Speaking of the Steelers, they also have other injury problems - defensive ends Aaron Smith (shoulder - Injured Reserve) and Travis Kirschke (calf) and linebacker Lawrence Timmons (ankle) - within their front seven, which could pose problems getting to Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton.

Around the league

  • While Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner is definitely on the hot seat due to a sputtering and inconsistent offense, one source notes it would be a huge surprise to see him ousted during the season.
  • The Ravens will continue to sporadically use the no-huddle offense. They like to keep teams off-balance and force quick personnel decision-making. However, look for it to be used more at home where the crowd noise works in their favor.
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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,, 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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