Fantasy Football Insider - Week 13

by Tim Heaney and Nicholas Minnix on December 5, 2009 @ 10:47:37 PDT


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


  • The Arizona Cardinals' Kurt Warner (concussion) wants to play and says he's in better shape this week than he was last week. But he's not completely out of the woods. Our insider wonders: Will Warner sit again just to set the example because he has become so vocal about concussions?
  • The rebirth of Alex D. Smith has come from the San Francisco 49ers' increased use of the spread offense. They may start using it more on early downs, and it has already helped decrease Smith's sack totals.
  • Don't expect the New York Giants to even consider shutting down Eli Manning (foot) until they're mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
  • Joe Flacco (ankle) has been having trouble throwing deep since his dinged right ankle is his push-off base. However, the Baltimore Ravens sophomore seems to be fine otherwise in playing through it.
  • Owners of Carson Palmer have been disappointed in his production this year. The Cincinnati Bengals' running game has taken some pressure off their slinger. The Bengals have gone 27 games without a 300-yard passing output; that includes 15 games for Palmer, tracing back to his injury-plagued 2008 season.
  • Jake Delhomme (finger) is expected to miss a few weeks for the Carolina Panthers. They'll probably stick with Matt Moore, if he performs well, even when Delhomme is able to go. Moore probably will still throw to wideout Steve Smith first. It'll be interesting to see how they handle Delhomme, who's guaranteed $20 million, after the season, especially if they cast off head coach John Fox.
  • With all the Philadelphia Eagles' injuries, and a visit to Atlanta on the slate, might we see more ... Michael Vick? It's quite possible. Unfortunately, the Iggles appear to have no clue about how to use him. He sits on the sideline for a half hour; then he comes in to run a complex play that involves a rollout with players he rarely works with.

Running backs

  • Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
    AD gets an F in ball security
    Adrian Peterson's fumbling issues may not be dismissed so easily this time. Minnesota Vikings running backs coach Eric Bieniemy hinted at giving Chester Taylor increased work if Peterson can't protect the pigskin. They need him to start using a second hand to cradle the football. Obviously, they've lived this long with the butterfingers of one of the best tailbacks in the league, so we probably won't see an extreme Steve Slaton-esque scenario.
  • The St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson (back) will probably be a game-time decision again this week. He was hurting a bit last week but still saw a full workload. He looked stiff and wasn't using too many jump cuts early on, but he warmed up as the game went deeper. Keep an eye toward our Hot off the Wire feed for down-to-the-wire Jackson updates, but a cold Chicago forecast doesn't sound too inviting for a balky back.
  • Our Panthers sage doesn't have a good feeling about the questionable DeAngelo Williams (ankle) suiting up this week, but the Carolina Panthers won't fret too much if DAW can't go. Jonathan Stewart would absorb Williams' workload; J-Stew has torn apart the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throughout his short career. Tyrell Sutton could catch a few passes, but we hope your fantasy team doesn't have to resort to him.
  • Michael Turner (ankle) probably won't return to the Atlanta Falcons this week. Jason Snelling should see about 70 percent of their Week 13 backfield touches, with Jerious Norwood at a complementary 30 percent.
  • Cedric Benson (hip) is expected to receive his typical starter's workload this week, with Larry Johnson maybe seeing five to 10 touches and Brian Leonard going back to his typical third-down role.
  • Laurence Maroney's three-game fumbling streak may put some of his touches in jeopardy, especially with the New England Patriots probably working Sammy Morris in a bit more and Fred Taylor (ankle) starting to work his way back. Last week, Maroney was used sparingly in the second half - they were losing, but it may have been a sign of what's to come.
  • Look for Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle, foot) to play this week and return to his 15-touch complementary role to Brandon Jacobs. They may also use a pinch of Gartrell Johnson.
  • Tim Hightower or Beanie Wells for the rest of the season? The more Matt Leinart is under center for Arizona Cardinals, the more it favors Hightower. Beanie seemed ready to take the reins heading into the St. Louis Rams game, but Hightower excelled and then played well against the Seattle Seahawks. Wells made a couple of mental errors (including a fumble) on a misdirection play; he's not quite there. Look for Hightower against the Minnesota Vikings because he works so well in the passing game. Wells could still get in a groove after this week.
  • Call the likelihood we'll see the Philadelphia Eagles' Brian Westbrook (concussion) again this season 50-50. He has supposedly worked out this week without experiencing any headaches, but we're running out of time.
  • Chris Brown will start for the Houston Texans if Steve Slaton's (neck) game-time decision is vetoed. Ryan Moats can't block or pick up the blitz, and Brown already has been the better goal line option.
  • Speaking of Slaton: Bad timing. He hadn't fumbled in his last three games.
  • Just because the Seattle Seahawks will probably start Julius Jones (lung) in Week 13 doesn't mean he'll get the full slate. Justin Forsett has been more dynamic and gives them their best chance to move the football; he's still the better fantasy play.
  • Though the Miami Dolphins may still incorporate Lex Hilliard more often - he has looked good in his handful of touches - don't expect them to downgrade Ricky Williams' workload.
  • Reggie Bush (knee) is a game-time decision once again. He said he's playing, but that's what the New Orleans Saints back said last week.
  • Denver Broncos WR Brandon Marshall
    New Marshall Plan promises more lobs
    There's some validity to reports that Bush could leave the Saints after this year. His salary sharply escalates after this season. If agent Joel Segal (who happens to rep Saints wideout Marques Colston, as well) tries to swell the market, N'awlins may be happier keeping the much cheaper combo of Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell.
  • Correll Buckhalter has excelled as a change-of-pace back. This all but assures Knowshon Moreno will be the heavy lifter; they're figuring out how to call his number, including fine-tuning using him on the outside.
  • The Green Bay Packers began to incorporate Ahman Green (groin) a good deal after signing him. He's ready to go this week, but he may not be active; Brandon Jackson is clearly ahead of Green now.
  • The Oakland Raiders lined up running back Darren McFadden as a wideout more often in their Thanksgiving game, sometimes in the slot. Michael Bush hasn't done much after a recent fumble. Justin Fargas, who suffered a stinger last week, remains the best bet for a starting workload, but he's hard to count on this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers and his revisited fragility. This remains an unpredictable trio.
  • It's uncertain whether or not Clinton Portis (concussion) will play for the Washington Redskins again this year. He's doing light jogging on the practice sidelines and still has another visit with a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh scheduled.
  • With Kolby Smith (ankle) possibly done for the year and Dantrell Savage (ankle) likely out this week, Jamaal Charles will see a big workload. They may sprinkle in fullback Tim Castille and may activate the burly Javarris Williams from their practice squad this week. Don't expect either to see legit work.
  • With Jamal Lewis (concussion) shelved, the Cleveland Browns could employ a 50-50 split in their backfield between Chris Jennings and the more explosive Jerome Harrison; it's a potential hot hand situation. Jennings hasn't been all too impressive. He has looked liked he's in a hurry to get to the edge during his runs; he doesn't even run that well on the outside.
  • If the Indianapolis Colts end up signing Dominic Rhodes, his main use would probably be spelling Joseph Addai in pass blocking.

Wide receivers

  • The Denver Broncos' Brandon Marshall is becoming more comfortable with quarterback Kyle Orton, who is opening up to lobs to Marshall. Orton is excited to finally have someone he can work like this with, even in coverage. This offense typically takes what defenses give, but they're realizing the value of having a receiver that can force the issue.
  • The Arizona Cardinals have been putting Larry Fitzgerald in the slot a little more in an effort to get him open. He may not be fond of it, but this tidbit has already received more attention than it deserves.
  • Matt Leinart seemed to favor Anquan Boldin last week, likely because Boldin runs shorter routes than Fitz does. The lefty may be more comfortable throwing deep after working with the starters for a week, but take note in case he has to step in for Kurt Warner (concussion) again.
  • It'll be interesting to see if Jason Avant is successful while starting in place of DeSean Jackson (concussion). He's a slot man - tough, good hands, no speed - and earns his living going over the middle. At least the Atlanta Falcons shouldn't present a very tough test.
  • Santana Moss' struggles trace back to the Washington Redskins' front five, who haven't given quarterback Jason Campbell a lot of time. This Sunday, they'll be trotting out their seventh different starting combo in 12 games. Moss still has the burst but hasn't been able to use much of it.
  • Meanwhile, Devin Thomas has been solid in his starting time. He has started breaking off his routes when Campbell scrambles; this improvisation has led to some production.
  • If the Indianapolis Colts lock up homefield advantage early, our Colts scribe can see them using a lot of the (eventually) returning Anthony Gonzalez (knee) and the rarely employed Hank Baskett, along with tight end Jacob Tamme.
  • Greg Camarillo has fallen out of favor with the Miami Dolphins because he struggles to create separation. He may not be fully healthy. Expect Brian Hartline to be incorporated more into the offense ... again.
  • Indianapolis Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez
    Better stash A-Gon....
    Charly Martin, a possession wideout with some speed, has some rapport with Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore from their time on the practice squad. With Dwayne Jarrett not expected to play, Martin should see some balls thrown his way.

Tight ends

  • Brent Celek says his thumb injury shouldn't hamper his ability to catch the football. The thumb is heavily protected; it wasn't when he sustained it last week and dropped several balls. Incidentally, Philadelphia Eagles OC Marty Mornhinweg said he didn't realize Celek was hurting and continued to call plays with Celek as one of the primary reads. Good communication.
  • The Seattle Seahawks' O-line has gelled a bit recently, meaning John Carlson could see more time actually trying to catch passes.
  • Delanie Walker has benefited from the San Francisco 49ers' spread offense via singleback formations; he's picking up the scraps of opposing coverage.
  • The Dallas Cowboys' Martellus Bennett is polished or focused enough to have earned Tony Romo's trust.

Place kickers

  • Mason Crosby was hooking a lot of his kicks in the preseason. His latest accuracy woes have resulted in his pushing the ball right. If it's not messing with his head yet, it will be. Last week, the Green Bay Packers elected to go for it on fourth and a few instead of letting Crosby attempt a 49-yarder.
  • Reminder to keep an eye on the New Orleans Saints kicking situation. Talks of John Carney being ditched for Garrett Hartley escalated after another poor outing for the former in Week 12. It seems, however, that head coach Sean Payton has a soft spot for Carney.

Defensive teams

  • With their pass rush suffering, the New York Giants appeared to have benched defensive end Osi Umenyiora and defensive tackle Fred Robbins, replacing them with Mathius Kiwanuka and Chris Canty, respectively. Maybe this will light a fire under Osi.
  • The Atlanta Falcons chose to build up their young defensive backs instead of pouncing on veteran options out on the waiver wire this summer, including Dre' Bly, Chris McAlister and Mike McKenzie. Our source believes they should be playing more zone defense to hide their deficiencies using man coverage.
  • Seems like the New Orleans Saints stole McKenzie, who looked good in Week 12. He was sitting out there waiting for a chance until New Orleans' secondary started falling apart.
  • The Green Bay Packers' pass defense has been really tough, but the loss of corner Al Harris (knee) could have a big domino effect. The Pack probably can't line up corner Charles Woodson in the slot and blitz him or have him cover quality tight ends as often because Jarrett Bush is a liability on the outside. Green Bay is in nickel more often than not.
  • Cornerback Jerraud Powers reminds our Indianapolis Colts ranter of the New York Jets' Darrelle Revis.

Around the league

  • Tom Brady reportedly doesn't like play caller Bill O'Brien, or at least the play calling, too much. When asked about former OC Charlie Weis joining the Pats, Brady mentioned any team would be lucky to have him. Did he casually forget to mention any kind words for O'Brien? Is that an oversight for someone as savvy as Brady? Now, the New England Patriots offense HAS been too predictable and it appears the young coaches might be overmatched. There's some stingy behavior in the Pats locker room overall; the attitude does not resemble that of their Super Bowl teams.
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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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