Fantasy Football Insider - Week 3
by Tim Heaney and Bryce McRae
on September 25, 2010 @ 12:08:57
Here's what KFFL's inside sources are saying this week.
True to our insider's word last week, New York Jets sophomore Mark Sanchez heaved the rock more often in Week 2, taking more chances in the passing game and having arguably one of the best games of his career. He was more comfortable in trusting wideout Braylon Edwards and tight end Dustin Keller to go up and get the ball; Sanchez didn't need them to be open for him to look at them. Credit offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, too, for calling more downfield plays.
Taking more chances
- In other QB improvement news, Alex D. Smith (San Francisco 49ers) enjoyed wearing his wristband cheat sheet in Week 2, and they rectified the communication issues that plagued them in Week 1. Transforming plays to numbers should serve him and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye moving forward, especially this week at the ear-breaking Arrowhead Stadium. Smith also improved his leg movements during his throws Monday night and didn't have as many passes sail high on his wideouts - a chronic problem last year.
- The Tennessee Titans' Vince Young was flummoxed by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau last week; Young has a good chance of rebounding this week because the New York Giants' defensive schemes won't be as complex. Tennessee is comfortable having Kerry Collins on call, but they'll give Young every chance to succeed unless last week's struggles come up frequently.
- The two times the Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco has thrown three-plus picks in a game, he has bounced back with a QB rating over 120 in the next contest.
- The Oakland Raiders' Jason Campbell never looked the same after taking a sack from the San Francisco 49ers' Travis LaBoy in the preseason. They say Campbell is healthy, but he has looked nervous out there.
Given Bruce Gradkowski's injury history, Campbell could easily be back starting soon, or if they can get him sorted out, head coach Tom Cable could start him again.
- Michael Vick has been outstanding for the Philadelphia Eagles, but his good work only came against the Detroit Lions and in two quarters against a Green Bay Packers team that was prepared for a completely different QB. Also, by removing Kevin Kolb, Philly leaves the option open later that they can say Kolb never really received a fair shot at the starting job. The Eagles could be worried about their O-line trying to protect the more immobile QB, too.
- Pittsburgh Steelers starter Charlie Batch probably won't open it up a lot; he hasn't taken any 2010 first-team reps until just this week.
- Though the participants are narrowed down to Fred Taylor (ankle) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (and maybe fullback Sammy Morris), expect the New England Patriots' backfield rotation to continue. "Fragile Fred" and "The Law Firm" have been alternating series, and though the Pats still view Taylor as the No. 1, in each game it'll probably be a level playing field until one catches fire. They're still being cautious with Taylor, too.
- The Arizona Cardinals' Beanie Wells is expected to play, but he might not receive much more than 10 to 15 touches, which could even be on the high side since his career best is just 17 carries in a game.
- It shouldn't matter who starts for the Buffalo Bills at running back this week; our source expects an even split of touches between Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
- The Carolina Panthers have faced a ton of stacked boxes, one reason for a subpar running game. Poor offensive line play has hurt them, and they lack a No. 2 wideout to help keep defenses honest.
- Matt Forte might only have a good game when the Chicago Bears need to run out the clock or when they face the "Detroits" of the world. Chicago doesn't care about the run and use the pass as an extension of it.
- Expect Peyton Hillis and James Davis to split the touches evenly if Jerome Harrison (thigh) can't go. Harrison missed practice today and isn't expected to play. The coaching staff wasn't thrilled with Harrison, either, after he talked about not receiving enough carries then failed to do much with his 16 attempts against the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Correll Buckhalter will start for the Denver Broncos this week. Expect around 15 touches with Laurence Maroney a rotational backup (10 touches) and Andre Brown receiving the rest of the scraps.
- Jacksonville Jaguars sophomore Rashad Jennings' increased involvement comes because they have more confidence in him than they did last year and not because of any lack of production on Maurice Jones-Drew's part.
MJD has been real close on some runs, too. Being down a lot last week didn't help either.
- Our source felt the Kansas City Chiefs' Jamaal Charles will play more when the team is behind, but it's tough to count on either him or Thomas Jones.
- The New Orleans Saints' Pierre Thomas will shoulder almost all the load this week. Chris Ivory (knee) could see five or six touches, and he might max out at 10 or so in a couple of weeks.
- New York Giants runners Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs will continue to split the carries 2-to-1, favoring the former.
- Even if the Oakland Raiders' Michael Bush (thumb) plays, he should receive only five or so carries. Oakland probably will still ride Darren McFadden given the way Run DMC has been ... umm, running. Bush has yet to really take a hit, too, and it's been only 27 days (as of today) since his surgery.
- Touch breakdown for the San Diego Chargers this weekend: Mike Tolbert with 25, Darren Sproles with five and Jacob Hester with a doughnut ... well, something along those lines. Ryan Mathews (ankle) feels he could play, but with a high ankle sprain, San Diego isn't taking any chances the injury lingers given the way Tolbert ran the ball last week.
- Don't expect many changes in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' backfield. Cadillac Williams (hamstring) should continue to be their workhorse. His struggles can largely be blamed on the offensive line. Kareem Huggins (groin) will see some looks when he returns.
- The Washington Redskins' Keiland Williams has been able to pick up the offense quickly and has shown good hands. He could see more work on third downs, typically Clinton Portis' territory, and could see as much as 20 snaps per game.
- While many were focusing on Randy Moss' stay on Revis Island in Week 2, he spent most of the game shipwrecked on the Cromartie Coast. Athletic New York Jets' Antonio Cromartie matched up well with the big Moss.
- Michael Crabtree's slow start probably stems from his lack of preseason game action. The San Francisco 49ers wanted him to run more slant routes to try to get him into space quicker, but his neck injury prevented him from doing it at full speed. As a result, his chemistry with Alex D. Smith has suffered. Also, Crabs is normally the focus of opposing defenses anyway in the passing game, so that compounds the issue.
- The extent of Braylon Edwards' Sunday involvement for the New York Jets remains a mystery. It'll probably depend on the flow of the game and the score. He'll probably be on the bench for the first quarter, at least.
- Expect Edwards' reps to be split among David Clowney, Brad Smith and Patrick Turner, the 6-foot-5 former Miami Dolphins wideout they just activated from the practice squad. Turner probably fits best in the big target role Edwards leaves behind.
- Kevin Walter is reminding his fantasy owners how reliable his hands are; he has caught all 13 passes thrown his way. His slow start to last year came because he was injured and never fully got going. He probably won't top 70 catches or so, but he's still a valuable point-per-reception commodity.
- The Seattle Seahawks' wideout pecking order remains, top to bottom, Mike X. Williams, Deion Branch, Deon Butler and Golden Tate. They want to involve more of Butler and Tate, but expect Butler to see more action; Tate's playmaking ability still hasn't fully overtaken his sloppy route running.
- Kenny Britt still has a ways to go to work his way back into the Tennessee Titans' trust. Last week's game was mainly game-dictated opportunities and his two-point conversion catch that brought his name back into fantasy circles.
- It might not be a chemistry problem betweenthe Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Derek Anderson. It is more an accuracy problem on DA's part.
- The Baltimore Ravens went after New York Jets rookie corner Kyle Wilson in Week 1, and they'll probably do the same to Cleveland Browns rookie Joe Haden this week. T.J. Houshmandzadeh could be for a decent game against a club he has historically done well against.
- Carolina Panthers rookie David Gettis could be a diamond in the rough. He has looked good in practice and has a nice combination of size and speed. Demoted quarterback Matt Moore overthrew him on a surefire TD last week.
- The Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Ochocinco's speed could give the Panthers problems this week; this could leave a lot of underneath work for Jordan Shipley and tight end Jermaine Gresham.
- The Cleveland Browns will try to get the ball to Joshua Cribbs as much as possible this week, especially in the wildcat formation. He's probably the biggest worry, offensively, for the Baltimore Ravens.
- Minnesota Vikings newest wide receiver Hank Baskett has experience in Minny's offense from his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. He can run fade routes and jump balls, similar to what Sidney Rice (hip) used to do.
- With Reggie Bush (knee) out, our source felt the New Orleans Saints' Lance Moore would contribute more. Moore can be moved around the formation in the same way Bush can; they are both of similar size, and Moore is a good route runner.
- The Saints' Robert Meachem might have just three catches for 33 yards, but New Orleans has been targeting him. Either he or quarterback Drew Brees has just been a bit off.
- Oakland Raiders new starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski looked toward his wideouts, mainly Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy, more last week than your typical Oakland quarterback has, something that goes back to the preseason. DHB was especially effective as Oakland used him on short hitch routes, where he was able to use his size and speed to break tackles. He still has trouble catching the ball downfield, though.
- Just what will the San Diego Chargers receive in compensation for Vincent Jackson given its assumed V-Jax won't play for San Diego again? It will likely be nothing approaching what the Minnesota Vikings were offering (second-rounder in 2011, conditional pick in 2012). With the collective bargaining agreement ending next year, it's uncertain when the third-round compensatory pick will be assigned. Comp picks are largely based on what a player makes in his first year; Jackson's agents could set it up so that V-Jax makes nothing in his first year.
- Sticking in SD, Buster Davis could be the Chargers' equivalent of Wes Welker. Injuries were a big reason he was labeled a bust. Quarterback Philip Rivers has been talking up Davis a lot this week, and he gives them a different type of wideout than Legedu Naanee and Malcom Floyd.
- The Washington Redskins' Joey Galloway is trusted by quarterback Donovan McNabb, but Galloway still won't see the field much after first and second down.
Expect the Seattle Seahawks to start lining up John Carlson out wide more often. The offensive line's solid performance and the presence of block-friendly Chris Baker means Seattle will continue aiming to use Carlson's offensive skills.
'Hawks flexing Carlson out wide
- The New England Patriots' tight end position will conjure nightmares of their backfield; fantasy owners might not know the difference most weeks. That being said, Aaron Hernandez remains the better fantasy target, because Rob Gronkowski, the better all-around tight end, will often be in more on blocking plays. Hernandez can float more freely with Alge Crumpler taking blocking reps, too. Gronkowski will be on the field more than Hernandez, for what it's worth.
- Teams have done a good job knocking the Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez off his routes. If they start doubling wideout Roddy White, though, Gonzo should be able to do some damage underneath.
- The Buffalo Bills sometimes sacrifice TE coverage to focus on wideouts; the New England Patriots' rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez should have favorable matchups this week, especially with added attention paid to wideouts Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
- The matchup is one reason the Detroit Lions' Brandon Pettigrew finished with a career day in Week 2. Wide receiver Nate Burleson's ankle injury and double coverage on Calvin Johnson meant Pettigrew was left open. Tony Scheffler will still be the primary option at the position for Detroit, though.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers' Heath Miller could see more looks with quarterback Charlie Batch behind center.
Around the league
- The Dallas Cowboys' run game has some internal issues, including hulking guard Leonard Davis, who isn't playing up to par. Also, fullback Chris Gronkowski still hasn't harnessed his "point-of-attack" blocking. This week won't be a 50-50 split of running and passing, but they'll probably stick with the run more than usual if it works against the Houston Texans.
- When Alex Gibbs resigned from the Seattle Seahawks, the offensive line gained the freedom to use some of their bigger bodies to their advantage by mixing in man-to-man blocking with zone-blocking elements. Under new O-line coach Art Valero, Seattle is able to run more trap and power plays, which helped them improve the running game in Week 2. Right guard Stacy Andrews deserves some credit there, too.
- The Indianapolis Colts have reverted to more legitimate reporting of their injuries after listing nearly their whole team on injury reports last year.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without linebacker Justin Durant (ankle), who is their fastest 'backer and probably would have been the spy on the Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick. Instead, Daryl Smith likely will keep an eye on Vick. Advantage, Philly.
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 competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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