Fantasy Football Insider - Week 11

by Tim Heaney and Bryce McRae on November 21, 2009 @ 08:56:20 PDT


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


  • The Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning shouldn't have much trouble against the Baltimore Ravens' current 3-4 defense. Typically, when Manning succumbs, it's to pressure up the middle more so than off the edges, and this Ravens defense is by no means as aggressive as its past incarnations.
  • Sure, it's easy to think Chris Simms will replicate his nauseating Week 10 line, but remember, he hadn't practiced with the first team this season; of rouse, we're not saying he'll improve a ton. Either way, the Denver Broncos shouldn't do many things different if Simms has to start in place of Kyle Orton (ankle), who probably won't go this week. Simms may challenge downfield more often, but that's about it.
  • Vince Young, of the Tennessee Titans, has thrown the ball downfield some, but the biggest surprise could be his accuracy. He has also looked poised and surer of himself in the pocket. He is a threat to run, which combined with running back Chris Johnson's effectiveness has made them dangerous in the red zone.
  • San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith
    Smith learning, not directing
    It's probably a bit too soon to expect Alex D. Smith to be making many suggestions in offensive play calling; he's trying to learn this San Francisco 49ers' system first and is simply doing what is drawn up. He has never worked in the same system for two seasons, so maybe next year he'll be more observant in ways to help Jimmy Raye's attack, if Raye sticks.
  • The New York Jets' Mark Sanchez hasn't made much progress in the last few weeks. The rook said he wanted to improve his completion percentage but hasn't turned the corner. He cites his footwork as his biggest issue.
  • Don't expect the Buffalo Bills to go back to Trent Edwards unless new starter Ryan Fitzpatrick goes down with an injury. They felt that Fitzpatrick is willing to throw the ball downfield a bit more, despite his reputation as a game manager. Maybe, we guess, that's true when he's compared to Edwards. Edwards probably got a raw deal with all the things working against him this year - Terrell Owens, a poor offensive line, rampant offensive changes and the no-huddle experiment included.
  • Buffalo may eventually give some work to recent addition Brian Brohm, but not for at least a few more weeks.
  • The Oakland Raiders finally pulled the trigger and benched JaMarcus Russell for the rest of the season, or so they say. They probably didn't want him facing the Cincinnati Bengals at home or the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. If Bruce Gradkowski can't get it done, they may just go back to Russell and point to his rest as a positive.
  • Speaking of Grad, expect the Raiders to call more rollouts and work drives with short passes because he's in there. They can actually try to accumulate aerial first downs instead of hoping to complete a deep chuck.
  • The Cleveland Browns have ignored former Eric Mangini prodigy Brett Ratliff, mainly because of how poor he looked in training camp and the preseason. It looks like it'll be Brady Quinn's show for the rest of the season barring injury or - if possible - any further disappointment.
  • Preparation is already starting for a Brett Favre-less future. Look for the Minnesota Vikings to tab a quarterback in the upcoming draft. They're claiming Tarvaris Jackson also has been making progress. Meanwhile, the status of the Collective Bargaining Agreement will have a heavy hand in Favre's future.

Running backs

  • Whom do the Cincinnati Bengals turn to with Cedric Benson (hip) unlikely to play? Our source felt it'd go 10 to 15 carries for Bernard Scott, 7 to 12 for Larry Johnson and Brian Leonard receiving some of the short-yardage and receiving work.
  • Long-term, LJ is probably the best bet if Benson's hip injury lingers. Once Benson is back, everything returns to as it was before the injury and LJ signing.
  • When will Michael Turner (ankle) return? Well, it isn't looking good for this week's Atlanta Falcons game. Next week they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so he might not be needed then. He could test it out in Week 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles. High ankle sprains can take up to six weeks to recover from, depending on the player.
  • Jason Snelling should receive around 95 percent of the carries this week for the Falcons with Aaron Stecker dining on the scraps. When Jerious Norwood (hip) is back to full health, it should be around an 80-15-5 split with Snelling, Norwood and Stecker.
  • San Diego Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson
    LT took advantage of Philly's plan
    With the Philadelphia Eagles' attention focused elsewhere (see: Vincent Jackson), the San Diego Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson was able to enjoy his finest game of the season. It helps that the line has more cohesion and he's apparently at full health, but the defense wasn't lining up to stop him as often as in the past.
  • It should be at least another three weeks until we see Brian Westbrook (concussion) close to playing. The Philadelphia Eagles' vet still needs several weeks of rest and tests. This means LeSean McCoy takes over. The Eagles will also give Leonard Weaver more work, which they probably already should have been doing in short-yardage and goal line situations. Thank Andy Reid's play calling for that.
  • The Chicago Bears gave the Philadelphia Eagles a lot of film on the involvement of Matt Forte in their passing game. You'd think Philly would be prepared for it, but that won't change how often Chicago uses him in their passing game. They can't the run the ball to save their lives. One reason they didn't go to this sooner: Quarterback Jay Cutler tends to look down the field, whereas Kyle Orton was a checkdown machine.
  • Our New Orleans Saints spy doesn't believe the questionable Reggie Bush (knee) will play this week; the wise one also suspects there's more to Bush's knee injury, which by the by is located in the same knee that Bush had surgically repaired. Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, as expected, would probably split any leftover touches if Bush doesn't suit up, with Thomas being the safer bet for catching passes.
  • Our source felt Steve Slaton would be back starting for the Houston Texans this weekend. Check out Hot off the Wire tomorrow for the final scoop. Slaton will receive the bulk of the workload; if he fails, it'd go to Ryan Moats and then Chris Brown.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers might work in Willie Parker a bit more, partially to help Rashard Mendenhall over the long run. They might be trying to squeeze every last drop from FWP. It won't be a significant role, though; they could put him in near the goal line to shake things up.
  • The Dallas Cowboys might be a bit more hesitant to run to the right and in short-yardage situations with guard Marc Colombo (ankle) out. Of course, it doesn't explain why they didn't rush Marion Barber III often after the first quarter last week.
  • The touch percentage in the Seattle Seahawks' backfield should break down as 80-20 for Justin Forsett and Louis Rankin, respectively. Justin Griffith might carry the ball a couple of times. The 'Hawks could run some screens to the left in order to keep Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen off balance.
  • Even if his legs are given a rest, the Washington Redskins' Clinton Portis (concussion) still has so little tread left on his tires that you can't expect much when he returns.
  • Look for the Buffalo Bills to focus a bit more on involving Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson with Perry Fewell taking over the coaching reins.
  • Michael Bush will start this week for the Oakland Raiders, but expect them to ride the hot hand once again if Justin Fargas or Darren McFadden proves to be more effective. Their quarterback change could open up more passes to the backfield, too.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs will probably incorporate Kolby Smith a bit more this week, but Jamaal Charles is still the No. 1 option for now. Smith looked healthy last week but needs to be a bit more patient during his carries. He had a 15-yarder called back due to a penalty, though, so he's showing life.
  • New York Jets RB Shonn Greene
    Heir apparent struggling through air
    Shonn Greene must continue to work on his receiving skills as he continues working toward succeeding the New York Jets' Thomas Jones as the starter sometime beyond this season.
  • Our New England Patriots source thinks the questionable Sammy Morris (knee) will give it a go this week. If so, he could see upwards of 10 to 15 carries. If not, expect more of what we've seen, with Laurence Maroney leading the way.
  • While we're on this topic, there has been no sign of the injured Fred Taylor (ankle) in the Pats' locker room or otherwise. Our whisperer thinks Taylor is under lock and key somewhere....
  • Expect this week to signify what the Cleveland Browns will give Chris Jennings the rest of the way. If he impresses, they may wind up giving him touches close to those of the retiring Jamal Lewis. Jerome Harrison didn't take too kindly to his demotion out of the No. 2 role and probably won't see much time until he learns to pick up blitzes better.
  • The New York Giants have tabbed Danny Ware as their third-down option. Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle) struggles in pass protection, and the Giants think Ware is just as good on the outside as a receiver. While Ware shouldn't receive more than, say, five or six touches per game, his presence helps limit the wear and tear on Bradshaw. They don't want to take away too much from starter Brandon Jacobs.

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Place kickers

Defensive teams

  • A big part of the Denver Broncos' return to the mean: their offense's horrendous time of possession, keeping their defense on the field for a long time. Ironically, their conditioning was one of their biggest strengths early on.
  • The San Francisco 49ers haven't allowed a passing score by a quarterback since their game with the Houston Texans in Week 7. Their secondary, led by new starting cornerback Tarell Brown, has been resistant to the big play aside from a running back touchdown pass.

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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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