Fantasy Football Insider - Week 3

by Tim Heaney and Bryce McRae on September 26, 2009 @ 21:46:50 PDT


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


  • Our Philadelphia Eagles whisperer thinks we'll see Donovan McNabb (rib) after the Week 4 bye. He was throwing the ball on the side and hanging around while the team was practicing.
  • What about the other Eagles quarterbacks? We should see Michael Vick on the field for a small chunk of time in his first regular season action in three years. He probably won't have much of an impact on the workload of starter Kevin Kolb. Word is Vick wasn't a big factor in other offensive players' prep.
  • Remember: Don't fall in love with Kolb's Week 2 stats. Most of those came in garbage time.
  • The results haven't been there yet, but the Carolina Panthers' Jake Delhomme hasn't lost confidence. He's still taking shots downfield and is throwing into tight coverage when he has to. It helped facing the Atlanta Falcons last week; he normally does well against them.
  • Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
    Not as many deep throws for A-Rod?
    With their offensive line problems, the Green Bay Packers could have Aaron Rodgers throwing a lot of short passes this week in order to combat pressure. Also, he'll be more likely to cut his losses rather than dance around the pocket moving forward.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars remain unimpressed by David Garrard's inaccuracy and slow release. His locker room presence is helping his cause, though.
  • Speaking of little improvement, Brady Quinn hasn't shown the Cleveland Browns much. He threw over the middle a bit more last week but still seems very uncomfortable in the pocket. Looks like the Browns aren't at all nudging him to throw to the outside more often.

Running backs

  • For those worried about Adrian Peterson's 2007 line for the Minnesota Vikings against the San Francisco 49ers (14 carries, three yards): The Niners used corner blitzes a bunch back then, but Peterson was wearing a knee brace in his second game back from a knee injury that cost him two contests before that.
  • There hasn't been much physical concern about Michael Turner despite his longest run being 16 yards this year. The Atlanta Falcons faced the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 and struggled to run, but Turner needed 28 carries to reach 105 yards in Week 2 against the weaker Carolina Panthers. Will his stats be directly tied to him being force-fed? Opponents will probably continue to make quarterback Matt Ryan beat them.
  • It's bone spurs in both his ankles for the Washington Redskins' Clinton Portis (ankles). These types of injuries don't usually go away, either. He typically suits up when he's listed as questionable, but it'll be up to his pain tolerance to determine how much he can handle.
  • This could be the week we see Chicago Bears runner Matt Forte have his best opportunity to succeed in '09. In recent weeks, the O has been trying to figure things out with three new starters along the line, and they've focused on using quarterback Jay Cutler, their best offensive weapon. That could change in Week 3 - expect Da Bears to give a lot of love to Forte this week.
  • Even if the Dallas Cowboys' Marion Barber III (quadriceps) plays, don't expect him to have a big role. He might just be used on a handful of plays, possibly being limited to the red zone.
  • Of the other Dallas backs, Felix Jones might not start, but his touches should reach the teens. Tashard Choice could see a bigger workload if the Cowboys decide to pound the ball. However, this is still Jones' show sans Barber.
  • After last week's third- and fourth-down debacles, the San Diego Chargers may be inclined to use Michael Bennett more this week as the San Diego Chargers look to conserve Darren Sproles. If this works, maybe it'll help the Chargers consider shelving LaDainian Tomlinson (ankle) until Week 6, following San Diego's Week 4 dance with the Pittsburgh Steelers and their Week 5 bye.
  • Houston Texans RB Steve Slaton
    Should be rebound effort from Slaton
    As long as he holds on to the ball, Houston Texans sophomore Steve Slaton should see plenty of touches. The Texans offense runs off their play action so even when the running game isn't working, they'll still hand the ball off to keep defenses honest.
  • Expect the New York Jets to give nearly an even touch split between Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. They've looked to give Washington somewhere between 20 and 25 touches per contest combined via carries, targets and returns.
  • As expected, Fred Jackson will cede the bulk of the workload to Marshawn Lynch when the latter rejoins the Buffalo Bills backfield for Week 4. Expect a 65-35 carry percentage split in favor of Lynch.
  • Though his play on turf last week probably had something to do with it, Cadillac Williams (knee) should have you concerned with the flare-up in his left knee, the one that was surgically repaired last season. The Bucs say it isn't related to the injury that necessitated the surgery, but you should still keep it in the front of your mind. Derrick Ward will probably get the first shot at Bucs carries this week.
  • As for Caddy's seven catches last week, most came on checkdowns because the Buffalo Bills were playing the run well and they wanted the ball in Williams' hands.
  • The New Orleans Saints could give Lynell Hamilton more carries than Pierre Thomas (knee) this week. Regardless of if he actually took a lot of snaps with the first-team offense this week (or if he was told to say that), Hamilton is more of a grinder than Thomas, who still might not be 100 percent.
  • · The returning Justin Fargas will eat into Michael Bush's touches, but the Oakland Raiders won't take anything away from Darren McFadden.
  • Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora plans to play the hot hand at running back. The first to get those touches will be Julius Jones. The other two backs - Justin Forsett and Edgerrin James - will be used on third downs (maybe a little more) and for roughly a series per half, respectively.
  • With Jamal Lewis doubtful for the Cleveland Browns, expect James Davis and Jerome Harrison to pretty much split the workload.
  • The Indianapolis Colts will probably continue to start Joseph Addai but we could see Donald Brown finishing games (similar to Addai's role during his first year). The rookie showed his smarts last week by adjusting his route and getting open when he caught a 24-yard pass. He also showed toughness on his 15-yard touchdown run.
  • Don't look for the New England Patriots to go away from the hot hand approach at running back. Laurence Maroney or Fred Taylor would be the first options with Sammy Morris picking up the leftovers. We may see more running plays from the Pats this week against the Atlanta Falcons, too.
  • Willis McGahee's new attitude and fresher look are adding more muscle to the Baltimore Ravens backfield triumvirate. He had a better commitment to the offseason program, and he showed up for training camp in good shape. It's hard not to improve on his condition before the '08 season. Oh, right, and the potential to earn money doesn't hurt his drive, either....
  • The Cincinnati Bengals benefited from sticking with the run more often in Week 2. Cedric Benson worked the outside better against the Green Bay Packers. He has seemingly found his second and third gears; a full camp, a more cohesive O-line and a non-Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterback have helped.
  • With Knowshon Moreno (groin) a late-announced game-time decision, look for Correll Buckhalter to have ample opportunities to build on his recently solid play. In terms of touch percentage, look for about 60-20-20 for Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and Peyton Hillis, respectively, if Moreno doesn't play. If Moreno takes the field, expect his past shares with Buckhalter, though Denver could be reluctant to risk the rookie too much. This injury probably sets back Moreno's chances to assume the starter role, though. We'll probably have to wait a few more weeks for that.

Wide receivers

  • The first two defenses the Arizona Cardinals faced made more of an effort to use bracket coverage on Larry Fitzgerald. They've used linebackers to buzz Fitzgerald to throw him off his routes and timing while also rolling safeties over the top to protect their corners. The Cards seem to be happy taking whatever passing lanes defenses give them, though.
  • Speaking of Cards wideouts, Anquan Boldin (hamstring) is close to 100 percent and expected to play, while Steve Breaston (knee) is "truly questionable."
  • The New England Patriots' Julian Edelman (ankle) should take a backseat to Wes Welker (knee) when both are in there. However, Edelman, who had plenty of chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady last week, could be ahead of Joey Galloway in the pecking order.
  • Oh, and that other Pats receiver, Randy Moss (back) was listed as questionable heading into the weekend. Keep an eye on his status.
  • Denver Broncos WR Brandon Marshall
    Make-or-break week for Marshall?
    This week may be a big determinant for Brandon Marshall's 2009 fantasy value. It's about time for him to be smooth with the system given his erratic preseason prep time. Eddie Royal has had a quiet start to the season, but Marshall could draw Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha this week. On the bright side, Marshall seems to be grasping the playbook better despite some recent mental mistakes.
  • We may start hearing more from the Minnesota Vikings' Bernard Berrian; the Vikes may start taking more downfield shots against better defenses to loosen them up for tailback Adrian Peterson. Berrian looks like he is healing well from his hamstring injury.
  • Expect Steven Smith to remain the New York Giants' top target at wide receiver. Mario Manningham would probably remain the No. 2 or No. 3 for this year.
  • Don't write off Washington Redskins diminutive wideout Santana Moss just yet. He is still creating separation but the protection is breaking down before quarterback Jason Campbell can get the ball out. Moss has verbalized that he must get open, so the fire is still there.
  • Indianapolis Colts wideout Pierre Garcon has been more vocal and has told quarterback Peyton Manning he can beat his man. Manning showed more confidence and audibled for Garcon twice last week - the second was the bubble screen for the decisive score.
  • Don't read a lot into Miami Dolphins wideout Ted Ginn Jr.'s big day. The Indianapolis Colts defense was playing their corners off, allowing Ginn room to complete plenty of stop-and-go routes. That likely won't happen against the San Diego Chargers this week, who play more aggressively and like to vary their protection.
  • Johnny Knox could continue to see an expanded role in the Chicago Bears receiving corps. However, don't count out Earl Bennett just yet. His touches dropped just based on the way the game unfolded. Also, Devin Aromashodu, who showed plenty of chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler in the preseason, could be in the mix as soon as they find a way to keep him active and satisfy their special teams needs.
  • Where have all the catches gone? Lance Moore, of the New Orleans Saints, has disappeared for a couple of reasons: the emergence of Devery Henderson and the use of Jeremy Shockey over the middle, typically where Moore worked last year. Marques Colston has also spent some time in the slot in the three-wide sets.
  • The Seattle Seahawks could look Deion Branch's (hamstring) way early as they try to get the injury-prone wideout going after his layoff. You might see three receivers on the field more this week than in the past.
  • Bobby Wade might just be for real in the Kansas City Chiefs' receiving corps. He is a great route runner, he doesn't drop passes and he can be counted on for every down. You can't say that about Dwayne Bowe.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars are expecting Mike Sims-Walker to step up as the No. 2 wideout now that he's healthy. His yards-after-the-catch ability is there, and he reportedly feels fine.
  • Given the banged-up state of the Philadelphia Eagles' receiving corps, we may see more of Jason Avant, who's typically used in the third-down role in the slot.
  • Bryant Johnson should be seeing more looks come his way as the Detroit Lions try to take some attention away from Calvin Johnson. Handle the former with fantasy care, especially around golf carts....
  • For those who maintain deep fantasy receiver reserves, Kelley Washington looks to have locked up the Baltimore Ravens' No. 3 job. His size makes him a favorable target in the seam for quarterback Joe Flacco. Washington is a much better fit in the slot than Demetrius Williams, who is locked into the No. 4 job. They might start using the slot more often if they keep up their high level of air attacks.

Tight ends

Defensive teams

  • The Arizona Cardinals have improved their defensive discipline and have stressed that the front seven stay in gaps. Their ground resistance has improved as a result. A more confident secondary helps the front men, as well.

Individual defensive players

  • It doesn't look like Justin Tuck (shoulder) will suit up for the New York Giants this week, meaning Mathias Kiwanuka will likely see starter reps. IDP players should jump on Kiwanuka.
  • One of the biggest matchups this week will be Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham against New England Patriots tackles Matt Light and Nick Kaczur. Abraham frequently switches sides to execute pass rushes, so he may be facing Kaczur more often than Light to gain an advantage.
  • It's about 50-50 on whether the Philadelphia Eagles will bring in retired linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, but the coaching staff said the former Iggle looked good; he was moving around better, partially a result of knee cleanout surgery.
  • Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason is thinking too much instead of just playing. Sure, his role is a bit different (he's taking new gaps for one), but his knee is fine, and he needs to start reacting rather than thinking.

Around the league

  • The Buffalo Bills offensive line has exceeded expectations, but left tackle Demetrius Bell remains the weak link.
  • It's hard for the Pittsburgh Steelers to use the offensive line as an excuse for the poorly performing running game. They've been together for two years now except for right guard Trai Essex. They should be gelling by now.
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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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