Fantasy Football Insider - Week 4

by Tim Heaney and Bryce McRae on October 2, 2010 @ 00:00:00 PDT


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


  • Michael Vick has taken ample hits so far for the Philadelphia Eagles, but Philly won't do much to change the way they shield him, especially since he's not showing any signs of being beaten up. They already do some max protect setups. More running plays - something they lacked last week - will continue to help.
  • One reason for the Cincinnati Bengals' Carson Palmer's struggles: a lack of confidence his wideouts will run the right routes. His footwork is still off, too, and offensive line struggles haven't helped. After these next two weeks against the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we should have a better idea of this offense's effectiveness.
  • The Houston Texans are worried about the beating Matt Schaub has taken behind center. They're working on getting the ball out quicker as Schaub has been waiting too long for the wideouts to get open down the field.
  • With the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets on the docket for the Denver Broncos in the next three weeks, expect Kyle Orton to continue chucking the ball at a very liberal pace.
  • Though the staff isn't all that thrilled with his play, Alex D. Smith should get at least a few weeks to work with the latest San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator, Mike Johnson. It's not like David Carr is pushing for the starting gig.
  • Cleveland Browns injured signal caller Jake Delhomme (ankle) looked like he didn't want to plant his ankle, but all his throws were coming out fine. When he knew where he was going, Delhomme was fine, but he struggled when he had to improvise.
  • Review of Jimmy Clausen (Carolina Panthers) in his first start: Released the ball quickly and made smart decisions, but he had trouble with snaps, a problem since the offseason. He did a decent job spreading the ball around and is familiar with the offense; Jeff Davidson is a Charlie Weis disciple.
  • Brian Brohm should eventually start a game this season for the Buffalo Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have a sizable leash, though.

Running backs

  • The Baltimore Ravens will let Ray Rice (knee) play as much as possible. Willis McGahee might see third-down work, maybe cutting into Rice's receptions, but don't expect much of a difference if Rice can go. If Rice can't suit up, Willis McGahee should dominate touches with Le'Ron McClain mixed in.
  • It would take a "miraculous recovery" for Steven Jackson (groin) to play for the St. Louis Rams in Week 4. His workload - walkthroughs and taking some handoffs on the side - wasn't even done at a jogging pace. Expect Kenneth Darby to carry the load Sunday, with a sprinkling of Keith Toston. Chauncey Washington probably will stick mainly with special teams and not factor much into the touch split. The Rams are considering Jackson's injury a short-term issue and aren't looking to make a big splash to land another carrier.
  • Our Detroit Lions sage is confident Jahvid Best (toe) will play in Week 4. That will leave scraps for Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith. Expect a much messier situation if Best can't go, but it looks positive for the flashy rookie.
  • More on Best: He seems to be a fast healer. He hasn't been favoring his most recent turf toe injury and looked good in the media portion of practice. Of course, turf toe injuries tend to linger over the course of the year.
  • Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
    More cowbell ... err, bell cow
    Nothing to be alarmed about, but in the new San Francisco 49ers' offense, Frank Gore might see a slight decrease in touches in an effort to incorporate other offensive weapons. He's still the "bell cow," though.
  • Atlanta Falcons update: For the foreseeable future, the game flow will determine Michael Turner's workload. Once he gets into 20 carries, Jason Snelling will start to relieve him more.
  • Don't be shocked to see more of the Arizona Cardinals' Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower this week with all the rookie wideouts Arizona is trotting out. It should be an even split, though as we go Beanie might see a few more looks than Hightower. Nothing too drastic, though.
  • Peyton Hillis, favorite of Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini, will be the main guy for the next five or six weeks. One caveat: Cleveland is so gameplan specific, they could go with James Davis or Jerome Harrison, if the coaches want to exploit a specific matchup.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals' Cedric Benson still has his explosiveness, but the offensive line hasn't done a good job clearing out lanes for him. When that happens, look for him to perform more like early '09 Cedric.
  • The San Diego Chargers' Ryan Mathews should see a full workload this week. Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert will be mixed in, but don't expect much. Tolbert might be a bit more short-yardage work than he did in the past.
  • Clinton Portis remains the starting back for the Washington Redskins. He wasn't in much during the second half last week because Washington was trailing and he was nursing his wrist injury. When he was in, Washington was facing heavy pressure and he had to pass protect. The 'Skins tried to work Ryan Torain in more, but they didn't have the ball enough to do so. This looks like it'll be a game-to-game split. Portis owners shouldn't jump ship yet.
  • Constant games of Carolina Panthers' catchup have allowed Mike Goodson to enter the touch fray. Goodson, their passing back, could see a fair amount of work again this week; after all, Carolina is facing the New Orleans Saints.
  • Peyton Hillis owes some of his Week 3 success to the Cleveland Browns running him out of three-wide sets and taking advantage of the Baltimore Ravens' nickel package. Don't expect the Ravens to allow Rashard Mendenhall the same comfort zone; he's a target.
  • This week's matchup should be a true test for the Denver Broncos' Laurence Maroney. He'll have some help back on the offensive line, and he has a full week under his belt in this system.
    Correll Buckhalter will be used largely as a situational toter, in most cases, as a spell back to Maroney.
  • Houston Texans wideout Andre Johnson (ankle) is iffy. The Oakland Raiders run D isn't that great. Expect to see the Texans' Arian Foster carry around 25 times this week.
  • The New Orleans Saints' Chris Ivory could be a workhorse. That might only be 12 to 15 touches with Ladell Betts receiving around eight to 10 touches. Look for more flares and screens as an extension of the running game.
  • Expect a heavy dose of the New England Patriots' BenJarvus Green-Ellis this week. He's really their only back. He's a reliable, hard runner but nothing special. He'll probably see three-quarters of the carries.
    New England is probably being overly cautious with Fred Taylor (toe), too. They signed Thomas Clayton, who has to count against their 53-man roster for three weeks now. Taylor's effectiveness was probably limited by both the injuries and playcalling, too.
    Finally, Danny Woodhead probably will see four or five carries and come up with the odd big play, but he won't be anything consistent for fantasy owners. They still don't trust his pass protection.
  • The New York Giants might start giving Ahmad Bradshaw the Tiki Barber treatment, patented by head coach Tom Coughlin and aided by running backs coach Jerald Ingram. Bradshaw's fumbling seems to happen the same way Barber's did - a speedy back that loses pigskin control during his football moves.
  • If the Oakland Raiders can control the tempo of Sunday's game, expect Michael Bush (thumb) to receive something close to 10 carries. If the Raiders need to speed things up, Darren McFadden should continue with his 2010 workload. Ideally, Oakland wants to try setting up Run DMC split out wide, in motion or in the slot more often, but with Bush a non-factor, they needed McFadden to carry more.
  • Ricky Williams' fumbling issues haven't jeopardized his status in the Miami Dolphins' backfield share. They haven't focused on anything other than normal ball security drills in practice. Enjoy the continued workload guessing game between Williams and Ronnie Brown.
  • The Seattle Seahawks seem content to consistently give Justin Forsett something close to his Week 3 workload - for him to be the lion's shareholder. Leon Washington's special teams show in Week 3 might earn him a few more touches (maybe four or five), but he won't become a frequent contributor just like that.
  • The Indianapolis Colts are still worried about Donald Brown's pass protection.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars backup back Rashad Jennings has been in games on third downs more, one reason for Maurice Jones-Drew's decreased receptions.
  • Need a stash-worthy back? James Starks (hamstring), who's on the Physically Unable to Perform list, could fill the role in cavernous setups. It's hard to believe the Green Bay Packers are comfortable with Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn carrying the load all year. If they don't make a trade (Marshawn Lynch still might be in play), they have Starks, who caught the ball in college but still hasn't mastered pass protection. Either way, Green Bay should give Starks a chance to pass John Kuhn on the depth chart if he's healthy after Week 6, which is likely.

Wide receivers

  • Our source wasn't sure why the Arizona Cardinals' Stephen Williams went undrafted. He's big, can run like the kid and catches almost everything thrown his way. He needs to improve his route running, but he could do some damage down the road.
  • This week was the healthiest in practice Cards wideout Larry Fitzgerald (knee) has been in awhile.
  • Improving Michael Crabtree's performance is a key in the new San Francisco 49ers' offense. As mentioned last week, they want to create more separation for him to work with. The new attack should help free him up a bit more.
  • Brandon Marshall's trips to the locker room for IV treatments last week were probably the result of overexertion more than anything else. The Miami Dolphins' wideout looked sluggish near the end of the game. Maybe it's the heat and humidity. Conditioning wasn't an issue.
  • When an NFL insider says Devin Aromashodu isn't worth fantasy consideration right now, you listen. DA might be later in the year, but Earl Bennett is meeting the Chicago Bears' expectations for the slot wideout.
  • Buffalo Bills wideout Roscoe Parrish could have a big game if he lines up in the slot against New York Jets corner Kyle Wilson, who has looked shaky so far.
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders
    Can't catch a break, or a pass
    Even with the love for Darrius Heyward-Bey (groin) this week, he's still having trouble with the JUGS machine - something that rarely is going to help your progress at this level. He still is a more natural speedster than he is a receiver. He's doing more positive things, but he has only caught nine of his 26 targets in the last two weeks, so he's still a work in progress. Oh, and he's questionable for Week 4 action, too.
  • Joshua Cribbs' playing time won't be in question, but the Cleveland Browns' wideout has far better chemistry with quarterback Seneca Wallace than injured starter Jake Delhomme (ankle). When Wallace ad-libs and moves around, it lends itself more to Cribbs. That doesn't work so well with Delhomme.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals could go with their three-wide sets a lot this week. Browns cornerback Eric Wright lines up in the slot in that case; the Baltimore Ravens' Anquan Boldin (eight receptions, 142 yards, three scores) took advantage of that last week. This week, it'd probably be Terrell Owens or Jordan Shipley.
  • Eddie Royal's new job as the Denver Broncos' punt returner won't affect his snaps. He was in mainly on three-wide packages only. Denver will continue to take whatever the opposing defense gives.
    This week, that could mean a few shots against the Tennessee Titans' rookie starting corner Alterraun Verner.
  • The Indianapolis Colts' Blair White is cut in the same mold as Austin Collie but probably not as talented. Just don't expect White's role to continue - there are just too many mouths to feed, especially when others get healthy.
    Reggie Wayne
    continues to see a ton of double coverage, too. He's the No. 1, no doubt, but quarterback Peyton Manning doesn't feel like he has to force it to Wayne like he did to Marvin Harrison.
  • As long as New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush (fibula) remains out, Lance Moore should be a regular contributor. He's probably the No. 1b option behind Marques Colston.
  • With so many other receiving options, the New England Patriots haven't kept Wes Welker on the field as much. They're probably a little worried about the knee, too. He's still reliable, but don't expect the big numbers from the last three years.
  • Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen seems to enjoy throwing to David Gettis. Steve Smith has been double-teamed a bunch, and Clausen hasn't been forcing it to the top dog.
  • The St. Louis Rams might be looking to take advantage of the Seattle Seahawks' pass D that was shredded by the San Diego Chargers last week. This might mean more Brandon Gibson and Mardy Gilyard, who have been creeping ever so slowly into the game plan, especially with Laurent Robinson (foot) injured yet again.
  • New Seattle Seahawks wideout Brandon Stokley might have some use as quality depth and sometimes as a security blanket for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the slot. Stokley was too enticing an option for Seattle to leave for some other team to grab from the free-agent pool. He knows the system and has been working with Golden Tate, who needs help with his route running ... not a bad mentor to have teaching wideouts how to refine their game.

Tight ends

Place kickers

  • Garrett Hartley shouldn't be discarded just yet. John Carney is probably just there to coach him up. Keep an eye on the inactives Sunday.

Around the league

  • Just doing his job - so says Jimmy Raye following his removal from the San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator gig. The offense had been boring for awhile, but Mike Singletary's ball control offense was what Raye was trying to follow.
  • Mike Johnson wants to be more flexible with the Niners' offense - taking what the defense gives him more often.
  • Baltimore Ravens' defensive issues: Four dropped interceptions and a lack of QB pressure. Linebacker Terrell Suggs' success against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8.0 sacks in 14 games versus the Steelers) gives optimism for this unit's performance this week.
  • The Miami Dolphins are attempting to clean up the execution of their wildcat formations, which are quickly becoming outdated. They'll still attempt to use it off what they feel they can exploit any given week.
  • Our source didn't think Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio would lose his job this year, though he'll probably need to go 8-8 to save it. They've missed on so many first-round picks, which hasn't helped, but Del Rio and general manager Gene Smith have a good relationship.
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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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