Fantasy Football Insider - Week 7

by Bryce McRae and Tim Heaney on October 24, 2009 @ 02:40:10 PDT


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


  • There's a good chance the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger will be adding to his interception total this weekend. He has a tendency to wing it when he isn't given a lot of time from his blindside tackle (Max Starks). That and he might want to show up the gunslinger on the other sideline.
  • If the New York Giants end up blitzing the Arizona Cardinals' Kurt Warner this weekend, it could be a big day for the veteran QB. Arizona has had most of their trouble with teams that can get good pressure with four linemen and drop seven back into coverage.
  • Donovan McNabb didn't expect the Oakland Raiders to pressure him as much as they did last week. It didn't help that tackle Jason Peters (knee) left early, either. The Philadelphia Eagles were often caught in third-and-long situations since they ignored the run. He's OK healthwise, though, for the most part.
  • That thud in New York was the Jets' Mark Sanchez hitting the rookie wall - if he didn't the week before. Sanchez was forcing the ball to wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Dustin Keller. The offensive coordinator also dialed up too many passes when they were running the ball well.
  • Why the Cleveland Browns' leash on Derek Anderson remains long: "There's a sense of hope with Anderson that you never felt with (Brady Quinn)."

Running backs

  • The San Francisco 49ers will waste no time giving Frank Gore (ankle) the full workload as long as he holds up physically. Glen Coffee will probably see a few series, but don't expect a big split if all is right with the returning starter.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
    Big bad day for Big Ben vs. Minny?
    Bart Simpson? No, that's Steve Slaton. The sophomore's butter fingers resurfaced last week. Seems like the Houston Texans have a plan in place each time he coughs up the pigskin. After each Slaton fumble, they bring in Chris Brown for a few series before putting Slaton back out there. They'll still need Slaton's playmaking abilities in the passing game. After subbing for Slaton in the fourth, Brown stayed in to try to run out as much clock as possible.
  • In this me-first society, we'll take a chance to trumpet our own prediction. The Chicago Bears' Matt Forte was a bust in the making. Now, no one could predict he'd fall this far. However, it was felt he'd be a dynamic runner; he's not. His receptions? Last year's QB loved to check down and the team had no other receivers, anyways. Forte hasn't been that much different in his first five games this year (3.4 yards per carry) than he was in last year's first five (3.6).
  • Brian Westbrook should be running the ball more often this week. The Philadelphia Eagles abandoned the ground game in their loss to the Oakland Raiders last week, and they should revisit it.
  • Expect to see a heavy dose of the Buffalo Bills' running backs this weekend. They're facing an improving but poor run defense, they have a young offensive line, they're on the road and their backup QB is now starting.
  • Marion Barber III (quadriceps, thumb) will play through the broken thumb on his left hand, though it probably clouds his effectiveness as a receiver. The Dallas Cowboys will continue to give Barber and Tashard Choice double-digit carries, while the returning Felix Jones (knee) will see changeup duties of about eight to 10 touches.
  • Don't expect the Washington Redskins to give human injury Clinton Portis (ankle) a game off anytime soon unless he breaks down. They'll ride him out as long as he can play through his mile-long medical chart.
  • Best guess at the New England Patriots' backfield touch split: 70 percent for Laurence Maroney, 20 percent for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and 10 percent for Kevin Faulk.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers' Willie Parker (toe) is fine with his demotion, for now, as he still isn't 100 percent yet. His toe is still so weak that he can't get a good initial thrust. Look for him to receive between eight and 10 carries, though possibly a few more because starter Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is a little banged up. We'll see if Parker will force the coaches to make a tough decision once he heals.
  • Though it isn't a designated role, it's best to think of Mike Bell as the New Orleans Saints' closer, as dictated by his equal carry split with Pierre Thomas last week. They still view Bell as an apt goal line option, too.
  • The Arizona Cardinals' Beanie Wells should be a solid stash (or buy low) prospect for fantasy owners. Last year, head coach Ken Whisenhunt brought cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie along slowly, but by the end of the season he was their top CB. Wells has more competition than DRC did last year, but the rookie back could eventually develop into a 15- to 18-carry back. Still, he needs to stop fumbling and be smarter with his running.
  • Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable probably will go with Justin Fargas first this week based off his success last Sunday. You'll still see a fair bit of Michael Bush, though, and Cable likely will go with whoever is hot.
  • Brandon Jackson could see a few more catches, too, as the Packers shift to more of a short passing game.
  • Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski wants to get Bernard Scott more involved. What does that mean? Probably five to eight touches, maybe with a couple of screens (similar to what he did against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4).
  • The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to activate Kolby Smith (knee) from the Physically Unable to Perform list before the deadline, but they'll ease him into action as a backup.
  • Ahman Green is back in a Green Bay Packers uniform. No word if Edgar Bennett will be joining him. We could see Green taking over the No. 2 duties eventually, but he won't be playing this week.

Wide receivers

  • Anquan Boldin (ankle) should be active for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7, but he might be limited to certain packages. Make sure to tune our Hot off the Wire service to get the latest updates on Sunday.
  • We should see more slants and hitches for the Green Bay Packers as they switch to more of a short passing game. Their receivers, especially Greg Jennings, are solid after the catch, too....
  • The Carolina Panthers want to make Steve Smith an asset. They'll try to get him the ball more and find different ways to use him. Of course, against a team (Buffalo Bills) that is good against the pass and poor against the run, this might not be a great week for that.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs focused on force-feeding Dwayne Bowe more last week, trying to give him the ball in situations when he could accumulate after the catch. It wasn't necessarily a case of quarterback Matt Cassel developing chemistry with him; it's hard to track chemistry in this offense. Bobby Wade is probably the closest to having a rapport with Cassel.
  • Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook
    Look for more B-West vs. D.C.
    Lance Moore's Week 6 performance is a sign of his expected involvement in the offense going forward. The New Orleans Saints will also try to sprinkle in Robert Meachem more often, but he's still more of a statistical crap shoot.
  • Michael Crabtree will see ample work in his NFL debut; the San Francisco 49ers will try to get the ball in his hands via screens, crossing routes and slants. They put him in the starting lineup this soon just to see what he could do. He has impressed them with his ability to pick up his plays and assignments in such a brief prep time.
  • Meanwhile, Josh Morgan will remain a factor in the Niners' offense for three-wide sets and short-yardage packages, but he'll take a back seat to the newbie overall. He stuck around through the bye week to help Crabtree take his position, but fantasy players shouldn't completely write off Morgan for the long term; he'll probably replace Isaac Bruce in the top two next year.
  • Patrick Crayton hasn't been happy with the Dallas Cowboys' play calling since last season, and now he has been removed from the starting lineup in favor of Miles Austin. Though he's more of a natural slot wideout, this cripples Crayton's chances. The Cowboys are running fewer three-wide sets than in previous seasons, and they often use tight ends Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett in the third spot.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals went to Laveranues Coles early last week, throwing him a bunch of short stuff to get him more comfortable. It seemed to build his confidence; he finished with four catches for 40 yards and a score. He's also on the field for more plays than No. 3 wideout Andre Caldwell.
  • The Oakland Raiders' Chaz Schilens (foot) was looking great in practice until his foot started bothering him again Friday. He'll likely be a game-time decision; if he has no pain, he could get an equal split of the targets with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy.
  • The New York Jets need something more from David Clowney with Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) out. Quarterback Mark Sanchez doesn't have as much trust in the former, which will need to change this week, especially with Oakland Raiders shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha (eye) expected to play.
  • The St. Louis Rams next wideout to get injured? Brandon Gibson. OK, that hasn't happened yet. The Rams need receivers; Gibson runs his routes well and has good hands despite not being all that speedy. He's already at least their No. 4 WR and might even crack their top three.
  • Josh Cribbs really doesn't have much pull for an extension: The Cleveland Browns control him for another three years.
  • The New England Patriots may activate rookie wideout Brandon Tate (knee) from the PUP or elevate Terrence Nunn from the practice squad to fill open roster spots - one being that of the injured Julian Edelman (forearm) - for Week 7. 

Tight ends

  • The Green Bay Packers' switch to a short passing game in order to get in more manageable down and distance matchups. The tight ends should benefit from this as quarterback Aaron Rodgers checks to them more often.

Place kickers

  • Your weekly reminder: Monitor the New Orleans Saints kicking situation when inactives come out. John Carney will probably retain his starting job over Garrett Hartley despite having a PAT blocked last week, but stay tuned.
  • Another relic boot: Sure, he's 41 years old, but Matt Stover, Adam Vinatieri's (knee) replacement for at least the next month, made a 53-yard kick in practice for the Indianapolis Colts. Warning: The typically accurate Stover hasn't made field goal of 50-plus yards in a game since 2006.

Defensive teams and players

  • The Houston Texans' improved run D can be attributed to linebacker Brian Cushing stepping up, safety Bernard Pollard outperforming expectations, and their new smaller rotation on the defensive line that includes Tim Bulman and Jeff Zgonina. Glover Quin, who has started the last three games at CB, plays the run well, too.
  • Expect New England Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas to be active this week. It appears New England tried to motivate Thomas by making him inactive last week. He has taken on a significant defensive role, but the stats haven't shown it. It's not like Derrick Burgess is talented enough to replace him....
  • Troy Polamalu had one interception for the Pittsburgh Steelers but he wasn't really his dynamic self. Still, he banged up his knee early in the game and disappeared. He should be getting back to normal as the weeks progress.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles view linebacker Will Witherspoon, whom they acquired before the trade deadline, as a long-term option; he'll be playing middle linebacker for the rest of the year. They'll probably discard Jeremiah Trotter after '09, if not sooner, and they'll probably slide Witherspoon back to weakside once Stewart Bradley (knee) returns next year.
  • Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith
    Smith: Please throw to me, thanks
    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers swindled the Chicago Bears by netting something of value - let alone a second-round pick - in exchange for defensive end Gaines Adams. It'll be interesting to see if Bears D-line coach Rod Marinelli can extract something from the disappointing Adams.
  • Though the Atlanta Falcons' D-line rotation has helped this unit as a whole, the season-ending injury to corner Brian Williams (knee) deals a blow to the secondary.

Around the league

  • Reports from London: The New England Patriots landed across the pond Friday and practiced around 1 p.m. local time. They'll do a normal walk-through tomorrow. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will arrive late Friday night and practice Saturday.
  • The Dallas Cowboys' red zone play calling has been shaky to say the least. They have more often than not lined up in shotgun close to paydirt instead of pounding it in. Involving tight end Jason Witten outside of blocking would help.
  • The field could be in rough shape for the Steelers' tilt with the Minnesota Vikings this weekend. They're re-sodding it, the University of Pittsburgh plays on it the day before, and there is expected to be rain.
  • Green Bay Packers offensive tackle T.J. Lang is a better run blocker than Chad Clifton (ankle). Could that help the Packers' struggling run game? Well, if it doesn't, a stop in Cleveland to face the Browns should.
  • The Carolina Panthers have been blitzing more; defensive coordinator Ron Meeks is trusting them. Look for that to continue, especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center for the Buffalo Bills. Julius Peppers could take over his matchup against Bills left tackle Demetrius Bell.
  • The skinny on new Washington Redskins play caller Sherman Lewis: It's too soon to say whether he'll be too aggressive with this offense. He took ample deep shots with the Green Bay Packers, but you can't count on the 'Skins line buying quarterback Jason Campbell enough time. It would behoove him to mix things up for a team desperate for unpredictability.
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About Bryce McRae

Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.

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