Fantasy Football Insider - Week 14

by Tim Heaney and Bryce McRae on December 12, 2009 @ 15:05:21 PDT


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


  • Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning
    Can Nolan continue "success" vs. No. 18?
    The Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning career line in five games against systems run by current Denver Broncos DC Mike Nolan: seven touchdowns, six interceptions and just one 300-yard game, which came on 51 attempts. He never had more than two touchdowns in a game but went 4-1 in those contests.
  • The Arizona Cardinals may have set the blueprint on how to beat Brett Favre; the Minnesota Vikings have struggled against aptly cast 3-4 defenses.
  • If the Houston Texans' Matt Schaub takes another big hit that dislocates his left (non-throwing) shoulder, there's chance he'll need season-ending surgery if they can't pop it back into place.
  • The Baltimore Ravens will aim for an aerial show against the Detroit Lions this week to help Joe Flacco regain some confidence. After that, they may look to increased ground control, but we'll believe this when we see it; OC Cam Cameron thinks the Ravens should continue to fly.
  • Expect the New York Jets to employ a conservative offensive approach with Kellen Clemens at quarterback this week, with something like 15 to 20 low-risk passes looking like the M.O. Don't expect Clemens to hold the job if the fallen Mark Sanchez (knee) can suit up at some point this season.
  • When not trying to escape Baltimore Ravens pressure, the Detroit Lions' Daunte Culpepper will probably try to stretch the D as much as possible via wideout Calvin Johnson. Weather, however, may dictate more of running back Kevin Smith.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles knew last week's homecoming meant a lot to Michael Vick, hence the increased workload. It also helped that they were able to run up the score early, allowing them to keep Vick in.

Running backs

  • Though concern shouldn't be too elevated, Adrian Peterson's ankle injury has slowed him down a little bit. The Minnesota Vikings back is thinking more about being patient to holes and avoiding fumbles; if he's fighting his instincts, his play speed typically comes out a bit slower.
  • DeAngelo Williams is expected back for the Carolina Panthers this weekend, and he'll be carrying his normal workload.
  • Our insider felt Marion Barber III might have one more year after this one with the Dallas Cowboys. Now, it's hard to speculate, especially with the uncertain cap situation. However, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones could make up a much more financially beneficial tandem that is just as good as the two-headed monster as they have now.
  • Mike Bell (knee) is questionable for this week for the New Orleans Saints. If he can't go, expect Pierre Thomas (quadriceps) to see a few more carries, but don't think Reggie Bush (knee) will see an increase. It's safer to play Thomas than Bell this week even if the latter plays.
  • The New York Giants should keep Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles, foot) at his typical workload this week. He received a typical percentage of backfield touches last week; the Gints' time of possession hindered them from using the run much.
  • Jamaal Charles could lose a few third-down plays for the Kansas City Chiefs, and maybe his kick return duties, but he'll still shoulder most of the workload.
  • Lightning was more important than Thunder last week as Jerious Norwood started for the Atlanta Falcons; he was used more often than Jason Snelling partially because Atlanta wanted to expose the outside parts of the Philadelphia Eagles' defense (defensive ends, cornerbacks).
  • We might see the banged up Michael Turner (ankle) this weekend; the Falcons' playoff hopes are quickly burning out. Atlanta contemplated just giving Turner red zone work and nothing else; they might just sprinkle him in. Either way, don't expect a full flame from The Burner for Week 14.
  • Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles
    Haley to Charles: suck it up
    Don't expect Tim Hightower's early-game fumble last week to hurt his split with Beanie Wells in the Arizona Cardinals backfield. It isn't like the rookie Wells hasn't had similar issues this year.
  • Don't fret, owners of Justin Forsett. The Seattle Seahawks should make the touch split more even this week between him and starter Julius Jones. They'll be running, too. They need to evaluate how their zone-blocking scheme does with this offensive line; Seattle expects the front five to finally be cohesive enough to show positive results the rest of the way.
  • Our insider would be surprised if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Cadillac Williams (back) sat out. If he does, Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham could see more touches. With Cadillac in drive, Graham's role is tied to that of fullback Chris Pressley - the more the rookie can do, the more comfortable they are giving Graham a few more touches.
  • Sammy Morris should at least receive the same amount of work he saw last week for the New England Patriots backfield. If Laurence Maroney is ineffective or sees his fumbling issues resurface, Morris could garner more reps.
  • The Washington Redskins' tailback touch split percentage for Week 14 will probably have Quinton Ganther at 50 with Rock Cartwright and Marcus Mason each seeing 25. A hot start from Ganther could keep him in for more against the Oakland Raiders; he has shown the most talent of this trio even in his previously limited sample size. Mason may see goal line and short-yardage totes.
  • As for that other Skins back, the presence of a salary cap next year could determine if or where Clinton Portis (concussion) plays next season; a capped year may keep him in his current threads. It's hard to think he'd make '09 his last year when he's ending it on Injured Reserve.
  • The Tennessee Titans' LenDale White lost some pounds this year and probably could carry a larger workload elsewhere - it depends on the situation. With the way Chris Johnson is running, White realizes his role, even if he'd like something more.
  • The Houston Texans want to see what they have in Arian Foster. Head coach Gary Kubiak wants him to see five carries, and maybe he'll see 10 if he impresses. They don't want him in third-down work because they don't think he could protect quarterback Matt Schaub (shoulder) from pass rushes. Oh, and don't expect the Texans to use Chris J. Henry much, if at all.
  • The Baltimore Ravens have struggled in the red zone without a Lorenzo Neal-type to pound it in. Le'Ron McClain hasn't filled Neal's shoes effectively.

Wide receivers

Tight ends

  • Brent Celek is likely ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles wideouts for looks this week; they could make use of him a lot against the New York Giants, who don't cover this position well.
  • The Green Bay Packers should keep giving tight end Jermichael Finley around eight targets, possibly as many as 10, per game. They've started throwing him fades near the end zone, something they'd worked on in camp but hadn't used much of this year. Finley was a fairly good basketball player in high school, too.
  • Packers shutdown corner Charles Woodson could line up on the Chicago Bears' Greg Olsen, who is Chicago's best pass catcher and perhaps most popular target with Devin Hester (calf) unlikely to play. Woodson has been able to limit the damage down by the opposition's tight end when he has lined up against him.
  • Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley
    Here to stay, especially inside the 20
    The Washington Redskins' Fred Davis continues to struggle in blocking, but he has earned quarterback Jason Campbell's trust, is trusted in the red zone and has shown some after-the-catch ability.
  • John Carlson has struggled recovering from contact when coming off the line in routes. The Seattle Seahawks sophomore has been working on keeping his balance in such situations. They aren't ignoring him, but opposing pass rushers often have not given them enough time to read through progressions.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars want to incorporate Zach X. Miller more often; they've been planning to for awhile, but he hasn't adjusted to the offense. He's gaining separation and has good speed for a tight end. His experience as a QB works toward his ability to find seams downfield.
  • The New England Patriots' red zone woes may call for a larger dose of Benjamin Watson He's a risky fantasy play, so you shouldn't pay to find out.

Place kickers

Defensive teams

  • As the Indianapolis Colts approach, the Denver Broncos will be substituting less this weekend in preparation for Indy's no-huddle offense. Opponents have exposed Denver's nickel packages by going no-huddle and often running against them.
  • The New England Patriots haven't blitzed much this season because they've been trying to cover up deficiencies in their secondary. They haven't used linebacker Adalius Thomas, their best pass rusher, in enough ways to help with QB pressure. The Pats could've had more backup with the pass rush: They were supposed to sign Jason Taylor (Miami Dolphins) last offseason, but he backed out. Derrick Burgess hasn't done much to make them forget about Richard Seymour, either.
  • The already strong Arizona Cardinals run D stayed in their gaps last week against hobbled Minnesota Vikings back Adrian Peterson (ankle). They made a point of not being beaten deep by Brett Favre but still held their ground against AD.
  • While Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley is good against the run, he's a fairly large dropoff from Injured Reserve inhabitant E.J. Henderson (leg) in pass coverage.
  • Though it'll be hard to replace the big-play ability of St. Louis Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (shoulder), who's done for the year, Craig Dahl is a sure tackler and can blitz a little. It isn't as big an overall dropoff as expected.

Around the league

  • One of the teams Julius Peppers was believed to be interested in joining last year before he was franchised was the New England Patriots. He'll have a chance to show the Pats, first-hand, what they're missing this weekend.
  • The Denver Broncos' run game has been helped in recent weeks by the emergence of right tackle Tyler Polumbus, who will remain their starter with Ryan Harris (toe) done for the year.
  • The Miami Dolphins will continue a trial separation from the wildcat but should still employ it in red zone situations. The formation's biggest advantage was having both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown (foot) on the field at the same time. With Brown on IR, they aren't inclined to use it frequently.
  • Left tackle Sebastian Vollmer's (concussion) absence reminded the New England Patriots how much better he has played than Matt Light; the Pats suffered with Vollmer out.
  • Sure, cornerback Antrel Rolle's scramble was exciting last week, but his wildcat QB tenure probably won't happen more than once a game, and the Arizona Cardinals may just stash this plan until the postseason.
  • For those keeping track, only $32,500 remains of the Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Ochocinco's fine fund. How badly will the league hammer him if he makes use of Ragnar the Viking's horn this weekend?
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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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