Fantasy Football Insider - Week 8

by Bryce McRae and Tim Heaney on October 31, 2009 @ 22:21:32 PDT

 


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

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

Quarterbacks

  • Does Donovan McNabb have a favorite target? He has the most time with tight end Brent Celek, but teams have tried to take the middle away from the Philadelphia Eagles' passing attack. Though McNabb has flirted often with wideout Jason Avant, including during practice this week (something to watch against the New York Giants?), it's hard to say McNabb has a true go-to option.
  • While we're on the subject, Michael Vick has needed a rhythm to get going during his minimal work. The Iggles aren't optimizing his potential. Is he even a solid fit for the wildcat? He doesn't run inside well, which hurts his chances there. McNabb has been throwing a lot of balls in the dirt lately. Maybe they should use Vick more in normal formations for a change of pace....
  • Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
    Saving Matthew Ryan
  • Two poor games with multiple interceptions in each for the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan? It hadn't happened until last week. The two opponents pressured Ryan more and were jumping on his hot routes.
  • Expect the Denver Broncos to go right at the vulnerable Baltimore Ravens pass D this week, making Kyle Orton an attractive Week 8 option.
  • The New York Giants appear to be too pass-happy, often throwing on short-yardage plays. They're not concerned; they point to the fact that many of them haven't connected, but they believe they did the right thing based on what they were given by opposing defenses.
  • With Alex D. Smith taking over aerial duties for the San Francisco 49ers, wideout Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis will probably benefit the most. The Niners' system revolves around timing and spots, though, so chemistry isn't as important for receiving targets. The pass catchers will have to adjust to Smith, more so than the other way around.
  • One positive coming from Derek Anderson: He has the Cleveland Browns' only rushing touchdown this season. Cleveland has also struggled to score from inside the 5-yard line. We should expect a few more wildcat reps from them this week, though; the coaching staff was upset they abandoned it so quickly last time out. 
  • Vince Young's return to the starting role for the Tennessee Titans won't change much for the game plan this week; the change didn't happen until Thursday, remember. It could be a reduced game plan, however, since VY doesn't have the same grasp of this offense as Kerry Collins. It should still be more of the same, though: Pound the ball and pick your spots throwing.
  • While Jake Delhomme has been fantasy poison, A.J. Feeley and Matt Moore aren't system-ready enough to take over for him. The Carolina Panthers still feel Delhomme gives them the best chance to win despite his continuous accuracy issues and his constant work on improving his footwork that hasn't translated yet.

Running backs

  • One reason for Michael Turner's struggles out of the Atlanta Falcons' backfield: Teams are taking away the cutback lane, and he has faced a lot of 3-4 defenses, which are designed to stop the run with hybrid OLBs. They've talked of trying new blocking schemes to get him going, but our insider had yet to see any of that.
  • The Denver Broncos will continue to use Correll Buckhalter as the complementary option to Knowshon Moreno, because Buck has been more effective in his decreased use.
  • Don't be surprised if Beanie Wells sees more carries than Tim Hightower in the Arizona Cardinals backfield this Sunday, but you should expect to see Hightower add five or six catches to his double-digit totes. Wells probably won't see, say, 25 carries per game, but he'll keep it as a pretty even touch split.
  • Corrupting what was a useful pickup, the Dallas Cowboys are sticking with Marion Barber III as their main back, while relegating Tashard Choice, a hot fantasy property, to their third-down option. An odd choice: Barber is better in pass protection, so he's more suited for third downs. They haven't fully taken advantage of Felix Jones, either.
  • Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
    What happens if Westbrook sits?
  • If Brian Westbrook (concussion) doesn't go or is limited this week, it's a good idea to expect 20 to 25 carries from the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy this week; Westbrook is looking highly uncertain to play. We may see some token touches from Eldra Buckley, too.  
  • McCoy and Westbrook haven't benefited from steady run blocking. McCoy is having trouble evading defenders; this isn't college anymore. He has also had issues in running the wildcat because he's having more trouble hitting holes in the formation. There are some nuances McCoy still needs to learn.
  • Though he probably won't see much time this week or going forward, the recently signed P.J. Hill has impressed the Eagles because of his combination of size and receiving ability.
  • The Green Bay Packers should go to their short passing game more often this week to alleviate pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Ryan Grant should receive a few more targets, possibly with screens, though he's still not great as a receiver.
  • With Donald Brown (shoulder) out for Week 8, the shifty Chad Simpson should see some work, potentially as much as being the short end of the Indianapolis Colts' typical 60 percent-40 percent touch split with Joseph Addai as the majority.
  • The Seattle Seahawks are blaming Julius Jones' ineffectiveness on the offensive line. It helps that Rob Sims (ankle) should play this week; he has been their best offensive lineman. Jones enjoyed some solid games earlier this year when the line was intact.
  • The New York Jets like Shonn Greene he brings a good combination of size, quickness and vision even if he doesn't have great speed. The carry split between him and Thomas Jones should be along a 20-10 line for Jones this weekend.
  • The Jets would like Leon Washington (fibula) to remain in the Big Apple for the long term. Who catches passes out of the backfield and does it well is the question now? Jones is the answer to that first question. You can't expect Danny Woodhead, who was converted into a slot receiver a couple of weeks ago, to see much time in that role even though he has been moved back to RB.
  • Don't expect Ahmad Bradshaw's (ankle, foot) workload for the New York Giants to change unless the cracked bone in his right foot becomes worse. It's not going to get better; he'll need surgery eventually - at this point, that'll happen when the injury forces the issue. The club doesn't believe it'll help to rest him. He'll keep a schedule along the lines of resting during the week, being limited in practice Friday and playing on Sunday in order to conserve his mojo for game day.
  • Darren Sproles likely will be the biggest headache for the Oakland Raiders this weekend in their matchup against the San Diego Chargers. The SoCal team likely will move him around, and Oakland doesn't have anyone to match up with him.

Wide receivers

    Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys
    Austin No. 1 in Big D?
  • So Miles Austin won't be doing this every week, right? The Dallas Cowboys won't be facing the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons all the time. Either way, it looks like quarterback Tony Romo trusts the latest fantasy flavor, and Austin all but officially bumps Roy Williams to No. 2 status in Big D. Encouraging for Austin: his after-the-catch abilities and his tackle-breaking prowess.
  • It looks like Williams is still feeling a bit of pain in his ribs. He looked tentative in dropping one ball and weak on a few other plays in Week 7.
  • The protective padding Andre Johnson will be wearing in the Houston Texans' tilt with the Buffalo Bills shouldn't restrict his movement. Extra attention from safety Jairus Byrd might be more restrictive.
  • Mike Sims-Walker and Torry Holt have made the Jacksonville Jaguars' wide receivers relevant in fantasy circles; Mike Thomas is slowly working his way into the conversation, too. He runs his routes well, has good hands and can get open. He isn't the No. 3 yet, but he's someone to keep an eye on. This week the Jags wideouts have a great matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
  • Miami Dolphins pecking order: Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, and some combination of Brian Hartline and Ted Ginn Jr. as the No. 3 and No. 4, depending on the week. Ginn will be used as a deep threat, but it's hard to expect consistent production.
  • Is this the week Terrell Owens goes off for the Buffalo Bills? The CB likely covering him for the Houston Texans (Jacques Reeves) isn't great, and the other corner (Dunta Robinson) should be able to lock up Lee Evans. Still, this offense struggles to reach the double century mark in total yards, so it's tough taking that risk.
  • Exhibit A that the San Francisco 49ers are already trusting Michael Crabtree: The formerly unhappy rookie snared three of their four third-down conversions in Week 7, his NFL debut.
  • The Baltimore Ravens should get Mark Clayton more involved this week. Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey has been shadowing the top receiver the last couple of weeks, so Clayton could see more looks as Baltimore goes away from Bailey, who'll probably be covering Derrick Mason.
  • The St. Louis Rams are making slot catcher Danny Amendola an entrenched offensive option; his reliable hands and quick separation from defenders make him a third-down asset. The 6-foot-4 Ruvell Martin (hamstring) has looked solid while working his way back but still may not be active. Unfortunately, it'll be hard to work in either Martin or new acquisition Brandon Gibson because the Rams haven't used many four-wide sets this year.
  • Some positives coming out of Brian Robiskie's statless debut as a starter: The Cleveland Browns rook reportedly gained some separation from Green Bay Packers corner Charles Woodson and handled his assignments well.

Tight ends

  • The Denver Broncos have been pleased with Tony Scheffler's improved blocking, and he appears to have chemistry with quarterback Kyle Orton. However, matchups have helped Scheff's production, and this system doesn't usually feature tight ends that often. The improved blocking should lead to more reps, though.
  • Possibly the biggest fantasy development from Vince Young's ascension to a starting job for the Tennessee Titans: the return to fantasy relevance of Bo Scaife. The two have a history going back to when they were both at the University of Texas. Scaife could see a lot of dump-off passes.

Defensive teams

  • Credit a better pass rush, chiefly due to defensive end Calais Campbell, and improved communication in the secondary for the turnaround in the Arizona Cardinals' defensive performance.
  • The Carolina Panthers can thank more comfortable personnel in their new system, the signing of defensive tackle Hollis Thomas and the return of strong safety Chris Harris for their defensive turnaround.
  • Despite the positive performance of cornerbacks Karl Paymah, Benny Sapp and Asher Allen last week, the Minnesota Vikings' outside run containment takes a hit without cornerback Antoine Winfield (foot).
  • The Detroit Lions have installed 25 extra blitz packages (total of 65) to cover up their weaknesses. Linebacker Julian Peterson will be heavily involved as a pass rusher, and they'll look to be more creative, especially on first and second downs. Expect the kitchen sink, as opposed to the more applicable toilet.
  • The return of Marcus Trufant (back) allows the Seattle Seahawks to put two, big, physical corners (Ken Lucas the other one) on the field against opposing wideouts. Seattle will still try to limit Trufant to third-down and nickel situations, though he probably will end up on the field more than that.
  • Atari Bigby's return two weeks ago has allowed the Green Bay Packers to be more aggressive. It has opened up for the playbook for defensive coordinator Dom Capers more because he doesn't have to worry about one of his backup safeties blowing their assignments. That should help the Packers D almost as much as anything against the Minnesota Vikings this week.

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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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