- Steve E. Smith (pectoral) might be restricted in his return for the New York Giants. His range of motion is limited and he's having trouble going up for high passes. Don't be surprised if Mario Manningham and the returning Hakeem Nicks (leg) start in two-wide sets with Smith coming in as the slot man for his entire workload.
Nicks is good to go, in terms of comfort and speed.
- Donald Driver's crazy touchdown last week shouldn't increase your hopes for him. In the Green Bay Packers' passing offense, it's still Greg Jennings, then ... good luck.
- Following tight end Antonio Gates, the San Diego Chargers' pecking order starts with the returning Vincent Jackson (calf); Malcom Floyd, who appears to be over his hip hump; running back Darren Sproles; and Seyi Ajirotutu.
- Brandon Marshall (hamstring) isn't completely healthy but is needed in the Miami Dolphins' lineup now that Brian Hartline (finger) is out - even if Marshall is just a decoy.
- The Minnesota Vikings' Sidney Rice looked more like himself with his athletic catches in Week 13.
- Golden opportunity? The Seattle Seahawks might go to Golden Tate in crucial situations if Mike X. Williams (ankle) is out. Tate, however, is still buried in the hierarchy behind Ben Obomanu (hand), Deon Butler and Brandon Stokley.
- Don't be discouraged, Dwayne Bowe owners: Brodie Croyle has played with Bowe in the past, so he might not see that big a drop-off, even if the Kansas City Chiefs don't pass as much with Matt Cassel (illness) doubtful.
- The Buffalo Bills' David Nelson and Donald Jones rotate plays too frequently to be reliable fantasy options.
- Chaz Schilens (knee) should see about 12 to 15 snaps for the Oakland Raiders this week. When healthy, he's still the most talented receiver Oakland has. He's aggressive in going up to snatch passes - a thing that many teams take for granted but Oakland has been looking for consistently from their wideouts.
- The Dallas Cowboys had a lot of success employing various elements of the screen game - not only to the backs, but with bubble screens and the like for Miles Austin - last year against the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly has had trouble defending against the screen this year. They'll be watching for it in this game. Will they be prepared for it? Or, will they be overly conscious of it?
- There's some legitimate concern about Dez Bryant's ability to stay healthy in the long run. He's physical and has been banged up throughout his career. Despite Bryant's absence, Roy Williams doesn't think that he'll be involved much the rest of the way.
- DeSean Jackson hasn't had any outstanding efforts against the 'Boys since his very first game against them. Dallas seems to have made it a point to try to make other Iggles beat them.
- Expect Antonio Gates (foot) once again to play specifically on passing downs for the San Diego Chargers.
- The return of Alex Smith behind center should help Vernon Davis. The San Francisco 49ers want to expand the offense with more spread formations, and VD was Smith's favorite target.
- If Owen Daniels (hamstring) comes out healthy and impresses in Week 14, he'll be the starter next week, bumping Joel Dreessen (ribs) to his former backup duty. This is still a shaky situation because both can steal looks from each other; Houston employs many two-tight end sets.
The Baltimore Ravens' Ed Dickson will likely start in place of Todd Heap (hamstring) while facing arguably the league's worst secondary, the Houston Texans'. Dickson has to work on his blocking but is speedy and athletic; he'll probably be used in a similar fashion to Heap.
49ers spread love for Davis
- A New York Jets hunch: Dustin Keller will be involved more this week against the Miami Dolphins. He appeared to be more involved in practice. Mark Sanchez needs to improve his completion percentage somehow and at some point, right?
- While it might not hurt him in the near future, Kevin Boss (New York Giants) will eventually lose fantasy value with the returns of Hakeem Nicks and Steve E. Smith.
- New England Patriots tight end guess for Week 14: Since the Chicago Bears don't blitz much, we could see more of Aaron Hernandez once again taking looks away from Rob Gronkowski. But if the run gets going for New England or Chicago defensive ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije are overwhelming, Gronk would benefit. Once again, it's up in the air.
- Zach Miller (foot) isn't walking around that great, but the Oakland Raiders will probably still try to see what he can offer. They don't have enough tight end depth to shut him down. Plus, the Jacksonville Jaguars present a decent opportunity for him to break out.
- Cameron Morrah has outplayed John Carlson and allows the Seattle Seahawks to work the field more.
- The Philadelphia Eagles could ask Brent Celek to help King Dunlap at right tackle against DeMarcus Ware this week. However, Philly will probably look to ride to his recent steam and rely on him to catch some passes, while they employ other methods to protect Michael Vick (quadriceps).
- Garrett Hartley is starting to settle in, which is evidenced by his recent improvement in consistency.
Around the league
- Terrell Owens probably has a right to complain this time. Cincinnati Bengals OC Bob Bratkowski has been too conservative and irrational with his play calling. He'll probably be shown the door in an expected post-2010 coaching staff overhaul.
- Though our Cleveland Browns insider approves of the job Brian Daboll has done as offensive coordinator, Daboll might be ditched after the season. Eric Mangini might have to get rid of him to keep his job, and football czar Mike Holmgren probably wants to employ an offensive philosophy that fits his aggressive, downfield style more.
- The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys should light up the scoreboard this week. Each has one of the worst red-zone scoring D's in the league. The Eagles don't blitz as much as they did under the late Jim Johnson, they depend on a lot of youth, and they've been much worse at defending against the run inside the 20s.
- This is the healthiest the New Orleans Saints have been in a long time, especially this late in the season.
- Jay Cutler isn't the only member of the Chicago Bears to think that Mike Martz's offense would benefit greatly if the club replaced Soldier Field's sod with FieldTurf. The organization has discussed it but for whatever reason hasn't made a move. The park district, which owns the stadium, would make that change in a heartbeat if the Bears requested it.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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