Kenn Ruby provides an update on what the depth charts look like for each team after a busy weekend of NFL action. This article is part of our series that highlights quality content from premium subscription sites. RotoWire has been gracious enough to share a weekly article with our users for free. For additional RotoWire insight, you can visit RotoWire.com.
Jay Cutler will sit out Monday’s game with a concussion, so the Bears named Jason Campbell the starter pretty early in the week. While the weather should be better in San Francisco than it was in Chicago during Campbell’s relief stint last week, he goes out of the frying pan (Houston) and into the fire (San Francisco) as far as match-ups go.
Andrew Hawkins injured his knee at Friday’s practice, pushing rookie Mohamed Sanu into the starting lineup. Sanu struggled at times, but redeemed himself with a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Hawkins shouldn’t be out long, but if Sanu’s relationship with QB Andy Dalton continues to grow, he may find a more significant spot in the wideout rotation.
Thanks to a concussion and a short week, Fred Jackson was ruled out pretty earlier, exciting C.J. Spiller fans everywhere. Spiller didn’t play like he did earlier in the season, but that would’ve been a tough feat to top. He still finished with 130 total yards – including 91 on the ground, and he only ceded six carries to Tashard Choice, who finished with 14 yards. Jackson is doing better and could return to practice this week, but he’s not out of the woods yet. Expect at least one more game with Spiller as the lead back.
Willis McGahee, no stranger to knee injuries, left Sunday’s game in the second quarter and is expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a torn MCL. Ronnie Hillman, who took over Sunday and finished with 43 yards on 12 carries, will likely get the start in McGahee’s place. Lance Ball had 35 yards of his own Sunday, and he should see an increase in playing time as well.
With Kevin Kolb holding a clipboard once again, John Skelton probably felt like he’d have a legitimate crack at the Falcons, but after Skelton missed a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone, coach Ken Whisenhunt had seen enough. He was benched for Ryan Lindley, who was unimpressive himself in a 20-attempt stint that only gained him 64 yards. Lindley was sacked three times and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. He played well in practice recently, so he may get another chance soon, but there doesn’t appear to be a good quarterback on the Arizona roster now.
The ineffective Matt Cassel was benched in the second half of Sunday’s game after completing just eight passes for 93 yards. Brady Quinn was a little better, but not by much. Still, it looks like the starting job is his again, so if you play in a league that goes 40 quarterbacks deep, this news might mean something to you.
The Chiefs were already down a wide receiver when Jon Baldwin was ruled out of Sunday’s game with a head injury. Then Dwayne Bowe left with a neck injury. Some combination of Steve Breaston, Dexter McCluster and Terrance Copper should fill in for that duo, but considering that Baldwin and Bowe combined for just seven catches Sunday, there isn’t much to see here.
Vick Ballard and Donald Brown were expected to split things evenly, not unlike last week, but instead Ballard had 16 carries to Brown’s four and 72 yards to Brown’s 17. Neither player got the goal-line run, as that honor went to Delone Carter. If he’s not getting the majority of carries and he’s not getting the goal-line carries, it’s fair to say that Brown doesn’t hold much fantasy value. Cut him loose if you haven’t already.
There sure have been a lot of concussions in the NFL this year, and Donnie Avery appears to be the latest victim. He was knocked out of Sunday’s game in the second quarter and T.Y. Hilton took advantage with a two-touchdown effort. As long as Andrew Luck is throwing the ball, there appear to be opportunities for Indianapolis wideouts, so if Avery misses a game or two, expect Hilton and possibly Lavon Brazill to pick up the slack.
Felix Jones tweaked his knee Sunday, which may mean nothing, but considering the Cowboys have a short week and DeMarco Murray is expected to return soon, the window could be closing on Jones, who ran for 43 yards and a score Sunday. Lance Dunbar, who had his own knee drained after the game, got the only OT carries for Dallas, but he’ll become even more irrelevant when Murray returns.
Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush both had 12 touches Thursday night against Buffalo, and neither surpassed 40 total yards, but it looks like there’s now a timeshare in Miami. Bush played well earlier in the year, but hasn’t gotten it going in a while. Not that Thomas has been that much better, but he’s younger and fresher. As long as they’re splitting things equally, don’t expect either back to emerge as a significant fantasy threat down the stretch.
Sunday was a textbox example of why preseason statistics just don’t matter. Three months ago the world was in love with Nick Foles. Every week that Michael Vick struggled, the question became, “when do we get to see Foles?” Well, after Vick suffered a concussion last week, Foles got a week of first-team reps and the tasty matchup with Washington … and he was terrible. With two picks, three fumbles and a completion rate of just 46 percent, not to mention leading the Eagles to exactly zero touchdowns against the Redskins defense, it doesn’t look like Foles is the answer at quarterback. Vick hopes to return in Week 12, so this could be Foles’ last chance in a while.
The Eagles’ playoff hopes are already all-but-dead, but the fantasy hopes of many LeSean McCoy owners may have died a little Sunday as well. McCoy was carted off the field with a concussion late in a game in which he gained 112 yards from scrimmage. Bryce Brown and Dion Lewis might be good speculative pickups this week, and with the Eagles playing out the string at this point, they may not rush back their star.
Although Julio Jones gave it the old college try, he aggravated his ankle injury and left Sunday’s game early, finishing with just three catches for 33 yards. He’ll be limited in practice all week, and if he can’t go, Harry Douglas, who caught five passes for 48 yards Sunday, should be the primary beneficiary.
Blaine Gabbert started Sunday’s game with a sore shoulder, but he was knocked out of the game with a bruised right elbow, paving the way for Chad Henne‘s career day. Henne went nuts against the strong Houston defense, throwing for 354 yards and four touchdowns. More important for Jacksonville’s long-term health, he got Justin Blackmon going in a big way. Blackmon has been a disappointment all season, but he clearly shows a strong rapport with Henne. Blackmon was targeted 12 times by Henne and caught seven passes for 236 yards, 81 of them coming on a touchdown. While Gabbert may be the quarterback Jacksonville wants long term, keeping Blackmon happy is also a concern. Don’t be surprised to see Henne get a few more shots this year, even when Gabbert is healthy.
Rashad Jennings got his chances in the wake of Maurice Jones-Drew‘s injury, but in four starts he gained just 175 yards on 61 carries. He ran just three times Sunday, while the unheralded Jalen Parmele got 24 totes and finished with 80 yards rushing. MJD’s return is still a bit cloudy, and if Parmele gets the ball a lot next week against Tennessee, don’t be surprised to see him surpass the century mark.
Shonn Greene still looks like the starter – he carried 18 times for 64 yards against the Rams on Sunday, but Bilal Powell appears to be closing the gap. Powell, who was questionable coming into Sunday’s game due to a concussion, finished with 42 yards on 11 carries and the first two touchdowns of his career. Considering how poor their offense has been this season, the Jets will take offense wherever they can find it, so Powell will probably get a number of touches against New England on Thanksgiving.
Now we know why the Patriots have so many tight ends. The devastating news that Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm will send shockwaves throughout the fantasy world. The Patriots possess, in Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, arguably two of the five best fantasy tight ends in the league, but now neither are healthy. Hernandez missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, but with Gronkowski likely to miss the rest of the regular season, Hernandez may find himself “healthy” in time for a Thanksgiving date with the Jets. Visanthe Shiancoe, who was recently activated from the IR, is probably next in line, with Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui also possibilities of Hernandez isn’t ready.
Pierre Garcon returned to the lineup after missing four games with a foot injury, but his return took a back seat to the Robert Griffin III show. Garcon caught three passes – for just five yards – as Washington routed Philadelphia 31-6. Griffin threw four touchdown passes, though none were to Garcon or fellow starter Josh Morgan.
The Saints backfield continues to be a mess, but Mark Ingram might be breaking out of the pack. Ingram started Sunday and finished with 12 carries for 67 yards and a score, which is about what Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas combined to do. Darren Sproles should be back soon to complicate matters, but now that the Saints are winning, they may not mess with success.
Ben Roethlisberger will miss about three weeks with rib and shoulder injuries suffered last Monday, so the Steelers are going to have to make their push into the playoffs with Byron Leftwich, who hadn’t started a game since 2009 before Sunday night’s battle with Baltimore. Although Leftwich scored on a long run, his passing stats weren’t quite as good: 18-for-39 for 201 yards and an interception.
It’s almost as if Steelers coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t care about what’s going on in the fantasy world. Given that no one ever seems to know anything about what’s going on in the Steel City, we’ll just report that facts and let you figure it out: Rashard Mendenhall returned from an Achilles’ injury, started and ran 11 times for 33 yards. Jonathan Dwyer had 12 carries for 55 yards. Isaac Redman ran just once, but reportedly suffered a concussion in the game. One of those players will start next week. One, or two or three of them will receive significant carries. That’s all we know.
Although Owen Daniels returned from a one-game absence due to a hip injury, last week’s starter Garrett Graham was still productive, hauling in eight catches for 82 yards and two scores. Daniels wasn’t bad himself, catching six for 57 yards, and as long as Matt Schaub is around to complete 43 passes for 527 yards, it looks like there’s enough to go around in Houston.