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Depth Chart Watch: What's at Stake in Training Camp

Kenn Ruby

Kenn Ruby

Kenn has been writing and editing for RotoWire since 2003. Though he attended Northwestern with the co-founders of RotoWire, he is not considered a made member of the RotoWire Northwestern mafia, as he can't trace back all of his ancestors to Dan Okrent.

BEARS WR: While Devin Hester and Johnny Knox are the starters, don't go to sleep on Devin Aromashodu, who caught a touchdown on August 13 and will be playing in the slot this year. The threesome appear to be well ahead of Earl Bennett on the depth chart, so those hoping to find a sleeper in Bennett may want to look elsewhere.

BILLS QB: We shouldn't read much into the fact that Buffalo sat Brian Brohm in the preseason opener in favor of Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills plan on playing Brohm much more in game number two. It's still anybody's game in the rare three-player battle for the starting quarterback job.

BILLS RB: A week ago, the Bills had an embarrassment of riches at running back, but with injuries to Fred Jackson (hand) and Marshawn Lynch (ankle), rookie C.J. Spiller looks like he might be the Opening Day starter by default. Jackson broke his hand in the preseason opener and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks. Lynch sprained his ankle in the same game and will probably miss the preseason (as well as hurt his chances of getting traded to a team in need of a running back). Spiller is now signed, so though Jackson is officially atop the depth chart, Spiller will get plenty of action in the coming months.

BRONCOS QB: Brady Quinn will still get a chance, but Kyle Orton appears to be distancing himself from the pack both in camp and in game situations (he threw for two touchdowns in the first quarter against Cincinnati). Quinn didn't do much, and much bally-hoed Tim Tebow played well also, so Quinn will have his work cut out for him.

BRONCOS RB: Knowshon Moreno may not play at all in the preseason due to a hamstring injury, so the Broncos signed Justin Fargas to back him up. Correll Buckhalter and LenDale White are both hurt, so it won't be tough for Fargas to move up to the second spot on the depth chart.

BRONCOS WR: Right now Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney are the starters, but a lot can happen in the next month with this nondescript crew of receivers. Both have been given time off to rest already, which indicates that they're getting the starter's treatment. Demaryius Thomas is probably next in line, but his foot continues to bother him, and he could slide down the depth chart. Brandon Stokley, Brandon Lloyd, and Eric Decker wait in the wings.

BROWNS RB: With Montario Hardesty out with a knee injury, starter Jerome Harrison had seven carries and James Davis six in the August 14 opener. Hardesty should be back soon to push Harrison, but if his injury lingers, Harrison will probably be able to retain his job.

BROWNS WR: A touchdown in the preseason opener for Brian Robiskie could push him out to the early lead for the No. 2 job in Cleveland. None of the other contenders Josh Cribbs, Chansi Stuckey or Bobby Engram even saw the ball. Cleveland probably has the worst collection of wide receivers in the league, so it won't take much for one receiver to look impressive by comparison.

BUCCANEERS WR: Maurice Stovall and Mike Williams started the preseason opener, but an ankle injury suffered by Stovall could give Arrelious Benn a shot at a starting job. Sammy Stroughter had a nice game, but he's more likely to work out of the slot. Rookies Williams and Benn have both been very impressive in camp, as the Bucs may finally get the strong receivers they've been craving the last few years. Veterans Michael Clayton and Reggie Brown have an uphill battle to crack the rotation, provided they even make the team.

CARDINALS RB: Although Chris Wells suffered a rib injury earlier in the week, it wasn't serious enough to keep him out of the preseason opener. He had 11 carries and two catches including one touchdown and may hold the early lead over Tim Hightower, who only had four carries and one catch. Most believe that Wells is the better talent, but Hightower will still get his touches this year.

CHIEFS RB: Thomas Jones has been running with the first-team offense, and coach Todd Haley says he'll be going with the hot hand this year, but surely Jamaal Charles will have the hot hand more often than the veteran Jones. True, Jones has had a nice late-career resurgence, but it seems likely that Charles will beat him out. Still, if handcuffing is your kind of thing, owning both wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.

COWBOYS WR: Rookie Dez Bryant suffered a high ankle sprain early in camp, so Roy Williams' job is safe for now. Bryant could be back for the end of the preseason, but a lack of reps will probably relegate him to the No. 3 job at best when the season opens.

FALCONS WR: Although Harry Douglas is now completely healed from his 2009 ACL injury and Michael Jenkins is hurt, Douglas was still held out of the August 13 game. Jenkins suffered a shoulder injury early in camp and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, putting his early-season status in jeopardy. Douglas has looked good so far in camp, and Jenkins' injury could push Douglas back to the sleeper status he held last year at this time. Brian Finneran, who started Friday's game, and Kerry Meier are also options, but Douglas is the most likely receiver to steal Jenkins' job.

49ERS RB: The abrupt retirement of backup Glen Coffee opened up a spot for free agent Brian Westbrook, who signed on August 16. Frank Gore is firmly entrenched as the starter, but Westbrook may still have a little bit of gas in the tank and certainly is a greater threat to Gore's playing time than Coffee ever was.

GIANTS WR: Yes, it was mostly in garbage time, but Victor Cruz looked impressive against the Jets in the Giants' preseason opener, catching six passes for 145 yards and three scores. Will the performance be enough to crack the rotation? Looking at the New York receiving crew, we'd have to say an emphatic yes. The top three, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham, have all been battling injuries this summer, and Cruz could very easily shoot up to fourth with Monday's showing. Ramses Barden, Derek Hagan and Sinorice Moss are still in the mix, but keep an eye on Cruz.

JAGUARS WR: Mike Thomas has already "nailed down" the starting job opposite Mike Sims-Walker, but with Jaguars looking like a run-first team this year, this news won't send shockwaves through the fantasy football community.

LIONS RB: While Kevin Smith's knee looks good, he was held out of the preseason opener, paving the way for a nice debut by the Jahvid Best. Best had six carries for 29 yards and caught a pass, but his failure to pull in a pass led to an interception. He'll likely stay ahead of Smith until Smith is 100 percent, but he's still a rookie and will be prone to rookie mistakes.

PACKERS RB: Ryan Grant suffered a concussion in the preseason opener. He's expected to be fine for the regular season, but concussion recoveries can be unpredictable, so keep Brandon Jackson's name handy just in case.

PANTHERS WR: Kenny Moore and Brandon LaFell started the opener, and LaFell has been working with the first-team offense in camp, but all eyes are on Dwayne Jarrett, who has had a disappointing three-year career with Carolina. Jarrett caught just one pass in the opener, but he's impressed coaches and press alike with his maturity and offseason preparation. He's most likely to hold onto the starting job opposite Steve Smith, but he'll be on a short leash with LaFell, Moore, David Gettis and Armanti Edwards all waiting for a chance.

PATRIOTS WR: Wes Welker's amazing recovery continues, and he could be ready for the start of the regular season. Unfortunately, the news for Torry Holt is not as good, as a knee injury will end his season before it even began. Julian Edelman will probably back up Welker again this year, so he shouldn't be the beneficiary of Holt's good fortune (Brandon Tate may be the player moving up into Holt's spot). Edelman is still a good name to know, even if Welker comes back soon.

RAIDERS RB: Michael Bush may be pulling away from Darren McFadden. A hamstring injury has sidelined Run-DMC over the last week or so, and the Raiders are likely getting tired of his constant injury troubles. Bush hasn't exactly been the picture of health in his NFL career (though he played in all 16 games last season), but he's been far less frustrating as a pro than McFadden.

RAMS QB: Sam Bradford was sacked four times in his preseason debut, but he outplayed starter A.J. Feeley. Feeley's hold on the job is pretty tenuous right now - it's only a matter of time before the Rams hand over the reins to the top pick in the 2010 draft.

RAMS WR: Donnie Avery has one starting job sewn up, and the other one seems to be between Laurent Robinson and Keenan Burton. Both played about as well as expected in the preseason opener, so not a lot has been learned about this battle yet, other than the fact that the other nominal contenders, Mardy Gilyard, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson and Brooks Foster, are probably going to battle it out farther down the depth chart this summer.

REDSKINS RB: Coach Mike Shanahan plans to give each of his top three backs Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker an extended look in one preseason game this year, Naturally, Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams got most of the action in the first game. Shanahan was infamous for frustrating fantasy owners with his version of musical chairs in his Denver backfield, and it looks like things in Washington will be similar. If you have to pick one running back here, go with Portis for now.

REDSKINS WR: Right now Santana Moss and Joey Galloway are the starters, but Devin Thomas could easily overtake Galloway, especially when one takes into account the nice 44-yard touchdown he had in the August 13 opener. Bobby Wade, Malcolm Kelly and Roydell Williams should also make contributions this year.

SAINTS RB: The season-ending injury to Lynell Hamilton removed one name from the pecking order. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are secure in their roles, but Hamilton had a shot as a goal-line back in a very good offense. That job may fall to P.J. Hill or Chris Ivory. Right now, Hill has the edge, but Ivory had 30 yards rushing as well as a touchdown in the August 12 game. The Saints pulled Ladell Betts off the waiver wire Monday, so it's possible that they'll just use him instead of the unproven Hill and Ivory.

TEXANS RB: The Houston running back derby has one fewer competitor. Sleeper Ben Tate, who some expected to win the job, is now done for the season with a serious ankle injury. Arian Foster and Steve Slaton will share the duties this coming season, but with Slaton continuing his 2009 trend of dropping the football (he had a key fumble in Saturday's preseason loss), Foster is certainly more loved by his coaches right now.

VIKINGS WR: The Minnesota wide receiver situation is a real mess right now. Not only do they not know who will be throwing the ball to them this year (a certain gray-haired individual needs to make up his mind), but starters Sidney Rice (hip) and Percy Harvin (migraines) haven't been on the field much this summer. Bernard Berrian could earn a larger role with the team as a result, and Jeremiah Johnson, an afterthought when camp began, could see more action as well.