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Depth Chart Watch: Revolving Running Backs

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.

CARDINALS RB: Chris Wells was back in the starting lineup Sunday after a near two-game absence, but he still managed only eight carries despite the promotion. While Wells gained a respectable 39 yards, he has just 270 yards on 78 carries this year, meaning his breakout will be delayed until next season at the earliest. Tim Hightower finished with 12 rushes for 62 yards, but as Wells gets healthier, Hightower will probably go back to getting only a fraction of the carries Wells receives whether Wells deserves them or not.

CHIEFS RB: Thomas Jones was back atop the Kansas City depth chart after last week’s debacle against the Broncos. This time Jones made the most of his 15 carries, gaining 71 yards and scoring twice. Of course, Jamaal Charles was still better as usual, racking up 88 yards on 12 carries and 38 more on four receptions. Keep playing Jones if you have to; at least since his coach seems to have a lot of confidence in him.

CHIEFS TE: Tony Moeaki has been an OK tight end this season, catching 31 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns, but he hasn’t scored in two months and his averaging only 42.5 yards/game over his last six games. Moeaki sat out Sunday’s game with a head injury, ceding the starting job to Leonard Pope, who didn’t catch the one pass thrown to him. Jake O’Connell also saw a little action Sunday, finishing with two catches for 24 yards. Moeaki should be able to return soon, so neither Pope nor O’Connell is worth picking up even if you are desperate for a tight end.

COLTS WR: Though Austin Collie returned from a concussion-induced absence, he took a few hard hits early and didn’t play in the second half Sunday. Blair White took his place in the lineup, and this time he delivered with five receptions – including two touchdowns – for 42 yards. Expect Collie to sit out at least one more game, regardless of whether or not his latest injury is deemed a concussion.

DOLPHINS QB: Chad Henne was the emergency third quarterback Thursday, perhaps indicating that his knee injury is not as severe as first feared, but Chad Pennington was placed on IR last Monday. Tyler Thigpen is currently the starting quarterback, and newly-acquired Patrick Ramsey will the backup for the time being. The Fins were shut out in their first game with Thigpen behind center, though he hardly deserves all the blame since Brandon Marshall left the game with a hamstring injury and the offensive line is a bit banged up. With a little more time to prepare in Week 12, Thigpen should be better.

JAGUARS WR: One of the more frustrating fantasy players all season, Mike Sims-Walker, sat out Sunday’s game with an ankle injury even though he was able to practice Friday. Tiquan Underwood started in his place, and although Underwood was targeted five times, he only caught one pass for seven yards. Fellow starter Mike Thomas, however, continued his strong play with five catches for 36 yards and a score. Thomas looks to be the Jaguar wideout to own the rest of the way.

LIONS RB: Jahvid Best tried to run on a couple of injured toes Sunday, but he found the going a bit too tough and left the game after just three carries (though he did catch four passes as well). With Kevin Smith already done for the year, Maurice Morris took over as the primary ball carrier for the Lions. Morris is in his eighth NFL season, but there is a reason he has spent nearly his entire career as a backup. Morris had 10 carries for 31 yards Sunday but will be in line for more on Thanksgiving if the Lions hold out Best as expected.

PACKERS WR: Donald Driver may be back, but the way Aaron Rodgers is throwing the ball, any Green Bay wide receiver – starter or reserve – could have value. James Jones, who filled in for Driver the last few games, had three catches for 51 yards and a score, while Driver had four catches for 31 yards in his return. Of course, the monster in the room was Greg Jennings, who caught three touchdown passes and finished with 152 yards on seven receptions.

PANTHERS QB: Carolina’s quarterback carousel stopped on the unlikely Brian St. Pierre last week. Though he threw an 88-yard touchdown pass to David Gettis in the fourth quarter, he also served up to pick-sixes to the opposing Ravens. Tony Pike missed out on a chance to start with Jimmy Clausen out with a concussion and Matt Moore done for the season. The Panthers are a mess no matter who plays QB, so there’s no harm in giving St. Pierre another shot this week.

RAIDERS QB: Bruce Gradkowski replaced an ineffective Jason Campbell Sunday, and with the Raiders playing like they had in the last several seasons rather than the team we saw in the first half of 2010, it would not be a surprise to see Oakland give Gradkowski another shot soon. That being said, it wasn’t like Gradkowski was much better than Campbell. Even with the Dolphins coming to town in Week 12, neither quarterback looks like a good play right now.

REDSKINS RB: That didn’t last long. Clinton Portis returned to the Redskins on Sunday but only lasted five carries before aggravating the groin injury that kept him out of action for five games. Keiland Williams is the last Washington running back standing as both Ryan Torain and Chad Simpson are also sidelined with injuries. With Portis looking doubtful for Week 12, expect Williams to get the bulk of rushes again after setting a career high in carries for the third game in a row.

SAINTS TE: With Jeremy Shockey out Sunday with sore ribs, David Thomas got the start and Jimmy Graham and Tory Humphrey provided relief. Though Thomas was targeted six times, the trio was mostly left out of the offense, combining for just 38 yards on three catches. Shockey is expected to return in Week 12, so none of the three backups looks like he will capitalize open his absence.

TITANS QB: Vince Young suffered a flexor tendon injury on Sunday and may need season-ending surgery, but his behavior during and after the game may have marked the end of his tenure as the Tennessee quarterback regardless of the injury. Young abruptly left the field and threw his jersey into the stands, among other offenses, and tough coach Jeff Fisher won’t be having any of it. With Kerry Collins nursing a calf injury, the Titans were forced to turn to Rusty Smith, who was unable to muster much offense against a Washington defense that gave up 59 points just six days earlier.

VIKINGS WR: Minnesota welcomed back Sidney Rice in a big way Sunday - Brett Favre targeted him a whopping ten times in his first game of the year. Rice caught just three passes for 56 yards, but the Vikings really needed something from the position with both Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian at less than 100 percent. Both Harvin and Berrian played Sunday, but they combined for just two catches for 12 yards, and Berrian was not even targeted. Still, with a healthy Rice on board, Harvin should have some value down the stretch.