With Sunday's games in the books, here's a brief list of the most significant depth chart changes affecting fantasy leagues:
Oakland RB - Rising: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush. Falling: Justin Fargas. Fortunately so far, Week 2 didn't provide the slew of major injuries that Week 1 did. In fact, the most impactful injury might have been Justin Fargas' groin injury, suffered in the second quarter of the win over the Chiefs. With Fargas out, McFadden got his first big breakout, running 21 times for 164 yards and a touchdown, though he did lose a fumble. Bush also played a big role, carrying 16 times for 90 yards and a touchdown, and a lost fumble of his own. One thing that's quite clear is that the Raiders are going to try to run as frequently as possible, something that they weren't able to do in Week 1 after falling behind early against the Broncos.
Minnesota WR - Rising: Bobby Wade. Falling: Sidney Rice. Rice felt something "pop" in his right knee in the Vikings' loss to the Colts. He's due for an MRI on Monday, and the early consensus is that he could be out for a while. Filling in Rice's shoes is Bobby Wade, who had three catches for 42 yards on Sunday.
New England RB - Rising: Sammy Morris. Falling: Laurence Maroney. For the second week in a row, Morris and not Maroney got the goal-line carries and a touchdown. Maroney dealt with a shoulder injury during the game, though he later returned and had a carry during the game's final series. Still, he had just eight carries for 16 yards. Outside of short-yardage situations, the most effective ball carrier was LaMont Jordan, who had 62 yards on 11 carries, many of them coming late in the game with the Patriots protecting a lead.
Tampa Bay QB - Rising: Brian Griese. Falling: Jeff Garcia. Griese got the win in a caretaker role against the Falcons, averaging just 5.2 yards per attempt without turning the ball over. That should probably be just enough to allow him to start in Week 3 in Chicago. You're probably not going to want any part of Griese in his homecoming game against that Bears defense, particularly if Joey Galloway's foot injury keeps him out.
Tennessee RB - Rising: Chris Johnson. Falling: LenDale White. It's probably unfair to classify this as a classic rising/falling situation, so consider it the identification of an emerging effective platoon, much like Oakland and Carolina. Johnson is now the starter and generally is more involved in the offense. He's going to be in on passing downs as well as many early down situations. White actually had 18 carries plus the red-zone touchdown, but eight of his carries came in the fourth quarter when the Titans were grinding out the clock. Those can be effective carries for fantasy purposes, but they won't always be guaranteed to be in that position.
Carolina RB - Rising: Jonathan Stewart. Falling: DeAngelo Williams. In Week 1, Williams got more action and was the more effective of the two backs, but that reversed itself on Sunday. Not only did Stewart average more per carry and get more touches, but he also got the two goal-line touchdowns and the bulk of the carries in the second half. Both running backs should continue to share time, but don't be surprised if Stewart ends up getting the majority of the playing time.
Miami WR - Rising: Greg Camarillo, Derek Hagan. Falling: Ted Ginn Jr. The Dolphins' offense was anemic on Sunday, scoring their only touchdown late when Chad Henne was at the helm at quarterback, replacing an ineffective Chad Pennington. Pennington is the likely starter again next week, which means that Camarillo and Hagan will get more targets than Ginn in yet another tough matchup next week, at New England. Camarillo particularly benefits in place of Ginn, because of Pennington's propensity to dump it off short rather than attacking downfield.
New Orleans WR - Rising: David Patten. Falling: Devery Henderson. This actually went more according to plan, following Marques Colston's thumb injury. Patten is more of a possession receiver, whereas Henderson is a feast-or-famine guy. One of the tougher spots in fantasy football is debating between a high-upside home run threat and a possession receiver like Patten. In a PPR league, Patten seems like an obvious choice. Henderson's owners also have to worry about Robert Meachem taking away his targets. It was Meachem that caught Drew Brees' lone touchdown pass this week. Patten had five catches for 55 yards against the Redskins, while Henderson was limited to two catches for six yards.
Seattle WR/TE - Rising: John Carlson, Billy McMullen and Michael Bumpus. Falling: Seneca Wallace, Logan Payne and Courtney Taylor. The Seahawks are going through wide receivers quicker than Spinal Tap went through drummers. Wallace injured his calf in pregame warm-ups and didn't play at all. Payne became Seattle's sixth injured wide receiver when he tore a knee ligament, which will likely end his season. Taylor was targeted less frequently than in Week 1, and then failed to connect with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on an end-zone pattern in the second half - clearly losing the confidence of his quarterback. The real beneficiary has been rookie tight end John Carlson, who led the Seahawks with seven catches for 78 yards. McMullen wasn't even supposed to play, but was forced into action after the injuries to Wallace and Payne, and responded with three catches for 48 yards. Bumpus caught only two passes on Sunday, but got more involved in the offense as the game progressed. Look for Seattle to be active in trying out receivers early in the week.
Jacksonville WR - Rising: Matt Jones. Falling: Jerry Porter. Porter once again wasn't able to play in Week 2, allowing Jones to start in his spot. For the second week in a row, Jones was David Garrard's favorite target, catching five passes for 50 yards. While he's hardly a threat to move into the fantasy elite, it's increasingly likely he'll still be involved whether Porter is active for a given week or not.
Chicago WR - Rising: Marty Booker, Brandon Lloyd. Falling: Devin Hester. Hester left Sunday's loss to the Panthers with a rib injury, giving Booker more reps on the field. Booker didn't really do much with his opportunity, catching one pass for just four yards. Lloyd was the leading target on Sunday, even before Hester got hurt. Temper your expectations, no matter Hester's status, as our expectations for the Bears' passing game are appropriately limited.
Detroit RB - Rising: Kevin Smith. Falling: Rudi Johnson. Smith already was the starter ahead of Johnson, but it's worth noting the degree of Smith's dominance in the game plan. Smith had 10 carries to Johnson's one, and four catches to none for Johnson. Of course, it's pretty hard to establish a running back like Johnson when you're playing catch-up, as the Lions did for the second straight week after falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter. If and when the Lions have a lead to protect, it might be a different story, but for now it looks like Johnson is on the team just for depth purposes, rather than as a legitimate challenger to Smith's starting job.
Article first appeared 9/15/08