With Sunday's games in the books, here's a brief list of the most significant depth chart changes affecting fantasy leagues:
NEW ORLEANS RB - RISING: Deuce McAllister. FALLING: Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. After garnering just two rushes in the first three games, McAllister was the surprise starter Sunday. He finished with 73 yards on 20 carries, including a touchdown. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush was a non-factor with 31 yards on the ground and just seven in the air. Bush will continue to have value, particularly in PPR leagues, but Sunday's performance signifies that McAllister is now healthy, making Bush far from an automatic choice every week. The real loser here is Thomas, who carved out a nice niche as Bush's backup, but was practically invisible on offense Sunday. Now that the Deuce is loose, feel free to cut Thomas in shallow leagues.
ARIZONA WR - RISING: Steve Breaston. FALLING: Anquan Boldin. A healthy Boldin is not in any danger of losing his starting job to Breaston, but Boldin may have a concussion after a vicious hit. Breaston caught nine passes for 122 yards before Boldin got hurt, but the Cardinals abandoned their running game due to a 34-0 halftime deficit. Still, if Boldin is out for any length of time, Breaston could put up numbers worthy of fantasy interest. Jerheme Urban, who caught a touchdown Sunday, also figures to see increased opportunities in Boldin's absence.
CINCINNATI QB - RISING: Ryan Fitzpatrick. FALLING: Carson Palmer. Although the weather was better than the last time Cincinnati played a home game, the offense was just as bad. This performance can't be completely blamed on Palmer though, as he missed the game with a sore elbow. Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who hadn't thrown a regular-season pass since 2005. Fitzpatrick did connect with the wide receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson for a TD in the fourth quarter, but that hardly makes up for his four turnovers in a 20-12 loss to the Browns. An MRI on Palmer's elbow revealed no structural damage, but that doesn't mean it's not a serious ailment. Fitzpatrick could get another shot next week.
NEW ORLEANS WR - RISING: Lance Moore. FALLING: David Patten. We thought that Patten would step up when Marques Colston went down with an injury, but it's Moore who has inherited Colston's fantasy-friendly numbers. Moore started Sunday and didn't disappoint, finishing with seven catches for 101 yards and two scores. With 14 catches in the last two weeks, he's now Drew Brees' favorite receiver. Patten, who had been hobbled with a sore groin all week, caught just one pass. Meanwhile Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem combined for 180 yards on three catches. At this rate, Patten will be the odd man out when Colston returns to action.
ST. LOUIS QB - RISING: Trent Green. Falling: Marc Bulger. It's not 1999 anymore - St. Louis isn't exactly the best place to look for a good quarterback. While Green was once a halfway-decent signal caller and it's possible he's the cure to whatever disease the Rams currently have, Bulger could be returned to the starting gig now that defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has taken over as interim head coach following the dismissal of Scott Linehan. Green threw for 236 yards and the Rams led the Bills as late as the fourth quarter, so it's entirely possible that he'll get another chance this week, but tread carefully here.
PACKERS QB - RISING: Matt Flynn. Falling: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has plenty of experience holding the clipboard in Green Bay, and thanks to a couple of pops on his shoulder Sunday, he could be doing it again soon. The speculation is that Rodgers' shoulder is separated, which probably means he's out for two or three weeks. Flynn, a rookie from LSU, replaced Rodgers twice on Sunday and finished the game. Fellow rookie Brian Brohm will get a few extra snaps in practice this week, but the job is Flynn's while Rodgers is on the shelf.
OAKLAND RB - RISING: Michael Bush. Falling: Darren McFadden. Oakland has a nice stable of talented backs this year, but they are all having problems staying healthy. Justin Fargas is already sidelined with a sore groin, and Sunday's starter McFadden was limited to just seven ineffective carries thanks to an ongoing toe injury. Michael Bush, who missed all of last season with an injury, stepped in for McFadden, finishing with 48 yards rushing and 80 yards receiving. The Raiders are off next week, with Fargas due back to return soon, so Bush's time at the top of the food chain could be short-lived.
KANSAS CITY QB - RISING: Damon Huard. Falling: Tyler Thigpen. Speaking of short-lived, how'd you like starting at quarterback, Mr. Thigpen? After a dreadful performance in the starting role in Week 3, Thigpen went back to the bench Sunday, where he'll likely stay unless more injuries befall Huard. The Chiefs have already started three quarterbacks this year, but Huard was the first one to earn a win (though he should probably send a thank you note to Larry Johnson for that). Huard threw a touchdown and minimized mistakes as Kansas City surprised Denver 33-19. With Brodie Croyle out for awhile and Thigpen clearly not the answer, Huard should hold onto the job for at least the next few weeks.
Article first appeared 9/29/08