With Sunday's games in the books, here's a brief list of the most significant depth chart changes affecting fantasy leagues:
INDIANAPOLIS RB - RISING: Dominic Rhodes. FALLING: Joseph Addai. The official word after Sunday's game was that Addai's hamstring injury, suffered in the first quarter, wasn't serious. The Colts were up big early, and there was no reason to rush him back into the game. Still, it's interesting to note that the Indianapolis offense played its best game of the year largely without Addai, and Rhodes contributed with a third quarter touchdown. Hammy injuries to running backs have a tendency to linger, so Rhodes could be in line for more carries in the coming weeks, especially with third stringer Mike Hart also going down with an injury Sunday.
DENVER RB - RISING: Michael Pittman. FALLING: Selvin Young and Andre Hall. With Young sitting out the Jacksonville game with a strained groin, most prognosticators figured Pittman would, at best, share the ball with Hall. Instead Pittman had 20 carries for 109 yards while Hall was limited to special teams duty. Pittman, who added three receptions for 16 yards, might even have an outside shot at keeping the job when Young returns next week as expected.
TAMPA BAY RB - RISING: Warrick Dunn. FALLING: Earnest Graham. Graham and Dunn had been fairly even - with a slight edge to Graham - in the number of touches they'd received this year. That all changed in a big way Sunday, as Dunn had 25 touches to Graham's seven. Graham scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a one yard plunge, so the day was not a total loss, but Dunn's 115 yards on the ground will probably earn him the starting job in Tampa Bay's next game.
SEATTLE QB - RISING: Charlie Frye and Seneca Wallace. FALLING: Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck sat out Sunday's game with a bone bruise on his right knee, and the injury looks serious enough that he's not expected to play next week either. Although Frye threw for two touchdowns he also threw two picks and managed just 83 yards on 23 pass attempts. Wallace should take some reps with the first team during practice, but Seattle probably won't decide on a quarterback until late in the week.
JACKSONVILLE RB - RISING: Maurice Jones-Drew. FALLING: Fred Taylor. Jones-Drew had his best game of the season - by far - Sunday. Perhaps not coincidentally, Taylor suffered a head injury in the first quarter, limiting him to just three carries. MJD exploded for 125 yards and two touchdowns, giving fantasy owners a taste of what they could be having if he had a job all to himself. Taylor returned to the game in the third quarter, so the injury was probably not a concussion or anything that might keep him out for any amount of time. With the Jags off next week, Taylor could still keep his spot atop the Jacksonville depth chart, but the carries may be a bit more evenly distributed in the coming weeks.
BALTIMORE RB - RISING: Ray Rice. FALLING: Le'Ron McClain. Have things come full circle in Charm City? Rice was a bit of a sleeper heading into the season playing behind the frail Willis McGahee. McClain took the shine off Rice with a big Week 1 performance and has quietly been one of the biggest fantasy surprises this season. On Sunday, with McGahee hurt again, Rice had six carries for 23 yards and added seven receptions for 64 yards. McClain, on the other hand, had a grand total of zero yards on two carries and a reception. Baltimore was outscored 17-0 in the first quarter and never recovered, so who got the ball ultimately may not matter a whole lot. Still, Rice fans have to be happy with this performance, and he could be first in line for a heavy workload if McGahee's injury ends up being serious.
OAKLAND RB - RISING: Justin Fargas. FALLING: Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Fargas is back, but the Oakland running game couldn't get anything going against the Saints. Fargas, who had missed the last two games, had just 35 yards on 10 carries. McFadden was no better, gaining 30 on eight attempts, and Bush had just three carries. With neither McFadden nor Bush taking advantage of Fargas' absence, Fargas and McFadden will continue to form a timeshare until one clearly overtakes the other.
PHILADELPHIA WR - RISING: Hank Baskett. FALLING: Reggie Brown. How the Eagles scored 40 points Sunday is anybody's guess, given that they were missing three key cogs in their offense: Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis, and Brown. It certainly helped that they were adequately replaced by Correll Buckhalter, DeSean Jackson, and Baskett. With Brown out with a groin injury, Baskett got the start and caught four passes for 36 yards, scoring once. Jackson and Baskett have kept the Philly offense afloat while Brown and Curtis have been out, but with a bye this week, the whole offense could be healthy when Philadelphia resumes play in Week 8.
SEATTLE WR - RISING: Koren Robinson. FALLING: Deion Branch. Last week we surmised that somebody would have to take Branch's spot in the starting lineup and listed four candidates. One name that was neglected was Koren Robinson. Naturally, he was the one who got the start. A former future star, Robinson never quite lived up to the hype after he was drafted by Seattle in 2001. He had a couple of good years with the Seahawks, but he lost his way due to substance abuse problems. Now he's back where it all began, and although he only had two catches for 23 yards Sunday, he should see more action as he gets healthier.
CINCINNATI QB - RISING: Ryan Fitzpatrick. FALLING: Carson Palmer. The Bengals are the last winless team in the AFC, and things aren't getting any better in Cincinnati. Palmer is seeking a second opinion on his elbow, and he could be shut down for awhile. Fitzpatrick got back behind center against the Jets Sunday, and while he may have faired a bit better in this start that he did in his first start two weeks ago, it was still a bit uninspiring.
Article first appeared 10/13/08