With Sunday's games in the books, here's a brief list of the most significant depth chart changes affecting fantasy leagues:
DALLAS RB - RISING: Tashard Choice. FALLING: Marion Barber. Choice wasn't so bad against the tough Pittsburgh defense, garnering 88 yards - the most Pittsburgh has given up to any rusher this season - on 23 carries. Barber was the subject of many health updates throughout the week before ultimately sitting the game out with a broken right pinkie toe. He'll likely be ready to play by next week, but in case he's not, the Cowboys appear to have a capable backup waiting in the wings.
SAN FRANCISCO RB - RISING: DeShaun Foster. FALLING: Frank Gore. Gore suffered a leg injury in the third quarter Sunday, giving Foster a season-high 16 carries. Foster, if you recall, was the reason DeAngelo Williams didn't become a star until this year, as he topped the Carolina depth chart in both of Williams' first two years in the league. Foster only had 35 yards on Sunday, and for the season he's averaging only 2.1 YPC, so don't go running out to pick him up just yet. Still, if Gore misses any time, Foster will get a chance to see what he can do with 20 carries next week against Miami.
DENVER RB - RISING: Tatum Bell. FALLING: Peyton Hillis. Just when Denver fans were starting to get excited about having a good (and healthy) back, Hillis becomes the latest casualty on the Denver running back carousel. Hillis had 58 yards and a touchdown Sunday before suffering a strained hamstring. The always reliable - and available - Bell stepped in and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Hillis, who has five touchdowns in his last four games, is the sixth Broncos running back to go down with an injury this year. Selvin Young should be back soon, but expect Bell to get the start next week.
SEATTLE QB - RISING: Seneca Wallace. FALLING: Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck has dealt with back issues all season, and missed five games before returning in Week 11. After three games back under center, he was on the shelf again, and Wallace was ready for the challenge. Wallace threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns and also added 47 yards on the ground in a losing effort against New England on Sunday. With Seattle's season effectively over, it would not be a surprise to see Wallace leading the way the rest of the year. Wallace has an 8:1 TD:INT ratio this year and a strong 88.8 passer rating.
HOUSTON QB - RISING: Matt Schaub. FALLING: Sage Rosenfels. Welcome back Matt. Schaub missed four games with a torn MCL but came back with a bang Sunday, throwing for two touchdowns and a career-high 414 yards against the Packers. Rosenfels was adequate in Schaub's stead, but Schaub was in no danger of losing his job. The going will be tougher next week against Tennessee, so don't expect 400 yards again.
MINNESOTA QB - RISING: Tarvaris Jackson. FALLING: Gus Frerotte. Fantasy owners salivating over the matchup with the Lions were sorely disappointed by Frerotte's performance: 70 yards, two interceptions, zero touchdowns, and one back injury. Jackson was the beneficiary of the soft Detroit D, throwing for 105 yards and a score in the second half in the come-from-behind victory. Frerotte's injury was diagnosed as a lower back bruise, and it's a bit early to know if he'll be available next week, but with the Vikes possibly heading to the playoffs, they won't want to rush Frerotte back. Look for Jackson to get the start against Arizona next Sunday.
OAKLAND QB - RISING: Andrew Walter. FALLING: JaMarcus Russell. Most people haven't been using Russell this year, so his sprained ankle probably did not send shockwaves through your league. Despite the disappointing season Russell has had, Thursday's game was surprisingly the first time all season he threw two picks in the same game. Walter relieved him in the second half and was just as bad. Russell's injury was supposedly not serious, and the Raiders will get a little bit extra rest before their Week 15 game, so he might not miss any additional time. On the other hand, the Raiders are 3-10 and might be starting to regret picking Russell first overall in 2007. Walter is certainly not the future of this club, but he could get another chance while Oakland plays out the string.
Article first appeared 12/8/08