Carnell Williams left Sunday's game in the first quarter with a season-ending knee injury. The Tampa Bay offense hardly missed a beat, as backups Earnest Graham and Michael Pittman combined for 138 yards on 32 rushes. Graham, who might not be used to do the heavy workload, scored on a one-yard plunge, but he was outplayed by Pittman. Although the Bucs announced Pittman and Graham will share the job, expect Pittman to be the feature back with Graham more of a short-yardage guy.
Deuce McAllister is out for the year after suffering a torn ACL on Sept. 24. His loss is Reggie Bush’s gain. Bush has been sharing carries with McAllister throughout his career, but now as the feature back, his value should skyrocket.
Lamont Jordan left Sunday’s affair with an injury, opening the door for Justin Fargas to explode for 179 yards on just 22 carries. The Raiders are off next week, giving Jordan a little extra time to recuperate, but with the emergence of Fargas and return of the suspended Dominic Rhodes looming, Jordan’s value took a major hit Sunday.
Chester Taylor returned from a hip injury and was in the starting lineup against Green Bay, but he continues to be outplayed by rookie Adrian Peterson. Taylor rattled off a 37-yard carry in the third quarter but was otherwise ineffective. Meanwhile, Peterson tallied 112 yards on just 12 carries, including a 55-yarder. The two will continue to share carries, but Peterson should continue to be far more valuable this year.
Derrick Ward looked good again Sunday, finishing with 80 yards on 19 rushes. However, Brandon Jacobs should be back next week, so it will be interesting to see how the Giants split the carries. Ward is ninth in the NFL in rushing yards.
Kevin Jones has reported no pain in his surgically repaired foot, but he’s still not the sole running back in the Detroit offense. Tatum Bell surprisingly started against the Bears and finished with 46 yards on 11 carries. Jones’ numbers were similar (10 carries for 38 yards), but he scored a key fourth-quarter touchdown. It looks like they’ll split things for a little while longer, but eventually Jones should be the No. 1 back.
Joseph Addai will have an MRI on his shoulder this week and could miss the Tampa Bay game. It originally looked like the injury was not serious, but if he sits out, Kenton Keith, who had 80 yards in relief of Addai Sunday, would likely start.
Ahman Green out with a strained knee, Ron Dayne was pressed into action against Atlanta, rushing 15 times for 62 yards. Jameel Cook only carried twice, and Samkon Gado didn’t touch the ball once. As long as Green is out, it looks like Dayne will be the only Houston running back worth considering. Cook did catch six passes, but he mostly played during the two-minute drills at the end of each half.
Despite spraining his ankle and aggravating a knee injury, Travis Henry still rushed for 131 yards on 26 carries against the Colts. He was noticeably limping after the game and will have an MRI this week. Fortunately for Denver, backup Selvin Young has looked outstanding in limited action, including 81 yards on just eight carries in the Indianapolis game. Young’s 9.2 yards/carry this season will naturally decline as he plays more, but he’s someone to target if Henry misses any time.
DeShaun Foster continued to put some distance between DeAngelo Williams and himself with 64 yards on 15 carries and three receptions. Williams, who caught a 24-yard touchdown, only carried the ball twice. Williams might have a bigger upside than Foster, but Foster has the job for now.
Brian Westbrook missed the Giants game Sunday with an abdominal strain, but Correll Buckhalter filled in admirably, finishing with 103 yards rushing on just 17 carries, and four receptions for 30 yards. The Eagles are off next week, and Westbrook will presumably be back in the starting lineup in Week 6.
Just when it looked like Julius Jones was done, he came back to life on Sunday with 13 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown. Marion Barber gained 50 yards on only eight carries, but Jones scored from the two and was used more often in short-yardage situations. Jones is probably not worth starting in most leagues due to the way his playing time has been managed, but he’s worth stashing on your bench if you have room.
The Patriots didn’t need Laurence Maroney against the Bengals on Monday, as Sammy Morris rushed for 117 yards on 21 carries. Maroney sat out with a minor groin injury as New England continues to treat him with kid gloves. With a backup like Morris, however, Maroney should get plenty of rest in the foreseeable future.
Going up against the stout Minnesota run defense and missing starter Brandon Jackson due to a strained shin, Green Bay went with a “running back by committee” approach Sunday. DeShawn Wynn started and carried 10 times, but the Green Bay rushing woes continued. Wynn, Ryan Grant and Vernand Morency (in his 2007 debut) combined for just 39 yards on the ground, and overall the Packers had just 46 rushing yards on 20 carries. Jackson should be back soon, but none of the Green Bay running backs is a good fantasy option this year.
Kenny Watson started Monday’s loss to the Patriots with Rudi Johnson out with a hamstring injury. Watson had 55 yards on 13 carries, but will head back to the bench when Johnson returns, presumably next week.
In consecutive weeks, backup Kurt Warner outplayed starter Matt Leinart and brought the Cardinals from behind to win. The Cardinals will probably continue with this unique timeshare as long as it works, but don’t be surprised to see Warner starting – and finishing – a game sometime soon.
Alex Smith was knocked out of the Seattle game early with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Trent Dilfer, who struggled to the tune of 12-of-33 passing for 128 yards and two interceptions. Smith will miss at least one game, but it’s not known how long he’ll be out. The San Francisco offense has not looked good the first quarter of the season, so it’s doubtful this injury produced shockwaves in most leagues.
Steve McNair, sore groin and all, played his first full game of the season in a 27-13 loss to Cleveland. With 307 yards passing on a career-high 53 attempts, McNair’s final numbers looked decent enough, but it’s clear he’s not the quarterback he once was. Don’t be surprised to see Kyle Boller playing more and more the next several weeks.
Daunte Culepper played the entire game against Miami and posted one of the strangest stat lines ever. He completed just five passes in 12 attempts for just 75 yards. However, two of those five completions were touchdowns to Jerry Porter, and Culpepper ran in three scores. Josh McCown missed the game with a toe injury, but, barring an injury to Culpepper, he’s probably not going to start again this season.
The Bears finally benched Rex Grossman, and Brian Griese’s first test was against the shaky Detroit defense. Although he threw for 286 yards and two scores, Griese also threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. Griese will get another shot next week, but he doesn’t look like the long-term answer at quarterback either.
J.P. Losman sat out the Jets game with a sprained MCL, giving rookie Trent Edwards his first NFL start. Edwards looked decent – 22-for-28 for 234 yards and a touchdown – but he shouldn’t get too comfortable. Losman is expected to miss only one more game, and it’s possible he could return as early as next week.
Mark Bulger is playing with broken ribs, and considering he’s playing behind a decimated offensive line and handing off to a backup running back, it’s no wonder his numbers have taken a tumble this season. Gus Frerotte finally replaced him in the third quarter of the Dallas game, and while Bulger is in no danger of losing his job, he might need to take a week off to get healthy.
Although at this time last week Carolina was downplaying Jake Delhomme’s elbow injury, now there is some speculation that he might need season-ending surgery. David Carr started Sunday and threw a touchdown pass, but was otherwise unspectacular. If Delhomme gets the surgery, Carr’s value goes up considerably, but he’s still not someone to start on a regular basis.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Marvin Harrison left Sunday’s game early with a bruised knee, and he could miss the Tampa Bay game. Anthony Gonzalez would probably start if Harrison misses the game, but the Colts are more likely to lean more heavily on Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark than they already do, making Gonzalez an afterthought.
Calvin Johnson missed the Chicago game with a back injury, and Shaun McDonald responded with three receptions and another touchdown. McDonald won’t pass Johnson on the depth chart, but as long as Detroit continues to air it out, both of them, along with starters Roy Williams and Mike Furrey, will be valuable as fantasy receivers.
Brandon Stokley was elevated to the starting lineup when Javon Walker sat out Sunday with a sore knee, but he only caught two passes for 20 yards. Brandon Marshall, who caught a touchdown against the Colts, remains a better option, but both should see an increase in opportunities if the Broncos have to get used to playing without Walker.
With Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones both missing the Atlanta game with injuries, Andre Davis caught five passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, and Kevin Walter and tight end Owen Daniels both made significant contributions as well. Johnson should return soon and be the go-to receiver, but Jones could find himself the odd man out if the rest of the receivers keep playing well.
Nate Washington – and not Cedrick Wilson as we speculated last week – replaced Hines Ward in the starting lineup against the Cardinals. While Ward nursed his leg injury, Washington had just two catches for 18 yards and Wilson was shut out completely. Apart from Santonio Holmes, who had 128 yards receiving and two scores, the Pittsburgh offense struggled with Ward out.
Article first appeared 10/2/07