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Depth Chart Watch: Mining For Gold

Kenn Ruby

Kenn Ruby

Kenn has been writing and editing for RotoWire since 2003. Though he attended Northwestern with the co-founders of RotoWire, he is not considered a made member of the RotoWire Northwestern mafia, as he can't trace back all of his ancestors to Dan Okrent.

BEARS WR: Roy Williams and Earl Bennett started Sundayís game, but Williams exited with a groin injury and Bennett totaled just two catches for 11 yards. Meanwhile, Johnny Knox and Devin Hester each caught three passes for 60 yards. If Williamsí injury lingers, expect Knox to take his rightful place in the starting lineup.

BENGALS QB: Rookie Andy Dalton went 10-for-15 for 81 yards and a touchdown before leaving with a wrist injury. Bruce Gradkowski led the Bengals to victory in the second half, and though he completed just five of 12 passes, he threw a heads-up touchdown pass to A.J. Green with the Browns napping. X-rays were negative on Daltonís wrist, so one would have to think the starting job is still his as long as he can play.

BUCCANEERS RB: Apparently there is some kind of running back committee in Tampa. Earlier in the week, coaches stated that LeGarrette Blount would share touches with Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin, but the assumption was that Blount would still be the lead ballcarrier. However, he had just five totes for 15 yards on Sunday. Graham carried six times for 13 yards while Lumpkin didnít receive any carries. The Bucs were behind early, but that doesnít totally explain the scant carries for Blount. Blount received one of his carries in the fourth quarter, so he probably wasnít hiding an injury.

CHARGERS RB: Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert each received 12 carries Sunday, but itís already clear which one will be the more valuable fantasy performer this year. Tolbert caught nine passes and scored three times, including on a one-yard strike from Philip Rivers. Mathews had a decent day himself, totaling 45 yards rushing and 73 yards receiving. It looks like Mathews will be used more between the 20s, but Tolbert will be the one racking up the important scores.

CHARGERS K: Nate Kaeding had quite possibly the worst opening play of anyoneís season, ever. Not only was his kickoff returned for a touchdown, but he also tore his ACL on the play and is done for the year. Punter Mike Scifres handled Kaedingís duties Sunday, but expect the Chargers to find a real placekicker off the waiver wire in the next few days.

COLTS QB: With Brett Favre not playing this year, Peyton Manning has the early lead for the seasonís most over-played story; but at least his story is news. Manning underwent another neck procedure last week that will keep him out at least two months and maybe longer. Kerry Collins made his regular-season debut with the Colts, and the results were uninspiring. His numbers were respectable (197 yards and a TD), but the Colts were blown out by Houston, and Collins fumbled three times.

49ERS WR: Michael Crabtree was healthy enough to play Sunday, but he didnít last long and needed additional X-rays taken on his surgically-repaired foot. He expects to be ready next week, but Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn could get more snaps if he Crabtree is unable to play. Ginn didnít do anything offensively Sunday, but he managed to return both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

JAGUARS QB: In a surprising move, the Jaguars cut David Garrard just days before the season began, installing Luke McCown as the starter. McCown threw for 175 yards in Sundayís win over the Titans and didnít make any glaring errors, but heís just keeping the seat warm for rookie Blaine Gabbert. If the Jags keep winning, however, McCown should keep his job.

PACKERS RB: Ryan Grant got the start Thursday, but itís looking more and more likely that James Starks is passing him by. Though Grant played well against New Orleans, Starks had more carries (12 to nine), more yards (57 to 40) and scored a touchdown. Alex Green is still waiting in the wings as well, though fullback John Kuhn scored on a one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter and could be more valuable than Green this year.

PANTHERS WR: Legedu Naanee was given every opportunity to win a starting job, but he ultimately lost it to Brandon LaFell, who caught four passes for 70 yards Sunday. Given the way Cam Newton played in his first game (422 yards passing), Carolinaís number two receiver might be worth something after all. Their top receiver is certainly worth something: Steve Smith had eight catches for 178 yards and two scores in Week 1.

RAMS QB: Sam Bradford was removed late from Sundayís game with a finger injury, and although X-rays were negative, he could have nerve damage. Bradford, who was replaced by A.J. Feeley, indicated after the game that he didnít ďsee there being any wayĒ he wouldnít play next week, but he probably didnít have time for medical school while he was at the University of Oklahoma.

RAMS RB: Steven Jackson got off to a quick start with a 47-yard score on the first play of the season, but a sore quad limited him to just one additional carry the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Cadillac Williams exploded for 91 yards on 19 carries and added 49 more yards on six catches. Jackson will be evaluated Monday, but if he canít go next week, Williams and Jerious Norwood both move up the depth chart.

RAMS WR: Brandon Gibson was named the number two receiver earlier in the week, and given the ineffectiveness of Mike Sims-Walker (one catch for five yards) and the dislocated elbow suffered by Danny Amendola, he could be the Ramsí top receiver this year. Gibson caught three passes for 50 yards Sunday. Amendola is reportedly going to miss 8-to-10 weeks, so Danario Alexander, who was inactive Sunday, may be forced into action in the coming weeks.

SAINTS RB: Is there a three-headed running back monster in New Orleans? Mark Ingram led the Saints with 13 carries for 40 yards, but he got stuffed on the one-yard line at the end of Thursdayís game when with a chance to tie. Pierre Thomas was more active in the passing game, while Darren Sproles was even MORE involved in the passing game, as well as the return game. Sproles should have significant value in PPR leagues and even more so in leagues that count return yards, but he wonít carry the ball much.

SAINTS WR: Marques Colston broke his collarbone late in Thursdayís game and will miss about a month. Thatís good news for boom-or-bust receivers Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem, who both made an impact Thursday with Lance Moore already out. Adrian Arrington should see a little more action as well, but when Moore returns, Arrington will probably be no higher than fourth on the depth chart. Beware though: Drew Brees threw 49 passes against the Packers with the Saints behind nearly the entire game. There wonít usually be that many balls to go around.

SEATTLE WR: Iíve never heard of Doug Baldwin; have you? I guess he went to Stanford last year though. With Sidney Rice inactive and Ben Obomanu getting his bell rung Sunday, Baldwin was one of Opening Dayís biggest surprises. He was targeted six times and caught four passes for 83 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown. He should be on your radar now.

TEXANS RB: Though Arian Fosterís hamstring injury doesnít look too serious, he did not play in Week 1. However, given the spanking the Texans laid on the Colts, they certainly didnít need him. Derrick Ward started Sunday and picked up 11 carries for 39 yards and a score, but he left the game with a minor ankle injury. This opened the door for the real breakout star, Ben Tate, who rumbled for 116 yards and a score on 24 carries, most of which came in the second half. Tate did put the ball on the ground, so itís possible that Ward will stay ahead of Tate for at least one more week if his ankle is not too sore. Fosterís return will make most of this moot, but the Texans may opt to limit his carries until he is clearly 100 percent.