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Depth Chart Watch: Chief Concern

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: The Bears were looking for ways to get their top four wide receivers more involved in Week 2, but injuries to Roy Williams (groin) and Earl Bennett (chest) forced them to use back-ups for much of the game. Johnny Knox caught just two passes for 45 yards, but he was targeted six times and appears ready to take Williams’ spot in the starting lineup. Devin Hester and fill-ins Dane Sanzenbacker and Sam Hurd combined for just five receptions, and most of targets went to running back Matt Forte, who caught 10 passes for 117 yards. Regardless of who starts at receiver in the Windy City, it doesn’t look like a good spot to find starting receivers for your fantasy team.

BILLS WR: The Bills’ passing attack appears to have some life, which helped starters Steve Johnson and Donald Jones combine for 12 receptions and 120 yards in Week 2. The Bills lost slot receiver Roscoe Parrish to a leg injury in the second quarter, but David Nelson filled in admirably, catching 10 passes for 83 yards. He was targeted 13 times and appears to be building a great rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

BRONCOS RB: Knowshon Moreno was held out of Sunday’s game with a sore hamstring, but the Broncos offense hardly missed a beat thanks to veteran Willis McGahee, who rumbled for 101 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Lance Ball and Spencer Larsen saw mild upticks in touches, but McGahee is clearly the top option in Denver if Moreno can’t go. McGahee will serve as the goal-line back even when Moreno is healthy, so he’ll have value even when not serving as the lead back.

BRONCOS WR: Brandon Lloyd was among the many Broncos who did not play Sunday, and Eddie Royal joined him on the sidelines after suffering a groin injury. Matt Willis couldn’t take advantage of the extra playing time, but Eric Decker sure did. Decker caught five passes for 113 yards and scored twice. He is definitely a player to target right now, and he could have value even after Lloyd returns.

CHARGERS K: The Chargers turned to Nick Novak to replace Nate Kaeding, who was knocked out for the year on the season’s first play. Novak received just three extra points attempts (and converted them all) but did not attempt a field goal in his first game. However, keep in mind the Chargers totaled 470 yards of offense and finished first in the league in that category in 2010, so Novak should see more opportunities going forward.

CHIEFS RB: The biggest fantasy news Sunday was clearly Jamaal Charles’ knee injury, which is believed to be a torn ACL. If the rumors are true, he’ll be done for the year; and Thomas Jones, who got way too many carries last year, could be in line to lead the Chiefs in rushing attempts again in 2011. However, converted wide receiver Dexter McCluster could be the real gem in the offense without Charles. He carried eight times for 51 yards Sunday, and while his small stature could prevent him from being an every-down back, it would not be unreasonable for him to get 10-15 carries in some games, and he should be more valuable than Jones. Of course, considering the Chiefs have been outscored 89-10 so far this season, they may not be running the ball as much this year as they did a season ago.

COWBOYS RB: Felix Jones separated his shoulder Sunday and could miss some time. He had a quiet start to the season with just 69 yards on 26 carries in his first two games, so it’s possible that DeMarco Murray could seize the starting job if he’s impressive early. Tashard Choice, who nearly got cut during the preseason, will see a few more reps in the coming weeks as well.

COWBOYS WR: Dez Bryant sat out Sunday’s affair with a bruised quad, which opened the door for unlikely hero Jesse Holley, who caught a 77-yarder in overtime to set up the winning field goal. Bryant won’t be out long, but Holley (three catches for 96 yards) and Kevin Ogletree (two for 50) would receive a bump in value if Miles Austin – who had a huge game Sunday – misses a few weeks after injuring his hamstring late in the contest.

DOLPHINS RB: Daniel Thomas made his NFL debut Sunday, and though head coach Tony Sparano indicated before the game he wanted Reggie Bush and Thomas to split the touches 70/30 in favor of the former, Bush had just six carries and one catch while Thomas ran 18 times for 107 yards. He did put the ball on the ground once, but considering no one really thinks Bush can be an every down running back, expect Thomas to get most of the carries as long as both remain healthy.

EAGLES QB: Thought taking Michael Vick first overall was a shrewd move? You might want to rethink that one. A concussion knocked Vick out of Sunday night’s game, and the Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes may hinge upon how long it takes him to return. Vick’s style of play made it unlikely that he would play a full 16 games, but it was assumed he would make it a bit further than he did before suffering his first serious injury. Vince Young is Vick’s top backup when healthy, but with Young was unavailable Sunday due to a hamstring injury, Mike Kafka filled in for the injured Vick. Given Kafka’s health and not-so-terrible performance against the Falcons, he might be the starter in Week 3 if Vick can’t go.

49ERS WR: Michael Crabtree’s foot injury has prevented him from taking his game to the next step, and Sunday it prevented him from playing at all. Unfortunately for the 49ers, fellow starter Braylon Edward suffered a knee injury Sunday and was forced from the game in the first quarter. Ted Ginn, Josh Morgan, and Kyle Williams (who caught a TD Sunday) are next in line, so San Francisco may be looking for some wideout help in the coming days.

JAGUARS QB: It has been less than two weeks since the Jags shockingly dropped David Garrard, and already it looks like Luke McCown is not the answer. Not that anyone really expected that to be the case, but he was awful Sunday, throwing four picks and completing just six passes in 19 attempts. That 1.8 QB rating was just 1.8 points better than you did while comfortably watching the Red Zone channel Sunday, so maybe it’s time for a change in Jacksonville. Blaine Gabbert wasn’t bad in mop-up duty, and it’s only a matter of time before he runs out on the field with the other starters.

JAGUARS TE: The absence of Marcedes Lewis probably wasn’t the difference in Jacksonville’s 32-3 loss to the Jets, but it didn’t help either. Lewis sat out with a calf injury, while “the other” Zach Miller caught three passes for 28 yards as the temporary starter.

PACKERS RB: James Starks took nine carries for 85 yards Sunday, while starter Ryan Grant finished with just 25 yards on six attempts. More importantly, Starks was one the field late in the game when the Packers needed to protect their slim lead. Grant will remain in the mix, and probably continue to start, but Starks is the Packer back to own right now.

RAIDERS WR: With Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford, and Darrius Heyward-Bey all inactive Sunday, the Raiders had to reach deep into their wide receiver pool. They may have found a gem in Denarius Moore, who caught five passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Bills. Chaz Schilens was a bit of a disappointment, seeing just one target despite the fact he was supposed to have an expanded role. Derek Hagan was the only other wide receiver to get into the act, catching five passes for 61 yards. Murphy, Ford, and Heyward-Bey should all be back soon, so don’t expect much from Hagan or Schilens whenever that trio plays. However, Moor’s explosiveness could keep in the receiver rotation and gives him some fantasy value, especially with Campbell playing well.

SAINTS RB: Mark Ingram had more carries (14) than Pierre Thomas (nine) and Darren Sproles (four) put together, but all three had decent fantasy days Sunday. Sproles caught eight passes for 43 yards, 12 of which came on a touchdown catch, and Thomas rushed for 41 yards and caught two passes for 14 yards. Ingram gained 51 yards on the ground and looks to be the featured runner, possibly even in the red zone, but don’t expect him to do much in the passing game.

SAINTS WR: The big gainer from Marques Colston’s collarbone injury was Devery Henderson, at least if Sunday’s results were any indication. While Robert Meachem did find the end zone, he had a disappointing four catches for ten yards. Lance Moore was even worse, catching just one pass for six yards in his 2011 debut. Henderson, on the other hand, caught three passes and totaled 103 yards, 79 of which came on a second-quarter score. Drew Brees like to spread the ball among his receivers, and tight end Jimmy Graham should see plenty of targets as well, so it’s a risky proposition to start any Saint wideout right now. Still, if the Saints continue to feed Henderson, he’ll make a good bye week play.

TEXANS RB: I answered a lot of Ask the Expert questions this weekend about Ben Tate, and in probably each and every one of them I assured the person seeking advice that Arian Foster was fine, would play a lot, and that Tate wouldn’t be as big a factor this week. Well, I apologize. Foster started, and wasn’t bad at first, but he aggravated his hamstring injury and didn’t play in the second half. Enter Tate, who ran for 103 yards on 23 carries and caught four passes for 32 more. Foster should return next week, but it’s obvious that Tate is someone we need to keep our eyes on, as he’s passed the century mark both weeks despite not starting either game

TEXANS WR: With Kevin Walter out due to a bruised collarbone, the rest of the Texans’ receivers moved up a spot on the depth chart Sunday. Jacoby Jones became the new starter, Bryant Johnson became the number three guy, and recent signee David Anderson was fourth on the list. Jones, for his part, caught three passes for 48 yards, but when Walter returns in a week or two he will likely again be a non-factor.