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Depth Chart Watch: New Pats Pecking Order

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.

BENGALS RB: Cedric Benson finally served his one-game suspension Sunday, so the Bengals had to go with Bernard Scott, who was serviceable in victory, running for 76 yards on 22 carries. Brian Leonard pitched in with two carries for seven yards, but he was expected to see a bit more action. Scott will go back to the bench when Benson returns in Week 9, but it's good to know he can handle the load against a good defense if he's called to duty again.

BENGALS TE:
After being listed as probable on Friday's injury report, Jermaine Gresham was surprisingly inactive for Sunday's game with the Seahawks. Donald Lee got the start and caught three passes for 44 yards, but he should go back to a reserve role when Gresham returns, likely in Week 9.

BRONCOS RB:
Willis McGahee was ruled out early in the week due to a broken hand and could miss another game or two. Knowshon Moreno, who lost his spot in the starting lineup to McGahee earlier this season, was decent in his return, running for 69 yards on 14 carries. The Denver running game as a whole was excellent, with Lance Ball and Tim Tebow each contributing 63 yards rushing to the 195-yard total. But considering how easily the Lions stopped the passing game, it's no wonder the Broncos moved the ball well on the ground. Oh, and the Broncos lost, 45-10.

BROWNS RB:
With Peyton Hillis out again, Montario Hardesty had an opportunity for another strong start, but he left the game with a calf injury after just two carries. Chris Ogbonnaya, who started the year on the Houston practice squad, stepped in with 11 carries for 37 yards and four receptions for 16 yards. He could be in line for more work next week if both Hillis and Hardesty (who will have an MRI on Monday) sit out.

BROWNS WR:
There was talk that the unknown Carlton Mitchell was going to replace Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion) in the lineup Sunday, but the Browns went with the more-familiar Josh Cribbs instead. Cribbs caught a 45-yard touchdown pass, but otherwise didn't do a whole lot. Meanwhile, Greg Little was targeted 11 times and the clear top dog Sunday, though he only caught four passes for 28 yards. Jordan Norwood was also active, finishing with five receptions for 32 yards. Massaquoi may miss another game or two, so expect Little to continue his rise to the top of the Cleveland depth chart.

BUCCANEERS RB:
With Earnest Graham now out for the year with a torn Achilles, the Buccaneers have to pray that LeGarrette Blount is ready to return in Week 9. Fortunately, Tampa Bay had the bye week to get healthy, but if Blount still isn't ready, the job will rest on the shoulders of the untested Kregg Lumpkin. Good luck.

DOLPHINS RB:
For the third time this season, Daniel Thomas missed a game due to a nagging hamstring injury. Reggie Bush responded to the opportunity with 120 yards from scrimmage, including 103 rushing yards on just 15 carries. Additionally, forgotten child Steve Slaton scored on a one-yarder in the first quarter and nearly scored again later. Slaton isn't exactly fantasy-relevant again, but if Thomas has to miss more time, he could work his way into the offense as a goal-line back like he was Sunday.

49ERS WR:
San Francisco welcomed back Braylon Edwards, who had been out since the second week of the season. Edwards was questionable coming into the weekend, but it was clear that he wanted to play against his former team. He was targeted seven times and finished with four catches for 42 yards. When both are healthy, Edwards and Michael Crabtree could be a devastating starting duo.

GIANTS WR:
Hakeem Nicks left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter due to a hamstring injury, and watched as Victor Cruz hauled in the go-ahead touchdown with less than six minutes to play. Both Cruz and Mario Manningham had decent games Sunday, and both could see an uptick of targets if Nicks can't go in Week 9, but Nicks seems to think the injury is "just a hamstring strain." Of course, "just a hamstring strain" has been known to sideline wide receivers for a couple of weeks, so you'll want to monitor the situation in New York this week.

PATRIOTS RB:
The activation of Kevin Faulk (knee) from the PUP list didn't appear to be a major move last week, yet he caught five passes and shockingly led the Patriots with six carries and 32 yards Sunday. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the only other New England running back to touch the ball Sunday, as Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead more or less stayed on the sideline. If Sunday is any indication, it looks like the Patriots may want to use Faulk as more than just a change-of-pace back

RAMS WR:
Thanks to a sore hamstring, Danario Alexander sat out Sunday's game. And the Rams played their best game of the season, shocking the Saints, 31-21. Brandon Lloyd, not surprisingly, was targeted a team-high 13 times, while Brandon Gibson, who was inactive a week ago, tied with Greg Salas for second on the team with six targets. Alexander should return to the starting lineup soon, but he may find himself a bit crowded with the numerous options in St. Louis.

REDSKINS RB:
Tim Hightower went down with a torn ACL a week ago, ending his season prematurely. Ryan Torain is finally the undisputed starter, and he celebrated that designation with just 14 yards on eight carries in a 23-0 loss to the Bills. Roy Helu was expected to see a bit of action with Hightower on the shelf, but his only three touches came on passing plays, as he caught three passes for 20 yards. The job appears to be Torain's, but the Washington offense is a real mess, so Torain doesn't come highly recommended.

REDSKINS WR:
Santana Moss is going to miss at least a month with a broken hand, but the reinforcements in D.C. aren't exactly a who's who of great wide receivers. Anthony Armstrong was in the starting lineup Sunday and was targeted four times ... and didn't catch a pass. Jabar Gaffney caught four passes for 40 yards but was expected to do more. Donte Stallworth, Leonard Hankerson and Terrence Austin combined for three catches. Like we said, the Washington offense is a mess.

SAINTS RB:
Mark Ingram was inactive with a heel injury Sunday, but none of the Saints running backs took advantage, as both Darren Sproles (six carries for 16 yards) and Pierre Thomas (seven carries for 23 yards) were pedestrian carrying the ball. The two backs combined for 10 catches, however, with Sproles catching his usual six (for 60 yards). Also of note, Chris Ivory, fresh off the PUP list, made his season debut, but he looked tentative on his six attempts and gained only 18 yards. Ingram should return soon, making Ivory worthless as a fantasy commodity, and Thomas and Sproles will go back to their previous levels.

SEAHAWKS QB:
Charlie Whitehurst started again Sunday, but this time Tarvaris Jackson was healthy enough to replace him. It was unexpected to see Whitehurst in the starting lineup, but one can only guess it was just to throw the Bengals off. Whitehurst was replaced by Jackson in the second quarter and the latter threw for 323 yards. It's Jackson's job for the foreseeable future.

SEAHAWKS RB:
Marshawn Lynch returned to action Sunday after missing last week's game with a hamstring injury, but given his final numbers - 16 carries for 24 yards and a fumble lost - perhaps he should have taken another week off. True, he did score a touchdown in the fourth quarter when the game was still close, but it was otherwise a forgettable day for Lynch. Last week's starter, Leon Washington, gained 34 yards on only two totes.

SEAHAWKS WR:
Mike Williams was a late scratch with a hamstring injury, so the Seahawks went with Ben Obomanu - rather than Doug Baldwin - in the starting lineup across from Sidney Rice. Obomanu was only targeted four times, but he caught all four and finished with 107 yards. Baldwin was targeted twice as much, so it looks like the starting designation isn't really important.

STEELERS WR:
Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders continued their voyage up the Pittsburgh depth chart, thanks to Hines Ward's absence due to an ankle injury. Brown caught nine passes for 67 yards and a score while Sanders caught five passes for 70 yards. Tight end Heath Miller also played well, catching seven passes for 85 yards. Add Mike Wallace to the mix, and Hines Ward may find receptions hard to come by when he returns.