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Depth Chart Watch: Grant Back as Pack Back

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 RB: Matt Forte suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain last week, so he missed Sunday's game and will probably miss a few more. Although Kahlil Bell has a bit more of Forte's skillset than Marion Barber, the latter started Sunday. Barber ran for 108 yards and a touchdown and gained 32 more through the air, but he made some extremely costly mistakes late in the game that provided an opening for this week's Tim Tebow heroics. Bell had 64 total yards, so he was no slouch, and he could see an uptick in touches in Week 15 if Barber is punished for his errors.

BILLS TE:
Scott Chandler is only expected to miss a game or two with an ankle injury, with Lee Smith taking time from his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career as a closer to serve as the starting tight end in Buffalo. Smith caught one pass - for zero yards - while backup Mike Caussin had just two catches for 19 yards. The Buffalo offense did not look good Sunday, which was probably not the fault of any of the tight ends, healthy or injured, but don't expect the fill-ins to be worth much in the coming weeks regardless.

BROWNS QB:
Colt McCoy suffered a concussion Thursday, and with the Browns taking a little bit of heat (mostly from McCoy's father) about how they handled it, expect them to be very careful with their quarterback the next several weeks. The Browns seemed more concerned with his hand after the helmet-to-helmet hit that briefly knocked him out of the game, but when that checked out, he went back in and played in a game he didn't remember. It would be a surprise to see the two injuries combine to end his season. Seneca Wallace would take his place if he sits out.

BROWNS TE:
Bubba Watson left Thursday's game with a concussion, his second of the year, so it looks like he may need some time on the shelf. Evan Moore led the team with four receptions for 55 yards in a game in which the Browns couldn't even find the end zone. He may already be better than Watson, but it looks like he'll get another chance to show it.

BUCCANEERS QB:
After missing one game with a sore shoulder, Josh Freeman returned Sunday and started strong, staking the Bucs to a 14-0 lead after scoring on a 13-yard run in the second quarter. Everything fell apart from there, and Freeman ended with just 181 yards passing and two interceptions in the 41-14 loss to Jacksonville. He was replaced by last week's starter Josh Johnson late in the game when it was out of reach.

CARDINALS QB:
With Kevin Kolb knocked out early due to a head injury, John Skelton came in and brought the Cardinals back against the playoff-bound 49ers. Skelton threw for three touchdowns, including long ones to Early Doucet and Larry Fitzgerald. He did turn the ball over three times as well, but considering the type of injury sustained by the starter, Skelton will probably return to the starting lineup.

COLTS TE:
Dallas Clark was out the last few weeks with a broken left fibula, so the fact that he came back to an 0-12 team is probably worth some kind of medal. His rust showed, as he caught just one pass (on six targets). Jacob Tamme also caught just one (on the last play of the game), but at least it went for a touchdown. Tamme's starting days are over with Clark back, but he should get a few targets every week the rest of the way.

COWBOYS RB:
DeMarco Murray's promising rookie season came to a crashing halt a few weeks early, as a fractured ankle Sunday night meant he didn't reach the magic 1,000 yards rushing. Considering he did most of his damage in a one-month period, it's amazing he even got close to 900 yards. Felix Jones, who had lost his job to Murray earlier this year, took over and played well, finishing with 16 carries for 106 yards and six catches for 31 yards. It's his offense again.

COWBOYS WR:
At least the Cowboys got back one of their bigger weapons on the night they lost Murray, as Miles Austin returned and finished with four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Laurent Robinson, who had played so well in Austin's absence, was still heavily involved Sunday, catching four passes for 137 yards and a score. The one receiver who was surprisingly absent was Dez Bryant. True, Bryant caught a 50-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, which meant he had a decent fantasy night, but it was on completely blown coverage and he was only targeted one other time. With the way Tony Romo has seemed in sync with Robinson lately, don't be surprised to see him continue to be featured ahead of Bryant the rest of the way.

DOLPHINS QB:
Matt Moore left Sunday's game late in the third quarter with a head injury. He was replaced by J.P. Losman, who had not thrown a pass in a regular-season game in nearly two years. Losman didn't do much, unless you count some of the gifts he gave to the Eagles. If Moore is forced to miss any action, Losman is likely to start, though you can downgrade most of Miami's skill players if that's the case.

EAGLES QB:
Michael Vick returned to action Sunday, and while the result was a comfortable 26-10 win over the Dolphins, his overall numbers were nothing special: 15-for-30 for 208 yards, one touchdown, one interception and just nine yards rushing. To those of you who drafted him in the first round and still made the playoffs this year, he probably did not score enough points to get you into the second round. Of course, most owners who picked him in the first round probably didn't make the playoffs in the first place.

EAGLES WR:
The Eagles also welcomed back Jeremy Maclin Sunday, but he laid an egg as well as he caught just pass and missed a long touchdown when he got open but was overthrown by Vick. Riley Cooper, who played so well in Maclin's absence, also caught just one pass Sunday. If Maclin had no setbacks, he'll probably look a little better next week.

GIANTS WR:
Mario Manningham returned Sunday night, but he has clearly been surpassed by Victor Cruz in the Giants' pecking order, and Hakeem Nicks has always been ahead of him. Still, with the Giants throwing for a ton of yards every week, there's a place for Manningham, who was targeted seven times and caught two passes - including a 47-yard touchdown. Nicks and Cruz combined for 237 yards on 14 catches, by the way.

JAGUARS WR:
The Jags lost two receivers to injury Sunday, including starter Mike Thomas, who left with a concussion. The wideout corps is already pretty weak in Jacksonville, but with Cecil Shorts also leaving the game with a hamstring injury, they were left with just Jarrett Dillard. Seriously, have you looked at their depth chart? Chastin West and Kassim Osgood are next in line! Dillard had a season-high five catches, while running back Maurice Jones-Drew and tight end Marcedes Lewis bailed out Blaine Gabbert. If Thomas and Shorts are out again in Week 15, they'll probably need to scout local high schools to find some talent.

LIONS RB:
Kevin Smith really wanted to play this week, but he was pulled out of a drill Friday when he couldn't cut. Yeah, that was probably important. Maurice Morris started, but got knocked out of the game early with a chest injury. Although he was returned, Morris only had four carries on the day as Keiland Williams did the heavy lifting with 12 runs for 43 yards. Assuming Smith can cut next week, he should be back, but if not, it's possible Williams - and not Morris - will be next in line to start.

PACKERS RB:
Starter James Starks out with an ankle injury, some targeted Brandon Saine as a sleeper against the Raiders, but it was the old standby, Ryan Grant, who had a spring in his step Sunday. Grant dashed for a 47-yard score early in the game and added another touchdown later, finishing with 85 yards on just 10 carries. Saine was knocked out of the game with a head injury and only had one carry, so John Kuhn, who ran for 46 yards on 10 attempts, got more action than he had all season.

PACKERS WR:
A sprained knee suffered by Greg Jennings could not stop the Green Bay juggernaut, but it might have cost more than one fantasy team a playoff victory. The Packers were up 34-0 at the time, so they were in no hurry to rush him back, but they have enough weapons in their offense to withstand his loss. Expect a little more attention for Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, James Jones and Randall Cobb next week if Jennings is unavailable.

PATRIOTS WR:
Deion Branch was shut out on two targets before leaving Sunday's game with a groin injury. While he's had some good games this year, including a 125-yard performance just two weeks ago, he's pretty far down the pecking order for targets as long as Wes Welker and two monster tight ends are healthy. Chad Ochocinco might see a little bit more action next week if Branch is out, but then again, he might not. Tom Brady will find a way to adjust, like he always does.

REDSKINS TE:
Fred Davis was suspended for four games for taking something he shouldn't have, and with Chris Cooley already out for the season, the Redskins turned to Logan Paulsen as their tight end. Rex Grossman had 32 pass attempts Sunday against the Patriots, and exactly zero of them went to a tight end. Despite playing in an offense that produced some value out of Davis and Cooley, it doesn't look like the third tight end is going to be fantasy-worthy down the stretch.

SAINTS RB:
Mark Ingram out with turf toe, the Saints turned to ... Chris Ivory? Even though it was a close game, the Saints felt that Ivory gave them a better chance to win than Pierre Thomas, as Ivory had 13 carries to Thomas' six. Darren Sproles only had five carries, but was his usual active self in the passing and return game. Actually, Thomas was active in the passing game too (he had six catches; Sproles had seven), so it's not like the Saints weren't using him at all, but it was somewhat surprising that the Saints used Ivory so much Sunday.

STEELERS QB:
We keep hearing about what a tough guy Ben Roethlisberger is, and the toughness was on display again Thursday when Big Ben returned to play in a game in which he suffered a high-ankle sprain. He'll get a few extra days to rest, but if he can't go against San Francisco in week 15, Charlie Batch will get the call.

TEXANS WR:
The Texans clinched a playoff spot with their come-from-behind victory Sunday, highlighted by a touchdown catch by Kevin Walter with two second remaining. Walter, who was so sick on Friday that he was questionable heading into the game, became the de facto No. 1 receiver with Andre Johnson out with a hamstring injury. He lived up to the role Sunday with six catches for 76 yards, while tight end Owen Daniel chipped in with seven catches for 100 yards, both season highs. Jacoby Jones started opposite Walter and should stay in the starting lineup as long as Johnson is out.

TITANS QB:
Jack Locker took over for an injured Matt Hasselbeck, who left the game with a calf injury, and nearly led the Titans to a comeback win with a couple of big plays in the fourth quarter. Although he showed a nose for the end zone, he took a costly sack on the last play of the game with the win within reach, a mistake that a veteran like Hasselbeck might not have made. Still, he looked good Sunday, throwing for 282 yards and a touchdown and scoring once on the ground. Hasselbeck has an MRI on tap, but with the winless Colts coming up, it might behoove the Titans to let Locker keep playing.

VIKINGS QB:
Joe Webb took reps with the first-team offense all week while Christian Ponder sat out practice with a hip injury, but Ponder gave it a go Sunday. Although he threw for two touchowns, it was still a disastrous start for Ponder, as he turned it over four times (including two that resulted in TDs) before giving way to Webb. The practice with the first team paid off, as Webb nearly brought his team back from a huge deficit before fumbling near the goal-line on the last play of the game. Webb's passing numbers were pedestrian (12-for-23 for 84 yards and a score), but he was electric on the ground, running for 109 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown. Leslie Frazier said after the game that Ponder remains his starting quarterback, but if his hip acts up, Webb will be ready.