Depth Chart Watch author Kenn Ruby, a game-time decision this week, was unable to go due to an undisclosed injury. We suspect a mild case of carpal tunnel so with a week of rest and rehab, he should be counted on for a return next week. Howard Bender picks up the extra work this week and will maintain Ruby's usual format.
According to Trent Richardson, his rib cartilage injury is worse than people think and he eventually conceded that coach Pat Shurmur did the right thing Sunday by benching him at halftime after just eight first half carries that netted eight yards. Montario Hardesty was again asked to shoulder the load but was almost as ineffective with seven carries for just 28 yards. You can expect another week of limited practices with a questionable tag for Richardson as well as the strong likelihood that he will be a game-time decision for Week 8 against the Chargers. If the rib injury is that serious, owners should probably expect Hardesty to lead the way.
LeGarrette Blount had been working his way into the mix for carries a lot more lately and had even been poaching goal-line work, but Week 7 was all about rookie running back Doug Martin who was desperate to hold onto his job. The Bucs have been looking for Martin to have a breakout game to get things going, and he may have finally arrived with his 16-carry, 85 yards and a touchdown performance. He also hauled in three catches for 37 yards while Blount turned in negative yardage on just five carries. Look for the Bucs to give Martin the full opportunity on Thursday against Minnesota, but definitely keep one eye on Blount just in case.
William Powell's day was over before it even got started as he fumbled the opening kickoff (Arizona still recovered it) and was banished to the sidelines where he was seen, helmet off and holding a football for the next two series. LaRod Stephens-Howling shouldered the load this week and just may have established himself as the new full-time lead back with a stellar performance that saw him rush for 104 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while pulling down four catches for 45 yards against the Vikings. It looks like Powell will have to earn his way back into a larger role, so consider Stephens-Howling the lead with Powell getting a few scattered carries here and there.
Todd Heap inactive yet again, pass-catching tight end Rob Housler continued to see an increased role in the Cardinals' gameplan. He pulled down five catches for 54 yards and made a key grab on a third and long to keep an early Arizona drive alive. Expect to see Housler get a little more face time as he seems to already have quarterback John Skelton's trust.
Despite a poor showing last week against the Jets, Vick Ballard was given another opportunity to shine in the absence of Donald Brown. He received 20 carries and rushed for 84 yards while also catching one pass for 19 yards. He was actually the intended target on Andrew Luck's second touchdown run, but got tangled up in a block for a bit too long. The hope is Brown returns for Week 8, but since he only did rehab work this past week, that might be a bit too optimistic. If he can't go, expect Ballard to lead the way against the Titans. Delone Carter may get some sporadic work again, but Ballard seemed to earn the right to start again next week.
With both DeMarco Murray on the shelf and the way Felix Jones stepped up to take his place Week 6, expectations started high for Jones in a Week 7 match-up against Carolina. But sometime mid-week the talk turned to Jones' past ineffectiveness between the tackles and suddenly attention was being paid to Phillip Tanner. Well, they split carries against the Panthers - 15 for Jones, 13 for Tanner - showing how Dallas is going to handle the time that Murray misses. The hope is that Murray returns for Week 8 against the Giants, but there's no set timetable really. Consider Jones the primary in Murray's absence, and a decent option in PPR leagues, but expect Tanner to get a good share of the carries as well.
The primary job obviously belongs to Ahmad Bradshaw still, but this week saw the return of Andre Brown to the top backup role as he was afforded five carries and was even given a goal-line opportunity, which he cashed for a one-yard touchdown. He also had one catch for 17 yards. It looks like David Wilson is headed back to the third-string with Brown being the guy to own if Bradhsaw's chronic foot problem flares up again.
Blaine Gabbert left the game in the second quarter with an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder and is now scheduled for an MRI first thing Monday. If the MRI comes back clean, there's a good chance he will be back under center for the Jag's Week 8 matchup with the Packers. In the meantime, Chad Henne took over the job Sunday and actually looked worse than Gabbert as he completed just 9-of-20 passes for 71 yards. In truth, neither quarterback is even worth using, so if you're looking for bye-week help, move along. Nothing to see here.
The most prominent injury of the week belonged to Maurice Jones-Drew who left Week 7 against Oakland after just two carries in the first quarter due to an injured foot. Although results have not come through on X-rays or an MRI as of press time, it should be noted that MJD emerged from the locker room in the second half on crutches and in a walking boot. While coach Mike Mularkey said the walking boot was strictly precautionary, he also said he had no idea just how long his star running back would be out. Rashad Jennings, who should have already been owned as MJD's handcuff, carried the ball 16 times for 44 yards and a touchdown and had a team-high seven catches for another 58 yards. If, for some reason, Jennings is available in your league, he is a must-add this week.
The job has always belonged to Dustin Keller, but a hamstring injury has limited him all year and Jeff Cumberland has been getting most of the fill-in work. But in Week 7 against the Patriots, Keller was back in full form, catching seven passes for 93 yards and a touchdown so you can expect to see much more of him and much less of Cumberland.
As expected, Daryl Richardson saw some increased opportunities this week as he rushed eight times to Steven Jackson's 12, but also caught three passes as well. It was Jackson who found the endzone this week, but it really could have just as easily been Richardson. A relatively even split should be the way things continue unless someone either steps up in a major way or gets hurt.
Lance Moore returned to the starting lineup after being bothered by a hamstring strain and immediately fell back into his old job as one of Drew Brees' favorite targets. He was targeted 10 times and made nine catches for 121 yards, and while he failed to find the endzone this time around, with that much attention paid to him by Brees, he should hit paydirt several times in the coming weeks. Marques Colston also saw 10 targets while the short end of the looks went to Devery Henderson and Joe Morgan.
The ankle sprain is apparently a little worse than everyone thought as reports surfaced on Saturday that Jimmy Graham wasn't even making the trip to Tampa Bay. David Thomas received the start and actually hauled in two passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. Keeps tabs on Graham's status during the week, but expect Thomas to return to back-up duty as soon as he returns.
With both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman inactive Sunday, Jonathan Dwyer was given the start this week. Expectations saw Dwyer splitting work with Baron Batch and Chris Rainey, but it was Dwyer who dominated with 17 carries for 122 yards. Rainey did see some late work and scored the Steelers final, and eventual game-winning, touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the night belonged to Dwyer. He was considered a preseason favorite to win the job, so expect the Steelers to give him another opportunity next week against the Redskins even if Mendenhall and Redman return.
The latest news has Pierre Garcon sitting with a torn tendon in his foot, and reports say that he'll likely sit out through the team's Week 10 bye. Leonard Hankerson will continue to line up as the X receiver, but look for Santana Moss to continue to enhance his rapport with quarterback Robert Griffin III and build off if this week's three-catch, two-touchdown performance.
Bad news for Fred Davis owners as the tight end left Week 7 against the Giants with an Achilles' tendon injury, and word is he is done for the season. Similarly to last season when Davis went down late, Logan Paulsen stepped in as the team's every-down tight end and hauled in four passes for 76 yards. While he makes for an interesting pickup if you have no other options, you should keep your expectations in check. If Davis wasn't finding the endzone as the team's top target, you can't expect that Paulsen will suddenly become much of a red-zone target either.
Jerome Simpson returned to the lineup after missing last with a bad back, but wasn't a factor in this one as he had just one catch for eight yards. In fact, he was targeted just the one time. Michael Jenkins, who filled in for Simpson last week, saw just two targets this time around and made one catch for seven yards as the day was dominated by Adrian Peterson anyway. Expect Simpson to retain the starting job opposite Percy Harvin, with Jenkins being the first off the bench during sets with three or more wideouts.
Have a question or need some advice from Howard Bender? Follow @rotobuzzguy on Twitter, or feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.