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Depth Chart Watch: The Final Cut

Andrew Fiorentino

Andrew Fiorentino

A degenerate fantasy player since the age of 13.

Cardinals RB - Jonathan Dwyer sat out the final preseason game and Stepfan Taylor was unimpressive again, which leads me to the conclusion that the Cards consider Dwyer their No. 2 running back. Since Andre Ellington doesn't have the build to handle a full load, that means Dwyer's going to get several change-of-pace carries as well as goal-line work, and this seems to be a good time to mention that he probably went undrafted in your league.

Cardinals WR - It looks like John Brown has officially unofficially won the No. 3 wide receiver spot, and Jaron Brown's sharp preseason play has landed him at No. 4 - so says the Cardinals' official site. That pushes preseason favorite Ted Ginn to the No. 5 spot.

Falcons RB - After an offseason filled with speculation over whether Devonta Freeman would come in and leapfrog everyone for No. 2 duties behind Steven Jackson (and then No. 1 when Jackson semi-inevitably gets hurt - he didn't even play this preseason), the final pre-Week 1 depth chart shows… no changes. It's Jackson, then Jacquizz Rodgers, then Antone Smith, then Freeman. One of the highest-drafted lottery-ticket rushers, Freeman's potential for gaining consistent work isn't looking good.

Falcons WR - And your No. 3 receiver is… still Harry Douglas. Boring, but reliable. Devin Hester sits at No. 4, and with the occasional return touchdown combined with a few touches in this offense, he could return some deep-league value in his first season outside of Chicago.

Falcons QB - T.J. Yates won the backup job, so he's the one who will be depressing Julio Jones and Roddy White owners if Matt Ryan happens to suffer an injury.

Ravens RB - Ray Rice is still listed as the Ravens' starter, a role he'll reclaim after his two-game suspension comes to an end. In the meantime, Bernard Pierce (concussion) is slated to start, and despite solid preseason returns from Lorenzo Taliaferro, Justin Forsett is still listed as the backup here. Pierce seems set to play in Week 1 despite his mild concussion, but if not, it appears that the veteran Forsett would head the backfield ahead of the rookie Taliaferro.

Ravens WR - The Ravens still list Marlon Brown as their No. 3 receiver behind Torrey Smith and Steve Smith, but Brown will have to make an impression during the regular season, lest he be caught up by Jacoby Jones or even Kamar Aiken in the long run.

Bills RB - No one was under any illusions that Bryce Brown would find his way into one of the top two spots on this depth chart, but in fact, Anthony Dixon clocks in ahead of him and appears set to serve as the Bills' primary short-yardage back, digging into the TDs that might otherwise be scored by C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson.

Bills WR -Robert Woods is currently listed as the starter opposite Sammy Watkins, with Mike Williams sliding down to No. 3. This is a situation that bears monitoring, but in what's projected to be a low-volume passing game, it'll be tough for anyone but Watkins to carve out meaningful fantasy stats. However, Watkins is nursing a rib injury that he suffered and then aggravated in the preseason, and this offense could be truly brutal if he sits out a week or two. Currently, though, reports are fairly optimistic.

Panthers RB - With both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart sitting out the preseason finale, Fozzy Whitaker turned in a solid body of work, carrying 23 times for 91 yards and a score. Whitaker slots in at No. 3 here behind the two-headed approach of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. If one of those guys goes down, it's most likely that the other picks up full-time work, with Whitaker merely serving as the backup.

Panthers WR - Jerricho Cotchery's set to start opposite Kelvin Benjamin, but don't go rushing out to draft Cotch on all your fantasy squads - a repetition of double-digit touchdowns is highly unlikely, and he's not much of one for racking up huge yardage. Jason Avant appears to have unexcitingly held onto the No. 3 role, but watch for Brenton Bersin, who's earned the No. 4 spot and has some upside from there.

Bears RB - While the Chicago Tribune pegs rookie Ka'Deem Carey as the primary backup to Matt Forte, the Bears have yet to release an updated depth chart for Week 1. The team site still lists Shaun Draughn No. 2, but it's worth noting that Draughn saw heavy work in preseason Week 4, while Carey sat out - that says to me that the team is more concerned with preserving Carey.

Bears WR - Josh Morgan appears to have sealed up the No. 3 job behind Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, although between those two and Matt Forte, there won't be many targets to go around for Chicago's depth receivers. Santonio Holmes had a 32-yard touchdown catch in the final preseason game, but didn't catch any of his other three targets and can safely be considered No. 4 here until he shows more consistency.

Bengals RB - Cincy fans got a big taste of Jeremy Hill in the last preseason game, and they came away licking their lips after he rolled up 160 total yards against Indy. And, surprising no one, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was cut, leaving Hill as the clear No. 2 man (and TD hawk) behind Giovani Bernard.

Bengals WR - Marvin Jones (foot) may miss as little as three weeks, returning after the Bengals' Week 4 bye, but that seems a bit overly optimistic to me. Foot injuries for receivers are tough, and broken bones are no joke. Mohamed Sanu will start opposite A.J. Green while Jones is out, with Brandon Tate apparently set as the interim No. 3 here.

Bengals TE - Tyler Eifert (shoulder) missed nearly the whole preseason, which is probably going to delay his clock a little as far as overtaking Jermaine Gresham even though Eifert is expected to play come Week 1. Look for Gresham to see more snaps, but with the Bengals looking for answers as far as a No. 3 receiver while Marvin Jones is out, Eifert will get his looks nonetheless.

Browns QB - Brian Hoyer. Sorry, Johnny Football. Not yet.

Browns RB - Isaiah Crowell's huge preseason finale may have helped him win the No. 3 RB job here, with Dion Lewis and Chris Ogbonnaya both getting released. But this is going to be a two-headed monster of Ben Tate and Terrence West - more Tate - with the Browns hoping those backs can be more productive when the games count than they were in the preseason.

Browns WR - With Josh Gordon's yearlong suspension upheld, Miles Austin is your "No. 1" receiver, which gives you an idea of this corps' expected productivity. No. 2 man Andrew Hawkins is probably the best man to own, especially in PPR, while Travis Benjamin rounds out the top three. Benjamin's a speedy third-year pro, and could break out to some degree here, with this passing game desperate for reliable targets.

Cowboys RB - Lance Dunbar is set to back up DeMarco Murray, with Joseph Randle (oblique) in the No. 3 spot.

Cowboys WR - Cole Beasley is currently listed as the No. 3 here, but things don't seem to have been resolved between him and Dwayne Harris. This bears monitoring in the regular season, but keep in mind that between Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten, there won't be a ton of catches to go around for the guys deeper on the chart.

Broncos RB - Denver's Week 1 depth chart has no surprises - Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson, Juwan Thompson, in that order. Pretty much just the way we started out.

Broncos WR - It seems like Wes Welker (concussion) could be back for Week 1, but I'm not expecting big things from him this season - he's had too many knocks to the head for a guy whose bread and butter is making catches in traffic in the middle of the field. Emmanuel Sanders and Andre Caldwell would shift up to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, if Welker misses time. Watch for Cody Latimer's emergence, too.

Lions WR - Even though he's healthy now, Ryan Broyles is currently buried at No. 5 on the depth chart, but I expect him to rise above the likes of Kevin Ogletree and Jeremy Ross for that No. 3 spot in due course. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate have the top two spots locked down.

Lions TE - Brandon Pettigrew remains the starter here, but will likely see more of a blocking role than a receiving role. Eric Ebron and Joseph Fauria will see looks in the passing game, but not consistently enough to be fantasy factors from the get-go.

Packers RB - As expected, James Starks will back up Eddie Lacy, but watch out during the year for the emergence of DuJuan Harris, who showed a lot this preseason.

Packers TE - Rookie Richard Rodgers looks like he's set to assume No. 1 duties here, but this situation hasn't yet been sorted out for sure. Still, the Packers seem to like that Rodgers-Rodgers connection. Rodgers should carve out some PPR usefulness and maybe some TDs, but doesn't seem likely to make big plays. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick (leg) will see time on the field as long as they're healthy too, but aren't terribly fantasy-relevant.

Texans RB - Alfred Blue managed to lose three yards on four carries in the preseason finale (though he did catch a couple passes) while Jonathan Grimes rushed eight times for 33 yards, cementing the situation here with Grimes as the primary backup to Arian Foster, a constant injury concern.

Colts RB - Although Dan Herron turned in a quiet preseason finale, I still like him as a sleeper to eventually unseat Trent Richardson and perhaps Ahmad Bradshaw from the top of the depth chart here. But entering the season, the Colts will turn to that duo and see what they can offer.

Colts WR - There's Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks, and then there's everyone else.

Jaguars QB - Blake Bortles delivered another nice abbreviated performance in the preseason finale, keeping Jags fans' hopes up for the future. But it's going to be Chad Henne to start, and probably for the majority of the season at least.

Jaguars WR - Allen Hurns was quiet in the preseason finale, while Marquise Lee finally made his presence felt with a 57-yard touchdown from Bortles on his only reception. Lee's set to start in that No. 2 role, but with Allen Robinson nursing a hamstring ailment, the No. 3 spot remains unclear, with Hurns and Mike Brown both involved in that ongoing competition.

Chiefs RB - Behind Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis sits De'Anthony Thomas for now, as Cyrus Gray's strong preseason apparently wasn't enough for him to surpass Thomas on the depth chart.

Chiefs WR - With Dwayne Bowe out Week 1 with a suspension, it'll be up to Donnie Avery and Junior Hemingway (hip) to carry the load. A.J. Jenkins, who seemed set to be the interim No. 3, suffered a concussion in the final preseason game, which may open the door for Frankie Hammond to show what he can do in games that count. Albert Wilson, who caught all four of his targets in the preseason finale, will be in the mix as well.

Chiefs TE - Neither Travis Kelce nor Anthony Fasano saw much run in the preseason finale, and my analysis of this situation remains the same - Kelce is a star on the rise, and Fasano is a mediocre veteran whose limitations as a receiver make him a poor choice to start on a team that lacks big playmakers in the passing game.

Dolphins RB - The Fins still seem to have Lamar Miller as their No. 1 running back, but I still don't think that situation persists. Miller barely scraped his way to 4.0 yards per carry last year, and Miami spent money to bring in Knowshon Moreno. Ultimately, things will go Moreno's way - but for now, this seems to be a timeshare, with Miller owning a slight (55-45?) edge. Daniel Thomas got his walking papers, meanwhile.

Patriots RB - Stevan Ridley was reportedly on the verge of being cut, but instead, he's going to be the No. 1 back on this team. Because that makes sense. But "backup" Shane Vereen is the guy you want to own, and between carries and rushes, he should out-touch Ridley, assuming they both stay healthy. Brandon Bolden made the team, too, despite speculation that he'd be cut, but should be considered the fourth option here behind rookie James White.

Saints RB - The Saints released a new depth chart this weekend, and it features Mark Ingram on top, with Khiry Robinson No. 2 and Pierre Thomas third. But don't be alarmed, Thomas owners - Robinson's going to cut into Ingram's work more than Pierre's. He may not cut ingram that much, though, as the former Heisman winner has generated very positive preseason reports and could see 200-plus carries this year.

Saints WR - Kenny Stills' quad is still bothering him, and he's questionable for Week 1. That leaves room for emergence for Brandin Cooks and Nick Toon, with Toon perhaps the biggest beneficiary, as he's currently listed as the No. 3 man.

Giants RB - Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Peyton Hillis. No surprises, but watch for Williams to battle Jennings for touches as the year goes on.

Giants WR - Yep, Corey Washington made the roster. But he's still No. 5 or 6 here along with Preston Parker, as Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham are handling the top duties, with Jerrel Jernigan currently fourth. But Beckham (hamstring) seems increasingly unlikely for Week 1, meaning one or more of those bottom three guys will get their shot to make an impression.

Giants TE - The latest depth chart shows Larry Donnell on top after he caught four passes on six targets for 60 yards in the last preseason game. But Kellen Davis and Adrien Robinson will continue vying for the job as the year goes on, with some kind of two-way or even three-way split possible.

Jets RB - Daryl Richardson and Alex Green got their walking papers, so it appears the Jets will go with a three-man backfield of Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell - in that order. I'm starting to think Johnson will significantly out-touch Ivory as the Jets look for big plays in the running game. Just a feeling.

Jets WR - It had been rumored, but seemed unlikely. And then it happened: Stephen Hill got cut. A third-year receiver with impressive physical tools, a combination of injuries, dropsies and inconsistent QB play prevented Hill from establishing himself, but it seems quite likely he'll catch on (and maybe even excel) somewhere else. The Jets' depth chart is now solidified here, with an unexciting corps led by Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson. Look for YAC maven Greg Salas to get a few targets per game as well.

Jets TE - Jeff Cumberland may be the incumbent (incumberlandent?), but Jace Amaro has quickly become a Rex Ryan favorite and could be the go-to safety valve for Geno Smith this year. That's a role that the Jets badly need someone to assume with consistency, so it wouldn't be surprising if they give him every chance to do so. Cumberland's also been struggling with an Achilles issue in the preseason.

Raiders QB - We're going to learn a lot about what's going on in Week 1 on Monday afternoon/evening, once practice goes on. Matt Schaub (elbow) is hurting and has had a poor preseason, while Derek Carr has looked solid this preseason - it could be the rookie Carr's the one who starts in Week 1 against the Jets' depleted secondary.

Raiders RB - Maurice Jones-Drew appears set to start, with Darren McFadden marginalized into a backup role, but NBC Bay Area is talking up Latavius Murray as a guy to watch, and it makes a lot of sense, considering MJD's age and injury history, as well as McFadden's continuous stream of injuries.

Raiders WR - Physical specimen Denarius Moore overcame his poor standing from early in the preseason to make the final roster, and I think he'd be fantasy-relevant if this team had anyone respectable at quarterback. But… well. Meanwhile, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes will start, and James Jones is No. 3.

Eagles WR - The Eagles still need to release another depth chart, but for now, Brad Smith remains listed ahead of Jordan Matthews for No. 3 duties behind Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. I just don't see that persisting.

Chargers TE - Antonio Gates is still No. 1; sorry, Ladarius Green lovers. But Green will still see his snaps; he's worth owning as a TE2. And Gates may be a very solid value this year - after all, the guy caught 77 balls for 872 yards last season, somehow rather under the radar.

Seahawks RB - The latest depth chart shows Robert Turbin retaining No. 2 status behind Marshawn Lynch despite everyone's optimism over Christine Michael. I still think the Seahawks will ride Lynch, who's been badly devalued in fantasy this year based on rumors (just rumors) of decreased usage.

Seahawks WR - Jermaine Kearse appears to have settled into the No. 3 role in this offense, but that doesn't point to much fantasy value. Ricardo Lockette has settled into the fourth spot, but his presence will mostly be felt on special teams. But this depth chart is one Percy Harvin (or even Doug Baldwin) injury away from total chaos.

49ers RB - LaMichael James made his presence felt as the current No. 3 here in the final preseason game, averaging 6.5 yards on his six carries, but there's no doubt that this is the Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde show right now, with Gore at No. 1 and Hyde rapidly gaining, just waiting to pounce if Gore suffers an injury or shows his age.

49ers WR - One-time star Brandon Lloyd made this team as the No. 4 receiver, which is something to take note of, though he seems to still be considered among the fringe players on the roster. The top three is pretty set in stone for now, with Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Stevie Johnson.

Rams RB - Benny Cunningham is reportedly pushing Zac Stacy for playing time thanks to an excellent preseason, and though Stacy remains No. 1, he doesn't seem to have a lot of job security all of a sudden. Meanwhile, the duo of Tre and Trey - Tre Mason and Trey Watts - will occupy the third and fourth spots.

Rams WR - For now, this appears to be Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Brian Quick as the top three, but even if there's some shuffling that goes on and Chris Givens pushes his way up, the Rams' receivers remain eminently avoidable.

Buccaneers RB - Bobby Rainey appears set as the primary backup to Doug Martin, at least while Mike James (shoulder) remains limited. Once James is feeling better, the two should battle for backup duties, but the way things have shaped up, Martin figures to be a workhorse.

Buccaneers WR -Mike Evans is rightly listed as the No. 2 man here, and it's worth noting that the depth chart on the Bucs' official site lists Louis Murphy, not Chris Owusu, as the presumptive No. 3 man. We've still got Owusu listed No. 3, but in this offense, that may be a fairly meaningless distinction.

Buccaneers TE - The Bucs continue to list Brandon Myers as their starter, and if that remains the case, expect mediocre returns at tight end. Keep an eye on how the team utilizes Austin Seferian-Jenkins, though.

Titans RB - Bishop Sankey had a nice performance in the preseason finale, but the Titans still have him listed as the No. 3 man, behind Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster. Obviously, Sankey has the most upside here, but Greene seemingly isn't about to crawl into a hole and rot away - apparently, Tennessee's brass prefers for him to do all his crawling on the field.

Titans WR - Physical beast Justin Hunter looked good again in the final preseason game, and although Nate Washington remains No. 2 on this depth chart, it doesn't seem likely that it'd take much for Hunter to unseat him. Washington may be a better fit as a slot receiver for this team (which lacks slot talent) than on the outside. Hunter's a big-time sleeper if the Titans get competent quarterback play from Jake Locker. And no, I'm not even going to talk about Zach Mettenberger right now.