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Depth Chart Watch: It's All Wells and Good

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.

BILLS QB: The Buffalo offense, “looking for a spark,” replaced Trent Edwards with Ryan Fitzpatrick Sunday; and considering they scored 30 points against New England, the move has to be considered a success. Fitzpatrick threw for 247 yards and two scores, but he also threw two picks. He will stay in the starting lineup, but he needs to take better care of the ball.

BRONCOS RB: With Knowshon Moreno ruled out well in advance of Sunday’s game, savvy fantasy owners rushed to pick up Correll Buckhalter. In this case, the diligence was way off – Buckhalter carried just four times Sunday. In fact, Buckhalter and new acquisition Laurence Maroney combined for just 36 yards on 16 carries. This is not the Broncos offense to which we’ve become accustomed. It’s now pass, pass, and pass some more. Moreno will be back soon, so if you were able to resist the urge to pick up Buckhalter and Maroney last week, it’s safe to hold off.

BRONCOS WR: A month ago, the Denver wide receiver corps looked like one of the worst in the league. This week, after a 476-yard effort from quarterback Kyle Orton, it looks like the Mile High version of the Patriots. Over 300 of Orton’s yards went to Brandon Lloyd (six receptions for 169 yards) and Jabar Gaffney (12 for 140), while Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas were both a little quiet, combining for 66 yards on six catches. Thomas, the only one in the quartet who comes off the bench, reportedly suffered a minor injury late in the game, so that may be something to keep an eye on. Regardless, it looks like in any given week, one or more of the Denver wideouts could be fantasy-worthy.

BROWNS RB: Last week we advised owners to jump on the Peyton Hillis bandwagon if it was not too late. Well, it’s too late. Hillis, starting in place of an injured Jerome Harrison, exploded for 144 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards and also scored in his third straight game. Harrison’s thigh injury isn’t too serious, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to have a starting job when he returns.

BUCCANEERS RB: It’s not Kareem Huggins, Kregg Lumpkin, or even Earnest Graham who is making noise. LeGarrette Blount, seeing the first action of his career Sunday, ran for 27 yards on six carries, including a one-yard score. OK, the score came with the Bucs down 38-6, but still, it looks like for the time being that Blount is the top backup to Cadillac Williams. Williams had just 13 yards on six carries against the tough Pittsburgh defense and hasn’t looked good so far this year. Blount had four of his six carries in the first quarter, and the last two came in the fourth quarter with Tampa on the one-yard line.

CARDINALS RB: Beanie Wells is back, and any questions about how effective he would be were dashed when he reeled off a 24-yarder on his first carry. Tim Hightower is still the starter, but considering Wells had 14 carries for 75 yards while Hightower had just 11 for 40 had, it’s only a matter of time before Wells has the job to himself.

CHARGERS RB: Darren Sproles – and not last week’s darling, Mike Tolbert – got the start in place of the injury Ryan Mathews, but you wouldn’t know it from the final stats. Sproles ran for 16 yards on the first play from scrimmage and then never again. Tolbert finished with 73 yards on 17 carries, and three receptions for 17 yards, but he also lost a fumble. He’s still the Charger to own as long as Mathews is out.

COLTS WR: Austin Collie has made the most of his chances this year, and with Pierre Garcon out of the lineup with a hamstring injury, Collie stepped in and contributed an outstanding performance Sunday, catching 12 passes (including two scores) for 171 yards. Garcon should be able to return soon, but even with Peyton Manning throwing the ball, there are only so many passes to go around. Collie, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark will account for most of them.

EAGLES QB: The Michael Vick resurrection story continued progressing this week when head coach Andy Reid named Vick, and not Kevin Kolb, his starting quarterback for the forseeable future. Vick rewarded his coach’s confidence this week with another monster performance: 291 yards passing and three TDs, as well as 30 yards rushing and another score. Vick’s two starts have come against soft defenses, but even if he falls back to earth a bit, it’s a long way to the surface.

LIONS RB: A toe injury felled Jahvid Best in the third quarter Sunday, ending a disappointing follow-up to his explosion last week. The extent of the injury is unknown, so it’s possible that Maurice Morris could be the starter in Week 4. There’s no reason to get excited about that possibility, though Morris is decent catching passes out of the backfield.

PANTHERS QB: Rookie Jimmy Clausen made the first start of his career Sunday against the Bengals, and he was not greeted warmly. His first possession ended with a fumble he lost, he added an interception, and after completing just one pass in the first two quarters, his quarterback rating at halftime stood at a rock-bottom 0.0. Things went a little better in the second half (15-of-28 for 174 yards), but overall it was not a day to remember for the youngster. Clausen will likely get another chance in Week 4, but Matt Moore may return if Clausen shows he’s not ready just yet.

PATRIOTS RB: Just when it looked like the Patriots were running out of running backs, another one emerged on the scene. After trading Laurence Maroney and losing Kevin Faulk to a torn ACL, New England lost Fred Taylor to a toe injury in the third quarter Sunday. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and to a lesser extent Danny Woodhead, were more than able to carry the load. Green-Ellis had 16 carries for 98 yards and scored on a seven-yarder. Woodhead had just three rushes, but they went for five, 15, and 22 yards, the last of which went for a score. The New England offense will be fine.

RAIDERS QB: Bruce Gradkowski is now the starter in Oakland, and combined with Darren McFadden’s great start, The Black Hole is a happier place than usual. Of course, the Raiders still lost Sunday, but it wasn’t really Gradkowski’s fault; he threw for 255 yards and a score. Jason Campbell has been demoted to second string.

RAMS RB: Steven Jackson left with a groin injury late in the first half Sunday, but the Rams made do with a combination of Kenneth Darby and Keith Toston. Toston, an undrafted rookie, had just 22 yards on 11 carries, but Darby ran 14 times for 49 yards and scored on a 12-yarder. Darby is the St. Louis running back to own if Jackson misses next week’s game.

RAVENS RB: Ray Rice was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a knee sprain. So far, everything looks good, but more tests are expected Monday. Willis McGahee, and to a lesser extent, Le’Ron McClain, will fill in if Rice misses any time.

REDSKINS RB: Washington parted ways with Larry Johnson last week, seemingly paving the way for Keiland Williams to get more playing time as the backup to Clinton Portis. However, Ryan Torain was promoted from the practice squad and gained a team-high 46 yards on seven carries Sunday while Williams did not carry the ball once. Portis’ numbers were nearly identical to Torain’s, and considering that 36 of Torain’s 46 yards came on one play, Portis may not be in danger of losing his job just yet. It now looks like Williams, on the other hand, isn’t going to get significant carries unless injuries strike.

SAINTS RB: A broken right fibula suffered Monday night against San Francisco will keep Reggie Bush on the shelf for awhile, so it was a good week for Chris Ivory to return, especially since starter Pierre Thomas also briefly left Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Thomas should be fine, and Ivory looks like the top backup for the next month at least.

SEAHAWKS RB: The Seahawks have figured out the best arrangement with their stable of running backs: hand the ball off to Justin Forsett, let Leon Washington return kicks, and put Julius Jones on the bench where he belongs. Forsett wasn’t great Sunday, but he did receive 17 of the running back carries and finished with 63 rushing yards and 31 receiving yards. Washington, meanwhile, returned two kicks for touchdowns as Seattle beat San Diego 27-20.

STEELERS QB: In his first start since 2007, Charlie Batch threw for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Dennis Dixon, the starter for the first two weeks, had surgery on his knee Wednesday and will miss the next six weeks. Even with Byron Leftwich back on board, it looks like Batch is going to get one more start. Of course, his starting days are limited with Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension set to end after Week 4.