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Depth Chart Watch: Addition By Subtraction

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 QB: Jay Cutler can’t get healthy soon enough. With Cutler out of Sunday’s game due to a concussion, the Bears turned to Todd Collins, who managed to have possibly the worst-ever game for a quarterback whose team won easily. In three quarters of action, Collins threw four picks and completed just six passes in 16 attempts for 32 yards. Caleb Hanie came into the game in the fourth, mostly just to hand the ball off to Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. If Cutler needs another week off, it will probably be Hanie behind center.

BILLS RB: The Bills finally eliminated one-third of their backfield logjam by shipping Marshawn Lynch to Seattle last week. Fred Jackson assumed the starting job and gained 73 yards on 12 carries. C.J. Spiller moved up a spot on the depth chart as well and finished with 31 yards on five carries. The Buffalo offense has been showing some signs of life since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as quarterback, but it’s still not a great place to go looking for skill players.

BROWNS QB: Cleveland wasn’t sure if Jake Delhomme were going to be ready for Sunday’s game with Atlanta, so they made him the backup to Seneca Wallace just to be safe. After Wallace left with an ankle injury right before halftime, Delhomme was thrust back into action, with predictable results. Wallace’s injury was likely a high ankle sprain, so Delhomme will start in Week 6, whether he’s ready or not.

CARDINALS QB: As expected, undrafted rookie Max Hall got the start at QB against the Saints on Sunday. Although the Cardinals were able to beat the defending Super Bowl champs, Hall’s numbers were pedestrian – 17-for-27 for 168 yards and an interception. He left the game briefly with a knee injury, but after a Derek Anderson cameo, Hall was able to return. There’s no reason to think Anderson will play any more for the Cards this season provided Hall stays healthy.

CHIEFS RB: It appears that Kansas City coach Todd Haley finally got the memo that the running back he has been keeping on the bench is much better than the one in the starting lineup. While Thomas Jones continued to start for the Chiefs, he gained just 19 yards on eight carries while Jamaal Charles had twice the carries for nearly five times as many yards. Of course, the Chiefs also lost for the first time all season, so it’s possible that Haley will go back to what “worked.” We continue to maintain that Charles will be the more valuable back this year.

COLTS RB: Mike Hart had a career-high 11 carries in relief of Joseph Addai, who left Sunday’s game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Addai’s job is safe as long as he is healthy, but with backup Donald Brown already out with a hamstring injury, Hart could be in line for more carries in the coming weeks.

COLTS WR: Pierre Garcon, back in the starting lineup after a two-game absence, was targeted 14 times in the 19-9 victory over the Chiefs; but the Indianapolis passing game struggled nonetheless. Austin Collie played well in Garcon’s absence, so the Colts might spread things around next week now that they know they have three very good wide receivers rather than just two.

COWBOYS RB: The Cowboys talked all week about getting Felix Jones more involved, and they stayed true to their word. Jones had 15 carries for 109 yards while Marion Barber had just 19 yards on six carries. Jones was more involved in the passing game as well, catching all four of his targets for 17. Barber was officially listed as the starter Sunday, but Jones is apparently atop the depth chart.

EAGLES QB: He’s not Michael Vick, but Kevin Kolb did what he had to do Sunday night against San Francisco, throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid has already said that Vick will regain the starting role when his ribs are better, but Reid said something similar about Kolb just a few weeks ago only to change his mind a day later. Regardless of who is behind center, the Philly offense is clicking right now.

LIONS WR: Calvin Johnson landed hard on his shoulder Sunday and claimed after the game he couldn’t have returned even if the game (a 44-6 laugher) had remained close. If Megatron needs to miss a game or two, Nate Burleson (who was returning from an injury of his own) will step into his shoes, but there isn’t much in the Detroit wideout corps. It’s more likely that tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler see an increase in targets.

PACKERS QB: It was a rough day for the Packers, who lost several players to injury (as well as the game). One injury you may have missed came on Green Bay’s last offensive play of the game. On the play, Aaron Rodgers took a hard hit and suffered a concussion. Given that quarterbacks who suffer a concussion usually sit out a game or two, the answer to your next question is: the backup is named Matt Flynn.

PACKERS TE: Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee were two of Sunday’s casualties for the Packers. While Lee’s shoulder stinger probably won’t keep him out of action this week, Finley suffered hamstring and knee injuries and could see some time on the sidelines. He’ll have an MRI on his knee on Monday. If Finley is ruled out, the Packers will use a combination of Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree to replace him.

PANTHERS WR: With Steve Smith out with an ankle sprain and Dwayne Jarrett recently turning into an ex-Panther, Sunday was an audition for the leading role in the passing offense. If so, the Panthers may want to see a few more candidates. David Gettis and Brandon LaFell were the starters and were targeted 14 times, but they combined for just four catches for 48 yards. David Clowney, who was claimed off waivers just a few days before the game, caught two passes and is the only healthy veteran receiver. How much of a veteran? He had 16 career catches coming into Sunday’s game.

PATRIOTS WR: The very surprising trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings leaves the Patriots without their most explosive offensive weapon. While New England will be the rumored destination of every disgruntled wide receiver out there (Deion Branch! Vincent Jackson!), they’ll probably hold onto the players they have, meaning Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate could see a few more passes thrown their way. Wes Welker already catches a ton of passes, so that won’t change much, although it will be interesting to see how successful he will be with a little more attention from opposing defenses.

RAIDERS QB: The Raiders welcomed back a not-so-friendly face on Sunday when Jason Campbell was forced to relieve the ineffective and injured Bruce Gradkowski. Gradkowski suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter and tried to return in the third quarter, but after two incompletions, he was done for the day. Campbell played well in the upset win over San Diego, and although Gradkowski’s injury is not considered serious, there could be a renewed quarterback competition in Oakland.

RAIDERS RB: Michael Bush had all the carries to himself Sunday with both starter Darren McFadden and third-stringer Michael Bennett out with hamstring injuries. Bush was up to the task, gaining 104 yards on 26 carries and scoring a key touchdown late in the game. The Raiders will have an interesting dilemma when McFadden is healthy, because both he and Bush appear to be capable of being the lead dog.

RAMS WR: Sunday’s return of Laurent Robinson coincided with the devastating knee injury of Mark Clayton, but the player who truly emerged was Danny Amendola, who was targeted an obscene 19 times. Amendola caught 12 passes for just 95 yards, but with Sam Bradford’s favorite receiver now out for the season, Amendola, who is on pace for 106 catches, will be a hot pickup this week. Mardy Gilyard and Brandon Gibson will also be asked to pick up some of the slack.

REDSKINS RB: Clinton Portis has a third-degree groin separation and will miss 4-to-6 weeks. Ryan Torain assumed the starting job after a strong showing in Week 4, but he had just 40 yards on 16 carries Sunday. Keiland Williams, who was cut a week ago, is back and had just one yard on one carry. He’ll see a little more action if Torain struggles again.

SEAHAWKS RB: The acquisition of Marshawn Lynch during the bye week will allow the Seahawks to shift things around in an effort to jumpstart their offense. Julius Jones was dropped from the roster – a net-plus for Seattle – but Justin Forsett, who hasn’t looked too bad in limited action this year, is the running back who stands to lose the most carries with Lynch on board. Expect Lynch and Forsett to share the work for a while, with Lynch ultimately taking over the job.

TITANS WR: Kenny Britt made his first start of the year Sunday in place of Justin Gage, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Britt made the most of it, catching four passes for 86 yards, including a 12-yard score. He has not done much this season, but Sunday is a step in the right direction.

VIKINGS WR: Randy Moss is back home with the Vikings, meaning Percy Harvin will no longer have the pressure of being the top receiver on the team. The Vikings will draw a tough assignment against the Jets on Monday night, and with all of the recent controversy surrounding Brett Favre, it will be interesting to see how the Minnesota offense plays with the world watching.