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Depth Chart Watch: Lower the Gates

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 was back after missing one game with a concussion, but he had a strange stat line in the 23-20 loss to Seattle. The first bizarre thing (at least for Cutler) is the fact he did not turn the ball over. He completed just 17-of-39 passes, but for a whopping 290 yards. Despite all the big plays and the 17.1 yards/completion average, Cutler never got the ball in the end zone and was sacked six times. Of course, this was an incredible improvement over the awful duo of Todd Collins (who is now the third stringer) and Caleb Hanie, so at least the Bears have that going for them.

BROWNS QB: The Steelers were licking their chops at the chance to go up against rookie Colt McCoy on Sunday with both Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme out with injuries. McCoy wasn’t horrible statistically, throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown, but he was also intercepted twice and the Browns managed just 10 points. Neither Wallace nor Delhomme is expected to be out long, so McCoy’s run as the starter could be short-lived.

BROWNS WR: Both starter Mohamed Massaquoi and backup Josh Cribbs were knocked out of Sunday’s game with head injuries, meaning Cleveland’s wideout corps – already one of the worst in the NFL – is even thinner now. The Browns leaned on their tight ends (Ben Watson and Evan Moore) against the Steelers, but if Massaquoi and Cribbs both miss any action, Brian Robiskie andChansi Stuckey are going to have to step up.

CHARGERS WR: Malcom Floyd had a career game a week ago, but Sunday’s game didn’t go quite as well. He caught just two passes for 15 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury. The Chargers were already without fellow starter Legedu Naanee before the game even began, so Patrick Crayton and Craig Davis were about all that was left against the Rams. Both played well in a losing effort, with Crayton in particular looking like the Charger to own if Floyd misses any time.

CHARGERS TE: Those who own Antonio Gates have been well rewarded so far this year, but a second-quarter ankle injury knocked him out of Sunday’s game and he was seen wearing a protective boot afterward. Veterans Randy McMichael and Kris Wilson are the backups, but neither offers much fantasy potential.

COLTS RB: If Joseph Addai is going to keep hurting his shoulder, then Mike Hart is going to keep stepping in and proving he belongs in the NFL. With Donald Brown still out with a hamstring injury, Hart again had to come in for an injured Addai again Sunday. Addai ran very well against Washington before departing the game; but Hart ran four times for 21 yards in his place on a key fourth-quarter possession. As long as Addai can stay healthy (no easy feat), he doesn’t need to worry about losing his job; but Brown should be sweating a little.

EAGLES WR: He had one of the best first quarters of his career, but it was a play early in the second quarter that may have knocked DeSean Jackson out for the season. It’s too early to determine the extent of the injury, but considering he reportedly lost consciousness, this is no run-of-the-mill concussion. With a Week 8 bye on the horizon, do not expect to see Jackson any earlier than Week 9. Jeremy Maclin picked up the slack Sunday without Jackson, so the Eagles offense should not suffer too much. Jason Avant will likely replace Jackson in the starting lineup.

FALCONS WR: After missing most of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season with a shoulder injury, Michael Jenkins came back in a big way Sunday, catching five passes for 99 yards. He equaled Roddy White’s team-high 11 targets and pushed Harry Douglas back to his customary slot role.

GIANTS K: Lawrence Tynes sprained his non-kicking ankle in Friday’s practice and Shayne Graham kicked four extra points in his stead. Tynes should not be out long, so Graham may need to update his resume with his latest job experience.

LIONS QB: Shaun Hill suffered a broken forearm Sunday and was replaced by Drew Stanton; and while his time as the starter is over, it would likely have ended after Sunday’s game anyway. Matthew Stafford is close enough to returning that he should be behind center in Detroit’s next game after this week’s bye. The injury is an unfortunate setback for Hill, but he proved over the last couple weeks that he is an able fill-in when needed.

PACKERS TE: Jermichael Finley was officially placed on injured reserve Monday, so he will be out of the picture for the rest of the season. The unproductive trio of Donald Lee, Andrew Quarless, and Tom Crabtree combined for just two receptions in Finley’s place Sunday, so the loss of Finley will really hurt the Packers. Lee will likely start if healthy, but Quarless provides the most upside.

PATRIOTS WR: Wondering how the Patriots were going to look after Randy Moss’s departure? Not much different. While they will not be as much of a downfield passing team without Moss, new acquisition Deion Branch managed to catch nine passes for 98 yards and scored on a five-yarder. Wes Welker caught his usual seven passes; and while hot pickup Brandon Tate was held without a catch, he was targeted four times. Meanwhile Danny Woodhead, who qualifies as a wide receiver in some leagues, was active in both the running game (11 carries for 63 yards) and passing game (five catches for 52 yards).

RAMS WR: While Brandon Gibson and Mardy Gilyard started Sunday and Danny Amendola was expected to be the top receiver in the wake of Mark Clayton’s season-ending knee injury, the surprise addition to the world of fantasy relevance was rookie Danario Alexander, who was on the practice squad this time last week. Alexander, who led the nation in receiving for Missouri last year, had 72 yards and a diving touchdown catch. His draft stock fell after multiple knee surgeries, but he proved that he could be productive in the NFL, at least for a day.

REDSKINS TE: The concussion trend continued Sunday night when Chris Cooley was knocked out of the game. With 28 catches for 340 yards, Cooley has been one of the better tight ends in the league this year, but there should be no shortage of decent available options on your league’s waiver wire if you need a replacement. Fred Davis replaced Cooley Sunday and would be a decent option if Cooley misses any time.

SEAHAWKS RB: As expected, new Seahawk Marshawn Lynch started on Sunday, and although he scored and Seattle won, it wasn’t quite the debut the Seahawks wanted. Lynch had 17 carries for just 44 yards while Justin Forsett, who probably should have been given more of a chance to keep the job, led the team with 67 yards on just 10 carries. Forsett also scored, and it looks like the two backs will more or less share the job as long as both stay healthy.

SEAHAWKS WR: Deon Butler took Deion Branch’s spot in the starting lineup after the latter was traded to New England. Butler was targeted four times Sunday, and he caught all four passes – including a 22-yard TD – for 47 yards. Meanwhile Mike Williams had a career day, catching 10 (out of 15 targets) for 123 yards.

STEELERS QB: The return of Ben Roethlisberger means the 4-1 Steelers don’t have to wander in the wilderness with the likes of Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich any longer. Big Ben threw three touchdown passes in his 2010 regular-season debut after sitting out the first quarter of the season due to a suspension.