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Depth Chart Watch: Charged Up

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 RB: Vulture alert! The Bears remained true to their word by employing Chester Taylor as a goal-line back coming out of their bye week. Taylor had just 13 yards on 10 carries, but he received the ball twice inside the five during one third-quarter driveand eventually scored from the one. It should be noted that starter Matt Forte got the ball at the five on the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, so the goal-line job is not Taylor’s all to himself just yet. Still, he could have value down the stretch this season if the Bears keep giving him the ball up close.

CARDINALS QB: There were no Max Hall sightings Sunday as Derek Anderson started and played the entire game against Minnesota. Although Anderson’s numbers were pedestrian, he did not turn the ball over and nearly led his team to a victory over the Vikings before losing in overtime. Expect Anderson to remain the man this week.

CARDINALS RB: After suffering an allergic reaction to an injection in his knee, Chris Wells was back on the bench in favor of Tim Hightower Sunday. Wells had just one carry while Hightower received 13, but Hightower really not impress enough to gain the upper hand going forward. Neither back has done much this season, so do not expect either of them to provide much regardless of who starts and who comes off the bench.

CHARGERS RB: Ryan Mathews left Sunday’s game in the second quarter after aggravating an ankle injury. Mike Tolbert took over for the oft-injured Mathews, but unless the injury is serious, Mathews should be back after San Diego’s upcoming bye week.

CHARGERS WR/TE: No Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee, or Craig Davis? No problem! The loss of all-world Antonio Gates didn’t slow down the Philip Rivers Express any; Rivers simply found backup tight end Randy McMichael for two scores. For good measure, backup wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu also caught a pair of Rivers touchdown passes. The Chargers and Rivers are starting to look like the west coast version of Peyton Manning’s Colts – they can turn any receiver into someone you should be picking up in your fantasy leagues. Still, the Chargers are on bye this week, and with Gates, Floyd, and even Vincent Jackson ready to return following a few days off, Ajirotutu’s and McMichael’s fantasy glory will be short lived.

COLTS RB: Donald Brown was seemingly the only healthy running back for the Colts going into Sunday’s game against the Eagles, and even though he did get 15 out of the 19 carries in the Indy backfield, Javarris James ended up being the most productive back after scoring twice from inside the ten. Brown should continue to get the bulk of the carries while Hart and Addai are out (fortunately his 97 total yards made sure the day was not a total loss), but James should now be on your fantasy radar, too.

COLTS WR: Austin Collie returned to action Sunday, but he was carted off the field in the second quarter after being hit in the head by a couple Eagles defensive backs. The preliminary diagnosis was a concussion, so it remains to be seen how long he will be out. With Anthony Gonzalez done for the season, Blair White is next in line to get the scraps Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Jacob Tamme leave for their teammates.

EAGLES QB: Michael Vick picked up where he left off Sunday after a four-week vacation. Vick threw for 218 yards and a score and picked up another 74 yards and a TD on the ground. Kevin Kolb, thank you for your service.

EAGLES WR: The Eagles also welcomed back DeSean Jackson Sunday just three weeks after a vicious hit knocked him out of action. Jackson scored on a nine-yard reception and finished with 129 yards from scrimmage. Jason Avant was not able to take advantage of Jackson’s absence and is now back in a reserve role.

LIONS QB: Matthew Stafford appeared to aggravate his shoulder late in Sunday’s loss to the Jets, but it happened so late in the contest that it was hard to determine just how serious it is. Drew Stanton came in to replace Stafford and would likely start if Stafford is forced to miss any more time.

PACKERS WR: With Donald Driver on crutches, James Jones finally got a chance to show what he could do. Though the listless Dallas defense provided little resistance, Jones did not disappoint in Driver’s absence, catching eight passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. The Packers are off this week, but don’t be surprised to see Jones continue outproducing Driver, even when Driver gets healthy.

PANTHERS QB: Matt Moore completed just three passes for 13 yards Sunday before leaving with a shoulder injury; and his backup, Jimmy Clausen, played so so poorly that he was benched in favor of fellow rookie Tony Pike. Pike was an improvement over Clausen, but that is not saying much. If Moore can’t go this week, it will probably be Pike – not Clausen – who gets the chance to start.

PANTHERS RB: Remember when the Carolina running game was a finely-oiled machine, with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both being strong fantasy options? Well, welcome to the Mike Goodson Era. With Williams out for the second game in a row, Stewart started and hot and was on his way to proving last week’s poor performance was just a fluke. However, Stewart suffered a head injury and was unable to return to the game. Tyrell Sutton played well in relief, running for 41 yards on seven carries, but the former Northwestern star left with an ankle injury and also did not return. Goodson was the only healthy running back left, so unless someone gets healthy for Carolina in the next few days, Goodson could be starting in Week 10.

RAIDERS WR: Although Jacoby Ford took over as the starting wideout last week, Sunday’s performance against the Chiefs ensured he will be on fantasy radars going forward. Ford was targeted nine times and made two spectacular catches late in the game to help set up both the game-tying and game-winning field goals. He finished the day with six catches for 148 yards while fellow starter Darrius Heyward-Bey was shut out. Injured starter Louis Murphy will likely return to the field following the Raiders’ bye next week, but Ford’s showing in his absence means either Murphy or Heyward-Bey could lose some snaps.

SAINTS RB: Julius Jones got the start Sunday rather than Chris Ivory, though the latter was able to recover from last week’s concussion. The bad news for Ivory is that he sprained his shoulder and was forced out of the game before he could do much to regain his starting job. Jones rushed for 68 yards on just six carries (including a 54-yarder), but the surprise ballhawk was Ladell Betts, who gained just 31 yards but scored on a one-yarder and finished with a team-high 13 carries. The Saints have a bye week coming up, and Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas should be returning soon, so somebody is going to get squeezed out.

SAINTS TE: Jeremy Shockey’s first-quarter touchdown was memorable for two reasons: 1) It was the 500th catch of his career and 2) He suffered a rib injury on the play and was unable to return. X-rays came back negative, and with the Saints off this week, he might not miss any time. The Saints’ backups, Jimmy Graham and David Thomas, both played well on Sunday; so even if Shockey misses a game or two, the Saints have a few horses ready to go in his stead.

SEAHAWKS QB: Matt Hasselbeck missed Sunday’s game with a concussion, which meant that Charlie Whitehurst got to make his first NFL start against a motivated Giants defense. Whitehurst, who had never even thrown a pass in an NFL game before Sunday, threw for just 113 yards and was picked off twice. He was able to somewhat salvage the day with a fourth-quarter touchdown strike to Ben Obomanu.

TITANS WR: Kenny Britt’s hamstring injury is more significant than originally thought, and he could be out 6-to-8 weeks. Nate Washington was briefly anointed the top wideout on the team in Britt’s absence, but the Titans picked up Vikings castoff Randy Moss off waivers last week. We all know Moss has the talent, but it’s unknown if he has the desire anymore. If he’s the Moss of old, the Tennessee offense suddenly becomes one of the scariest in the league.

VIKINGS WR: The NFL’s best soap opera took another turn this week when the Vikes abruptly cut Randy Moss for whatever reason (dogging it on the field or wanting to feed the team meal to his dog, take your pick). The question on everyone’s mind is: HOW DOES THIS AFFECT BRETT FAVRE? Apparently, Favre didn’t even notice. All he did was throw for a career-high 446 yards in a comeback, overtime victory over the Cardinals on Sunday. A hobbled Percy Harvin also set a career-high with 126 receiving yards, while Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo combined for 13 catches and 155 receiving yards. With Sidney Rice possibly coming back soon, it looks like the Vikings are going to be alright at receiver.