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Depth Chart Watch: Chief Reason For Victory

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.

BENGALS WR: It was a nice run, but Terrell Owens’ season is over after he tore his meniscus on the first series Sunday. Without Owens available Andre Caldwell will jump into the starting lineup; and both Jordan Shipley and Jerome Simpson will move up a notch on the depth chart as well. Beware though, the Bengals face San Diego and Baltimore in their final two weeks, so none of these guys will be very good fantasy options.

BILLS WR: Lee Evans, who missed the first game of his career Sunday, was placed on the IR earlier in the week and was replaced in the starting lineup by David Nelson. While Steve Johnson is still clearly the top dog in Buffalo, Nelson got it done by scoring the game’s first touchdown and finishing with three catches and 61 yards. If you hadn’t noticed, Nelson has scored in each of the last three games. You can do worse.

BRONCOS QB: Is it just me, or do you find it strange that around the same time Brett Favre’s streak – and maybe his career – ended that the media found another quarterback they can slurp? Tim Tebow became the new Denver starter behind center, and he played acceptably, throwing for one score and running for another on a nifty 40-yarder. The Broncos may have lost, but they also may have found a new quarterback, despite a decent season from Kyle Orton, who missed the game with sore ribs.

BRONCOS RB: Knowshon Moreno took a shot to his side and left Sunday’s game early, giving Lance Ball a chance to see extended action for the first time. Unfortunately, Ball couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, gaining just 20 yards on 15 carries. If Moreno has to miss any time, expect the veteran Correll Buckhalter to take some of those carries off Ball’s plate.

CHARGERS WR: Wide receivers keep dropping in San Diego, but most of them keep coming back. Legedu Naanee returned from a one-game and started Thursday’s game thanks to Malcom Floyd’s hamstring injury, but unfortunately he was not targeted in the Chargers’ blowout victory. Vincent Jackson showed he still has a connection with Philip Rivers and caught three touchdown passes, giving fantasy owners who held onto him all season a reason to smile. They might all be healthy this weekend, but Jackson is the one you want to have right now.

CHARGERS TE: Randy McMichael has been starting in place of the injured Antonio Gates for the last couple of weeks, but the news out of San Diego this week was that Gates might not play again during the regular season. That’s obviously a huge blow to his owners, many of whom could rightfully refer to him as their team’s MVP. McMichael is an acceptable substitute, but he obviously isn’t going to give you the same production as Gates.

CHIEFS QB: Matt Cassel, who reportedly did not look good in warm-ups, made a go of it Sunday with the Chiefs’ season on the line and led them to a 27-13 win, less than two weeks after an emergency appendectomy. He did not have a spectacular day and might still not be 100 percent, but the prospect of watching Brodie Croyle play in his place might have had something to do with the decision. It looks like Cassel is good to go for the Chiefs, who will clinch the AFC West with two more victories.

COLTS WR: Austin Collie’s return was short-lived, but he made it worth the wait. After sitting out three games with a concussion, Collie was back in the starting lineup Sunday; and he managed to find paydirt twice…before leaving with another concussion. That’s at least two or three concussions for Collie this year, so it would not be a surprise if he is out for the season. Once again, Blair White will see an uptick in playing time, and the inconsistent Pierre Garcon should also see a few more balls thrown his way as well

COWBOYS WR: Roy Williams joined Dez Bryant on the sidelines Sunday, but his presence wasn’t missed nearly as much as Bryant’s. Sam Hurd took Williams’ place and caught four passes for 35 yards. Miles Austin had another quiet game, though at least he found the end zone. The real beneficiary of the injuries to Williams and Bryant has been tight end Jason Witten, who was a monster again on Sunday with 10 catches for 140 yards.

GIANTS WR: Steven Smith is scheduled to have microfracture surgery on his knee, so his season is over. With Smith out, Mario Manningham again picked up the slack in a big way. Manningham didn’t do much as the top receiver when Smith and Hakeem Nicks were out; but in Week 15, despite Nicks being back, Manningham had the game of his life: eight catches, 113 yards and two scores. Derek Hagan actually got the start in Smith’s place Sunday and was targeted six times, but it’s clear that Manningham benefits most from Smith’s absence.

PACKERS QB: Matt Flynn started Sunday’s game in place of Aaron Rodgers, who was out with a concussion. Flynn certainly looked better Sunday against the formidable Patriots than he did in relief of Rodgers the week before against a Lions team with a lot less victories. A week of practice with the first string obviously helped Flynn, but he still made a few costly errors that reflected his inexperience. Overall, Flynn finished with 247 yards and three scores against New England, so he was actually pretty good from a fantasy standpoint. The Packers have to possess some confidence in Flynn following Sunday’s game, but they will certainly welcome Rodgers back this week if he is cleared to play.

REDSKINS QB: Although the Vikings have the trophy locked up in the “Most Bizarre Season” category, the Redskins are a close second. Just weeks after signing Donovan McNabb to a big extension, which came just days after his bizarre benching for Rex Grossman in the waning moments of a close game, the Redskins decided to go with Grossman against their biggest rival, Dallas. Grossman threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns and brought his team back from a 30-14 deficit, but Washington ultimately lost 33-30. There is obviously a disagreement between head coach Mike Shanahan and owner Daniel Snyder when it comes to game-day decisions (Shanahan) and who signs the checks (Snyder).

SAINTS RB: Chris Ivory was a game-time decision, but he was ultimately was held out of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. The Ravens’ defense held the rest of the Saints’ rushing offense in check. Starter Pierre Thomas had just six carries for 20 yards, and Julius Jones and Reggie Bush combined for just seven yards on eight carries. Bush did make a mark in the passing game, garnering seven receptions, but overall it was a day to forget. If Ivory returns for Week 16, the Saints will have some decisions to make.

SEAHAWKS WR: Although Seattle’s receiving corps remains a mess, at least Mike Williams (ankle) and Ben Obomanu (hand) were able to return on Sunday. Williams caught eight passes for 66 yards, but Obomanu was very quiet with just one catch for seven yards. Brandon Stokley was the only other Seattle wideout to catch a pass, and he caught just one. We hope you didn’t run out and pick up Ruvell Martin after last week’s game because he wasn’t even targeted.

VIKINGS QB: Tarvaris Jackson was placed on IR with a turf toe injury and Brett Favre has already been ruled out for Monday’s game, so the Vikings will turn to Joe Webb, a player who only a few weeks ago was listed as a wide receiver on the Minnesota roster. He will hardly be in the ideal situation for a first start (if one exists) against a stiff Bears defense in snowy conditions.