RotoWire Partners

Depth Chart Watch: 2009 Depth Chart Movers

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.

Depth Chart Movers
By Kenn Ruby
RotoWire Writer

BILLS RB: Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson were expected to split the carries fairly evenly in Lynch’s first game back from a suspension, but it’s hard to take much from Sunday’s game with Miami, as the Dolphins got up big and kept the ball out of Buffalo’s hands. One can’t help but notice that Jackson remains Buffalo’s top rusher with 42 yards on nine carries. Lynch had just four yards on eight carries, but at least he added 43 yards receiving. Although Jackson will remain a significant part of the offense, expect Lynch to eventually retake the starting role.

BROWNS QB: This time last week we were unsure if Derek Anderson had unseated Brady Quinn as the starting quarterback in Cleveland. Anderson was eventually named the starter, and after throwing for 269 yards and nearly leading the Browns to a victory over Cincinnati, it looks like he’ll get at least a few more games as the starter to show his coaches that they were right to replace Quinn.

BROWNS RB: With Jamal Lewis and James Davis both out Sunday, Jerome Harrison picked up the ball and ran for 121 yards. Davis was surprisingly placed on the IR, so Harrison is rid of one of his rivals. Lewis is no great shakes even when he’s healthy, but considering how well Harrison played Sunday, Harrison should be a key cog in the Cleveland rushing attack the rest of the season.

BUCCANEERS RB: With Derrick Ward held out of Sunday’s game with a knee injury, the Bucs turned back to their Week 1 star, Cadillac Williams, who delivered 77 yards on 16 carries. Earnest Graham also got five carries, but he’ll probably only have value while Ward is out. That shouldn’t be much longer.

BUCCANEERS K: Mike Nugent lost his job after missing two field goals in a 16-13 loss Sunday. In Nugent’s defense, both field goals were pushing 50 yards, but he was unable to hit long ones this year and missed four of his six attempts. He was replaced by Shane Andrus, who was with Indianapolis earlier this season.

CHARGERS RB: LaDainian Tomlinson returned to action against the Steelers Sunday night, but he had just 15 yards rushing as the Chargers got behind big early and only held the ball for 19 minutes the whole game. Darren Sproles filled in admirably for L.T. the last couple of weeks, but he was M.I.A. in the San Diego offense Sunday, getting just one touch. Sproles will still contribute via special teams when Tomlinson is healthy, so he’s probably worth keeping around in anticipation of Tomlinson’s next injury.

COWBOYS RB: Tashard Choice and Marion Barber split the carries fairly evenly Sunday, with Choice getting 14 and Barber getting 11. Barber only had two carries in the second half, however, as his injured quad tightened up. He outgained Choice 41 to 33 and had a one-yard touchdown. Assuming Barber is fully healthy next time around, expect Choice to return to a reserve role.

DOLPHINS WR: Ted Ginn’s fantasy value was already expected to take a hit with Chad Henne now directing the offense, but now Ginn is getting his snaps limited due to inconsistent play. Henne appears to trust Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess more, targeting each five times on Sunday. Ginn had just three targets and only caught one pass for four yards after being shut out in the previous game. Brian Hartline, who caught a touchdown pass Sunday, is also shooting up the depth chart. Ginn is still nominally the starter, but don’t be surprised to see him out of the starting lineup soon.

49ERS RB: Glen Coffee got the first start of his career Sunday, rushing for a pedestrian 74 yards on 24 carries. He also caught four passes for 32 yards and should get better with experience. Frank Gore is expected to miss at least two more games with an ankle injury, so Coffee will have a few more chances to show what he can do.

LIONS QB: Matthew Stafford left Sunday’s game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Daunte Culpepper. Stafford, who will undergo tests on his knee in the coming days, threw for 296 yards and a touchdown. The veteran Culpepper stands to get some fantasy value if Stafford should miss significant time.

PATRIOTS RB: After last week when Fred Taylor seemed to put a little distance between himself and Laurence Maroney, we have Sunday’s parade of parity. Taylor and Maroney each had seven carries, while Sammy Morris had six and Kevin Faulk had five. None had more rushing yards than Taylor’s 25. Just do us a favor and stay away from this one, will ya?

PATRIOTS WR: Wes Welker returned Sunday, catching six passes for 48 yards against the Ravens. Julian Edelman, who did a fine job in Welker’s absence, only caught one pass, but he fared better than Joey Galloway, who was inactive. With Sam Aiken also active Sunday, it looks like Galloway is all the way down to fifth on the depth chart.

RAIDERS RB: One of the last places you should be looking for offense is Oakland, but it should be noted that Justin Fargas had a season-high 10 carries in the same game that starter Darren McFadden lost three yards on six carries. Of course, one of Fargas’ 10 carries resulted in a safety, so it’s unlikely that he endeared himself to the Oakland coaching staff. It turns out that McFadden had an excuse for his abysmal performance: a torn right meniscus that will keep him out for two-to-four weeks. Michael Bush, who fumbled Sunday and only had three carries, could get the start in McFadden’s absence, although it’s more likely Oakland will go with Fargas. Regardless of who is selected, stay away from this offense.

RAMS QB: Despite the change at quarterback, it was more of the same for St. Louis on Sunday. Kyle Boller started in place of Marc Bulger, but the Rams turned it over three times on the way to a 35-0 defeat against San Francisco. Boller looked OK in Week 3, but he was 13-for-24 for just 108 yards against the Niners and was sacked five times. He’ll probably get one more start.

RAMS WR: Keenan Burton became the Rams’ No. 2 wide receiver in the wake of Laurent Robinson’s season-ending injury, but that designation didn’t translate into improved production Sunday as he caught just one pass for 12 yards. Donnie Avery and Burton were the only Rams wide receivers to be targeted more than once, but each had just four targets. Although Avery should have some value before all is said and done, St. Louis is not the place to look for nice fantasy pieces.

RAVENS RB: A 50-yard run by Ray Rice in the third quarter was a nice highlight on the way to his second 100-yard game of the season. He finished with 103 yards on 11 carries and another 49 yards on five catches and in four games this year he’s averaging 107.3 yards from scrimmage per game. On the other hand, Willis McGahee scored his seventh touchdown of the season Sunday. On the third hand, the Ravens look surprisingly like a pass-first team. It looks like Rice is still the yardage guy and McGahee is still the goal-line guy, but if the Ravens continue to throw the ball as much as they do, their rushing opportunities will be limited.

STEELERS RB: Welcome to the big leagues, Rashard Mendenhall. With Willie Parker out with a turf toe injury, Mendenhall stepped in and was the top running back in the NFL Sunday. Mendenhall had 165 yards on 29 carries (including two scores) and added another 26 yards on two catches. Parker owners should be very afraid.

Article first appeared 10/6/09