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Depth Chart Watch: 2009 Depth Chart Movers

Ben Zani

Ben Zani writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Depth Chart Movers
By Ben Zani
RotoWire Writer

BENGALS RB: Cedric Benson suffered a hip flexor on Sunday, and while he’s professing that he should be fine for Week 11, the Bengals were concerned enough to pursue former Chief Larry Johnson to solidify their running back spot. Johnson’s impending signing probably means that Bernard Scott will have a limited role in the offense and see most of his touches on special teams, even if Benson misses Sunday’s game. If Benson can play, however, Johnson shouldn’t siphon any of his carries, as Johnson has been told that he’s being brought into Cincinnati solely as Benson’s backup.

BRONCOS QB: Kyle Orton missed the entire second half of Sunday’s loss to the Redskins with a left ankle injury, and is questionable for this week against San Diego. Normally we would recommend Orton’s backup Chris Simms, but a 3-for-13 passing performance with one interception in the second half on Sunday should give fantasy owners enough reason to avoid deploying him as Orton insurance.

BUCCANEERS WR/TE: With Antonio Bryant still out with a knee injury, it was tight end Kellen Winslow that received the extra targets on Sunday, catching seven balls for 102 yards on 11 targets. While he has been inconsistent this season, Winslow may be a better tight end option than what you’re currently using. Winslow’s extra role in the offense also limits the short-term upside of players like Maurice Stovall and Sammie Stroughter.

CARDINALS RB: After Sunday’s performance, the Cards’ starting tailback job should be the property of Beanie Wells. The rookie had 16 carries on Sunday, his most all season, and picked up 85 yards and two touchdowns with the increased opportunity. However, coach Ken Whisenhunt insists that Wells and Tim Hightower (10 carries, 37 yards on Sunday) will continue to split touches evenly. That said, if Wells continues to play like he did on Sunday, Whisenhunt may have no choice but to feature Wells.

CHIEFS RB: While there were doubts as to who would win the Jamaal Charles/Kolby Smith battle heading into Week 10, Charles made sure there was no doubt after the Chiefs’ win. With 103 yards on 18 carries, Charles should be the primary back in Kansas City for the rest of the season, especially given how ineffective Smith was in his nine carries on Sunday (12 yards, 1.3 yards per carry). If Charles isn’t already owned in your league, he should be at the top of your waiver priority list now.

EAGLES RB: Starter Brian Westbrook suffered his second concussion of the season against the Chargers on Sunday, and his status for the rest of the season can be considered iffy at best. Rookie LeSean McCoy has filled in for Westbrook already this season, and now, as the unquestioned starter, will only become a better fantasy play as the season goes on.

FALCONS RB: Michael Turner suffered a high ankle sprain against Carolina in Week 10, and there's no word yet as to whether it will keep him out this week against the Giants. Jason Snelling filled in somewhat ably in his place, with 61 yards and a touchdown, but if Turner is out this Sunday, expect Snelling to share carries with the newly signed Aaron Stecker and the possibly-healthy Jerious Norwood.

PANTHERS WR: After missing two games with a knee injury, Muhsin Muhammad returned with a bang. Not only did he have six catches for 91 yards, but he had twice the targets (eight) of star wideout Steve Smith, though Smith did have both of the Panthers' touchdown catches. Still, Muhammad finally looked healthy on Sunday, and could thrive off of Smith’s double-teams the rest of the year.

PATRIOTS RB: Just when Laurence Maroney was starting to play with some consistency and become the fantasy player that people had always hoped he could become, he went and fumbled it all away. Specifically, Maroney fumbled on the goal line, leading to Kevin Faulk getting 12 carries, not to mention the ball on the Pats’ ill-fated fourth-down try late in the game. Maroney played his way back into head coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse Sunday night, which is where you may want to put all of the Pats’ running backs for the time being.

RAIDERS RB: In true Raider fashion, Oakland’s running back picture is unclear at best. Unlike the rest of their team however, there’s gold in them thar’ hills if you pick the right back, as evidenced by Michael Bush’s 119-yard day on Sunday. Justin Fargas had 41 yards and a score, keeping him fantasy relevant, and most surprisingly, the returning Darren McFadden saw only four carries. McFadden may be the most talented of the trio, but Bush and Fargas are certainly the most consistent and productive.

RAMS WR: Rookie Brandon Gibson not only caught his first pass on Sunday against New Orleans, but he ended up coming out of nowhere to have seven catches for 93 yards in his first real exposure to NFL play. Teammate Donnie Avery also came out of the fantasy mire to catch two touchdowns in what was the Rams’ best passing performance in a long time. While we still don’t completely trust the Rams’ passing attack, Avery and Gibson at the very least laid the foundation Sunday for what could be a decent second half of the season.

SAINTS RB: The three-headed monster of Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Mike Bell became even more complicated on Sunday, as Bush had a breakout game with two touchdowns and nearly 100 total yards. Meanwhile, Thomas had 37 yards on 11 carries and Bell gained 30 on eight totes. Sadly, New Orleans may continue to play the hot hand at running back the rest of the season, leaving fantasy owners to blindly guess which one will have the big day.

SEAHAWKS RB: Justin Forsett had 123 yards on 17 carries after Julius Jones bruised a lung, and with Jones unlikely to return at least for this week, the team may decide to stick with Forsett for the remainder of the season. Sitting at 3-6 and unable to get a solid running game going all year, Forsett could be just what the Seahawks, and fantasy owners are looking for.

SEAHAWKS WR: After nine weeks of uninspiring performances, T.J. Houshmandzadeh has finally emerged as the unquestioned top receiving option in Seattle. His nine-catch, 165-yard performance against Arizona has not only legitimized Seattle’s passing game again, but also rocketed Housh back into fantasy relevance.

VIKINGS WR: Sidney Rice erased any doubt as to who the top Minnesota wideout is on Sunday against the Lions, racking up 201 receiving yards in the win. He has certainly eclipsed Bernard Berrian (who continues to deal with a nagging hamstring injury) and Percy Harvin as the Vikings' wideout you want to own, and he may even be a top-10 wide receiver down the stretch.

Article first appeared 11/17/09