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Depth Chart Watch: This Week's Job Battles

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: A.J. Green made a spectacular touchdown catch in the first quarter Sunday, but it was a little too good, as he hyperextended his knee in the effort. Although he attempted to return to the game, he didn't play in the second half. Andrew Hawkins appeared to be the biggest beneficiary of Green's absence, finishing with five catches for 56 yards. It certainly wasn't Jerome Simpson, who was shut out against the Steelers. The injury doesn't appear to be serious, but if Green misses next week's game, Hawkins, Andre Caldwell and, hopefully, Simpson should all have a bit more value in week 11.

Donald Lee sprained his foot and missed Sunday's game, but fortunately for the Bengals Jermaine Gresham was ready to return after a two-game absence. Gresham assumed his spot atop the depth chart and caught four passes for 23 yards and scored from one yard out. Colin Cochart is the backup as long as Lee is out, but he likely won't provide enough consistent fantasy value to be worth much.

Rian Lindell is going to miss more than a month with a shoulder injury, so the Bills picked up castoff Dave Rayner. Given the beat down Buffalo received Sunday, it's hard to know how good Rayner was, as he made his only PAT, but missed his only field goal attempt, a 52-yarder.

The Broncos took the run-heavy offense to an extreme Sunday, with an unreal 55 carries for 244 yards (against only eight pass attempts). What's more amazing about the numbers was that both starter Willis McGahee and backup Knowshon Moreno suffered injuries in the first quarter Sunday and the Broncos were forced to rely heavily on Lance Ball. McGahee left with a hamstring injury while Moreno's knee injury appears a little more serious and will require an MRI on Monday. Ball ran 30 times for 96 yards, which was good enough to keep Denver ahead of Kansas City. Don't be surprised to see Ball in Week 11.

Mohamed Massaquoi was ruled out of Sunday's game fairly early in the week, so with the benefit of extra reps in practice, Greg Little has continued his development, finishing with six catches for 84 yards. While Julio Jones and A.J. Green have been the best rookie wideouts in the NFL this year, Little may deserve to be in their company. He looks like the No. 1 receiver in Cleveland.

Ryan Mathews returned after a one-game absence, but it wasn't the triumphant return the Chargers hoped for, as he carried the rock just six times for 34 yards. With the Chargers playing catch-up during the second half, the offense went away from the run, making Week 9 starter Mike Tolbert a pit more valuable. Tolbert only had seven carries (for 36 yards) himself, but he caught five passes for another 37 yards. While Mathews caught just three for 23. Both will have decent value the rest of the way, but considering that San Diego is struggling and both have been hurt at times this year, it's hard to fully rely on either on a weekly basis.

You can say that Matt Cassel left Sunday's game with a hand injury, as that's what the Chiefs are saying, but he might have been yanked due to his anemic numbers: 13-for-28 for 93 yards. True, he had a touchdown pass and didn't turn the ball over, but considering that Denver's pass defense is one of the worst in the league, his performance is all the more disappointing. Tyler Palko took over late in the game and would play if Cassel's injury is more serious.

For the second week in a row, Curtis Painter struggled to move the ball, allowing Dan Orlovsky to get in the game. Not that Orlovsky was too good, but he was certainly better than Painter on Sunday. It wouldn't be a major stretch to see the Colts give him a look at some point in the near future.

After starting last week, Delone Carter was relegated to a reserve role Sunday and finished with just six carries for 14 yards. Donald Brown was the new starter, but with just 53 yards on 14 carries, he doesn't look like the answer, either. Joseph Addai is still out of action, but when he's healthy, the Colts will have three mediocre options, rather than the current two.

Dallas Clark suffered what could have been a season-ending leg injury last week, and third-stringer Brody Eldridge was out after needing surgery on his hand, so Jacob Tamme more or less had the job to himself Sunday. He made the most of the opportunity, leading the Colts with six catches for 75 yards. The Indianapolis offense isn't exactly humming, but Tamme has the potential to be a decent tight end down the stretch.

Laurent Robinson has made the most of his many opportunities this season, and Sunday was no exception, as he caught three passes for 73 yards and found the end zone twice. Miles Austin should miss at least one more game with a right hamstring injury, and given how good Tony Romo looked Sunday, Robinson looks like a must start.

DeSean Jackson was suspended for Sunday's game for sleeping through a team meeting Saturday, but the suspension is expected to only last one game. The Eagles could have used him Sunday, as starter Jeremy Maclin left the game with shoulder and hamstring strains and Jackson's replacement in the starting lineup, Jason Avant, found the going tough when he had to be the top dog. Avant struggled to get open and only received one target. Steve Smith was targeted a team-high 10 times and could be the one who starts the next time Jackson is sleepy. All kidding aside, Maclin's status will be watched closely this week, as the Eagles' season is spirally out of control.

Many Julio Jones owners couldn't get him into their lineups fast enough after last week's explosion, which makes Sunday's game all-the-more disappointing. Jones caught just two passes for nine yards before aggravating a hamstring injury, giving way to Harry Douglas' bonanza. Douglas finished with eight catches for 133 yards on a whopping 14 targets. Douglas seemed to will the Falcons into overtime, catching three passes for 66 yards on the game-tying drive at the end of regulation. Should Jones miss time, Douglas will get another shot.

Frank Gore was already playing on a gimpy ankle when he hurt his knee Sunday. Aside from the injury, it was a day to forget for Gore, who gained a grand total of zero yards on six carries. Kendall Hunter picked up the slack, running for 40 yards on six carries and scoring on a 17-yarder to give the 49ers a two-TD lead. Gore's status is uncertain, but Hunter makes for an intriguing add given that San Francisco faces Arizona next.

Calvin Johnson had his worst game of the season in Sunday's 37-13 loss to Chicago. His day started with a fumble and ended with a possible concussion, and he had just seven catches for 81 yards despite being targeted a staggering 19 times. A Megatron-shaped hole in the lineup would be devastating to the Lions, but rookie Titus Young has 11 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown in his last two games, so he at least has some potential.

Jacoby Ford sprained his ankle early in Thursday's game, but that didn't prevent Darrius Heyward-Bey from inexplicably recording his second goose egg in a row. Denarius Moore looks like the top receiver in the offense since Carson Palmer's emergence, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh should see a bit more action too, but considering how well DHB played a month ago, don't be surprised to see him rise to the top of the depth chart again, especially if Ford misses time. Ford does not believe the injury is serious, but last we checked, he didn't go to medical school.

Greg Salas out for the year with a broken leg, it figured that Austin Pettis would be in line for more targets, but he was targeted just four times Sunday. Mark Clayton was activated from the PUP list and was targeted once, and Danario Alexander should return soon, but it looks like all will bow before Brandon Lloyd, who was targeted nine times Sunday and is really the only reliable wideout on the roster. It's certainly not Brandon Gibson, who was shut out Sunday and hasn't topped 60 yards in any game this season.

The Rams went with Michael Hoomanawanui Sunday with the disappointing Lance Kendricks out with a mid-foot strain. Unfortunately, Hoomanawanui suffered what looks like a season-ending injury. The silver lining is we won't have to spell his name again for a while. Billy Bajema will start in his place until Kendricks returns.

Rex Grossman didn't exactly earn his return to the starting lineup so much as John Beck lost it. The Washington offense looked lost with Beck at the helm, so the Redskins decided to give Grossman another chance Sunday. However, it was more of the same. The Redskins couldn't find the end zone against the lackluster Miami defense, losing 20-9. Grossman threw for 215 yards and was picked off twice. A once-promising season in D.C. has fallen apart.

The more I think about it, the more I think Mike Shanahan is the Tony La Russa of the NFL. Yes, La Russa just won a championship in St. Louis, but he also seems to think he's just sooooo much smarter than his fellow managers. Shanahan somehow sees something in Ryan Torain, so despite a nice game from Roy Helu last week, Torain started Sunday. Naturally, he finished with just 20 yards on 11 carries. Helu looked better again Sunday, running for 41 yards on six attempts and catching three passes. Surely he'll start Week 11, right? Nah, it'll probably be Tashard Choice or someone else.

Mark Ingram returned to action Sunday, but with just eight carries for 11 yards and one catch for three yards, he didn't make much of a contribution to the Saints' overtime victory over Atlanta. Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas struggled as well, so it might have just been the Atlanta defense and not necessarily Ingram. Apart from Thomas' 16-yard run, the troika combined for 25 yards on 15 carries. Both Thomas and Sproles caught four passes, but just 11 receiving yards between them.

Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin suffered concussions Sunday, making their status for week 11 very much in doubt. Seattle eked out a victory over Baltimore, but the severely depleted wideout corps will have to rely on the likes of Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate. The trio combined for just four catches Sunday, with Tate garnering three. Mike Williams has the potential to be a decent No. 1 receiver, but even when he's been healthy this year he hasn't been able to overcome the duo of Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. Fortunately, Seattle faces the Rams next.