RotoWire Partners

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.

BEARS QB: Although he finished Sunday's game and actually played pretty well, it looks like Jay Cutler broke a thumb on his passing hand and could be out for the rest of the regular season. Caleb Hanie will take his place in the starting lineup, but the Chicago offense will suffer without Cutler behind center.

Reports early last week indicated A.J. Green "should be fine," but he missed Sunday's game with a hyperextended knee. Andre Caldwell started in his place and caught a key 49-yard touchdown pass, but did little else, catching just two passes for 14 yards in his other eight targets. Jerome Simpson, on the other hand, shined as the top dog, finishing with eight catches for 152 yards. Simpson has been a bit hot-and-cold this season, but perhaps Sunday will give him the confidence he needs to be a consistent performer when Green returns.

Last week, it looked like one quarterback after another went down in the NFL, but week 11 featured injuries to Fred Jackson and Adrian Peterson that will strongly affect numerous fantasy teams jockeying for playoff position. Jackson left Sunday's game with a calf injury and just 17 rushing yards, though his five catches for 50 yards were nice. X-rays were negative, and Jackson downplayed the injury after the game, but he'll be worth monitoring in the coming days. C.J. Spiller, who had been playing more wideout than running back in recent weeks, would likely start next week if Spiller can't go, but Johnny White is also an option if Spiller stays at his current position.

The Bills may need Spiller to stay at wide receiver, as they lost Donald Jones to what could be a significant ankle injury (he's expected to miss three-to-six weeks), and Steve Johnson and David Nelson are already a little hobbled by injuries of their own. Brad Smith also got hurt Sunday, and considering he saw four targets, it's clear that Buffalo's wideout corps is looking for help. Naaman Roosevelt and Ruvell Martin even both had a couple targets. It looks like Johnson and Nelson are going to be OK, but who else will be the target of Ryan Fitzpatrick's many incomplete passes is anyone's guess.

Mohamed Massaquoi returned after missing most of the last three games with concussions, but he wasn't much of a factor, catching just two passes for 19 yards. He's been passed by Greg Little on the depth chart anyway, and though Little had modest totals of five catches for 59 yards Sunday, he was targeted more than all of the Cleveland wideouts put together.

With Kevin Kolb still out, John Skelton was finally exposed when he faced a real defense Sunday. Skelton threw three picks and was just 6-for-19 for 99 yards before giving way to Richard Bartel, who was at least able to find Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown. There was some talk of a quarterback controversy before this week's game, but the only controversy in the desert right now is which quarterback is the worst.

Matt Cassel will need surgery on his hand, which could very well end his season. The dynamic duo of Tyler Palko and Ricky Stanzi will occupy the top two spots on the Kansas City depth chart while Cassel is out. Palko will make his first career start Monday night against the Patriots. Welcome to the NFL.

Thanks to a sore groin, Dan Carpenter sat out Sunday's affair with the Bills. The Dolphins signed Shayne Graham to take his place, and Graham responded with five extra points in five attempts. Fortunately for Miami fans, Graham was not called upon to kick a field goal. Carpenter should be back in the next week or two.

It was only a matter of time before Michael Vick missed a start. Sunday, Vince Young replaced Vick in the starting lineup with the latter sporting a couple broken ribs. It was not a perfect performance by any means, as Young threw three picks. On the other hand, he also threw for 258 yards and two scores, including the game-winner with 2:45 remaining. Winning a division game on the road is no easy feat, and it kept Philly's faint playoff hopes alive.

With a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, Jeremy Maclin missed Sunday's game. Riley Cooper started in his place and finished with five catches for 75 yards, including the game-winning 18-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson returned from his team-enforced suspension and showed more chemistry with Young than he has with Vick. Steve Smith and Jason Avant, expecting to see added looks with Maclin gone, each caught just one pass (though in Smith's case, it was for a touchdown). Maclin should return soon, but given Cooper's strong performance Sunday, he could move up to the No. 3 spot on the depth chart when the entire group is healthy.

Julio Jones was back on the sidelines this week with yet another hamstring injury. Harry Douglas started in his place, and while he didn't get the 14 targets he had in Week 10, he still caught four passes for 51 yards. Roddy White had his best game in nearly two months when he caught seven passes for 147 yards. Jones should return next week, giving the Falcons three good wideouts as they stay in the playoff hunt.

LaDainian Tomlinson held out of Thursday's game with a sprained MCL was enough, but the Jets lost Shonn Greene to bruised ribs early in the affair, paving the way for Joe McKnight to see significant action. McKnight ran for 59 yards on 16 carries and also caught six passes for 62 yards, but he made a few costly mistakes as well. Greene's injury doesn't look too serious, but if he and L.T. both miss their next game, McKnight and Bilal Powell figure to shoulder the load.

The Lions found something they didn't know they had Sunday, and it came from old friend Kevin Smith. Well, not really old, as Smith is not yet 25, but he never became the star the Lions hoped for when they drafted him in 2008. He looked like a star Sunday, however, as he ran for 140 yards on 16 carries and caught four passes for 61 yards. Oh, and he found the end zone three times. The Lions had been scraping by with the likes of Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams, but it looks like they've found their running back until Jahvid Best returns, and that may not be until 2012. Morris might continue to start while Best is out of the lineup, but the question is: why?

It's been a quiet season for Ryan Grant, and Sunday was no exception, as he gained just 16 yards on four carries. However, starter James Starks sprained his knee, putting his week 12 status in doubt. The Packers haven't run the ball much this year, thanks to their unbelievable passing game, but if Grant has the job all to himself he could go back to his old ways.

Darrius Heyward-Bey started Sunday with Jacoby Ford out with a sprained ankle, but DHB left the game early after taking a massive hit. He had feeling in his extremities after the game, which is good news, but he'll likely need some time on the shelf to recover. Ford spent the week in a walking boot, but he could be back soon. If both players are unable to play, the Raiders likely will go with Denarius Moore and some combination of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chaz Schilens (who caught a TD pass Sunday), and Louis Murphy.

Michael Hoomanawanui tore his ACL last week, but the Rams' talented-yet-disappointing rookie Lance Kendricks returned from a one-game absence. He caught just two passes for 21 yards, but he's what the Rams have there right now. With the team's playoff hopes long-since-passed, they might as well see what they have in Kendricks down the stretch.

With Leonard Hankerson done for the year with a torn labrum and Santana Moss still a week or two away from returning, the Redskins re-signed Donte Stallworth, who caught just five passes before he was dumped a few weeks ago. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Skins went to Stallworth six times Sunday, including on a game-tying touchdown with 14 seconds left. Stallworth might not have another four-catch, 51-yard performance in him, but it's possible that Jabar Gaffney could repeat his strong showing (seven catches, 115 yards, one touchdown) as long as he's the top receiver on the roster.

Although the Texans didn't play this week, they still had a major change atop their depth chart. Matt Schaub has a Lisfranc injury that likely will end his season. The keys to the smooth-running Houston offense will be given to Matt Leinart, who hasn't thrown a meaningful pass since 2009. Rookie T.J. Yates is the backup, but since the Texans have Super Bowl aspirations, they might try to find a veteran free agent off the scrap heap.

Matt Hasselbeck strained his right elbow Sunday, giving way to the beginning of the Jake Locker era. Seeing the most extensive action of his career, Locker threw for 140 yards and two scores and nearly brought Tennessee back from a 20-point deficit. He looked comfortable in the pocket, and could be the quarterback for the Titans next week even if Hasselbeck is cleared to play.

Adrian Peterson sprained his ankle Sunday as the fantasy world held its collective breath. Postgame X-rays showed no break, but he'll need an MRI on Monday to determine the full severity of the sprain. Toby Gerhart, who had just 18 yards on seven carries Sunday, would start if Peterson misses time, but the Vikes could rely on Percy Harvin out of the backfield as well.