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Depth Chart Watch: Down Goes Romo

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: The Bears' playoff hopes went down the tubes when Jay Cutler got hurt several weeks ago, and the team finally realized this past week that Caleb Hanie is not the answer as a backup quarterback. They tried their luck with Josh McCown on Sunday, and he did about as well as expected against the Packers: 242 yards passing, one touchdown, two interceptions and 38 yards rushing. He'll likely start again in the finale.

Hanie isn't the only Bear who will soon find himself out of a job. Marion Barber, who took over for the injured Matt Forte a few weeks ago, made too many costly errors during Chicago's losing streak. Officially, he missed Sunday's game with a calf injury, but the Bears probably just wanted to see what they had in Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen instead. Bell was featured early and often and finished with 121 yards on 23 carries and another 38 yards on four catches. Allen, an undrafted rookie just signed from the practice squad, had a respectable 40 yards on 11 carries. The tandem will likely be in action again in Week 17.

Johnny Knox had surgery on his back last Monday and is out for the rest of the year. Of course, that rest of the year is now only one more week. Dane Sanzenbacher and Roy Williams appeared to pick up the slack, combining for 10 catches for 132 yards.

Scott Chandler missed a couple of games with an ankle injury, and though he returned for Saturday's victory over Denver, you wouldn't know it from the stat sheet, as he was targeted just twice and didn't catch either pass. Lee Smith, who had been holding down the starting job while Chandler was out, was placed on the IR last week with an ankle injury of his own, while Mike Caussin, who actually was the official starter Saturday, hurt his knee and won't start in Week 17. Chandler scored four touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, but never became a reliable fantasy threat, averaging just 27.7 yards/game over his last 10 games.

After LeGarrette Blount mishandled a handoff on the first possession of the game, he was more or less benched the rest of the way, appearing in just a few series. His coach Raheem Morris did not think Blount was ready to play (though given the Bucs lost, 48-16, to Carolina, Blount apparently was not the only one not ready to play), so Kregg Lumpkin and Mossis Madu got the ball quite a bit more than Blount, who only had two carries. We'll have to see if his normal workload is restored this week, but on the heels of nine straight losses, perhaps Tampa Bay will give Madu and Lumpkin an extended look in the season finale.

What goes around comes around. Joseph Addai carried the rock 19 times for 59 yards Thursday as the Colts pulled the upset over Houston. Donald Brown, who carried the Colts during their long losing streak, had just 11 rushes for 35 yards. The disparity was a bit strange considering Brown had his best game all season last week. Addai might finally be healthy for the first time all year, or coach Jim Caldwell was just giving Addai the ball for the last home game of the season (and what could be Addai's last game in Indianapolis in his career). Brown will probably be back atop the depth chart next week, but for the time being, it's Addai.

When it comes to devastating injuries in the fantasy world, Tony Romo's may take the cake. Considering how much he'd been rolling the last couple weeks, there were probably a number of teams counting on him to deliver a championship on Saturday. Instead, he threw two incomplete passes before leaving the game with a hand contusion, causing many (including one insufferable owner in this author's league) to curse his name forever more. With the Cowboys looking ahead to next week's big game with the Giants, they took the safe route and kept Romo out for the rest of the game. Stephen McGee took over, throwing one touchdown in garbage time. It's safe to say that Romo will return Week 17.

Felix Jones didn't practice much during the week due to a sore hamstring, and with the Cowboys not really needing to win Saturday, he was limited to four carries as Sammy Morris took over as the lead back. Morris didn't do much - 13 carries for 29 yards - in the loss to Philadelphia, and he should go back to a complementary role in Week 17, assuming Jones returns to health.

Anthony Fasano missed Sunday's game with a mild concussion, yielding the way to Will Yeatman and Jeron Mastrud at tight end, but considering that the two were targeted a grand total of one time and neither caught a pass, it does not look like Miami featured the backups Saturday. Expect more of the same if Fasano can't go in the season finale.

Jake Ballard will miss some time with a partially-torn PCL injury - he didn't play in week 16 and it's possible that he's done for the season. Bear Pascoe (ribs) and Travis Beckum (chest) are banged up as well, but both played Sunday, though neither caught a pass. With Pascoe as more of a blocking tight end and Beckum not quite the threat that Ballard is, it's unlikely the Giants will feature the tight end in their offense the rest of the way.

The Jacksonville passing offense is generally not a good place to look for fantasy prospects, and Saturday was no exception. Mike Thomas missed just one game with a concussion and returned Saturday, catching three passes for 26 yards. Jarrett Dillard remained the No. 1 receiver with five catches for 61 yards, but last week's starter, Chastin West, had just one reception for 14 yards. Nothing to see here.

Tom Brady welcomed back one of his favorite targets Sunday as Deion Branch caught three passes (including a one-yard score) for 37 yards after sitting out last week. There are so many options in the New England offense that Branch was hardly missed last week, but he still received nine targets in his return and could be a valuable part of the offense in week 17 and the postseason. Chad Ochocinco, who started last week's game in Branch's place, continued his lost season with just one catch for the fourth week in a row.

Anquan Boldin had surgery to repair a slight tear in his meniscus and is expected to miss the final two weeks of the regular season. Lee Evans was finally slated to see more action, but he did not catch a single pass in Saturday's game. Then again, the Ravens only completed 11 passes all day, and Torrey Smith - the only wideout to even catch a pass Saturday - caught just two. Smith will remain the top dog while Boldin is out, but Baltimore might need to find someone else if Evans is incapable of stepping up.

Billy Cundiff missed Saturday's game with a calf injury, though he feels healthy enough that he thinks he'll be able to kick Week 17. Shayne Graham filled in for him Saturday, making field goals of 48 and 43 yards. He's more than capable of kicking again in the finale if Cundiff still can't go.

You can't really blame Mike Shanahan for Roy Helu's injuries this week, but you can blame him for playing the wrong running backs for most of the season. With Helu sitting out with toe and knee injuries, the Redskins turned to Evan Royster, who managed to rumble for 132 yards on 19 carries. True, it was just against Minnesota, but it looks like the Redskins might be set in the backfield next year with Helu and Royster - and probably NOT Ryan Torain and Tim Hightower.

Although Ben Roethlisberger has gutted it out the last several weeks, the Steelers rested his ankle Saturday against the Rams. Given the hapless natural of the St. Louis defense, it proved to be a smart decision, as veteran Charlie Batch came in and finished with workmanlike numbers (15-of-22 for 208 yards). The 11-4 Steelers still have a bit more to play for in the finale, so Big Ben could return, but if not, he should be ready for the playoffs.

As if an injury to their starting running back weren't enough, the Vikings also lost Christian Ponder to a concussion Saturday. The Vikings rallied to beat the Redskins, 33-26, thanks to the efforts of backup Joe Webb, who threw for two touchdowns and rushed for one more. It's amazing that with Ponder and Webb on the roster that the Vikings gave so many chances to Donovan McNabb this season. Minnesota clearly has little to play for, so expect it to protect their rookie and start Webb instead Week 17.

Peterson's disappointing fantasy season hit a devastating new low Sunday when he tore his ACL and MCL on the first play of the second half. Fortunately for his owners, he got a touchdown before leaving the game, but he'll finish the season with less than 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his five-year career. His sixth season may be in jeopardy as well, though he'll have a long offseason to recuperate. Toby Gerhart passed the century mark Saturday and hasn't been bad backing up Peterson this season, so he could represent a decent play in the final week of the regular season.