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Depth Chart Watch: Fallout From Week 3

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.


Rookie Alshon Jeffery was in the starting lineup Sunday, rather than Devin Hester, and he tied Brandon Marshall for the team lead with five receptions. Jeffery was second on the team with seven targets and 45 yards, but he's clearly gaining the confidence of Jay Cutler. Hester, meanwhile, was shut out on his two targets. As usual, he's not going to be worth much in fantasy leagues that don't count return yards.


C.J. Spiller's meteoric rise to the top of the fantasy football world came to a crashing halt Sunday when he injured his shoulder, though it doesn't look like a broken collarbone or a more serious injury. He's already out for next week and could miss another game or two, but at least the Bills avoided a catastrophe. Tashard Choice, who ran for 91 yards in relief of Spiller on Sunday, should fill in until Spiller - or Fred Jackson - returns in the next few weeks.


Willis McGahee had just 12 carries for 36 yards before leaving with a rib injury Sunday. The severity of the injury wasn't known just after the game, but if McGahee is forced to miss any time, Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno will do their best to take over the Denver backfield, though none has impressed so far this season. Moreno was inactive Sunday, while Ball and Hillman combined for just 23 yards on nine carries. Hillman is probably first in line for carries among the backups.


Mohamed Massaquoi left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, but he doesn't sound too concerned. Last we checked, Massaquoi is not a doctor, however, so he'll be evaluated early in the week to determine the next course of action. Rookies Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin would probably pick up the slack if Massaquoi misses time, but given the state of Cleveland's offense, there isn't a whole lot of slack to pick up.


After Beanie Wells went down with a toe injury, Ryan Williams saw his chance and ran with it - literally. He finished with 13 rushes for 83 yards and one catch for 12 yards, easily the best game either back has had this season. If Wells has to miss time with the injury, Williams should get nearly all of the touches out of the Arizona backfield.


Ryan Mathews returned after missing the first two games of the season with a clavicle injury, but the Chargers fell behind early and had to abandon the run before Mathews could get going. He finished with respectable numbers: 44 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving, but the San Diego offense struggled all day. Ronnie Brown was a surprise inactive, so for now it looks like Curtis Brinkley is the top backup.


Antonio Gates returned from a one-game absence, returning Dante Rosario back to obscurity. After reaching the end zone three times last week, Rosario did not even make a catch Sunday. Gates finished with just three catches for 22 yards and is still the only Chargers tight end worth owning.


Jamaal Charles is still the starter and Peyton Hillis is still the backup, but boy did things change in Kansas City. It's not just Hillis' ankle injury that caused the change either. Charles exploded for 233 yards on 33 carries - not to mention 55 more yards on six catches - and carried the Chiefs offense Sunday. Whatever committee was being formed a week ago has been shattered now. Charles is now the man in Kansas City.


The good news for the Colts is that Austin Collie made his season debut Sunday after missing the first two games with a concussion. The bad news is he didn't last long, catching just one game before suffering a knee injury. Donnie Avery remained in the starting lineup despite Collie's presence, but if the newest injury is serious, he might just stay there. T.Y. Hilton is next in line and had a fine day against Jacksonville, finishing with four catches (including a 40-yard TD) for 113 yards. As he gets more comfortable with the speed of the NFL, he could find himself pushing Avery and/or Collie for more looks.


Reggie Bush couldn't follow up last week's career day with a strong showing Sunday thanks to a knee injury late in the second quarter. Bush, who ran for 61 yards on 10 carries, was seen on an exercise bike during the game, so it doesn't look like a season-altering injury (though he'll have an MRI on Monday just to be sure). Daniel Thomas, who moved ahead of Lamar Miller on the depth chart due his blocking ability, gained 69 yards on 19 attempts, one of which was a one-yard score well before Bush left the game. Miller got nine carries of his own, gaining 48 yards in the process. Also noteworthy: fullback Jorvorskie Lane got a one-yard score of his own. Considering that the score was tied 10-10 at the time, the carry wasn't exactly during garbage time. There could be an unlikely touchdown vulture in Miami.


Jeremy Maclin was ruled out early in the week with a hip injury, and his absence was felt, as the Eagles couldn't move the ball well all day. Damaris Johnson filled in for Maclin and led the team with 11 targets, five catches and 84 yards, but Philadelphia only got a pair of field goals against the feisty Arizona defense. DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant caught three passes apiece and really didn't see any significant increase in targets with Maclin out.


Although Ahmad Bradshaw is supposed to return next week from his neck injury, he missed Thursday's game and could only watch as Andre Brown rumbled for 113 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries. David Wilson, perhaps expecting that he would get plenty of play with Bradshaw sidelined had just one catch and one carry, finishing with a grand total of one yard. Brown is clearly ahead of Wilson at this point, and if Bradshaw doesn't watch out, could start a few more games before the season is out.


With both Hakeem Nicks (foot) and Domenik Hixon (concussion) out of Thursday's game, Ramses Barden made the most of a rare appearance in the starting lineup, finishing with nine catches for 138 yards. The way Eli Manning is throwing the ball, anybody can be a star in this offense if given the chance. Barden's time at the top could be short-lived, but we were probably saying the same thing about Victor Cruz around this time last year.


The Jacksonville wideout corps is a real mess. Blaine Gabbert threw 15 passes to his wide receivers Sunday - and only completed five, though one was an 80-yard scoring strike to Cecil Shorts. Starters Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson combined for all of one catch for seven yards, and Robinson left the game with a concussion in the first quarter. Shorts and Mike Thomas figure to get first cracks at Robinson's job if he can't go next week, but Kevin Elliott received four targets Sunday, so he could be involved as well.


Stephen Hill, who was targeted seven times but didn't record a catch, left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. Jeremy Kerley had a nice game, catching two passes for 73 yards and a score, so he'll get first crack at the starting lineup if Hill can't go next week. However, fellow starter Santonio Holmes was a monster Sunday, hauling in nine catches for 147 after receiving a whopping 14 targets. If anyone is getting the looks that should be going to Hill, it looks like it'll be Holmes, not Kerley.


Matthew Stafford was the fourth QB off the board in many fantasy drafts this year, so losing him to injury during the wild overtime loss Sunday has to be a concern for his owners. Stafford still had a strong game before he left with a strained right leg, throwing for 278 yards and a score, but backup Shaun Hill sure was ready, throwing for two touchdowns in the final 18 seconds of regulation and finishing with 172 yards in less than a quarter of action. Stafford is in no danger of losing his job, but he'll be watched closely in practice this week.


Although it seems like Mikel Leshoure has been in the NFL for a long time, believe it or not but Sunday was his NFL debut. He shook off the rust with a fine game, rumbling for 100 yards on 26 carries, including a one-yard touchdown. Kevin Smith, who filled during Leshoure's injury last year and Leshoure's suspension this year, played but did not receive a single touch. In fact, Joique Bell appeared to be the top backup for Leshoure on Sunday.


For the second time in three weeks, Jonathan Stewart was inactive due to toe and ankle injuries. DeAngelo Williams did much better as sole breadwinner this time around, finishing with 50 yards on 11 carries and 23 yards on two catches. The Panthers were playing catch-up most of the game, or else we would have seen more of D-Williams on Thursday.


Although New England scored 30 points against a good Baltimore defense, Aaron Hernandez's absence was felt, as fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski could only muster two catches for 21 yards. The Patriots signed perennial underachiever Kellen Winslow during the week, and Winslow caught one pass Sunday, but Aaron Hernandez he ain't. Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui were both active Sunday as well. Hernandez should miss at least the next couple of weeks.


The last thing the Raiders probably needed was another wideout going down, but Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off Sunday following a helmet-to-helmet hit. Heyward-Bey was briefly unconscious and probably suffered a concussion, so he may be out of action for awhile. Rod Streator probably has first dibs on his starting job, though Derek Hagan and Juron Criner will also be in the mix as well.


Although Aldrick Robinson started in Pierre Garcon's place last week, Leonard Hankerson got the call this week. Hankerson caught four passes for 56 yards before leaving the game with a jammed back. He thinks he'll be fine, but will need a precautionary X-ray. Tight end Fred Davis, who suffered a concussion a week ago, seems to be the top receiving option with Garcon out. Davis finished with seven catches for 90 yards.


Kenny Britt and Nate Washington were back in the starting lineup Sunday, and both played like it as well, combining for 167 yards on nine catches, though Washington was only targeted three times. Britt injured his ankle late in the game, but it doesn't look serious. Kendall Wright still had some value, tying Britt for the team lead with 11 targets and hauling down seven catches for 41 yards. The three together, if they can stay healthy, could be a potent trio for quarterback Jake Locker.


Jared Cook, who caught a 61-yard touchdown Sunday and is off to a strong start this season, will have an MRI on his shoulder Monday. Cook doesn't think he'll need surgery, but we'll let the MRI be the judge of that. Craig Stevens, who is more of a blocking tight end, still gained 63 yards on five receptions Sunday, but he's not expected to be a big part of the offense if Cook is sidelined.