RotoWire Partners

Depth Chart Watch: Fallout From Week 6

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.


Trent Richardson didn't do a whole lot before he was forced from Sunday's game with a rib injury, but he's so far still expected to play Week 7 against the Colts, pending an MRI on Monday. Montario Hardesty made sure to take advantage of the opportunity, running for a modest 56 yards on 15 carries (including a one-yard score). Hardesty could stay as the short-yardage back even if Richardson plays, as the Browns may want to protect their star from any unnecessary hits.


When Kevin Kolb left Sunday's game with a chest injury, John Skelton was given a golden opportunity to earn his old job back. He ... failed. Skelton completed just two passes in 10 attempts and threw an interception to set up the game-winning field goal. Kolb needs X-rays, and the injury could be serious, but if Sunday's game was any indication, the Cardinals could be in trouble with Skelton back at the helm.


Ryan Williams is done for the year. Beanie Wells is out for probably two months. The Arizona offensive line is a mess. Is there anything to like here? LaRod Stephens-Howling started and finished with just 22 yards on 11 carries, so he doesn't look like the answer either. Fortunately, William Powell stepped into the fold and finished with 13 carries for 70 yards. The Cardinals may have found their running back at the bottom of the depth chart.


Brady Quinn started his first game of the season Sunday but never found his rhythm, finishing with 180 yards and two interceptions (including a pick-six) in place of Matt Cassel, who missed the game with a concussion. With a bye week coming up in Week 7, Cassel might get all of the rest he needs, making Quinn's stay atop the depth chart a short one.


Donald Brown will miss a few weeks after undergoing minor knee surgery, so Vick Ballard was promoted to the starting lineup against the Jets on Sunday. Ballard had just 25 yards on eight carries as the Indianapolis offense struggled against an inconsistent Jets defense. Delone Carter, who received four carries Sunday, could get a little bit more work after Ballard's lackluster effort.


If Sunday's performance was any indication, the Cowboys definitely worked on their running game since their bye week, as they followed up Week 4's awful performance with 227 rushing yards against the Ravens. DeMarco Murray led the way with 93 yards on 14 carries, while Felix Jones followed with 18 carries for 92 yards and Phillip Tanner chipped in with 31 yards on nine carries of his own. Why did Tanner see so much time? There's the rub - Murray sprained his foot and Jones left the game due to dehydration. Jones' absence was brief and he showed quite a bounce in his step, so if Murray's MRI on Monday shows anything serious, Jones will be a nice pickup this week, especially with the Panthers up next.


Hakeem Nicks missed three games with a knee injury, and while he was gone I saw the likes of Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle get the catches that were rightfully his. Nicks returned Sunday and caught just three passes for 44 yards, but Eli Manning didn't exactly have a stellar day even though the Giants beat San Francisco easily. Expect bigger games out of Nicks soon, as he and Victor Cruz might be the best tandem this side of Atlanta when they're both healthy.


Cedric Benson was placed on the new "designated-to-return" IR list, but that's a long time he's going to be on the shelf. The Packers believe they have two good choices to replace him in Alex Green and James Starks. Green rushed a team-high 22 times Sunday night against Houston, but finished with just 65 yards. Starks, who missed the first five games of the season with a turf toe injury, had five carries for 11 yards. Fortunately for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers and company were around to do some serious damage through the air, so they didn't need Green or Starks. Expect the pass-happy Packers to continue their m.o. in the coming weeks, arguably making neither of the running backs worth more than a dart.


The Patriots welcomed back Aaron Hernandez, and he caught a touchdown in his first game back after missing three with an ankle injury. New England still boasts the best pair of tight ends in the league in Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, and they combined for 12 catches - on 17 of Tom Brady's 58 pass attempts - but finished with just 91 yards. Other than a Patriots loss, things appear back to normal.


The return of Darrius Heyward-Bey after a one-game absence due to a concussion did wonders for fellow starter Denarius Moore, who caught five passes for 104 yards. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Heyward-Bey himself, as he was targeted just twice and did not haul in a pass. Derek Hagan, who started for Heyward-Bey in Week 3, was far more productive, finishing with four catches for 85 yards. DHB had a 20-yard carry, and he should have better days, but it was a disappointing return.


Daryl Richardson has gradually worked way into a complete timeshare with Steven Jackson. While Jackson is still officially the starter, he had 12 carries to Richardson's 11 Sunday, and Richardson outgained him 76 to 52. Although Jackson played well Sunday, expect Richardson to get more and more work as the season wears on.


With the loss of Danny Amendola for at least a month, the opportunity is there for one of the Rams' bevy of receivers to step up. Brandon Gibson, the new No. 1 wideout, caught seven passes for 91 yards Sunday, while Chris Givens finished with three catches for 85 yards. Sam Bradford attempted 39 passes Sunday, so Gibson, Givens and Austin Pettis could benefit if the Rams take to the air again over the several games.


Pierre Garcon's injury-plagued campaign continued Sunday when he missed his third game of the season, this time with a sore foot. The Redskins seem to do fine rolling with Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson in the starting lineup, as they put up 38 points against the Vikings. Garcon is still arguably the best wideout on the roster, but if he can't stay healthy, then Hankerson and Morgan - not to mention the 33-year-old Santana Moss - should have no problems replacing his production.


Both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman got banged up in Thursday's game, and with Jonathan Dwyer a healthy scratch, Baron Batch surprisingly led the Steelers in carries (10) and rushing yards (22) against Tennessee and even ran for a touchdown. Redman made some nice plays in the passing game before he left with an ankle injury, while Mendenhall was practically a zero before exiting with an Achilles injury. Mendenhall's injury is considered minor, but the Steelers are probably happy he'll get a little bit extra time to rest it before next Sunday's game against Cincinnati.


Michael Jenkins was back in the starting lineup with Jerome Simpson sitting out with a back injury. The Vikings have now played six games and Simpson has been targeted just eight times, thanks to a three-game suspension to start the season and Sunday's DNP. Meanwhile, Jenkins caught six passes for 67 yards and a score and was targeted 10 times, good for third on the team. Simpson may need to worry about his job.