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Depth Chart Watch: Fallout From Week 9

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.


Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) finally returned Sunday after missing five games, but his return was lackluster, and he was supposedly hobbled late in the game with an unspecified issue. The emergence of Josh Gordon has probably muted Massaquoi's absence, but it's not like the Browns offense has been rolling with Gordon at the helm. Gordon, Massaquoi and Greg Little were in the starting lineup Sunday but combined for just eight catches for 96 yards. Look elsewhere for your wideout sleepers.


Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal both missed Thursday's game with hamstring injuries, so Danario Alexander saw a bit more action than he thought he'd see when he signed with the Chargers on Oct. 18. Seyi Ajirotutu actually replaced Meachem in the starting lineup, but he caught just pass for 28 yards. Alexander, on the other hand, had three receptions for 61 yards and "will be a big part of what we do," according to coach Norv Turner. Just know that although Alexander has great potential, his knee is held together by duct tape.


Matt Cassel was back behind center for the Chiefs Thursday, one game after losing his starting job to Brady Quinn, who missed the game with a head injury. Newsflash: the Chiefs still stink.


The up-and-down season for Jamaal Charles continued Thursday when he ran for 39 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game with a neck injury while the Chiefs were being blown out. Charles tested negative for a concussion, but Peyton Hillis, finally healthy, could see an increase in carries if Charles isn't ready for Pittsburgh next Monday. Hillis had just 14 yards on seven carries Thursday, so he's not exactly setting the world on fire, but he's the best backup the Chiefs have.


Donnie Avery had a nice game prior to his exit Sunday, catching five passes for 108 yards, but then again, all of the Colts receivers did well. Avery's hip injury contributed to rookie T.Y. Hilton's career day, as he finished with six catches for 102 yards, a 36-yard touchdown, and a team-high 11 targets. With Reggie Wayne taking attention on the other side of the field, Hilton could be in line for more days like this.


With Coby Fleener out two weeks with a shoulder injury, Dwayne Allen and Weslye Saunders split the duties at tight end for Indianapolis. Fleener has been solid this year, catching 21 passes for 222 yards, but Allen - thanks in part to his six-catch effort Sunday - has surpassed those numbers. With Andrew Luck getting more and more comfortable every week, the opportunity is there for Allen to be a decent fantasy tight end down the stretch.


Alex Green had his opportunities, but he ceded his starting job to James Starks on Sunday and then had his best game of the season. Unfortunately for Green, his best translated to just 11 carries for 53 yards and two catches for 25 yards. Starks didn't set the world on fire (61 yards on 17 rushes and zero targets), but he was good enough. He'll probably stay as the starter for now.


Jordy Nelson, a game-time decision Sunday with a hamstring injury, started but didn't last long. He left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not even catch a pass. No matter, as James Jones and Randall Cobb picked up the slack once again, combining for their usual three touchdowns. As long as Aaron Rodgers is throwing the ball, it doesn't appear to matter what wide receivers are on the field.


Although Brandon LaFell passed his concussion tests throughout the week, he was held out of Sunday's contest, giving Louis Murphy a crack at the starting lineup. Murphy caught one pass for four yards, and his breakthrough 2011 season seems like long ago. Actually the biggest beneficiary of LaFell's absence was tight end Greg Olsen, who was targeted a team-high nine times and caught five passes for 48 yards. Armanti Edwards caught just one pass, but it went for 82 yards, as the Panthers were content to just run on the Redskins. LaFell shouldn't be out much longer.


As if it weren't bad enough that the Raiders' running backs had to sit and watch Doug Martin run for 251 yards against their defense, both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson suffered ankle injuries that could keep them out of action in the coming weeks. McFadden's so far looks more serious, as it's being called a high-ankle sprain. Taiwan Jones looks like the next back in line, but there's always fullback Marcel Reece, who caught eight passes for 95 yards (though he didn't receive a carry) in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay. The Raiders likely will look for free agents this week.


A case of the drops has ironically dropped Leonard Hankerson from the starting lineup. Aldrick Robinson got the nod Sunday, though he had just one catch for six yards. Hankerson, meanwhile, finished with three catches for 49 yards as Robinson himself dropped the first pass thrown his way. With Pierre Garcon (foot) possibly getting shut down for the season and Santana Moss getting evaluated for a head injury suffered Sunday, Josh Morgan has become the most trusted wideout on the roster. Morgan finished with six catches (on 12 targets) for 46 yards and even added a nine-yard run in the effort.


The news on Darren Sproles fluctuated all week in New Orleans. He went from "out indefinitely" to "4-6 weeks" to "1-2 weeks" after having surgery on his broken left hand. Fantasy leagues lie in the balance. What we do know is that New Orleans will have a different backfield Monday night. Pierre Thomas is no stranger to catching passes out of the backfield, so given that he'll probably also receive the most carries, he figures to see a significant increase in value with Sproles out of action. The disappointing Mark Ingram might see a little bit more action, but his highlight of the weekend will probably be seeing his alma mater come back on Saturday night. One dark horse is Travaris Cadet, who will return kicks and might fill in nicely, but he has never received an NFL carry.


The Pittsburgh running game, after a few fits and starts at the beginning of the season, is now running on all cylinders as Isaac Redman was able to step in for Jonathan Dwyer and achieve a career day. Redman ran for 147 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries as Dwyer missed the game with a sore hamstring. Kansas City's poor rushing defense is up next, so whoever gets the start next week should be salivating. One thing's for sure, the oft-injured Rashard Mendenhall does not appear needed.


Antonio Brown doesn't think he'll miss any games after he suffered a high-ankle sprain Sunday, but last we checked, he was not a doctor. Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery aren't bad backups to have in a pinch, and each should see plenty more targets next week if Brown is unable to play.