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Depth Chart Watch: Party Like it's 2009

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.


Matt Forte played well before leaving Sunday's game with an ankle injury, running for 88 yards on 12 carries, including a four-yard touchdown. He was seen in a walking boot after the game, so the Bears may turn to Kahlil Bell (who ran for 13 times for 32 yards) - rather than Armando Allen next week against the Lions.


Scott Chandler already was at less than 100 percent due to a groin injury before Sunday's game, but he didn't make it through the game before leaving with a knee injury. If his season is over, he'll finish with decent numbers: 43 catches, 571 yards and six touchdowns, a nice improvement over last season, but not the giant leap some expected. Lee Smith is the only other tight end on the active roster, so he'll have the starting job by default.


With all of the hype surrounding the other rookie quarterbacks, it's easy to forget that Brandon Weeden's rookie campaign wasn't that bad, as he threw for more than 3,000 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was still in pain after the Sunday's game, however, when he was forced from play with an injured shoulder. Colt McCoy threw a touchdown pass coming off the bench and figures to start next week unless Weeden recovers.


Trent Richardson's foot is not broken, but he was seen in a walking boot after Sunday's game after getting carted off the field at game's end. The Browns are way out of the playoff picture, so they're likely to protect their star, especially considering how injury-prone he's been. Montario Hardesty would probably start in his place.


Ryan Lindley got another start Sunday, but as usual, the Cardinals starter couldn't get anything going. This time they turned to Brian Hoyer, who was cut by the Steelers just two weeks ago. Hoyer threw for 105 yards and completed 11 passes in 19 attempts. In other words, he's probably the best quarterback the Cardinals have had all year.


Beanie Wells, fresh off a three-TD performance, didn't quite do so well Sunday, running for just three yards and getting benched after he lost a fumble. LaRod Stephens-Howling (11 carries for 20 yards) and William Powell (three attempts for six yards) got his playing time, but none looks like the answer at running back. Except Wells to start again in the final game of a very forgettable year.


Ryan Mathews' broken clavicle created an opportunity for at least one enterprising San Diego back. Jackie Battle started and ran 19 times, but he couldn't even get to 50 yards. Ronnie Brown was a bit better, finishing with 31 yards on five totes, so he could get the start Week 17 against the Raiders.


The Chargers surprisingly put Malcom Floyd on the IR last week, so Eddie Royal got into the starting lineup Sunday and led the Bolts in targets with seven, but he caught just three passes for 39 yards. Meanwhile, Danario Alexander bounced back from his poor performance last week to gain 69 yards and reach the end zone. The two should start in the finale against Oakland next week.


Tony Moeaki sustained a head injury last week, so the Chiefs instead went with Steve Maneri, who, of course, didn't catch a single pass Sunday. The Chiefs rumbled for 352 rushing yards in Sunday's loss to the Colts, so they didn't need to use a converted tackle in their passing offense much.


A groin injury finished Dan Carpenter's season a little early, so the Dolphins turned to former Charger Nate Kaeding to handle placekicking duties for the final two games of the season. Kaeding's first FGA was blocked, but he later made a 45-yarder and three PATs in the victory over Buffalo on Sunday.


LeSean McCoy missed four games with a concussion, and considering we went as high as No. 1 overall in many fantasy drafts, his absence probably ended more than a few fantasy dreams. He had just 45 yards on 13 carries Sunday, though he also caught nine passes for 77 yards, so the day wasn't a total loss. Bryce Brown, who came on like gangbusters at the beginning of Shady's absence and then played like a career backup soon thereafter, is now a backup again he finished with just 18 yards on four carries Sunday.


Last week we speculated in this space that Brent Celek might be done for the season, but he returned Sunday possibly because Clay Harbor was placed on the IR himself and caught three passes for 39 yards. That's a typical game for the veteran, so his return isn't exactly noteworthy.


Mario Manningham returned Sunday and barely made through half a game before leaving with a knee injury on his only reception of the game. He also lost a fumble on the play, making for about as bad a return as a player can have. Randy Moss started for Manningham earlier this month and likely will be in the starting lineup in Week 17 if the knee injury is serious.


Vernon Davis' disappointing season may have come to an end when he was knocked out of Sunday's loss with a concussion. He caught just four passes in his last four games, and it's clear that Colin Kaepernick has better chemistry with Delanie Walker anyway. Walker had four catches (including a garbage-time score) for 54 yards Sunday and may be a nice fantasy sleeper against the Cardinals if he gets a Week 17 start.


Ahmad Bradshaw returned Sunday and ran nine times for 39 yards, but the Giants had to abandon the run when they got behind big early, so it's impossible to know just how strong his knee is now. Last week's starter, David Wilson, only had three carries, one of those was a 14-yard touchdown run.


Cecil Shorts was targeted 11 times Sunday and seemed to be back from the concussion that sidelined him earlier this month. Late in the game, however, he suffered another concussion, and this one likely will end his season one week early. Fellow starter Justin Blackmon has picked up the slack, while recent signee Jordan Shipley finished with five catches for 82 yards Sunday. Expect both especially Shipley to see an increase in targets with Shorts sidelined.


The best thing we can say about the Jets QB situation is at least it's better than what they have in Arizona. After a season of speculation, the Jets finally gave up on Mark Sanchez, but instead of handing the reins over to Tim Tebow, they gave Greg McElroy a shot. McElroy finished with 185 yards passing on 14 completions, but he turned the ball over twice and was sacked an ungodly 11 times. Surely Tebow would have avoided at least one of those sacks. Then again, he probably wouldn't have completed 14 passes. The end of the season can't come soon enough, as the Jets will need to make some serious changes to their offense in the offseason.


DuJuan Harris started Sunday with Alex Green out with a concussion, but it was old standby Ryan Grant who got the bulk of the work in the blowout, finishing with 20 carries for 80 yards and two scores. He added a 34-yard reception and was partying like it was 2009. Harris finished with 29 yards on just eight carries, one of which was a seven-yard touchdown.


Thanks to great depth at the position, the Packers rarely skip a beat when one of their wideouts goes down. With Jordy Nelson already out with a hamstring injury, the Packers also lost Randall Cobb to an ankle injury Sunday, but they still threw a double-nickel at the Titans. Cobb's status is unknown, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Packers play it safe in the regular-season finale, especially with Greg Jennings and James Jones around to catch the ball.


One USC quarterback replaced another Sunday when Carson Palmer left the game with a rib injury in the first quarter. Matt Leinart came on in relief but couldn't get the Raiders into the end zone, finishing 16-for-32 for 115 yards and a pick. Oakland, at 4-11, may not push Palmer to return for Week 17, giving Leinart - and possibly Terrelle Pryor, who saw a little action Sunday - a chance to strut his stuff in the finale.


Torrey Smith was healthy enough to play after last week's concussion, but running mate Anquan Boldin couldn't make it all the way through Sunday's game after leaving with a shoulder injury. Opportunity knocks for third wideout Jacoby Jones, but Jones has never exactly taken advantage of his opportunities.


Last week's absence was merely a blip on the Robert Griffin Express, as the talented rookie came back after missing a game with a knee injury. With last week's starter Kirk Cousins looking on, Griffin threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns in his return as the Skins won a big game on the road over Philadelphia. It's safe to say that Griffin will start Week 17 against Dallas in what will be the biggest game of his young career.


Although Jonathan Dwyer is still starting and had 14 carries to Rashard Mendenhall's 11, Mendenhall got the ball a lot in the second half of Sunday's loss and outgained Dwyer 50 to 39. Mendenhall may be out of coach Mike Tomlin's doghouse after last week's suspension, but he'll probably not be back with Pittsburgh next season. It's unknown who will get the start in the finale, but Mendenhall may get a nice going-away present if he can stay on Tomlin's good side for just a few more days.


Heath Miller injured his PCL and MCL late in Sunday's loss to the Bengals and is not expected to play in the season finale against Cleveland, especially now that Pittsburgh has been eliminated from playoff contention. David Paulson, who has only been targeted 10 times all season, will probably start in the finale.


Arian Foster picked the worst time to have his worst game of the season, finishing with just 15 yards on 10 rushes. More alarmingly, he left the game early due to an irregular heartbeat. Coach Gary Kubiak said Foster was "doing fine" after the game, but it's not something one should take lightly. Ben Tate and Justin Forsett combined for just five carries in the blowout loss, but Tate would probably see more action should Foster need to sit out the finale.