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Depth Chart Watch: Moreno States His Case

Howard Bender

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. For more from him, you can find his personal musings on his blog or follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy. For questions, thoughts or comments you can email him at

Bills QB - Well, this situation went from bad to worse in a matter of moments as Kevin Kolb suffered what appears to be a major concussion during the Bills' loss to the Redskins on Saturday. He was apparently struggling to answer questions like "where are you?" and "what's your name?" and some are speculating that he could be done for the year. With EJ Manuel still recovering from a minor knee procedure, the Bills signed Matt Leinart and traded for Thaddeus Lewis to give them more options than just Jeff Tuel. Fantasy owners should stay away. Stay very far away.

Jets QB -
Fantasy owners should also likely avoid this debacle of a quarterback situation as Saturday's game revealed more ugliness. While Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder and is questionable on a week-to-week basis, Geno Smith and his troublesome ankle threw three picks in a game against the Giants on Saturday. Both players will continue to be evaluated, but it seems like Greg McElroy and Matt Simms might see some actual time on the field. If Smith's ankle is fine and Sanchez is unable to go, come Week 1, you have to figure Smith will start with McElroy ready to come in at a moment's notice.

Jets WR -
After he received medical clearance from his Lisfranc fracture recovery, Santonio Holmes was activated from the active/PUP list, but that still doesn't mean he will be ready to play Week 1. The Jets insist he should be ready to practice, but Holmes is hesitant and continues to complain that he isn't ready and remains in pain. That keeps Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill as the top wideouts with Ben Obomanu as the No. 3. There is growing speculation that Braylon Edwards won't even make the 53-man roster.

Patriots WR -
This situation has seemingly been resolved. Danny Amendola's injury is said to be his foot or ankle, but he is expected to ultimately be fine. Kenbrell Thompkins, after catching eight passes for 116 yards Thursday, has entrenched himself as the No. 2. Aaron Dobson will be the man in three-receiver sets.

Ravens WR -
Quick and simple on this one as well as Deonte Thompson has still been unable to practice due to a foot sprain he suffered during the team's first preseason game. The third wide receiver spot should easily go to Tandon Doss, though his fantasy value sits on the low end.

Steelers RB -
Last weekend shed some light on the Steelers' backfield situation, and if you were watching, then you probably wish that you had stayed in the dark. Le'Veon Bell is said to have a small ligament tear that should keep him out roughly six weeks. Isaac Redman missed Saturday's game with what they're calling a "stinger," and LaRod Stephens-Howling is expected to miss the remainder of the preseason with a mild MCL sprain. Both are still expected to be ready Week 1, but it will apparently be Jonathan Dwyer who chairs this running back committee. Dwyer should see the bulk of work, but Mike Tomlin will mix in Redman as often as he sees fit while Stephens-Howling, if able, will handle third-down work. The fantasy upside here is barely minimal, so avoid it like it's an AFC East QB battle.

Colts WR -
This situation remains largely unchanged as both T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey continue to battle for reps with the scales slightly tilting in Hilton's favor. He saw one more target than DHB during the preseason win over the Browns last weekend and saw the red-zone look on an eight-yard touchdown catch. But again, while Hilton likely will be the guy starting opposite Reggie Wayne come Week 1, Heyward-Bey is going to continue to eat into his reps and targets.

Texans WR -
DeAndre Hopkins dealing with a concussion and likely out for the preseason, it should be Keshawn Martin who steps in as the team's No. 2 behind Andre Johnson. He's considered more of a slot receiver, though, so the team is looking for some of its other receivers to step up. Alec Lemon saw an increase in targets during Sunday's loss to the 49ers, and Lestar Jean is likely to see an increase in reps at practice this week. With the amount of targets Johnson and the tight ends see, though, the third wideout on this team may be negligible at this point, at least from a fantasy perspective.

Jaguars RB -
Well, backup RB that is. With Justin Forsett continuing to be sidelined the entire preseason with a toe injury, the Jaguars are looking for someone to step into the No. 2 running-back role and serve as Maurice Jones-Drew's primary backup. Jordan Todman looked strong in both practices and games in the preseason and likely has the edge on the job while Denard Robinson has done enough to at least warrant a roster spot and get some work in as well. Forsett could find his roster spot in jeopardy, so if you're looking for a handcuff for MJD, consider it to be Todman.

Broncos RB -
Well now, this situation has gotten a bit more complicated, hasn't it? Ronnie Hillman has a case of the fumbles, having lost three in the last two preseason games, two of which have been run back for touchdowns, and Montee Ball's pass-blocking and blitz pickup are still not up to par just yet. Hello, Knowshon Moreno! That's right. Everyone's 2012 waiver-wire darling is now more than just relevant in this mix, and he reportedly could be the lead back heading into Week 1. He's a veteran runner with decent pass-blocking skills and is better at reading blitzes than Ball. He can take it between the tackles and can run it outside. Is he the most skilled guy out there? No. But he is more than capable of handling the job while Ball, who should still see short-yardage and goal-line work, improves his shortcomings this season. Bump Moreno on your draft boards, and watch his ADP skyrocket the next two weeks.

Raiders QB -
This one is so ugly that the Raiders should think about moving from Oakland to Newark just so they can join the AFC East. How poorly does Matt Flynn have to play to have Terrelle Pryor in the conversation for starting duties? The latest word has Flynn dealing with a sore arm (he had elbow problems last season), and Pryor, who has recently outplayed his contemporary, will handle the work in practice while Flynn rests. That could actually put Pryor in line to start Week 1, but we have our doubts that he can handle the job. Flynn may not be mobile, but he has a better throwing arm and a bit more experience. There are far more quarterbacks available, even backups, who make for better choices late in drafts.

Cowboys RB -
The search continues for a backup to DeMarco Murray now that Lance Dunbar is out at least the next four weeks. The original assumption was that rookie Joseph Randle would earn the nod, but after the way things looked during the Cowboys' game against the Bengals on Saturday, it would appear as if Phillip Tanner is the handcuff to own. Tanner saw the bulk of work in the first half of Saturday's game while Randle saw 16 touches in the second half. However, only five of Randle's touches came in actual game play as the remainder was in clock-killing mode late in the fourth. Randle did have a higher yards per carry average in this one, but Tanner is the one with the experience. Watch how things unfold in practice this week, and see what the workload looks like in the final preseason matchup.

Lions WR -
While this situation could change the next few weeks, it looks as if Nate Burleson has managed to hold onto the No. 2 receiver spot in Detroit as Ryan Broyles worked exclusively with the second-team unit last week and during Thursday's preseason loss to the Patriots. Most fantasy pundits have tabbed Broyles as a big-time sleeper this season, and he still could very well be one. But Burleson has done enough this summer to hang onto the job and will be lined up opposite Calvin Johnson when the Lions take the field Week 1.

Cardinals RB -
It appears as if the concern over Rashard Mendenhall's knee might not be as big as originally thought. The team is reporting it as a mild sprain and says that he will be ready to go Week 1. To hammer that point home, the team has recently put Ryan Williams on the trading block, which not only reaffirms Mendenhall's condition, but also gives a bit of an endorsement on Stepfan Taylor's progress in training camp. Mendenhall remains the primary back and Taylor should be considered the No. 2. Given Mendenhall's injury history, Taylor makes for a solid late-round pick, not just for handcuff purposes but also for long-term thinking.

49ers WR -
For the third straight week, Marlon Moore has started opposite Anquan Boldin, and it would appear as if that's the way things are unfolding here. He saw seven targets in the team's matchup against the Vikings on Sunday and seems to have entrenched himself in the role. But don't rule out Quinton Patton, who saw six targets of his own and was the recipient of a five-yard toss that found him in the endzone for a first-half touchdown. He's been a sleeper pick of this writer all summer and now that his injured finger is healed, he's ready to light it up. Recent acquisition Jon Baldwin is also expected to land a roster spot, which puts guys like Chad Hall, Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins the most likely candidates for the last two receiver spots with a few remote options still in the mix. Hawkins had a nice 22-yard grab Sunday and also ran back a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown, but got flagged twice for unsportsmanlike penalties for taunting and removing his helmet while on the field. He apologized, but we'll see how coach Jim Harbaugh perceives the behavior for long-term possibilities.