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Depth Chart Watch: Week of Injuries

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 RB -
While C.J. Spiller had a strong day with 16 carries and four catches for 129 scrimmage yards, fantasy owners should still be concerned that Fred Jackson saw 12 carries. He only amassed 30 yards, but it was Jackson who was brought in during the middle of a drive in the third quarter that culminated with the veteran hitting pay-dirt on a four-yard run. Spiller is clearly the better runner, but the Bills are being loyal to Jackson, and he will continue to see a fair amount of work so long as he's healthy. Buffalo will remain a run-first team, so Spiller doesn't lose too much value, but he does lose some with this distribution of the workload.

Broncos RB -
Similarly to last week, the carries came down to Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball, with the edge going Moreno's way. Ronnie Hillman was barely an afterthought. Ball saw just one fewer carry than Moreno, but almost all of his work was in short-yardage situations while Moreno got the heavy workload on the early downs and passing situations. The fact that Moreno rolled to 93 yards and two touchdowns probably gives him that edge again just walking into Week 3, so consider him a reasonable flex play as opposed to worrying that Hillman and Ball will take too much of his work away.

Browns QB -
While x-rays on Brandon Weeden's thumb came back negative, those in two-quarterback leagues who are using him (because no one has him as their primary, right?) might want to play it safe and find a replacement should he miss a game or two. After all, there is no fracture, but it is his throwing hand. Jason Campbell is the primary backup and the man who would play in Weeden's absence while Brian Hoyer would move up to the No. 2 spot.

Cardinals WR -
True to his word, Larry Fitzgerald suited up for Sunday's game, saw five targets and had two catches for 33 yards. But while he remained questionable, the debate over who would be the new primary target waged until we got our answer during the game. Andre Roberts led the team in targets with eight while Michael Floyd and tight end Jim Dray each saw seven. But while they saw a fair amount of looks in this one, it was rookie running back Andre Ellington who now becomes a guy to watch. Ellington only saw two targets, but he caught both passes for 42 yards and found the endzone once. Ellington could be used out of the backfield by Carson Palmer to spread the field more. That could eventually lead to a decrease in looks for Roberts and Floyd.

Chargers WR -
When Malcom Floyd left Sunday's game with what turned out to be a neck injury, Eddie Royal saw the majority of receiver targets, not Vincent Brown. Not only that, but it was Royal who also saw the majority of red-zone looks, which resulted in a three-touchdown game for the veteran wideout. Should Floyd miss time down the road, it appears as if Royal will be the guy to own while Brown stays in his same complementary role. The last time Royal was this relevant for fantasy football was 2008 when, as a rookie, he caught 91 passes for 980 yards and five touchdowns.

Colts WR -
It looks like the debate between Darrius Heyward-Bey owners and T.Y. Hilton owners as to the team's No. 2 receiver has ended as Heyward-Bey is headed for an MRI on his injured shoulder while Hilton had an explosive day, catching six passes for 124 yards. Should Heyward-Bey be lost for any time, expect Hilton to see more consistent targets playing opposite Reggie Wayne on all two-receiver sets with Griff Whalen coming in on occasion.

Dolphins RB -
Well, well, well ... a little separation here finally as Lamar Miller carried the ball 14 times to just eight for Daniel Thomas. It also helps that Miller averaged 4.9 yards per carry to Thomas' 3.8 and also found the endzone on a 10-yard run. This was always the way it was supposed to be, and while Thomas still got some touches, Miller owners have to be happy with the split this time around. Consider him the primary and a much-improved flex play.

Falcons RB -
Well that didn't take long, did it? Less than five quarters into the regular season and Steven Jackson is down with a thigh injury, something that has actually been a recurring injury the last few years. He'll undergo tests Monday, but if you haven't already handcuffed the 30-year-old running back to Jacquizz Rodgers, then make that your priority now. Rodgers, who came in to carry 11 times for 17 yards and caught four passes for 28 yards, will be the lead back if Jackson is unable to go in Week 3, with Jason Snelling, who had two carries and four receptions for 60 all-purpose yards, as the complementary backup.

49ers TE -
Midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday Night's game, Vernon Davis left with a hamstring injury and did not return. He'll likely undergo tests Monday to determine the extent of the injury, but should he miss time, expect to see a little more of rookie Vance McDonald with Garrett Celek expected to take on more of a blocking role as he creeps up the depth chart.

Giants RB -
While no one expected much of a running game during Sunday's Peyton vs. Eli contest, David Wilson's spot in Tom Coughlin's doghouse was still his own as he saw just seven carries. Recently signed Brandon Jacobs had seven carries himself, but while they were just for short-yardage, they also took place near the goal-line. Even Da'Rel Scott saw five carries in this one. Eventually Wilson will do something that re-establishes Coughlin's faith in him, but even then, it is possible that Jacobs gets all the goal-line work. If that is the way it unfolds, Wilson's value will continue to stay down.

Jaguars RB -
You knew it was a risk to draft Maurice Jones-Drew, and this week proved exactly why as the diminutive back left the game late in the second quarter with a sprained ankle and never returned. And yes, it's the same foot he had surgically repaired last year. Reports are coming that MJD is experiencing some "loosness" in the ankle, but before we play amateur doctor and speculate on the exact meaning of that, we'll simply wait for the results from Monday's MRI. In the meantime, it was Jordan Todman who stepped in as the replacement and not Justin Forsett. That would indicate that Forsett is still bothered by the toe injury he dealt with in camp, so if you're looking to handcuff, then both Todman and Forsett should be owned. Neither is very good, though, so keep expectations in check and hope for the best in regard to a speedy MJD return.

Jets RB -
As expected, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell shared carries equally as both running backs traded almost every other series. But it was Powell who saw the work near the endzone and Powell who saw a pair of targets in the passing game. While preseason reports discussed Rex Ryan's desire to have Ivory be the eventual lead back, it looks as if these two will continue to split the work until one proves the better option. How long that takes is uncertain.

Lions RB -
Et tu, Reggie? Et tu? While there were hardly any injuries Week 1, this week has seen more than its fair share and the always-fragile Reggie Bush is among the casualties. The Lions running back took a helmet to the knee in the second quarter, and while he continued to rotate in for the duration of the first half and even started the third quarter, he ultimately left the field, headed for the locker room, and is now scheduled for an MRI on Monday. Joique Bell took over lead-back duties and will continue to do so as long as Bush is out. Mikel Leshoure moves up the depth chart to primary backup now and could even get a few extra carries given his different running style.

Packers RB -
A helmet-to-helmet hit from Washington safety Brandon Meriweather resulted in a concussion for Packers running back Eddie Lacy on his first run from scrimmage, and he was lost for the game early in the first quarter. Enter James Starks who finished the day with 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown and added another 36 yards on four catches. Lacy will have to go through the NFL's new concussion protocol before he'll even be cleared for practice, so until then, consider Starks the starter with Johnathan Franklin the primary backup.

Ravens RB -
A big blow for Ray Rice owners and an even bigger one if you didn't already have Bernard Pierce on your bench. Rice left Sunday's game in the first quarter and has been diagnosed with a strained hip flexor. While he wasn't on crutches after the game, a positive in its own right, how long this injury will keep him out is unknown. He is not scheduled for an MRI, which is good news for a quick return, but the guess is at least one game. Again, Pierce is a must add if he is available with Shaun Draughn next in line.

Ravens WR -
Jacoby Jones sidelined with a knee injury, we expected Marlon Brown to step in, but the target distribution between him, Brandon Stokley and the tight ends was uncertain. Well, if Sunday's game was any indication, Brown will be the man to watch/own as he saw six targets to Stokley's five while neither tight end saw more than one. It looks like Brown could be a solid asset the next few weeks, and when Jones comes back, we can sort it out then.

Saints RB -
We all know Darren Sproles' role in this offense and that hasn't, nor will it, change so long as he stays healthy. But during preseason, we were led to believe that Mark Ingram would see an increased role in this offense which, after what we saw Sunday, may not be the case anymore. Ingram was stuffed twice at the goal-line, once on a key fourth down, and was held to less than three yards per carry yet again. Pierre Thomas saw three fewer carries, out-rushed him by nine yards and could be in line to supplant Ingram sooner than later as he proves to be the better runner, blocker and pass-catcher.