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Depth Chart Watch: C.J. Takes a Spill

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

Bengals RB - With each week that passes, Giovani Bernard sees his role increase ever so slightly. In Week 2, Bernard saw just eight carries to BenJarvis Green-Ellis' 22, but managed to outperform the veteran anyway. And apparently it was enough for the coaches to dole out a more even split in the running work Sunday as both backs received 10 carries each. They both found the endzone, but Bernard outgained the Law Firm by 21 yards and also had an additional four catches for 49 yards. It's only three weeks, but with the direction that this backfield is taking, it would seem that Green-Elllis' days as a starter in Cincinnati are more than just numbered.

Bills RB -
Now that C.J. Spiller has a knee injury, maybe people will forget the fact that Fred Jackson was about to see a boost in carries anyway thanks to Spiller's 0.9 YPC during Sunday's game. Healthy or not, ineffective performances like this will almost ensure that Jackson continues to eat into his carries. Spiller will be evaluated Monday, but even if he's declared healthy, expect Jackson's workload to increase in Week 4.

Browns QB -
There wasn't supposed to be a quarterback controversy in Cleveland, but given the Trent Richardson trade, perhaps it's an "anything goes" mentality over there. With Brandon Weeden sidelined with a thumb injury, Brian Hoyer leapfrogged over Jason Campbell on the depth chart to earn the start Sunday and looked sharp, throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns. He did have three picks as well, but the Browns won a game few expected them to, and Coach Chud could stick with what seems to be working for the club.

Browns RB -
Regardless of the yardage gained by anyone who carried the ball this week, the fact that newly-signed Willis McGahee saw more carries than the rest of the running backs combined says it all. We expected him to take over the lead-back role anyway, so this doesn't come as much of a surprise, but the obvious lack of faith in either Bobby Rainey or Chris Ogbonnaya comes through loud and clear here.

Buccaneers WR -
Vincent Jackson was knocked out of Sunday's game with a rib injury and did not return. Mike Williams then led the team in targets with nine, but both Eric Page and Kevin Ogletree saw an increase in looks as quarterback Josh Freeman tried to spread things around to get the offense going. Should Jackson's injury hold him out another week or beyond, Ogletree and Page will continue to rotate in with Ogletree possibly getting the bigger share.

Colts RB -
Sticking to the original plan when the trade was first made, the Colts eased Trent Richardson into the offensive gameplan and continued to use Ahmad Bradshaw as the primary running back. For the workload they each received, both did very well and turned out to be surprisingly worthwhile plays against a supposedly strong 49ers defense. But now Bradshaw should fall into a complementary role with Richardson taking over primary responsibilities.

Dolphins RB -
Lamar Miller is still getting the majority of work, but Daniel Thomas isn't fading into the background as quickly as Miller's owners hoped. It didn't seem to matter much Sunday given the fact that Ryan Tannehill handed the ball off just 13 times, but should the Fins end up with a more run-heavy gameplan, it's going to be bothersome for Miller's value if Thomas is still getting 40 percent of the carries.

Falcons RB -
As expected, Jacquizz Rodgers saw the majority of carries (18 to 11), but it was Jason Snelling who stole the show when he matched Rodgers with a 4.8 TPC and caught four passes for an additional 58 yards and a touchdown. It seems safe to assume the work distribution will continue in similar fashion, which means Snelling just might be the more valuable commodity. Yes, Rodgers can break for a touchdown, but Snelling's odds are obviously increased given the receptions.

49ers TE -
It came down to a gametime decision and Vernon Davis owners were the ones left standing without a chair when the music stopped. Apparently the hamstring injury is a little more serious than originally thought, and Davis was unable to go Sunday. Vance McDonald started and saw three targets while backup Garrett Celek saw two targets. If Davis is unable to play in Week 4, expect more of the same, which means neither makes for a good start.

Giants RB -
Just as we expected, things got back to normal with David Wilson getting the bulk of the work with Brandon Jacobs handling the short yardage. Da'Rel Scott falls back into his reserve role. Not that any of that mattered against the vaunted Panthers defense, did it?

Jets RB -
The frail Chris Ivory left Sunday's game with an injured hamstring and Bilal Powell took over in style, rushing for 149 yards on a season-high 27 carries. Ivory will be evaluated Monday, and we'll have to see what his practice schedule looks like this week, but based on overall performance, it would seem that Powell should end up with the primary job even if Ivory were to return.

Lions RB -
In spite of an outstanding day for Joique Bell, there is no running back controversy in Detroit. Had Reggie Bush been healthy it would have been him leading the way in carries, and when he comes back, likely next week, he'll lead in carries then. Bell still holds a decent value as a flex play whether Bush is in the lineup or not. He provides a nice change-of-pace for the Lions, he allows Bush a fair amount of rest to keep him fresh and the Lions will continue to give him a few carries and passes each game.

Packers RB -
So how are you feeling now, having blown your waiver priority or FAAB budget on James Starks this week? Nothing worse than investing like so many of us did, only to see him leave the game with a knee injury after a disappointing 3.9 yards per carry. Johnathan Franklin stepped in and stepped up as he rumbled his way to 103 yards on 13 carries (7.9 YPC) and found his way into the endzone on a two-yard run. With a bye next week, it is doubtful that Franklin gets a chance to reprise his performance during the next game, as the extra week should afford Starks and Eddie Lacy plenty of additional healing time. Once they return, Lacy should receive the majority of work with Starks in a more complementary role.

Packers TE -
Jermichael Finley was lost to a concussion early in Sunday's game and while the Packers have a bye week coming up next, he could still miss Week 5 depending on how serious the injury is. Andrew Quarless was the primary replacement with Ryan Taylor playing a little more active a role. Neither appears to be worth picking up, though, even if Finley is out beyond Week 4, so stay tuned.

Patriots RB -
Perhaps the Week 1 benching of Stevan Ridley was more foreshadowing than anything else. He should still be the primary running back in this system, but it was LeGarrette Blount who earned the most carries (14) during the win over the Bucs on Sunday, and fantasy owners are freaking out about it. Strictly speaking from opinion, this is more Bill Belichick getting into the head of Ridley to see about pushing him back to the level at which he played last year. Blount is not a particularly good running back and neither is Brandon Bolden, so to put either one in a starting role over Ridley would be detrimental to the team. I know that, and Belichick knows that. Ridley just needs to see that the team won't tolerate subpar efforts. I do not see Blount as a worthwhile add this week outside of a simple handcuff, but even that might be a waste. Just sayin'.

Rams RB -
We had another early exit for a running back here as Daryl Richardson left the game after just one snap due to a foot injury. There were injury concerns heading into the week, but the active status seemed to allude that the injury was minor. But after having his foot stepped on, Richardson was done. Isaiah Pead took over what limited running game the Rams implemented this week and should be the guy if Richardson's injury lingers. Benny Cunningham would slide up the depth chart to primary backup.

Saints RB -
With Mark Ingram inactive Sunday due to a toe injury, Pierre Thomas stepped in and saw the most carries (11) of anyone in the Saints backfield this week. His big 2.8 yards per carry average doesn't exactly scream "the job is now his," but he'll likely be the primary should Ingram's toe not be 100 percent healthy. Given the Saints' heavy passing game and limited touches given to running backs in this offensive scheme, there's not a whole lot of value to be had. Thomas and Ingram should be owned in tandem, but Ingram should probably be the lead back. Thomas is nothing more than a contingency plan unless the Saints come out and actually endorse him for the primary job.

Steelers RB -
For what could be the last time this season, if the reports of a Le'Veon Bell Week 4 return are true, Jonathan Dwyer led the RBBC in Pittsburgh this week with 12 carries to seven for Felix Jones. He had a lower YPC total but seemed to be the more effective on the whole. It should be interesting to see if the Steelers release someone, having cut Dwyer prior to the start of the season, but should Bell remain healthy, it really won't matter, will it? If Bell is unable to go, then you should probably expect another split between Dwyer and Jones with Dwyer getting the majority of work. Isaac Redman is a non-factor.