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Depth Chart Watch: Doubtful in Dallas

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 - Six weeks into the season, we can probably stop looking at the Cincinnati backfield situation as a potential depth-chart battle. The Bengals have found a backfield committee that works well for them and actually isn't killing fantasy owners either. BenJarvis Green-Ellis sees the majority of carries as he handles the early down and between-the-tackles work while Giovani Bernard gets carries of his own but is used more often on passing downs. Their values in standard leagues are relatively the same while Bernard posts a stronger value in PPR leagues thanks to the consistent targets he sees each week. Continue to view both as viable flex plays but nothing more than that so long as they are both healthy and playing.

Bengals TE -
Although neither player did anything of note this week, both Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert continue to see a relatively even split in the passing game. As the more complete player, Gresham is seeing the most snaps among the two, but given Eifert's upside and ability, the two will probably have similar value so long as they continue to share the role. Neither is a particularly enticing fantasy option, and that won't change unless one carves out a much bigger role for himself.

Bills QB -
Vying for the "most-jinxed position" award this season, the Bills quarterback situation is, again, becoming an issue. EJ Manuel is out for another four or five weeks, Jeff Tuel is best used as a clipboard holder and Thaddeus Lewis, who actually performed well in the Bills' overtime loss to the Bengals on Sunday, is now dealing with a sprained foot. According to Lewis, the x-rays look great, but his medical credentials are obviously in question. To be on the safe side, the Bills are bringing in Matt Flynn for a test drive to serve as insurance should Lewis not be able to play in Week 7.

Bills RB -
Similarly to the Bengals situation, we can stop calling this a depth-chart battle and take it for what it is, a shared committee approach. While Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller saw equal carries Sunday, Jackson saw a few extra targets in the passing attack. Both should continue to see a similar split in carries, though the speculation is that Spiller, thanks to his speed, will eventually lead the way in running back pass targets. Of course, this whole situation could change if the Fountain of Youth Jackson bathes in suddenly loses its magic powers.

Cardinals RB -
With each passing week, it seems we are getting closer to Andre Ellington overtaking Rashard Mendenhall as the primary running back in Arizona. Mendenhall still sees more carries, but Ellington continues to stay in the mix for touches while also getting more work in the Cards' passing game. The rookie still has some work to do as they're not just going to flat-out hand him the job, but the split in work is likely to keep shifting slowly toward him.

Cardinals WR -
In case you missed it the last few weeks, Michael Floyd has fully taken over the role of No. 2 wide receiver in Arizona as Andre Roberts' targets continue to be whittled down. Floyd is still only a low-end option in PPR leagues, but things could obviously change if the double-teams fall onto Larry Fitzgerald more and more.

Cowboys RB -
While the Cowboys are more likely considered a pass-first team, losing DeMarco Murray in the second quarter to a sprained MCL is rough. Rookie Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar have been the primary back-ups, though Dunbar has been out with a hamstring issue, so Randle is the guy ... for now. The team also has Phillip Tanner, but it would rather not go with him over the other two who are just stronger runners overall. Stay tuned for Murray's test results, which should arrive late Monday or early Tuesday, but it's more than likely that Murray misses at least a week or two.

Eagles QB -
Did someone say quarterback controversy? While Nick Foles wasn't considered more than a one-week fill-in, his impressive 296-yard, three-touchdown, no-turnover performance in Week 6 has now given pause to Chip Kelly with regard to his starting quarterback for Week 7. When asked if Michael Vick (hamstring) would get his job back after he is healthy, Kelly said, "We'll evaluate everything. ... I don't deal in hypotheticals, and I don't make any predictions." If Vick can't play this week, then obviously Foles gets the start. If Vick is healthy and can play, well, we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

Giants RB -
While David Wilson (neck) hopes to be back from his injury in time for Week 7, coach Tom Coughlin is still saying "two to three weeks away" for his once primary running back. That means the job will continue to rest on the big shoulders of Brandon Jacobs who showed he still had plenty left in the tank as he rumbled to his first 100-yard game in almost two years. But as everyone knows, Jacobs has dealt with his fair share of injuries, so Da'Rel Scott is not without value here as well. He'll handle the backup/complementary running back duties while Jacobs plods along as the No. 1 guy for now. He's definitely worth owning, so if for some reason he's available, scoop him up.

49ers WR -
The job continues to belong to Jon Baldwin, but considering he sees just two targets per game, it doesn't really bode well for his job security. Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore have already failed, so the team is now turning its attention toward Mario Manningham, who could return to the team in Week 8, but more likely Week 10 after the team's bye. When healthy, Manningham is a solid option and could be worth stashing now, but only if you're really hurting at the position. Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis still rule the receiving roost in San Francisco.

Jaguars QB -
Despite the losing effort, because, hey ... everyone loses to Denver these days, Chad Henne performed reasonably well for the Jags on Sunday, given the circumstances. It is doubtful the team will go back to Blaine Gabbert, but we've all seen some pretty silly things in life. Continue to view Henne as the team's No. 1.

Jaguars WR -
Well, obviously Justin Blackmon continues to rock the No. 1 WR job and will be the most targeted Jaguars receiver. However, their not-so-distant No. 2, Cecil Shorts, is dealing with a serious rib injury, and the team speculates that he may have a fracture close to his sternum. Safety Mike Brown filled in on the receiver front, seeing five targets and catching four for 49 yards, but it's not a certainty that he'll stay on in this capacity. If Shorts is unable to play, you will likely see Ace Sanders get an increase in targets.

Jets RB -
Let the mess continue as the Jets are simply not a team from which you want to be recruiting fantasy players. Bilal Powell saw the most carries (nine) Sunday while both Mike Goodsen and Chris Ivory saw four carries each. Powell seems to have the edge as the Jets' lead back thanks to his pass-catching abilities, but the team has made no secret of its desire to get Ivory running strong between the tackles. Unless something dramatic happens, you can probably consider this the pecking order with Powell leading the way, Ivory as a close second and Goodsen filling in the blanks here and there. It's the kind of situation upon which fantasy nightmares are built.

Jets WR -
While Santonio Holmes remains out, the Jets are going with a combination of Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates as their top three wide receivers. Hill is probably the best bet for No. 1 responsibilities and the one whio may be recommended in fantasy should the match-up be favorable, but he likely won't see that many more targets than the other two.

Lions RB -
Well, backup RB, that is. Although x-rays revealed no fracture, the Lions are calling Joique Bell day-to-day with a rib issue and will evaluate him in the early part of the week. While Mikel Leshoure or, if he is free from concussion symptoms, Theo Riddick would fill in if Bell isn't able to play Week 7, neither would hold the same value as Bell even for just the one week. Whoever earns the potential job will see a few carries, but nothing like the workload Bell has handled in a reserve role this year. Reggie Bush would likely see an uptick in his weekly workload to compensate.

Packers WR -
Things could get a little complicated for Aaron Rodgers as his receiving corps is the walking wounded lately. Randall Cobb hurt his knee and James Jones, who originally was thought to have a knee injury, was seen icing his shin both during and after Sunday's game. There's not a whole lot of depth lingering here as Jarrett Boykin would step in if neither were able to perform their job tasks next weekend. The reports on Cobb have been somewhat positive, so this concern could be all for naught.

Patriots RB -
Welcome back Stevan Ridley, amiright? After dealing with a "controversy" these last two weeks, all seems to be in its proper working order as Ridley saw the bulk of the carries and found the endzone twice in short-yardage situations while Brandon Bolden saw a few touches in the usual complementary role and LeGarrette Blount picked up some scraps throughout the game. This was how things were to open the season and this is how things will likely remain. At least until Shane Vereen comes back to complicate matters.

Patriots WR -
While we continue to wait until Danny Amendola is healthy and tight end Rob Gronkowski returns from his arm troubles, it appears as if Julian Edelman will stay the most targeted receiver with Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins picking up the slack behind him. Edelman has been used more like a possession receiver with Thompkins seeing an increase in red-zone looks. Things should change once the rest of the receiving corps stays healthy, but the changes may not be as dramatic a change as what could have been when Tom Brady was still screaming at his rookies all day. Now things could spread out a little more evenly.

Rams RB -
We saw the changes made in the St. Louis backfield last week, and this week we got confirmation that it will not be changing, barring injury, for the foreseeable future. Zac Stacy has taken over lead running back duties with Daryl Richardson heading into a more complementary role. Meanwhile, Benny Cunningham will continue to see the work on passing plays and most third downs, thanks to his pass-blocking. Stacy should be owned in all leagues and could see a nice increase in value the more comfortable he gets with his new role.

Rams TE -
Since Week 1, Jared Cook has been one of the biggest disappointments at the position this season. His targets have rapidly decreased each week and it's been Lance Kendricks who has now found the endzone three straight weeks. They each saw two targets in Sunday and will probably see a relatively even split. But Cook is the guy to have if you're looking for yardage while Kendricks sees the red-zone looks.

Texans QB -
After last week's debacle, coach Gary Kubiak endorsed Matt Schaub as his starting quarterback. There would be no controversy despite the poor play. But while facing an uphill battle in a losing effort against the Rams this week, Schaub suffered an unspecified leg injury and was removed from the game. T.J. Yates came in and filled in adequately, and now the team will await the test results on Schaub's leg. But given the fact that the Texans, a team highly regarded walking into this season, have lost four in a row, there is a very good chance that Schaub still loses his job. Stay tuned for plenty of mid-week drama.

Vikings QB -
In the wake of a blowout loss to the Panthers on Sunday, there is a very strong chance the Vikings make the switch to Josh Freeman rather than stay with Matt Cassel. It's not even that Cassel has done a poor job as a fill-in for Christian Ponder, but he struggles to lead the team more often than he finds success. Keep checking the practice reports for this one, but regardless of who is under center, the values of the supporting cast won't change.