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Depth Chart Watch: New Injury for Cutler

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

Bears QB - Jay Cutler made it back from a groin tear ahead of schedule only to get knocked out of Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. While it doesn't appear to be of the high-ankle variety, the severity of the sprain remains in question. Initial tests at Soldier Field came back negative, but given Cutler's recent run with the injury bug, the team will run several tests Monday morning to make sure. Josh McCown came into the game once again and will be ready to go, if necessary, when the Bears face the Ravens next week.

Bengals TE -
With Jermaine Gresham sidelined with a groin injury, Tyler Eifert stepped in as the team's No. 1 tight end with Alex Smith moving from the bench to a complementary role, though he saw no targets in their loss to the Ravens. Eifert, on the other hand, saw 10 targets but came up with only three catches for 55 yards. While the severity of Gresham's setback is still undetermined, this could be the opportunity Eifert needed to surpass the veteran on the depth chart. Gresham hasn't been playing so well that his place as the No. 1 tight end is a lock, and Eifert is certainly an up-and-comer who could prove to be the better player in the end.

Bills WR -
Trouble brewing for the boys from Buffalo as Steve Johnson's groin injury could keep him out of action in Week 11 when the Bills face the Jets. With Johnson potentially out and with Robert Woods nursing a sore ankle, the Bills could conceivably roll with Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham as their regular receivers all game. Both have shown flashes of potential but neither likely will be worth a starting spot on your fantasy roster.

Cardinals RB -
Although the world was told by coach Bruce Arians that Andre Ellington would get 15-20 touches per game, he saw just 11 carries and two catches this week. He did see four targets, though, so the opportunity for 15 was still there. Regardless, he saw fewer touches yet still out-produced Rashard Mendenhall (toe), something to which we've all grown accustomed. This should continue to be the split, but Ellington is still the guy to own as he is certainly the more explosive and productive back on this team.

Cardinals WR -
With Michael Floyd leaving Sunday's game due to a shoulder sprain, Andre Roberts returned to his role as the team's No. 2 receiver and played his best game of the year, catching five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Additional tests will be done on Floyd's shoulder, but if he's unable to go in Week 11, then Roberts actually becomes a nice pick-up in PPR leagues. He's more of a possession receiver than a deep threat, so huge chunks of yards gained seems unlikely, but he could easily find the endzone more if granted the opportunity.

Colts RB -
Although Trent Richardson saw the most carries out of the backfield, Donald Brown again dominated the stat sheet. It wasn't the rushing yards, but the five targets he saw in the passing game as the Colts were forced into catchup mode all day. He hauled in all five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, while T-Rich caught just three for 33 yards. While this game was certainly unexpected, it's important to realize that it's more than just likely that Richardson fades further into obscurity. At the least, he'll share carries equally, but it's starting to look like Brown is the back to own.

Colts WR -
Yes, the Colts were in full-blown catchup mode from the start Sunday, but the targets distribution is important to note. T.Y. Hilton remains the team's No. 1, but Darrius Heyward-Bey saw just one more target than both Griff Whalen and Lavon Brazill. There is no clear-cut No. 2 on the team, so we'll just have to wait and see how it plays out during practice this week and in Sunday's game. With Heyward-Bey's weak catch rate, Whalen could be the receiver to own soon enough.

Eagles QB -
The fact that Michael Vick is still at least a week or two away makes things a little easier, but what a potential quarterback controversy now that Nick Foles has followed his record-setting seven-touchdown performance with a 228-yard, three-touchdown game against the Falcons. Regardless of Vick's health, the team might just be better off with Foles under center as the passing game has really picked up lately. Foles continues to hit DeSean Jackson regularly, but he also seems to have brought out something in Riley Cooper, who now has five touchdown grabs in his last two games. We'll wait on additional reports regarding Vick's health, but for now it seems as if Foles will be leading the charge in Week 11 when the Eagles match up with the Redskins.

49ers TE -
Vernon Davis got his head slammed against the turf in the second quarter Sunday, and after having to be led back to the locker room by trainers, he was quickly diagnosed with a concussion. How severe a concussion will be determined after additional tests Monday, but should he not be able to play in Week 11, rookie Vance McDonald will see a big opportunity against the Saints. Garrett Celek should also see some action, so don't expect McDonald to simply replace Davis on his own. Of the two, fantasy owners will want to own McDonald, but a look to another tight end more active in the passing game could be the way to go.

49ers WR -
As expected, Mario Manningham was the No. 2 receiver for the Niners out of the gate. Kyle Williams, who also lost his job as the team's return man, again saw very little action while Manningham and Anquan Boldin combined for half the targets in this game. In all likelihood, this should be the receiver structure until a potential Michael Crabtree return in Week 13.

Giants RB -
While Peyton Hillis started, Andre Brown led the way out of the backfield with 30 carries in his season debut. There's really no competition for touches as the Giants were just mildly hedging their bets with Brown not having played all year. He is their top back and is a must-own in all formats. Should he toss in another 115 yards and a touchdown in Week 11, he should eventually move into a must-start as well.

Packers QB -
Well now, this situation has gotten downright ugly and in such a short time. Aaron Rodgers went down early last week with a fractured collarbone and was replaced by Seneca Wallace who was, as the team's No. 2, expected to just maintain the status quo. But early in the first quarter of this week's game, Wallace fell victim to a groin injury and was replaced by third-stringer Scott Tolzien, who finished with 280 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. There's ittle talk about Wallace returning to the starting quarterback job, and the concern seems to be whether he is going to be healthy enough to even serve as Tolzien's backup. The Packers are supposedly going to bring in Matt Flynn for a workout, so he could be back in a Packers uniform after a quick season-and-a-half absence. And if that doesn't work, there's always our good friend Vince Young who is still begging for a job.

Panthers RB -
Carolina fell back into its old pattern as Jonathan Stewart saw the majority of carries in a game dominated by smash-mouth football and between-the-tackle running. DeAngelo Williams fulfilled his usual role as the receiving back and the guy to take it to the outside while Mike Tolbert saw a big reduction in work this week with just two carries and two catches. This is how the Panthers backfield has been structured the last two seasons, so it's difficult to imagine major changes.

Raiders RB -
With Darren McFadden sidelined, Rashad Jennings continued to act as the Raiders' top runner out of the backfield. He's never been the most trustworthy of players, so there was the possibility that Marcel Reece received an increase in work, at least in the passing game, however, that really never happened. Reece saw no carries and had just three catches on three targets. Meanwhile, Jennings actually saw five passes come his way. Should McFadden remain sidelined, Jennings would be the lead running back once again.

Redskins RB -
Everybody OK? We're all back to normal here? Alfred Morris gets nearly all the carries while Roy Helu and Darrel Young fill in as complements who are hardly worth using in fantasy. That's not to say that either complementary back won't see another trip to the endzone, but neither is going to see consistent enough work to even be a worth a look in the fantasy realm.

Saints RB -
Before you go scampering to your waiver wire to grab Mark Ingram, keep in mind the fact that he probably wouldn't have seen as many touches had the Saints not been blowing out the Cowboys from minute one of this game. He did an excellent job and probably earned himself a few extra carries next time around, but Pierre Thomas is still the lead back with Darren Sproles as the pass-catching complement. Be careful not to misread the situation and drop someone better to pick up Ingram after this one good game.

Seahawks WR -
For the time being, the top two wideouts on the team are Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. But with rumors circulating again that Percy Harvin (hip) is due back Week 11, the depth chart will need adjusting. Now, Harvin still hasn't practiced since suffering a flare-up nearly two weeks ago, and given the fact that the team is 9-1 and has a bye in Week 12, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of urgency to get him out there before he's ready. However, with reports of a Week 11 return circulating once again, we need to adjust the depth chart; pushing Tate down to the No. 2 spot with Harvin as the new No. 1. Baldwin will slide down the chart and start to lose some targets while Jermaine Kearse falls even further.

Texans RB -
Quick and simple here as Arian Foster is headed for season-ending back surgery and Ben Tate, the man who can simply ignore the pain caused by broken ribs, takes over as the lead running back in Houston. Dennis Johnson now becomes the handcuff to own.

Titans QB -
Fantasy owners who thought they were being slick by starting Jake Locker against the Jaguars' sub-standard defense got burned Sunday when the Titans quarterback went down hard with a foot injury early in the game. He's headed for an MRI, but the initial talk is of the dreaded Lisfranc fracture variety, which could end Locker's season. Ryan Fitzpatrick took over lead responsibilities with Rusty Smith moving up the depth chart to act as the team's No. 2.

Vikings QB -
After passing for 174 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, Christian Ponder was knocked out of the game against the Redskins on Thursday Night with a dislocated left shoulder. He was replaced by Matt Cassel, who finished out the day as a game manager and threw for just 47 yards and spent most of his time handing the ball off. While he was immediately ruled out of the rest of Thursday's game, they're labeling the injury as minor, and Ponder is likely to be back under center in Week 11. If he struggles at practice this week, then Cassel will get the nod while Josh Freeman remains a last resort.

Vikings TE -
With Kyle Rudolph on the shelf for four-to-six weeks with a broken foot, John Carlson takes over as the team's new No. 1 tight-end option. And take over he did, as in all of Christian Ponder's attention. Carlson saw a team-high seven targets and hauled in all seven for 98 yards and a touchdown. A shorter passing game and leaning on the tight end is right up Ponder's alley, so with him under center, expect a whole lot more from Carlson so long as the matchup is favorable.