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Depth Chart Watch: Big Deal in Denver

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

Broncos RB - With owners panicking at the recent increase in work for Montee Ball, the Broncos made it perfectly clear who their workhorse is in this backfield. Knowshon Moreno had a mammoth 37 carries and churned out a career-high 224 yards with a touchdown. Ball fumbled in the third quarter, which kept Moreno in the game full-time, but with the way he was running anyway, there was little reason for Ball to even be used. Moreno hurt his ankle during overtime and was spotted on crutches after the game, so you'll have to keep an eye on the practice schedule this week. Should he be unable to practice or play next week, obviously Ball will start, but even if Moreno does play, the Broncos won't give him that kind of a workload again so soon, so expect Ball to see a few extra carries come his way.

Broncos TE -
With Julius Thomas sitting out due to a knee injury, Virgil Green started for the Broncos on Sunday night. However, Green was used primarily as a blocking tight end while Jacob Tamme saw five targets to Green's two. Tamme and Peyton Manning have history dating to their days in Indianapolis, so should Thomas remain out, it would be Tamme who deserves the waiver claim and not Green.

Browns QB -
The revolving door continues to go round and round as Jason Campbell was forced from Sunday's game late in the third quarter with a concussion. The exact severity is unknown, but considering he was carted off the field, it's probably more on the serious side and could keep him out for more than just a week. Brandon Weeden took over and was reasonably productive, so look for him to be under center in Week 13 should Campbell still be experiencing problems.

Browns RB -
The build-up all week was that Chris Ogbonnaya was preparing to be the lead back for Cleveland and was going to see the majority of carries against Pittsburgh. However, when it came time, the division of carries was even between Ogbonnaya and Willis McGahee at four carries apiece while rookie Fozzy Whittaker received six. And while McGahee was left out of the passing game, both Ogbonnaya and Whittaker saw five targets. Worst of all, none did anything to impress anyone, combining for 56 rushing yards against the 22nd-ranked defense in the league. Awful. Just awful. Maybe Ogbonnaya is still considered the favorite heading into Week 13, but even against Jacksonville, can he be trusted? Probably not. Expect him and Whittaker to see close to the same number of opportunities with McGahee filling in the blanks.

Cardinals RB -
The anguish continues for Andre Ellington owners as he, once again, failed to receive the 15-20 touches promised by coach Bruce Arians a few weeks ago. Instead, Rashard Mendenhall saw the greater number of carries out of the backfield and the same number of targets (two) in the passing game. With the 7-4 Cardinals suddenly looking at a potential playoff run, expect the situation to continue as it is with Ellignton staying in his complementary role. The only way he's seeing an increase in work is if Mendenhall gets hit by a meteor. And even then, Arians would still find a way to short Ellington on carries.

Chargers RB -
Ryan Mathews has been dealing with a hamstring issue the last few weeks, but had played through it until the third quarter of this week's game against the Chiefs. He kicked in 14 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game, so at least the day wasn't a total waste. He'll undergo tests Monday morning to determine the severity of the injury, but expect Danny Woodhead to see a few extra carries in addition to his usual workload while Ronnie Brown steps up and sees a few more carries come his way.

Chargers TE -
Obviously Antonio Gates has a lock on the No. 1 tight-end spot, but it's definitely worth noting that Ladarius Green went from seeing just one or two targets per game to now five in each of his last two, including a couple of looks inside the red zone. He's hardly someone to use as your tight-end option, but for those in deeper leagues in need of someone who may see a few targets, he could prove to be helpful under the right circumstances.

Colts RB -
As if this situation couldn't get any uglier, the Cardinals jumping out to a 24-point first-half lead Sunday did away with any sort of a ground game for the Colts. Trent Richardson was his usual unproductive self, and Donald Brown suffered a smack in the face with reality that reminded him that he's still just Donald Brown. The game completely got away from the Colts, which allowed them to give a look at second-year man Dan Herron who posted the best rushing stats of the day for Indianapolis - four carries for 33 yards - though that all came in garbage time. Expect the usual split between Brown and Richardson in Week 13 when they face the Titans.

Dolphins RB -
Although there's no real change in the depth chart, it should be noted that Daniel Thomas left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. He never returned to the field, but while the severity of the injury isn't unknown, it did appear to be relatively serious. Should he be out for any length, Lamar Miller will simply see more work. Whether that actually makes him a more attractive option is yet to be determined, but if we're looking at his abilities on a scale of one to ugly, even the extra carries fail to pretty him up.

Giants WR -
Coach Tom Coughlin said that Hakeem Nicks was inactive for Sunday's game because he was unable to put in a full practice this week due to an abdominal issue, but considering all the drama that has surrounded Nicks all season, it would appear that there is more to it than just that. Regardless of what the exact issue may be, the fact remains that his fantasy value is taking an even bigger hit as Rueben Randle climbs into a larger role. Nicks may be expected to resume his role as the team's No. 2 receiver when he returns, but that may not even matter should Randle continue to see more targets. Watch this situation a little closer during the week, but it would appear that Randle just might be the guy to own.

Jets RB -
While it may be commendable for Chris Ivory to attempt playing through the ankle injury he suffered early in Sunday's game, fantasy owners need to stay on top of his condition this week as it was obviously an issue the rest of the game. Bilal Powell saw the majority of carries the rest of the way, and should Ivory be limited during the week, expect the split in work to remain as such. Powell's value gets a nice bump as he also sees the work on passing downs, while Ivory's takes an obvious hit if he's not seeing the bulk of touches.

Jets WR -
The search for a No. 1 wideout continues as none of the Jets receivers has stepped up their game to warrant an increase in targets. Santonio Holmes is back but continues to be limited while David Nelson, Stephen Hill and Greg Salas see similar targets come their way. It's probably best to leave the situation alone when it comes to fantasy, but keep an eye on things and see if Holmes can actually return to being used more often.

Lions WR -
After missing the last eight weeks with a broken arm, Nate Burleson returned to action and immediately slotted back into the No. 2 receiver spot. He finished with 10 targets and caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown while former No. 2 Kris Durham saw just six targets and slid back to the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Obviously, Calvin Johnson will continue to see the majority of looks for the team, but Burleson becomes an immediate factor again as he'll continue to see a high number of targets each week as well.

Packers QB -
Who didn't see the bold-faced handwriting on the wall when the Packers brought back Matt Flynn last week? Sure, Scott Tolzien started, but as soon as Flynn was back in the mix, the leash grew that much shorter. And when the Vikings went up big in the first half Sunday, the switch to Flynn came as no surprise. All things considered, it should be Flynn leading the way until Aaron Rodgers is ready to come back which, with the short week, should just be the Thanksgiving game against the Lions.

Patriots RB -
Oh man. It looks like somebody's got a case of the fumbles! Both Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount quickly found their way back into Bill Belichick's doghouse as each fumbled in the first half Sunday night, never to see another carry the rest of the way. Brandon Bolden saw 13 carries and got the call inside the red zone while Shane Vereen saw 10 carries but 11 targets in the passing game. Given the fact that Belichick is unforgiving, expect Bolden and Vereen to see almost all of the work out of the backfield in Week 13 with Vereen being the better option, particularly in PPR leagues, due to the large number of targets he'll see.

Patriots WR -
Leave it to Tom Brady to continue mixing things up, making it tough for both opposing defenses and fantasy owners to get a handle on who from this receiving corps will see the majority of targets. Julian Edelman, who finally returned to double-digit targets this week, was Brady's top target with Kenbrell Thompkins seeing nine. Meanwhile, Danny Amendola, who has been limited with a groin issue, saw half a dozen targets while Aaron Dobson didn't see any passes come his way. When he's at full health, Amendola should see the most looks, but with so many options, the rest is going to be difficult to predict. It could be that you're just going to have to look at the matchups each week and see which receiver has the softest coverage coming his way.

Raiders QB -
Whether Terrelle Pryor was really still hurting too much to play, the Raiders went Matt McGloin under center Sunday, and while there wasn't anything really special about his day - 260 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception - it would appear that the team is ready to go with him as their top guy the rest of the way. There had been all sorts of rumblings the last few weeks regarding replacing Pryor, so with McGloin playing reasonably well, a full switch hardly seems like a surprise.

Raiders TE -
Mychal Rivera concussed, the Raiders had to dig into their depth at tight end, though neither Jeron Mastrud nor Nick Kasa saw much work during the second half. With the short week coming, it's doubtful that Rivera will even suit up for the game, but considering Mastrud, who should start, is a better blocker than a receiver, you're best looking elsewhere for tight-end help if you need it.

Rams RB -
With Zac Stacy suffering a concussion late in the second quarter, his second of the year, Benny Cunningham, and not Isaiah Pead, filled in as the primary ball-carrier the rest of the game Sunday. Cunningham is usually the change-of-pace back on passing downs, so if he gets the majority of carries as well, his value gets a real nice boost. Pead, incidentally, didn't see a single carry in this game, so should Stacy be out next week, expect the work to go to Cunningham once again. Pead may get a chance to carry the ball, but not likely enough to put him on your radar for Week 13. However, should Stacy be out for any length, Pead could certainly see increased opportunity at some point, so don't forget about him completely.

Texans RB -
Ben Tate was a huge disappointment for both Texans fans and fantasy owners this week and was well-deserving of the benching he took in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Jaguars. He looked absolutely terrible in this game, rushing seven times for just one yard, and though he eked out a minimal value in PPR leagues with five catches for 26 yards, it wasn't nearly enough for those in need of a strong showing. Tate won't be benched long term, but the door has been opened even wider for Dennis Johnson to start seeing more work on a regular basis.

Titans WR -
It probably makes sense to keep a close eye on Justin Hunter and his targets as the rookie has now seen at least six targets in two of his last three games. Kendall Wright is the team's No. 1 receiver, but the battle for No. 2 remains wide open as Nate Washington hasn't exactly been the most reliable guy out there. Hunter and Washington saw an equal number of targets Sunday, and Hunter did the most with what he got as he turned a 17-yard catch into a 54-yard touchdown with a little juking and jiving around the Oakland secondary.

Vikings WR -
Granted, Greg Jennings was still dealing with the effects of his Achilles issue, but it would appear that Cordarrelle Patterson is climbing further up the depth chart with 11 targets Sunday and 20 over his last two games. Should the trend continue, and given the Vikings' need to continue developing their youth there's no reason to believe it shouldn't, Patterson gains more value in the fantasy world while Jennings and Jerome Simpson take a hit.