By Kenn Ruby
Adrian Peterson owners collectively held their breath Sunday when Peterson left the game with a torn LCL. While the injury is not as serious as a sprained MCL or ACL, Peterson will still miss at least one game. Chester Taylor, who gained 96 yards of offense on only five touches against the Packers, stands to gain the most in the next couple of weeks.
So much for the plan for Priest Holmes and Kolby Smith to split carries while Larry Johnson recovers from a sprained ankle. Holmes carried 20 times for 65 yards against the Broncos, while Smith was limited to just two 1-yard carries. Johnson will also miss this week's game against Indianapolis, and for those who rushed to pick up Smith last week, it's safe to throw him back on the scrap heap. Given that Holmes only gained 65 yards against Denver's anemic defense, he doesn't come highly recommended, either.
Jacksonville committed to the run against a tough Tennessee defense, grinding out 166 yards on 44 carries. Maurice Jones-Drew led the way with 101 yards on 19 carries, but Fred Taylor also added 45 yards on 16 carries. Both running backs, as well as Greg Jones, ran for touchdowns on Sunday. Jones also caught a touchdown pass, and may be stealing goal-line carries that normally would go to Jones-Drew.
Marshawn Lynch will have an MRI exam on his sore ankle this week, but believes he'll play this weekend against New England. Anthony Thomas would get the ball if Lynch has to sit out the game, but considering the opponent, there's no reason to look for Thomas' name on the waiver wire.
LenDale White left Sunday's game with a sore knee during the third quarter. With Chris Brown due to return this week from an ankle injury, third-string running back Chris Henry was to begin his four-game suspension this week. In light of White's injury, however, he might not withdraw his appeal just yet. White and Henry combined for just 10 yards on 11 carries, so Tennessee will welcome Brown back with open arms.
Although Cincinnati struggled once again to get any kind of running game going Sunday, it's clear that Rudi Johnson is back as the team's favored running back. He gained just 46 yards, but the Bengals gave him the ball 22 times. Kenny Watson, in contrast, had just nine carries. Unless Johnson gets hurt again, Watson is not going to have much value.
The minor knee injury Travis Henry suffered last week kept him out of practice all week and also Sunday's game, and it's starting to look like Denver just can't count on Henry week in and week out. Fortunately for denver, backup Selvin Young has been far more reliable when given the opportunity. Young rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries last week, and his yards per carry is up to 5.3. With Henry's various injuries and legal problems holding him back, Young could frequently find himself in the starting lineup down the stretch.
Maurice Morris started and scored on Monday night as Shaun Alexander rested his various ailments. Alexander is expected to return this week, but Seattle's offensive line has really struggled this season and the weekly beatings Alexander has been suffering have taken their toll.
Another chapter in the Chicago soap opera at quarterback was written last week when Brian Griese took injured his shoulder. Much-maligned Rex Grossman replaced him in the second quarter and led the Bears to a 17-6 victory over Oakland, including a game-clinching 59-yard bomb in the fourth quarter. Griese's injury status is unknown, but Grossman, who got more reps than usual in practice last week, has the inside track for the starting job again.
Damon Huard's three turnovers and a neck injury on Sunday finally earned him what may be a permanent spot on the bench. Brodie Croyle replaced Huard early in the third quarter, and although he threw a pick, he also attempted an astounding 30 passes in the second half. He completed 17 for 162 yards, and it's clear that Kansas City feels more comfortable airing it out with Croyle.
Steve McNair was ineffective once again Sunday, as he was unable to lead the Ravens on any scoring drives against the hapless Bengals while turning the ball over three times. Kyle Boller was somewhat better after replacing McNair, and Baltimore scored a touchdown on his watch. It's sad to see the deterioration of a once-exciting talent like McNair, but it's clear that he just doesn't have it anymore. Expect Boller to get the call this week, especially if McNair's shoulder doesn't improve.
Oakland only had 193 yards of offense in a loss to the Bears last week as Josh McCown somehow continues to hold onto his job. Playing the entire game despite suffering a serious bruise on his thigh during the fourth quarter, McCown was 14-of-27 for 108 yards and an interception. There were rumblings last week that top pick JaMarcus Russell could get into the game, but he was inactive again Sunday. The Raiders are 2-7 and have lost five in a row. McCown is not going to be able to hold off Russell much longer.
The Texans, who were off Sunday, expect to get Matt Schaub back in time for this week's game. Sage Rosenfels wasn't bad in his absence, but it's clear that Houston will pass the ball more with Schaub behind center. With wide receiver Andre Johnson also finally expected to return this week and the whole offense well-rested, expect Houston to put up a lot of points against the Saints this weekend.
J.P. Losman was average against Miami, finishing with 157 yards and an interception against one of the worst defenses in the league. With Trent Edwards healthy and active Sunday (though he did not play), Losman's performance couldn't come at a worse time. Head coach Dick Jauron has named Losman his starter for Sunday's game against New England, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Edwards back in the starting lineup soon.
While Quinn Gray's numbers were nothing to write home about on Sunday, he did lead Jacksonville to a convincing 28-13 victory over Tennessee. David Garrard is due to return this week from an ankle injury, but the Jaguars have to be feeling better about their quarterback situation now that they know Gray can contribute if necessary.
Brooks Bollinger started, but was ineffective against Green Bay on Sunday, finishing with 176 yards and an interception. Tarvaris Jackson, who was healthy enough to be the backup Sunday, should be fully recuperated from his concussion and expects to start this weekend against Oakland.
Although Vinny Testaverde wasn't able to make it through a whole week of practice unscathed, he was still Carolina's starting quarterback on Sunday. David Carr sat out the game with a concussion he suffered a week earlier, and rookie Matt Moore got in the game long enough to throw an interception in his only attempt (a Hail Mary at the end of the game). Testaverde is the starter until further notice, but Carolina's offensive struggles limit his fantasy value.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
In what continues to be a recurring theme in this space, Marvin Harrison's lingering knee injury kept him out of action once again Sunday. Unfortunately for the Colts, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark joined him on the list of walking wounded. Aaron Morehead, Craphonso Thorpe and Bryan Fletcher performed admirably, but they are not long-term fantasy options. On the other hand, the Colts should continue to be cautious with Harrison and Clark, and Gonzalez is expected to be sidelined several weeks with a thumb injury. Morehead, Thorpe and Fletcher could see plenty of action this weekend.
Despite taking a vicious hit in Week 9, Chad Johnson was back in action Sunday and caught four passes for 73 yards. Chris Henry, back from an eight-game suspension, had 99 yards receiving, including a 50-yarder. Even though the Bengals failed to score a touchdown and their running game continues to struggle, their passing game looked decent. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Johnson and Henry might be the league's most-talented receiving trio.
Santana Moss missed Sunday's game with a bruised heel, opening the door for one of last week's most surprising fantasy performances. James Thrash, who had only three catches all season before Sunday, caught five passes for 85 yards and found the end zone twice. Moss's injury isn't considered serious, but given that Moss has yet to score all season, Thrash could become the red-zone specialist even when Moss is healthy.
Isaac Bruce caught eight passes for 62 yards and a touchdown before leaving with a pulled hamstring Sunday. Bruce has already missed a couple of games this year with an injury to the same hamstring, so it's cause for concern. Drew Bennett, who also scored Sunday, figures to be the main beneficiary should Bruce miss any time.