Reggie Bush was diagnosed with a torn PCL and was ruled out for the season prior to Monday night's game, finishing his disappointing sophomore season with 581 yards rushing and 417 yards receiving. Aaron Stecker stepped in as starter, contributing 20 carries for 100 yards Monday, and Pierre Thomas chipped in with six carries for 31 yards.
Just when it looked like Travis Henry was ready to re-emerge as the top Denver back -- he won his appeal of a one-year drug suspension last week -- he laid an egg against the Chiefs. Henry did reach the end zone, but he had just 24 yards on 10 carries. Surprisingly, Selvin Young got the start and made good on that honor by gaining 156 yards on 17 carries. Considering that Young was playing hurt and Henry was supposedly healthy, it looks like Young has passed Henry on the depth chart.
The 49ers did what few teams have done all season: they stopped the vaunted Minnesota rushing attack. Aside from an 84-yard touchdown run by Chester Taylor (and that's admittedly quite an aside), the Vikings had just 33 yards on 30 carries. Adrian Peterson, who looked so good in the previous game upon his return from a knee injury, had a career-low three yards on 14 carries. The Vikings got the all-important W, but the game was a good reminder that Peterson is still just a rookie and is capable of being held in check.
Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson both went over the century mark Sunday, gaining 107 yards and 115 yards, respectively. Lynch was returning from a three-week absence due to an ankle injury, while Jackson, who has 31 carries for 197 yards in the last two weeks, has very quickly become one of the top backups in the league. Former top backup Anthony Thomas was placed on Injured Reserve with a torn calf muscle.
With Derrick Ward out for the season with a broken leg, the return of Brandon Jacobs couldn't have come at a better time. Jacobs had 22 carries for 70 yards Sunday, while Reuben Droughns finished with 34 yards on three rushes. Expect a similar split of carries the rest of the season, with Droughns continuing to get the ball close to the end zone.
Samkon Gado started Sunday and had a respectable 52 yards on 12 carries, including two touchdowns. Gado added 41 yards on two receptions and clearly looks like the top running back until Jesse Chatman returns from an ankle injury. Lorenzo Booker, who caught six passes for 34 yards, only had four carries.
With the Seahawks comfortably ahead for most of last week's game, Shaun Alexander was limited to 10 carries while backup Maurice Morris had 13. Neither ran particularly well, but Morris at least added three catches for 26 yards. Alexander is still the starter, but the timeshare will continue the rest of the season. Temper your expectations the rest of the way.
Things changed a lot in Chicago this week, as Adrian Peterson struggled and may be losing carries to Garrett Wolfe. Peterson had just 35 yards rushing on 17 carries and watched late in the game as Wolfe had 13 yards rushing and 37 yards receiving. Wolfe was definitely the better back last week, so if Peterson struggles again this week - and he's playing the tough Minnesota defense -- Wolfe could see a start or two down the stretch.
With Ahman Green out for the season and Ron Dayne at less than 100 percent, Darius Walker (in his first career game) emerged as the go-to back for Houston on Sunday, finishing with six receptions and a modest 46 yards on 16 carries. Dayne's ankle is still bothering him, and with a short week to recuperate, it's possible he won't play Thursday. Expect Walker and possibly Adimchinobe Echemandu to see heavy action this week.
Jeff Garcia missed the last two games with a back injury, but he was healthy enough Monday for coach Jon Gruden to already declare him as this week's starter. Luke McCown posted decent numbers in Garcia's absence, but he struggled at times Sunday and does not look experienced enough to lead a team through the playoff push.
Jason Campbell left last week's game with a dislocated left kneecap, and his return this season is unlikely. Campbell is targeting a Week 17 return, but that's an accelerated rehab schedule, and the Redskins could be out of the playoff race by then. In the meantime, expect career backup Todd Collins to lead the charge.
The good news for Rex Grossman is the injury he suffered last week was only a sprained MCL and won't require surgery. The bad news is it will take 3-4 weeks to recover, effectively ending his season. Brian Griese would have been the natural successor as the starter, but he was so bad in relief of Grossman last week that the Bears will instead turn to third-stringer Kyle Orton. Orton strung together a nice winning streak a couple of years ago, but shouldn't be counted on to lead any fantasy teams to glory.
Philip Rivers missed part of the second quarter Sunday with a knee injury, but he was able to get back on the field in the second half and lead San Diego in a come-from-behind victory. He reportedly tore his MCL, but the injury is not as serious as it sounds. If he misses this week's game, Billy Volek will take the helm.
Marc Bulger, still a little woozy from the concussion suffered a few weeks ago, sat out Sunday's game while interim starter Gus Frerotte also missed the game with a shoulder injury. Brock Berlin made his regular-season debut and as his reward got to face the Cincinnati defense. Berlin did nothing with the golden opportunity, and with Bulger and/or Frerotte possibly returning this week, Berlin will probably head back to obscurity. If neither Bulger nor Frerotte is available this week, veteran Todd Bouman could start, but he doesn't come recommended either.
After watching A.J. Feeley throw seven picks in two games, Philadelphia welcomed Donovan McNabb back with open arms last week. McNabb completed 20 of 30 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. More important, McNabb did not commit a turnover. Barring another McNabb injury, Feeley probably won't be on the field again this season.
The Atlanta quarterback situation has been a mess since Michael Vick got into trouble last summer, but it looks like the Falcons might have found someone to lead them for the last month of the season. Chris Redman started Monday night and threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Byron Leftwich is now the backup, with Joey Harrington falling to third string.
Matt Moore, who recently passed David Carr on the depth chart, might have passed Vinny Testaverde as well. Testaverde was terrible Sunday, going 13-for-28 for 84 yards and an interception. Moore replaced him in the fourth quarter and wasn't any better, but he's half Testaverde's age and should be the top backup to Jake Delhomme in 2008. With the Panthers offense struggling and the season just about over, Carolina has nothing to lose by handing Moore the reins to get him some good experience.
Although Brodie Croyle returned last week from a back injury, he was ineffective throwing behind a decimated offensive line. The Chiefs managed only 129 yards against the shaky Denver defense and Croyle was sacked five times. Damon Huard will return to the backup role, but neither quarterback should be anywhere near your fantasy team.
John Beck was yanked in the first quarter Sunday due to a rough start, including an inexplicable fumble returned for a touchdown. Cleo Lemon stepped in and immediately led Miami on a touchdown drive before succumbing to his usual performance level. Lemon was nothing special during his four-game stint as the starter earlier this year, but he could start this week if Beck doesn't get his act together.
Trent Dilfer suffered a concussion Sunday, likely blowing his chance to be the starter for the remainder of the season. With Alex Smith opting for season-ending surgery on his shoulder, Shaun Hill is the only healthy signal caller on the roster. Expect San Francisco to pick a quarterback off the scrap heap this week.
Sage Rosenfels played a solid game Sunday, throwing for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Schaub, who dislocated his shoulder in Week 13, hasn't been ruled out yet for this season. However, if Rosenfels keeps winning, expect Houston to continue to play it safe with Schaub.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
It was reported last week that Jerricho Cotchery had season-ending surgery on a broken finger, yet Sunday he suited up and caught six passes for 119 yards. What gives? It turns out that he used a specially-designed splint/cast to protect the finger and should be fine for the rest of the season. Brad Smith and Justin McCareins, who were unable to take advantage of recent absences by Cotchery and Laveranues Coles, will continue to have limited roles in the offense.
Larry Fitzgerald returned last week from a one-game absence, but the Cardinals were missing Anquan Boldin with a toe injury. While more likely possibilities to step into Boldin's shoes existed, the top beneficiary was surprisingly Jerheme Urban, who caught six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Bryant Johnson, whose only catch was a five-yard touchdown, was targeted eight times. He's still ahead of Urban on the depth chart, but Urban's performance Sunday will be hard to ignore.
In their first game without Roy Williams, the Lions employed a much more balanced offense than they have recently, running 32 times for 152 yards a week after running seven times for 23 yards. Unfortunately, that meant that a nice offensive game for the Lions resulted in zero touchdowns for the wide receiver trio of Mike Furrey, Calvin Johnson and Shaun McDonald. McDonald and Johnson started and combined for 13 catches for 147 yards, while Furrey was held to just two receptions for 15 yards.
Although Santonio Holmes returned Sunday after missing two games with an ankle injury, he was not a factor. Holmes had only one catch for 13 yards, but he wasn't the only Pittsburgh wide receiver who struggled. Holmes, Hines Ward, Cedrick Wilson and Nate Washington had just 10 catches for 104 yards. Granted, the Steelers were facing New England, but they have another tough game this week against Jacksonville, so their struggles could continue.