By Kenn Ruby
Ryan Grant came into Monday's game with just six carries all season, but shockingly rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries. DeShawn Wynn, who left with a shoulder injury in the second quarter, and Vernand Morency were expected to split the load Monday night but combined for just three carries. The Packers have been looking for a decent running back all season and might have finally found one in Grant.
Ahman Green was unexpectedly inactive Sunday, giving Ron Dayne the start. Dayne didn't do much with the opportunity, however, gaining just 47 yards on 17 carries. The real surprise was Adimchinobe Echemandu, who was promoted from the practice squad last week. Echemandu had 62 yards on 10 carries and also caught two passes. Given Green's inability to stay healthy, Echemandu could be in line for more action this week.
LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas each had 12 carries Sunday, but Fargas outgained Jordan 63 to 12. Even more surprising was that aside from two kick returns, Dominic Rhodes did not touch the ball once. Jordan's early season promise is completely gone (in the last three weeks he has just 87 yards on 41 carries), and if Rhodes is no longer part of the offense, Oakland could be considering Fargas as the feature back.
With Travis Henry out with sore ribs, Selvin Young had his first career start Monday. Young had 71 yards on the ground and 49 in the air, which isn't bad against Green Bay's strong defense. Henry has had one problem after another this year, so don't be surprised to see Young get used more frequently, especially with a potential suspension looming for Henry.
Adrian Peterson had one of his worst games of the season Sunday, finishing with just 70 yards on 20 carries. However, don't go trading Peterson just yet. As the new undisputed starting running back, Peterson no longer has to worry about splitting time with Chester Taylor. Taylor had just seven touches Sunday and only holds value as a handcuff for Peterson owners.
After missing a month with a sore groin, Steven Jackson returned to great fanfare last week. Unfortunately, he was knocked out of the game with a back injury in the second quarter. Jackson had 41 yards and scored the first rushing touchdown of the season for St. Louis, but it's possible he'll be put on the shelf again. Don't sell your Brian Leonard stock yet.
Jesse Chatman looked fine in his first game as Miami's starting running back, finishing with 16 carries for 79 yards and three catches for 21 yards. Backup Patrick Cobbs also had four carries, and the Dolphins claimed Samkon Gado off waivers last week, so at least Miami will have a few options while it recovers from the tough loss of Ronnie Brown.
Although Earnest Graham did not play as well as he did in week 7, he still got the bulk of carries for Tampa Bay on Sunday, finishing with 62 yards on 14 carries. Michael Bennett carried the ball just twice, though one of those carries resulted in a 19-yard touchdown. As Bennett gets more acclimated to the offense, he'll be used more often, but Graham will probably remain the lead back.
Coach Herm Edwards announced last week that Priest Holmes is now the No. 2 running back in the Kansas City offense. Larry Johnson is still the workhorse, but the Chiefs will take advantage of Holmes' ability to catch the ball out of the backfield on passing downs.
Reggie Bush left Sunday's game with a minor bruise injury in the third quarter. Aaron Stecker got 12 carries, most of which came after Bush's exit. Bush probably would have returned had the game been a little closer, but the Saints were smart to protect their biggest star. He might be a little limited in practice this week, but he's not expected to miss any time.
An ankle injury suffered on Oct. 22 likely will sideline David Garrard for as much as a month. Quinn Gray won in his first career start Sunday, throwing for 100 yards and a touchdown. Gray only completed seven passes in 16 attempts as Jacksonville focused on the running game. As Gray gets more comfortable with the offense, the Jaguars will call more passing plays, but in the meantime, don't expect gaudy numbers from Gray.
With the Jets down 13-3 in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Kellen Clemens era finally began. In two drives at the helm, Clemens completed only five passes in 12 attempts and both drives ended in interceptions. Jets fans won't be clamoring for Chad Pennington any time soon, but Clemens won't make any friends if he keeps turning the ball over either. Clemens gets his first career start this week.
Buffalo announced early last week that Trent Edwards was officially the No. 1 quarterback. Edwards celebrated the new designation by leading the Bills to just three points in six drives against the anemic Jets defense. A sprained wrist knocked him out of the game in the third quarter, which gave opening day starter J.P. Losman another chance to prove he should be running the team. Losman didn't disappoint, leading the team on two scoring drives and throwing a game-clinching, 85-yard touchdown pass. X-rays were negative on Edwards, but it would not be a surprise to see Losman back behind center this week. With Cincinnati and Miami next on the schedule, Losman could put up fantasy friendly numbers the next two weeks.
Matt Schaub was a game-time decision Sunday, but it might have been better for him to just stay home. Already banged up with back, ankle and hip injuries, Schaub suffered a concussion Sunday and was replaced by Sage Rosenfels. It's obvious that Schaub needs time off to recuperate from all of his injuries, so expect the Texans to do the prudent thing and hold him out this week.
Cleo Lemon played the entire game against the Giants, but was unable to get anything going until an 80-yard touchdown drive late in the game. While Lemon hasn't been terrible since Trent Green went down, the Dolphins are going nowhere fast. There has been some speculation that they will give rookie John Beck a crack at the starting job after this week's bye.
Vince Young was back last week after missing a game with a strained quad. Tennessee got the win, but it wasn't because of Young, who finished with just 42 yards passing and 11 yards rushing. Tennessee's running backs gained 181 yards on 29 carries, so Young's greatest achievement Sunday appeared to be handing it off and not losing and fumbles. If he keeps that up, Tennessee might win a few games, but he won't be the fantasy superstar many expected.
Marc Bulger briefly left Sunday's game with a sprained thumb, but the Gus Frerotte era was thankfully short. Bulger finally got all of his weapons back for the start of the game, but he lost his starting running back in the second quarter, and yet another offensive lineman went down. He still managed to throw for 310 yards and a touchdown, but those kinds of performances will be few and far between for Bulger and the Rams the rest of the season.
Alex Smith started his first game in nearly a month, but was unable to get the offense going against the Saints. Although Smith threw for 190 yards, it took him 22 completions in 43 attempts to do so. While San Francisco would like to see more yards per attempt, it is surely happy that Smith's shoulder held up as well as it did. Trent Dilfer will go back to a reserve role.
Tarvaris Jackson inactive with a broken finger, Minnesota turned to Kelly Holcomb to man the offense Sunday. Holcomb didn't last long, leaving with a neck injury in the third quarter after throwing for 88 yards and a touchdown. Brooks Bollinger, Holcomb's replacement, is in line to start this week if neither Jackson nor Holcomb are healthy enough to play, though neither have been ruled out yet. The Vikings are already talking about drafting a quarterback in 2008, and you should take a cue from them and also look elsewhere for your quarterback.
Vinny Testaverde got the start Sunday but was replaced at halftime by David Carr. Carr wasn't much better than Testaverde, who left the game with an injury to his Achilles' tendon. Carr will probably start next week against Tennessee, but his back is still not 100 percent healthy.
Byron Leftwich had surgery on his sprained ankle last week and should miss three or four games. Joey Harrington, who hasn't exactly set the world on fire this season, takes the starting job back that he lost a couple of weeks ago.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Taking advantage of a bye week, Marcus Pollard had arthroscopic surgery last week. He'll miss at least one game, giving Will Heller another chance to start. With Pollard on the sidelines Oct. 21, Heller caught two touchdowns. Seattle is trying to get their tight ends more involved with the offense, so the starter, whether it's Pollard or Heller, could have some fantasy value. More good news for Seattle: D.J. Hackett and Deion Branch are both expected to return this week.
Darrell Jackson missed Sunday's game with a strained quad, giving the much-maligned Ashley Lelie a spot in the starting lineup. Lelie only caught three passes for 20 yards, as the San Francisco offense struggled against New Orleans. The only bright spot was Vernon Davis, who had six catches for 71 yards and the team's only touchdown. The Niners face the Falcons next week, so a healthy Davis could be a could choice if you need a tight end.
Even with Marvin Harrison sitting out the game with a sore knee, Anthony Gonzalez only caught one pass for 16 yards. While Gonzalez is a sleeper if Harrison's injury lingers (and it has lingered for several weeks), there are likely several better options available on your league's waiver wire. Harrison is expected to return for this week's showdown with the Patriots.
Michael Clayton missed Sunday's game with a bum ankle, opening up an opportunity for rookie Maurice Stovall to finally see some significant action as the third receiver. Stovall was targeted five times Sunday and caught all five passes for 47 yards. With Tampa Bay more focused on the pass lately, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Stovall should have plenty of opportunities if Clayton is out as expected this week.