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Week 1 NFL depth charts aren't written in cement

By Tim Heaney

I've been amused for the past few days with the mass hysteria that comes with the initial depth chart releases for NFL teams, and what it means for said hysterical screamers' respective fantasy football teams.

New York Jets RB Chris Ivory
Ivory can still shine

Sometimes, placements can be telling. Most times, especially for depth spots, they're delaying expected moves that weren't yet finalized. Note: The San Diego Chargers list Ronnie Brown ahead of Danny Woodhead. Come on. Brown is the emergency guy, with Woodhead's third-down role slotting him third. Fantasy owners know better.

Bilal Powell surpassing Chris Ivory wasn't surprising, either, if you were paying attention. The New York Jets have babied Ivory for much of the summer thanks to his lingering hamstring injury and concerns over his workload. Of course Powell, the more ready and experienced back with this club, would slide up to the top spot.

But don't let this cloud your plan over a full season. Sure, Powell could hang onto at least partial work for a long time, but the extenuating circumstances surrounding his promotion could prompt reactionary Ivory owners to ditch him or undervalue him in their drafts. There's much more upside for the big-play-inclined Ivory, and as an RB4, it's typically better to take a chance on him than to buy Powell as a consistent flex play. (Maybe I'm saying this because I've taken the chance on Ivory as a 3 or 4 in a few leagues after his hype waned.)

Austin Pettis' listing as St. Louis Rams starter has a similar mirage feel to it, despite the positive reports he's garnered. Dynamic rookie Tavon Austin is listed right behind Pettis; both wideouts have a slot build and will probably be used in the same way. Just because Pettis is listed as a starter on the outside doesn't mean he'll see more targets, even if he has an initial playing-time advantage.

Always remember to place context behind depth chart listings. Injuries, situational roles, the desire for a coach to bring along rookies slowly ... all these conditions create highly fluid situations and don't mean that the Week 1 starter is cemented for the rest of the season.

Don't bank on fringe types dependent on opportunity the same way you would on steady players. After all, many of the depth charts you'll see updated say "unofficial."


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