Redman the choice by default
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - What started in Week 1 has come full circle seven games later for the Pittsburgh Steelers' running game.

Pittsburgh is fortunate enough to have three running backs, all with similar skill sets and the ability to run between the tackles. However, all three also are equally injury prone.

That has made choosing the right back more difficult than looking at those prison-stripe uniforms the Steelers wore Oct. 28.

Isaac Redman, the man who started in the first week of the season, turned in a career-best performance Sunday against the Giants, running for 147 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

It was Pittsburgh's third straight game with a 100-yard rusher, the first two of which were by a different player.

Jonathan Dwyer was that player, turning in 229 yards on 34 carries combined in Week 7 and 8. Dwyer was on the sideline Sunday, like he was in Week 5 and 6, this time due to a quad injury.

Joining him was incumbent starter Rashard Mendenhall, who tore his ACL at the end of last season, missed the first three games this season and then strained his Achilles' tendon in his second game back.

Redman himself was inactive for two games earlier this season and had rushed for 2.5 yards per carry prior to Sunday's breakout, so it's difficult to trust him for the rest of the season.

Predicting the future of this trio of rushers could be extremely beneficial to fantasy owners. The Steelers' offensive line has performed much better run blocking as of late after an uneven performance the first five games.

Plus, Pittsburgh plays some of the most generous run defenses in the NFL the next four weeks -- Baltimore twice, Kansas City and Cleveland.

Mendenhall is the clear-cut starter when healthy, even Redman and Dwyer have admitted that, but he's unlikely to be 100 percent this season, less than a year removed from knee surgery and still struggling with the ankle injury.

Dwyer had looked like a better player than Redman prior to Sunday, but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has deferred to Redman when both backups have been healthy this season. Plus, Redman has been more effective in the passing game, catching 12 passes for 154 yards in six games this season to Dwyer's five catches in five games.

Keeping any one of these backs could prove to be helpful to fantasy owners considering how things have gone this season, but if you can only keep one I think you should make the same choice as Pittsburgh Sunday -- Redman by default.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

The Sports Network, a STATS Company. All Rights Reserved.  home | terms of use | privacy policy | comments |