Jonathan Dwyer did not produce eye-popping numbers in Week 1, but the Pittsburgh Steelers running back definitely showed value as a fantasy football player for this season.
Teammate Isaac Redman was given the start for the Sunday night matchup against the Denver Broncos, but the veteran was only able to muster 20 yards on 11 carries. With this type of production, he is not likely to keep his job for long.
Meanwhile, Dwyer led the team with 43 rushing yards on nine carries. He also added two receptions for 11 yards. On a team that stalled offensively throughout most of the game, the third-year player was a bright spot.
New offensive coordinator Todd Haley has said since being hired that he is trying to focus more on the run. Ben Roethlisberger threw 40 passes against the Broncos, but the fact that it was in a losing effort should force even more emphasis on the ground game.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, projected starter Rashard Mendenhall is still recovering from surgery for a torn ACL he suffered last season. It is unknown when he will return, but he will likely still not be 100 percent when he sees the field.
This gives Dwyer an opportunity to shine. The former Georgia Tech star has not seen the field much in his first two years in the NFL, but he averaged over six yards per carry in 25 attempts. He also managed to get over 107 yards in one game last season against the Tennessee Titans.
Given more carries, Dwyer has the talent to produce very good numbers at this level.
Based on the first game of the year, it would not be surprising if the running back is given a larger role in the future. The Steelers cannot afford to go 0-2, and they will need their best personnel on the field next week against the New York Jets.
Dwyer is only owned in less than a quarter of ESPN leagues, so fantasy owners should try to pick him up this week. However, fans should wait to start him in weekly lineups until the Steelers give him a more prominent role.
It will likely only be a matter of time until the running back becomes a valuable fantasy starter.
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