Jonathan Dwyer: Fantasy Owners Must Wait and See Before Starting Pittsburgh RB

Tim KeeneyContributor ISeptember 13, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 09:  Running back Jonathan Dwyer #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rishes with the ball and fends off defensive back Mike Adams #20 of the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 9, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Jonathan Dwyer should be on your fantasy team. He just shouldn't be in your starting lineup. 

The good news about the 23-year-old running back? His arrow is pointing way, way up. 

Dwyer carried the ball nine times on Sunday for 43 yards against the stout Denver Broncos defense. Compare that to starter Isaac Redman's 11 carries for 20 yards (relevant), and it's no wonder why Mike Tomlin is already increasing the youngster's carries (via Pittsburgh Steelers' Twitter account):

Coach Tomlin said @jdwyer27 will get "increased opportunity" this weekend.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 11, 2012

If we're laying our cards on the table, there's simply no reason at all why Redman should be getting more work than Dwyer. The third-year pro looked like he was moving on roller skates while Redman was trailing behind in molasses. 

Redman is a fine red-zone back, but overall, it isn't even close, and thus the reason for why Dwyer shouldn't be on your waiver wire. 

The bad news?

Rashard Mendenhall (via ESPN's Adam Schefter):

So it's not just Adrian Peterson: Steelers said RB Rashard Mendenhall was a full participant in today's practice.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 12, 2012

He's baaaack. 

Mendenhall will undoubtedly be eased into the real life game, but there's no question that the boost he'll provide to the Steelers will cause Tomlin to carve out a role for the former starter.

Good for Pittsburgh, bad for fantasy owners. 

Dwyer, who easily has the most upside of any ball-carrier on this team, was clearly beginning to distance himself from the running back pack, but Mendenhall's return only muddies the waters. 

If you're in a bind and have no other option, you have to roll the dice with Dwyer. But with the amount of carries for each player at such an unknown with a high degree of variability, you're probably better served playing the wait-and-see approach with all three players in the lineup. 

It's not ideal, but at least Mike Shanahan isn't the coach. Once someone establishes himself as the lead back, you'll actually be able to count on him. 

It's just not quite that time yet.