Week 5 will likely mark the end of Isaac Redman's uninspiring reign as the feature back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to Rotoworld.com, via ESPN's Ed Werder, Rashard Mendenhall, who's probable for Pittsburgh's game against the Philadelphia Eagles today, will be "eased back into the lineup." To quote Werder, "they're gonna acclimate him to the game, and then they're gonna ride him the rest of the season."
Far from encouraging news for Redman and his fantasy owners.
The backup runner was expected to admirably fill the void left by Mendenhall, but ultimately failed to do so in the team's first four games.
Redman carried the ball a total of 32 times for a disappointing 72 yards and scored one rushing touchdown. Also, he was barely involved in the passing game. He caught six passes for 45 yards. The third-year pro's best statistical game came last week, when he toted the rock nine times for 27 yards and caught three passes for 24 yards.
Outlook and Analysis
The fact that Mendenhall isn't being rushed back into the lineup is good news for Redman, but due to his ineffectiveness, Mendenhall's return all but fades Redman's fantasy viability to nothing.
So, while no one can predict how explosive Mendenhall will be, or if he'll re-aggravate his injury, there's always reason to have insurance when a player is healing from a ligament tear in his knee.
Also, Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 40 passing attempts in the first three games of 2012, so Pittsburgh clearly wants to emphasize their aerial attack.
To be fair to Redman—and all the Steelers' running backs, for that matter—the next two games against the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals are extremely favorable.
The Titans have surrendered an average of 136.5 rushing yards per game this season, and the Bengals are surprisingly allowing a league-worst 5.3 yards per rush.
However, that optimism should be suppressed by the fact that, in all likelihood, Redman simply won't receive enough touches to be a usable fantasy option.