With the return of Rashard Mendenhall, the fantasy football value of Jonathan Dwyer has taken a significant hit.
The Steelers made running back Jonathan Dwyer, the team's second-leading rusher, inactive. Dwyer is healthy, but the return of starting running back Rashard Mendenhall from a torn ACL in his right knee allowed Pittsburgh to deactivate Dwyer.
Also, even when in the backfield, Dwyer hasn't been overly productive for Pittsburgh or fantasy football.
Through the first three games he totaled just 94 yards and never reached the end zone. With that, let's look at Dwyer's fantasy football outlook as the 2012 season progresses.
Where Impact Can Happen
Any kind of short-yard situation or inside the red zone are Dwyer's best area to make plays.
His great size of 5'11", 229 pounds is strong and powerful enough to move piles, accumulate first downs and really set up play-action. Another option would be to have Dwyer go up the middle and slip out to the flat as a last resort checkdown.
Although Ben Roethlisberger's pass protection has gradually improved this season, Pittsburgh faces some tough defenses capable of getting consistent pressure. A guy like Dwyer isn't expected to seep out of the backfield, and contributing in the passing attack will help.
If anything, that utilization simply takes pressure off Big Ben and the offensive line from getting a blitzkrieg each week.
RB Depth Limits Opportunities
Rashard Mendenhall is definitely the best and most reliable ball-carrier for the Steelers. So, he alone will take quite a bit of snaps away from Dwyer and potential production chances.
Now include Isaac Redman, who is a slightly bigger back than Dwyer, and he's also far more established as well. Having accounted for 726 rushing yards in his first two seasons, Redman has scored three times and received more carries early in 2012.
Therefore, no matter what Dwyer's health and potential matchups regarding Pittsburgh's weekly game plan, Mendenhall and Redman are just more proven and dependable backs for the Steelers offense. Plus, Pittsburgh can be pass-oriented as we will see next.
Specific Game Situations
Earlier we touched on the best scenarios when Pittsburgh can utilize Dwyer's skill set.
Well, one thing to keep in mind about the Steelers is Big Ben's uncanny awareness under center. In short, when Pittsburgh is lined up inside the red zone or facing a crucial third-and-short, the rock has to remain with Roethlisberger.
He's arguably the best quarterback in pro football on third down and his passing ability is underrated.
When near the goal line, the Steelers also have an array of reliable receivers to target. Tight end Heath Miller is among the most complete around and Mike Wallace possesses the size to out-jump anyone on a fade route.
So by comparison to Pittsburgh's other options during Dwyer's capable situations, the Steelers have better players to count on. And when you have a quarterback such as Big Ben, letting him make plays is the smarter approach to consistent execution.
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