The little-used running back scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter that would end up being the game winner in a tight, 24-17 contest between the AFC North rivals on Sunday Night Football.
Before you log on to your league’s fantasy website and go to pick up this diminutive RB, consider the circumstances surrounding his score.
For one, the Steelers' top two running backs—Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman—were both sidelined with injury this week.
The lead back, Mendenhall, tweaked his Achilles during a Week 6 Thursday night showdown with the Tennessee Titans. Current speculation is that he’s not expected to miss a serious amount of time. Redman, the backup, was declared inactive due to an ankle injury, but also isn’t expected to miss more than a game or two.
That left Pittsburgh with no choice but to start Jonathan Dwyer, and to slot unproven Baron Batch and rookie Rainey behind him on the depth chart for the game vs. Cincy.
Dwyer did well, earning 17 carries for 122 yards. Meanwhile, Batch dropped a surefire TD on a flea flicker pass from Antonio Brown and was in the doghouse after two carries for four yards, which left Rainey to spell the lead back.
He made the most of it with the TD in the red zone, but Rainey only had four carries for 17 yards on the night. Furthermore, 11 of those yards came on the scoring scamper, and he only added one reception for eight yards—a figure that will not intrigue PPR players.
While Rainey was certainly a playmaker during his time with the Florida Gators, he hasn’t been able to make the same impact in the NFL. This was his only TD of the season, and the first time he’s had more than four total touches (and just five, at that) in a game.
There’s a great chance that coach Mike Tomlin fazes Rainey out once Mendenhall and Redman are healthy. With that scenario likely not far away, it would be simply unwise to waste a valuable waiver pick on the reserve RB.
Only owners in deep leagues should consider adding Rainey, and should elect to use a free-agency claim on him rather than waiver priority. He’s not projected to make a big enough impact and cannot be counted on to score again any time this season.
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