Jonathan Dwyer: Updated Fantasy Outlook for Steelers RB After Big Game

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Jonathan Dwyer: Updated Fantasy Outlook for Steelers RB After Big Game
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Jonathan Dwyer of the Pittsburgh Steelers remains one appealing fantasy football option.

On Sunday against the sound rush defense of the Washington Redskins, Dwyer carried 17 times for 107 yards. Pittsburgh ultimately won the game, and it was Dwyer's punishing performance on the ground that gave the Steelers a supreme advantage regarding time of possession.

In short, winning the possession battle by nearly seven minutes reduced the Redskins' explosive offense and Robert Griffin III. Here, we look at how Dwyer has been such a key component for the Steelers and why they must keep him in the backfield.

 

Proven Reliability

In the past two games, Dwyer has racked up 229 rushing yards and is averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. Yes, that is quite impressive considering Pittsburgh's woes along the offensive line.

That said, the Steelers are the epitome of the next man stepping in, and Dwyer is simply taking advantage. He has been Pittsburgh's most consistently reliable and healthy ball-carrier, and in a division run by defense (although declining when compared to previous seasons), presenting a tough bulldozer in the backfield is imperative.

If anything, the Steelers have to keep feeding Dwyer, as it significantly reduces the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. Regardless of the dependable receiving corps and Big Ben's mobility, the pass protection can be suspect at times.

Well, the best way to negate an opponent's rush is by slamming on the ground. Dwyer's overall production has simply been impressive enough that Pittsburgh can rely on the ground game to set up the pass, as opposed to the alternative, which is just running the ball to keep a defense honest regardless of production. 

 

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Competitive Advantage Situations

Dwyer's size and acceleration is like a bowling ball blasting through a defensive front. The linemen and linebackers are like bowling pins, because Dwyer is proving to be one of the most difficult running backs to tackle.

That style of play alone is what encompasses the Pittsburgh Steelers. Additionally, Dwyer's consistency gives Pittsburgh a key advantage in any short-yard situation and when inside the red zone.

The guy is capable of carrying a few would-be tackles along the way and his balance and agility is incredible. What comes of age from that advantage is the luxury of play-action. And with Pittsburgh's array of receivers for Roethlisberger to target, the Steelers offense will constantly move the rock.

Include the presence of tight end Heath Miller and Mike Wallace, and no defense can afford to stack the box against Pittsburgh, either. What comes from that is Dwyer racking up more yards after contact in a balanced offense.

 

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Remaining Schedule Favors Impact

There's only one legitimate defense the Steelers face on their 2012 regular season schedule, and it's not the Baltimore Ravens.

This week, Pittsburgh hits the road and plays the New York Giants.

As the defending Super Bowl champions, Big Blue presents NFL's best defensive line and a sound linebacking corps. Although the Giants technically aren't a dominant run defense, they know how to apply quarterback pressure and cause turnovers.

Thereafter, the Steelers still face the Ravens and Cleveland Browns twice and the Cincinnati Bengals at home within the AFC North. Elsewhere, Pittsburgh squares off against the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers.

So, don't expect Dwyer's fantasy value to take a nosedive. The Steelers need a guy of his physical play in the backfield and, courtesy of this schedule, Dwyer remains a solid No. 2 running back and/or flex option.

 

Follow John Rozum on Twitter.

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