The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the AFC playoff picture. They've put together a three-game winning streak since starting the season 2-3, and have done so on the strength of a running game with multiple contributors.
One of those contributors, third-year running back Jonathan Dwyer, is trying to get healthy for an impending matchup with the lowly Kansas City Chiefs this week. Even if he is healthy enough for Monday Night Football, he's much too risky a play this week in fantasy football.
The Steelers have used six backs this season, if you include fullback Will Johnson. Dwyer is in the mix with one-time starter Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Chris Rainey and Baron Batch. All have been linchpins in the success of the past three weeks.
With that much depth, Dwyer himself isn't afraid to boast about the team's running prowess, even declaring the six-man team to be the best in football via his Twitter account on Monday:
Dwyer (@JDwyer27) November 5, 2012
Dwyer is recovering from a quad injury that kept him out of Week 9 against the New York Giants. Redman stepped up in his place, rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown in spot-starting duty. Rainey and Batch are nice change-of-pace backs out the backfield, and we haven't even touched on Mendenhall, the starter for the past two seasons.
It looks like Dwyer will return to the lineup, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
#Steelers Tomlin: Dwyer should return this week.— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) November 6, 2012
There is no news yet on whether or not Mendenhall will return to action this week. Even if he sits out again against the Chiefs, you're playing with fire by betting on Dwyer (unintentional rhyme, I swear).
The Steelers are using a running-back-by-committee approach to their offense right now. Three weeks ago, Dwyer took center stage and asserted himself as a major player. Redman stepped up in Week 9, and Rainey appears to have a permanent role as the third-down guy.
Head coach Mike Tomlin isn't ready to name a starter yet, and according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he's going to give the carries to the back who is performing well during the course of the game.
Although a quad injury isn't a serious inhibitor toward making an immediate return in the NFL, the hot hand would suggest Redman would get first crack at a Chiefs defense allowing 126 yards on the ground per game.
That's not to say Dwyer won't have a productive game. The Steelers obviously like what he brings from a physical and toughness standpoint, and if he's healthy, he will play.
But those revelations shouldn't be enough to make him an RB1 in any format this week. Once he reclaims the starting job from Redman and Mendenhall is out of the picture, there might be a legitimate claim to be had.
For now, play Dwyer at your own risk. His matchup on Monday night means that he could be the deciding factor between a win or a loss in a pivotal week toward the playoffs in your league.
He's not worth that risk.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R and the Breaking News Team. Check back for the latest Fantasy Football updates in Week 10 of the NFL.