Isaac Redman is set to become one of the hottest names in fantasy football drafts, but it is important to proceed with caution.
Dale Lolley of the Observer-Reporter reports that the 28-year-old running back will likely start for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1:
This is someone who has basically been overlooked from a fantasy perspective and is only being drafted on average with pick No. 128.4, according to ESPN. Being able to grab a starter at this stage would be a blessing, and owners should be willing to take a chance on him.
However, this number has already jumped by over 40 spots in the past week as the injury concerns started with Le'Veon Bell. After being named the starter, it would not be surprising to see Redman start going even earlier in drafts.
If he starts climbing into the seventh or eighth round in drafts, you are better off avoiding him and grabbing someone else.
One of the key parts of the report is the fact that Redman will only stay on top of the depth chart when Bell is out. According to USA Today, this should not be too long of a stretch.
The rookie running back has a sprained foot that will hold him out in the early going, but the lack of surgery should allow him to return within the first half of the year.
This already gives Redman a small window of value, especially compared to young players who should get better as the season goes on like Giovani Bernard and Daryl Richardson.
The problem is this is just the beginning of concerns for the fourth-year player. The running back has been a formidable backup in his career, but he has never been able to take hold of a starting job despite opportunities.
Last season, the Steelers dealt with a number of injuries in the backfield and were forced to shuffle the depth chart a number of times. While Redman had a couple of strong games—including a 147-yard performance on 26 carries against the New York Giants—he still could not become the featured back.
Here is a look at the breakdown of team rushing attempts by game from last season:
You can see in the chart that multiple players touched the ball last year. More importantly, there were 11 games in which Redman and Jonathan Dwyer were in the lineup together, and only twice did Redman receive more carries (Weeks 1 and 3).
If he could not prove himself last year, it is hard to imagine him doing better this time around with a more crowded backfield. Besides Dwyer, veterans LaRod Stephens-Howling and Felix Jones will also compete for playing time and touches.
Finally, Redman is dealing with his own injuries that could hold him back to start the year. A pinched nerve in his neck has kept the running back out of the entire preseason, and he should be rusty when he eventually returns to the field.
Grabbing an injured player that only averaged 3.7 yards per carry last season with an undefined role going forward is not a smart move in your fantasy draft.
The allure of a starting running back might force you to take a chance early on, but it would be wise to avoid grabbing him unless he falls to the 10th round or later.
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