The Pittsburgh Steelers have started the season with an unfamiliar record of 0-2. They've performed at a putrid level offensively through two games, and at the heart of their issues has been the absence of a reliable running game.
The question is, what is the fantasy football outlook for the Steelers' running game and how does it impact Felix Jones and Isaac Redman?
The Steelers lost to the Bengals by a score of 20-10, marking the second consecutive game in which the offense has failed to get going. While Pittsburgh remains just one game out of the lead for the AFC North, there have been no signs of progression.
There is more than one area to address, but when it comes right down to it, the Steelers' total offense has been worse than one player's Week 2 performance:
Aaron Rodgers is a phenomenal player, but when one player out-produces a team's two-week totals with one outing, there's trouble.
Over the course of Pittsburgh's first two games, it has picked up 19 points and 75 rushing yards. That's not 75 per game, but 75 total after eight quarters of action.
The question is, where should you look for a low-cost option at running back?
As previously established, the Steelers have run the ball poor enough to earn the label of the worst running game in the NFL. With this in mind, the only option for Pittsburgh is to rely heavily on the pass and put faith into a player to save the roster.
If that proves to be the case, Jones is the player it'll side with.
Through two games, Redman has compiled 10 carries for 12 yards and one fumble. Jones, meanwhile, ran it 10 times for 37 yards, which isn't impressive, but it's 25 yards more than Redman on the same amount of attempts.
At least there's some reason for hope:
Ten wins is nothing but a pipe dream if Pittsburgh continues to struggle rushing the football.
Jones was brought in as a potential No. 4 running back behind Le'Veon Bell, Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. With Bell facing injury, Redman struggling and Dwyer still facing conditioning questions, the theories are no longer necessary.
The proof is in the numbers: Pittsburgh can rely on Jones, if anyone at all.
Truth be told, there's no rationale in trusting any of the Steelers running backs to shine, even once Bell does return. Pittsburgh's glimmering sign of hope is a rookie with no experience in the NFL, which leaves this team in trouble.
If you're desperate, and a thin crop of running backs in 2013 is leaving many fantasy football owners in that position, Jones is the Steelers back to go with. If you're not, the best bet is to stay away from any offensive player with a Steelers jersey on.
It may not be optimistic, but it's realistic—Pittsburgh's run game has been dreadful.