Sunday was a good day to be an unheralded running back and, in turn, a thrifty, resourceful fantasy football owner. Between injuries to teammates and big performances on their own parts, these three ball carriers have bright futures not just in the NFL, but in your fantasy league as well.
Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins
Ryan Torain is a bona fide Mike Shanahan favorite, which means he should be one of yours too. Shanahan has made a career out of, well, making careers for running backs, with Torain as his latest project. The 6'1", 218-pounder, whom Shanahan brought to Washington last year after drafting him in Denver, put himself back on the fantasy map with 135 yards and a touchdown against the sad-sack Rams on Sunday.
Apparently, Shanahan has already tired of Tim Hightower's three-yards-per-carry limit, preferring instead Torain's 4.5-yard career average. He and the Redskins will enjoy their bye in Week 5, but will be back in action against the Eagles in Week 6.
If the time off is giving you pause, consider this: Philly has given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs of any team in the NFL.
Which running back would you pick up?
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Stevan Ridley had his obligatory breakout game against the Raiders, collecting 97 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
For the less mathematically inclined, that's an average of 9.7 yards per carry.
Ridley isn't likely to keep chugging along at such a torrid pace, but he will have plenty of opportunities to try. Fellow Patriots running back Danny Woodhead left the first half of Sunday's win with a left ankle injury. If Woodhead misses any significant time, which he very well could, Ridley and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will absorb the carries he's left behind.
And, assuming Bill Belichick and his hoodie were at all amused by Ridley's "Believe It or Not" display in Oakland, the rookie will get a hefty share of those, if not some of The Law Firm's as well.
What's more, Ridley will spend Week 5 running against the Jets run defense, which opposing fantasy 'backs have solved to the tune of more than 20 points per game.
Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashard Mendenhall might not be around to do the running, though, if his right hamstring doesn't heal up in a hurry.
That leaves Isaac Redman to do the heavy lifting with Charlie Batch handing him the ball—not exactly the offensive combo the Steelers had hoped for, but one that fantasy owners can take advantage of nonetheless. Redman racked up 40 yards on six carries, along with 12 more yards on a pass reception, and will see his chances grow as long as Mendenhall struggles, strained hammy or no.
As for next week, the Titans' defense is only so-so against the run, which Redman should be able to take advantage of if and when the Steelers feed him the rock.