Week 5 Waiver Wire: Should You Pick Up Ryan Torain or Stevan Ridley?

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterOctober 5, 2011

This time last week, Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain and New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley were fantasy afterthoughts.

This week, they're arguably the most sought-after players on the waiver wire. It's funny what breakout performances will do for one's fantasy stock.

And both players definitely had breakout performances. After doing literally nothing in the first three weeks of the season, Torain carried the ball 19 times for 135 yards and a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams. In Oakland, Ridley had 97 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

In a perfect world, you'll be able to pick up both of these guys for your fantasy team. And if you're lucky enough, you will get both of them.

But what the heck. Let's say you could only pick one. Which one would you pick: Torain or Ridley?

My first impulse is to say Torain. The reason he got so many carries against the Rams is because Tim Hightower was struggling, and head coach Mike Shanahan said (per the Washington Post) that he is going to play whichever running back has the hot hand.

Right now, that's Torain. It's kind of a bummer that he and the Redskins have a bye in Week 5, but I'm going to assume that Torain will still have the hot hand when the Redskins come back to play the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6.

By the way, these would be the same Eagles who couldn't stop the run if they dropped everything and constructed a brick wall beyond the line of scrimmage. Their rush defense is that hopeless.

But Ridley's no slouch. Despite getting relatively few carries, he has looked very impressive in each of the last two weeks, and he has given Bill Belichick every excuse to use him. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will likely still get goal-line carries no matter what happens, but Ridley could be New England's primary back between the 20s.

The thing that worries me about Ridley is that Belichick doesn't have as much incentive to use him as Shanahan has to use Torain. Putting the ball in Ridley's hands means taking it out of Tom Brady's, and putting the ball in Torain's hands means taking it out of Rex Grossman's.

Make no mistake, taking the ball out of Brady's hands is something that Belichick doesn't want to make a habit of. On the contrary, taking the ball out of Grossman's hands is by no means the worst decision Shanahan could make.

So between the two of them, I'd say you're better off going with Torain. Ridley is good, but I'm just not sure that his workload is going to match up with Torain's.

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