- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
It’s understandable that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer would show up on ESPN’s most dropped list. After all, Dwyer didn’t even make the team a few weeks ago, a surprise victim of a numbers game, or perhaps due to the hope that starter Le’Veon Bell wouldn’t miss much time. Of course, it's worth pointing out that there are currently four Steelers running backs among the 14 most dropped, including Bell, so something has to give. I mean, someone has to get the touches, and Dwyer, who was brought back to the team this week, seems to have as good an opportunity as anyone there to seize a relevant role. They’re not bringin’ Jerome Bettis back, you know.
You’re probably wondering how any member of the Steelers running game will matter in fantasy football moving forward, but here in the Sneaky Pickups blog entry we like to dream big, or at least consider possibilities, however unlikely they might be. The Steelers not only lost in Week 1 to the Tennessee Titans in a poor offensive performance, but they lost really good center Maurkice Pouncey to a season-ending injury. Not only that, but nominal starting running back Isaac Redman looked terrible, actually costing the fantasy owners who started him two points. He rushed eight times for nine yards and lost a fumble. Bell is out at least another month with foot issues, perhaps quite a bit longer, LaRod Stephens-Howling is out for the year, Felix Jones is flat-out terrible and ... welcome back, Mr. Dwyer. No hard feelings, right?
Well, fantasy owners want hard feelings, don’t they? Whatever makes a player more dedicated and motivated to produce numbers is fine with us. As stated in this blog entry from ESPN Steelers writer Scott Brown, it sure looks like Dwyer relishes the new opportunity he’s been given, and has a sizable chip on his shoulder. There’s no guarantee any Steelers running back will succeed Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, which is precisely why you buy low now. Nobody’s saying to use Dwyer or Redman this month! After all, the Bengals are good. Then after that ... it’s the Chicago Bears! But Dwyer isn’t as bad as most real-life free agents, either.
But when the bye weeks start up, fantasy owners will be looking for anyone who could see double-digit touches. Dwyer, for all his faults, led the Steelers in rushing last season with 623 yards, averaging 4 yards per tote. That average also led the team. He rushed for more than 100 yards in Weeks 6 and 7 -- the first was a tough game at Cincinnati, incidentally -- but after Week 8, when Redman ran all over the New York Giants, he and his colleagues were quiet. Maybe little will change now, but in a deeper league, I’ll add Dwyer while his stock seems lowest, before it rises with 15 or so touches Monday night. That’s the sneaky play, not adding yet another tight end.
Quarterback: Young runners Terrelle Pryor and EJ Manuel were mentioned in this spot last week, and while Pryor was obviously a hit -- he’s second in the NFL in rushing! -- Manuel was kind of impressive as well. There’s not much to add, because it’s a deep position and fantasy owners don’t really need many options, but for those leagues in which basically every starting quarterback is worth a look, don’t be surprised when Chad Henne of the Jacksonville Jaguars plays well this week in Oakland and keeps the job.
I’m also watching Tampa Bay Buccaneers underachiever Josh Freeman. A pending free agent who recently lost his captain position, it just seems as though things could go awry with that team and interesting coach Greg Schiano quickly. Third-round pick Mike Glennon could get the call sooner than anyone realizes.
Running back: I’m a bit surprised Daniel Thomas of the Miami Dolphins wasn’t added in leagues this week. Instead, his ownership dropped. After all, Lamar Miller -- who is better, but really hasn’t shown it -- rushed 10 times for 3 yards in Week 1. Thomas was better. There is at least a timeshare going on. But Thomas, owned in 11 percent of leagues, has seen his stock drop in the past week while Jackie Battle, John Kuhn, Vonta Leach and unemployed veterans Willis McGahee and Michael Turner are among the 25 most-added running backs. Thomas is like Dwyer. Might not be any good, but might get the chance to show it.
Former and now current Giants bulldozer Brandon Jacobs is one of the top five running backs being added. OK, I suppose I could see the occasional touchdown. I still like David Wilson quite a bit, though. Frankly, I’d rather add Da'Rel Scott than Jacobs. ... There’s nothing sneaky about St. Louis Rams sophomore Isaiah Pead, now back from suspension. He’s at 95 percent owned. Rookie Zac Stacy is at 0.2 percent. There seems to be some disconnect there. ... Add Lance Dunbar of the Dallas Cowboys before he becomes a factor, which should happen this week. No offense, DeMarco Murray, but you’re not exactly durable.
Wide receiver: Last week, I mentioned Jermaine Kearse (Seahawks), Quinton Patton (49ers), Dexter McCluster (Chiefs) and Mohamed Sanu (Bengals), and all remain interesting to me. Kearse scored a touchdown. At wide receiver, I’m more interested in the fellows being unwisely dropped. Why draft Josh Gordon or Justin Blackmon if you’re not willing to be patient until their suspensions end? Add each if you can wait. Ryan Broyles still plays with the Detroit Lions. That’s enticing enough should he regain health. Buffalo Bills rookie Robert Woods scored a touchdown and is getting dropped. Same with Vincent Brown in San Diego. Don’t cut Chris Givens! ... As for other situations, there’s no need to handcuff wide receivers to studs, but if Roddy White needs to miss weeks, Harry Douglas is worth an addition whether you own White or not. ... Speaking of hurt receivers, watch for Dwayne Harris of the Cowboys. Dez Bryant is saying all the right things about playing Sunday, but how much? Perhaps Harris is the Harry Douglas of this week.
Best of luck to all in Week 2 and beyond and have a great weekend!