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Fantasy football: Steelers having success running with anyone

Steelers running back Isaac Redman lunges inend zone for touchdown Sunday against Giants. | AP

Steelers running back Isaac Redman lunges into the end zone for a touchdown Sunday against the Giants. | AP

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:32AM



Pick a Steelers running back, any Steelers running back, and you’ll get production.

In the Steelers’ last five games, a rusher has scored in double digits. Rashard Mendenhall had 15 points in Week 5 in his first game back from a knee injury. After he went down the next week with an Achilles tendon injury, Isaac Redman scored 11 points, thanks to a 105-yard receiving day.

When Redman missed the next two games with an ankle injury, Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 100 yards in each. Then Dwyer missed the game Sunday with a strained quadriceps, allowing Redman to have his first 100-yard rushing day.

The Steelers couldn’t run the ball to save their lives to start the season, ranking 30th in the league through three games. They’re up to 21st. The one constant has been superior blocking by the offensive line, allowing the team to plug in and play running backs as needed.

Even Baron Batch and Chris Rainey have a touchdown apiece, but they’re at the end of the bench. The aforementioned trio has been far more impressive. The hottest of them is Redman, who gashed the Giants for 147 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

If Redman keeps the feature role this week, he has a favorable matchup against the Chiefs, who rank 22nd in run defense. In fact, the Chiefs have allowed an average of 125 rushing yards to running backs in their last five games.

Redman, Dwyer and Mendenhall are must-haves because the Steelers have shown a willingness to feature any of them. It might get tricky when all three are healthy again, but considering that has been the case in only one game this season, you can worry about it when it happens.

Feeling green

Then there are the Packers.

They ran for a season-high 176 yards Sunday against the Cardinals. That would lead most observers to think a Packers running back had quite a day. Not so. James Starks carried 17 times for 61 yards and Alex Green 11 times for 53 yards.

What’s worse, the running backs splitting the carries or Aaron Rodgers hogging all the touchdowns (he had four touchdown passes)? In fact, Packers rushers have scored only two touchdowns all season, while receivers and tight ends have combined for 25.

The Packers are trying to get their 23rd-ranked running game going. They made a point to run the ball Sunday, handing off a season-high 31 times (not including the eight times Rodgers ran). But how does that help fantasy owners if the carries are split and no one’s scoring?

They were able to run the ball because they had a big second-half lead. With a tough schedule ahead after their bye week (including the Lions twice, the Giants and the Bears), the Packers figure to lean on Rodgers, who’s on pace for 581 passes, 40 more than his career high.

Packers running backs should be owned because they’re Packers running backs. But don’t expect much production.



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