Even though we are less than one week away from the third and most important NFL preseason schedule, we are still able to pull fantasy football sleepers out of a hat faster than a bad magician working a crowd at the Holiday Inn. With Rashard Mendenhall still out for at least the first four-to-five weeks of the regular season and Isaac Redman dealing with durability issues because of a hip and groin injury, now might be the time for owners to look at the once promising Jonathan Dwyer.
While Dwyer's resume' as a pro is a small one, he has shown some promise in the past. In Week Five of the 2011 season against the Titans, Dwyer made is long-awaited debut with both Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore out with injuries. He looked great, rushing 11 times for 107 yards, including a 76-yard run that set up a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown near the endzone. While I know you can't say someone is great just by one game, this at least shows me that Dwyer knows what he's doing.
Fast forward to now and you can see Dwyer has an excellent shot at making some noise right out of the gate. Redman was supposed to be THE guy with Mendenhall out. But if his preseason is a preview of what we'll see during the regular season, we could see Dwyer get more work than previously thought. He looked good in the Steelers' first preseason game, rushing twice for 40 yards. And the coaches say Dwyer not only has a renewed commitment to the game, but he is in the best shape they have ever seen him in. An AC sprain in his shoulder had kept Dwyer out of practice for a short period, but he eventually healed up and returned last week.
As far as Dwyer's fantasy value goes? He could be a late-round steal. I figure Redman will get the nod come Week One once he is healed up. I'd be shocked if his injuries kept him out for the next several weeks. But once those late rounds start flying, I'd have no problems taking Dwyer as a deep-sleeper option. With Redman's sudden propensity for injury, Dwyer could turn into a diamond in the rough, Or he could wind up being a lump of coal. At the very least, you wouldn't have wasted a super-high pick on him. So he will easily be droppable if he doesn't pan out.