Fast Willie Parker (FWP) has missed the last four games due to a sprained MCL and the Steelers offense seemingly hasn’t missed a beat with Mewelde Moore starting in his place. The good news for Willie Parker is he’s had to time to rest up and get his wheels sound for the playoff push. In the Steelers remaining nine games, Parker faces four teams ranked 20th or worse against the run, two ranked 11-20th versus the run and three top 10 run defenses. Of the three names listed here, Willie’s playoff schedule is the most daunting. The only reason to be wary of acquiring him is the fact that he plays the eleventh-ranked Dallas run defense in Week 14, followed by the top-ranked Raven run defense in Baltimore in Week 15 and the tenth-ranked Titan run D in week 16. Other than that, Parker will be itching to take back the starting tailback duties for the Steelers starting this week. Mewelde Moore’s performance in his absence only confirms that he will be counted on to give Willie a breather now and then to keep Willie fresh. While FWP may struggle during the fantasy playoffs, he will be very productive the next few weeks for owners struggling to qualify for their playoffs.
Edgerrin James is due five million dollars next season if he stays in the Arizona desert. The likelihood of that happening is quickly turning into a mirage. After complaining about his role in the offense before last week’s game, Edge promptly went out and fumbled the ball. Meanwhile, Tim Hightower was busy punching in his league-leading sixth rushing TD for rookies. Coach Whisenhunt has already stated that Hightower’s carries will begin to increase in the coming weeks and should he continue to score touchdowns, his role in the offense will likely expand. In Arizona’s remaining nine games, Hightower faces six teams ranked 19th or worse in run defense and three top 10 defenses. The biggest hurdle for him comes in Week 15 when the Cardinals play against the second-ranked Viking run defense. Now would be the time to acquire Hightower and at least start using him as a flex player. Unlike Edge’s chance of staying with the Cardinals next season, the possibility of Tim Hightower becoming a regular fantasy starter should he continue to improve with increased touches is very real.
Choosing a Denver running back at any point in the season is always a risky proposition given the inevitable headache that is Mike Shanahan. He is notorious for changing his running backs at the drop of a hat and for no apparent reason. The last few weeks has seen Michael Pittman return to fantasy relevance again but this week he’s been listed as questionable with bruised ribs. Despite Pittman’s claims that he’ll be ready to go on Sunday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a split in carries as Shanahan tinkers with his running attack once more. Coach Shanahan offered the following praise on Torain in the pre-season… “one of the most gifted running backs I’ve been around, and I’ve been around for a long time, very similar to Terrell Davis when he came in.” If one agrees that Shanahan has a big enough ego to be proven right about his running back draft picks, I expect Torain to see a heavy workload once he proves he belongs on the field (ie. doesn’t fumble). This is a bigger reach than the other suggestions but given Denver’s history of fielding top flight fantasy running backs, the dividends he’ll reap for a fantasy team could be huge.