And Mike Shanahan’s flavor of the week is… chocolate chip cookie dough… err… I mean Ryan Torain. That’s right, last year’s late season fantasy breakout has mysteriously returned to the top of Mike Shanahan’s running back heap. In the pre-season Tim Hightower emerged at the top of the depth chart. Though he has been relatively mediocre, there had been no signs that Torain might supplant him. If anything, Roy Helu seemed the logical choice to begin getting more carries, since he probably has the most raw talent of any of the Washington backs. As usual, trying to predict what Shanahan will do at running back has turned into a fool’s errand.
So… how should you proceed? If you are in dire need of help at running back, Torain is probably worth a pick-up. He had some solid performances (when healthy) during the second half of last year, though he did disappoint during the fantasy playoffs. If you need to cover a bye in Week 5, there is a good chance that Shanahan will turn to Torain again for at least one more week. In the past, he seems to have generally stayed with a hot running back for at least a few weeks. If you have been in the unenviable position of having to start Hightower, I would probably also consider picking up Torain.
If you are not in any of the situations above, I would proceed with extreme caution and probably avoid Torain. Shanahan is just too unpredictable for him to be reliable from a fantasy perspective.