The cliff beckons. Please step forward, but do so carefully. You may step forward again once the next major injury or injury concern regarding a running back is confirmed.

Welp, so ya later then. Thanks, Isaac Redman.

How serious Redman’s groin injury is remains a little confusing, because it’s an injury that he apparently first suffered during a practice on Aug. 3, and yet he still played during Pittsburgh’s preseason opener. While he wasn’t exactly productive (14 yards on five carries) he still received a typical workload for a first teamer during the opening week of preseason play.

But then why the hell is he getting an MRI today? That’s what Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, and as we slowly enter fantasy draft season, for the sake of your sanity and your fantasy team, we can only hope it’s a precautionary measure.

Redman was (is?) slated to become the temporary workhorse in Pittsburgh as he fills in for Rashard Mendenhall, who is on the PUP list and will miss the first six weeks of the season after tearing his ACL late last year. He’s shown flash and promise, and really, he’s sort of Mendenhall-lite in that he’s a big dude whose bigness is only slightly below Mendenhall’s girth, and he has a little more burst. Since a healthy Mendenhall was also a pretty crappy Mendenhall last year (just two 100-yard rushing games, and an average of 61.9 yards weekly), Redman may actually be an improvement as a full-time feature back anyway.

Everything was coming up Milhouse in the Steelers backfield, and now depending on the severity of Redman’s injury, they may have to lean on Jonathan Dwyer — who’s also missed practice time with a shoulder injury — far more than anticipated. The good news about Dwyer is that last year when Steelers’ RBs were similarly battered he needed only 11 carries to finish with 107 yards during a Week 5 win over Tennessee. The bad news about Dwyer? His utter lack of experience, and his 25 career carries.

We’ll update this post with more news on Redman when such an action becomes possible. But while Redman’s potentially serious injury is concerning, there’s a larger point here that seems to get reinforced every day. On your fantasy championship quest, you can trust running backs about as much as you can trust a monkey near a pack of cigarettes.

Even for a notoriously brittle position, there’s a disturbing amount of running backs league-wide who are either injured, recovering from being really injured, or not playing because they like money. Let us count the ways:

  • Ryan Mathews needed just one preseason play to shatter his glass body. He could miss up to three regular-season games, and possibly four if he’s really unlucky.
  • Adrian Peterson was only just cleared for contact, and he took part in his first full pads practice yesterday.
  • Jamaal Charles looked good in his preseason debut while take a shot directly to his knee where there was a previously torn ACL. But that’s a recovery which typically takes a full year.
  • Darren McFadden somehow made it through a game of organized football without an injury, but give it time. He’s missed 20 games over his four-year career.
  • Tim Hightower will still wait until Friday to begin taking practice reps. He likely won’t have an impact early in the season, but that won’t stop him from eventually prompting Mike Shanahan to play musical backfield chairs, his favorite game during family outings.
  • Jahvid Best will likely be placed on the PUP list, and Mikel Leshoure just started practicing again after sustaining a hamstring injury early in camp. Leshoure is also suspended for two games, meaning early in the season it’s Kevin Smith or bust for the Lions. We’ll go with bust, since once Leshoure returns Detroit has one of the league’s most volatile and unpredictable backfields.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout is continuing silently, but it’s still quite deadly. I remain a believer that he’ll report in time for Week 1, and the animosity between him and Jaguars management will become a memory. However, if you’re drafting now, caution is a necessity because there’s still significant uncertainty, and a bit of the shine has faded on one of the league’s few featured backs.

Say it with me, friends, and repeat it again and again. Target Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, and Jones-Drew early in the first round, and as mentioned you may even have to tip toe around Jones-Drew.

But beyond that, don’t reach and overpay for your heartache at a historically combustible position during the beginning of a passing era when the guys who throw those passes have far more value.

UPDATE: The MRI may have indeed been precautionary, as Redman was on the practice field today in full pads. Bullet dodged? Maybe, probably.

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