October 29, 2008
Within the fantasy community, no player is quite as exciting as a Denver running back we haven't seen yet. We love that guy, whoever he is.
At the moment he's rookie Ryan Torain, a fifth round pick out of Arizona State.
Torain is currently owned in 39 percent of Yahoo! PLUS leagues. We discussed him in the preseason, we recommended him two weeks ago in the wavier-add video, Evans has urged you to pick him up, and Funston just wrote about him in the Skinny.
Yet still we get emails demanding more Torain. Commenters clearly love him. If your fantasy message board doesn't already have a 19-page thread devoted to him, then it's obviously for noobs.
Torain missed the first eight weeks of the season while recovering from an elbow injury -- it involved a fracture, as well as ligament damage -- but he should make his NFL debut against Miami in Week 9. Michael Pittman (ribs), Selvin Young (groin) and Andre Hall (wrist, fumbles) all have issues right now, so there's a very good chance that Torain will get several touches on Sunday.
Keep in mind that this is a first-year player who wasn't practicing until fairly recently, and NFL running backs are asked to do a lot more than simply take hand-offs. There's a learning curve. Don't expect useful numbers immediately. Pittman will be the highest-ranked Denver RB this week.
But it's also worth recalling Mike Shanahan's preseason comments about Torain:
"He's one of the most gifted running backs I've been around for a long time. He is very similar to Terrell Davis when he came in," Shanahan said Aug. 6, the day Torain was carted off the practice field.
Denver has a series of nice match-ups in the weeks ahead: MIA, at CLE, at ATL, OAK, at NYJ, KC. If the rookie earns a significant share of the rushing workload, then he's a must-start player against the Chiefs in Week 14. Torain needs to be owned in competitive 12-team leagues right now, if only as a trade chip. In recent Yahoo! two-for-one deals, he's been packaged for top-tier players such as Brandon Marshall, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Antonio Gates.
However, if your plan is to simply hold onto Torain until he erases Terrell Davis from the Broncos record book, understand that we like him for the system and opportunity, not necessarily for the raw talent. Torain ran a slow 40 at the combine (4.6), and scouting reports don't generally compliment his elusiveness. He runs high, though he's not indecisive. Torain is considered a good interior runner who lacks breakaway speed. Rivals actually ranked him 29th at his position prior to the NFL Draft, five spots behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
And if you can't be reasonable, please comment...
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