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Torain has potential, but beware of Shanahan factor in D.C.

Will Ryan Torain emerge as a legitimate fantasy starter this season?

There's a good chance that anyone who has played fantasy football for any length of time has been victimized by Mike Shanahan at one time or another. You know exactly what we mean. You draft a starting running back on a Mike Shanahan-coached team -- only to find out that back is No. 4 in the rotation by Week 3. Or you marvel at your good fortune for claiming the undrafted back who has ascended to the top of the depth chart --only to witness a 3-carry, 5-yard effort the next week on the satellite.

Not that it's ever happened to me, of course (cough, cough). But there's enough circumstantial evidence to know that being "Shanahaned" is for real.

The prospect of being Shanahaned is enough to keep many fantasy owners from even considering Washington running back Ryan Torain on draft day. The agonizing thing, though, is that if Shanahan sticks with Torain as the Redskins' lead back this season, there's a chance he can become legitimate fantasy starter. And if Torain ever can stay healthy enough for a full year, he might post numbers worthy of a high draft choice.

But that's the other operative word whenever folks talk about Torain: "if." Torain has showed flashes of potential in a spot start in Denver in 2008 (the Broncos were coached by Shanahan that season) and in 10 games with the Redskins last year. He ran for 742 yards for Washington, and would have had a whole lot more if -- there's that word again -- not for a hamstring injury. "His problem has always been staying healthy," Shanahan says.

Torain might have that one year in which he stays healthy and has a monster 16-game season. But it's not worth risking any kind of a high draft pick to find out if this is the year.

Bottom Line: There are too many "ifs" in the equation to count on Ryan Torain as a week-in and week-out fantasy starter this season.

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