Rashard Mendenhall Activated from PUP List: Fantasy Implications

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIAugust 17, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Runningback Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes the football against Richard Marshall #31 of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 32-20.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's time to vault Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall up your fantasy draft boards.

NFL.com is reporting that Mendenhall has been activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list, effectively stating that the Steelers expect him to be available within the first five games of the season.

Continuing his stay on the PUP list would have required that Mendenhall miss the first six games of 2012.

Assuming Mendenhall starts the season in uniform for Pittsburgh, I expect for the Steelers to ease him into his regular workload. He will, of course, be a player to watch for if he makes an appearance during the remainder of the Steelers' preseason.

The Steelers' passing game should still be as productive as expected.

As a result of this news, I've moved Mendenhall from No. 58 to No. 35 in my running back rankings. He's now between LeGarrette Blount and Mikel Leshoure, who's got a looming suspension and injury issues of his own.

That ranks Mendenhall as a No. 4 fantasy RB option. He should be in line to get a fair amount of carries by midseason and could prove to be a worthy matchup play when the bye weeks begin this season.

On ESPN, he's currently being drafted as the 49th running back, going around the time that defenses and kickers should be coming off the board.

You could do worse than stashing Mendenhall on your fantasy bench.