Rashard Mendenhall: Updated Fantasy Profile of Steelers' RB

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 16: Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game on October 16, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers' running back Rashard Mendenhall seems poised to play this week against the New York Jets just nine months after tearing his ACL, which is outstanding news not only for the team, but for fantasy owners worldwide. 

According to Ed Bouchette on Twitter, Mendenhall was a full-go in practice Thursday, which was the second day this week he participated in a full practice:


RB Jonathan Dwyer returned after missing one day (foot). Mendenhall went through another full day. Revis still out for Jets

— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) September 13, 2012


Mendenhall was not the most popular player among fantasy owners leading up to this season, but he should be the hottest commodity on the waiver wire right now. Let's take a look at an updated profile now that Mendenhall looks to hit the field this Sunday:



According to ESPN.com, Mendenhall is only owned in 69 percent of leagues, which means he is available to those with great waiver-wire position. 

Last week, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman combined 20 carries for a measly 63 yards in a losing effort against the Denver Broncos

With such a lackadaisical performance in Denver, it would not be outlandish to see Mendenhall receive a maximum of 15 carries this week against the Jets, which means he is a legitimate starting option for fantasy owners. 


Season Projection

With Mendenhall's speedy recovery comes a productive starting fantasy back—if he can manage to stay healthy for the remaining 14 games on the schedule.  

Mendenhall ran the ball 228 times a year ago in 15 appearances and finished with 928 yards and nine touchdowns, an average of 15 attempts per game). 

If Mendenhall averages around the same amount of carries per game this season in the remaining contests, then a similar stat line is not out of the question. His health is a concern, but at 25 years old, he and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson have proven that some injuries are not as devastating as they once were.

Projected Stats: 750 rushing yards, six touchdowns. 


Start or sit in Week 2?

If Mendenhall is active, he is a must-start this week. Last week, the Jets gave up a boatload of rushing yards to the Buffalo Bills despite winning the game. 

Bills' running back C.J. Spiller carried the ball only 14 times, but compiled 169 yards on the ground along with a touchdown. 

Despite the other backs on the roster, Mendenhall has a shot to be in the same neighborhood as Spiller, which means he could have a massive comeback. 


Picking up Mendenhall at this point is a must for any fantasy owners in need of a solid third option off the bench. He's also not a bad option for someone in search of a starter. 

Even if Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin elects to ease Mendenhall back into the swing of things before the bye, he is a surefire starter after the Week 4 bye.

Pick him up.