Rashard Mendenhall: Fantasy Owners Should Keep Steelers' Back on Bench This Week

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the game on December 24, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers won 27-0.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Last time we saw Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers' featured running back was being carted off the field in Cleveland during Week 17 last season with a torn ACL, fully expected to miss a large chunk of—if not the entire—2012 season.

Not so fast, says ESPN's Adam Schefter:



Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall expected to make season debut against Eagles on Sundaypost-gazette.com/stories/sports…

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 1, 2012


That's welcome news for both Steelers' fans and those fantasy owners who have Mendenhall collecting dust on their bench, especially after watching the two-headed monster of  Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman carry the ball a combined 56 times for 142 yards and a touchdown—a depressing 2.6 yards-per-carry average.

While the Steelers are going to put Mendenhall back into the lineup this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles, fantasy owners shouldn't dust him off just yet.

For all of their offensive issues, the Eagles defense has been tough against the run, allowing only 91.5 yards per game on the ground, the 12th best mark in the league.

While Mendenhall is more of an East-West runner, which would allow him to avoid Cullen Jenkins in the middle of the Eagles' defensive front four, Philadelphia plays nine-wide, taking away the edge where Mendenhall does his best work.

Couple that with the fact that while he's been practicing and is certainly healthy enough to play, he hasn't played in a game since January.

He's sure to be rusty and chances are that this week, Pittsburgh's coach Mike Tomlin will choose to utilize the four most damning words to a fantasy owner's ears: running-back-by-committee.

If he looks healthy against the Eagles, then by all means, go ahead and insert him into your starting lineups for Week 6 when the Steelers take on the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. 

But don't make the knee-jerk reaction of playing him this week, because the results are sure to be disappointing.