Rashard Mendenhall: Steelers RB Is Solid Fantasy Flex Option in Week 6

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes for a first half touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the game on October 7, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Rashard Mendenhall gave the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense a much-needed boost in Week 5, and he can do the same for your fantasy squad on Thursday against the Tennessee Titans.

Mendenhall ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Isaac Redman, in three games prior to that, only mustered 113 yards on 45 carries. The Steelers have been starving for their patented smash-mouth run game, and they will use it in Week 6.

Tennessee is allowing just over 144 rushing yards per game this season. Its front seven is a mess, lacking any real playmakers to shut down an offense.

If you own Mendenhall in your fantasy league, and ESPN says that about 90 percent of you do, you would be smart to start him this week. He's still not going to be your No. 1 running back, but he's going to get enough touches to justify a flex play.

Playing Mendenhall does carry risk. His knee looked healthy against the Eagles last Sunday, although you never know how one awkward hit could change that.

Pittsburgh's pass offense has also been clicking. The Titans are 25th against the pass this season, which could lead Todd Haley to continue leaning on his aerial attack rather than running the football.

Either way, Mendenhall possesses upside. As a flex player, that's all you can ask. Expecting another 14-touch game is realistic, but don't be surprised if it's even more this week.

Pittsburgh needs Mendenhall to run the ball well. He's much more explosive than either Redman or Jonathan Dwyer, giving the offense an element it doesn't have otherwise.

Haley will use that new element as much as the game asks for, and that will be a lot this week. Pittsburgh should jump out to a lead against the Titans, prompting them to run the ball more often.

Don't slot Mendenhall in as a starting running back, but he possesses a ton of upside otherwise. He looked fresh last Sunday, and the short turnaround could help him continue that energy.

Pittsburgh must become a more complete team if they want to contend this season, and Mendenhall helps them do that.

Kudos for your fantasy team.