Rashard Mendenhall: Steelers RB Is Worth a Starting Spot in Week 7

Darin Pike@darinpikeContributor IOctober 17, 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

Fantasy football owners that took a gamble on drafting Rashard Mendenhall were pleasantly rewarded with his Week 5 return, at least those who started him. Those that waited a week...not so much.

Update, Oct. 19th, 5:30 p.m. by Darin Pike

Fantasy owners that were looking forward to the Mendenhall matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals' defense will need to look to look to Jonathan Dwyer.

Fantasy alerts: Greg Jennings OUT, Hakeem Nicks PROBABLE, Ahmad Bradshaw QUESTIONABLE, Rashard Mendenhall OUT

NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 19, 2012

Owners needing a running back this weekend should be able to grab Dwyer off the waiver wire. 

---End of Update---

Mendenhall had a disappointing performance against the Tennessee Titans before leaving with an Achilles injury. He picked up just six yards rushing to go with an 11-yard reception.

The prognosis for Mendenhall is good, though.

Steelers Depot: Mendenhall Plans On Playing Sunday Night Against The Bengals bit.ly/QODuEi #steelers #nfl

— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) October 16, 2012

There is always some concern that smaller injuries will have a bigger impact on players that are still attempting to get back into shape following a bigger injury, but Mendenhall had spent several weeks going at mostly full-speed in practice to get ready to return to live action following Pittsburgh's bye week.

Mendenhall will be part of an offensive scheme that will likely need to move the ball and control the time of possession against Cincinnati.

The Steelers are hurting on defense and can't afford to get in a track-meet with the Cincinnati Bengals and A.J. Green. 

The Bengals have been average in defending the run and the pass. Teams that have found offensive success have done so with a somewhat balanced offense.

The Steelers should also have some of their offensive line back. The Pittsburgh Steelers shared the normally conservative update from coach Mike Tomlin.

" @maurkicepouncey @r_mendenhall & @ired33 are all listed as day to day and will see where the week takes us" Coach Tomlin

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 16, 2012

For Tomlin, "day to day" is a good sign.

Dave Lolley covers the Steelers for The Observer-Reporter of Washington (Pa.) and shared his take on Tomlin's injury update.

Tomlin optimistic that Pouncey, Mendenhall and Redman will play this week for #Steelers against #Bengals

— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) October 16, 2012

The presence of Pouncey will make it easier for the Steelers to establish their ground game. He's an important blocker, but also is very good at directing the rest of the line from his center position.

Mendenhall also becomes a key piece for their passing offense. He's a good option out of the backfield and sets up their play-action. 

The extra time to get healthy after a Thursday night win is a good sign. An even better one is his proclivity of scoring on the Bengals.

Mendenhall had nine touchdowns in 2011. Four of them came against Cincinnati.

Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.


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