Rashard Mendenhall is a tough fantasy puzzle to figure out. The Pittsburgh Steelers RB is a talented player who often produces quality numbers when on the field. The problem has been his penchant for injury this season.
Mendenhall tore his ACL at the end of 2011, forcing him out until Week 5 of the 2012 campaign. Upon his return, he subsequently injured his Achilles in his second game of action.
Mendenhall is a 5'10", 225-pound downhill runner who attracts contact and encourages physicality. Despite this rugged style of play and his injury woes, there is still fantasy trade value to the Steelers RB.
Backup Jonathan Dwyer had an exceptional game in Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals, rushing for 122 yards on just 17 carries. However, his other starts have been less than impressive, as he has failed to go over 43 yards in any other game so far this season.
There is no doubt about Mendenhall's spot atop the Pittsburgh depth chart, and after an isolated performance from Dwyer there may be increased faith in the Steelers ground game. Mendenhall's fantasy value should rise despite not actually having any actual production to speak of.
Weird how that works, isn't it?
Injuries have struck the running back position as they do every season, and the potential to trade for a No. 1 RB with as much skill as Mendenhall should be intriguing to fantasy owners.
This is a player who scored 22 touchdowns in 31 games of action in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Mendenhall has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry for his career and rarely fumbles.
A minor Achilles injury is not going to keep him out for anything more than a game at most. Mendenhall's ACL has now had even more time to heal, and he is a dynamic presence on the Steelers roster who demands 15-to-20 carries per game.
Dwyer may be a nice complement to him and has shown he can occasionally produce, but Mendenhall is the work horse, and he is finally getting healthy.
His trade value should rise as he gets set to return from injury, and a 100-yard game from Dwyer shows Pittsburgh knows how to run the football.
If you can trade for Mendenhall in exchange for a RB3 or Flex option then he is worth it. His stock can only rise as the season wears on.
Clearly he is an injury risk, but the RB position is too fragile not to take chances. If you can add Mendenhall and have Dwyer on your roster as security then there is absolutely no reason not to try and trade for his services.
If you are thinking of trading Mendenhall, give him time to return to the field and prove his worth. The results should pleasantly surprise you.