Rashard Mendenhall's Injury Woes Make Him an Unreliable Fantasy Option in 2012

Stephen Sheehan@@StephenPSheehanCorrespondent INovember 4, 2012

It appears 2012 will be a lost season for Rashard Mendenhall and his owners.
It appears 2012 will be a lost season for Rashard Mendenhall and his owners.Vincent Pugliese-US PRESSWIRE

Just two years ago, Rashard Mendenhall averaged 13 fantasy points per game, but after suffering multiple lower-body injuries, including a torn ACL and an Achilles strain, the former fantasy asset has regressed into an unreliable option in 2012. 

It doesn't seem too long ago that the Pittsburgh Steelers running back racked up huge numbers. In fact, from '09-10, the former first-round pick was one of the best fantasy backs, showing a nose for the end zone with 21 total touchdowns. 

Even during a lackluster 2011 season in which he failed to top 1,000 rushing yards, Mendenhall still managed to salvage his fantasy season by scoring nine rushing TDs. 

However, the memories of the one-time Illinois star carrying the rock for the Steelers are fading as quickly as his physical skills. 

After enduring a disappointing season, Mendenhall's fortunes took a turn for the worst in the Steelers' final regular-season game of 2011 when he tore his ACL. 

The outspoken fifth-year back's recovery hasn't been speedy; he didn't receive his first action until Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles

Although he was effective in the Steelers' 16-14 win over the Birds (15 fantasy points), it wouldn't be long before Mendenhall's name popped up on the injury report again. 

Against the Tennessee Titans, Mendenhall ran for just six yards on six carries and also suffered a minor Achilles injury. 

Since suffering the injury, Mendenhall has been a game-day inactive, and it appears that today will be no different, according to Michael Gallagher of SBNation.com

The news is incredibly disappointing for Mendenhall owners, who probably hoped for a whole lot more than 16 total fantasy points by midseason. 

With Mendenhall spending far more time in the trainer's room than on the field, it's shaping up to be a lost season for the veteran back. 

While Adrian Peterson has appeared superhuman in his ridiculous recovery from his own ACL injury, Mendenhall has been anything but that. 

It's probably no coincidence that he suffered the Achilles injury while working his way back from the torn ACL, and his growing injury concerns spell doom for the former bell cow.

For a guy who was already lacking elite speed and agility, lower-body injuries may sap him of his explosiveness—a death sentence for any NFL running back. 

Even if Mendenhall overcomes this Achilles injury at some point, it will probably be too late for fantasy owners to reap the potential rewards. 

At this point, neither fantasy owners nor the Steelers can count on No. 34 to be a reliable asset on Sundays. 

For Mendenhall owners, it's probably best to snatch up Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman or even Chris Rainey for the remainder of the season and hope for the best.