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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FANTASY FOOTBALL TREND OR MIRAGE: RASHARD MENDENHALL'S LAGGING RUSHING TOTALS

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall went on average toward the latter portion of round 1 in this past summer's fantasy football drafts and one could see why just why he was deserving of such an elevated slot.  For starters, Mendenhall was the rare workhorse back in a league full of committees for the most historically run-heavy offense in the NFL.  Secondly, Mendenhall was entering only his fourth season and seemingly was getting better every year.  Mendenhall put up a very impressive 1,273 yards along with a tremendous 13 scores.  He also tossed in between 20-25 receptions a season which didn't make him that much less valuable in PPR formats.  So now doubt the end of round 1 of drafts seemed to be the perfect spot to land this very solid fantasy football running back anchor.  Than the 2011 season began and three games later, we have a very big problem when it comes to Mendenhall.  Mendenhall's three game rushing totals?  How about 45, 66, and 37 rushing yards with a grand total of one score.  So in our latest Fantasy Football Trend or Mirage feature, we take a closer look at Mendenhall's struggles in order to determine what is going on and if his poor play will continue. 

In looking closer at this issue, it became very clear to me that Rashard Mendenhall deserves very little blame in the running game's struggles.  The Steelers offensive line play has been absolutely atrocious in every sense of the word, from allowing QB Ben Roesthlisberger to get hit on seemingly every pass attempt, to the line opening very little holes and not keeping defensive lineman at bay for Mendenhall to run even adequately.  This lack of cohesion on the line is something that has been going on for years with this team but it mostly was centered on pass protection.  This season though it has devolved into the running game and there is no key reinforcements on the way to help improve things.  So unless the light suddenly goes on with this group, I don't see things getting much better for Mendenhall.  He will be very hard pressed to be able to have those big time running games that made him such an early draft pick in the first place.  Without good blocking, there is little hope for any running back to have a solid season, including Mendenhall.

All in all, I think Rashard Mendenhall owners are in for a long season.  The offensive line play has been that bad.  My best advice is to try and deal him the first solid game he has this season but you might be waiting awhile for that to take place.  I wont go out and call Mendenhall a bust at this point but I will say that this is looking like an ugly season all around.

VERDICT ON RASHARD MENDENHALL'S LAGGING RUSHING TOTALS:  TREND

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