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NFL Draft Fantasy Fallout - Rashard Mendenhall

So the Pittsburgh Steelers become yet another team that’s decided to go with the "Thunder and Lightning" approach to the running game by drafting muscle-bound RB Rashard Mendenhall (23rd overall).  Say goodbye to Willie Parker being one of the best running backs in fantasy, and say hello to a very unsettled running back by committee situation.






If you’ve read my reviews for Jonathan Stewart and Felix Jones, this post is going to be déjà vu all over again.  Despite Willie Parker rushing for over 1300 yards last season, he proved unable to pound the ball into the end zone.  Enter the 5’ 10", 210 lb Mendenhall, described as having "a low center of gravity and thick legs" Well, there you go.


For fantasy purposes it’s hard to know just how much work Mendenhall is going to get.  I feel confident stating that Stewart will get the majority of carries as the new "power" back in Carolina, because DeAngelo Williams just hasn't shown that he's going to take charge.   That isn’t the case in Pittsburgh, where the speedy Willie Parker is very, very much in charge.  It’s possible that Mendenhall will mostly play a fullback role in his rookie season, watching as Parker races down the field and then coming in to pound it in from the three yard line.  I think that’s unlikely though.  Mendenhall does have some pass-catching skills, so he should see the field between the 10 yard lines as well.


If I had to decide now, I’d say that Mendenhall will see about 150 carries and finish with 600 yards and between six and nine touchdowns.  That’s not good enough to be a regular starter on your fantasy team, but he will be good enough to fill-in your flex slot during bye weeks or if you get hit with injuries.   Mendenhall will also finish with good receiving totals for a running back, so keep that in mind if you league scores running back receptions and/or yardage.