As a die hard fantasy football owner myself, I can remember the 2010 and 2011 season when Rashard Mendenhall was at the top of the list for running backs. Of course 2012 was an injury filled season causing Mendenhall to sit on the shelve most of the season, even when he returned he was not effective enough to be a fantasy threat.
Mendenhall will be the featured back for the cardinals in 2013, coach Bruce Arians went on record last week on the NFL Network saying “there’s no doubt” that Mendenhall would be the featured back if the season started today.
Currently the injury prone running back ranks outside the top 25 in most preseason projections, and Mendenhall’s value as a third option or bye week fill in will be the best he could project so far.
His value this season will be determined if his offensive line can pull a surprise improvement and he goes off in preseason, then of course that would change everything.
Health will play the biggest part in his availability, playing a full season Mendenhall was affective in fantasy leagues all over the world in 2009, 2010 and 2011 where he had combined totals of 784 carries for 3,309 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Players coming off a major knee injury, many fantasy owners do not touch a player regardless of his potential, and adding to his demise is a Cardinals team in 2013 that is featured mostly in the passing game.
Coach Arians scheme is not built around running backs catching passes but for them to pass protect. Will Mendenhall get as many carries as he did in his first 3 years in Pittsburgh? And the answer is no!
It seems as though the cardinals are in for a season of having to play from behind in a number of games (according to schedule) and that does not bold well for any running back in fantasy football land.
But the good thing is that a team does not have to be a winning team to get stats in fantasy football, and Mendenhall has the ability to break the home run play in one carry. Much has to go right for him to succeed and give fantasy owners confidence to draft him in the top 20 running backs.
Fantasy owners will not have Rashard Mendenhall on the top of their list, but who knows what will play out in preseason, perhaps the Cardinals get offensive balance that would allow him a heavier load, in the mean time most will shy away.