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Is Rashard Mendenhall Worth a Fantasy Roster Spot? | Football Rankings

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers

This week when the media asked Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin about his running back situation he informed the press that Willie Parker is his running back. Tomlin did note that last years first round pick Rashard Mendenhall would get opportunities but Parker is the feature runner in Pittsburgh.

Personally I’m not surprised to hear this information because Mendenhall has not had the greatest preseason. In his time on the field this month he’s had a total of 32 carries for only 99 yards ( 3.1 yards per carry) with a touchdown and a lost fumble.

So far Mendenhall has not proven to be worth his draft selection as he was taken over other runners like Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Steve Slaton in last years draft.

Yet for all of Mendenhall’s short comings he is still a talented running back and I do believe he has a chance to find success for fantasy football owners.

Willie Parker Breaking Down

This preseason Parker only played in one contest because he as a lingering hamstring problem. This injury is not expected to keep Parker out of regular season and from his head coaches words he is expected to carry a big load from week one on.

While Parker may be a go for this Thursday’s NFL regular season opener against the Titans, but I have my doubts that he can hold up the entire season.

Just last season the Steelers used Parker early and often for the first two and a half games. In that time Willie ran the football 63 times and did have success but suffered a knee injury in the process.

Parker would go on to miss four straight games and when he came back, he was handed the rock 21 times against the Redskins.

Pittsburgh Steelers Willie Parker gains 2 yards against Washington Redskins DeAngelo Hall in Maryland
After that game Parker had to miss the next game with a set back but came back a week later and ran the football 25 times against the Chargers.

Unfortunately Parker struggled to run for almost the rest of the regular season and only carried the ball more than 16 times once the rest of the year.

I specifically put all that information above up to note that coach Tomlin is probably not lying about the fact that he wants Parker to be the main runner. Yet at the same time from a fantasy perspective it is easy to see that Parker may have issues holding up for a full 16 games.

When Opportunity Knocks

Below I have the Steelers schedule after the first two games of the year and as you will see there are some good opportunities for success.

As you can see by the schedule above the Steelers will play a couple nice stretches of games for a running back to have success. With Mendenhall having talent and being the second in line to start after Parker, one can only believe he might have some opportunities to start in that schedule.

Fantasy Football Rankings for Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall

If your league has already drafted than you may want to see if Mendenhall is still available in your league to pick up. Some fantasy football owners may even try to cut this young runner after week one, hearing the news about Parker being the main guy.

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers

If Mendenhall is available or becomes available in your league I would recommend you pick him up and stash him away for later. This kid could have a nice run of games if Parker does in fact get hurt again.

For those of you that are yet to draft I would pass on drafting Parker as a mid round pick and stash Mendenhall away in the later rounds.

I could be wrong but I just don’t believe Parker will be able to stay healthy again this season and will probably miss another 5 to 7 games in 2009.

When Parker is out Mendenhall will be a valuable player with the schedule the Steelers have and he will make for a solid start, even if he’s not the greatest of backs.

Just look at what Mewelde Moore did with an opportunity last season when he was given a chance to be the feature back. Many fantasy owners (including yours truly) profited off of Parker’s poor health last year with Moore.

Fantasy Football Information writer Sean E. Douglas:

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