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Over/Under: Rashard Mendenhall

Rashard_Mendenhall

Welcome to another installment of “Over/Under” where I highlight a player and determine some projections based on past tendencies and then state whether I think they will go “over or under.” Projection criteria will be different for each player based on position and situation.

This week’s debate will focus on Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall signed with the Arizona Cardinals on March 13th, rejoining former Offensive Coordinator and now Head Coach Bruce Arians. Arians coached Mendenhall his first four years in the league when they were both with the Steelers. For this week’s betting line, I’ve put the projection line at 1,050 yards rushing and 8.5 touchdowns.

The desert wasn’t the best case scenario for Mendenhall’s fantasy outlook. On one hand, reuniting with Arians was a positive. The guy has gone on record multiple times saying he prefers one guy to be the workhorse – he even proved it last year in Indianapolis with Vick Ballard, a less talented running back. The only serious threat to early down work currently on the roster is another injury risk, Ryan Williams.

The opportunity for a serious workload is there for Mendenhall and defenses shouldn’t be able to focus on the run game with mega-stud wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, second year breakout candidate Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, and DLF favorite Rob Housler at tight end with newly acquired Carson Palmer slinging the rock. Palmer at quarterback should even help Mendenhall set career highs in receptions.

The bad news is the defenses in the NFC West. He will play six games against defenses that finished in the Top 15 against the run last year, the 49ers (4th), Seahawks (10th), and the Rams (15th). The Cardinals offensive line won’t do him any favors either, but they did show marked improvement over the last six weeks of the season and I’m fairly certain it will be addressed even further in the draft.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of gray area with Mendenhall amongst the fantasy community. You won’t ever hear anyone on the fence with their feeling towards him – they either hate him or see the potential and are comfortable with him as their RB2. His career 4.1 yards per carry isn’t great, but he’s always been a volume type of “grind it out” back, something the Cardinals have desperately needed.

I’ve been a fan of Mendenhall’s throughout his career and I’ve been burnt by him in the past, but I like his opportunity in Arizona for the next couple of seasons. He’ll only be 26 years old when the season kicks off and he will be over a full year removed from his ACL surgery. Truthfully, he shouldn’t have come back as early as he did last year, but with superhuman Adrian Peterson coming back like he did, the pressure was on Mendenhall to return to a troubled Steelers team. Obviously, Mendenhall and Peterson are not on the same talent level, though there might not be anyone on AP’s level, ever.

I look for Mendenhall to take this job and run with it. Ryan Williams’ once promising potential seems to have succumbed to the devastation of a shoulder and patellar tendon injury. The best outlook for him would be a change of pace role inclyding eight-to-ten carries per game. Mendenhall works best when he gets 18+ carries.

I’m going to take the over on yardage and the under on touchdowns. I’m confident he will approach 1,200 yards rushing (75 yards per game) and with Palmer at the helm with those wide receivers, double digit touchdowns aren’t out of the question, but that division will be prohibitive. The 49ers have rarely given up a rushing touchdown under Jim Harbaugh and Vic Fangio; Pete Carroll has the Seahawks’ defense as stout as they come and the Rams are up and coming. Mendenhall will probably finish right at eight touchdowns, but I could easily see him push for the 10-12 range as a competent goal line producer.

The key to Mendenhall’s success will without a doubt be the health of that knee. If he has a setback, all bets are off. If his rehab continues as is he will provide great draft day value. What do you think? Are you taking the over or the under on Rashard Mendenhall finishing with 1,050 yards rushing and 8.5 touchdowns?

Let me know in the comments below.

Eric Olinger

Eric Olinger

Senior Writer at Dynasty League Football
A 12 year old trapped in a man's body, Eric has been playing IDP dynasty leagues for almost 20 years. He enjoys Star Wars, Batman, red meat and an ice cold Diet Coke, sometimes all at once. He hopes to one day own his own Batmobile but his wife is a relentless dream crusher so the odds are slim.

Eric is on Twitter @OlingerIDP.
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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Kelly Cornia

    April 20, 2013 at 5:06 am

    Mendy’s success will be determined by Palmers arm and that O-line, in that order, his knee seemed fine last year and he has another offseason of rehab on it now. My .02 anyway…

  2. Craig Gerein

    April 20, 2013 at 5:42 am

    I’m definitely taking the under. Ryan Williams tore his Patella tendon in 2011. He didn’t injury his achilles. He’s now two years removed from that. He’s only 23 years old. I think he wins that job in camp because I think he’s more talented than Mendenhall. It’s better for the team if Williams wins that job because Mendy was only signed to a one year deal. I’m taking the under and predicting Mendenhall won’t be a Cardinal in 2014.

    • Derek

      April 20, 2013 at 6:12 am

      I loved R.Williams coming out of college, but feel after the serious patella injury he will never be what he could’ve been. With Mendy being much bigger RB and still just 25yr old, there’s a reason, they dont feel comfortable w Williams and they want Mendenhall to be the workhorse. I think Mendy can get back to being a top 10 fantasy back “IF” he wants too, how much effort and desire does Mendy come out and play with? This could go either way, but I’ll gladly take my chances on Mendy.

      • Patrick McGee

        April 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm

        R Williams hasn’t played a full season since his Freshman year at Va Tech! He makes Mc Fadden look like Cal Ripken in terms of durability! The largest obstacle for Mendy achieving these goals are schedule(they’ll be lucky to win 3 games) and his O Line! He has the talent and everyone tears an ACL at some point now a days! He is a great risk/reward pick!

    • Eric Olinger

      April 20, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Wow. Not sure where Achilles came from, must have went cross eyed working on too many things at once. I fixed that to say ” shoulder” injury.

  3. clarion contrarion

    April 20, 2013 at 6:39 am

    I say under but around 900 and 7tds make him a solid flex /situational start . He is a better receiver than he was allowed to show in the burgh & palmer will dump it off to allow him some easy rec yards. I traded for he and Williams in a league in hopes of getting some bye week / flex production.

    • SJ

      April 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

      What did you trade for him?

      Interested as i was thinking the same for my flex position, and am curious as to his trade value atm.

  4. Wesley Wood

    April 20, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Mendenhall can last an entire season which means he will beat out ryan williams.

  5. Eric

    April 20, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Mendy was had for a song and costs Arizona nothing if he doesn’t make it out of camp. Williams was the best RB prospect in his class before his injury. It typical takes the second season after injury to come back, particularly after such a significant injury for Williams. Let’s not forget Mendy tore his ACL as well in December 2011. He was suspended for a game by his team in December, 2012 after he was deactivated for lack of effort. The group think is that Mendy is slam dunk. I think its its a camp battle for him against a more talented RB. The bigger issue is that Arizona hasn’t a great place for RB production, but Arians may change that.

    • Craig Gerein

      April 20, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Bingo

    • fezic

      April 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      I fail to see why anyone thinks that Arians will improve the running game. The only reason he even attempted to at times in Pittsburgh was because of pressure from the owners and HC. Additionally, Arians was Mendenhall’s OC when he was “underutilized as a pass catcher” so the logic that he’ll now catch more passes with the Cardinals makes no sense at all. I’m avoiding the Arizona backfield as long as Arians is their coach, but I’m firmly trying to buy everything I can in their passing game before everyone else realizes that Fitzgerald is back to a top 5-7 WR.

  6. chad six

    April 20, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I’m going under. Mendy & Williams both have banged up knees, it will be a RBBC with those two, and Zona will go with the hot hand for the week.

  7. Sensei John Kreese

    April 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I’m taking the under on all counts. I like Williams to win the job out of camp. However, you have to base any predictions on past performance (or total lack thereof). I don’t like to suggest that anyone will get injured, but I can’t see Williams playing a whole season until he actually does it. That being said, I like Mendenhall to start at least 8 games this year, so I am prognosticating 650 yards rushing and 6 tds.

  8. John

    April 20, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I’ll take the over in yardage, under in TDs. Ryan Williams is and always has been overvalued. He is still living off one year of college production. Arians has no allegiance to him. All things being equal, there isn’t much debate who gets the opportunity to be the lead dog. The only real question is if Mendenhall takes that opportunity for granted because he has a history with Arians.

    • Brad

      April 20, 2013 at 11:10 am

      Arians has actually said he loved Williams coming out of college and scouted him heavily.

      • John

        April 20, 2013 at 11:23 am

        That still doesn’t mean anything. New coaches talk up the players they inherit all the time. What Arians does carries more weight than what he says. That he brought in a RB he coached for years tells a bigger story. He could have brought in any RB he wanted.

      • Eric Olinger

        April 21, 2013 at 7:36 am

        He said he loved him coming out of college (pre-knee injury) and the promptly went out and signed Mendy. When has a coach taken a job and said “Boy, Ryan Williams… we’re screwed!”

        • fezic

          April 23, 2013 at 6:43 pm

          yes, and he only signed Mendenhall to a one year low dollar deal. That’s a ringing endorsement if I’ve ever seen one.

  9. Luke

    April 20, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I’ll take the over on yards and under on TDs. He’ll be the starter there, so he’ll have value. Williams has tried as hard as possible to be valueless, but I guess he hasn’t succeeded.

  10. German Cowboys

    April 20, 2013 at 10:20 am

    under/over for Mendenhall will be determined by the O-Line and how the passing-game will turn out with Palmer under center as said above.

    should Mendenhall not meet the projection, then it won’t be because of Ryan Williams.

    Williams had a torn Patella Tendon, even 2 years removed from injury, he won’t be able to handle a any significant workload to become a factor. Patella Tendon Rupture is way more serious than ACL or even Achilles injury. Guys remember Cadillac Williams , Clayton and other players, who had such injury, they came back but never with same burst , workload etc.

    Willams was never healthy going back to high school. huge talent yes , but never on the field enough to make any significant impact.

    Williams is the classic fantasy-teaser. i rather take the rookie RB, the Cowboys will draft to backup Murray, who will see the trainers room again, than waste a roster spot for Williams.

    Mendenhall is young too , already over 15 month removed from ACL , he was rushed too early by the Steelers back in october 2012, just 9 month back from ACL procedure ( A.P. was the exception of the rule). Mendenhall was a leadback prior to his injury and will benefit from Arians and (we might assume) from improving passing attack with Palmer ( O-Line is the big qusetion here).

    Mendy can run and catch, has little weakness with blocking , but nothing to worry about.
    Mendy will be the leadback and Williams will spell him from time to time, but nothing significant.

    I say Mendenhall over. I would take him as a strong RB2.

  11. Mike

    April 20, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Combined I’d take the under. I think he surpasses the 1050 yards but doesn’t hit 9 TDs

  12. Brad

    April 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I don’t even see where anyone thinks he will even win the starting job. Mendenhall was horrible prior to his knee injury. He wasn’t reading blocks, wasn’t showing short area burst, and was a liability on the field. He couldn’t even beat out Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac redman last year, knee injury or not. Williams is a far superior talent. Even William Powell showed me more than mendenhall has the past two years. Even if mendenhall wins the starting job, facing San Fran, St. Louis, and Seattle 6 weeks out of the year is going to make it very tough for him to even reach 600 yards and 3 tds, assuming he could remain starter for the full season. Easy call, way under.

    • John

      April 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Williams was a 2nd round RB in a so-so class. Mendenhall was one of five 1st round RBs in his class. A class that produced Rice, Forte, and Charles. Calling Williams a far superior talent is a reach, to say the least. Your argument about facing the NFC West doesn’t support Williams considering he hasn’t done anything against those same teams.

      • ThinMan

        April 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm

        “A class that produced Rice, Forte, and Charles…”

        All of whom were drafted after Mendenhall and the other 4 first round running backs. The only first rounder from that class who has been dependable has been Johnson.

        Williams hasn’t done anything against anyone because of injury, not because of where he was drafted.

        I’m not a huge believer in him or anything, just pointing out that using his “production” to this point as any kind of barometer is probably faulty. He’s played what, like, five games?

        Mendenhall is pretty meh. Has been for a while. The productive fantasy years for Mendenhall in Pitty were predicated on volume touches and getting the GL work. If he’s in a committee with another guy, be it Williams or whoever, then I think 1,100 rushing yards and over 8 TDs is a complete dream at this point.

        A meh back with below average vision and knee issues, behind that OL, with a rag-armed QB, in an offense that doesn’t use the runners much in the passing game? This isn’t shrieking “Shangri La for RB production” to me. I’ll take the under

        • John

          April 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm

          My point was Williams is not a far superior talent, if he is a superior talent at all. I used where they were drafted and the other talent at the position in their respective drafts to illustrate. If Williams were a far superior talent, surely he shouldn’t have been drafted behind Ingram who fell to the bottom of the 1st round himself.

          1100 yards and 8 TDs (I said under) is not hard to reach for a starting RB, committe or not. That’s Shonn Greene type production. The point never was Mendenhall is a great RB. He’s better than a RB who has barely seen the field to produce in the NFL, though.

  13. Adam Franssen

    April 20, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Count me on the “not a fan” side. Under!

  14. Avery Beck

    April 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Under. Dont think mendy was brought in to be the man. Think arians got him because of his familarity and thinks he can be serviceable if williams isn’t where he needs to be, which is a 50/50 propostion at best right now.

  15. Jimmy

    April 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    He has a career 3.9 YPC. So no, I doubt he gets this type of production in that division.

  16. jmbiceman1

    April 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    If Mendenhall can focus on being a solid football player I think his stat line could approach this:

    275/1120/8. 26/185/1

    so i guess over

  17. Eric Olinger

    April 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I think some arguments are valid but some of these arguments are far over shooting the projections. Like John said above, these are Shonn Green types of numbers I’ve projected, not a RB1 numbers. Mendenhall is a full year removed from the ACL and he has three down talent. He will definitely be under valued on draft day as a great flex player / RB2 with upside. Nobody should be drafting Ryan Williams as anything more than that either.

    Great conversations though. Not bad for mid-April huh?

  18. Chris Larsen

    April 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Under, Williams is a more talented and dynamic back than Mendenhall, and if he is healthy he should win the starting job and get the lion’s share of the work. Hopefully he doesn’t get stung by any more fluky injuries from here on out though!

  19. mikey b

    April 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I’m loving this stuff! I made a play for Mendy in a trade that didn’t come to pass but my point is I think being reunited with Arians will be a good thing for him. I believe both of these guys have talent and both need to prove that this season, hence the competition brought in for that reason. Mendy’s on a 1 yr. prove it to me deal and Williams has been disappointing thus far. I think Mendy has a better chance to thrive in Arians offense though. I have a push on yardage and slightly under on TD’s. As far as facing their tough divisional defenses, let’s face it, they don’t always go the way you think they will? We’re talking rivalries here, anything can happen. I know there line is suspect, but let’s see what they do in the draft first? And I wouldn’t be quick to bash Palmer, he won some games for Oakland last year that looked pretty bleak! Just my 2 cents!

  20. Eric Kassor

    April 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the topic, just question the premise that Arians is extending some sort of silver chalice to Mendy

    • Jon Lambrecht

      April 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      Im of the mindset that Arians brought in Mendi as logical insurance. If Williams can’t win the camp battle, Mendi at least is a familiar face at low cost. I’ve always thought of Mendi as more of an average rb that depends on volume dating back to his days in the big 10. I see Williams as more talented but just as much if not more of an injury risk. I’ll have to take the under on the projections based on the premise that I think Williams wins the majority of carries in this battle, tough defenses in division, few red zone possesions, poor O-line, immobile qb with decline arm strength. I think Arizona fans are in for a long 2013 season. Bottom line, I wouldn’t want to have to depend on Mendi for even my Rb3 if I had a choice. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to depend on R.Williams either, but do like his potential upside more.

      • Eric Olinger

        April 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm

        Arizona’s O-line was atrocious the first 10 games if the season but actually played extremely well the last 6 games. They have some young talent and I fully expect one of this year’s top tackles to end up in Arizona. The potential is there.

        Ryan Williams has more to prove to me than Mendenhall. Williams has not shown anything in the NFL and that knee injury is terrifying.

  21. brian quinlan

    April 20, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    under.

  22. sixshooter

    April 21, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Not a fan of Mendenhall….at all! I have a hard time supporting a guy who get’s injured, get’s suspended for refusing to show up for a game which he was deactivated in because his play sucked and……..I have a hard time supporting a guy who is too dumb to understand why the USA killed Osama Bin Laden and was even more stupid to go public with his anti-USA comments!

    This guy is a head case who I just can’t get excited about (especially after he replaced my injured RB Willie Parker back in the day). He is coming off a season where he started in 4 of 6 games for a grand total 51 rushes for 182 yards on the ground and caught 9 passes for 62 yds and a grand total of 1 TD! Did I mention his phenomenol 3 fumbles out of 60 touches? That is a fumble per 20 touches…..not good!

    It is pretty easy to take the under on this guy! On the bright side…..I do have Housler on my team and am hoping he can live up to the hype finally with Palmer but am not holding my breath.

  23. Bruce Matson

    April 22, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Im going with the under. Cards have a bad oline and they play in a tough division. Also, Ryan Williams may be a factor, especially if there is a training camp battle. It’s early still and there is a lot of variables to get ironed out.

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