Rashard Mendenhall is a high draft pick playing like a late-round flyer in 2011.
The Pittsburgh Steelers running back was a late first or early second round pick in a lot of leagues, and he hasn't come close to being worth that high price this season.
And his hamstring issues aren't making things easier for his owners. In week 5, Mendenhall will be one of the dreaded game-time decisions as the Steelers trainers will apparently be working on his hamstring up until the very last minute to see if he'll be able to play.
Here's a message for Rashard owners: Save yourself the headache and sit him anyway. Yes, even if he plays.
If Mendenhall was having a great season, we'd be giving you different advice. But his poor play, combined with the iffiness of his hamstring injury means he's not worth the roster spot this week against Tennessee's tough run defense.
Reason #1 To Sit Him Even If He Plays:
In four games in 2011, Mendenhall is averaging only 3 yards per carry, and has only found the end zone twice, ranking him as the 30th running back overall (my guess is you took him as the 8th or 9th back overall. Ouch.) Two touchdowns in four games isn't that bad, except when you consider that's he's supposed to be the feature back on a classically run-first offense.
Were his 370 carries last year too much for his body to bounce back from? It remains to be seens, but he's just not having the same production he did last year.
Reason #2 To Sit Him Even If He Plays:
And this week, the Titans defense is no slouch, ranking 8th overall against the run, giving up only 87 yards per game on the ground. So it's not like Rashard would have lit it up against the Titans even if he was 100% healthy.
To make matters worse, the Steelers have Isaac Redman playing much more spirited football, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. So why would the Steelers push Mendenhall and risk further, more serious injury when they have a back who can step in and carry the load and be just as dynamic as they thought Mendenhall would be? (Answer: They won't.)
As you can see, all signs point to starting someone else instead of Mendenhall this week. His upside is very low. I would start someone like Joseph Addai or Mark Ingram in his place without hesitation. You know what you're going to get with Rashard, but some of the upside gambles could pay off.
Chances are they won't do any worse than Mendenhall in week 6.