We don’t know what Rashard Mendenhall we’ll be getting when he returns. We don’t know if he’ll be the same downhill, bruising runner, or if there will be some hesitancy to his physicality. We can’t really make any claim with confidence because no two recoveries from ACL tears are the same, although the recent highly successful returns by Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson fuel hope.

Hope is a hell of a drug in Week 5, with both injuries and suckiness mounting. So welcome, Rashard.

Earlier this morning the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette relayed the widely expected news that Mendenhall will make his return to the Steelers’ backfield this coming Sunday for their Week 5 game at home against the Eagles. Even a healthy Mendenhall was a largely ineffective Mendenhall last year, as although he likely would have posted his third straight 1,000-yard season had he not missed Pittsburgh’s final game (he finished with 928 yards), he plodded along at a mediocre and career low pace of 61.9 yards per game.

You can live with the low yardage from Mendenhall, though, because you have him on your roster so he can run across a white line at the end of the field that’s of particular value for you, and do it repeatedly. On an offense that has plenty of deep ball firepower between Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown and is currently ranked sixth in passing while averaging 284.3 yards per game, there should be plenty of scoring opportunities near the goal-line once Mendenhall shakes off the few layers of rust that have accumulated.

So that’s your reason for optimism if you stashed Mendenhall on your bench for five weeks. Of course, those good vibes are torpedoed a little when we look back on his 2011 numbers again, and observe that he had nine touchdowns. That’s a decent total for an RB with moderate breakaway speed, but it was down significantly from his 13 TDs in 2010.

Right now Mendenhall is an RB3, meaning as we begin to trudge through the heart of bye weeks, he could emerge as the ideal filler. In Week 5 those who own DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and Doug Martin will be digging into their depth, and beyond that in Week 6 Matt Forte highlights the RB byes, along with Maurice Jones-Drew.

The other unknown element is whether or not the Steelers will be eager to return to being the Steelers and gut the opponent on the ground while grinding the clock. That’s the classic Steeler approach, but it may change under Todd Haley with his love for passing. However, we can safely assume that being ranked 31st in rushing with just 2.6 yards per carry and 65 per game isn’t adequate, and a quick jolt of life beyond what Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman can provide is desired.

Mendenhall is still available in over 30 percent of both Yahoo and ESPN leagues, so there’s a decent chance he’s out there for you. If he is, a flier on a potential volume scorer should be an easy decision.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • Ryan Tannehill had the second most single-game passing yards for a rookie quarterback, ever. Adding to his remarkable day is the fact that he joined some guy named Marino atop a distinguished list of the best passing games in Dolphins history. [Ben Volin on Twitter]
  • Pretty much every Patriot did something awesome yesterday. [Roto Arcade]
  • Scott Chandler is your surprise tight end of the week. [The Fake Football]
  • Tough times for Cam Newton ahead? [Fantasy Douche]
  • Julio Jones was apparently struggling with a hand injury yesterday, and that contributed to his disappointing game with just one reception. We can only hope. [Rotoworld]

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