RB Rashard Mendenhall, Free agent

HT: 5-10, WT: 225, Born: 6-19-1987, College: Illinois, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 23

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2014 Projections

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2014 Schedule

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2013 Game Summaries

Week 1 - Mendenhall was solid throughout the season opener, but far from spectacular.  With a 3.8 yard average and a long of 11, Mendenhall did very little to wow, however his mere positive consistency must be considered an upgrade over last year's Cardinals run-game.  Both Mendenhall and backup Alfonso Smith (26 yards on 10 carries) appeared to have a few opportunities to snap off long runs, but could never quite break free in the second level.  The run game did enough to provide a modicum of balance for an offense which was humming through the air, but nothing more to distinguish itself as a viable threat to opposing defenses or a viable option for fantasy owners.  Mendenhall was not a factor in the passing game, only being targeted with one throw, but held up very nicely as a blocker, something incredibly important to Arians' scheme.  

Week 2 - Mendenhall delivered another solid, if unspectacular performance whose stat line continues to only tell part of the story. Mendenhall scored the go ahead touchdown on a one-yard run late in the fourth quarter, but the majority of Mendenhall’s contribution comes through in his consistency. Incredibly adept as both a blocker and a receiver, Mendenhall rarely needs to be taken off the field, and with a 4.4 average, he was consistently moving the ball forward. For many teams this would not be considered such an accomplishment, but the history of the Arizona Cardinals running game leaves much to be desired. With his quick cuts and excellent vision Mendenhall continues to provide a consistent compliment to Bruce Arians’ passing attack.

Week 3 - Bruce Arians’ almost complete abandonment of the run game resulted in only 16 rushing attempts for the Arizona Cardinals offense, and while Mendenhall’s 9 carries led the team in attempts (as well as yards), his impact on the game was nearly non-existent. Unable to provide much help as a pass-blocker, Mendenhall lost some of his playing time to versatile rookie RB Andre Ellington. Considering Mendenhall’s lack of fantasy value leading into this week’s game, it’s hard to imagine Ellington’s emergence helping him reestablish it anytime soon.

Week 4 - Mendenhall had his worst game as a Cardinals running back, fumbling twice, dropping a pass on the second play of the game and failing to stay in bounds late in the game during a clock-killing situation. He was unable to atone for those errors, amassing only 21 yards on 12 carries to go along with 13 yards receiving on 3 catches. Despite lackluster box score numbers, Mendenhall has been a consistent player in the Cardinals offense this year, often appearing underused by the game’s end, but backup RB Andre Ellington continues to eat into Mendenhall’s carries, and looking far more explosive when given the opportunity. Mendenhall has missed a significant amount of practice in hopes of keeping his banged-up body fresh, but Coach Arians made clear that would be changing going forward. Hopefully we’ll see a sharper Mendenhall moving forward; otherwise we can expect to see his already limited number of carries declining.

Week 5 - Mendenhall once again finished the game with paltry statistics, but continues to provide a level of consistency that has been sorely missing in the Arizona run game for about as long as they’ve been in Arizona. A ridiculously low bar, but with the exception of last week’s awful effort in Tampa, Mendenhall consistently clears it. It’s not enough to consider the Cardinals run game a positive, nor will Mendenhall ever be a viable fantasy player in this offense, but even the modicum of balance he provides has proven to be a major asset for the team. Andre Ellington’s continued emergence should see Mendenhall’s carries drop as the season progresses, but thus far Mendenhall’s value has extended well beyond his stat line.

Week 6 - This may be the only place you'll find consistent praise for Rashard Mendenhall, but each week he remains the most unheralded, while-still-unspectacular member of the Cardinals' offense.  For the second week in a row, the Cardinals came out of halftime committed to running, and Mendenhall quickly set the tone, churning out consistent, hard-fought yards.  Mendenhall's pass protection remains strong, and while he may not have the burst of his battery-mate Andre Ellington, his vision and decisiveness continue to provide positives for the Cardinals' offense.

Week 7 - The Cardinals run game was utterly nonexistent, despite Coach Arians' actual commitment to it.  Credit must be given to the Seahawks defense who completely overwhelmed the Cardinals offensive line. Neither Mendenhall nor Andre Ellington, who only had 3 carries, made any sort of impact.  Mendenhall's best run of the night was a three yard touchdown and his longest was only six yards.  

Week 10 - Mendenhall was having a middling game well before his fourth-quarter fumble, needing a 12 yard run just to bump his average barely above 3 yards per carry. His vision is impressive, and he’s decisive in his cuts, but Mendenhall simply lacks the burst to truly threaten defenses. Mendenhall, like every other Cardinals offensive weapon, has suffered from poor offensive line play, but unlike Andre Ellington, Mendenhall is rarely able to capitalize on the holes he’s given. Despite his weak statistics, Mendenhall provided value in stability early on in the season, but that was before Ellington’s emergence. At this point, what was once stability is nothing more than coaches shooting themselves in the feet.

Week 11 - Mendenhall’s value to both the Cardinals and fantasy owners is solely touchdown dependent. He did find the end zone on Sunday, capping off a nice drive with a 5 yard touchdown run, which was sadly his longest of the day. It’s also worth noting that once again Mendenhall finished the day with more rushing attempts as well as more overall targets and touches than Ellington, indicating that Coach Bruce Arians has no plans to change their roles to quite the critics. As with Ellington, Mendenhall must be given a bit of a pass on his afternoon due to the abysmal run blocking, but it does not change the fact that he’s provided very little positive value this season.

Week 12 - Its impossible to say where it came from, but Mendenhall had a burst Sunday he simply hand't had all year.  Credit must be given to the offensive line, especially the right side led by Eric Winston, where Mendenhall had the majority of his success.  His 15 yard long, as well as his touchdown, both came when Mendenhall was able to get the edge off the right side, and explode off it.  His lone reception of the day, an outlet pass he turned into a 24-yard gain featured much the same.  Factor in a fumble-less day and some quality pass protection and this was easily Mendenhall's best game as a Cardinals RB.  Whether that burst can last or not remains to be seen, and that Mendenhall did end the day on the sideline trying to stay loose on the stationary bike might not bode well for it, but he was a difference-maker for the Cardinals on Sunday, not something often said about this team's running backs.  

Week 13 - For the second week in a row now, Mendenhall showed a burst that simply had not been there all season long. What has changed for Mendenhall is unknown, but it’s impressive to watch nonetheless. Mendenhall gashed the Eagles’ defense up the middle, averaging over 4 yards per carry on the day. Mendenhall never found the end zone, nor has his fantasy value increased much, but he’s provide a very nice level of consistency for the Cardinals’ offense. In deeper leagues or in desperate situations, Mendenhall may be a valuable start, but with counter-part Andre Ellington hopefully returning from a knee injury next week, it’s hard to expect Mendenhall’s value to significantly improve.

Week 14 - Mendenhall was mediocre at best Sunday, averaging a paltry 2.4 yards per carry, but combined with Andre Ellington provided enough balance and ball control to compliment Palmer and the passing game. Mendenhall did continue to show the burst he’s displayed over the last several weeks, and was able to find the end zone early, but never really had any impact runs.

Week 15 - Mendenhall, with his first two-touchdown game of the season, continued his strong running in the second half of the season, but finally provided some fantasy value to any owners who were either desperate enough or play in deep enough leagues to still be starting him. Both of Mendenhall’s touchdowns came on runs from the one-yard line, and both featured NT Ta'amu, Alameda as lead blocker, a nifty new look from a team which has struggled scoring touchdowns inside the 10-yard line. Mendenhall fell short of 70 yards on the afternoon, but his best runs came in the most crucial situations. In addition to his two touchdowns, Mendenhall’s long run of the day, a fifteen-yard scamper, came in overtime to set up the eventual game-winning field goal.

Week 16 - For several weeks now, Mendenhall has looked like a different runner than the one we saw for the first half of the season. The turnaround was perplexing, but later its reason became clear. Mendenhall removed the knee brace he was playing with early in the year, and an improvement in his burst through the hole was immediately noticeable. Mendenhall still isn’t blowing any defenses away, but he’s picking up hard yards in between the tackles, and once again was able to do so against the teeth of the Seahawks defense. His average was nothing impressive, but much like last week against the Titans, made big runs when they counted most, this time converting a 2-point conversion to give the Cardinals a 7 point lead after Michael Floyd’s incredible touchdown grab late in the 4th quarter.

Week 17 - Mendenhall, once again, had a game Cardinals fans have come to expect. He showed a few flashes, most notably his 28 yard burst off the right side in the first quarter, followed by several runs for minimal gains and another costly fumble. Credit must be given to the defense, which aggressively ripped the ball from Mendenhall, but it’s been a persistent problem for his entire career and came at an awful time in the game for the Cardinals. Mendenhall finished the day with one of his better YPC averages of the season, at 4.7, but that was almost entirely based off his long run of the day. Take away his 28-yard run, and Mendenhall finished the day with 9 carries for 19 yards and the fumble. Mendenhall is trusted by Arians, especially for his pass blocking, but the Cardinals should look to upgrade this position in the offseason, finding a better runner to compliment Andre Ellington.