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I was recently asked if I would do a short interview with the fine folks at Razzball about the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2010 fantasy prospects. The author was a certain steelerinchicago, a long-time reader of the site that's been up to some great things since picking up blogging about fantasy sports in the past year and a half or so.
1. Rashard Mendenhall seems like he'll have to be the bread winner at least while Ben Roethlisberger is out. What do you expect from him? Will the Steelers be able to move the ball without Ben? Does Mendenhall hold off Dwyer for goal line carries?
The Steelers are expecting big things from Rashard Mendenhall in 2010 following his breakthrough season a year ago. The Steelers were somewhat cautious with how often they used Mendenhall. Or maybe that was just a product of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians being head over heels in love with the passing game. The fact that Mendenhall only had 242 rushing attempts for the year, and only one game with more than 25 carries, probably though was partly related to the fact that he had missed almost all of his rookie season in 2008 after getting TKOd by Ray Lewis in Week 4. The Steelers front office has come out and said they're committed to running the ball more frequently and effectively this coming season, so it's safe to assume that Mendenhall, if he can stay healthy, will hit the 300-carry plateau. They now know he can shoulder the workload, and he'll have had an extra offseason in a world class NFL strength and conditioning program. People tend to assume that these kids come into the league 100% mature psychically. It's just not the case, particularly for a guy like Mendy who entered the league after his junior season at Illinois at the age of 21. Now 23, I expect Mendenhall to be even stronger closing out runs, more secure with the football, and more consistently productive in short-yardage and goal line situations.
And yes, I do expect Mendenhall to hold off Dwyer for the lion's share of the TD opportunities in the red zone. We'll see what kind of camp and preseason Dwyer has, but unless he just looks like gangbusters, there's no reason to get cute and risk leaving points on the board by playing an unproven rookie quantity. I do think that Dwyer may get the occasional series throughout the season, but I don't think he'll siphon off more than a handful of touchdowns directly from Mendy.
2. Mike Wallace had a lot of huge plays last year. With Santonio Holmes gone, do you think he can take his place and keep it up for an entire season? How much does Roethlisberger's suspension hurt his overall numbers for the year?