Colon injury won’t alter Mendenhall’s value

The Steelers appear to have lost T Willie Colon for the entire 2010 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon, leading to questions about the team’s offensive line.

In fantasy circles, the question surrounds how Colon’s absence will hurt the value of Rashard Mendenhall.

I think it makes a dent, but not big enough to pass on him in the first or second round on draft day. Mendenhall is one of my fantasy breakout candidates in 2010, and in my last rankings, I listed him as the No. 7 running back and No. 11 overall.

The Steelers will consider alternatives, one of which appears to be former Cowboys T Flozell Adams. He reportedly met with the team on Tuesday. Adams is long in the tooth and gets called for too many penalties, but he can still be an effective run blocker. The Steelers could also decide to use first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey, who played center and guard in college, into Colon’s spot.

Regardless, you have to expect the team to make moves to add depth to their depleted line. While the options are a step below Colon, I don’t think the Steelers will abandon their plan to lean on the run in his absence.

With Ben Roethlisberger suspended for at least the first four games of the season, Mendenhall is going to be the centerpiece of that offense. And with favorable matchups against the Falcons, Titans, Buccaneers and Browns in four of his first five games, the Illinois product should still find statistical success while Big Ben is out.

Upon his return, Mendenhall will find running the ball easier with defenses now having to worry about the Steelers’ pass attack. So while the Colon injury does hurt, it shouldn’t be enough to cause major concern about Mendenhall’s prospects for 2010.

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