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NFL fantasy football notebook: Rashard Mendenhall off PUP list

  • By Marcas Grant NFL.com
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Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons


» "Red and Green" could be the colors to sport this fall. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green connected twice, including a 50-yard touchdown. While the talk about fellow 2011 draftee Julio Jones has centered around his projected explosion in 2012, Green hasn't enjoyed such lofty conversation, despite a 1,057-yard, seven touchdown rookie campaign. The Cincinnati Bengals duo has passed their first test, which bodes well for the regular season. Green projects as a No. 1-type WR, while Dalton slides in as a high-end No. 2 QB option...

» BenJarvus Green-Ellis sat out last night's game with a foot injury and his absence was noticeable. Backup QB Bruce Gradkowski was Cincy's leading rusher with 31 yards and no Bengals running back tallied more than 18 yards. On Thursday's NFL Fantasy LIVE, Elliot Harrison scoffed at the idea of Green-Ellis being stuck in a timeshare. Expect the Law Firm to log plenty of billable hours this season...

» Another game, another set of injuries for Cincinnati. Thursday, it was tight end Jermaine Gresham leaving the game with a knee injury. The good news is that it doesn't appear to be serious. That's good news for the Bengals, who dealt with a slew of injuries after their first preseason game. It's also good news for fantasy football owners, who can target Gresham as a No. 2 TE option...

» As I wrote yesterday, the proposed proliferation of three-wide sets in the Atlanta Falcons offense didn't bode well for Michael Turner. With the Dirty Birds taking to the air, Turner looks de-emphasized in the gameplan. He logged six touches (three rushes, three receptions) for just 11 yards, compared to Jacquizz Rodgers who ran for 24 yards and added another 11 yards receiving. Right now, Turner's hanging around the lower end of the No. 1 RB group, but if Rodgers continues to see more chances, The Burner could fall...

» For all the excitement around Julio Jones, his success (like all WRs) is tied to Matt Ryan and Ryan looks like he's ready to do big things himself. He backed up a solid preseason opener with an 18-of-21, 174-yard performance. Through two preseason games, Matty Ice is 27-of-34 for 329 yards with a pair of TDs. Coming into the season, Ryan was a borderline No. 1 QB, but that should start changing for the better...


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Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers


» Last season, the Cleveland Browns thrust Montario Hardesty into a starting role after injuries to Peyton Hillis with mixed results. This season, Hardesty could once again be in a prominent position because of Trent Richardson's knee surgery. Hardesty acquitted himself well Thursday, carrying the ball 12 times for 45 yards and a touchdown (he also lost a fumble). Richardson will likely slide into the starting role when he returns, but with the rookie having more knee surgeries than NFL carries, Hardesty is looking like a must-have handcuff...

» Greg Little was touted as a deep sleeper last season but never lived up to that billing. Much of that was due to Colt McCoy's struggles at quarterback. Rookie Brandon Weeden looks more capable of getting the ball in the hands of his receivers, so as the presumptive No. 1 wideout, Little's could be better poised to fill that sleeper label as a low-end No. 2 receiver...

» It was another lackluster night for Aaron Rodgers. He threw a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson on the Green Bay Packers opening possession -- one that started on the Browns 20-yard line. Beyond that, there wasn't much of note for his day. I'm still confident that when the lights come on for real, Rodgers will be ready to go, but it would be nice if a reasonable facsimile of last year's fantasy stud came out to play sometime before Week 1...

» Green Bay's turnover numbers continue to be disconcerting. After turning it over four times in the preseason opener, the Pack coughed it up four more times last night. With the problem not limited to one or two players, it's harder to work around the issue. It might be oversimplifying things to say that fewer offensive possessions could lead to lower fantasy football production, but some problems have simple outcomes...

» Cedric Benson can't get on the field fast enough for the Packers. Green Bay's two leading rushers Thursday were Rodgers (24 yards) and backup QB Graham Harrell (23 yards). With Green Bay's offense still centered around the pass, Benson likely won't be a No. 1 fantasy football running back in any league. But he's the most productive RB on the roster and with opposing defenses concentrating on slowing down the aerial attack, Benson could produce nice flex numbers...

Quick Outs


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» The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised plenty of people by activating running back Rashard Mendenhall from the PUP list Friday. Until then, the team had given every indication that the back would start the season on the shelf for the first six weeks as he recovers from ACL surgery. This could mean Mendenhall will be ready to go ahead of schedule. Or it could be wishful thinking for a team that's looking for help in the backfield. Either way, approach Mendenhall with caution on draft day...

» With BenJarvus Green-Ellis in Cincinnati, Stevan Ridley is slated to be the New England Patriots' top running back in 2012. That's why there was genuine concern when Ridley left Thursday's practice with a knee injury. The Pats are convinced that it's not serious, but it's enough to make one wonder if it wasn't the impetus for the team signing Jeff Demps...

» Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz have a lock on the New York Giants top two receiver spots, but Eli Manning has suggested that there could be a revolving door at the No. 3 spot. If the prospect of a timeshare at running back scares fantasy football owners, a wide receiver committee should be downright terrifying. Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden are all vying for the job, but as long as there is more than one consistent name attached to the position, it's best avoided altogether...

» Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush reiterated to USA Today that he wants to lead the NFL in rushing this year. It's good to have confidence. It's also good to want things. Bush exceeded expectations as an every-down back last season, but with a healthy Daniel Thomas fighting for carries, it will be hard for the veteran to repeat his numbers...

» Chris Johnson hasn't been too concerned about his preseason performances, but Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak would like to get a serious look at the running back in Friday's game against the Buccaneers. Munchak says he plans to double Johnson's workload in order to better evaluate the back. Expectations are high for the speedster and even if Johnson's LOL-ing at these games, fantasy football owners likely are not...

» Turns out that the surgery Brian Urlacher recently underwent wasn't his first of the offseason. He had a typically monstrous IDP season last year, racking up 102 tackles with three interceptions and seven passes defended. Urlacher maintains that he'll be back for the Chicago Bears season opener, but at 34 years old and entering his 13th NFL season, I'd like to see how his knee responds before adding him to any fantasy roster...

Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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