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Rashard Mendenhall Fantasy Projection: Bengals Second-Ranked Rush Defense Will Make It Tough On Steelers RB

Sunday afternoon's AFC North battle between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals could prove to be a defensive affair, never a good sign for fantasy players in their search for who to start. Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall could be in for a long day, as Cincinnati has the league's second-best rush defense, allowing just 84.5 yards per game.

The fantasy football projection site numberFire ranks Mendenhall as just the 21st best play at running back this week. The Steelers' running backs projected stats: 15.56 car, 68.47 yds, 1.14 rec for 9.98 yds, 0.4 TDs for 10.18 points.

One possible reason for optimism, though it comes with a caveat that the Bengals are a different team this year: Mendenhall ran the ball 40 times for 165 yards and a touchdown in two Pittsburgh wins over Cincinnati in 2010.

For more fantasy football coverage, advice, and analysis, please visit SB Nation Fantasy, and follow it on Twitter @SBNationFantasyFor more on the Pittsburgh Steelers, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog Behind The Steel CurtainFor more on theCincinnati Bengals, visit SB Nation's Bengals blog Cincy Jungle.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.