Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Pittsburgh Steelers

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Every year there are teams that are expected to bounce back after missing the playoffs.

The Steelers are one of those teams in 2014. They finished the second half of last season with a 6-2 record, winning those games on average by 11.5 points. That's thanks to a no-huddle approach adopted by the offense at the midseason, something that should stay in place. The key players on offense and the coaching staff also remain the same -- all the more reason to believe this team is on the rise.

Another thing this team did was get younger. Veterans like LaMarr Woodley, Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark were wiped out from the defense while Jerricho Cotchery, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer left the offense. Emmanuel Sanders is also gone, though he's not exactly old. The draft netted do-it-all linebacker Ryan Shazier while free agency brought in safety Mike Mitchell and running back LeGarrette Blount. Lance Moore is also now a Steeler, though he isn't exactly young. All in all, only seven starters -- three on offense, four on defense -- from the Super Bowl XLV team in 2010 are still on the roster.

Everyone in Pittsburgh is hoping it works out, none more than Mike Tomlin, who has led the team to consecutive 8-8 records and, more importantly, zero playoff berths (close didn't count last year). The Steelers aren't known for moving on from coaches so easily but the franchise hasn't gone three straight years without a winning season since 1969-1971. That predates Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll. Suffice to say, the seat Tomlin is sitting on is already quite warm and will get progressively hotter if the team can't win games.

Good late-round investment ... Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben finished last season very productive, putting up an average of 22.2 Fantasy points per game in his final nine, propelling him to a Top 10 finish at the position. But the loss of two receivers he found to be reliable could sting -- Sanders posted career-bests in a contract year and then bolted to Denver while Cotchery (10 touchdowns. Really!) moved on to Carolina. Moore, the former Saint, second-year receiver Markus Wheaton, rookie Martavis Bryant and perennial disappointment Darrius Heyward-Bey will attempt to pick up the slack. If those guys can pick up the offense then Roethlisberger should have no problem being helpful for owners, especially since he'll still have sure-handed do-it-all speedster Antonio Brown to throw to. Whether you take a quarterback with your first six picks or not, Roethlisberger should be on your radar starting in Round 10.

Sleeper ... Markus Wheaton

Last season was a wash for Wheaton as finger injuries kept him off the field. The reality is that he probably wouldn't have played much even if his digits were undamaged because the Steelers were flush with wideouts. That's not the case now, so the former third-round pick will be asked to step up and work in what used to be Sanders' role. Wheaton caught 227 passes for nearly 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns in college, so he's not fresh off the turnip truck. The opportunity combined with his speed and skill set should give him a shot to be a contributor. He's worth a look late in every league but specifically in PPR and three-receiver lineups.

Late-round target ... LeGarrette Blount

True, the running back marketplace was sub-standard in the NFL this spring, but Blount was among the most efficient rushers available after gaining 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year. And like New England, the Steelers figure to be running a lot of no-huddle offense, which is something Blount is plenty used to by now. But where Blount will end up making his hay is near the goal line, where seven of the Steelers' nine rushing touchdowns came from 5 yards or closer last year. Believe it or not, just four of Blount's 10 scores last season came from 5 yards or closer, but it's still something he can easily do. The Steelers' O-line is reloaded, the passing game should keep the safeties from cheating down and if anything were to happen to Le'Veon Bell, then Blount would be in line for a massive workload. At the very least Blount could be a source for Fantasy points as a bye-week replacement but offers plenty in the way of depth.

Schedule analysis

2013 Touches Leaders
771 total touches
Le'Veon Bell 289 (244 car., 45 rec.) 37.5%
Antonio Brown 117 (110 rec., 7 car.) 15.2%
Emmanuel Sanders 68 (67 rec., 1 car.) 8.8%
Heath Miller 58 rec. 7.5%
Jonathan Dwyer 57 (49 car., 8 rec.) 7.4%
Felix Jones 57 (48 car., 9 rec.) 7.4%
All Others 125 16.2%

The Steelers start the year with two games in five days, home against the Browns and at the Ravens on Thursday night. That's followed by a Week 3 jaunt to Carolina. Not the kind of start you'd draw up. But things ease up for them, helped by three straight home games in Weeks 7-9 against the Texans, Colts and Ravens. A late Week 12 bye makes their starters more appealing for Fantasy owners. Their final four games are at Cincy, at Atlanta, Kansas City at home in Week 16 and Cincinnati at home, all potentially tough matchups in crunch time. That Week 17 game might end up having some serious playoff implications. Overall, I'd say the schedule sets up better for Roethlisberger than for Bell, but the Steelers DST should really get off to a great start.

Training camp battles

How will the running backs shake out? We know Bell should start and be the main guy week in and week out. But if the Steelers are running the no-huddle, they might not give him every single series. There were times last season where Felix Jones was used a couple of series per game, for instance. Will the Steelers do something like give Bell two series and Blount one, or might they even rotate them in and out? How will Dri Archer, the rookie speedster who could be considered a Darren Sproles-type of back, be rotated on and off the field?

What is Lance Moore up to? Moore signed with the Steelers this spring, giving him the chance to continue doing what he had been doing with the Saints: Work out of the slot. If he's used like Cotchery was used last year, he'll play a little bit more than half the time in three- and four-receiver sets. Unless Wheaton struggles in camp, that'll be the best he can do. It is believed that Wheaton leads the race to be the No. 2 receiver and Moore leads to be the No. 3 with Heyward-Bey and Bryant backing them up.

How many old people will start on defense? The Steelers ranked 21st against the run last season and have since ditched a number of vets who were either ineffective, on the wrong side of 30 or both. Keisel, Woodley, Clark and Ziggy Hood are gone, replaced by younger players, the most notable of which being ex-Panthers safety Mike Mitchell and first-round pick Ryan Shazier at middle linebacker. As of now, the only starters that are long in the tooth are Troy Polamalu (33) and Ike Taylor (34) with Will Allen (32 when the season starts) adding safety depth. While it's exciting to see the youth movement in Pittsburgh, it could make for some growing pains. Luckily, the Steelers' early season schedule might alleviate some of those pains.

Bold prediction

There's a real love-fest with Le'Veon Bell and Fantasy owners after last season, but don't count on marriage proposals in 2014. Don't mistake this as calling Bell a bust, because he is not, but the additions of LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer are intriguing. Archer is the type of out-in-space type of back that coordinator Todd Haley tried to produce when he was the head coach in Kansas City with Dexter McCluster. There's no doubt that he'll try to get Archer involved the same way -- and that will take snaps from Bell. And Blount hurts Bell's value if only because he'll get called on to help carry more of the workload than Archer, and it might include valuable touches at the goal line. Bell took on 77.6 percent of the snaps as a rookie (691 total) and handled it well, averaging 96.8 total yards per game. But the Steelers had the long-term interests of Bell in mind when they signed Blount, who was superb for the Patriots late last year and should be a part-time grinder and (ugh) a potential touchdown vulture at the goal line. Of Bell's eight total touchdowns last year, seven came from 5 yards or closer. He's still a candidate for over 1,400 yards and even eight total touchdowns, but owners should feel more comfortable with another lead back who won't lose touchdown snaps. You'll be disappointed if you draft Bell in Round 1.

Injury report

Matt Spaeth (foot), questionable for start of training camp. ... Nick Williams (knee), questionable for start of training camp. ... Miguel Maysonet (undisclosed), questionable for start of training camp.

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Lions' Stephen Tulloch progressing from ACL surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch said he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from ACL surgery, reports FOXSports.com.

Tulloch said he was way ahead of schedule and feeling stronger since undergoing the surgery. Tulloch tore his ACL during a post-play celebration in September.


Reggie Bush says he doesn't plan to retire
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Three days after being released by the Lions, RB Reggie Bush said he has no plans to retire. 

TMZ reporters confronted Bush outside a Beverly Hills restaurant and asked if Bush, who turns 30 on Monday, was going to quit football. Bush responded with, "No." 

Bush rushed for 297 yards and two touchdowns last season. 


Report: Cowboys to let DeMarco Murray test free agency
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) The Cowboys will let RB DeMarco Murray test the free-agent market, according to a report from Fox Sports Southwest

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said that negotiations with Murray's agents have been "slow". 

Jones said that Murray "is probably going to get some peace and see what's out in the market, and then we'll talk and see. I do believe deep down he'd love to stay in Dallas."

Murray rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. 


Report: Cowboys to use franchise tag on Dez Bryant
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) The Cowboys will use the franchise tag on WR Dez Bryant on Monday, according to a report by Fox Sports Southwest

The team has been trying to negotiate a long-term contract with Bryant, a free-agent to be. If a deal can't be made by Monday's franchise tag deadline, the Cowboys will use the tag to keep Bryant a Cowboy. 

"I still think that (it) would be a stretch to think that we would have something done by Monday and beat the franchise-tag deadline," Cowboys VP Stephen Jones told Fox. "Looks like we're eyeing a franchise tag on Dez, but certainly won't stop us from working hard to get a long-term deal. ... We just don't want to lose his rights."

Bryant had 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. 


QB Josh McCown's contract with Browns worth $14 million
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Quarterback Josh McCown's deal with the Browns will pay $14 million over three years, a league source told CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

With incentives related to playing time and playoff berths, McCown could earn $20 million over the course of the deal.

McCown will earn $6.25 million in fully guaranteed money, with $5.25 million of it coming in the first year of the deal.


Report: Panthers won't re-sign Greg Hardy
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Panthers DE Greg Hardy is scheduled to become a free agent on March 10. He missed most of last season while appealing his conviction for domestic violence. 

Even though the charges were dropped on appeal, the Panthers have no intention of bringing Hardy back, multiple league sources told BlackandBlueReview.com's Bill Voth


Texans' Brian Cushing has had three offseason surgeries
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Texans LB Brian Cushing has had three surgeries since the end of the season. 

In a public appearance on Saturday, Cushing told the Houston Chronicle's John McClain that he's had surgery on his broken right wrist as well as arthroscopic procedures on his left knee and left ankle. 

"It’s not uncommon for stuff like that to happen," he said of the two arthroscopic surgeries. "It’s just little things here and there, the residual effects of two major surgeries and injuries, the wear and tear of playing throughout the season. There were still some things bothering me a little bit. Just went in there and had real good success in both areas."

Cushing has a cast on his wrist. “It’s coming along real well,” he said. “I’m going to start working out a little bit. From a pain standpoint, there’s really nothing going on there. I’m real happy about that. I’m real happy to get the cast off and start doing some physical therapy on it, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore."


Report: 49ers to release wide receiver Steve Johnson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) The 49ers are expected to release wide receiver Steve Johnson, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington D.C.

The move will reportedly save the team $5.5 million in cap space. Johnson had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season.


Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


 
 
 
Rankings