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
All-Pro Gerald McCoy says Buccaneers defense has been 'soft'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:05 pm ET) Buccaneers All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy did not hold back Thursday when talking about the team's defensive struggles. He said the defense has been "soft" through six games, per ESPN.

"Yeah. I mean if you look out there on tape and you see a bunch of guys sitting on blocks, are you not earning the title of being soft?'' McCoy said. "I mean, guys get so sensitive around the league, but we have to be men. This is a man's league. This is a man's league and we're professionals. Guys have issues with criticism. I've been getting criticized since I've been in the NFL, and I don't even feel it anymore. It is what it is.''

The Buccaneers rank last in total defense (422.8 yards per game) and last in scoring defense (34 points per game).

"I think we're making too many excuses,'' McCoy said. "There's always a reason why this is happening or why that's happening. It has to stop. We just have to say, 'OK, I did wrong, I didn't win that one, I have to win the next one and the one after that.' If you win 70 percent of your battles, you have a shot to win, simple as that."


Might be time to sit Matt Ryan
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:59 pm ET) After he lost his fourth starting offensive lineman for the season in what his third straight game with just one touchdown pass, I suggested Fantasy owners might consider sitting Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for Week 8 against the Lions in London. Turns out Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard are completely on board with that, ranking him only 20th among quarterbacks.

Granted, the Saints' Drew Brees managed to find a way against them last week, but it doesn't change the fact that the Lions have allowed the fewest Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks by far. And most of the ones they've faced still had their offensive lines intact.

Part of Ryan's problem is that he just doesn't have time to throw the ball downfield, and that's not going to improve with his starting center now gone. The Lions, as you might expect from their ranking, have a terrific pass rush. They're tied for third with 21 sacks. They're also one of three teams that have recorded more interceptions than they've allowed touchdown passes.

Even if everything was hunky-dory for Ryan and he was coming off a stretch where he looked like Peyton Manning, he'd be a candidate to sit with such a tough matchup. As things currently stand for him and the Falcons, it's a no-brainer move.


Ravens TE Owen Daniels a no-go for Thursday practice
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:58 pm ET) A knee issue has Ravens tight end Owen Daniels out of his second straight practice Thursday. He missed the Wednesday session, but that had been thought of as a veteran's day off.

The continued absence could be a red flag in regard to his status for Sunday at Cincinnati. Daniels has been coming on of late with 13 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown in the last three games combined.


Panthers ready for challenge of facing Seahawks' Richard Sherman
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:56 pm ET) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said he won't be afraid to throw against Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in Week 8. However, he knows he has to be careful when he challenges one of the league's best cornerbacks.

"If the play is called for me to read it to Richard’s side, by all means I’m going to do it," Newton said, per ESPN. "And I’m going to give each and every receiver an opportunity to make plays.  I’m not going to force it. I’m not going to be an idiot. I’m going to do a great job of protecting the football and be aggressively patient in taking what the defense gives me."

Sherman will likely draw rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin for most of the afternoon Sunday. Benjamin is ready for the challenge.

"You can tell he loves the game," Benjamin said. "He brings the passion to it. He has fun. He talks a lot of smack out there, but this is football. I’m just going to come out there and match his intensity; play fast and be sound in all my assignments."


Texans' Jadeveon Clowney would be 'surprised' if he doesn't play
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:46 pm ET) Texans rookie linebacker Jadeveon Clowney said Thursday he is ready to return to action Week 8 against the Titans after missing the last six games due to knee surgery.

"I’m as healthy as I’m going to be this season," he said, per the Houston Chronicle. "I’m ready to play football. I’ll be surprised if I don’t play, but it’s up to the coaches.

"My knee’s going to bother me a little. There’s a little discomfort, but it’s something you have to push through. I’ve been working on my craft and trying to get in football shape. It’s one thing to run, but another to be back on the field. I’m looking forward to helping my team and getting back and having fun. I’ve been missing being with my team."


Packers RB James Starks able to practice Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:43 pm ET) Packers running back James Starks was back on the practice field Thursday after sitting out Wednesday due to an ankle injury he suffered Week 7. The Packers are preparing to face the Saints in Week 8.

Packers DL Datone Jones back at practice Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:40 pm ET) Packers defensive end Datone Jones returned to practice Thursday after missing the last two games due to an ankle injury. The Packers are preparing to play the Saints in Week 8.

Jaguars CB Alan Ball doesn't believe injury is season-ending
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:37 pm ET) Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball echoed his coach's sentiments about him being doubtful to play Week 8 against the Dolphins due to a biceps injury. However, Ball doesn't believe the injury is season-ending.

"My thoughts are that it isn’t season-ending," he said, per The Florida Times-Union. "In the next week, week-and-a-half, I’m be trying to get my body back to the best it can possibly be and then go from there."


Report: Bengals stud WR A.J. Green still sidelined Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:12 pm ET) A nagging toe injury again prevented Bengals star wide receiver A.J. Green from practicing Thursday, at least during the media availability portion of the session, the team website is reporting.

Green, who was overheard telling a teammate after the shutout loss to Indianapolis in Week 7 that he will play Sunday against AFC North rival Baltimore, has not participated in game action since Oct. 5.


Bengals CB Leon Hall back in action Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:07 pm ET) Bengals cornerback Leon Hall returned to practice Thursday after missing time with a lower back strain sustained in the Week 7 loss to Indianapolis.

Hall has started every game this season. He has contributed to 27 tackles and has one interception.


 
 
 
Rankings