Itís either suspensions to high impact skill position players,
or lower body injuries that conspire to wreck Roethlisbergerís
fantasy upside. His annual injury cost him three games last season
which contributed to a very mediocre fantasy season.
Despite finishing as the 17th overall scorer in standard leagues,
Big Ben was 7th overall with a 22.5 fantasy points per game average.
His monster games in Weeks 4, 5 and 10 show that heís capable
of winning weeks by himself, but his poor 2nd half (16.5 FPts/G)
likely killed his fantasy owners in the long run.
After lightly entertaining retirement thoughts, Ben is back to captain
what should be one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. For
the first time since 2014 (barring something goofy in the next few
weeks), Pittsburgh is going to open the season with all of their
Killer Bís (Brown, Bryant, and Bell) healthy and ready to roll.
Heís playing behind one of the best offensive lines in his career,
and once again, his finish relies greatly on his ability to stay
healthy. Heís got an easy top-5 ceiling if he plays 16 games, or
a QB2 floor if he misses time. With the return of Martavis Bryant,
Iím more willing to gamble as Roethlisberger as my starter. Bryant
gives the Steelers another big-play threat, and monster red-zone
target. Heís being picked as the 9th quarterback off the board in
early drafts, and thatís a spot Iíd be happy to land him. Just be
aware youíll have to prioritize your QB2 to protect from the injury
thatís likely to come.
A long commentary on Bell is hardly necessary. He is in the mix
as the top overall fantasy player, and this will remain the case
even if he holds out into training camp. After a smashing 144-yard
2016 debut against Kansas City in Week 4, Bell struggled on the
ground in the next five games, as he was able to top 4.0 yards-per-carry
only once. But his role in the passing game easily made up for it,
as he caught 40, yes, 40 passes over that stretch. He started his
dominant tear in Week 11 against Cleveland, culminating in a mind
boggling 38-236-3 line on the ground against Buffalo.
There are two reasons why Iíd hesitate to take Bell over David
Johnson in any format. First, the lack of touchdown consistency
is concerning. Sure, he ended up with 9 total scores in only 12
games, but he went a five-game stretch without sniffing the endzone,
and only has one season in his career where he scored in double
digits. Even though he and Johnson are both 25, Bell has much more
wear on his frame, suffering several serious injuries to his lower
body. Foot, ankle, knee, and groin injuries have ended his season
early in recent years, and itís been quite some time Bell
hasnít had to recover from off-season surgery of some sort.
Extrapolated out to a full season, Bell would have had nearly 2,500
total yards and 12 touchdowns; simply ridiculous numbers. But those
numbers were nearly matched by Johnson, AND he accounted for 20
scores. The bottom line is you really canít go wrong if get
ďstuckĒ with Bell, and heíll provide the centerpiece
to many fantasy winning teams in 2017 if things go according to
Terminator jokes aside, Conner not only is an amazing story of cancer
survival, but a testament to spirit, hard work, and dedication.
Conner joins his hometown team, and should soak up plenty of off-season
reps with the first team while Bell holds out.
Conner isnít just a feel good story, heís a hell of a football player.
A former ACC Player of the Year, Conner possesses a heart of a lion
to go along with a physical running style. His agility and speed
donít jump off the tape, and heís much more of a thumper than anyone
else on the roster, so this certainly limits the upside he can have
in this offense. Heís a capable pass catcher, but had only 30 receptions
in his college career. If the Steelers donít end up signing a veteran
to back up Bell, Conner makes for an acceptable possible handcuff
option. Heís more than the sum of his parts, and could return value
playing in that explosive Pittsburgh offense.
Toussaint, the 4th year back out of Michigan is probably best known
for his work in the 2015 playoffs when he filled in for an injured
Bell and had a few decent games. The running backs in this offense
are high volume players, and Toussaint, despite being less talented
than rookie James Connor, does have the advantage of experience.
I donít think Toussaint is draftable, unless heís the
clear cut No.2 coming out of camp, but he could be a priority free-agent
should Bell go down for a length of time.
Iíve come to learn that the Steelers fantasy preview is the
lowest hanging fruit in the land of pretend football. Antonio Brown
joins his teammate Bell as some of the most no-brainer picks in
our hobby. Brown has been a dynamo, easily finishing as the highest
scoring player in PPR and Standard leagues alike. His numbers were
due for a regression after his mind-blowing 2015 season, but even
losing 30 receptions and 600 yards kept him near the top spot.
I know there might be a little trepidation with the return of Martavis
Bryant, but they made magic during the 2014 and 2015 seasons when
they were on the field together. Bryantís deep play ability
actually helps Brown work on the underneath routes. There is no
better bet in fantasy football at the receiver position making Brown
a shoe-in as the first pass catcher off the board.
Long on talent and (up till now) short on common sense, the mercurial
Bryant returns from his one-year drug related exile. Bryant is
nothing short of a game-breaking talent, and the time away from
the game has apparently cleared his head, and steeled his focus
to football. Heís the rare receiver in the back end of the
WR2 area that can win you games, and I expect this is the sort
of value heíll provide to fantasy owners this season. Heís
always been a big part of the offense when heís been active,
and his 6í5íí frame makes him Pittsburghís
best option in the red zone. Bryant has a shot to approach 10-plus
touchdowns in this offense, and thatís why heís much
more valuable in standard leagues as a strong WR2. I worry sometimes
about his roller coaster numbers, but the upside is too much to
ignore for long as your drafts roll along.
Because LeíVeon Bell can serve as the slot receiver in this
offense, the No.3 wide receiver on the Steelers doesnít
get much love. Although Rogers had a few sprinkles of fantasy
success last year, the return of Bryant and the continued health
of the offense means Rogersí role on the team will certainly
dip from last year. He certainly will have a weekly role in the
teamís success, but short of a spate of injuries, heís
fantasy outlook is dim at best.
Unfortunately there isnít much to see here. James is a solid
player who can run, block, and catch, but doesnít really
do anything special. His size gives the offense a big target on
3rd downs and in the red zone, but I suspect heíll be little
more than a blocker this season. His touchdown potential never
materialized last year, and without a shot at 6-plus touchdowns,
he just isnít worth a look. I expect an uptick in playing
time for the intriguing second-year player Xavier Grimble, but
this version of the Steeler offense just doesnít feature
the tight end enough to make the position fantasy relevant.