Dr. Roto: Pittsburgh Steelers Team Preview

Dr. Roto

Daily Dr. Roto — August 29, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Preview

Outlook: The Steelers always seem to be in the thick of the Super Bowl hunt every season. So long as the triumvirate of Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell stays in place, the Steelers should once again be atop the AFC standings.

QB: I used to hate Ben Roethlisberger at the beginning of his career because I thought he was immature and somewhat of a knucklehead off the field. However, he has not only changed his image, he has proven to be one of the best QBs to ever play the game. Big Ben plays hurt, plays hard, and is the ultimate team leader. As important as Brown and Bell are to the team, there may be no Steeler more important than Ben. That said, for some reason he still struggles away from Heinz Field and there are some Fantasy players who like to only use Ben at home matchups, pairing him up with another good QB when the Steelers are on the road. My bigger problem is that the AFC North is an extremely violent and competitive division. Often those games are low scoring, defensive struggles since the teams know each other so well. In a recent Beat Dr. Roto draft, Big Ben was the 6th QB taken. I think that is a bit early, but Ben is still a lock for 4000 yards passing and 28-30 TDs.

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RB: I don’t blame Le’Veon Bell one bit for missing training camp the past two seasons. If the Steelers are unwilling to pay him the huge money he rightfully deserves, he should not have to risk injury playing during the preseason. Some Fantasy owners will worry about Bell’s lack of reps and drop him ever so subtlety on their draft boards. I will not. Bell is a freak of nature, who seems not to need preseason to be successful. And even though, I expect Week 1 to be a not so good one for him, I fully expect his next 15 games to be worthy of a top two overall pick. Lock Bell in for 1500 total yards from scrimmage and double-digit TDs. Backing up Bell once again is James Conner. Conner was a beast at the University of Pittsburgh, but he has yet to establish himself as guy who can carry the load if Bell should get injured. Maybe it is because of this that the Steelers drafted Jaylen Samuels in the 5th round of this year’s NFL Draft. If Bell gets hurt for any length of time, I expect Samuels to get most of the 3rd down looks as he is very shifty out of the backfield.

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WR: While he might not go #1 overall in Fantasy drafts anymore, Antonio Brown is still one of the top selections in any PPR draft. Brown is a future HOF player who has gone over 100 receptions for the past five seasons. He is the Steelers go-to player on every passing route and Ben looks for him throughout the game. Perhaps the only reason Brown is slipping these days is that Fantasy owners prefer to select RBs early in the draft. However, the art to winning a Fantasy Football league is to zig when everyone else zags, so taking Brown is a great move. Juju Smith-Schuster emerged last year as rookie to become the Steelers WR2. He runs great routes and has developed excellent chemistry with Ben in such a short time. Juju also benefits from playing with Bell and Brown, leaving him in one on one coverage for most games. Juju is going in the 4th round of most current drafts and he is a great WR2 for any Fantasy team. The Steelers selected James Washington in this year’s draft and I am a big fan. Washington is not the biggest or fastest receiver around, but he always seems to come down with those 50-50 balls. His Fantasy value could be somewhat limited this season, but if I owned Juju or Antonio Brown, I would love to roster Washington as a perfect handcuff. Justin Hunter looks like he has secured the WR4 spot this season. Hunter is a freakish athlete who needs to learn not to rely on his athletic ability so much. That said, he is a huge target in the red zone and he could be a sneaky late round pick in 16-team leagues.

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TE: I was surprised when the 49ers let Vance McDonald go. I was even happier to see the Steelers get him as he is a very underrated receiver who finds a way to get open in traffic. Big Ben has an affinity for throwing to his tight ends and McDonald should benefit from that. McDonald offers tremendous late round value and could easily have 600 yards and 6-7 TDs this season.

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K: Chris Boswell is a solid kicker, but the Steelers go for more two-point conversions and 4th down plays than any other team in the NFL. For that reason alone, I tend to avoid drafting Boswell.

D: Losing Ryan Shazier was tragic for the Steelers defense. His speed and tackling ability cannot be replaced by one player. For IDP purposes DE Cameron Heyward and LB T.J. Watt seem to have the most upside, but the Steelers are a better defense as a whole than they are the sum of their parts.

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