For the last decade the Steelers have produced perennial studs in fantasy football but that was not the case in 2019. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season ending elbow injury in Week 2 and the team’s offense was disastrously bad with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges under-center. Wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster was drafted as a Top 6 wide receiver and finished outside the Top 60. Like Smith-Schuster, running back James Conner was a high draft pick but he too finished well below his expectation.
So how should fantasy football players approach the Steelers playmakers in 2020? That’s the question we asked Sports Illustrated’s fantasy analyst Ben Heisler and AllSteers’ Noah Strackbein.
Read the full transcript:
Bill Enright: For the last decade, the Pittsburgh Steelers have produced some of the best fantasy football players in the entire NFL. But boy, was that not the case in 2019, as soon as Ben Roethlisberger got injured, the entire offense really fell apart. We're in 2020 now, so let's look ahead instead of looking behind us. Let's bring on Noah Strackbein from All Steelers, and Ben Heisler, our SI fantasy analyst. Noah, I'm going to start with you. The rails really fell off this train as soon as Big Ben went down in 2019, heading into 2020 if they're going to be healthy. What do you expect to see out of Roethlisberger and Juju Smith-Schuster.
Noah Strackbein: I expect to see a lot. They're already working out together this offseason. Juju has a better relationship with Ben than Antonio Brown has had his entire career, and that speaks volumes because Ben loves his big wide receivers that he could throw to and feel that chemistry with. That's why he and Antonio had such a good relationship on the field, even if they didn't have one off the field, and JuJu's is already better than that. So a contract year, he's looking for a big season. Ben needs to come back and prove himself, prove this whole revenge tour is real. If they can stay healthy and stay on the field, they should have a big season.
Bill Enright: Ben, I'm going to go over to you because the Steelers did bring in some new weapons for this offense, drafting Chase Claypool, signing Eric Ebron in free agency. What do you make of those two acquisitions?
Ben Heisler: Again, I think it still comes down to the play of "Big Ben" Roethlisberger, who led the NFL in passing in 2018. As far as Eric Ebron goes, another big target in the middle of the field. Just a couple of years ago in Indianapolis, I believe he led all tight ends in touchdowns. The guy that I'm really excited about, though, is Chase Claypool. This is an absolute stud. Big, strong physical target who also runs a 4.464 40-yard dash. This is somebody that I just feel is going to gel with Ben Roethlisberger right away. This is another "throw up, catch it up type" of target in the red zone. And I think he actually compares really well to Evan Ingram of the New York Giants as that sort of tight end slash wide receiver that you can move all over the field. Chase Claypool right now at some sites, you can get him at 50/1 for offensive rookie of the year. I just think he's an absolute stud. I think he's a great fit in Pittsburgh.
Bill Enright: Great analysis. Noah and Ben, thank you guys for joining us. Plenty more NFL team previews from a fantasy football perspective. Check it out by going to SI.com/fantasy.
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