Fantasy Football

2015 Fantasy Football Team Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers boast a top-five quarterback, the No. 1 receiver and the reigning Fantasy Football MVP toting the rock. Pittsburgh has the most valuable offense in fantasy football and a new younger, more athletic defense. As usual in the Steel City they have an excellent linebacker corps and a transitioning secondary now that Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor have retired. This team is far from perfect, but they are as dangerous and explosive as any team in the league. Don’t be shocked if they’re playing in February.

Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger is coming off the best statistical season of his career. He threw the ball a career-high 608 times for another career-best 67.1 completion percentage. The personal records continued as Big Ben threw for 4,952 yards and 32 touchdowns. What may be most impressive is the fact that he was only picked off nine times. Still in his prime at 33 years old, Roethlisberger doesn’t look like he’ll be declining anytime soon. The two-time Super Bowl champion is just beginning to hit his stride. With a stable of elite young targets, and the majority of the top quarterbacks aging, Big Ben could emerge as a top-three fantasy QB this season.

Running Back

Le’Veon Bell was named the first official Fantasy Football MVP last season despite finishing second in RB scoring behind Demarco Murray. Bell went absolutely nuts in 2014. He rushed for 1,361 yards on 4.7 yards per carry and caught 83 passes for 854 yards. The then second-year back managed to break the plane 11 times. Unfortunately, his 2015 season didn’t start off quite as great when he was arrested for possession of marijuana and DUI last August. He’ll pay for his mistakes this season as he will face a three-game suspension (pending appeal).

I still feel Bell should be the first-overall pick in fantasy drafts. You don’t win championships in September, you win them in December, and there is no one I want more than Bell down the stretch. While Bell is sidelined, DeAngelo Williams will get the starting nod. The Steelers addressed their biggest issue on offense this season by signing a serviceable backup. Williams is no longer elite, but he brings a lot more to the table than Josh Harris or Dri Archer. It is expected that Williams will start the first-three games of the season, although, I have a suspicion Bell’s suspension will be reduced.

Wide Receiver

Antonio Brown is the clear-cut top receiver in the NFL right now and has been outstanding the past-two seasons. AB caught a whopping 129 passes last season, up from 110 in 2013. He totaled 1,698 receiving yards and 13 TDs, he also threw an additional touchdown. If you could get points for stomping kickers in the face, Brown may lead all players in fantasy points.

Pitt also has second-year receiver Martavis Bryant who lit it up last season catching eight TDs in just 10 games as a rookie. He is a big play threat who averaged an incredible 21.1 yards per catch for 549 yards (26 receptions). Auburn rookie Sammie Coates could follow in his footsteps this season. Coates isn’t the deep threat Bryant is but may be just as talented. Markus Wheaton is the projected WR3, however, he may end up lost in the mix.

Tight End

The Steelers could have stood to get a tad younger at tight end this offseason. Heath Miller is the old reliable TE in Pitt. He had a solid season in 2014 catching 66 passes for 761 yards and three touchdowns. Still, he is a wildly inconsistent fantasy option, isn’t the red zone threat he once was and will turn 33 years old in October. This could be his last season as the featured tight end in Pittsburgh.

Defense

The Steelers’ defense came together down the stretch only allowing 17.5 points per game in the four games they played in December. They have a tremendous young LB corps including their 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree, last year’s first-round pick Ryan Shazier, ninth-year star Lawrence Timmons and former University of Miami standout Sean Spence. The real question marks come in the secondary. After losing Polamalu and Taylor they will lack experience and find themselves searching for leadership. The Steelers will likely be a very up-and-down defensive option this season as they develop chemistry. The LBs are where you’ll find IDP value.

Player to Watch

The player to watch is Bryant; look for him to take a huge step forward this season. He has a full year in the system and will be a 16-game starter. The Clemson product was very raw as a rookie and was still extremely impactful. He could emerge as a legitimate WR3 this season with upside. The boom-or-bust wideout will live up to his ADP which makes him a mid-range WR3, and his ADP will likely drop a bit as dynasty leagues are no longer factored in to the mix.

Key Stat

The Steelers only sacked the quarterback 33 times last season and forced 21 turnovers. Pittsburgh has been poor in both categories for four seasons now. The Steel Curtain has always prided itself on its defense and especially their pass rush. They have built a very talented young front seven. Look for them to begin another era of dominance this season. They won’t be there yet but progress will be apparent.

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