|By Shawn Childs, Monday, August 19, 2019|
Pittsburgh Steelers Team Outlook
(Editor's note: This is the free preview of the Steelers team outlook. If you already are a premium subscriber to FullTime Fantasy, click here for our premium Pittsburgh Steelers Expanded Team Outlook.)
Last year the Steelers attempted only 350 rushes, which accounted for 33.7 percent of their offensive plays. Over the previous three seasons with Le'Veon Bell rushing the ball, Pittsburgh averaged 408 runs per seasons highlighted by 2017 (437).
On the flip side, Pittsburgh threw the ball a league-high 689 times. With no Antonio Brown in 2019, the Steelers will have to become much more balanced on offense.
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QB Devlin Hodges - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 12/06/19In his two starts, Hodges passed for 344 yards with two TDs and two Ints while attempting only 41 passes. He did help the Steelers to two straight wins while offering a respectable completion rate (67.2) and success in his yards per pass attempt (8.7). This season the Steelers’ QBs haven’t passed for more than 260 yards with 15 TDs while gaining 6.5 yards per pass attempt. The Cardinals continue to have the worst defense in the NFL vs. QBs (29.06 FPPG), with eight teams scoring over 28.0 Fantasy points. They allow 8.4 yards per pass attempt with QB tossing 31 TDs. Arizona allowed 1,899 passing yards and 14 passing TDs over the previous five games. Even with a short resume, Hodges has a winnable matchup with possible value at the receiver positions.
QB Ben Roethlisberger - Quality Backup
Update 09/16/19There was a whole lot of ugly in the Steelers’ game plan in Week 1. Roethlisberger gained only 5.9 yards per pass attempt with no TDs and one Int. Their top WR (JuJu Smith-Schuster) suffered a toe injury, which may or may not be a factor in his value in this matchup. Pittsburgh’s passing game is rated high in Week 2, but it will be downgraded severely if Schuster doesn’t play. The Seahawks struggled to defend the Bengals’ receivers in Week 1 (418 yards and two TDs), which gives Fantasy owners the green light for this matchup this week. Look for Pittsburgh to bounce back in a big way offensively in this matchup.
QB Mason Rudolph - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 11/23/19Rudolph came make some good throws, but he lacks pocket presence with weakness in his decision making. Over his previous four games, he passed for 905 yards with five TDs and six Ints. Rudolph hasn’t passed for over 255 yards or delivered more than two passing TDs in a game. Two of the Steelers' top three WRs have injuries while remaining in question to play this week. The Bengals rank 30th in QB defense (25.77 FPPG) with their six previous opponents scoring over 23.0 Fantasy points. Two teams scored over 30.0 Fantasy points against Cinci. Without healthy WRs, the passing game of Pittsburgh has limited upside.
RB James Conner - Stud (low risk)
Update 12/21/19Conner returned to action last week after missing five of the previous six games. Pittsburgh had him on the field for 58 percent of their plays, which led to 51 combined yards with a TD and four catches on 12 touches. His best play came over a four-game stretch from Week 4 to Week 8 (26.50, 30.90, and 24.00 Fantasy points). When at his best, he received 22.3 touches per game. The Jets had no answer for the Ravens’ great run game in Week 15 (34/218/1). New York allows only 3.3 yards per rush with RBs scoring 13 TDs. Not the best matchup, especially when adding in his limit touches.
RB Jaylen Samuels - Fantasy Handcuff
Update 11/23/19DraftKings has Samuels priced like a stud with James Conner expected to miss this week’s game. Unfortunately, his play doesn’t warrant his price point. On the year, he gains only 2.6 yards per rush. Over the past three games, the Steelers gave him 27 rushes, which led to 65 yards with his best value coming in the passing game (21/103/1). Trey Edmunds (19/85) also had some chances on early downs over this span. Last week Pittsburgh had Samuels on the field for only 34 percent of their plays. Benny Snell should return to game action in Week 11, and I expect him to take over the early-down carries. The Bengals have risk defending RBs (28th – 28.21 FPPG) with RBs catching 50 passes for 468 yards and three TDs on 62 targets. In Week 4, the Steelers relied on their RBs to defeat Cinci with Samuels having his best game (83 combined yards with a TD and eight catches). Only a trap with bust downside.
RB Benny Snell - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update 12/06/19At this point of the season, a good day from Snell would be over 100 yards rushing with a TD or about 20.0 Fantasy points in DraftKings scoring. Based on this, Snell should have a salary closer to $5,000. Over the last two games, he gained 170 combined yards with a TD and two catches while receiving 39 touches. Pittsburgh only had him on the field for 37 percent of the RB plays in Week 13 compared to 49 percent in the previous game. The Cardinals have risk vs. the RB position (25.85 FPPG), with three teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. Arizona allows 4.3 yards per rush with RBs scoring seven rushing TDs. I don’t expect James Connor to play this week. Snell’s touches give him a chance while game score could lead to an empty score if Pittsburgh falls behind early.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster - Stud (low risk)
Update 12/29/19In his first game back on the field after missing four games, Smith-Schuster caught two of his four targets for 22 yards while seeing 79 percent of the WR snaps for the Steelers. Over his first ten games, he caught only 38 passes for 524 yards and three TDs on 60 targets while battling toe and knee issues. His best two games came in Week 5 (7/75/1) and Week 8 (5/103/1). At this point in the season, Smith-Schuster is a shell of himself while having a considerable downgrade at QB. The Ravens don’t need to win this game, and they will rest most of their starters after clinching the number one seed in the AFC. Not ready to be a Fantasy factor in any format.
WR Donte Moncrief - Bust (overvalued)
For much of his career, Moncrief underachieved his skill set while being a Fantasy tease in drafts. In his only season with the Jaguars, he caught 48 of 89 targets for 668 yards and three TDs. In his career, Donte has a short catch rate (57.8) while scoring 21 TDs in 69 games. Moncrief offers size and speed while receiving a significant upgrade in QB play. He's young enough to emerge as the WR2 in this offense, but his history of failure and up and down play tempers my expectations. Worth a flier if now overpriced on draft day. Think of him a dual WR2 in this offense, which works if he's drafted after round 12 in 12-team drafts.
WR James Washington - Sleeper (undervalued)
Update 12/21/19Washington has been the Steelers’ best WR over his previous six games (25/464/3 on 38 targets) with three nice games (6/90/1, 3/98/1, and 4/111/1). Last week he had a season-high 11 targets, but he caught only five passes for 83 yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster looks like he’ll play this week, which will hurt the chances of Washington. The Jets are 24th in WR defense (37.94 FPPG – 180/2309/19 on 290 targets). Four WRs (John Brown – 7/123/1, Odell Beckham – 6/161/1, Chris Conley – 4/103/1, and Darius Slayton – 10/121/2) gained over 100 yards receiving against New York. CB Nate Hairston looks to be a liability in coverage with risk in big plays. The trick here is trusting the QB play in Pittsburgh.
WR Diontae Johnson - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 12/29/19Johnson played well in two of his previous three games (6/60/2 and 8/81/1) while also adding two other games of value in Week 4 (6/77/1) and Week 8 (5/84/1). The Steelers worked him into a better opportunity over the past three contests (19/203/2 on 24 targets). The Ravens held him to five catches for 27 yards on eight targets in Week 5. Playing well and getting open, which ranks him as top two WR for the Steelers in Week 17.
TE Vance McDonald - Sleeper (undervalued)
Update 11/23/19Over nine games, McDonald hasn’t gained over 40 yards in any game while averaging 4.7 targets per game. His only game of value came in Week 2 (7/38/2). On the year, he has 28 catches for 220 yards and three TDs. The Bengals are 19th in TE (12.84 FPPG – 45/595/4 on 62 targets). Three teams (9/121, 12/151/2, and 7/86/1) had success against Cinci over the last four contests. Only a bunt single while needing a couple of errors to score from first base.
TE Zach Gentry - Dynasty Only
Gentry played in 21 games over the last two seasons at Michigan. He caught 49 passes for 817 yards and four TDs highlighted by his 2018 season (32/514/2). His yards per catch (16.7) shows Zach's down the field value while owning some route running skills. He projects to offer value as a blocker with seam and zone potential. His playing time with minimal early in his career along with his opportunity.
To read the EXPANDED TEAM OUTLOOK, you'll need a premium subscription. There's way more info about the team's draft, free agency, defense, schedule and profiles for every single relevant player on the team. Plus you unlock access to all of FullTime Fantasy's season-long content. Join us now!