Steelers Fantasy Football Outlook

Football season is inching closer and closer, and many are preparing their fantasy draft boards, participating in mock drafts, trying to put themselves in best position to win that elusive prize at the end of the season, whether it be a trophy, wrestling belt, or just cold hard cash. Not to toot my own horn, but after two successive seasons of leading my fantasy league in scoring, I shall bestow my fantasy wisdom upon you when it comes to drafting your Steelers; who to draft and when, who NOT to draft and why, sleepers, busts, everything you need to break your homer goggles and draft your Steelers players smartly.

These rankings are based on standard scoring, non-PPR leagues on ESPN. There are previews for players only in the Top 200 Rankings, or at least one Steelers player in each position.

Quarterback:

Ben Roethlisberger

LTS Positional Ranking: 10th
ESPN Positional Ranking: 11th

Outlook: While Ben Roethlisberger‘s numbers took a small dip last year, he remains a top-10 option at quarterback in fantasy football. He has the capability of being right up there with the league’s top QB’s, especially with Martavis Bryant making his return, Big Ben will have all possible options at his disposal, barring any injuries (or suspensions). Le’Veon Bell will get plenty of carries, so Ben may have the occasional game where he doesn’t quite put up the numbers you’d like from a QB1, but he can have a game or three where he goes off and puts up one of the top fantasy outings of the year. His fantasy play is a bit inconsistent, but not terrible where you should steer clear. He is a small injury threat, so if you take him, make sure you have a decent QB2.

If you have an option of a top-5 QB in the 3rd round, take one then, but if not, wait until the 4th or 5th round if your eyes are set on Ben. It’s much more vital to stock up on RB’s and WR’s before you’d spend a high pick on Ben. Personally, I don’t like to take a QB early (earliest I usually draft is the 4th round). Ben has been my quarterback more than once, and he’s contributed well.

Running Back:

Le’Veon Bell

LTS Positional Ranking: 1st
ESPN Positional Ranking: 1st

Outlook: He’s the top fantasy back. It’s not much of a debate. Sure, you can make an argument for David Johnson or Ezekiel Elliot, but neither match Bell’s dual-threat ability at both rushing and receiving.

Last year, Bell averaged the most yards-from-scrimmage per game, which is a key factor in why he’s the top-ranked RB. There’s really only two worries with Bell: 1) He’s had injury and off-field issues. The off-field issues seem (and hope) to be resolved, but his health is something to consider. He has yet to go a season in his NFL career without a semi-major injury. Two of them didn’t affect his regular season output, but it’s still something to keep an eye out for, and 2) the Steelers have a lot of weapons on offense, which may take away some touchdowns from Bell’s output.

All of this said, if you have the number one overall pick, take him without hesitation. If not and someone passes on him, take him without hesitation. Do NOT pass on him. You’ll regret it. He’s playing on a franchise tag and wants to get paid. Bell is number one across the board. Hands down.

 

Wide Receiver:

Antonio Brown

LTS Positional Ranking: 1st
ESPN Positional Ranking: 1st

Outlook: Along with Bell at his position, Antonio Brown should be the top WR in most, if not all draft boards. He’s led all receivers in fantasy points for three consecutive seasons, despite last year being a bit of a letdown based on his two previous seasons. With Martavis Bryant back in the fold, Brown shouldn’t see nearly as many double- or triple-teams. When it comes to this ranking, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. AB has been the top WR for three seasons, no reason to think that’s going to change any time soon.

Brown is a first-round draft pick, and in most leagues, will be a top-5 pick. If you’re sitting 4th, 5th, or 6th and he’s available, you shouldn’t pass on him. There are few receivers that are fantasy juggernauts, and he’s one of them.

Martavis Bryant

LTS Positional Ranking: 25th
ESPN Positional Ranking: 24th

Outlook: Nobody can deny Bryant’s raw talent. Put that together with his 6-foot-4 frame and blazing speed, he’s got the potential to be a top-10 fantasy scorer. There are two things that may hold him back in terms of fantasy output: 1) There’s guys like AB and Bell who will get their fair share of touches. 2) Bryant is coming off of a year-long suspension and there’s a huge cloud of uncertainty there. Before his suspension, Bryant was a productive, yet inconsistent fantasy receiver. That tends to be the case with deep threats, but if Bryant can avoid going into hiding like he has before and be a force on the gridiron for majority of the game next to AB, we could see a huge breakout from him.

Despite the uncertainty that surrounds Bryant, he’s still a solid find as a WR2. He shouldn’t be your first option there, as there are other proven, consistent producers as a WR2 like Doug Baldwin or Emmanuel Sanders, but if you want to go with upside and take a little risk, Bryant could be your WR2. If you get him as your WR3, your either really deep at receiver or made some bad choices at WR1 and WR2.

 

Tight End:

Jesse James

LTS Positional Ranking: 25th
ESPN Positional Ranking: 25th

Outlook: When it comes to Jesse James, he’s just not much of a threat in fantasy. He’s a TE2 at best, and really, should only be that in case there are a few injured tight ends. He won’t get enough targets to produce enough points because of guys like Xavier Grimble and Bell, AB, and Bryant getting so many receptions. James’s specialty will be getting crucial third down catches and maybe a few key redzone targets. This doesn’t warrant a pick in a standard 15-round draft. Look for him as an option if you encounter injuries with your tight ends.

Defense/Special Teams:

LTS Positional Ranking: 13th
ESPN Positional Ranking: 5th

Outlook: There’s good reason to like the direction the Steelers’ defense is going, but there are still some really young players in key spots. The defensive line is stout with Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave. The linebacker corps has a star-in-the-making in Ryan Shazier. Bud Dupree has decent chance to break out, but there is still some question to the other outside and inside linebacker spots and how productive they can be. The secondary is getting younger, but it doesn’t bode well for fantasy. They could give up a lot of yards, especially if the front-seven can’t get to the quarterback consistently.

The Steelers’ defense may be a good D/ST2 option for your team if you are the type to dedicate two roster spots to defenses.

Kicker:

Chris Boswell

LTS Positional Ranking: 8th
ESPN Positional Ranking: 9th

Outlook: Chris Boswell is a solid, consistent kicker. There are a few options that are no-doubters above him like Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker, or Dan Bailey, but if you can’t get any of those guys, getting Boswell isn’t reaching too far. He’s very accurate, and if the offense struggles to score in the redzone, like they did last year, he’ll get plenty of opportunities to rack up three points here, four points there.

Possible Sleepers

WR – JuJu Smith Schuster

He’s a guy that could possibly win the 3rd receiving spot in the Steelers’ depth chart, which could give him some nice looks in games. However, with AB getting 100+ catches, Bell getting 70+ catches, and Bryant getting 60+ ctaches, there’s only so many targets he can get. He might be a nice steal as your WR5, especially if AB or Bryant go down with an injury (God forbid). You shouldn’t take him any higher than that, but he could be a nice late-round steal.

Do Not Draft List

These are guys that are not worth the precious draft pick. You can rely on waivers for them in case of injuries to your team, or to the Steelers, but these guys should not be taken on draft night. It’s not that I don’t like them. You only get so many roster spots. Choose them wisely. You could find some reason to like any of these guys, but the stars have to align for some of them:

RB – James Conner
RB – Knile Davis
WR – Eli Rogers
WR – Sammie Coates
WR – Darrius Heyward-Bey
TE – Jesse James

Final Thoughts

It’s fun for Steelers fans to have guys being drafted in the first round, or that are ranked first overall. Just remember: not all of these guys are fantasy godsends. Do your homework, make your picks wisely, and have fun winning.

 

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